Cordelia took one last look at the room that she had been sleeping in. Never again, she swore. Never again, would she get all weepy and pathetic over Angel.
Life went on, she lectured herself. And Angel was no longer a part of hers. Nor was his stupid hotel. Cordelia didn’t care what Wesley had said about the stupid lease. If Angel Investigations……….No, shit, she thought, they would have to think of another name, whatever, the new agency would not be housed in this mausoleum, she vowed.
It finally settled into Cordelia’s mind and heart, Angel had left LA and left her, but she was still there having visions, still living at the Power’s whim. Fine, she grumbled. But, she wasn’t going to do it on Angel’s terms, not any longer.
Now, she was the boss. Cordelia cringed. She needed Wesley and Gunn to stay with her. But would they? How much of what they did was loyalty to Angel or to the fight? She guessed she would find out. But, ultimately it wouldn’t matter; she would like if they stayed, but she didn’t need them she didn’t need anyone………except Groo.
And she only needed him to fight the evil in her visions. That’s all.
Fred was waiting for her as she exited the room. “Cordy?”
“Fine,” Cordelia said firmly. “Fred, do me a favor.”
“Call, Wesley, Gunn and Groo….ask them to come over as quickly as possible.”
“Did you have a vision?’ Fred asked concernedly.
“No, just my own epiphany. I’m going to take a shower now. Fred get them all here, okay?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t a vision?” Wesley interrogated Fred for the fifth time.
“She said no, she went to take a shower.”
“When? It’s been an half hour. Are you sure she is still up there?’ Gunn asked.
“Well, I heard water running then nothing, then more water?” Fred shrugged.
“She’s probably drowned.” Gunn grumbled.
“Where’s the Princess? Groo exclaimed.
Wesley cut back his retort, he had to agree with the Pylean warrior, Wesley was getting worried and irritated at the lack of Cordelia presence.
“Wow, the gang is all and accounted for, well minus a dark broody gorgeous character and adding a swirling hole replacement. Not so broody, not so oh my god hot, but still, he has his moments. So why is Cordycakes calling for a royal audience. You have to admit, the honeycakes has got the important voice down pat,” Lorne said as he strode into the lobby.
“She called you,” Wesley and Gunn cried at the same time.
“Hi,” Cordelia interrupted as she came down the stairs. All eyes turned to her descent. She was wearing the same jeans that she had been wearing before, she had exchanged the body-hugging tank for a loose t-shirt, and she looked disheveled but also in command.
“Cordy?’ Wesley moved towards the young woman.
Cordelia held up her hand as she set her feet on the lobby’s floor. “I need to know some things”
Wesley started to open his mouth again.
Cordelia raised her hand higher. “I need to know…Wesley, Gunn what are your plans? Now that Angel is no longer the warrior will you leave? Will you or won’t you stay with me?” she raised a regal brow.
“Will you help Groo fight my visions? I know you did before, but was that a one-time deal or will you continue on with Angel Investigations…” she grimaced at her words.
“Cordelia,” Wesley started.
“I should tell you that if you do then it won’t happen here. And the name of the agency will be changed. So, was your loyalty to Angel or to the fight……….will you help us or leave.” She stared waiting for their answer.
Wesley took his glasses off and rubbed at his face. “Cordelia….”
“Answer me,” Cordelia demanded, her voice and expression cold.
Wesley winced at the change in the young woman. Gone was the joyful, lively girl; left in her place was a machine. “Our…” Wesley stopped, he couldn’t speak for Gunn, “My place is in the fight, with you, no matter where it is to take place. I will stay.” Wesley couldn’t leave Cordelia alone; she needed him, even if she wouldn’t acknowledge it.
“Barbie, when have I ever dished a fight?” Gunn said immediately after, his tone expressing his feelings for the young woman that his words failed to.
Cordelia just nodded at their show of care and loyalty to her. “Fine, Wolfram & Hart have started closing procedures on the place,” she waved her hand around. “Wesley, you have been given carte blanche from Angel, so I expect you will just hand the hotel over to them. Don’t tell the hell firm that Angel has left, that way we can probably get a better price.”
“Cordelia, I can’t” exclaimed Wesley.
“Yes, you can. I looked over the papers that Angel signed. He gave the hotel to you. If you want it, you can fight Wolfram & Hart for it, but I won’t be here. I hate this place”
“Since when,” Lorne piped up. He could figure out why he was there, but he couldn’t figure out why the hottie seer wanted him there.
“Since, it’s not important. What’s important is that the mission goes on, but I don’t want to do it from here. And you,” she pointed to the greener than green demon. “Will either help Groo, like you helped Angel or not. That’s your own deal. Just let us know if we have to find another tacky singing soul interpreting watering hole or whatever”
Lorne sighed, wishing that he could ignore all that was happening and just blast the young cold woman with a high note that would bring all of her reconstructed walls down, but the Powers wanted this farce played out.
The demon just hoped that they knew what they were doing. Sometimes, he had doubts.
Almost by rote, Lorne recited. “I’m here by the grace…sh!” he turned to Fred. “It was all part of the greater one’s plan. I’m their link as you are,” he nodded to Cordelia. “My duty is to you.”
“I thought it was to Angel.” Wesley puzzled.
“Nah, the seer, but the big cute lug always seemed to need more…guidance,” Lorne shrugged. “After all a unhappy warrior, an unhappy seer makes. So, now I guess for the time frame of this little saga, I will be sectioned off, trying to make him happy,” Lorne winced as he looked at Groo.
“Well at least it will be easy, this buff warrior doesn’t’ suffer the same calamities that the other one did.”
“Vampirism?” “Eternal broodom?” “ Low self-esteem?”
“No, intelligence,” Lorne rolled his eyes at Wesley, Gunn and Fred.
Groo knew that they were talking about him, he just didn’t’ understand. But the tone wasn’t nice, so he puffed up and tried to look more menacing. “I’m yours to command,” he stated to Cordelia. The Princess used to appreciate his adoration.
“Um,” Wesley shook his head. “We need a office, any suggestions,” he asked. “Cordelia, this….” He motioned around. “Is perfect.”
“No. I found us a place or rather David Nabbit did. He has a place. It’s basically a storefront place, but with a great storage area. We can move the weapons and books there. No sewer access, but since we all aren’t sun allergic it will be fine.”
“You’ve been busy,” Lorne commented.
“I made a few phone calls.”
Angel began to squirm as all of the eyes in the room were focused on him.
“How?” Giles finally spoke.
Angel hadn’t realized until then how far apart he had drifted from Buffy’s orbit. Buffy, as well as, the rest of the Sunnydale gang didn’t know about the scroll and the prophecy.
At the time that Wesley had translated the ancient writing it never occurred to Angel to tell Buffy. Why was that? Angel thought back, well for one, he had been so overwhelmed in his relief that Cordelia and Wesley were alive.
Then there was the worry about finding a new office. Then, of course, there was Wolfram & Hart’s increased effort in their mind games. It was just that he had been so preoccupied with all that had been going on.
Furthermore, Wesley didn’t know when much less even if, the prophecy would occur. There had been no reason to tell Buffy. A slight feeling of unease crept over him at that last justification. Something was nagging at him, something that he should acknowledge.
“Angel,” asked Buffy. Her voice filled with questions.
“It was prophesized. And it happened.” Angel said shortly, his mind back on the beautiful blonde. “I’m human for good,” Angel said, his eyes centering on Buffy, trying to read her expression.
“What prophecy?” Xander asked suspiciously.
Angel shot a look to the young man. “One that foretold of the vampire with a soul, gaining his redemption, and living as a human.”
“Redemption? You? After all that your psychotic alter dead ego did? Who gets to make these decisions? Don’t we get a vote? I mean as some of the few that experienced evil boy’s attention getting antics, don’t we deserve a little input on the whole forgiveness reward thing?”
“Xander,” Buffy shushed at her complaining friend.
“Giles, you agree with me, don’t you. Can I mention….”
“No, you can’t- now be quiet,” Giles snapped, taking off his glasses and rubbing his forehead.
Angel’s glare was diverted from Xander as Spike circled around Angel, sniffing and staring. “Bloody human, wasn’t the soul enough. What’s next? Wings and a halo? Pain in my dead arse,” the blonde vampire grumbled.
“Spike,” Buffy chastised. Spike glared and went back to the couch.
Angel stared, it seems that he wasn’t the only one that had been negligent in the flow of information from LA and Sunnydale. When had Spike been a non-chained, non-bound member of the Scooby Gang?
“Angel, maybe we should talk, uh?’ Buffy said hesitantly to the former vampire.
“Buffy,” Giles asked with reservation.
“It will be okay,” Buffy reassured her watcher.
Angel stood back and quickly took in everyone in the room. Maybe it was left over vamp perception or maybe it was just that the emotions were so strong. Angel felt the tension in the room; the swirling sentiments in the room flowed from disbelief, distrust and to fear.
An ache settled deep with in his gut. He hadn’t been confronted with such emotions in so long. He felt that he was on the periphery, looking in. Angel was faced with the wall composed of the clique of those that orbited Buffy’s sphere, protecting her, from everything even him, mostly him.
Even when his and Buffy’s love was at its least traumatic Angel was left on the outside.
He had forgotten how much that made him feel like that his skin didn’t fit, that he was somehow wrong. In LA he never felt that way, not since Cordelia came in and took over his life. Even in her anger, Cordelia accepted him in her inner circle, her very small selective circle.
Till this day, Angel was not sure how he made it there, but he had, he knew that.
And somehow Angel knew that everyone in the room that was judging and studying him would scoff at Cordelia’s immediate acceptance of him.
Angel stared at Buffy, trying to grasp the love that had so overpowered him for so long. The unexplored part of Angel’s mind and heart flashed a great light pushing against his conscious begging for acknowledgement.
“Angel?” Buffy called again.
Angel struggled then nodded. He couldn’t, didn’t want to be diverted from the lovely blonde in front of him. He squelched down the emerging insight and followed Buffy out the door.
“Cordelia, is this what you want?” Wesley turned and looked around to the new office space.
Cordelia raised her eyebrows. “What’s wrong with it. It’s new, clean and doesn’t have a resident evil spirit. I say it’s perfect.”
“Yes,” Wesley shrugged, placing the books in his hands onto the built-in bookcase.
Cordelia ignored the raising of Wesley’s eyebrows. She could, she wanted to do this. But Cordelia stumbled at her certainty. She doubted her own assurance. But she had to leave the Hyperion; to stay was just to be reminded of Angel.
Wasn’t it enough that she still had the visions? With them, with their pain Cordelia could have the part of her life, the only part where she felt that she had a purpose. It had been a purpose that had given Cordelia a place to belong. She had belonged with Angel.
Oh, that was stupid, she shouted to herself.
The purpose was real, the belonging wasn’t. She was just being stupid. Cordelia had to concentrate on the purpose. Without it, she would crumble and fall flat on her face, stamping and pounding at the unfairness of it all.
“Where do you what these,” Fred asked timidly, holding up some more books.
“There,” Cordelia pointed to the bookcase with manufactured confidence. Cordelia swayed, then cringed, then cried out as a vision tore through her mind.
Wesley beat Groo to the floor. He gathered the young woman into his arms.
“Docks, again. The bloody one, oh…ow …”
“Cordelia, just describe it…” Wesley urged.
“No………Ow, I know it, you made me read about it,” Cordelia hunched over grabbing her head. She gasped. “ Crude…us… Blood…”
Wesley shot up. “ A Cruentus? Was is shredding its victims?”
Cordelia glanced up; one eye closed the other squinting. “Gee, I don’t know, shred, blood, it sounds right…docks…please…go…” her voice, trembling and getting weaker.
“Come on,” Wesley called to Gunn and Groo.
Groo had been standing on the outskirts of the group. He didn’t quite understand all that they were saying and he hadn’t liked the way that the male cows had been ignoring him. He had thought it would be better when that beast masquerading as a cow had left, but it wasn’t.
Only the princess and her meek handmaiden had at least attempted to acknowledge him or his prowess.
“Groo, go, please…” Cordelia rolled her eyes. If this was to be her life couldn’t she have gotten a new warrior that wasn’t so needy.
Cordelia completely sectionalized, compartmentalized, and then ignored how much Angel had needed her and his friends.