Title: Searching for Happily Ever After
Author: (Only) Anne
Spoilers: everything up to now- but not emphasized, but may contain tidbits of spoilers.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made. HONORABLE MENTION: The Princess Bride– movie (Reiner/Scheinman Production) and book & screenplay- William Goldman.
Thanks/Dedication:To Dave– for his most recent unique interpretation of the C/A dynamic. Also – Wren gets a special one for helping me so quickly…Thanks Wren, you stopped me from pulling my hair out. Thanks.
Cordelia indulgently watched as Wesley and Gunn made fools of themselves. A small grin danced over her face. It was amusing as well as a little sad. Sad, because the young woman that they were fawning all over had no clue that they were acting like love struck little boys for her benefit.
And that sort of attention just cried out for the proper response, but Fred just didn’t have it in her to make the men squirm. Cordelia wanted to do it for her, but that would probably embarrass them all. Not that Cordelia would mind embarrassing Wesley and Gunn, after all that would be the whole point, but Fred would probably get all flustered, blabbily and go hiding in her room.
And Cordelia didn’t want that. After all the young woman just started to come down from her caveroom on a regular basis.
“What’s so funny?”
Cordelia jumped. “Don’t do that.” Cordelia lightly smacked Angel as he appeared suddenly next to her. “I’m going to have to put a bell on you. That’s it, you’ll be my pet vampire.”
“Aren’t I already.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Broody guy fails miserably at trying to be joke guy.”
Angel smiled in acknowledgment of his attempt at humor. Though part of him wondered whether it was really a joke. There were times that he definitely felt like Cordelia led him around on a leash and a particular short one at that. But since Cordelia didn’t seem to recognize that peculiar fact, he wasn’t about to give her any ideas.
It was bad enough the way he couldn’t have her out of his sight even for a few minutes at a time. If Cordelia even had an inkling of the power she had over him, he would be doing her laundry and cooking all of her meals. Damn’t he already cooked all of her meals.
Angel shook his head. He only cooked for her because if he didn’t Cordelia would never eat. The young woman never kept any food at her apartment except peanut butter. And he had to be near Cordelia because she kept getting into dangerous situations. He had just almost lost her- again. How was he supposed to keep her safe when she kept getting sucked into other dimensions and attacked by freaky brain hijackers, not to mention the whole Vocah horror of over a year ago and every other dangerous situation she had been since.
She was driving him insane with worry. But at least everything seemed okay now. Angel sighed. Until the next time. Oh well, he would just have to enjoy this relative peace and just make extra careful that there wouldn’t be a next time. He wasn’t sure he could take it.
“Now what’s got you so broody all of a sudden? The joke wasn’t that bad.”
“I’m not broody. And I asked you first. What’s so funny?”
Angel looked over at Wesley, Gunn and Fred. “That’s funny? I think it’s good that Fred is leaving her room. Your talks with her must have helped. I did tell you thank you, right?”
“Yes and it is good. But that’s not what’s funny. Look at them, they’re acting like little boys trying to win the attention of the cute girl on the playground. Pretty soon, they’ll be passing her notes and carrying her books.”
“Jeez, but I guess you didn’t have much opportunity to walk a girl home from school or make an ass out of yourself trying to woo the girl in 18th century Ireland, uh.”
“They’re interested in her?” Ignoring her jibe.
Angel looked again. Wesley and Gunn did seem to be paying a lot of attention to Fred lately. He had thought they were just trying to help her get accumulated. Oh well. He wasn’t worried. Wesley was definitely trustworthy. And while Gunn still had some issues with Angel, the young black man wouldn’t do anything to put Fred in danger. Not after the incident in Caritas, anyway.
“Promise me, that if they resort to name calling and a duel to the death at dawn, you’ll put a stop to it.”
“Sure, you know, a duel- the stupid ancient macho invention to win the lady fair.”
“Oh. Sort of like I did with Groosalugg.”
“Please.” Cordelia shook her head. She looked back and sighed. “You know, I miss that.”
“Plyea?” Angel wasn’t even about to suggest that she missed Groo.
“No, stupid. The attention of good looking men.”
“You think Wesley and Gunn are good-looking?”
“Sure, but I’ll deny it.” Cordelia giggled and then sighed. “Ah, those were the days. You know there was a time that men used to look at me like that, do silly stuff for me, you know pay attention to me.” She said.
“I pay attention to you.” Angel looked puzzled and a bit hurt.
“You do amazingly brave and selfless acts to save me. Which is definitely appreciated, but I’m talking about that.” She pointed again. Wesley and Gunn were nudging each other out of the way to get Fred a piece of paper to write on.
“I cook for you.” Angel had to stop himself from whining.
Cordelia turned and smiled brightly. “You cook for everyone.”
Angel had to stop himself from blurting out that he didn’t. He cooked for Cordelia. He couldn’t help it everyone else mooched. Well, Fred didn’t, but the young woman still had problems remembering to turn the stove off. He started cooking for her after the kitchen went up flames when she tried to boil water.
“You know, I think Wes may have the advantage though. He was quite the protector at Caritas. You better be careful. Wes just maybe putting a dent in your hero armor.”
“Uh.” Angel barely heard what she said. Angel paid attention to Cordelia. Hell, she was practically the whole focus of his attention, except when there was demon or evil to fight providing of course she was safely away from that fight. He did pay attention to Cordelia, he did.
“I’m sorry.” Cordelia gave a teasing smile. “You may be losing a worshipper.”
“UH.” Angel really didn’t understand a word that Cordelia was saying. He did pay attention to her. What else did she want? He looked back over at Wesley and Gunn. Now the two were scrambling to get Fred a pen. Angel could do that. Well, he couldn’t when Cordelia had a vision. It was more important to make sure she was okay and comfortable. Wesley would have to keep getting the pen and paper under those circumstances.
“Fred’s crush, silly.” Cordelia laughed at Angel’s perplexed expression. “You are clueless. Fred has a crush on you.”
“She does not.”
“This could go on all night. Trust me on this.”
“Talk to her. I don’t want her to have a crush on me. Why would she have a crush on me?”
“Gee, I don’t know maybe because you’ve saved her, been nice to her, gave her free room and board, and happen to be a very handsome guy.”
“You think I’m handsome?”
“Not me. Fred.”
“Oh all aright, I think you’re cute too. But I’ll deny it.” She gave him a bright smile.
Angel couldn’t help it he smiled back. Her smiles were infectious. But just ‘cute’? Why didn’t Cordelia think he was handsome? Actually, why did he care if Cordelia thought he was handsome? He was getting a headache.
“Um Cordelia I don’t want Fred to have a crush on me. Do something.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Not my job. Yours.”
Angel shook his head.
“Oh don’t worry, I think the worse of it is over. And anyway, Wesley and Gunn are doing their best trying to divert her.” Cordelia sighed again. “Oh, Angel, I left some of my more demon dirty clothes upstairs, could you maybe wash them for me. I mean, not right now but when you do laundry.” She smiled brightly.
Angel didn’t even realize that he nodded until she left the room. Damn’t. Angel pulled at his shirt to see if the leash was in fact real.
Angel looked happily at the piece of paper in his hand. He looked again at his score. He would show it to Cordelia. The test showed that he was a good boyfriend. Granted he had to ignore a lot of the questions because they dealt with pleasuring the girlfriend.
But he did well on the others. He was attentive and listened. Angel slammed down the magazine. What was he doing? He wasn’t Cordelia’s boyfriend. He was Cordelia’s friend. But, still, attentive and listening were good qualities in a friend. Weren’t they? She was driving him crazy.
Angel scrambled to shove the Comos magazine and piece of paper into a drawer. “I am?”
“You did my laundry and even folded it. Thank you.” Cordelia beamed and sat on the corner of the desk. “Who would’ve thought my big bad vampire was such a great domestic. Not a spot left.” She paused, glancing down and raising a brow. “Um, Angel laundry and cooking are great, but why are you reading my Mademoiselle and Woman’s Day?”
“Um,” Angel shoved the magazines aside. “Recipes.”
“Cool. Any good ones?”
Angel shrugged. The recipes were okay, but the articles on how to please a woman had been useless. Their advice seemed to center on the bedroom. Not particularly helpful to him. All he wanted was to know how to give Cordelia more attention.
“Wesley and Gunn want to take Fred to the movies. Do you want to go?”
“Are you going?”
“I haven’t decided yet. I don’t have anything else to do. But the last time I went I had a vision. Kind of ruined it for my date and me. He never called again. I guess he was embarrassed. Just left me there wriggling on the floor. And he was embarrassed? Jerk.”
“Date? When was this? Why didn’t I know? Where was I? You don’t date.”
“Don’t rub it in. But, yes occasionally, during a blue moon, I get asked out. It was just some guy I met at the gym. You were at the monastery.”
“Wesley let you go? Did Wesley meet him? Did he check him out?”
“Whoa, dad. I’m fine. No demon spawn to report and yes Wesley met him. He was a jerk, not an evil thing. So, do you want to go?”
“To the movies. Geez, what’s up with you, lately? You haven’t been taken over by a dense old guy, have you?”
“Are you going?”
“I told you vision embarrassment?”
“If you have one, I’d have to miss the movie anyway. So, go. I’ll make sure you don’t end up on the floor, promise.”
Cordelia smiled patting his hand. “You do catch me don’t you?”
“I try.” Angel rested his hand over hers.
“You do. Okay, let’s go.”
Angel stood his hand coming up and resting on her shoulder. “So what’s the movie?”
“The Princess Bride.”
Angel looked questioningly at Cordelia.
“The man in black goes through dangerous obstacles, horrible torture to save the princess.”
“That’s a movie?”
“It’s a fairytale. Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles. It has it all.
Angel looked skeptical. It still sounded an awful lot like a day in the life of Angel’s Investigations.
The members of Angel Investigations left the hotel and piled into the Plymouth. Cordelia went to climb in the back with Fred, but Wesley beat her to it. Cordelia rolled her eyes at Angel and got in the front.
Angel smiled. Once Cordelia pointed it out to him it was obvious. He glanced in the rearview mirror. Fred was chattering excitedly about the movie while Gunn and Wesley hung on her every word.
None of the occupants of the vehicle noticed the dark figure watching from across the street.
“Have fun storming the castle”
“I am the dread Pirate Roberts.” Gunn stalked towards Fred. The young woman squealed in delight.
Cordelia groaned. “Stop them, please.”
“I don’t think I can. I think our only choice is to leave.”
“But this is my office, too. And it’s your home. It’s not fair. Make them leave.”
“I can’t bodily throw them out.”
“Oh alright. Let’s take these books upstairs.” Cordelia threw up hands to her ears to block out Wesley and Gunn’s continual recitation of the movies lines.
They both figured out quickly that every time they quoted the movie Fred would break out in hysterical giggles. So, they had been repeating the lines non-stop ever since they left theater, each trying to top one another.
Cordelia was seriously beginning to hate one of her favorite movies. She was definitely coming close to hating her friends. They were getting on her nerves.
“Mawidge is a dweam wiffin a dweam.” Gunn said.
My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Wesley took a fighting stance in front a teary-eyed Fred.
“Angel, don’t forget the file.” Her hands still over her head. Cordelia moved quickly to the stairs to get away from the mini reenactment going on the lobby.
“As you wish.”
“What?” Cordelia brought down her hands.
“I got it.” Angel said.
Cordelia scrunched up her face. She could have sworn Angel had said ‘As you wish’. He better not start quoting the movie too.
Angel and Cordelia sat quietly going over their new case. It wasn’t a real difficult one. It was just a matter of narrowing down which of LA’s many septic tanks the Vesta demon chose to nest in.
“You didn’t like the movie?”
“Uh?” Cordelia looked up from the map she was marking.
“The movie? You didn’t like it?”
“I love that movie. I just like it on the screen not the bad imitations being played out downstairs. What is it with guys memorizing movie lines? Xander knew all of the words to Dumber and Dumber. I mean it was a stupid movie, why would you want to know the words, much less hear them over and over again.” Cordelia shuddered.
Angel decided to ignore her reference to Xander. He still couldn’t figure out what Cordelia had seen in him.
“What’s there not to love about “The Princess Bride”? You got a sexy man in black fighting to save his true love. He withstood the ‘Machine’ and beat the bad guy.”
“Wesley, not our Wesley, but the sexy fictional one, was only sort of dead. Kind of like you. You’re undead, which is sort of dead or is it sort of alive?” Cordelia scrunched up her face. “Anyway, it was about true love conquering all. Something every one wants to believe in.”
“No. But that’s why it’s a fairytale because true love doesn’t conquer all. If that had been real life. Wesley wouldn’t have come back for Buttercup; he would’ve probably shacked up with one of the many women he found in the ports. Or if he did come back, he sure wouldn’t go through the fire swamp or torture. Face it; there just aren’t that many heroes out there. I mean sure, you’re one, but you’re special. There aren’t many guys out there like you.” She scrunched up her face again.
“Actually, I guess you’re the only ‘grr’ guy out there with a soul. See, special.” She nodded emphasizing her point. “Anyway, even if by some weird chance Wesley did go back for Buttercup and did face those obstacles to save her, and they did get married, they would have been split in 2-3 years tops. That’s why the movie ended with the kiss that left all the others behind. Because everything after sucked. Nope, ‘And they lived happily ever after’ is stuff of fairytales and storybooks. True love, yeah right.”
“True love is real.”
Cordelia looked understandingly at Angel. “I’ll grant you that your love for Buffy could be classified as true love, but the happy ending…Oh, Angel.” Cordelia scooted over and knelt before the vampire. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“That’s not what….never mind.”
“Angel, I am sorry. It wasn’t that you didn’t love Buffy enough, it was just that stuff got in the way.” Cordelia waved her hand in the air.
“I’m sure that if there hadn’t been the whole slaying thing and stupid curse thing, you two could have had the happy ending even before you shansued. Who knows if the shu prophecy happens sooner than later, it still might. I mean she’s not dead anymore, so who knows. Maybe just this once true love will win out.” She smiled reassuringly at the vampire.
Angel gently brushed at Cordelia’s hair. He knew that there was not going to be a ‘happily ever after’ with Buffy, even if she was alive now. Seeing her again had just confirmed what he had begun to suspect when he realized that he could move on from her death.
Their love had been strong, blinding and furious, and at the time true, and in away it still was- he would always love the young woman that taught him to love- but it wasn’t true enough to allow for a happy ending. Because he had changed and so had she. The love may be still there, but the need wasn’t.
When Angel saw Buffy, she had been more beautiful than ever, her experiences had matured her and turned her into a heartbreaking young woman. His non-beating heart had lurched when he had seen her, but he knew now that it was more because he had come face to face with a dream that he once had, not the reality he needed or wanted.
Angel needed more than a dream; he needed real friendship, real companionship, and real acceptance.
Things he hadn’t gotten with Buffy, things he didn’t even know he had needed at the time. With Buffy he had been a vampire first, a vampire that she loved against her instincts and better judgment. Cordelia however thought of him as a man, a friend and a vampire, the last almost being an afterthought. Angel looked at the regretful woman staring at him. Angel smiled.
He truly did need the things that she gave him; they were things he couldn’t lose. Those were what made Cordelia so important to him.
“This is silly, it was just a movie.” He pulled her up to sit beside him.
“I upset you. I’m sorry.”
“No. There maybe a happy ending for me, some day, maybe, but it won’t be with Buffy. That time has come and gone, not because we didn’t love each other but because of stuff, as you so correctly said. I am really okay. But, Cordy I don’t want you to give up that dream, I don’t want you to give up ‘true love’ or your chance at a happy ending.“
Cordelia arched a brow. “Angel. Be realistic. Vision girl. They may have called me a Princess in Plyea, but I’m not one. There will be no knight on a white charger to rescue me. I’ll just have to leave it to you to keep saving me. And that works for me.“
“You said you miss the attention.” Angel still wasn’t sure what type of attention she needed. Wesley and Gunn were acting like idiots. She wanted some guy to get all idiotic on her? That didn’t make sense.
“I do. Give me break. There still is ‘girl’ in Vision girl. But hey, having friends, especially ones that jump through portals to save me, and a particular one that cooks and does my laundry isn’t something to scoff at. Are we okay?” Cordelia was still concerned that she had upset him.
“Better than okay. And you didn’t upset me. Now lets find that demon’s lair. And then I’ll fix you something to eat. The Player’s troupe downstairs has to be almost finished with their show.”
“One can only hope.” Cordelia smiled brightly and went back to her map.