Rating: R/NC17 (the last part, anyway)
Summary: the fic starts at the hospital, after the C/A confrontation in “Thin Dead Line”
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: If you already have any of my stuff and want this, go ahead and take. Just let me know, so I can visit.
Thanks/Dedication:I can’t give enough thanks to Cleo, for pushing and helping my muse finish, so I will just say ‘Thanks’.
Feedback:is needed and loved…
Cordelia sat beside the hospital bed gently stroking Wesley’s hand. “He will be fine,” she said with determination.
Gunn nodded in agreement, though he knew the young girl was talking more to herself than to him or their sleeping friend. “Cordelia, I will stay with Wesley for awhile if you want to catch a quick nap.”
Cordelia started to protest as she yawned, but then conceded to Gunn’s suggestion. She was exhausted both emotionally and physically from the horrors of the night.
“Okay, maybe for a little while, but come get me if anything changes or if you want to rest,” she ordered.
“I will,” the street kid promised.
Cordelia got up to leave the hospital room taking another long look at Wesley’s still form.
Cordelia wrapped her arms around her tired body as she curled up in the large waiting room chair. She didn’t think she had ever been as terrified as she had been when she saw the blood seeping from the gunshot wound in Wesley’s stomach. Cordelia took several deep breaths trying to clear her mind of that fear.
Wesley was going to be all right and the night of the living dead cops was over. She wasn’t at all sure why the zombies in blue had just crumbled and really died.
One minute, the teen home was being swarmed by the undead and everyone had been fighting for their lives, then all of a sudden, poof. It was like someone had pulled the plug on the undead group. But at this point she really didn’t care. Cordelia was just relieved that it was over and that she and Gunn had been able to get Wesley to the hospital in time.
Oh god, she thought squeezing her body tighter. Wesley could have died. Cordelia wasn’t at all sure what she would have done if she had lost Wesley. She had already lost Angel; she couldn’t have stood it if the former watcher had left her too.
Angel, she thought with bitterness. It was his entire fault. If he hadn’t fired them, cut them so completely out of his life, then this would have never happened. Gunn wouldn’t have gone to take on the rogue cops without proper back up. Wesley wouldn’t have been in the position to get shot.
It was the vampire’s entire fault, her mind ranted. And the nerve of him, just showing up here at the hospital acting liked he cared. The young girl was glad that she had finally told the vampire off. But, Cordelia questioned, how did Angel know that Wesley had been hurt and why did he come. Angel didn’t care about them anymore, right?
Cordelia thought back to her earlier confrontation with the vampire. At the time, Cordelia had been so scared for Wesley and angry at the vampire, she really hadn’t even seen him. But now, thinking back to the expression on the vampire’s face, she suddenly realized that he had been concerned.
And if Angel knew that Wesley had been hurt, then he must have been checking up on them, maybe even doing the night stalking bit. No, Cordelia shook her head. If Angel had been following them, he would have seen the living dead cop contingency and he would have seen the danger Wesley was in.
Angel would have helped them, wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t have just left the teens to fend for themselves. Or maybe he would as it was not evil lawyers that were trying to kill them just over zealous killer cop zombies. But why had Angel shown up at the hospital? she asked herself again. Cordelia was giving herself a headache.
Angel had known that Wesley had been shot and he had come to the hospital. So, maybe the vampire was trying to reach out to them. Cordelia winced, as she remembered her words to him. She had basically told him that they didn’t care about him and wanted Angel to leave them alone. That he had no right to be at the hospital showing false concern over Wesley.
But maybe it wasn’t false and if that was the case, she had effectively snapped his olive branch in two. Oh god, she thought. They did need Angel, they did care about him and just maybe, just maybe the vampire did realize that he needed them to. What had she done? She cried getting up suddenly. Cordelia had been so livid at the vampire and while, she still thought she had a right to be angry, she didn’t want Angel out of their life, her life, not really. Cordelia ran to Wesley’s room.
“Gunn,” she whispered urgently. “I have to go somewhere.”
Gunn looked up puzzled from the chair by the hospital bed.
“It’s important, but I will be back. Call my cell phone, if there is any change.” Cordelia didn’t want to say anything about Angel, not yet. She first wanted to make sure that she wasn’t just wishing that she saw concern in the vampire’s face.
Cordelia quickly went over to Wesley’s side and placed a kiss on his forehead. “If it is true, I will bring him back if it is the last thing I do, I swear,” she promised her injured friend quietly.
Cordelia raced out of the hospital towards the Hyperion. She had to find Angel.
Angel sat in the darkened room. Cordelia’s words playing through his mind. ‘It took a gunshot wound for you to give a crap’, ‘we don’t need you’, ‘stay away’, ‘stay away’, ‘stay away’, he heard over and over again. Her contemptuous voice ringing in condemnation, damning him. Angel closed his eyes against the sight of his friends as he last saw them.
Gunn standing so close behind Cordelia as she tenderly caressed Wesley’s brow. Gunn had occupied the space that had once been Angel’s. Their closeness ripped at his soul as he saw the family that they had become, without him, in spite of him. Theirs was the family that was once his, the one that Angel had purposely cut himself off from.
It made no matter that he had done so to insulate them from the path he felt he had to travel. Angel had wanted to protect their humanity; instead the vampire had destroyed the only chance he ever had of gaining his. They didn’t need him or want him. And could he blame them? Angel had ruthlessly shut them out and left them alone to fend for themselves, even after Wesley had come to the vampire telling him that they would continue the fight.
Angel’s head fell in guilt, what had he expected? Why had he been surprised when Kate had told him that Wesley was lying in a hospital bed struggling for his life? One of them had to get hurt eventually fighting the battles that should have been his.
It could have just as easily have been Cordelia, his soul cried. Cordelia’s beautiful face flashed in his mind. He saw her wide smile as she declared the vampire and the former rouge demon hunter her family. He saw her smile grow even brighter as Wesley told them that one day the vampire would become human. He saw his seer’s warm caring eyes as she promised to stay with him until the end, when she told him that he was not alone.
He saw her stunned and hurt expression when Angel had so coldly fired them. And finally, Angel saw the disdain in her eyes as she told the vampire that his family didn’t need him, that she didn’t need him. The pain he had felt in that moment had almost crippled him. More so, because Angel knew he had done it to himself.
Angel was so tired, so tired of striving for something that was so unattainable. There had been times, before Darla’s return, when he would look into his seer’s beautiful eyes and know with the utmost certainty that he would reach his humanity. Cordelia had believed in him and her unwavering belief had convinced the vampire that that impossible was possible. But his seer’s faith had been shattered. And with the destruction of Cordelia’s faith, came his own loss of faith.
Last year Wolfram & Hart had tried to destroy him by attacking Cordelia and Wesley. This year they had succeeded. Wolfram & Hart had won. The vampire was nothing, not mad, not sad. Just tired.
Angel glanced up as he sensed Darla’s presence. It figures, he thought ruefully, his sire had the instincts of a circling vulture. Always knowing when her victims were at their breaking point. Always knowing where the dying and rotting bodies lay gasping their last breath having already having given up their precious will to live. Well, the vampire thought, maybe it was time for his damned corpse to finally give up.
“My boy, sitting alone in the dark. Where is that human little family that you are so fond of?” the blonde vampire purred.
“What? Did they not like the new you. Just who is that vampire in the flapping black coat? Is it Angelus, is it Angel, no….it’s,” she stopped.
“Just who is it? I am curious. Tell me, please.” She cooed from across the room. Angel raised his dark eyes to her, his handsome face expressionless.
Darla contemplated the dark vampire. She moved cautiously forward a slow smile spreading over her face.
“You don’t want to dust me,” she laughed. “What is it my boy, did you finally realize that with a soul, you belong nowhere, to no one? I told you that Angel was alone. You should always listen to your sire. Your sire, always knows what’s best for her beautiful childe.” The blonde vampire glided up close to the seated vampire. Darla slid her body over the immobile vampire, straddling his lap.
“My boy, when we were together, you were never alone. You belonged to me, with me. It can be that way again, my love. Come to me, where you belong. Come home,” she whispered seductively against Angel’s lips.
Angel didn’t move. He was too tired to care that the vampire he swore to dust was draping herself all over his body. He thought about what his sire was saying. It was true. When he was Angelus, he knew what he was and where he belonged. Angelus had no doubts; no fears and more importantly he had no cares.
The soulless demon didn’t care if he disappointed anyone or if he hurt anyone. He had been free of guilt or torment. If he were Angelus, Angel wouldn’t care about the hurt he caused his friends. Angelus wouldn’t feel soul-wrenching pain at the thought of Cordelia not needing him, not wanting him in her life.
He wouldn’t feel despair at the beautiful girl’s sorrow or anger. Angel closed his eyes and reached up entangling his fingers in Darla’s blonde hair.
One kiss, one act of love, or to be accurate one act of sex, and his soul’s torment would be gone, as would his chance at redemption. What chance? He thought mockingly. He had already lost his chance as he pictured the loathing in Cordelia’s eyes and the sight of his three human friends bonding together as a family without him.
More than just the glass of the hospital room window separated the vampire from them. It was time for him to accept that and to accept what he truly was- a demon damned for eternity. Angel captured Darla’s mouth forcibly picking up the smaller vampire and moving them both to the bed.
Cordelia jumped out of the cab and ran up the stairs to the hotel’s entrance. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was going to do or say when, if, she saw Angel. But, she had to see him.
Angel had come to the hospital to check on Wesley’s condition, not out of some false concern, but because he did still care. Cordelia was sure of it; as sure as she knew her own name. Why hadn’t Cordelia seen that earlier? She used to be able to read the handsome vampire so well. But, over the last few months, she had lost that ability.
Why? How? Why hadn’t she reached out to Angel at the hospital, why hadn’t she tried to reach him even before that? Sure, she had yelled at him and complained when the whole Darla thing started, but she had never tried to find out what Angel was exactly feeling. Cordelia had let the vampire put distance and coldness between them.
Why hadn’t she kept her big mouth shut and just wrapped her arms around the vampire, she thought. Why hadn’t she let Angel share in her fear and concern for Wesley? Cordelia loved the vampire, even now when she was so mad at him. Why hadn’t she relented even just a little? She sighed; she knew why she was so cold to the vampire at the hospital. Because Angel had hurt her, hurt her horribly, so she did what Cordelia Chase always did when some one hurt her, she hurt back.
Cordelia was still angry at the vampire, but he was not alone in the blame for how bad the situation had gotten between all of them. Cordelia was his friend, his seer; she should have done more, they were family, Cordelia loved him. Well, she would do it now; she promised opening the heavy door of the hotel.
Cordelia looked around the lobby. It was a mess. Dust and a rank smell had settled over the furniture and the files that were scattered on the counter and floor. She strode up the stairs. If Angel wasn’t there, she would just wait. She had to talk to him.
Cordelia’s determined pace slowed as she heard odd noises coming from Angel’s suite. A sense of unexplainable fear descended over her heart as she cautiously opened the bedroom door.
Cordelia threw herself away from the doorway. Her body trembling up against the wall. She tried to calm her breathing, not wanting to make a sound. She gave one last look through the door and the intertwined couple on the bed. The dark vampire was thrusting forcibly into the blonde vampire’s more than willing smaller frame. Cordelia took off running trying not to fall as an overwhelming sickness flooded her body.
Finally in relief, Cordelia made it outside the hotel. With gasping breaths, she fell to the curb retching on the dirty pavement, no longer unable to control her nausea. Angelus, she thought in devastating fear, or if not Angelus, he will soon be, she thought as her body shook in rage and grief. What had she done? Cordelia cried damming herself.
Cordelia struggled to stand. She had to go back into the hotel and stake both vampires. She couldn’t allow Angelus and Darla to reunite and start their new ‘Scourge of Europe’ act, because this time it wouldn’t be an overseas act, it would be a hometown show with the local audience being the bloody fodder for their sick games.
Now was the time, both vampires were obviously preoccupied. Cordelia choked on the bile seeping in her throat as the image of the vampires’ erotic embrace flashed through her mind. Cordelia could do this, she could dust Angelus, she declared brushing at the tears pouring down her face.
Cordelia laid a shaky hand back on the doorframe. With a disgusted grunt Cordelia pushed away from the door and ran. She couldn’t do it.
Cordelia barged into her apartment, her body still convulsing in sobs. Her body slumped to the floor as the door slammed behind her. A blanket came floating through the air. It was the only way Phantom Dennis was able to try to comfort the obviously distraught young girl.
Cordelia flung the blanket away and sharply raised her head. “Go away, Leave me alone,” she choked to her ghost roommate. “Go to your wall,” she yelled pulling herself up from the floor. Cordelia couldn’t deal with the solicitous ghost; she had to try to think.
Cordelia imagined she could hear the phantom’s whine of concern floating through the soft breeze that circled her body. “Please,” Cordelia whispered. “Please, Dennis, I need to be alone, right now.”
Cordelia fell to the couch in relief as she felt the ghost’s presence leave the room. She grabbed tightly around her knees. Why? Her mind screamed. Why would Angel have sex with Darla, knowing the risk to his soul? Why? Had he gone so far down the path of darkness that he wanted to be Angelus, that he wanted to join his sire? No, that couldn’t be it, she cried to herself, hugging her legs tighter.
Cordelia tried to push the panic and anguish from her mind. It was Angel that had come to the hospital only over an hour ago. What could have happened between then and now. What could have made Angel willing to loose his soul? She got up and started to pace agitatedly around the room.
She stopped pacing as she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. Cordelia moved closer to the glass until she was merely inches away. The frightened tear stained face that stared back slowly transformed. The pain filled wide eyes turned into eyes filled with a contemptuous glare. The panicked expression became one of cold disregard. The haughty reflection spoke the same harsh words that Cordelia had spoken to the vampire earlier that night.
“No,” Cordelia screamed out loud smashing her fist against the unfeeling likeness of herself. The shards of the glass fell around her trembling body as she crumbled to the floor. Cordelia ignored the blood that ran down her hand as she gazed at the table in the middle of the room.
She pictured it as it was last summer. Wesley was sitting at the table engrossed in his many old tomes trying to find the right translation to the scroll. Angel was sitting nearby sipping at his blood, finally not embarrassed to drink his bloody meals in front of his two friends. Cordelia saw herself standing in the kitchen doorway, smiling in love and joy at her family.
Sure, they had been worried about finding a new office, worried about what the evil law firm was up to, they had been cramped and frustrated, but they had been happy. They had all had been here, living and working together.
If someone had told her then that Angel would fire her and Wesley six months later, she would have called them a liar or laughed in their face. If some one had suggested to her, that she would ever turn her back on the vampire when he needed her, she would have done more than call them a liar. She would have quite possibly killed them, if not with a stake, then force of her contempt at their vile insinuation.
That summer, Cordelia had known with all of her heart and soul that she would never abandon Angel, that she would be with him for as long as she had on this earth. Cordelia would have done anything and everything to make sure that Angel reached his Shansu. She had made that promise to Angel and she had meant every word.
What had happen? Cordelia had told Angel once that they were getting cocky. Was that it? Or was it the hotel, maybe they didn’t get rid of all the bad, nasty vibes of the prior evil resident demon. Or was it the mind games, along with the very real dangers that Wolfram & Hart kept throwing in their way. Or was it simply that Cordelia had failed to keep her promise.
Cordelia lifted up her cut hand and stared as the blood trailing down her arm. She watched the red fluid twist a path along her skin.
God, she was tired. The last few months had drained her dry. Cordelia was exhausted by the extreme effort she had exerted to cover up the sadness and loneliness she lived and breathed ever since Angel fired her. She was tired of the fear she experienced every day she hadn’t seen the vampire, fear for him, fear for herself. Cordelia was tired of denying that she loved Angel and needed him.
She was too tired even to berate herself for failing to stand by him, for failing to reach the vampire and help him fight his inner demons, to save him. And she was way too damn tired to fight Angelus.
Cordelia couldn’t face Wesley and Gunn. How could she explain that it would be impossible for her to stake Angelus? She laughed bitterly to herself. Cordelia had always thought she would be stronger than Buffy, if Angelus ever really returned. That she would be able to look into the handsome face that had belonged to Angel and thrust a stake through the soulless demon’s non-beating heart without blinking an eye or breaking a sweat.
Well, Cordelia wasn’t stronger. She was just as weak as the slayer when it came to Angel or Angelus. No, she was weaker, because she couldn’t just not stake the vampire, she couldn’t help her friends fight the demon. She was a coward. So much for the brave new Cordelia, she thought with another bitter laugh. That girl was gone; she had left with Angel’s soul.
Cordelia shoved herself up from the glass filled floor. She looked in interest at the piece of mirror that had become embedded in her hand as she pushed herself upwards. Funny, Cordelia hadn’t even felt it, she thought, as she pulled out the glass. More of her blood flowed, its bloody path matching the tracks that graced her other arm. A bath would be nice, Cordelia thought, moving towards the bathroom still holding on to the red stained shard of glass.
Cordelia sunk into the warm water. Her fingers swirled in the red tinted water. Wesley and Gunn were not going to be happy about her decision. Well, she couldn’t worry about that. Dennis would make sure they got her note. She was of no use to them, anyway. She would just fail them, like she had failed Angel. Angel, her beautiful, broody vampire, who really left her this time.
Left her alone, because Cordelia had told him to. She saw the handsome vampire, his dark eyes filled with concern, relief, and hope as he stared at her in the hospital. Cordelia saw it all now. Earlier in the hospital, Angel had made a move in her direction and she had effectively, ruthless blocked it, just as the vampire had done to her prior feeble attempts to reach him.
But, this wasn’t a game of tit for tat; this was his redemption and her life. And she had failed to keep her promise to him. Cordelia could have opened her heart to him, let him know that she still cared, that she loved him, then she could have yelled at him once he was safely back with her. It was too late now. God, she was cold, Cordelia thought, the piece of glass dropping from her limp hand.
She was tired maybe she should just sleep, Cordelia sighed as she closed her eyes sinking down into the water. The bath water was no longer red tinged, but a dark crimson as the blood from the two newly afflicted cuts on the young girl’s wrists filled the tub.