47: Mercy Hospital, Westside, Sunnydale
Holding the pillow speaker in hand, Cordelia jabbed the nurse-call button for the third time. The voice at the other end held an audible sigh though the words were polite enough. “I’m sorry, Miss Chase. I’ve already spoken to your doctor about an early release, but he thinks it’s necessary that you stay until he makes rounds again in the morning.”
Bev and Faith listened in as Cordelia assured her, “But I’m fine,” hoping to convince her that was the case.
The nurse gave her the option of signing out AMA, which she explained meant she would be leaving Against Medical Advice. Cordelia was about to jump at the chance when she felt Bev’s hand on her arm. She glanced up to find her grandmother looking worried, shaking her head.
“You’re staying right here.” Her no-nonsense tone suggested that Cordelia should not try to argue against it. “That’s what the doctor wants. That’s what’s going to happen.”
Stunned for a moment, Cordelia realized that it had been a very long time since anyone in her family actually told her that she could not do something she wanted to do. It was an odd feeling that gripped her, stirring confusion and the notion that she should comply simply because Bev’s concern was genuine.
There was a click on the speaker and then silence. Apparently, her nurse was going to let her grandmother talk her into this, but neither her RN nor Bev knew what Angel was getting into. Cordelia could admit to herself that Angel could kick ass with the best of them. The thought of watching him in action even sent a little thrill up her spine, but there was dread, too.
She did not want him going into this alone. What if Spike was fully recovered? Dru was still dangerous, even though Cordelia doubted she would try to kill Angel. She had other interests. Boffing Angel was probably one of them. Maybe that’s what bothered Cordy the most.
“You don’t understand,” Cordelia huffed, tossing the speaker away so that it hung from its cord alongside the bed. “It’s not safe out there. Angel—”
“Seems like the type who can handle himself just fine.” Bev’s answer elicited a soft snort from Faith who stood near the door, feet planted and arms akimbo as if expecting Cordelia to make a break for it. “The meteor shower is already over. Other than a little aftershock or two from that earthquake, things are back to normal.”
Cordelia struggled with the notion of telling her grandmother that she was concerned about things that went bump in the night. Blurting out that Angel was a vampire and that his so-called relatives were blood-sucking maniacs probably was not a good idea. Although Bev did not fluster easily, Cordy did not want to burst the bubble just yet.
Catching Faith’s gaze, she sent a silent plea for some help convincing Bev to get her out of here. “Forget it, Cor. I like my ass just where it is.”
“That’s right,” Bev caught on instantly. “Angel would want you to follow doctor’s orders and he did ask Faith to stay here to keep you company. He obviously cares a great deal about you.”
Her heart raced in response to Bev’s romantic notions. Telling her that Angel was just a friend was a waste of breath. Bev had drawn her own conclusions and now there was no convincing her otherwise. Cordelia knew she was right to an extent, at least about the caring part.
Angel might have a ton of Buffy issues, but she did not doubt that he thought of her as a friend. There was attraction, Cordelia knew. Being aware of the fact that Angel looked at her in a certain way just made him a guy, an undead guy, but still a guy.
It was just that she got lost in his kiss. The feelings he had stirred up were like none she had ever felt before, even with Xander. She had wanted so much more. Even now, when she was angry with him, just the memory of his touch left a craving for more contact.
“I’ll cut you a deal,” Faith stepped closer to the bed. “Doc & Bev want you to stay. Give it a rest and I’ll call B to play backup for Angel.”
Reluctantly, Cordelia agreed. Even though the idea of Buffy patrolling with Angel made her curl her nails into her palms, she would rather have a Slayer with him than have him go it alone. Only one problem with the plan. “You’ve got no way to call her. The phones here in the room don’t get calls after 9pm and you won’t get a return call at a pay phone.”
Bev suggested, “What about the phone at the nurses’ station?” She looked a little confused as to why it was necessary for anyone to accompany Angel if he was just checking up on his family.
Knowing that Faith was not likely to bring up details to Buffy in such a public area, Cordy hoped that she would give up the idea. “You could always go yourself.”
Yeah, no surprise there, Cordelia sighed, trying not to sound disappointed that her plans for a jailbreak were stifled prematurely. Well, it was worth trying.
Faith reached into her back pocket and pulled out a small Motorola flip phone. Frowning, Cordelia knew that it was one of the most expensive models costing nearly a thousand bucks, and only recently on the market. No longer in the position to pay for a cell phone of her own, she wondered how Faith could afford it.
“Nifty, huh?” Faith flipped it open and punched in a series of numbers. Explaining, “I paged her. It may take her a while to get to a phone.”
As she pocketed the phone again, Cordelia asked where she got it. Being all mysterious about it, Faith shrugged, her cheeks dimpling with her smile. “A friend.”
Faith shifted back from the bed, closer to the door again. Pointing to a sign prohibiting cell phone use, she said, “I’d better wait down the hall,” meaning that she knew better than to talk to Buffy about patrol in front of Bev.
As soon as the door closed behind Faith after her hasty exit, Cordelia turned back to her grandmother. That same worried expression emphasized the tiny wrinkles around her eyes and the soft crease furrowing her brow. “What’s going on? I’m old, not stupid.”
Now that they were alone, Bev had her cornered. “There’s stuff, but nothing you need to worry about.”
“It’s more than checking up on Angel’s family,” Bev guessed rightly. She moved her hand to cover Cordelia’s, which was still balled up tightly. “I can tell something is wrong.”
Bev had good instincts, and asked if Angel was mixed up in something dangerous. He seemed like the tall, dark mysterious type dressed in that leather coat of his, but it was more than just his sense of fashion. Her questions were born of concern, Cordy knew.
Opening up her hand, Cordelia threaded her fingers through her grandmother’s, subconsciously noting the fragile sensation of her fingers and the smooth texture of her skin. Their eyes mirrored each other’s being so alike, cloudy with concern.
“Did something else happen tonight that I should know about, a reason that you are so upset with Angel?”
“No,” Cordelia rushed to assure her that whatever scenario she was imagining did not take place. “Angel’s a good guy. Really. I…we…he kissed me tonight and had the nerve to compare me to his ex-girlfriend.”
Quirking an eyebrow, Bev reacted surprised, but said nothing. Cordelia struggled for a response. She did not like the idea of lying to her grandmother, but what could she say? Angel’s eccentric relatives were from out of town and they needed to be watchdogged closely. Tonight a demon had marked her as a sacrifice to its god. And, by the way, the hot guy you think is my boyfriend is a vampire who happens to have a soul.
Not gonna happen.
“We haven’t known each other very long.” Though, in some ways, Cordelia felt like it was forever. “I wish things had been different, y’know.”
Bev nodded, “Me too,” looking a little puzzled by the turn in the conversation.
“You’re the only normal thing in my life right now,” Cordelia explained with a soft hitch in her voice. “I don’t want that to change.”
Rebar and breakups, tax evasion and prison, losing everything, and now demony death threats made her want to sign up for another life. It was almost frightening that Bev meant so much to her so quickly.
Just like Angel, the thought whispered in her head.