Sleep’s becoming a problem. It’s not the actual going to sleep part that worries me. It’s the dreams, and the fear of never waking up and having to spend an eternity with him. I can still hear him so clearly, telling me that because of what I’m doing, because of what I did, I’ll go to Hell.
I made a mistake. I dealt with the consequences – I just never realised that they’d be so bad…
“Cordelia?” His voice broke into her reverie, induced by lack of sleep. Cordelia stood at the filing cabinet, files in hand and yet motionless.
Gently, he put his hand on her shoulder, “You were… In a daydream.” Said Angel, softly.
“Oh, I was thinking about Connor’s birthday party.” She lied, “A girl’s gotta plan…”
“That’s almost three months away…”
“Well, you only turn One once…”
“You only turn any age once.” Replied Angel, smiling slightly.
“Wrong – only YOU turn any age once,” She smiled, “We’re stuck with the living until we’re maybe 100, probably less and then dying.”
Angel’s face fell into a frown and Cordelia sighed, “What? I was being optimistic! I was thinking I’d live to see 100 and not thinking I’m going to die the next time I’m going to have a vision.”
Brutally blunt, like always, and yet Angel found himself wincing. “You’re not going to die.” He said quietly, “I won’t let you.”
Cordelia sighed, “Right, you won’t let me do anything.” This was getting beyond a joke, they even insisted on accompanying her to the local supermarket when she needed milk or eggs or some other such grocery.
A low growl errupted from Angel and he stared at her, “We just want to look after you.”
“Yeah, there’s looking after me and then there’s smothering me, Angel…”
Angel was slightly taken aback, “You… You didn’t say you were fine.”
Cordelia looked at the floor, “That’s because I’m not…”
She could almost *hear* his face falling. “There, see!” She said quietly, “The minute I tell you I’m not fine you go into full brood mode again.”
“I can’t help worrying about you…”
“Well stop it! Angel, please!”
“Don’t you think you’re being a little unreasonable? How can I not worry?”
“Angel, I’m not going to break.”
“You’re right, you’re not.” Said Angel quietly, “Because you’re already broken.”
Cordelia lifted her head wearily and shook her head, “Angel, I’m f…”
“You just ADMITTED you’re not, so don’t pull that one.”
Cordelia shook her head, “Okay then, I’m not fine. Is that what you want to hear?” She asked.
“Okay, what else? You wanna know what he did to me? Huh, is that what you want? ‘Cause I can tell you that too!”
The muscle in Angel’s jaw tensed and he looked down, “Did you forget something? I *know* what he did to you… Because I did it to you.” He said quietly, “And I still do it to you…” He whispered.
Cordelia recoiled like she’d been slapped, “Wh-what do you mean?”
“Every time I close my eyes. I see something new he did. Something he hurt you with. The things he said.” Angel shook his head, bitterly. “I wish he’d killed you.” Said Angel quietly, “Because you didn’t deserve the consequences of a mistake I made. He took you and made you his…”
Gently, he raised his hand and pushed the hair from her neck looking where the bite marks lay, a constant reminder for Angel that Angelus had tasted her. “He marked you as his own…” He said, painfully.
“Just like you marked Buffy?” Asked Cordelia, coldly.
It worked. The thing she’d tried to do for weeks… She’d succeeded. She’d pushed him away. Angel pulled away from her and shook his head, “You think this is easy?” He asked, “You think it’s easy, watching you like this? Because it’s not. You’re dying inside, Cordelia. You’re not even *trying* to fight. You’re hoping that in a few months time, it’ll all blow over and everything will be fine. You’re hoping you can forget. And it doesn’t work like that…”
“So, tell me how it works since you’ve been through this before!” She yelled, “Tell me how this works.”
Angel sighed and shook his head, “It doesn’t. Because you’ve given up. I’ve tried everything I can think of to help you, I just…”
“You want to brood over it forever!” Yelled Cordelia, “I refuse to let this break me…”
“It already has.” Said Angel, going to continue before Cordelia spun round, preparing to leave. Angel followed and grabbed her, standing in front of the doors of the Hyperion that looked into the courtyard, “Tell me what you see.” He said, making her look at her reflection in the glass doors.
“LET ME GO!” She yelled.
“WHAT DO YOU SEE?”
Cordelia fell silent for a moment and stared at herself, “I see… I see… I see a slut.” She said quietly, “I see a whore who lay down to a demon every night. I see someone who.. Who I thought was strong. I saw her body and her soul give in to a demon who wore your face.” She whispered,
“That’s not me in there. Because if that were me? I would have staked him the first time he arrived at my apartment. I couldn’t live with you…” She whispered, “But I couldn’t live without you. So, I let him exist. I thought that maybe… There was some of you in there that I could still have. I didn’t just betray you by sleeping with a demon, I betrayed you by not staking him so that you could be free.”
Cordelia pulled away from him then, her arms wrapped tight around herself.
“Do you want to know what I see?” Asked Angel, gently. “I see my best friend. I see Cordy… I see someone who I’m proud of, someone I love. I was never *there* when he was, and I was never ashamed of you. Cordy, you have to fight this thing… For me, for Connor. For you.”
Cordelia sighed. Because he was right. What were you supposed to do when the will to fight had left your body, making you feel like it had never been there in the first place? What did you do when the man you loved and the son you adored couldn’t bring you out of a funk you’d slipped in?
Cordelia had never been one for answers. She’d more been one for questions, ‘What’s this demon do?’ and the like.
So what happened when you ran out of questions? What happened when you stopped caring enough to ask the questions, to find out the answers? What happened when things got so bad that the only question you were concerned with was when and if you’d be leaving this life any time soon?
A life without hope is a living Hell.
“I’m sorry I can’t fight for you, for Connor, for me.” Said Cordelia quietly. “I’m sorry for everything that happened. I’m sorry that the choices *we* made led to the consequences we hate.” She whispered. “You told me that life without hope was a living hell… I guess you’re right.”
Silence hung between them for a while until Angel spoke up, “Cordy, without you… I have no hope. My redemption is pointless.” He whispered, a last ditch attempt to make her see that this wasn’t her fault, that he needed her.
Months earlier, and the question on Cordelia’s lips would have been ‘Why’… She would have yelled, shouted, SCREAMED if she had to. But this time, she only spoke up, her eyes filling with tears,
“I know I should care.” She whispered, “I know I should yell and scream and bitch but… I can’t…” She said quietly, “As much as I want to, I can’t.”
“Why?” He whispered, a lump forming in his throat.
“Because there’s no point. I’m tired of caring. I’m tired of feeling. I’m tired of hurting. I used to think I was so strong, that nothing could beat me… How wrong I was.” She whispered.