“Fred.” Cordelia paced.
“Almost. Okay.” She put down her pencil.
“I’d get comfortable if I was you, she’s a lot like Wesley.” Cordelia dropped herself on the bed, lying out pushing a pillow under her arms and chest as she faced the foot of the bed.
Angel blinked as the young woman showed once again exactly how comfortable she was in his room.
Gunn slouched down with his back against the bed next to Cordy. “Need some chips and a soda.”
“Popcorn would be good.” Cordelia sighed.
Fred cleared her throat, standing, showing the first page of her chart. She paused and frowned. “This would be easier with my board.”
“You’ll do fine.”
“You know what would be perfect is power point.”
“That’s my girl.”
“Does Wesley know that?” Cordelia whispered into Gunn’s ear.
“Uh.” The black man looked up in confusion.
“Nothing. By the way, I’m sorry I hit you,” She added softly.
“I was an ass.” Gunn nodded accepting her apology and adding his own. “Nice right hook.” he winked ending any further discussion.
Cordy smiled and faced the young woman again. “For your birthday.”
“Really.” Fred smiled, briefly caught up in the excitement of having a large screen and a flashing dot.
“Down girl.” Gunn smiled.
“Oh, sorry. This first is easy.” Fred pointed to a long straight line, interrupted with dates and names. “Here, we have Liam being turned by Darla.” she pointed to the beginning of the line. “Giving us Angelus, it goes on until, here,” she stopped at the next date.
“Angelus is cursed by the gypsies and now we have Angel all the way until here,” she stopped at the 1998 date. “Then we get Angelus for short while, when Angel lost his soul. Here we get Angel again.” She swished her finger along the rest of the straight line. That’s our base time line, how things were and are, or at least should be.”
Angel felt another surreal moment coming on. He was in a classroom. A crazy pretty young teacher was telling the class, him, all the dates, and times of his history, if he blinked; he was sure that the other students were laughing or throwing things. He glanced over to Cordelia and Gunn. Okay, not students and they weren’t laughing or throwing things, they were listening with the attention of those that had heard it all before. He looked back to the young woman. No longer a classroom or a teacher. Just the crazy woman reciting knowledge that proved she knew him. Angel wanted the surreal moment back. This couldn’t all be real. But, it was and the young woman was still talking.
“Now, here” She pointed to the end of the line.” Is when Wolfram & Hart do the first time spell, kidnapping Cordy and tossing her into 1898.” Fred took her pencil and marked an x in between the beginning and the date that started Angel.
She paused. “Angel, here.” She stopped and pointed to the end. “Discovers that Wolfram & Hart have kidnapped Cordy, goes beats up Lilah and retrieving the spell and the…”
“Fred,” Cordelia interrupted.
“Just stick to the spell, okay. The other part isn’t really relevant.”
“Angel ‘little a’ doesn’t need that information, okay. We don’t want to overload him.”
“But.” She frowned. “Okay. I guess. Well. Angel and Wesley go to 1898.” she drew a curve that traced the one she drew for Cordelia’s path. They bring her home.” Fred retraced the curve,” leaving Angelus in 1898 and then.” She swished again. “Angel goes on- he is Angel A though, because the time line had been slightly changed. He is no longer the Angel of before- so A. Angel A now remembered Cordelia’s interaction with Angelus 1- he’s now 1 because of the time changes, too. Angel A said that he remembered seeing a brunette with…”
“That’s not what he said.”
“Close enough.” Cordelia stated firmly.
Fred frowned again. “He remembered m…” she stopped again as Cordelia interrupted.
“No. Cordy,” Fred stood her ground. “He said marked, he specifically made the distinction. Angelus marked you in 1898. That is to relevant. It was because of that…”
“Fred,” Cordelia warned.
“That the memory stayed with him as well as the memory that you escaped.” she finished and turned to Angel ‘little a’. “Angel A said that he didn’t remember that it was Cordelia. The face of the woman was a blur, but the memory of his,” she looked to Cordy,” his interest remained. He, of course, recognized that it was Cordy when they all got home. But, that was okay, because nothing in the time line really changed. Angel A said that,” she jabbed at the 1998 date,” when he lost his soul then he was too preoccupied with that Buffy girl, he thought he was in love with…”
“Fred, Angel was in love with Buffy.” Cordelia gave a small exasperated shake of her head.
“I said that, he thought he was in love with that Buffy girl.”
“Fred, there was no thinking about it he was in love with Buffy.”
“If you say so. I guess.” Fred shrugged, showing her doubts on the subject.
“Fine. He loved Buffy. He drew a bunch of pictures of her and not of you. Whatever, his ‘love’,” Fred quoted, “wasn’t important except that it kept Angelus A’s attention off you, that’s what was important.”
“Why does she do that?” Cordelia whispered, shaking her head into the pillow.
Gunn shrugged. “Loves you, wants to keep the shiny perfect image of Kyerumption and Moria going. Thinks everything you two do is sweet and romantic.”
Angel’s confused gaze went from the Fred girl to Cordelia. Angel wanted to know why the young woman did that too. He didn’t understand. He would almost think that the young woman was jealous of Darla and Buffy, except that didn’t make any sense, since she seemed to be offended on the behalf of Cordy.
Fred was still talking. “Angel A said that he hadn’t realized the resemblance of Cordelia to the girl he dreamed about. So, everything in 1998 happened like it was supposed to and we get Angel A again, so I guess the thing with the Buffy girl was for the best.”
“Fred,” Cordelia shushed her.
“What? I said it was for the best.” Fred picked up another piece of paper that showed the same diagram. “The next time,” she pointed to 1898.” Wolfram & Hart brought Angelus 1 to here.” she pointed to the end of the line and something happened.” She veered drawing a dotted line.
“We know what happened.”
“No, we don’t not on this chart.” Fred shook her head. “We know that here,” she pointed back to the end. “Wesley 2 and Gunn 2 showed up and told Angel A, Wesley 1 and Gunn 1 that they had to get back to the hotel and save you from Angelus 1. So, you see.” she pointed to the end. “Something happened in that future that made Wesley 2 and Gunn 2 go back. What I think and what Wesley 1 thinks is that,” she picked up her pen. “Is that Cordelia was dead, most likely a vampire and Angel A lost his soul. That was the only reason we could think of why Wesley 2 and Gunn 2 showed up without Angel A.”
“Angel wouldn’t have lost his soul.” Gunn argued. “He told us before he beat the crap out of bitch lawyer that his soul was bound. He couldn’t have lost….”
“Right, unless Angelus 1 had gotten to Cordelia and turned her into a vampire or killed her in the regular way, but I bet he turned her. The interesting question is what then. Did Cordy the vamp do what she did later and kill Angelus 1 like she did Angelus B3, what happened with her and Angelus A- did she kill him or didn’t she, did Angelus A fight Angelus 1 over Cordy the vamp…who won…”
“Fred,” Cordelia yelled sharply. “Shut up.”
“No, Fred, you’re making things up. You don’t know what happened. I wasn’t a vampire. Angel didn’t lose his soul.”
“Cordelia,” Fred shook her head in disagreement. “It’s the logical conclusion. Though, I think that Cordy the vamp wouldn’t have killed Angelus A after all Cordy loved Angel A, but did she kill Angelus 1 or did Angelus A. I’d bet Angelus A, because when Angel fought Angelus 1 in 1898 and when Angel A fought him at the hotel he won. Both times.”
“Fred, shut up. None of that happened. You’re being nuts.” Cordelia pounded on the pillow.
Angel nodded as Cordelia yelled. Nuttier than a fruit basket or cake or whatever. Except. “I beat Angelus 1, did I kill him.” He said hopefully.
“NO.” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Star Trek rule of time travel- don’t change history. And my rule,” she glared at Fred. “Don’t make it up.”
“Does that mean I didn’t beat him up or I just didn’t kill him.” Angel asked again.
“Angel,” Cordelia snapped.
“Beat the shit out of him, almost killed him, but had to send the fucker back.” Gunn said.
Angel nodded. “Damn. Well at least I beat him up.”
Cordelia flopped her head in the pillow, mumbling.
“Cordy?” Fred asked.
“Can we move on, please? Angel showed up at the hotel in time, right before Angelus 1 appeared they fought, beating the shit out of him,” she added for Angel’s benefit with a glare. “Wesley and Gunn tranquilized them both. Angelus 1 was sent back. Everything was fine.” She summarized urging Fred off that particular chart.
“Because Wesley 2 and Gunn 2 came back and warned Angel A and he was able to save you.” Fred looked apologetically at the vampire. “Wesley hadn’t devised the memory potion then, so we don’t know how things were changed. But, based on every thing else that we do know we can speculate with a high degree of accuracy,” she looked back to Cordelia.
“High speculation of guessing.” Cordelia snorted. “And whatever happened, nobody remembers, so therefore it didn’t happen and doesn’t matter.” Cordelia repeated.
“But, Cordelia it does matter. If Angel ‘little a’ is going to go back he has to understand that Angelus 1 will stop at nothing to get to you and Angelus 2 will also if he notices you, you said in your letter that he had. Angel ‘little a’ needs to understand the importance of making sure that any Angelus doesn’t turn you or kill you.”
Angel just stared, the satisfaction of banging on Angelus fleeing rapidly as the room closed in on him, making Fred’s voice merely a murmur. The future that the young woman had guessed may have not happened but the danger to Cordelia had been real. He didn’t need to be convinced or understand what danger Cordelia would be in the presence of Angelus, any Angelus.
He already knew that. It had been his greatest fear as he grew more and more dependent on Cordelia’s friendship. Angelus could never touch her. His stomach churned and the room got smaller. Angelus had already touched her.
Fred swirled to face the ashen vampire. “Wolfram & Hart started all this because they found a prophecy…”
“Fred, shut up.”
“No, Cordy, I’ve thought about it and I think you are wrong, Angel ‘little a’ needs to know.” She turned again to face the vampire. “They found a prophecy- the vampire with a soul will be damned if…”
“If Angelus kills Angel’s seer. There in five words or less.” Cordelia glared at the other brunette.
Angel switched his gaze back and forth from both women. Cordelia had cut off the other woman again. There was something that Cordelia didn’t want him to know. The fog of fear cleared at his need to know rose. “What was the prophecy, the longer version?”
Cordelia took a deep breath. “Who remembers all the stupid words?” she shot another glare at Fred, silently demanding her to stay quiet. “It was what I said. You would lose your soul if Angelus killed me. Your soul was bound,” she pointed to the end of the solid line,
“so Satan toadies couldn’t bring out Angelus in our present, so they started the time crap to get an available Angelus. Nutshell version but accurate. Right.” She looked back at Fred.
Fred shook her head but agreed.
“Can we move on NOW?” Cordelia punched at the pillow and then clutched it tighter.
“Wait, my soul is bound, when does that happen.”
“Weren’t you listening?” Fred shook her head, picked up her pen, and pointed to the approximate spot Cordelia had indicated.
“None of that is important.” Cordelia said into her pillow.
“Angel’s soul being bound is pretty damn important for us and you, that’s for damn sure.”
“Gunn.” Cordy shook her head and pleaded with flashing eyes for Fred to go to another topic.
Angel looked again at Cordelia. The tension in her body had risen to an unimaginable level. He studied Gunn and Fred. Each wore different expressions. The woman’s sad, the man’s angry.
“Cordy,” Fred tried with a soft voice to apologize.
Fred nodded reluctantly at her sharp tone. “Whatever happened in that future was fixed. Cordelia was saved. Angelus 1 sent back and the line continued. We had hoped it was over then. Wesley 2 had told Wesley 1 to make sure that Wolfram & Hart’s spell caster was killed. That was done.” Fred paused, pulling up another sheet.
Angel looked in fear at the piece of paper. How many were there. Hadn’t it been bad enough already? The pain was an ice pick straight through each temple, spearing him completely through. He glanced at the humans wondering if they could see it.
“Things were fine. Great, even. Wesley had found a potion that eased the pain of the visions for Cordelia. Things were just good. But, then one day after a vision, Cordy fell unconscious. We didn’t know at first why. Lorne read her and said that she didn’t have a soul, that she would remain in that comatose state until, well, until we got her soul back.”
Angel’s body tensed once again or had it ever relaxed. Never, ever ask a question that you couldn’t bear to hear the answer to. He looked back to Cordelia. Her head was firm on the pillow, her knuckles clenched around the material, squeezing it until the feathers escaped and took flight.
“Angel A went straight to Wolfram & Hart, but got nowhere. All the lawyers he …questioned didn’t know. Wesley researched. Gunn and I helped wherever we could. Then a couple days later a letter showed up from Sunnydale dated 1998.” Fred’s pencil went to the area on her line. “It was from Cordy.” Fred smiled at the young woman on the bed. “Wesley was really impressed that you did that. He was.”
Fred turned to Angel. “See, Cordy had written a letter in the past and arranged to have it delivered to us in the future, well our present. In it she told us where she was, exactly when she was and that not only Angelus 1 was there, but also Angelus 2 and that she was dating a guy named Xander. Who’s Xander? Why were you dating him?”
“Fred.” Cordelia pleaded.
“Good question, the guy was a moron.” Angel grumbled.
“Angel, shut up.” Cordelia shook her head. “Fred, please. Stop editorializing.”
“I…all right. Wolfram & Hart had transported Cordy’s soul depositing it in her teenage body and then sent Angelus 1 Sunnydale 1998. Cordy?”
“What.” She said in a defensive tone.
“There’s no…fine.” Cordelia grimaced at Fred’s unrelenting stare. “I woke up in my old bedroom. Freaked. Went to school to try to figure out what the hell happened. Avoided going into closets with Xander, listened to Buffy whine, put up with Harmony.” Cordy shot a look at Gunn’s moan.
“Sorry girl, but she’s a ditz vampire.”
“She wasn’t then, just a ditz, okay. And you tried to pick her up until you found out. About her being a vampire, I mean.”
“Who’s Harmony?” Fred asked.
“A ditz vampire that tried to get us all eaten by Amway Vamps, before your time.” Gunn groaned again.
“She was a…friend of mine in high school, who happened to be turned and showed up in LA. I didn’t know at first. I invited her in. She was okay, didn’t bite or growl or anything. She thought she wanted to be good since she wasn’t that great at being evil. I had a vision about some freaky vamp pyramid scheme. She’d figured out how to be evil or at least follow those that were and set up us. God, she was always such a sheep.”
“And Barbie let her go.”
“Whatever.” Cordelia mumbled into her pillow. “Anyway, I realized that Angel of 1998 had already celebrated Buffy’s birthday and was running around evil and in leather pants. Angelus 2. My plan was just to stay out of his way, lived through it once figured I could again. But, I had a vision and then another. During both, I ended up facing Angelus 2, then Angelus 1, and 2. That’s when I wrote the letter. Angel showed up and then….”
Fred cleared her throat interrupting. “Sorry, but after Angel A left for 1998, Wesley, Gunn and I took a potion that he found that would keep our memories intact in case of a time line change. It worked. I think. It must of because that’s the only way Angel B shows up on the charts. I don’t remember the change though do you, Charles?”
“Only know the bad ass effects.”
Fred picked up another piece of paper. “We do have some information from what Wesley told us. He had talked to Cordelia when her soul was returned the first time and then when she was a vampire. Cordy?”
“What?” Cordelia buried her head in the pillow again.
“What do you know about Angel B?”
Cordelia groaned. “Angel A showed up at my house. He knocked at the door. He was wearing the shirt I told him to in the letter. I let him in. We were …happy to see each other. A while later, Angel B came in, he had been at my bedroom window too, like the Angeluses, I guess he was a perv, too. I didn’t see the Angeluses, neither did Angel A, I guess we…anyway Angel A could sense B’s soul so he didn’t go ‘grry’ ballistic. Angel B told us why Wesley sent him.”
“Why?” Fred stared at the young woman holding her pencil ready.
Cordelia sighed and looked at the floor. “Angel B said that Wesley, Gunn and Fred came to him in his future – the future that had resulted from what went wrong in 1998.”
“What future?” Angel growled.
Cordelia peered over her arm at the vampire, “Angel B, when he was Angelus in 1998 noticed that me, or well, my teenage self had been marked. He didn’t tell me exactly what happened. I think he did tell Angel but I was locked in the bathroom or maybe it was when I went to get Angel a shirt. I don’t know for sure. All I know is that Angel was about to go in a major brood mode and Angel B was already there. It seems whatever Angelus B did after noticing the marks, etc., I ended up in a coma and stayed in one.”
Fred nodded her head rapidly. “Coma? That would explain why Angel B wasn’t damned. You were alive, sort of. I wonder why he didn’t just turn you.”
“Gee, Fred, that was my question too.” Cordelia scrunched her head back into the pillow. “I don’t know what his future was like, except that it was sad and alone. It made him very scowly and dark, even more so than him,” she nudged up at Angel.
The vampire grinded his teeth together, he didn’t like any of this. How much longer could this go on? How many more times was he going have to hear that Angelus had harmed Cordelia?
“He told Angel…A and I that Wesley had sent him back to make sure my 17-year-old body wasn’t marked. We were warned. I was shoved off to Buffy’s with some cock and bull tale that I was scared. Angel A and B went to take care of the Angeluses and then…” Cordelia buried her head in her arms refusing to speak any more, silent sobs wracking her body.
Fred looked to Angel expecting him to go to her but the vampire just stared unmoving. She ran, kneeling by the bed as Gunn rubbed Cordy’s back. “It’s okay girl. You didn’t know and Wesley didn’t listen later.” Gunn said with more gentleness than even he knew he was capable of.
“Shh, Cordy. It IS okay. Angel ‘little a’ will go and make it better. Promise.” Fred clutched at her arms, rubbing the skin trying to give comfort.
“That’s when we think it must have happened.” Fred brushed at her face turning to the vampire. “Angel A, we thought, came through the Portal with the orb containing Cordy’s soul. We left them alone. The next day, Angel or rather Angelus B3, took me into his room I think to feed me to Cordy, she was a vampire. “ Fred glanced again at Cordelia. “You were, I saw you so did Wesley and Charles.” Fred said apoplectically.
Cordelia waved her on staring at a spot on the carpet, her silent sobs now deep breaths.
“Cordy the vamp killed Angelus B3, told me to go back into my room, stay there and call Wesley. When Wesley and Gunn got there, Cordy the vamp was still in the bedroom, she had left to get some pig’s blood she said she had been starving and that it tasted gross. She told Wesley what had happened. Begged him to go back and stop Angel B from killing Angel A and then she told him to kill her- said it was too dangerous for us if she stayed alive. He did. And then he went back.” Fred shortened her former lecture mode to get the information out quickly trying to cushion the details from her crying friend.
“Wesley killed Cordy? How’d he know she didn’t have a soul? She protected you all. She killed Angelus. How did he know?”
“She told him.” Fred blinked up. “He did what she asked.”
“And he just did it?”
“Angel, stop.” Cordelia voice cracked. “Wesley did what he had to what was right to protect our family. I was a vampire without a soul.”
Angel shook his head.
“Angel,” Cordelia got up, the redness around the rim of her eyes the only sign of her tears. “You were dead. I had a soul in 1998, my body somewhere in some weird time flux whatever. Wesley did what he had to, to try to make it whole again. Save you and bring me home.”
Angel stilled, choking on the idea of Cordelia lying in a pile of dust on the very floor he was standing on. “Angelus came back through the portal.”
Cordelia turned away from the vampire. “No, it was Angel B,” she said softly.
Angel narrowed his eyes. “The prophecy? He turned you purposely to be damned.” Angel was incredulous.
“But, how could he….” Angel choked on a growl and even more disbelief. “You made love to him and he lost his soul?” Angel began to wish for the prophecy possibility back, his shocked gaze now landed on Cordelia.
Cordelia stared at the floor refusing to look at the vampire. Her body trembling with the tension, “I guess….I guess I thought it was Angel, there was no danger there. Angel’s soul was bound,” she whispered. “I guess that Angel B never had an epiphany or…” she shrugged.
“I don’t remember any of that.” She snapped defensively. “I don’t remember having sex with that bastard or being a vampire, the last thing I remember was waking up here,” she pointed to the bed she had been laying on. “Fred running in and telling me what they thought had happened. Wesley was dead. That he hadn’t returned through the portal that some version of you was chained up. But, it wasn’t you. He was wearing the right shirt, but it wasn’t you. The ache was still there, the pain. I want him dead. I don’t care how fuckin sorry his future was.”
Fred scrunched up her nose standing. “Pain? Ache? What you felt earlier before you ran out of Buffy’s?”
“You still felt it.”
Cordelia nodded again.
“Cordy, you did tell Wesley.”
Fred nodded. “Cordy the vamp and Wesley admitted it. Before you were turned you went to Wesley saying that you thought something was wrong that you didn’t think Angel was…. you said he was acting different…didn’t know you… you said you didn’t think you loved him anymore.”
“Wesley said he should’ve listened to you. That he should’ve trusted you-that you had been able to tell Angelus 1 from Angel. Instead, he told you that you and Angel had both been through a traumatizing ordeal and for you to give it time.” Fred finished sadly.
Cordelia shook her head taking the blame away from the absent Wesley. “I didn’t know, didn’t want to know. I pushed away those feelings when I saw Angel B in Sunnydale. I wanted so much for it to be Angel that I didn’t stop to question anything beyond the shirt he was wearing. I should have known as soon as he didn’t yell at me for leaving Buffy’s.”
Cordy’s voice got even stronger, her tears and sadness replaced by determination. “This is stupid and pointless. I’ll deal…with… my mistake when Angel comes home. Right now, we’re done. It’s time to do the spell.” She turned to the vampire. “Are you ready, up to speed?”
Angel wanted to say no. He wanted to shake the woman and have her explain to him how and why she was willing to sleep with him, how and why she knew the contents of his sketch pads, how and why she treated his room, his bed as hers.
“Good, so we’ll go.”
“Hang on, girl. You ain’t going anywhere.” Gunn shook his head.
“No, you aren’t.”
“You aren’t,” Fred nodded.
“Because,” Fred crossed her arms stubbornly. “With the luck we’ve been having you’d get yourself captured by one of the Angeluses or Angel B and get turned again. Nope, no way, no how.”
Gunn cocked his head and gave a long clap. “Tell it, sister.”
“Nope.” Fred shook her head. “Ive been doing this spell with Wesley for quite awhile, I know how to fix it so only one person goes through and it won’t be you, so there.” She bluffed.
“NO.” Gunn and Fred shouted.
“Angel,” Cordelia whined pleading with the vampire.
“You’re kidding, right. Does that really work?”
“Please Angel,” she pouted, her lip trembling and her wide eyes gazing at the vampire.
Angel had forgotten how bewitching those eyes could be begging him to laugh with her or do anything…He jerked up. “NO.”
“Hmmph.” She turned and flopped on the bed. “Not fair.”