“Where do you want me?” She asked quietly, her shoulders slumped forward. She sat on the couch, not looking up at him, she found it didn’t hurt as much if she didn’t look at him.
However, Angelus, fed up with her new ploy of guarding herself – had decided to try a new tack. Give her hope and then take it away. Certainly, he’d done this before – but not to the magnitude he was about to do it now.
“Cordy… I… I don’t remember.” He stumbled to his knees in her apartment, falling to the floor. “What happened?”
*Angel thinks HE was the World’s Best Actor? Think again, Soul Boy.*
For the first time in weeks, she found herself daring to hope, daring to believe that the voice she heard was really Angel’s. Of course it was possible – in her wildest dreams, so why not here? Why indeed?
She looked up to see that Angel was shaking heavily. Gingerly, she stood up, wincing at the pain in her side. “Angel?” She whispered.
His arms clasped around her stomach, hurting her although unwittingly (so she thought, anyway). “Cordy… I… I remember being with you and then… Oh God… Oh God no…” He pulled back from her like he’d been burned and Cordelia’s body instantly recoiled. “Angel, I had to.”
*Give her hope, a sense of peace, then break her.*
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… But I couldn’t see them die…”
*It’s working. She’s crying.* Angelus smirked – and it was then that, to his satisfaction, he saw the light behind her eyes die. “Y-you… Angel?” She whispered, her voice hoarse, daring to hope that maybe… Just maybe…
But she knew. Fate delivered a crushing blow once again and Cordelia was left standing in its wake. “You’re not Angel…” She whispered.
He laughed. Harshly. Cordelia looked at him, “Was it fun?” She asked quietly.
“What do you think?” Smirked Angelus.
Cordelia sighed, “Where do you want me?” She whispered. *I think you’re a bastard. I think I hate you. I think I want to kill you. But mostly? I don’t think. Because thinking means I realise that what I’m doing is wrong, so terribly wrong. Thinking makes me realise I’m not okay with this. And thinking makes me realise that right now?
Angel hates me. So I don’t think.* Thought Cordelia and then sighed. So much for not thinking…
What they’d noticed most of all was that since Angel’s return, he wouldn’t meet their eyes. Each and every time he looked everywhere but, avoiding questioning gazes, looks of sympathy, looks of sorrow… Even anger.
He didn’t want to see. They could yell, scream, shout – hell, they could sit and ignore him if they wanted to but… Whatever they were feeling, Angel felt it too. Not a minute went by when he didn’t hate himself, berate himself for acts he committed as Angelus, perhaps unfairly because he couldn’t have stopped it…
He sat at her bedside, his fingers locked with hers, just staring. “I think Connor’s teething again. He’s getting cranky and Fred said he was like this when I…” Angel stopped. When he what? Turned evil and raped her, beat her, broke her?
He had the memories of Angelus taking her in ways he’d probably only taken willing vampire fledglings, eager to move up the ranks of the group. Ways he remembered him taking Darla. The difference being, Darla and the fledglings had been WILLING.
Cordelia had not. He recalled Cordelia’s horror when Angelus was tender, making her body react to him and yet he never blamed her, for how could he?
“Or maybe he just misses his Mommy.” Said Angel, tears welling up in his eyes.
He didn’t cry, not easily anyway. For over the course of what seemed a thousand lifetimes he’d seen and caused many hurtful, horrible things to happen. He’d wondered once, if perhaps he was getting immune to it.
If he saw more violence, did that mean he became immune to it? He stared at the clock on the wall, then back down at Cordelia, when a presence at his side appeared. “Wesley.”
“Angel… How is she?”
“Same. I spoke to the Doctor.”
“He said that… The longer it takes for her to wake up, the worse it’ll get.” He sighed.
Wesley closed his eyes briefly, “Angel, you mustn’t blame yourself for this…”
“So, who else do I blame? Her?” He asked.
“No… There’s no one to blame, Angel it’s just…”
“You want to know why I slept with her?” He asked, not waiting for an answer, “Because I wanted to FEEL. Because since the moment she told me she was dying, I was numb. She was numb. She wanted to feel too. I thought I knew everything. I thought it would *never* be perfect happiness, I knew it would be perfect despair because how could I be happy when I knew she was dying? In the end, I lost everything.” He said quietly.
“I lost the only thing I was concerned with keeping.”
“Wesley, I know.” Said the vampire, “I know that you’re all concerned but…”
“Look, when I…”
“ANGEL!” He hissed.
The heart monitor had started to beep faster, Cordelia’s body tensed and she was yanked out of the coma darkened by nightmares by… A vision.
“No, no!” She screamed. Angel grabbed her to keep her from falling from the bed and gently stroked her hair as the vision ended. “Cordy?”
For a few seconds, everything was normal again. She was normal Cordy with the visions… When Cordelia opened her eyes, he sat holding her in his arms, like he’d done so many times before. “Demon, it was…”
Her body tensed again, Angel thinking she was in the throes of another vision instantly loosened his grip and she pulled back, scooted out of his arms, this time falling out of the bed and stumbling to the other side of the room. “No…” She whispered, “Please…”
“Cordy, it’s me.” He said gently, standing up and watching her eyes widen with fear, her body almost fold in on itself reflexively.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” She whispered, her voice hoarse, her body trembling. “I know you love doing this… Telling me you’re him, pretending but… Please… I can’t…”
Angel’s heart twisted, the knife curving in deeper. He stared at her for a second, “Cordy, I’m sorry.” He whispered, “I’m sorry for what he did… I’m sorry that… I’m sorry that I jeopardized what we had…”
“You’re NOT him… You’ve played this card before, remember? Just before you killed Gunn…” She shook her head, furiously, “I won’t buy it… I won’t, I won’t…”
“Cordelia?” The soft spoken voice alerted her to Wesley’s presence and she looked up, into soft blueish green eyes. “Come here a second?” He said gently, holding out his hand.
Cordelia shook her head, “N-no… Don’t…” She said, disoriented. His hand stayed in the same place.
“Please?” He asked gently.
Cordelia took it and walked slowly, painfully as Wesley led her to the door of her room. Sitting outside on two of the plastic hospital chairs were Gunn and Fred, in a relatively happy moment (considering the circumstances) playing Rock, Paper, Scissors – of which Fred was winning 3 – 2.
“You’re letting me win!” She laughed, “Is it ’cause I’m a girl?”
“No,” He said, winking at her, “It’s ’cause uh… Okay, yeah it’s ’cause you’re a… Cordelia?”
“I’m pretty sure I’m not a Cordelia.” Said Fred, confused, “I mean, Cordelia’s all cute and sexy and stuff and… OHH! Cordelia!” She jumped up and looked at her friend, “Cordelia?”
“Uhm… Yeah, hey…” Whispered the brunette, staring at Gunn.
“You look like you seen a Ghost, Barbie…” Said Gunn gently, as tears slipped down Cordelia’s cheeks.
“He… He told me you were dead.”
Gunn shook his head, “Nah, takes more than that to get rid of me…” He grinned.
Cordelia nodded, “I… I should… Go back… Inside…”
The pair at the door nodded, “It’s nice to have you home.” Said Fred, happily.
Cordelia went back into her room, being led by Wesley, “Uhm… How long was I… Asleep?” She asked, sitting down on the bed.
“29 days.” Said Angel and Wesley simultaneously.
“Cordy I…” Angel stopped, she’d asked him not to call her Cordy but… This time, she didn’t say anything, just looked at him, a pained look in her eyes, which almost broke his heart but… She was looking at him.
“Wesley, can I talk to Angel?” She whispered.
She’d called him Angel. He heaved a sigh of relief and nodded, stepping outside and pulling the door shut behind him, smiling slightly at Gunn and Fred.
She kept wringing her hands. She was nervous, Angel realised. Gently, he stepped forward, before stopping, “C-can I?” He asked, gesturing to the bed next to her.
Cordelia nodded, “Angel, when I was… Wherever I was. It wasn’t all good… But it wasn’t all bad either… When I was asleep… I remembered something.” She waited for him to sit down and continued,
“I think that I probably only paid attention because it was Ms. Miller’s class… English, back in High School. We were reading Romeo and Juliet and she said… The choices we make have consequences. Sometimes, what we think is right turns out to be wrong and… At other times it’s vice-versa.”
Cordelia’s voice choked, a lump rising in her throat, “And… And other times there are two, three, or a million choices that could be made, but only one that leads to happiness.” She whispered,
“She told us it was rare to find that choice. I know that… What I did… It mightn’t have been right. I know that you probably hate me for it but… I made a choice.” Cordelia looked at the floor, “My choice? Was my friends. I don’t know what the consequences are yet but…”
Using his fingers, Angel tilted her chin up, made her look at him. Cordelia immediately flinched. “S-sorry, it’s just he…”
Angel sighed, “I don’t hate you.” He said softly. “You ended up carrying a bad choice I made on your shoulders and you did what you thought was right…”
He looked at her, placing his hand upon hers, “What?”
“I’m scared.” She whispered, “I don’t want to lose you.”
“You won’t… I’ll never let him hurt you again…”
“Not that way.” She whispered, “I just… I don’t know where we go from here…”