Angel wanted to believe that Cordelia really would be fine. But her ramblings just didn’t make any sense. She obviously lied to the doctor about why she attempted suicide. And she seemed to be glossing over the seriousness of her actions and the reasons behind it, even to him.
“Cordelia, the doctor thinks that you are suppressing your anger or hurt and that is what caused you to do what you did. Cordelia, we have to talk about it. ”
“Yeah, well, the doctor also thinks that we use to be a couple, she is wrong about that too,” grumbled Cordelia.
“Cordelia, you have to talk to me,” Angel urged.
“I have been talking to you. Weren’t you listening?”
“Cordelia, you haven’t said anything, but that you want to go home.”
“That’s because I do want to go home.” The girl retorted. Cordelia took a deep breath and stared hard at the vampire. “Don’t you think you owe me that much at least. After all, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here now would I?”
The vampire’s usual superb mastery over his powerful body faltered as her words formed a physical blow that hammered his body and soul.
“Cordelia…” Angel started, then stopped, his voice wracked with pain. Angel couldn’t discern whether his seer was blaming him for her attempt at suicide or for saving her. Angel would accept the blame for whatever misery led her to try to take her life, but he would not accept censure for saving it.
“Cordelia, you are in this hospital, because you were in serious danger of dying. You slit your wrist; the blood flowed from your body staining the porclein red. I have a lot to apologize for but not for bringing you here, not for saving you, your life.”
Cordelia stare never wavered. “Angel, you misunderstand me, I am not accusing you of anything. I am merely stating a fact. You brought me here, I am still alive and I am fine, now you can get can get me out of here,” she said calmly. “Are you going to help me or not. Please, Angel.” Her tone changing abruptly to one of pleading. “I hate hospitals. You know that. Okay, we will talk later, but not here, I promise. Please.” Tears welled up in her beseeching eyes.
Angel was wary over Cordelia’s sudden change in demeanor. But while he would not accept blame for saving her, he felt the burden of responsibility for bringing her to this point. Angel had to help her; he couldn’t resist the plea in her beautiful eyes. The vampire would do anything he for her, except leave her or disappoint her again. Making his decision, the vampire nodded slowly.
“Thank you,” Cordelia whispered gratefully curling back up into the bed.
Angel strode out the room. “Dr. Radcliff, Cordelia seems better. She wants to go home,” the vampire stated firmly pushing his doubts aside.
“I don’t think that is a good idea,” cautioned the psychologist. “We can keep her for the next 72 hours. I think she is in denial as to what she tried to accomplish.”
“I agree,” stated Wesley firmly.
“Wes, you haven’t even talked to Cordelia. Go talk to her, Cordelia said she wanted to talk to you. Go talk to her then I will take her home. Doctor,” Angel argued interrupting the doctor’s oncoming statement. “I know Cordelia. She hates hospitals. She won’t be comfortable enough here to relax and get well. I am taking her home,” the vampire said firmly.
There were plenty of arguments that the psychologist could use to counter the dark man’s statements. But, she also realized that Cordelia did seem cognizant of her predicament, if not fully accepting the severity of her situation. The young girl was lucid, intelligent and seemed to have a basic understanding of what brought her to the hospital.
Without some definite symptoms of psychosis or repeated attempts on her own life, the doctor knew that the hospital would be unwilling to keep the young girl, no matter the doctor’s own doubts. The Neuro-Psych wing was already overcrowded with individuals that really, by documentation at least, were at risk. Unfortunately, if Cordelia was unwilling to stay and showed no relapse behavior, Dr. Radcliff couldn’t commit Cordelia without the young girl’s consent.
Dr. Radcliff nodded. “I will get Cordelia’s discharge papers ready, but I strongly suggest the she not be alone and that she seek professional help. Attempted suicide is not something that should be taken lightly, by her or by those that care about her,” she warned glancing at Angel and Gunn standing before her. Wesley had already gone onto Cordelia’s room. “And, I would suggest that you all resolve any differences that may endanger Cordelia’s well being.”
“Cordelia won’t be alone. I will take care of her,” swore the vampire vehemently. The doctor nodded and moved off.
“You, you are the one that caused this. You shouldn’t be near her,” the street kid whispered viciously. “What happens to Cordelia when you decide that you have to drop everything to go after your ‘blonde bitch’ obsession. I will tell you what, Barbie is left alone again, hurt. No, you won’t be near her.”
“Darla is dead.”
Gunn stood shock still. “Really,” he stuttered momentarily at a loss. Gunn shook his head. “Great, ding dong the bitch is dead, but what about the evil swanky law firm. What about your need to go all dark and vigilantly against the pond scum of Wolfram & Hart. The firm is still standing, right? Are you going to be able to resist jumping into the cesspool to take them down.”
“Wolfram & Hart will get what they deserve….But,” the vampire emphasized. “But, not at the expense of Cordelia. Wolfram & Harts’ time will come and I will be there.”
“And if Cordelia needs you to be with her?”
“Gunn, I know now where my priorities lie, in there,” the vampire motioned into the hospital room at Wesley and Cordelia talking.
“I will not risk them or you,” Angel added roughly. “But especially not Cordelia, not again.” The vampire stood and stared at his family. “Gunn, I will need your help.” The vampire stated not looking at the kid. “Cordelia will go with me to the hotel, but I will need you to stay with Wesley until he is ready to be released. Then when it is time, Wesley will also come to the hotel. Neither will be alone.”
“Don’t you think that they will have some say in that.” Gunn countered roughly.
“No.” the vampire growled.
“Cordelia,” Wesley whispered gently.
“Hi,” Cordelia said softly. “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” she smiled.
“Cordelia, what happened? Why? Why, how could you do this?” Wesley wheeled his chair closer.
“I don’t know, Wesley. Actually, I guess I do. I was scared that’s all. More scared than I ever been. You were shot, laying here in this hospital. And, you know about the note. I thought Angelus was back. Obviously, I was wrong, but at the time, I believed it. And I just gave up that’s all. I knew that I didn’t have the courage to face him without you fully horizontal and swinging a book,” she gently teased the former watcher.
“Cordelia,” Wesley started.
“No, Wesley. I was just scared and a coward. I didn’t want to deal, that’s all. But I am better now.” She smiled widely trying to reassure her friend.
“How can you better, the situation hasn’t really changed. Angel could still become Angelus at some point and time, then what?”
For a brief moment, Wesley saw an assorted mixture of conflicted emotions pass through Cordelia’s beautiful eyes. A combination of thoughts and feelings that he couldn’t interpret. It worried him. But then just as quickly she gazed at him with sincere eyes.
“Wesley, you are right, our never-ending quest to fight the good fight is the same. My continual fated plight to save souls by way of painful yucky slideshows has not changed. The possible emergence of Angelus, well, is and always will be a possibility, until the Powers say otherwise. But, I am okay. I have as they say hit rock bottom, and I am now moving up the cliff.
I realized something, lying here, I don’t want to die. So, I won’t, well, not without a hellish drag down fight, anyway. That’s me, Wesley, Queen of the good vs. evil. WWF. I know you are worried and I am truly sorry for that, it was very selfish of me to do what I did without thinking of you. But, hey, I am Cordelia Chase sometimes I forget that the world doesn’t revolve around me. Forgive me.” She smiled at her friend tears pooling up in her hazel eyes.
“Cordelia, don’t.” Wesley said reaching up to touch her face, his heart breaking. “You are not selfish, you are just so young and we forget that sometimes. Of, course I forgive you. Everything will be alright,” he reassured her gently.
“I know. I do feel better, Wesley seeing you, awake and not drooling all over your English self.” She smiled again. “But, I do want to go home.”
“Yes, well, I am sure we can arrange that. Everything will be fine.” Wesley nodded. “I will speak to the doctor.”
“Thank you,” Cordelia said gratefully. She waved as Wesley rolled out of the room.
Fine, Cordelia’s mind clamored. Like hell everything is fine, but at least between Angel’s guilt and Wesley’s concern she would be getting out of this damn place soon, Cordelia thought curling back up on the bed. Then, well, she didn’t know, but first things first.
Wesley sighed, wiping a tear from his eye. “Cordelia is too young for all of this,” he said accusingly at the vampire.
“I know.” The vampire responded.
Wesley nodded at Angel’s acquiescence. “Doctor, I would have to agree with Angel, Cordelia should be released. I have talked to her and I believe that what drove her to do what she did was real and she knows it too. However, I do believe that as Cordelia said, she hit rock bottom and is now able to move her way back up. She has had to deal with a lot of different real bad situations…”
Wesley trailed off thinking of every evil, every death, and every fear that Cordelia has had to go through. “But she is strong, she just got scared and she is young, but she will be fine,” the former watcher assured the doctor.
The doctor looked at the men, then back at the room, which held Cordelia. “I can’t keep her, but from the short time that I have talked to her and to you all, I don’t think you should believe she is fine.”
“Cordelia says she is fine, she just needs some time to think, that’s all.” Angel argued.
Wesley nodded. “Cordelia is a very strong young woman and I have never known her to lie, have any of you?”
Angel and Gunn shook their heads.
“No, Barbie is always honest, sometimes way too painfully honest,” agreed the street kid.
“I will tell you what I see, you all may disagree, but I want you to think about it. I see a twenty year old young girl with three men that obviously care about her, I see that she knows it. I see that even though Cordelia knows that she is cared for, she tried to cut her wrist to the bone and bleed herself dry. I see that she has not yet once acknowledged her feelings on this, but rather is saying ‘whoops, I made a bad mistake, but nevermind I will be fine’. I see a young girl who is intelligent, charming, beautiful and deeply troubled.
Gentlemen, she is a player. And you are being played. And I suggest that you get over whatever hold she has on you, and concentrate on the true Cordelia, not the one that says what you want to hear, but the one that slashed her wrists. Because, if you don’t, she will do it again, maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, but she will.”
Angel kept glancing over at the young girl sitting next to him in the car. He kept thinking about Dr. Radclif’s admonishments.
Was Cordelia just telling them what they wanted to hear? The more the vampire thought about it, the more he realized that Cordelia still hadn’t said much of anything about why she had tried to kill herself.
Neither he nor Wesley were really any closer to understanding why Cordelia had attempted to end her life. She had talked to them, separately, and then five minutes later, they were both championing her release and reassuring the doctor that Cordelia was fine. Had Cordelia just been playing them, to get what she wanted all along, to get out of the hospital.
Angel admitted that Cordelia had the ability to be manipulative, not in the crude, evil way of some, but the dark young beauty did know how to use her charms, wit, and force of personality to get what she wanted. Cordelia had the ability to wrap Wesley around her finger and the vampire acknowledged that she had the same power over him, when he wasn’t being stupid and soul destructive. Angel sighed.
“Cordelia, I am sorry,” the vampire said with sincere remorse. Angel wanted to explain his previous actions. He wanted to let Cordelia know that he cared, really cared. Angel wanted to tell her that he loved her with all of his undead heart and soul. But Angel knew he wouldn’t. But the vampire could and would make sure that Cordelia knew he was there for her and would always be.
The young girl turned from the window. “For what?”
“For everything, for abandoning you, for firing you, Wesley and Gunn, for ….”
“Angel, I’m tired,” she yawned resting her head against the window. She closed her eyes ending her interest in the vampire’s apology. Cordelia knew that she would explode in some unmanageable melt down if she had to listen to the care and concern in the vampire’s voice.
He still cared? How could he when she had failed him? So, maybe, by the grace of the powers he wasn’t Angelus, but that had nothing to do with her. If it had been left up to her alone, Angel would be gone.
And it would have been all her fault. She couldn’t think about it. All Cordelia wanted was for the swirling imagines of Angel, Darla, and her own coldhearted face out of her mind. She wanted peace and quiet. She needed to regroup and readjust and Cordelia couldn’t do with it all the flashes and colors swamping her mind.
“Cordelia you can’t avoid talking to me,” the vampire demanded, willing the young woman to open up to him. Angel needed to know what was going on in her head. What was really going on, not just what she wanted him to know.
Cordelia blinked her wide hazel eyes at him. “Who’s avoiding? I am just tired. I have had a rough 24 hours, that’s all,” she said calmly. She had to get rid of the sound of his anxiety-ridden voice, her mind screamed. Cordelia struggled against the desire to throw herself in the vampire’s arms and to let go. To let all of her fears and heartache free.
Part of her wanted to trust the vampire, to let him heal the torment in her mind, body and soul. To ask him for his forgiveness. But she couldn’t. After observing the carnal display of Angel and Darla together, Cordelia had been blind-sided by her own guilt and the seeming hopelessness of everything and had been left with no option, but to spectacularly implode or that was what she had felt at the time.
Cordelia was alive for whatever reason, maybe that reason also was by the grace of the Powers. But she was not ready or able to lay bare her feelings to anyone, not the vampire, not Wesley and not even to herself. The young girl willed all of her varied and disparate emotions down, pressing and squeezing at them until they were nothing more than a sliver of thought in the corner of her mind.
“Of course you have,” the vampire agreed readily. “But we still need….”, he pleaded.
“Angel, not now okay. Exhausted that’s me…..Hey, this isn’t the way to my apartment.”
“No, I am taking you back to the Hyperion.”
“I said I wanted to go home. What part of ‘home’ don’t you understand.” Damn, the vampire was making the self-subjugation of her emotions virtually impossible.
“I am not leaving you alone,” the vampire answered keeping the growl in his throat.
“I am not alone at my apartment. Dennis, remember?” She could win this, her mind cried. Cordelia had to get away from the vampire.
“Cordelia, I agreed to let you leave the hospital against the doctor’s advice, but that does not mean that I will just drop you off to be alone.” This time the reverberations of his growl sounded through his words. He completely ignored Cordelia’s implication that the ghost was able to look after the young girl.
“I don’t need to be babysat, I told you that I am fine,” Cordelia huffed.
“Fine, God, I wish you were fine, but you are not.” Angel growled the determination and resolve furiously present in his game face.
Cordelia glared at the vampire and settled back into the window, blocking him, his anger and his concern out. Cordelia knew that she had lost this particular battle. Cordelia needed, wanted to be alone. She felt like she hadn’t had a chance to be alone since she placed herself in that bathtub.
It had been so peaceful. No worries, no concerned friends bugging her to open up. But that hadn’t been real. That feeling of peace was artificial; it had been merely an illusion, the result of her escape tactic borne of fear, guilt and desperation. An escape tactic that was an utter failure as well as being astronomically stupid.
Cordelia couldn’t even begin to comprehend that she had actually chosen that particular self-destructive route. Giving up was not in her character, but she had been so damn tired, so guilty, so lost.
Yet even though, Cordelia knew that she would never try such a drastic and desperate act again, being in the hospital faced with the concern of Wesley and some how Angel’s, just confused her rather than gave her clarity or peace of mind. Cordelia needed to be alone. And then maybe she could assimilate all that she was feeling and figure out where her real options lay.
Cordelia’s nerves felt like they were ripped open, exposed to the air, waiting to be incinerated by the slightest touch or word. Her body stilled as her mind widely struggled with the onslaught of feelings that were threatening to surface, again.
She squeezed her eyes closed beating down her emotions. Cordelia waited in anticipation for the time that she could escape, if only for a little while from the vampire’s all consuming presence. Her outside appearance remained calm showing no evidence of the ferocious battle with in.
Cordelia jumped out of the car as soon as they reached the hotel, running as fast and as far as the vampire would allow. She had to get away. Cordelia fled upstairs up to one of the guestrooms. Angel hurried after her, worried about the young women’s prior stillness and now frantic flight.
Angel followed her all the way up the stairs in the hotel, calling after her. He knew that he could catch her and stop her, but he didn’t want to force her to stay put. He could sense her fragility as well as her determination to run away from him. And as long as she was running away in the hotel, rather than out of it, he would let her run. But he would follow letting her know that he was there and always would be.
Abruptly, Cordelia stalled as she past Angel’s suite. Like a magnet she was drawn uncontrollably to the doorway. The swirls of blinding colors were once again cascading through her mind.
Angel stopped behind her. “Cordelia,” he begged reaching out for her arm trying to urge her away, his gut clenching in fear. God no, the vampire thought, as he pictured the varied proof of his encounter with Darla. Angel couldn’t even call it sex. It had been an act of pure desperation nothing more, but how would Cordelia see it? Oh god, what would she think? His mind and soul cried out in guilt. Angel had to get her away from his suite. He tugged again at her arm.
Cordelia glanced coldly at his hand on her arm and pulled away moving forward.
“Cordelia,” the vampire begged again trying to reestablish his claim on her arm.
Cordelia ignored the vampire and strode further into the suite until she was standing in front of Angel’s bed. Angel was frantic; his first thought was to grab Cordelia and bodily force her out of the room, to do anything to remove the young girl from the room. But Angel stalled at the expression on Cordelia’s face. He had no idea of what she was thinking or feeling and it terrified him, paralyzing his movements.
Cordelia looked around the room as if that was the first time she had ever seen it. She stared at the female clothes, torn and tossed around, the unmade bed her face tightening as she pictured the two vampires engaged in lovemaking.
She quickly looked away, and with a tremendous push of will was able dim the colors and suppress the emotions rising up inside. Cordelia’s eyes were drawn to a scattering of large pieces of dust a few feet from the bed. She walked over to the pile and knelt down. She traced a finger through the debris. “Darla?’ she commented.
A cold force full of guilt and pain shot through Angel’s body at Cordelia’s indifferent tone.
“When….”, he started his voice shattering into a thousand pieces choking on his own fear and horror at Cordelia’s actions. His soul was overwhelmed with anguish at the sight of the woman he loved nonchalantly swirling the remains of his greatest mistake.
Angel had to remove her from this room. Being here couldn’t be safe for her mental well being. Angel knew that it wasn’t for his. A nauseous feeling settled in the vampire’s gut, as he smelled the still present scent of his sire, sex and death. Angel had to get both Cordelia and him out of there.
Cordelia got up suddenly halting Angel’s struggled explanation.
“Gee, Angel loving you can be real bitch, can’t it,” she said emotionlessly wiping the rest of his former lover’s remains on her pants. “This place is a mess,” she shot glancing at the obvious evidence of the two vampire’s recent violent intercourse. “Just a little rambunctious weren’t you before you went all praying mantis on her?” She said matter of a factually walking across the hall into the guest suite and closing the door.
Angel remained stock still as Cordelia calmly and coolly walked past him. Angel’s soul cried out in panic as he watched the girl leave. Angel longed with every fiber of his undead being that some how, some way, he could erase the last 24 hours, or if nothing else the last 15 minutes as he perceived what Cordelia had seen.
The broken furniture, the rumpled bed, the scattered clothes, the pile of Darla’s remains, all evidence that incriminated him of his monstrous misjudgment. Angel wished for a blaze of scorching fire to eradicate and cleanse the room of all traces of the attempted abandonment of his soul.
Angel’s concern for Cordelia broke through his stupor. He couldn’t just let Cordelia go. He rushed to the door of her room; he reached for the doorknob, then stopped. Angel couldn’t face her, he thought in dread. Angel shoved his tortured emotions aside and turned the knob, he had to see her and make sure she was safe.
“Cordelia, let me in, please.” Angel called as he realized the door was locked. “Cordelia, please.” He urged.
“Go away, Angel. I need to rest.”
“Cordelia, I have….” The vampire’s voice breaking under the weight of his self-blame.
“No,” she shouted. “Not now.”
Angel stood at the door not knowing what to do. Should he break down the door or should he leave her alone? For the first time in his undead life Angel was truly at a loss to know what to do. Even when the vampire had made the wrong choices in the path he would follow, he never hesitated or doubted his decisions, abet the choices were grossly misguided and damning choices, but he had always been decisive.
But now, the vampire just didn’t know and it unnerved him.
Angel glanced up sharply at the door as he heard Cordelia’s gasp and then cry of pain. With no more doubts or hesitation the vampire broke through the wooden boundary and rushed to the shaking girl in the bed.
Cordelia sat on the bed her back up against the headboard, trying to think calmly and rationally. Cordelia wasn’t stupid, she knew that she had to deal with what had happened to her, what was still happening to her. But she just didn’t know how. Her eyes settled on the white bandages that were wrapped tightly around her wrist. Angrily, she pulled down her shirtsleeves to hide the evidence of her desperation and guilt.
Cordelia was never one to talk about her feelings, letting others know exactly how she felt. To do so invited betrayal and pain. So for most of her life she had always worn a mask of one sort or another, but her time in LA with Angel had slowly broken down her masquerades and her need for them. With Angel, Cordelia had begun to trust in people, to actually develop real friendships.
Then Angel had betrayed her and forsaken the family that they had formed, and the masks were back up. A disguise of false cheer, strength and confidence, became her costume of choice. And Cordelia had been maintaining her facade, she knew she had, at least until she had seen Darla and Angelus together. Cordelia wished that she could classify that one act as further evidence of Angel’s betrayal of their relationship and trust, because then she could just ignore him, erect her wall of defense, thereby effectively and permanently blocking him from her heart and mind.
But, it was impossible, because that one act hadn’t been his betrayal, but proof of her own failure. That sight and all that it implied obliterated all of Cordelia’s carefully devised fronts and she was left with nothing but the truth of her own feelings and the undeniable defects of her character. Cordelia slumped down on the bed vehemently trying to disregard the presence of the vampire outside the room.
Cordelia’s self-flagellating thoughts were interrupted abruptly by a sharp pain slicing through her head. She cried out as the agony as her vision overwhelmed her mind.