Fight the Good Fight. 2

***

Nothing will make this better. Cordelia felt like Humpty Dumpty. She’d fallen and busted into a hundred million pieces and all the King’s horses and all the King’s men wouldn’t be able to put her back together.

An hour later and it still didn’t feel real. It was like a nightmare. One that kept repeating, over and over in her mind.

She was glad he hadn’t followed her. The whole thing was just so humiliating, especially when she remembered leaving all that “romantic rendez-vous” stuff at the office. He would see it. He would know. It hurt so much. How could I have been so wrong?

She realized who the girl was. The beautiful blond.Jessica-they’d done a job for her more than a month ago. Cordy remembered. The two of them had talked about the new fall lines. Has this been going on since then? How could I have not known?

She felt so stupid. Because she hadn’t seen. And because she still didn’t understand now. What about the curse? Did his soul go all permanent and he just didn’t tell me?

The doorbell rang. She knew it was Angel. She’d been expecting him. Not in the sense that she’d dressed for the occasion-unless you count the fact that the yoga pants and tee shirt really bring out the red in my eyes.

She opened the door and there he was. Tall, dark, and apparently nervous as hell. Good.

“Hi,” she said simply, forcing a small smile. Maybe if she tried to act as normal as possible, he would too and they could put this whole mess behind them. When he didn’t say anything, when he just kept looking at her with those dark eyes, she realized the normal act was out.

“Come in,” she invited and moved to sit down on the couch.

He walked inside and shut the door. He looked around the room, like he couldn’t decide where to go. Finally she pointed at the chair across from her. He sat.

“So,” she said. Time to get the conversational ball rolling. “Nice day isn’t it.” Oh yeah. That’s brilliant.

“The sun went down an hour ago. It’s not day,” he told her. He’s not going to make this very easy.

“Look, Angel, I know how bad that was, me just walking in on you two like that. I’m really sorry. Talk about ruining the moment. I should have, I don’t know, called first? Yeah, I should have called. Cause you clearly weren’t expecting company.” She tried to sound carefree and easy going but knew she was failing miserably.

She wasn’t carefree or easy going. There was no hiding that.

“You’re not company,” he said.

“But still, you have every right to.do things.without, uh, interruptions. So, I’m sorry. For interrupting.” That wasn’t so bad. Now if he just forgets to mention the candles and champagne, it will be okay.

“I know you’re upset Cordy.” Angel looked directly in her eyes when he said that.

“No. Yes. Well, a little.” He didn’t ask if she was heartbroken. That would have been harder to answer truthfully. This one she could handle.

“How could you not tell me that your soul was permanent?”

“Huh?” She seemed to have shocked him out of the expressionless state he’d been in since his arrival.

“I saw you two Angel. A lot of you two. With the sex. How could you neglect to mention the fact that there is no more curse?”

He stared at her like she’d grown two heads, until understanding must have dawned. “There is still a curse Cordy.”

“But.how?”

“I can have sex,” he ground out. “Even with the curse.”

What? Nobody told me that! What was I doing comshucking with a Pylean virgin when I could have had..UHHHH. This is just so typical.

“Oh.” She tried to focus. “You can have sex?” He nodded. “And you’re having sex with this.this Jessica?”

“Yes.”

“And you won’t lose your soul?”

“No.” He was starting to look less broody and nervous and more annoyed.

“How can you be so sure Angelus won’t be making any visits?” Cordy asked.

“Trust me.”

She couldn’t help but roll her eyes at that one. “Why? Because she’s not.not you know who? You better be careful Angel.” Cordy knew she was starting to yell. But she was.this just.it sucked. The whole thing sucked. “Cause you’re playing with fire you know,” she warned.

Damn him. Damn him, damn him, damn him. “Aren’t you getting a little cocky here? I mean, I get that Buffy was a good lay and all, but I’m sure Jessica knows some tricks too. You’re an idiot to mess around like this.” She yelled the last part.

And I don’t think calling him an idiot is going to go over well.

It didn’t.

“What, are you the only person around here who’s allowed to just sleep with whoever they want to?” he asked sarcastically.

Are you kidding me? “What are you trying to say Angel?”

He stood up. “When you turned the Groosalog into your plaything, did I point any fingers at you? No. When I want your opinion on my love life Cordelia, I’ll ask for it.”

It was weird. Angel’s voice was all hard and bitter and Angelus-y. But his eyes.She got the distinct impression that he was trying to act this way. Trying to make her mad at him.

“Jessica is not perfect happiness,” Angel hurried to say, probably because he saw something like recognition in her eyes. “She isn’t now and she won’t be any time in the future. But is it so wrong for me to be a little happy? Aren’t I allowed that?”

Yes. You are. But aren’t I? When’s it my turn to be happy? I waited. I waited two months. Cordy was distracted. She wasn’t thinking clearly. That’s why what she said next slipped out.

She stood up, hating that he was looking down at her when she already felt so very vulnerable. “Sure. Yes. You deserve to be happy, I, I just thought tha-.”

“What? What did you think?” Angel cut in.

“I THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD BE ME. I thought if it ever wasn’t Buffy, I thought that it would be me.” Oh God. Oh God what did I just do? What have I done?

For long heavy moments they didn’t say anything. The silence stretched on and on until Cordy thought she might choke in the tension filled air. So she commenced with the babbling.

“That’s what I, that night, when I asked you to meet me, that’s what I wanted to talk about. Now, I, I understand. These past two months, since we both got back . How you’ve been acting. I thought you were pushing me away just for the thrill of it. But you were pushing me away because you’d chosen someone else.”

Against her will, her voice cracked slightly during that last part. It was hard admitting how stupid she’d been. To think he’ d-

“Ha,” he barked out a harsh laugh. “Not exactly. Don’t you get it?” Angel growled, in a hard, almost unrecognizable voice. “You and I can never happen.”

“I get that,” she told him in a small quiet voice. Cordelia had thought that she had already gotten that, but hearing him say THOSE words like THAT, it felt like he was ripping pieces of her away.

His eyes seemed to soften. “Do you know why?”

Cordy exhaled. “I don’t know Angel. You don’t like me like that? You just want to be friends? You’re married to the sea?”

“Funny,” he said in a voice that didn’t sound like he thought it was funny. “But no. Ask me why.” She rolled her eyes and didn’t say anything but he just kept staring at her, so finally she caved.

“Fine. Why can you and I never be together?” I swear to God if he mentions blonds, I will kill him. The world doesn’t need a champion THAT badly.

***

“Because if you and I ever fucked on the floor like that, I’d lose my soul,” Angel told her with quiet finality, as he stalked over to her. “Because the second I came inside of you, I’d be putting everyone I love in danger. And because if I ever saw you.tasted.I’d unleash Angelus on the world.” By the time he finished, he stood only inches away. His hands came up and grabbed her shoulders.

“It wouldn’t even have to be sex Cordy. Not with you. Sometimes, Christ, your smile, your scent, it catches me off guard and it’s like a million little explosions in my head. It won’t be sex with you Cordelia.” When he realized he had started shaking her, he immediately let go and took several steps backwards.

Please let her understand this and let it go.

She looked like she was going into shock. She just stared at him, swallowing repeatedly.

“So you-“

“Yes,” he told her.

“About me?”

“Yes.”

She couldn’t look at him anymore so she turned away, with her back to him. It helped a little. She finally started to breath again, rapid even pants of air going in and out. He waited for her to find her equilibrium. He hoped there wouldn’t be tears. He didn’t know if he could handle tears.

“Say it,” Cordelia ordered, without facing him.

“What?” he asked, even though he had a pretty good idea.

“I need you to say it. You’re asking me to accept this, to pretend this isn’t happening, and maybe I will, but first, I want to hear you say it. Dammit Angel, I deserve to hear you say it once.”

He didn’t want to. It’s only going to make this worse for her. Harder. But Cordy was right. She did deserve to hear the truth.

“Cordy, I’ve never felt and I will never feel about anyone the way I feel about you. You make me feel happy, you make me feel human, you make me feel scared. I never knew I could feel so much-I never wanted to. You came into my life and you just infected every part of it, and now all I live is you. You are everything I have ever wanted and everything I never knew I needed.”

Angel took a deep, uneccessary breath. “And when my time on earth finally does end, I’ll regret a lot of things, but most of all, I’ll regret never having the chance to love you.” There. I said it.

“So that’s it then? We just go back to normal. You keep getting just a little bit happy with Jessica and I go on dates with guys who make me just a little happy and we both just stay satisfied with getting a little bit?” She kept her back to him but he saw the way her shoulders trembled slightly.

“I think that’s the way it has to be,” Angel told her.

He expected the tears to come than. So it was a surprise when her voice cut through the tense silence, not wobbly and resigned, but hard and angry. “No. I’m sorry. I don’t think so.”

“What?” What does she mean by that? Angel was confused. It didn’t help that he couldn’t see her face.

“This is unacceptable,” Cordy responded firmly.

“What do you mean?”

She whirled around and he finally did get a look at her. He had never seen her so. determined. “I mean,” she said, getting right up in his face, “that I don’t accept this. I will not finally find out that you love me and have you tell me in the same breath that I can never have you. Nobody, not you, not the Powers that fucking Be, NOBODY, tells Cordelia Chase what she can and can’t have.”

“Cordy-“

“Save it,” she cut him off. “I was starving in LA-I found you. I found a way to survive in Pylea. I found a way to keep my visions and not die. I will find a way out of this.”

Angel turned his head to the side. He couldn’t meet her eyes any longer, couldn’t look at her. Cordy was always beautiful, but when she was mad.She’s like lioness. Sleek and sexy and so very dangerous to me. It wasn’t possible for him to love her more than he did at that moment, with her fighting with everything she had to get what she wanted.

And she wanted him. Still, I have to make her see.

“There’s nothing-“

“Didn’t people tell you there was nothing you could do to get your son back from a hell dimension?” she screamed. “The very same son who currently sleeps three doors down from you? Let me tell you something. This is not a re-enactment of the Angel and Buffy story. No one is leaving, no one is going to pretend we don’t feel the way we do. We are going to find a way to be together, whether you like it or not. I once dated four members of the football team without any of them knowing about the other ones. I’m not going to be intimidated by a little gypsy curse.”

Angel was starting to get angry. Does she think I like doing this? That I like crushing any chance we ever had to be together? Why is she making this so much harder?

“Cordelia,” he said, forcefully. “I get that you don’t want to give up on this. I do. I love you for that. But there’s more than the curse standing in our way. Other things…things you can’t change.”

“Like what?” she challenged him.

“Like me,” he said simply.

Her eyes went wide. “I love you Angel. In case you don’t get that, I’m in love with you. Why would I want to ch-“

“You don’t know me. Not all of me.” And I want to keep it that way.

“I want to,” Cordy told him.

“No. There are parts you wouldn’t love. Wouldn’t.couldn’t understand.”

“Angel,” she crooned, soothingly.

“Sometimes I get hungry Cordelia,” he growled. “Did you know that about me? Sometimes I’ll be looking at you or Fred or Gunn or just a person on the street and I’ll get hungry. Sometimes, Cordy, I want so much to throw you against a wall and fuck you until you break and then bleed you dry. Did you know that Cordelia? Are you loving that part of me?” he yelled.

He looked at her, trying to see if what he had said had made any sort of impact. She looked bewildered and sad and yes, slightly scared. Good. She should be scared. She started to answer, but he kept talking.

“Yeah. That doesn’t sound so good, does it? How sometimes every muscle and nerve is screaming inside of me to kill and to.? See. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I’ve done and you don’t know what I still want to do.” His spoke more quietly now, but his tone was just as impassive.

“Angel?” she said, shakily, searching his eyes for.something.

He had to do it. He had to make her understand how very precarious this situation was. “Cordy, I can smell your fear. Right now, you’re more than a little afraid of me. It’s coming off of you in these great big waves.” He looked deep into her eyes. “And I like it.” Angel saw it flash across her face, fear, anger, maybe even a little bit of hate.

She walked over to the couch and sunk into the cushions, not saying a word.

He moved to stand by the door. “I’m going back to the hotel. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He opened the door and then stopped. “It won’t work Cordy,” he said, not turning back around. “I’m sorry. I’m sorrier than you’ll ever know. But it can’t happen.” And he left.

***

Angel fought against waking up. He had stayed up long after leaving Cordelia’s. Upon returning to the Hyperion, he had sat in the chair in his room and tried for hours to convince himself he had done the right thing.

But if he had, why did it feel so wrong?. And long after he got in bed, sleep evaded him. All he saw was her face. Sitting on the couch, that look on her face, as he walked out the door.

It will be better today. I won’t let her haunt me today.

Only a few hours later and here he was. Lying in his cold lonely bed, in his cold lonely body. It reminded him of being in the box. Which reminded him of that night. Of Cordelia. I’m hopeless.

He wasn’t ready to go downstairs yet. She would be down there, probably eating breakfast with his son, fighting over who got to read the comics first and in general looking more alluring than anyone eating Frosted Flakes had a right to be.

How am I going to get through this day? This week? This life?

He figured he might as well just stay in bed. He rolled over onto his stomach and tried to settle back into sleep. Then Angel realized his hand was resting on something. A letter.

His name was written in neat, flouncy handwriting on the envelope. How had she come in without him knowing? I must have been dead to the world when I finally fell asleep. More dead than usual.

As he tore it open, he refused to think about what it would say, what it could mean. If he had truly lost her forever. Throughout last night, while he was purposely trying to anger her, telling her it could never happen, making her as scared as he could-never once had he thought she would do something crazy.like leave.

It wasn’t her style. He sucked in his courage and read.

Angel,

I know this is cowardly, writing you a letter, but I’m too tired to be brave right now.

I’m leaving.

Angel felt wetness prick his eyes and forced himself to keep reading.

And I know that’s cowardly too, and hypocritical, since I vividly remember telling you last night that neither one of us is allowed to leave. I’m sorry.

Don’t worry, it’s not for good. It’s just that I hurt Angel. I hurt so much. I keep seeing you with her, the two of you. I keep hearing you tell me that I’ll never get to be that for you. With you. I need to be away. Right now, I just need to be away for a while. I’ll be back. I made you a promise and I intend to keep it. I’ll be there, for you, until the end.

The things you said last night, they weren’t what made me afraid you know. I was afraid because you believed they were adequate reasons for us to not be together. You thought those were adequate reasons for you to say you love me and sleep with other women.

Angel, I’ve always known about your dark side. The things you think you hide so well, the fight you pretend you don’t fight? All of us, the people that love you, we’ve always known. Sometimes it’s why we love you. Because you fight this battle, along with a million other battles, everyday. Because you’re a stronger, better man than you’ll ever realize. Because you never stop fighting.

I suppose that’s why this hurts so much. That now, when it matters the most, you won’t fight for me. For us. No matter what you think, you do deserve me and I do deserve you. We’ve earned the right to love Angel.

If-no when, I have to believe it’s WHEN-you come to your senses, I’ll be here, waiting. I’m not going to do something trite, like tell you where I’m going. I figure if you want it enough, you’ll find me. You always have before.

Love, always,
Cordy

The letter fell from his hand as what he had just read sunk in. And in the split second it took for the paper to float down to the bed, he realized.

Everyday, he willingly risked everything. For the whims of the Powers that Be. To help the helpless. For redemption. Why hadn’t he been willing to risk it all for Cordelia? She knew who and what he was and she had been willing to gamble everything on him.

He stared down at his hands. They had caused so much pain. Done so much damage. And yet still. she offered to put her heart in my hands. Trusted me not to hurt her. Why hadn’t he trusted himself?

And now she’s gone. He stood up and started pulling on some clothes. He’d been a fool. A stupid scared fool. But it’s not too late.

He grabbed an empty bag from the closet and started tossing stuff in. Clothes, hair gel, some nun chucks-just in case.

It wasn’t too late. He’d gotten her back before. He would do it now. Getting her back, making it up to her, it wouldn’t be easy. I’m probably in for the fight of my life. Then Angel shook his head, silently correcting himself.

No, I’m fighting FOR my life.

End

Kelly22

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