“Cordelia, what the hell were you thinking?” He asked, frowning.
“Uhm… That I didn’t wanna die…” She said, giving him her ‘duh’ look.
“But… Choosing to become half-demon? Why would you do that?”
Cordelia was getting annoyed, “Should I speak slower? Or get Xander in here to translate fluent MORON? I. Didn’t. Want. To. Die.”
“I heard that!” He growled, “But… But making yourself half demon, Cordelia… Do you even know what kind of demon you are?”
“Are you evil?”
“Heyyy!” She said, indignantly, “I am NOT evil. I’d know if I were evil, and I’m NOT… Hear me? NOT!”
Angel sighed, “But this is… You made yourself a demon?”
“Actually no… And I pissed off Skip which in itself was kinda fun… He scared me!” She said, shaking her head. “When I heard what you said to the Powers…”
“I didn’t mean that.” Interrupted Angel.
“Mouth open, sound coming from it, still talking.” Said Cordelia, frowning. Angel’s mouth closed with an audible ‘clack’ and he looked at his best friend, wearily. “When I heard what you said, I got mad.” She said gently,
“For almost two years I’ve dealt with these visions and told you each and every time I was fine when we both knew I wasn’t. It was easier if I said that… But when I heard you say those things, I…”
“Cordy, I was more scared of you dying than you were…” He whispered, “If you’re not in my life… If something was to happen to you…” He trailed off and sighed, “My redemption just wouldn’t be worth it any more.”
“Don’t you ever say that.” Said Cordelia, frowning, “Your redemption is everything you’ve worked for over the past God knows how long. If there’s one thing you deserve it’s that.”
“And I finally thought I was getting it.” He whispered, “With Connor… You. You were always there. When I found out you were dying I was mad at you for keeping it from me and I was mad at myself for denying it was ever happening. I… Even with Buffy, when I returned that first time, I’d never been so close to giving up. I made a mistake… I thought that I would never experience happiness because I was losing you… I was wrong. I lost myself in you.” He said quietly,
“I wanted to lose myself in you, I wanted to forget.”
“Angel, you weren’t the only one at fault here.” Said Cordelia, indignantly, “I felt nothing… And I wanted so badly to feel something. That night…” Cordelia closed her eyes.
She sat on the sofa, huddled in her bathrobe, her head resting on her knees. She felt like she’d been staring into space for hours, when actually it was almost a full day. Calling work, she’d feigned illness, insisting that Wesley, Fred and Gunn should stay there – for she had the flu and didn’t want them to catch it.
She wished it was as simple as that.
The night before, she’d received a vision. A painful vision that showed her… Alone in her apartment. Cordelia had screamed. Seeing the back of your head explode just wasn’t the most fun she’d ever had. A light rap, rap came at the door and Cordelia lifted her head, “Mrs. Cookson, I’m FINE.” She called.
“Cordelia, open up.” It was Angel, and Cordelia sounded… Okay, so she didn’t sound fine in the strictest sense of the word, but from what he could hear there wasn’t a snuffle in sight.
“I told you, I have the flu.” Said Cordelia, “You could catch it…”
*Lame, Cordelia.* She thought, shaking her head.
“Vampires don’t get sick. Open up.”
“Angel, go HOME.”
“Not until I see you.”
Grumbling to herself, Cordelia got off the chair and went to the door, keeping the chain in place and opening the door a crack, “See, I’m fine. Bye.”
He slid his foot inside the door and frowned, “You’re not okay. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing! See, I’m fine! See the jovialness of me?”
“Angel, I’m – “
“Cordelia.” His voice was gentle, yet firm, “Let me in.”
She opened the door, letting Angel pass and when he did, he gasped. The curtains were drawn, tissues were balled on the floor – the heavy air of depression hung like a shroud, engulfing his heart and wrapping it in fear. “Cordelia?”
“Oh… That? I was just… Tired…”
Her breath hitched in her throat and she felt the tears slide down her cheeks, “No…”
“Then what?” He asked, crossing the room and folding her in his arms. Cordelia sobbed and with every passing minute, Angel was forced to realise that whatever it was, was worse than they’d ever faced.
“Tell me.” He whispered, his voice choked with suppressed emotion and tears.
“I… It was a vision… I was here and… I saw…”
He saw her mouth move but he never heard the words. He felt certain that if his heart was beating, it would have stopped right then. “But… I…”
Cordelia shook her head, “Don’t, please.” She whispered.
“I’ll fix this.”
“I can try.”
“I have to try.”
“Cordelia, I WON’T let you die.”
“Don’t do this, please.” She whispered quietly, “Just… Let me go. Don’t fight this when we both know it can’t be fought.”
“I’ve stopped Prophecies before.”
“This isn’t a prophecy. They showed me… I have a few years left, with you… Connor.”
“Why aren’t you angry?” He asked, tears rolling down his cheeks.
“I’ve done angry, I’ve done angry, shocked, tear-ey… I think I’m at ‘numb’ now. Or maybe it’s acceptance.”
“No… I won’t let you just accept this…” He growled, “I mean it, I won’t.”
He stood up, walked towards the door.
“Angel? Where are you going?” She whispered.
“The Powers That Be… Lorne must know a way to…”
“Don’t leave me.”
Angel turned, “But I should…”
“Angel, please.” She whispered, “I’ve never asked you to stay with me… I need you. I need you to… Pretend.”
Angel was puzzled, “Pretend what?”
“That everything’s okay, that you… That you love me.” She whispered, “Just pretend.”
Angel stared at his Seer for a long while, before speaking, “You want me to *pretend* I love you?” He whispered. “I’m sorry… But I can’t.”
Cordelia closed her eyes and sighed, her head falling forward, letting her hair hide her face. “I know, I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have asked.” She whispered.
Gently, Angel pushed his fingers under her chin, “I can’t pretend, Cordelia, because I don’t love you.” He said quietly, “I don’t *just* love you, at least. I’m *in* love with you. I promised…” His voice was sad, but Angel continued,
“I promised myself that I’d never fall in love, not after Buffy, after knowing what my love could bring. But… I couldn’t help it. It’s your fault. It’s your fault for being there for me. It’s your fault for making me smile and making me not brood. I fell in love and it’s all your fault.”
Leaning forward, he placed a soft kiss on her lips – and that was when it happened. A sob escaped his lips and his shoulders sagged, his arms wrapping around her as he cried into her shoulder. “I can’t…” He whispered. “I can’t do this without you… I can’t live my life without you…”
“You can.” She whispered sadly. “You can do it FOR me.”
Forcefully, he pulled away, “GET MAD!” He growled, “Yell at me… Scream… Damnit, do SOMETHING, Cordelia, you’re DYING and it’s my fault!”
Cordelia sighed, “What do you want me to say?” She asked, quietly, “I don’t blame you. This isn’t your fault. I don’t hate you, I can’t. I love you too much for that.”
“You love me?” Angel shook his head, this was the height of inappropriateness, she was dying and yet… She loved him.
“No.” She whispered, “I don’t just love you. I’m in love with you.”
A loud crunching noise made her jump and Cordelia glanced up to where Angel stood, having punched the wall. “Did that help?” She asked, gently.
He shook his head. “I don’t feel anything.” He whispered. “I feel…”
“Numb.” Cordelia looked at him and took his hand in hers, gently stroking the back of his red knuckles. “I feel like that too… No… I don’t really feel anything, y’know?”
Reaching out with his good hand, Angel gently stroked her cheek, “I’m sorry.” He whispered, “I’m sorry for never noticing how bad they were getting – or for noticing but not wanting to admit it.” He watched as the tears slid down her cheeks and Cordelia stepped forward, reaching up and placing her lips on his.
“I love you.” She whispered, “I love you so much… I just…”
Angel kissed her back, his hand cupping the nape of her neck, “I know.” He whispered. “I know…” His hands slid up her arms, pushing gently at the bathrobe that adorned her body, his lips against hers.
“Angel, I…” She started.
Angel nodded, “I know.” He whispered, “I know we can’t…”
“No.” Cordelia closed her eyes, “Make me feel… Just make me feel…”
He picked her up in his arms, wrapping her legs around his waist. Carrying her to the bedroom, he set her down gently, crawling beside her. “Are you sure?” He whispered.
She nodded, “Just kiss me…”
He did. And with every kiss a tear from chocolate-hued eyes escaped down his cheek. He rationalised that with the knowledge that his best friend, his lifeline and the woman he loved was dying, that he could never again achieve perfect happiness. He rationalised that as his hand slid under her night shirt (an old one of his, evidently) and her body arched towards him, that he was making the best out of a bleak situation – he was helping, he was making her feel.
He was making himself feel. As her hand slid inside the zipper of his pants, encircling him, his hips thrust forward of their own accord, *Make me feel.* His heart screamed out. Kissing her face when she needed to breathe, Angel groaned, a low and guttural moan that send a shiver down Cordelia’s spine. After a while, their bodies were entwined, their clothes pooled on the floor.
“Are you sure?” He whispered again, to which Cordelia nodded, “Make me feel.”
He slid inside her, almost afraid she would break, and with little thrusts of his hips, he brought her closer. It was so tender, that tears had escaped Cordelia’s half-closed lids before she had chance to stop them. What lasted perhaps only minutes, lasted a lifetime for them both. When he felt himself tighten, Angel reached down, slid his hand between their entwined bodies and gently flicked his thumb over her distended nub.
Cordelia kissed him as she felt her orgasm crash through her – her legs wrapping around his back as his hips arched gently, his own climax coming in time with hers. The world washed away, and in a day of not feeling – Cordelia could feel again. In a minute of admittance, Angel had found his soulmate and claimed her as his.
As their eyes closed, Angel was content in the knowledge that Angelus couldn’t return, for how could he if he wasn’t perfectly happy. How wrong he was. It wasn’t sex. It was Cordelia… His perfect happiness lay with her, with her admittance that she’d indeed loved him.
How could she love him now? He could feel his soul tearing away from him and he turned, wrenched himself from her grip. *No… Don’t… Not this time. Not Cordelia, please.*
Wrapping a sheet around herself, Cordelia climbed out of the bed, sleepily, “Angel?” She whispered.
When he turned, sickly yellow eyes burned into hers and Cordelia gasped, “Hello, lover…” He growled.
So, this is my choice. Thought Cordelia, I either take the cross down from my window or he kills the people I love. Not much of a choice really, is it? I could kill him…
Well, actually, she couldn’t. She couldn’t kill him for fear that in that one last moment, like had happened with Buffy, Angel would return and she wouldn’t be killing the demon wearing her best friend’s face. She’d be killing her best friend.
Wesley was looking into getting his soul back, but for now he was more concentrated with protecting them from the clutches of the vampire. He’d made the necessary procedures to have him banished from each of their apartments, made certain to banish him from Fred’s room. Indeed, Angelus could come and go from the hotel as he pleased.
But for necessary purposes, Wesley had made certain to put up a barrier around the hotel – anything remotely evil coming within a metre of the large building and they’d be duly notified – giving Fred and the others time to prepare.
What Wesley was unable to believe was that Angelus not only turned up to hurt them, but had also left town, not intent on hurting Angel’s son or friends it seemed.
This was what it had come to. Cordelia, caught up in knowing that she was the one who’d begged Angel to make her feel, had brought back Angelus, killed her friend. The knock at the door came, making Cordelia gasp. Glancing at the window, her panic was relieved, albeit briefly, as she realised the sun was still shining – it couldn’t *be* Angelus.
She stood, walking towards the door and pulling it open. “Wesley.”
“Cordelia, you… Are you alright?” He winced the second the words left his mouth. Of course she wasn’t alright.
But of course, Cordelia nodded. “I’m fine.” She lied.
“Would you like to… Talk?” He asked.
“And say what?”
Wesley frowned, slightly, “Cordelia, I’m still not sure what happened with Angel, exactly, what caused Angelus to return.”
Her cheeks burned – he hadn’t thought they’d be so stupid. She stood back, gesturing for him to come inside, “Don’t want Mrs. Cookson to hear the intricate details of my life…” She mumbled.
Stepping inside, Wesley closed the door behind him and sat down on the seat, looking up, expectantly. “A spell? Wolfram and Hart? Perhaps a demon that we – “
Her voice was hushed, her head down – and for a moment, Wesley thought that Cordelia had said it was her who’d brought Angelus back. “Pardon?”
“Me. Cordelia. Angel’s Cordy. Me.” She whispered.
“But I don’t understand…” Said Wesley, gently, “You knew the implications of the curse… We could all see the burgeonings of a relationship but…”
“I’m dying.” The words flew from her mouth and she looked up, apologetically, “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to…”
Wesley’s mouth opened and abruptly closed, what was he supposed to say? “Umm… Cordelia, perhaps you should sit down and tell me SLOWLY what’s going on…”
So she told him. The details spilled out with the tears. “I’m so sorry… I just… I couldn’t feel anything and he… We… He was sure that he couldn’t…”
“Achieve perfect happiness…” He finished, sombrely.
Cordelia nodded, “I never meant for this to happen… I’m sorry.”
Wesley pulled her into his arms, “We’ll fix this, Cordelia. I promise you. I promise you that we’ll get Angel back.”
“I’m counting on it.” She whispered. “Do you need help researching?”
Shaking his head, Wesley placed a gentle kiss on Cordelia’s forehead. “No, you should… Stay here, perhaps get some rest?”
A blessing in disguise – for Angelus would be coming here tonight for her decision. He’d left her to think about it last night.
Make a decision. You want the Watcher and your friends to live, you do as I say without question. You take the cross down from your window and invite me in. You don’t? You’ll be finding their parts for weeks.
She’d closed her eyes, just briefly, and as quickly as he’d arrived, he’d gone. She’d wondered if she’d dreamt, but the red rose at the door was a chilling reminder of Angelus. Along with the note, “Until tomorrow, my love.”
She wasn’t his love. She’d never BE his love. She’d always be Angel’s. But at the risk of a bad choice, she had to face the consequences. “I’ll get some rest.” She nodded, “Shall I come to the hotel tomorrow?”
Wesley nodded, “I promise, we’ll get him back.”
He’d gone. And Cordelia had waited, not quite patiently, but at least expectantly. The kind of expectantly that had your stomach tightening in fear and when the knock came at the door, she looked at the window hopefully.
Her hopes were crushed. It was sundown. Angelus stood at the door and Cordelia Chase, former bitch of Sunnydale High was about to make a deal with the devil himself. Slowly, she crossed the room and pulled open the door, taking a breath.
“Well?” He asked, a cruel smile on his face.
Defiantly, she met his eyes, determined that he wouldn’t break her. “I invite you in.” She said, her head held high.
Angelus smiled, “In the words of you, my love, DUH…”
“I’m not your LOVE…” She growled.
“So feisty…” His demon face slid on and he smiled, touching the tip of his fangs with his tongue, “I’m going to break you…”
“You think I’m scared?” She asked, looking up at him, hatred burning in her eyes, “You really think I’m scared of you? I’ve survived you once, I can do it again.”
“Wrong on two counts there. The blonde bitch survived me the first time, barely. But you… You’re no Slayer. You won’t survive.”
Cordelia smiled, “You’re right, I’m no Slayer. But I will survive. I promise you that.” She said, “I’m not scared of you.”
He grabbed her, “Perhaps that’s a situation we should change.”
He stood. Only a minute had passed, but already it was a minute too long. A minute in which she was locked in painful memories with his sadistic alter ego. “Cordelia.” He said softly. She glanced up at him,
“Angel. I want to get past this.” She said gently, “I didn’t make the choice to stay with you – I made the choice to leave you behind and my life… God, when I saw you, *what* I saw was enough to scare me beyond belief. So I’m half demon… Big deal… Doyle was half demon and he dealt. Okay, there was the demon oppression but…”
Cordelia stopped and smiled, sheepishly, “That’s not gonna be the winning argument here, is it?”
“We have to do some research… See what your demon aspect actually is…” Said Angel.
“Pffft, what’s a little research party to a girl like me?” She asked, shrugging her shoulders, “As long as we have coffee and donuts… And it’s nothing yucky – I can deal…”
“I still can’t believe you did this.” Said Angel, shaking his head.
“You’ll get over it.” Said Cordelia, “Plus, the whole floating thing? Kinda cool…”
“When I get a vision… Remember, the other day in the hotel, I floated – no pain? Always a plus…”
“And you’re not going to leave me?”
“Never.” Said Cordelia. “Never, ever. Well, until the Powers That Be decide to throw another hanging curve ball our way… And then I’ll fight then too.”
Angel smiled, always truthful, but always comforting. “Oh, like you fought this time?” He teased.
“Hey! You called me weak and… Mmph…”
Angel kissed her. “Cordelia?”
“You shut u…mmmph!”
He kissed her again. “Are we okay here?”
“Yeah but… Can we go find out about my demony parts? I don’t want to wake up with a tail…” She said, gently.
Angel took her hand in his and looked down at their hands entwined, “I love you.” He said quietly, “You know that, right?”
“Yeah, I know, Grrrr guy…” She smiled, “And I love you too.”
“Y’know, you’ve been calling me Grrr guy for a while – now we can come up with a nickname for you too.”
“Dork. I like Cordy just fine…” She grinned.
“So, if I were to call you hot, sexy, stunning and…”
“I’d say you wanted something.” She said, raising an eyebrow.
“Busted.” Said Angel, smiling sheepishly. “I *do* want something.”
“And what’s that?”
“This.” Leaning forward, he captured her lips with his and smiled, “Only this.”
“I can live with that…” She whispered.