What was the penalty for jamming a fork through someone’s hand? Cordelia thought she might find out in a few days at her hearing. If Harmony, Aura, and the rest of the gang didn’t stop staring and giggling at her then they would find out about the pain involved in it.
Cordelia squashed the quasi-homicidal urges and speared a cucumber from her salad and not some bimbo’s thumb. She sat in the center courtyard, alone, as was becoming the norm. She wasn’t much for company. The past few days since the funeral, Cordelia had sat at this very picnic table picking at her lunches and struggling through a book of French poetry she found on Adele’s bookcase.
She was so not looking forward to tomorrow. It was D-day. The day Aurelie and Cousin Marcus arrived in town to take away Adele’s possessions. Joy. She got to look mom in the eye and reaffirm her daughter was dead.
It still all seemed like some distant dream. Check that, a distant nightmare. It was hard to believe that Adele was really gone. But here Cordelia was, trying to sort through her existence and trying to put things back together. Not that Angel had it any easier.
The vampire was taking it hard. In a century he had never allowed himself to get close to anyone. Because of that he never had to deal with what he dealt with now.
The bell sounded loudly in the courtyard. It was time for fifth period. European History. Another mind-numbing fifty minutes of counting the number of times Miss McGill says ‘okay’. Cordelia just loved teachers with little quirks. Oh, wait, no she didn’t. Cordelia tossed the poetry book into her backpack and started to gather up the remnants of her lunch.
She paused a moment when a sneeze threatened to overtake her. The next thing she, or anyone else knew, Cordelia was on the ground, screaming, clutching at her head.
Then for several moments there was nothing. Cordelia simply stared up into the sky, the sunlight and the incoming migraine forcing her to squint. The images she just found herself privy to continued to race across her retinas. Oh God were those images racing.
Cordelia blindly began to fumble for her purse to get to the cell phone. Her progress was halted by a shadowed figure standing atop her. Speaking in a soft English accent it said, “Cordelia?”
Cordelia squinted and just made out the face of the figure. “Wesley?” He made no move whatsoever. “Well, don’t just stand there like a dumbass, help me up!” Wesley momentarily fumbled his books and pushed his glasses back up his nose.
He then offered a hand and helped her up. For his generosity Cordelia ignored the fact that he peeked down the top of her blouse.
“Go get Buffy and the rest of the gang,” she ordered sternly. “I got something you all need to know.” Wesley didn’t make any sudden movements to leave. He wasn’t exactly looking at her face. “Go fetch Buffy and you can look all you want later. Go!”
Wesley nearly fumbled his books again. Looking dutifully embarrassed he turned and sprinted off to find the Slayer. Cordelia then took a moment to shoot some “Fuck off” looks to those daring to stare at her and her outburst. It hurt like hell to bend over and grab the purse, but when she did, Cordelia quickly pulled out her cell and hit speed-dial one.
“Angel? It’s me. No, everything’s not okay. I need you. To come here, I mean. I’ll be in the library. It’s important, so hurry…please? Bye.”
Oh God, Cordelia would feel so much better if she could put a bullet in her head right now. It felt like every single blood vessel in her brain was on the verge of exploding. She slowly slipped the purse over her shoulder and thought about grabbing her books. Cordelia decided to forego that.
Nobody would want them so they should be safe. The only thing that propelled her towards the library was the hope that Giles would possess some drugs. Drugs would make her head feel better.
When Angel appeared in the library about twenty minutes later he looked scared shitless. He didn’t even pause to say hello when he breezed through the stacks and past the Scoobies en route to Cordelia. Sitting at the main table, Cordy was pressing an ice pack to her head and vaguely flipping through the day’s edition of the Sunnydale Gazette.
“Are you okay?” Angel asked as he knelt before her. “Did you hit your head? Are you hurt?” He tried to get Cordy to move the ice pack so he could see but she wouldn’t have it. “What’s going on?”
“That’s an excellent question,” Giles spoke from behind him. The Englishman cleaned his glasses and observed the girl. “Wesley found her screaming in the courtyard. She then ordered he get Buffy so we could have a group meeting.”
“About what?” Angel asked confused.
“About what that stinking woman did to me!” Cordelia spoke for the first time. The group edged closer when the object of attention finally looked to shed some light on the situation.
“Huh?” a perplexed Angel asked.
“I knew something was fishy,” Cordelia ranted. “Why the hell else would she kiss me? I knew she was all lesbo and everything, but I thought we had an understanding. And not that I’m complaining about the kiss per se. It was a very nice kiss. Better than most actually, no offense to Xander. At the moment it almost seemed fitting when she did it. But dammit! If it was just so she could do this to me then the moment is completely ruined. Now I know why she got all kooky and wanted drugs all the time. Hell, if I had to live with them, I’d want drugs too. Oh wait, I am living with them!”
Angel’s eyes went wide. “You had a vision,” he said simply.
“Boy! Howdy! And let me tell ya, Adele didn’t just pop Codeine like they were M&M’s for nothing. These things hurt.”
“One door closes and another opens,” Angel murmured to himself. “You’re my new Seer,” he stated for the room to hear. “You’re now my link to the Powers.”
“I’m your who to the what now?” It wasn’t meant to be a smart ass remark. Cordelia was just having a tough time comprehending verbal cues at the moment. After her brain put together what he said she shrugged and answered, “Well, I’ve heard worse.”
The room as a whole was pretty much left speechless at the ‘Cordelia was a Seer’ part. Not even a derisive or smart ass remark was to be heard. Cordelia made a mental note about the date and time. This would never happen again.
“Anybody gonna ask me why I requested this little pow-wow?”
“I asked 15 minutes ago,” Giles pointed out.
“Angel wasn’t here then,” Cordelia returned. “Now you can ask me.”
“Why did you call this pow-wow?”
“I know what the Mayor is up to.” That was an attention grabber. Buffy, Giles, Wesley, and everyone else began to shout out questions at a frantic pace.
“Alright people,” Cordy shouted above the din, “it’s my turn to talk!” Everyone quieted down long enough for her to finish her thought. “At least I think I know what he’s up to. Does turning into a big snake mean anything to anyone?”
Blank stares. “Apparently not.”
D-Day ~ Cordelia’s Apartment
The television screen flickered as Angel watched the Dodger game with vague interest. Karros smacked a double into the right centerfield gap and Angel had enough. He punched the power button on the remote and tossed it onto the coffee table where he picked up his glass of blood.
“Cordelia, please sit down,” he said softly.
Cordelia was too busy chewing her fingernails and pacing the kitchen floor to hear him. Angel sighed and stood up to go in there. Two hours of pitter-patter on linoleum was driving him bonkers.
“Cor, sit down, please.”
She shot him a look and brushed by him, continuing her well-worn route. “I can’t. I’m too nervous.”
“There’s nothing to be nervous about.”
Cordelia stared at him like he was stupid. Angel squirmed under the glare. “Nothing to be nervous about? Aurelie and Marcus will be here in like,” a quick glance of her watch, “Holy shit! Any minute now! Do I look okay?” She began to stroke at her hair and went to the fridge and retrieved the small mirror she kept atop it for such an occasion.
“I don’t think she’s going to be concerned with appearances, Cor.”
“Pfft! Like I’m going to give Aurelie the impression her only daughter hung out with a pair of vagrants. Now zip your fly and tuck in your shirt.”
Angel looked dutifully embarrassed. He knew he forgot something after his trip to the bathroom. He thought he just forgot to put the seat down. Obeying the order, Angel was about to again try and convince Cordy to sit down. The sound of the doorbell stopped that.
“Oh shit, they’re here!” Cordy frantically checked her makeup and hair once more. “Damn. I had a whole opening speech prepared. Now I forgot it! What am I going to do?”
It took Angel grabbing her roughly by the shoulders to focus her attention. “You’re going to take a deep breath.” Cordelia did. “You’re going to relax. You’re going to open the door. You’re going to show her why you were such a good friend.”
Thankfully, Cordelia seemed to calm down. “When did you get so good at the talking thing?”
Angel shrugged. “I pick things up along the way. Now go open the door.”
With a final cleansing breath, Cordelia stood straight and tall and marched to the door. Just as the doorbell rang a second time, Cordy opened the door only to be taken aback. When Angel stepped behind her, he understood why she was stunned.
It became quite obvious where Adele got her beauty. Aurelie was an exact replica of her daughter, albeit around fifty years of age.
“Miss Chase?” For the first time, Cordelia noticed Cousin Marcus standing behind Aurelie. His accent was fairly thick and Cordy had to pay close attention to understand him. “Are you okay?”
He must have meant the stunned expression she wore. “Yes, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to stare. But your aunt is very beautiful. Adele looked just like her.” Marcus leaned into Aurelie’s ear and spoke in quick French. From Cordy’s limited knowledge of the language, she realized Marcus was repeating what she said.
“Thank…you,” Aurelie answered in unsteady English. The woman smiled sadly and cupped Cordelia’s cheek. Tears began to well up in the older woman’s eyes, and before she knew it, they were forming in Cordelia’s as well.
“Come on in,” she beckoned. “I guess we have lots to talk about.” Cordelia moved aside and ushered them in.
For the rest of the afternoon and long into the night, Cordelia and Angel shared their experiences with Adele while Aurelie recounted tales of her little girl’s childhood exploits. When it was over, and all of Adele’s possessions had been turned over, the pair realized they felt better than they had in days.
In fact, Cordelia and Angel almost felt normal again. They would never see their friend again, not in this life. But maybe they could get by in this one.
Graduation Day ~ Late Morning
“How are you?”
Buffy looked up from the table where she was sharpening her sword and found Angel looking down at her. She turned away and continued to sharpen. “Fine. Usual pre-apocalypse jitters. Happens all the time. Sharp things calm me down.”
“So I noticed.” Buffy responded by sharpening the blade with a little more intensity. “Are you mad at me?”
“Mad? No. I’m just surprised that you want to talk to me. Things shouldn’t be difficult when you finally decide to leave. So when is that exactly?”
Angel stepped further into the library’s storage room and sighed. He understood that she wasn’t actually angry. Just hurt. “That’s what I came to talk to you about. I’m leaving tonight if, you know, I survive this.”
“Tonight?” For a brief moment he heard panic, or remorse, or something similar in Buffy’s voice. But she quickly recovered. “Is Cordelia going with you?”
“She pretty much has to.” And suddenly Angel was right behind her. She continued to focus on the sword in front of her. “We’re connected now. She’s my Seer. Makes things simpler if she’s by my side rather than 100 miles away.”
“100 miles? You’re moving to…”
“Los Angeles.” Angel reached into his pocket and retrieved a folded up slip of paper. He tossed it on the table before her. “That’s the address of an office building we’ve leased. The phone is my cell number. The office doesn’t have a number assigned yet. I thought you might want it. For emergencies and such.”
“Of course. You never know when another apocalypse may take place in which we’ll need some backup.”
“Well, it is the Hellmouth.”
They stood in silence for several long minutes. Buffy merely stared at the slip of paper. Angel stared at her staring at the slip of paper. Finally, Angel turned slowly and was about to walk away. At the last instant Buffy called out to him.
“Don’t stray too far. Commencement starts soon.” Angel nodded. “And Angel? Good luck.”
Angel smiled slightly. He turned and walked away.
Graduation Day ~ Night
“A wise woman once said ‘Fire bad, Tree Pretty’. I think that holds a certain poignancy.”
Angel smiled as Cordelia parked herself atop the hood of the Buick he was leaning against. He watched as the fire continued to engulf the school, and the carcass of the Mayor, into oblivion.
“And who said that?”
“Buffy. I heard her talking with Giles a minute ago.” Cordy slid off the hood and plopped down next to him. She took his hand and leaned her head on his shoulder. “So what’s it like to still be alive after all this?”
“I dunno. I wasn’t alive even before all of this.”
They continued to watch the blaze take down the high school. All around, survivors of the Class of 1999 reunited with their families. Police and firemen rushed around trying to assert some vague semblance of order. Angel hadn’t seen this sort of chaos since Disco Night at Comiskey Park.
“Did you talk with Buffy?”
“How’d she take it?”
“With remarkable maturity.”
At that moment, through the smoke and haze filling the Sunnydale night, Angel locked eyes with said Slayer. There was a moment of understanding that passed between them. An acceptance that the past was over. An acceptance that things were changing.
Buffy looked down and noticed their entwined hands with remorse. From there she just turned and walked away. It was over. One journey come to an end, another just beginning to unravel.
“So what do we do now?” Cordelia asked. “Where do we go from here?”
“I’m not sure,” Angel answered honestly. “It’s been so long since I’ve been anywhere else, done anything else. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like once we’re not…here.”
“Think we’ll make it in the big, bad city?”
“I think we stand a chance.” He smiled at his unsure friend and began to lead her away from the scene.
“Now c’mon. Let’s stop by Rosie’s Diner and get some pie in you. My treat.”
“Your treat? Wow, we really must have come close to death if you’re buying.”
“You got a smart mouth on you, girl. Have I ever said how much I like that?”
“No, but that’s a thing a girl should hear.”
The laughter and joking continued for the rest of the night. Although neither was sure of the path that awaited them, they accepted that it must be faced. After all, a bloke couldn’t stay stuck in the past forever.
There was always a time to move on and face new things. There was always a time to turn the page and move on to the next chapter.
That time was now.
Can I get some Hell Yeah’s? I hope you enjoyed this series. If you did, let me hear it please. I would also like to thank all the people who ever read my drivel and offered some kind words. Because of it I gained the confidence to start planning my own original endeavours.
Justin ~ aka Liam