Category: Post-Episode Fic
Summary: Cordelia and Angel discuss dying, demonizing and their growing feelings for each other.
Spoilers: ATS Season 3 Birthday
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Anywhere…please let me know.
Notes: Challenge by Marie: A/C Season 3. Missing Scene. Remember when Angel bought Cordy a present for her birthday just before she was demonized by Skip. C remembers Angel bought her a prezzy and asks Angel for it. Would like to see A/C being really mature and honest with each other and talking in an adult way about their growing feelings for each other. ** When starting this challenge, I quickly realized that I couldn’t simply jump to the gift-giving and revelations without working through a few major themes.
Feedback: Absolutely! Any way, shape or form.
Cordelia closed her eyes, breathing in deep as the scent of night-blooming jasmine filled the air. She stood there for countless minutes despite the fine mist that left a soft sheen on her skin.
Too many serious thoughts ran through her head to notice the changing weather: life, death, relief, fear. It all came down to choices and she’d made one.
“So demonize me already,” she’d told Skip with a shrug. That’s all it took. One instant of hellish pain that felt like she was turned inside-out. A freaky way to stave off death, but it kept her where she needed to be. Right here with the mission.
The side-effects hadn’t come to mind until after Cordelia came out of her mystic coma to find herself caught up in Angel’s arms. Suddenly, she was thinking about the physical effects of becoming part demon and imagined horns and a tail. A quick check ended that worry. It was a little harder to explain the floaty thing or the lack of debilitating pain as her next vision came.
Fortunately, there was no time for explanations. As happy as Angel had been to see her come out of that coma, Cordelia could tell he wasn’t at all pleased about leaving without knowing what was going on. She’d had to push them out the door to go save the Glendale guy from that demon.
Feeling great, Cordelia thought about tagging along, but knew from Angel’s expression and the stunned faces of her friends that the questions would be endless. She didn’t want to deal with that in an open convertible speeding across town at seventy miles per hour.
“Wait here, Cordy,” Angel’s touch seemed to burn through the grey cotton cover-up as his hand curled around her shoulder. He said nothing else, just stared down intently as if expecting her to bolt the moment he left the building.
Message received, big guy. Don’t run home because you want to interrogate me when you get back. Got it.
The others weren’t quite as understated about their plan to do the same. As soon as Angel moved toward the weapons cabinet to remove his favorite broadsword, the others were all crowded around her again.
All except Lorne who seemed to hang back and stare at her in a way Cordelia assumed was an intense study of her aura.
“We’ll have some research to do,” Wesley assured her that he’d get right on it as soon as the demon was dealt with. “Levitation is an intriguing phenomenon. I wonder if it’s some side effect of residual mystic energies. Considering the state of your br—”
Wes clapped his mouth shut so fast that his teeth clattered. It was quickly followed by a stuttered statement trying to cover up the fact that he knew about her medical exams and the results of her MRIs.
Stopping him, Cordelia told them that she’d seen and heard it all. “Later. There’s no time to waste. Glendale guy. Horny red demon.”
Gunn looked as torn up and irritated as the others. After the initial I’m-happy-to-see-you-awake phase, he was clearly upset. “Fred’s gonna get that cake ready again while we’re gone. Then we’re gonna party. Birthdays gotta be celebrated.”
Geez, it wasn’t like it was going to be her last one. Though Cordelia realized that was just what he was thinking. Giving him a hug, she kissed his cheek. “Major partying coming up. Right after you guys slay the demon.”
“You should probably go,” Fred pressed her mouth into a line of resolve as she faced Gunn and Wesley. “Sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be back. Lorne and I will be here with Cordy.”
As if she needed someone to keep an eye on her. Angel headed toward the door, pausing in front of Cordelia. He looked like he wanted to say something, but ended up sucking in a deep breath of air he didn’t need. Jaw tight, he stared for a moment longer, still holding that breath until Cordelia blurted, “I’m fine. Just go.”
Angel lifted his hand toward her face and it paused with a stutter mid-air until the fingers threaded through her hair and his thumb swept over the curve of her cheek. She slid her own hand up the smooth surface of his leather sleeve to curl around his thick wrist. With a tug,
Cordelia pulled back and stepped away from the urge to nuzzle her cheek against his hand.
Before she could read his expression, Angel turned and walked out the door brandishing his sword, his dark coat sweeping out behind him. Catching herself staring after him, she shrugged it off to the fact that Angel had always had that hot, broody heroic thing going for him. Normally, she was immune to Angel’s hotness factor considering that he was her best friend, not to mention a cursed vampire guy and a broody blonde lover.
There were tons of reasons to keep any interest to the level of admiring that physique for its pure aesthetic value. Like looking at a marble statue at a museum, he was all sculpted muscle from his broad shoulders all the way down to his calves. Just like a museum, it was all about the Look, But Don’t Touch rule. Most rules had exceptions, including this one.
“I’ll grab the first aid kit,” Cordelia told Fred, wondering how much patching up would be required tonight. Sometimes it seemed like the big dork actually enjoyed her Florence Nightingale routine. “We’ll be ready when they come back.”
Fred sounded a little worried when she asked, “Is it a dangerous one?”
Assuring her, “Nothing they can’t handle,” Cordelia waved off her own nervousness. So many times, she was still in too much pain to do more than focus on blocking out the rush of images flashing through her head.
In fact, it was probably one of those times Wes and Gunn needn’t have bothered to tag along. Not because the demon wasn’t a huge badass bent on killing everything in its path with Glendale Guy being the poor sap who got in the way. It was Angel himself.
Closing her eyes, Cordelia could focus on what she’d seen of Angel in that vision. Lightning fast, he fought viciously, all his rage taken out on the red demon. It left her shaky because she felt it run through her as sharp-edged as his sword.
All that anger belonged to her, Cordelia realized. He knew what she’d been hiding from him, from all of them. When he got back, she figured she’d be seeing a little of that rage up close and personal.
Aggressively invading her space, looming tall, thick muscles tense as he fought for control of some deep down demonic urge to…do whatever it is vampires do when their best friend pisses them off.
Well, she had a few raging rights of her own considering what she’d seen during Skip’s little tour. Angel had a few things to answer for, Cordelia figured, remembering the fact that while defending her to the conduit, Angel had said some hurtful things.
He’d called her weak, just a rich girl from Sunnydale who likes to play superhero.
Hmph! Angel isn’t the only one with the right to be a little pissed. I can’t wait to see how he tries to stutter his way out of that one.
Cordelia pulled off her cover-up and tossed it across the countertop leaving her dressed in the white tank and sweatpants she had been wearing. She longed for a long bubble bath, but decided to wait until she got home figuring that after the lectures that were no doubt headed her way she’d need help to relax.
“Cordy, your vision…,” Fred began only to have Cordelia hold up a hand to ward off the question that was forming.
Concern filled the warm brown eyes staring up at her and Cordelia figured she’d made the right decision about keeping things to herself. Having such concern and pity staring back at her each time she looked at one of her friends was not something she wanted.
“Please wait for the Twenty Questions routine. There’s nothing to worry about. I promise that I’ll explain it all when the guys get home.”
“Okay,” agreed Fred with a reluctant nod. “I guess I’ll get the birthday goodies ready.”
Their surprise birthday party had been a huge bust thanks to the badly-timed vision that threw her into a mystic coma and left her in astral form. There, but not seen by anyone. Untouchable. Unable to communicate. Needless to say, her birthday cake and presents were instantly forgotten by all.
Mmm, presents, Cordelia looked around the lobby, finding several large colorfully wrapped packages on the floor. Her eyes lit up as she wondered what might be inside.
“No peeking,” Lorne cautioned as she knelt down to gather them up.
Cordelia stuck out her tongue and grinned widely at the notion, “As if I could get through all of the Scotch tape to peek even if I wanted too.”
Placing the gifts on the countertop, Cordelia turned back to face the Pylean demon. “Stare much?”
“There’s a lot to see, Cordelicious.” Normally jovial, Lorne’s mouth was a flat line of concern as he took in changes only he could sense. The dancing lights appearing in her normally pure aura signaled something significant had happened.
Despite her own curiosity, Cordelia figured it would be better to wait to find out what he was sensing when he looked at her. She didn’t want to hash and rehash this explanation of events more than once or at least not until she’d talked to Angel about it.
Lorne quietly acknowledged Cordelia’s request to be alone by heading back upstairs with the excuse of keeping an eye on the baby.
Watching him go, Cordelia wondered exactly what she was going to tell her friends. The straight-forward I’ve Been Demonized approach seemed the easiest. Maybe she’d just go with that. How about the Guess What I Got For My Birthday game. Or even the time-honored Good News/Bad Newsscenario.
Taking a final look at her pile of presents, Cordelia wandered off in the direction of the garden.
“You coulda saved some of the action for us,” Gunn complained to the scowling vampire at his side, pointing out the still shiny state of his axe, “tried to make the fight interesting. That demon never stood a chance. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you move so fast.”
Saying nothing, Angel gave his friend a look that suggested the subject was definitely closed. As far as he was concerned fighting the eight-foot behemoth had already taken up too much time. Driving all the way to Glendale and back, he hadn’t been thinking about the demon that awaited them at the lakeside park. His thoughts had been focused entirely on Cordelia.
Wesley nudged Gunn with his elbow as he walked toward the weapons cabinet. “I think Angel was simply trying to expedite the mission.”
“Yeah, I get that,” Gunn reluctantly admitted. Doing so brought to mind the reason for it. As he looked around the Hyperion’s empty lobby, he asked them, “Where is everybody?”
Fred appeared carrying a tray of snack just in time to comment, “I’m here. Lorne’s still upstairs with Connor. I think Cordy chased him off when he started asking questions. She did the same thing to me, but I can understand.”
“So where is she?” Wesley wondered if Cordelia had gone straight home once they left.
It was Angel who answered. He could see her through the glass doors, standing alone in the midst of the garden. “Outside.”
“Let’s go,” Gunn was already heading in that direction when he was stopped by Angel’s firm grip around his arm.
“We’re not going to gang up on Cordy. There’s too much we don’t know and I won’t have her bombarded with questions that will only make things worse.” Angel’s determination left them muttering their protests.
He handed Wes his sword. “I’m going out there alone. No interruptions.”