To be Alive or to Live. 4-5

Chapter four

Cordelia huddled up against the backboard of her bed. Her head buried in her knees. Cordelia’s arms held her shaking body tightly.

Why was she so upset? Why did she feel as if her world was ending? She should be happy. Angel was human. He reached his shansu. That’s what she always wanted for him.

It was just that Cordelia never thought beyond that moment. Possibly, because, even though Cordelia promised to be with Angel until he reached his redemption, she had believed that her mortality would cause her to leave Angel before it actually happened. Cordelia never expected that when Angel became human, she would be alive for him to leave her.

But he was going to leave her. Angel was going back to Sunnydale to be with Buffy.

Cordelia shouldn’t be surprised. Angel loved Buffy. When Willow came to LA to tell them about Buffy’s death, Angel had been devastated. For a solid month, he had stayed up in his room grieving for his lost love. The only time he would descend would be when Cordelia had a vision.

Even in his suffering, Angel could sense Cordelia’s oncoming pain. Angel would be at her side, holding her up. After Cordelia’s pain subsided, he would go fight. Afterwards, Angel would go back upstairs to resume his solitude. Angel wouldn’t let Cordelia help him.

He wasn’t nasty like he was with Darla. Angel just told Cordelia in sad, heavy voice that he needed to deal with Buffy’s death alone.

Finally, slowly, Angel rejoined them. He was still sad, but he accepted Buffy’s death and started to live again. Then at the end of the summer, they called. Buffy was alive. She had been for about a month.

Angel had alternated from happiness and rage at the news. One minute, he would smile; the next he would rant at the Sunnydale crowd for not telling him sooner. But, Angel’s anger soon faded; he was too relieved and happy that Buffy was alive to maintain his ire.

But Cordelia had no problem maintaining her anger. She silently cursed them all. She cursed Willow for hurrying to LA to break Angel’s heart, when Buffy wasn’t even really dead. She cursed Giles for not telling Angel that Buffy was alive sooner.

They were so quick to hurt Angel, but delayed in giving him the news that would have stopped his sorrow. Selfish was what they were. Giles had justified that Buffy needed the time to regroup and get re-accustomed to her self. It was always about Buffy, never about Angel and what they had put him through.

Buffy had finally called. Cordelia remembered the expression on Angel’s face; she had thought the smile he given her when they returned safely from Pylea was overwhelming, but that smile was nothing compared to the one Angel glowed with during the phone call. Almost on par with the smile Angel gave at the sight of the sun.

Stupid, Cordelia yelled at herself. She should have gone to the beach with Angel. Then she could have seen that smile again. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, she repeated over and over again, slamming her fist on the mattress.

But no, Cordelia had to be all self-pitying. Her life wasn’t over; her best friend had just received the greatest gift. A second chance. That was a good thing, not bad. She had 24 hours left with Angel before he left her and she was going to watch him enjoy the start of his life.

***

Angel stood mesmerized by the sun glittering off the blue of the water. It was awe -inspiring. The whole experience was incredible.

He couldn’t believe that he was standing in the sun and not lighting up like a torch. Angel had made it, somehow he had accomplished his redemption, fulfilled the scroll’s prophecy. Angel didn’t do it alone; he knew that.

It was Cordelia and Wesley. They both had given him their friendship and loyalty. They showed him by their caring that he was worth something. They gave Angel the inspiration and strength to continue on the correct path. They exhibited the true qualities of heroes, even more so than Angel. They, with their human frailties fought against evil.

Especially, Cordelia. She suffered the visions just to help him, just to help others. Cornelia was the bravest of them all. She was also the best example of what life was all about; survival against adversity, faith when all was hopeless, humor in the face of horror and beauty in the midst of the world’s ugliness.

A frown flickered briefly over Angel’s countenance. What would happen to his seer? Angel wasn’t a warrior for the powers now. Would the PTB continue to give Cordelia visions? No, Angel panicked, they couldn’t. Cordelia was his seer, he didn’t need a seer anymore. They would have to relieve her of that burden. Angel hoped.

“Please tell that’s not a brood moment I see you dwelling in,” Cordelia chided gently.

Angel jumped and turned. “I didn’t hear you or smell you, for that matter.”

“Eww, you use to smell me, please, yuck,” the young woman wrinkled up her nose.

“No, you smelt…..fine,” Angel stuttered, his brow creasing. Angel missed the sweet, spicy scent that floated in the air, whenever Cordelia entered his sphere of perception. It had been comforting, tantalizing and no longer in his capabilities to sense.

“Fine, Umph,” Cordelia snorted. She went up next to Angel and leaned over the boardwalk railing. “It is pretty, isn’t it?” Her eyes focused on the rolling waves.

Angel sighed. “Yes. I never thought I would ever see the beach again, at least not during the day.”

“Pooh, I knew. I just didn’t know when. But it’s now. This is so awesome. Wow. You’re human,” Cordelia turned and flashed a big warm smile at Angel.

“Yeah,” Angel agreed in awe.

“And tomorrow, you will leave and start your real life,” Cordelia turned back to the water.

“Cordy, my life here was real,” Angel quietly refuted.

“Real maybe, but not what you wanted. What you want, what you always wanted is in Sunnydale. So you are going. I’ll miss you. I’m sorry if I was a bitch earlier. I was just feeling selfish and stuff. I just wanted us all to be together one last time before everything changed, that’s all.”

“I have to go Cordelia, and try.”

“I know.” Cordelia said with more wisdom than her years warranted.

“It’s just that when I thought she died…….it was so…….”

“I know Angel, it’s okay. I understand.”

Angel stared at his beautiful friend. “You do don’t you. You always understand.”

“No,” Cordelia snorted. “I still don’t have a clue as to why you would sleep with that skanky vamp Darla, risking everything.”

Angel grimaced. Cordelia had been livid when she found out about his attempt at soul suicide. She had scared him. Cordelia ranted and raved for an hour straight. And he stood there and took it. Because for one he deserved it and for another if he had walked out on her, Angel knew he would find his blood diluted with holy water or worse Cordelia would leave him.

Cordelia had been that mad and Angel had been that scared. Then after Cordelia’s vicious rampage had ceased, she wouldn’t talk to him for two weeks. Then suddenly, Cordelia started to talk to him again, saying that she understood, but making him promise never to be so stupid again. Angel had happily obliged, just relieved to have his best friend back.

“Yes, you did. You just thought it was incredibly dumb. And you were right.” Angel corrected.

“Humph. My advice to you is to leave that particular yucky little incident alone in your upcoming heart to heart with Buffy. I don’t think she would understand.”

Angel nodded. Cordelia was right. Buffy wouldn’t understand, not like Cordelia had.

“Come with me,” Angel said suddenly. She had been his lifeline for what seemed to be forever, he couldn’t imagine Cordelia not being there, for him.

“To Sunnyhell. I think not. Been there, done that horror trip.” Cordelia shuddered.

“No, my life is here now. And I don’t want ever to go back. Back to being regulated to the unwanted cousin at the Scooby Brigade’s Buffy lovefests. Anyway, why would I want to subject myself to more demon and vampire fighting. With you human, the Powers won’t need me to be a seer anymore. Bye, Bye pain- numbing visions. Normal life for Cordelia Chase, aspiring actress,” she snorted.

“Cordy,” Angel stumbled trying to find the right words.

“No, Angel. This is where we part company. Well, tomorrow. I said I would stay with you until you shansued. Viola, you shoed. And now, you can start living. I love you. You have become my best friend, but I don’t belong in Sunnydale, not anymore, if I ever did.” Cordelia interrupted quietly.

“I love you, too,” Angel responded, not understanding how those three words could sound so right and cause such a empty hole in his chest. “I’ll miss you.”

“I know. I’m hard to forget.” Cordelia laughed.

“Yes, you are.” Angel said honestly. “Thank you for everything.”

“Just part of the job,” she quipped, wiping at her eyes. “Damn, sand in my eyes,” Cordelia grumbled. She straightened. “Seen enough…..Time to go back and party, Pinocchio. Gunn is going to the library to pick up Fred, then get Wesley. We’re all meeting at Caritas at 6:00pm. So, we better hurry if we are going to get you in some human cheery clothes. No more black needed.”

“Caritas?”

“Sure, won’t mojo bonanza guy be surprised. No more beige soul for you. Now, I’m sure it’s a rainbow of bright colors. Come on.” Cordelia pulled at his arm.

“Bonanza?”

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “TV Land. Lorne Green, as in Lorne the green demon, the Battlestar Galactic guy. Really, if you had said that I would have known. Battlestar Galactic was in my rerun age. Oh, I called Kate, but she has an interview with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office tomorrow, so she couldn’t fly back. Jeez, it still weird to think that cop girl was actually a lawyer girl, uh?”

“Kate’s father didn’t like lawyers, so she became a cop instead.”

“Well, in LA who could blame him.” Cordelia shrugged. “Let’s go. It will be you, me, Wesley and our extended family, Gunn, Fred and Lorne. It will be fun. Your last hurrah in LA.” She smiled.

“Yes. It will,” Angel said. He was going to celebrate his redemption with people who cared about him and that he cared about. Then he would be going to Buffy.

Angel should be ecstatic, but for some reason, he felt a solid ache in his heart.


Chapter five

“Welcome, Welcome kids, so what brings the forces for good out this evening?” Lorne widely beckoned Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn, Fred, and Angel in. “Whoa,” Lorne exclaimed as his eyes centered on Angel. “The big guy is a big human guy, wow”

“Yep, and it’s time to party,” Cordelia added.

“Unuh,” the host nodded. “I’m at a loss for the proper flair, this is …..wow. I seem to have been definitely dropped from the Higher’s loop.”

“No excuses, the drinks are on you,” Cordelia said.

“Of course, precious princess,” Lorne nodded and bowed.

Cordelia curled her lip. “Shut up and give us Champagne and don’t stop pouring. Got it.”

“Yes, highness, It seems you haven’t loss your ‘important’ voice.”

“Cordy, never leaves home with out it,” chuckled Gunn.

“Humph, let’s grab that table,” Cordelia pointed to the table in the corner off to the left of the stage. “Green guy, you are going to join us, right,” Cordelia added hopefully.

“I wouldn’t miss the festivities.” The host promised.

Cordelia gave a tight pleased smile.

The host watched Cordelia lead the group to the table. Her smile was big, bright and false. Cordelia’s soul was hurting. Lorne winced at the pain settled within the young woman.

It was hurting a lot. Cordelia’s aura swirled around her, lost and broken.

Lorne shook his head. He hadn’t had a whiff of the Power’s plan. But he began to doubt whether it was as straight- forward as Angel getting his humanity.

Those Powers could be some tricky obscure sons of bitches.

***

“Champagne, my happy group,” Lorne popped the cork. “It’s time to celebrate. So, Big guy, what’s the first thing you’re going to do now that you’ve won, go to Disneyland?”

“No, Sunnydale,” Cordelia answered before Angel could speak, her smile wide.

“Oh, the hell burg. Why?”

“Buffy,” Cordelia answered again. “The love of his life, the spectacular slayer. Angel is going to Buffy, the young woman that enthralled a souled vampire’s heart. Well, the vamp is no longer a vamp. And destiny can now be fulfilled. Now that Angel is alive he can start living,” Cordelia nodded enthusiastically as she babbled.

Angel stared. He didn’t know if he was comfortable with Cordelia waxing on and on about Buffy. It didn’t seem right.

“Makes sense,” Lorne answered. Like hell, he thought. “So, what’s this then the big goodbye, shove off into the human life, grand farewell,” he asked.

“It’s a celebration. Angel has gotten what he has always wished for,” Fred said in a small voice. Her gaze lingering on Angel. Her smile was sweet and adoring. Fred loved him. She loved all of them. Everyone at the table had saved her, shown her friendship.

And she wanted nothing but the best for all of them. Fred frowned and looked at Cordelia. Cordelia was smiling, lighting up the room, but she seemed sad. Fred’s eyes widened.

How dumb could she be? Cordelia didn’t want Angel to leave. Cordelia loved him, really loved him. Fred sighed and slunk her shoulders. Now, she was upset. Fred didn’t want any of her new friends to be hurting.

“Someone needs to sing,” Cordelia piped out.

“What?” “No way!” “When hell freezes over!” “I can’t sing.” The rest of the table responded.

“Pooh, this is a big night, a night of changes, I think we all should let Lorne do his mojo readings.” Cordelia exclaimed.

“No,” Angel cried. “My heart is beating, but my voice hasn’t gotten better.”

“No, the princess is right,” the host interrupted. “And Cordycakes, you go first.”

“Me, no…..”

“Your idea, you do it.”

“Yeah!” Go for it!” “It serves you right.” The table clamored.

“Humph, fine……but I don’t know what to sing.”

“Just let fate take over, darlin. Just spin the dial and whatever lands, sing it.” Lorne said. The host really wanted to read her. Something was going on and he wanted to know what.

The chant of ‘Go Cordy, Go Cordy, raised in the air, accompanied by the sound of hands pounding on the wooden table’s surface.

“You’ll are so dead,” Cordelia grumbled as she stalked to the stage.

“This will be phat,” Gunn crowed.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” cautioned Wesley. “You’ve heard Cordelia sing before, she’s almost as bad as Angel.”

“Hey,” Angel interrupted.

“Sorry,” Wesley coughed.

***

Cordelia stood on the stage. Oh god, there were so many other places she would rather be, the Rivera, Saks, the Penny Saver, the sewers, anywhere else. She took a deep breath and pushed the scroll button on the machine that housed her future embarrassment. She shut her eyes and lifted her finger up.

The chosen song appeared on the screen. The music started up in the background. She took another deep breath and started.

Games, changes and fears
When will they go from here
When will they stop
I believe that fate has brought us here
And we should be together
But we’re not
I play it off but I’m dreaming of you
I’ll keep my cool but I’m fiendin
I try to say goodbye and I choke.
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not near

I may appear to be free
But I’m just a prisoner of your love
I may seem alright and smile when you leave
But my smiles are just a front
I play it off but I’m dreamin’ of you
I’ll keep my cool but I’m fiendin
I try to say goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
Goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it it’s clear
My world crumbles when you are not near

Here is my confession
May I be your possession
Boy I need your touch
Your love kisses and such
With all my might I try
But this I can’t deny

I play……..

The words strangled in Cordelia’s throat as she grabbed at her head and stumbled along the stage.

The host stood back as Angel, Wesley and Gunn ran towards Cordelia.

Damn, Lorne thoughts, the Powers were up to something and things were about to become……he wished he could say interesting, but complicated was more apt.

Angel was a second behind Gunn. The young black man picked Cordelia off the floor. Angel stood by, his chest panting. For the first time since Angel became human he regretted it. If he had still been a vampire, he would have sensed the oncoming vision. Angel would have been at Cordelia’s side, holding her keeping her from being sprawled out on the floor.

“Cordelia,” Wesley asked.

“Big ugly, down on the docks a load of potential feed fodder.” Cordelia winced as another flash of pain pierced through her skull. “So much for my retirement, uh,” she choked.

“Where?” Angel asked, aching to push Gunn away and gather Cordelia in his arms. That was his place. Angel always comforted Cordelia after a vision.

“No,” Cordelia struggled. She opened one eye. “It’s not for you. You aren’t my warrior anymore.” She grimaced as another pain shot through her, this time through her heart. “This is for him.” She turned to the back of the stage.

The air whorled and shook, in a blast of vacuum a body tumbled out.

The man got up immediately, his strong form straightening, his long hair settling around his shoulders. He looked around perplexed, then his wandering gaze fell on Cordelia.

“Princess,” he exclaimed, running to her side, pushing Gunn away. “You are in need of me,” he cupped her face in his broad hands.

“Hi, Groo,” Cordelia whispered.

PART TWO

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