A phone call. That was all it had taken. Prior to this, the three friends would have agreed that the most terrifying phone call they could receive would be that of a friend, screaming that something had happened to another of their loved ones. That they should get there quick, that all was not well.
However, certain events had changed the course of their life and nothing could prepare them for the icy chill that crept up their spine at the phone call.
So, what made it worse?
The fact that there was no sounds on the other end? No sounds of a friend crying, screaming or even whimpering? Or the fact that they’d known? The fact that they’d been waiting for this phone call to break the already fragile bonds of friendship that had survived death, destruction and the knowledge that a friend was sacrificing herself for them every single night without fail.
The phone call came at 9.22pm. The scream came only a minute later. 9.23pm.
A warm, almost too warm June night. A friend had already limped down into the relative warmth of the lobby, beaten to a point where he was almost unrecognisable, Charles Gunn had collapsed in a seat, whispered one word and one word only.
And then he’d continued, “Got enough hits on him so Cordy can have a night off…” He growled, wincing as Wesley touched already tender ribs. “Ain’t no way he’s going to Cordelia.” He’d rounded up everyone of his friends, both ex and current, enticing them with building a reputation of taking out the Scourge of Europe.
Surprisingly, most, if not all, of his friends had survived. Angelus had been intent on killing one person and one person only. And that was him. Was he phased by this? Hell, no. It was a chance to take out the bastard who was hurting his friend only… it didn’t really work like that.
He’d survived. Only so had Angelus.
“Are you sure you don’t need a hospital?” Asked Fred, tenderly, kneeling by Gunn’s side.
“Naw, I’ll be fine.” He smiled, “Just a little sore for a few decades but fine…”
“You were stupid, you could have been killed.” Said Buffy, frowning.
Gunn nodded, “I’ll buy that.”
“You should have…”
9.22pm. The phone penetrated the hushed talking of the lobby. All eyes swivelled to the counter. “Might wanna… Get that Wes…” Choked out Gunn.
“Me, why me?” He asked.
This was silly. Wesley stepped over to the phone, picking it up. “Angel Investigations, we help the helpless.”
As he waited for the voice, Wesley paled. The voice never came. Perhaps it was a prank call, he thought, determined not to believe the worst, but he knew. “We’ll be there.” He whispered, hanging up the phone.
Being stuck in a Hell dimension where you were forced to slavery, well, it bit. Big time. Fred knew this. She knew it while she was there. Coming out, had been a task in itself for the young woman but… She dealt, and why?
Because she saw Cordelia Chase do it every day.
She saw her dealing with Kyerumption. She saw her dealing with the naughty feelings for Angel. She saw her dealing with vision after vision after vision and she did it all with a smile on her face.
What Fred supposed, was that Cordelia was her big sister. She’d never had a sister. Or brothers to speak of. But Fred knew that Cordelia was the younger, kinder, cooler version of her Mom – the one you could talk about sex with.
That was a sister. Only, it wasn’t anymore. Because Fred knew. Perhaps being in a Hell dimension, coming out of it AND working alongside Cordelia should have taught her that hoping for the best was her only option or… What else was there?
Angel had said it himself… “A life without hope is a living Hell.” Cordelia had none.
“You should go to her.” Said Fred quietly, looking at the floor. “I’ll stay. With Connor.”
He’d already done this twice and it never got easier. For Angel though, this was the ‘easy’ part. He remembered nothing. Only waking up on a street corner, beaten almost to a pulp and blood that wasn’t only his own on his hands, on his body.
And there she was, his one saving grace. His light at the end of the tunnel. In his mind’s eye, he could see her. His Cordy. Cordelia Chase, the woman he loved. But… Something was wrong. It was like watching a movie…
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose.
And he watched because he had no choice, because these were memories he’d been given by a soulless monster…
Weep not for the memory.
“No!” A sob broke from his lips. And a laugh from inside, a cruel laugh. Because instead of breaking Cordelia, like he’d wanted to, instead, Angelus had succeeded in breaking Angel. He ran. Angel ran. His feet treading on the gravel floor until he crashed into her apartment.
“CORDELIA!” He yelled, “Cordelia!”
Don’t let your life pass you by.
He smelt the blood before he got to the door and Angel stumbled, falling, landing right in the doorway, staring into the stunned faces of Buffy, Wesley and Gunn.
Buffy was the first to step forward, “Angel?”
We let them slip away from us when things got bad.
“Buffy… Please…” He whispered, tears sliding down his cheeks, “She’s… Tell me she’s… Did I?” He asked, desperately.
I’m standing on the edge of something much to deep.
“There’s an ambulance on its way.” Said Wesley, his face ashen. “I believe she’ll be okay…”
I almost wish I’d killed him. I almost wish that this time, I sent him to Hell again. Almost. I wonder if anyone knows how hard it is, looking upon him and knowing that because of the acts Angelus committed on her, he blames himself.
Cordelia was taken to LA General. We hovered. The Doctors say we can’t do anything. If she wakes up, it’s of her own accord now. A life without hope is a living Hell.
Angelus broke a few of her ribs. Punctured her lung… But other than that, she’s okay.
I’m so tired, I can’t sleep. I’m standing on the edge of something much to deep.
She’s resting now. She’s gotten peace from Angelus, wherever she’s drifting. Maybe she’s dreaming of him. Maybe wherever Cordy is, she and Angel are together, happy. I hope so. The things Angelus did to me, were… Barbaric. But the things he did to her were much worse and she never spoke about it once.
She never complained, or cried out, even when she should have. Angelus got his wish, he’s broken her. But he’s also broken Angel too. He’s strong. He has to be, for Connor’s sake. But I see it in his eyes. He’s close to giving up and I have to go home.
I can’t help any more. I’ve tried to reach Angel, Cordelia… So have the others, but even a Slayer has to admit defeat and Dawn needs me too.
I wish I could do something, for her, for Angel. I wish I’d killed him, then he wouldn’t have to deal with this…
How clearly I first saw you, your smile just like the sun.
The first day I saw it, the first day I really knew how much I needed you was when I came back from Sri Lanka. You smiled, you cried. I loved you. I can’t help but wonder what we’d be doing now…
I broke my heart today. Just like I do every other day, even though it’s not beating. Our son spoke his first word. ‘Mama.’ I could picture your face as he said it. I could see your eyes welling up with tears, that perfect hand clasping over your mouth and then you hugging him.
It was clear as one of our movies, playing in my head. When I was brought back to the present, Connor was crawling around your hospital bed, babbling ‘Mama’ over and over again and your hand was still clasped in mine. Limp. Lifeless. No fight left in you.
It’s funny how I feel so much but cannot say a word
Though we are screaming inside oh we can’t be heard
I don’t blame you, Cordelia. I don’t hate you, how could I? I even understand. But I hate myself. How you must hate me… A life without hope is a living Hell. Wesley told me that through Connor, you kept going. You wouldn’t let him hurt your family, so you made a deal with the devil…
Once there was a darkness a deep and endless light
Gave me everything you had oh, you gave me life
Truth be told? I’m terrified. I’m terrified you’ll wake up and hate me. I’m terrified you won’t and I’ll never know.
Not for the first time in my life, I’m lost. I’ve thought about walking in the sunlight – and it makes me ashamed. Because I know what you went through and survived. I’m weak.
It’s not the demon that needs killing in me. It’s the man. Without you, I’m weak…