Cordy tugged her jacket off as she meandered through her apartment….sighing a little at the tingle of cool air that wafted over her neck.
“Yeah, Dennis, done and donner. You are looking at a single woman.” She stretched, yawning. “Single and happenin’.” She giggled slightly, walking down the short hall to her room. “Gotta say, even for me, this was a red-letter day. I cowed Wesley, tormented a heart attack patient, and hey, oh yeah, ended a FAILED MARRIAGE. All in a day’s work for Cordelia Chase, seer in the big city.”
She kicked off her shoes and headed for the bathroom. “Gonna take a shower, gonna pull on ugly comfy pants and big fat bunny slippers and gonna sit my ass right in front of the tv with a little gift from my future husbands, Ben and Jerry. Whatdya say?”
Silence greeted her musings. “C’mon, Dennis. We’ll watch Ghost.” Her voice cajoled tiredly. The water in the shower turned on, and she smiled softly. “There ya go.”
An hour later, just after twilight, she settled comfortably on the sofa, slapping her feet onto the coffeetable. The cheerful bunnies on the toes of her slippers grinned maniacally at her upside down, and a pint of Half Baked lay open in her lap.
“Ok, Dennis…let’s get this cryfest on the road.” A dvd floated up and into the open drawer of the player, which slid shut with a mechanical whoosh. Cordelia was reaching for the remote when the phone rang, jarring her in the silence.
She stared at the caller ID. Wesely. Please, God. Please please please. Let this be an everything went ok call, and not a business as usual, all screwed up call. She picked up the receiver with fingers that shook slightly. “Hello?”
“Cordelia.” Wesley’s voice sounded muted. “It’s done. Everything went smoothly. The papers have been notarized and documented and filed, and as of 5:00, we are….” He broke off. Cordy relaxed and leaned back.
“Not legally forced to bicker? Able to snark at each other now just for sport?” Cordelia took a huge spoonful of Half Baked and shoved it into her mouth.
“Well, yes.” Cordelia could hear the amusement in Wesley’s voice. “Feel free to….snark….away just for the pleasure of it.”
Cordelia grinned, licking the spoon. “Well, now that I’m single it has to be protected snark.”
“Cordelia…” Wesley’s voice turned serious. “I never said….” He broke off. There was a silence, and she heard him mutter softly, “Maybe this is best not done over the phone.”
“Oh, Wes, now you’re stuck. What is it?” Cordy froze. What had gone wrong now?
“The thing is, Cordelia, I haven’t said….I didn’t…..Cordelia, I didn’t ever tell you how sorry I was about all of this. I feel like it was my fault.”
“Wes. I was there too. Not completely dumb here, just kinda. You don’t have to tell me you’re sorry. I’m not.”
“You’re not?” Wes sounded surprised.
“Well, no. I mean, look at the lives we live, Wes.” She stuffed another bite of Half Baked into her mouth. “Ish nst e ay i ish.”
Cordelia swallowed quickly, holding her hand to her forehead as brainfreeze shot through her. “Um, I said, it’s just the way it is. With us. We have weird lives.”
“Yes we do.” Wesley’s sigh was heartfelt.
“Look at it this way, Wes. How great is it that I was married to my best friend? How sucky would it have been had I woken up with Bubba, the 300 lb truck driver from Armpit, America? C’mon, get a little perspective here.”
“There is that.” The amusement was back in Wesley’s voice.
“Good. We’re back. I called the hospital. Mr. Blevins is fine. He’s in the cardio-care unit, but expected to be ok.” Cordy licked at the spoon some more. “I’ll send him flowers from us tomorrow. Maybe with a box of nicoderm patches.” Wes chuckled. “So……didya stand and deliver alone today?”
“Um….no. Had company.”
“Company of the taco-shovin’ variety?”
“Yes. How could you see that she…”
“Oh Wes….clueless, clueless Wes. I think the question here is how could you NOT see?” There was a silence for a moment.
“There is something to that. Being clueless.” Wes mused. “Perhaps there’s something in the water. Because it seems that the clueless affliction is going around.”
“What?” Cordy sifted uncomfortably. There was another moment of silence. When Wesley spoke again his voice was casual.
“Oh, nothing. Just that some people can’t see what’s right in front of them. Me, for example. I think…” he paused. “I think I can see a lot more clearly now, and I think I’m going to take Ms. Winifred Burkle out for dinner tonight.”
Cordy smiled sadly, a little chagrinned at the small stab to her heart. “You dog. Get rid of one, just get another. Really, Wes. Have a good time. I’ll talk to you in the morning, probably with a dairy product hangover.”
“Would you like to join us?”
Cordelia laughed out loud. “Oh, may I? That’d be a perfect first date for you and Fred.” She chuckled. “But thanks, Wes. You’re the best.”
“Alright then. See you tomorrow.”
“Yeah.” Sigh. “Tomorrow.” And she gently put the receiver down. Wesley and Fred. Sittin’ in a tree. She smiled, fingering the receiver lightly as she thought. Good for them. She was reaching for the remote when the phone rang again. She looked at the caller id and picked it up, holding it to her ear. “Hey Gunn.”
“Barbie.” Gunn’s voice sounded relaxed. “Hey, heard you were on the market again.”
“Yes, and I’m strong, have child bearing hips, and all my own teeth.”
Gunn laughed. “Just wanted to call and tell ya….kinda think I was a butt about this whole thing.”
“Yes, you were. Lucky for you, your butt is fabulous.” Gunn laughed again. “It’s all good, Charles, my sweet. I kinda had a butt moment or two of my own.”
“Oh, like torturing sick lawyers?”
“He wasn’t sick. He was near death. Big difference.” She paused. “But yeah, that was a less than stellar moment for the archives. I just wanted it done.”
“Yeah.” They were both silent for a moment. “So…we good?”
“We’re the best, Charles Gunn.”
“OK. Need a little company?”
“Yeah, Microsoft would be nice, if you’re offering.”
Gunn laughed again. “Ok, ok, I get it. Just don’t want ya alone and sad, like those sad women, sitting there in front of the tv eating ice cream all the time.”
Cordy froze, the full spoon halfway to her mouth. “Um, no, no, not gonna happen. No ice cream binge for me.”
“Good. Because my Auntie Bernice…..man, when she sits around the house, she sits AROUND the house.”
Cordelia laughed. “No, no, no. No Atkins for me. I’m gonna be skinny Minnie for a while at least.”
“Sure you’re good?” Gunn was serious. “I mean, big day. I was a butt. I could take ya out…”
“I’m fine, I’m fine. How can I not be, with such good friends?” There was a silence for a moment.
“OK. Long as you’re good. Because you’re….you’re gold, Cordy, and you deserve good. Hell, you deserve the best.”
“I think I already have it.” Cordy sighed. “It’s…we’re good and solid, sweetie. I’ll see you tomorrow, still skinny, and buy you a latte.”
“Ok. Gonna hold you to that.” And he hung up. Cordy lowered the receiver and was reaching for the remote when the phone rang again. She looked at the caller id and sighed, picking up the phone and holding it to her ear.
“Lorne. Hey. Don’t wanna sing, I’m fine, I’m not mad, I’m not eating myself into oblivion and it’s all good.”
There was a silence. “So…..you’re turning down a date with moi?”
Cordy giggled. “A date with you? Please.”
“Hey it could happen. You know what they say. The size of a demon’s horn corresponds directly to the size of his…”
“LORNE!!!!” Cordelia laughed loudly. “You’re bad.”
“So bad that you need to hustle your tush over here for dinner and entertainment. C’mon, Cordycakes. It’ll be fun. Right now, a Klanarion is onstage singing It’s Raining Men. You can’t find good times like that anywhere.”
“Ok, ok, ok.” Cordelia threw her hands up. “Dinner with the host with the most…sounds good. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be there.”
“Good girl. Just for that, I’m not going to tease you for one single second about your tainted Klingon blood.”
“Just kidding. Had to get my little lick in. C’mon, time’s a wastin’”
“OK. On my way.” She hung up and sighed. “I give up. My friends are determined to be friends. Dennis…” She rose, and trudged down the hall, her bunny slippers making little slappy noises on the wood floor. “You’re on your own. Try to not drool over Demi, ok?”
Lorne hung up the phone, smiling slightly across the table as he lifted his drink in a toast. “She’s on her way.”
An hour later, Cordelia entered Carita’s and sat down, looking around for Lorne. Not seeing him, she wandered through the crowd till she got to an empty table and sat, wincing as the woman on stage belted out “Like a Virgin.” God had a sick sense of humor.
A waitress appeared, and Cordy ordered with an absent minded smile as she looked again for Lorne. Maybe he was giving some kind of psychic music mojo reading thingee to someone, or something. The waitress returned and set her drink down and wandered off at Cordy’s soft “thanks.”
She leaned back in her seat, absently stirring her coke as her mind wandered. A shadow fell over the table and she looked up, grinning a bit as Lorne joined her and sat at her table.
“Cookie….a coke? The shame, the shame.” Lornes’ voice was light but his gaze was watchful.
“Yeah. Me and the drinkypoo, we don’t seem to mix.” Cordelia flashed him another grin. “I learned my lesson.”
“That. And other things.” They both fell silent. Another shadow fell across the table, and Cordy looked up at the waitress, standing over her with a single drink perched in the middle of her tray. The waitress pointed in the direction of the bar.
“From that guy over there, the one with the horn in the middle of his forehead?” Cordelia followed the point and smiled apologetically, shaking her head no. The Demon shrugged his shoulders and she turned back to Lorne.
“Just what I need. Newly single, out on the prowl.”
Lorne looked down at his fingernails carefully. “Sooooo…not ready to dive into the having fun with the romance thing just yet?”
“If ever. Jeeze.” She sipped at her coke. “I don’t think I’m cut out to be married.”
“Honey….” Lorne broke off as the waitress appeared again with another drink for Cordelia.
“The guy with the one eye in the middle of his chin.” Cordy followed the waitress’ pointing finger and smiled again, shaking her head no. Lorne watched the byplay.
“Cordilicious…you’re looking at this all wrong. That wacky thing called love doesn’t really walk hand in hand with married. Those are two things going on. You need to look at the big picture.”
“Oh, I did. I have seen the big picture, and it’s like a Seurat. You know….really beautiful from far away…but get up close, and it’s a mess.”
“Cordy, maybe your happy ever after is here. Maybe you’re too close and it looks like a mess, but you need to stand back and let the picture get clearer.”
Cordy sipped at her coke. “Could be. Maybe…” She grinned at Lorne. “Maybe I just need to hang with my favorite green guy and have me some dinner.”
Lorne nodded, looking over her shoulder and hiding a grin before rising.
“Cordycakes, all I’m gonna say is that men are like busses. One goes by, another one will come along.” Cordy wrinkled her nose at him.
“Oh, nice, Lorne. I’m having that stitched on a pillow.”
He grinned back. “Oh, and live long and prosper.” He waved a little wave and disappeared, leaving Cordelia shaking her head; she would never, ever live the Great Star Trek Wedding down as long as she had breath.
Just then, the waitress reappeared, this time holding a tray heavy with several glasses, all identical, of the same drink. She plunked the tray down onto the table and Cordy raised wide eyes to her.
“Cranky looking guy in the black coat over by the bar….” Cordy’s head whipped around and met the solemn dark gaze of the vampire who stood apart from everyone else. Cordelia froze, held by the somberness of Angel’s unwavering stare.
The waitress looked down at the tray. “Honey, just take ‘em. I’m not carting that tray back to the bar.” And she disappeared. Cordy ignored her as Angel strolled over, his eyes never leaving hers. He sat down across the table from her and they looked at each other silently. Finally, he spoke, looking away casually.
“So. Big day. What with the medical emergencies and all.”
Cordelia groaned. “Any chance of this little story just sliding away without comment?”
“None at all.” Angel smiled a bit. “That’s Cordelia. Good in a crisis.”
Cordelia smiled slightly and played with her glass. Angel watched her a bit.
“Any regrets?” Cordelia barked out a laugh.
“Oh, my. Jeeze. Where to begin…”
“But the thing is….”Angel’s tone was calm. “..at the end of the day, you have friends who care….you have your life back….”
“Not to mention newfound legal expertise and a sundry knowledge of Klingon. Wasn’t expecting that.” Cordy grinned at him. He nodded back.
“So. I guess it’s official.” Cordy nodded.
“Yes, it is. I’m officially, absolutely, one hundred percent…..not married.” She thought a bit. “Hey, you were going to tell me something….something….remember?” He looked at her evenly.
“C’mon, Angel, you hate it when I do that to you…spill. What did you want to tell me. Tonight, everyone wants to tell me something, it seems, get on that train and dish the dirt.” He just looked across the table at her, and she began to fidget. “What’s with the drinks?” She leaned in closer, wrinkling her nose as she sniffed at one of the glasses.
She looked up at Angel, who watched her carefully. She picked up a glass and took a sip, her eyes widening as the cool liqueur slid down her throat. “These are…these are all….” She laughed. “These are amaretto sours. Hooboy….no thanks.” She set the glass back down. Angel shifted slightly, watching her. “Last time I had one of these…”
She paused, smiling sadly. “I had another. And another. And another. And after a while….I got wacky.” She broke off, raising startled eyes to his face, as he leaned in a little and lifted the glass back up, reaching across the table and handing it to her.
She took it with nerveless fingers, and held it tightly as he nudged her hand, keeping his eyes locked on hers. The picture suddenly became clearer as all the dots in her mind connected into a lovely arrangement of color.
And she did.