Title: To be Alive or to Live
Author: (Only) Anne
Content: Yes, it’s C/A, eventually.
Spoilers: the seasons ( Btvs & Ats) to end
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made. The song- Macy Gray- ‘I Try’. Again not mine, just in case anybody was wondering.
Notes: have patience and work with me, okay?
Thanks/Dedication:To Keira, you have gone above and beyond…..in maintaining my urge to write.
Feedback:You have to know by now, I love it. If you don’t know- well, I do……
PART ONE- The Realization
The sound of an unfamiliar human heartbeat woke Angel up. Angel concentrated on listening.
He heard nothing but the sound of the heart thumping. He scanned the dark room, trying to see the intruder. He narrowed his eyes; he couldn’t make out any of the shapes in the room. Angel couldn’t see into the darkness, the sound of the beating became rapid.
Angel closed his eyes and concentrated again.
He was wrong, it wasn’t a sound of a human heart, it was the feeling of a human heart, beating against his chest walls. Slowly in shock, fear and a burgeoning of hope, he laid his hand on his chest.
The thumping beat resounded against his palm. In awe, Angel brought his other hand to his solar plexus. The limb rose and fell in time which each breath that flowed in and out of his body. Angel stopped breathing, he felt his lungs and head were about to explode.
He needed air. He was alive. He was human.
Cordelia groaned. Loud, repetitive knocking woke her up. “I’M COMING! Hold on to your water, jeez.” Cordelia shouted from her bedroom.
She groaned again as she looked at the glowing numbers of her clock. 6am, the birds weren’t even chirping. Except that really annoying one that couldn’t seem to stay away from her window.
“Jeez, shut up will you,” she grumbled to the little bird sitting on her window still. “You’re way too chipper,” Cordelia scowled. The bird chirped merrily back at her.
“Oh,” She hissed. Cordelia wished; she had it in her to show that bird a thing or two, like a broom or the neighbor’s hungry cat.
Cordelia winced as the knocking became louder. Cordelia growled. 6am, she had only been asleep for 3 hours and had been up for 48 hrs. 48 hours of nail biting, head hurting, and back aching fighting. But finally, Angel and team had saved the world again.
And now she was exhausted. Cordelia was going to kill whoever was at her door.
“Stop banging,” she yelled again. “I’m coming.”
“Cordelia, hurry up,” Angel yelled.
“Angel?” She looked again at her clock, then out the window. Dawn was about to break. “Dennis, let him in,” Cordelia yelled, scrambling to her feet.
Something must be wrong. “Stupid ghost, you know to always let Angel in.” she scolded.
Her bedroom door slammed shut, locking Cordelia inside. “Dennis,” she yelled.
The words ‘Not Angel’ appeared on her mirror. “Uh,” Cordelia exclaimed.
It was Angel’s voice, she heard. “Dennis, open this door right now. It’s Angel.” Cordelia yanked at the door, glancing anxiously at the appearing glow over horizon. Angel could stay in her hallway, for awhile, but soon the sun’s emerging rays would come through the hall window.
“DENNIS!” she angrily shouted.
‘No, Not Right.’ Appeared on her mirror.
Cordelia stopped her pulling. “Not Angel?”
She listened. It was Angel’s voice. But if it wasn’t Angel, then……OH, God, she thought her mind racing. Angelus….
OH shit! Cordelia tried to calm her panic. It couldn’t be. There was no way Angel had any joy in the last 48 hours. He had been fighting for his un-life, theirs and the world.
Impossible. But, Cordelia glanced again at Dennis’ words. She took a deep breath and recited the uninvite spell, just in case.
“Okay, Dennis,” she ordered.
The door opened. Cordelia picked up a stake and holy water squirt gun along the way to the front door.
“Cordy, open up,” Angel’s voiced begged excitedly.
Okay, that didn’t sound like Angel. Cordelia tentatively cracked open the front door. “Angel?”
“Cordelia,” Angel exclaimed happily, pushing the door wider. He practically skipped through the threshold. Angel scooped up Cordelia in his arms and swung her around.
Stunned, Cordelia dropped her weapons. Angel quickly put her down. “Come on,” he cried, pulling her out the door.
“Angel?” Cordelia questioned. Okay, that sure wasn’t Angelus, but who in the hell was it? It was not her broody best friend. And why was he dragging her outside. Really, outside, she thought as Angel pulled her out to the front of the apartment complex.
“Angel? Sun,” she cried tugging on the vampire to go back inside.
“Sh, Cordy, just wait and watch,” Angel said. His eyes glued to the horizon.
Cordelia yanked harder. “Angel, I don’t know what’s going on, but please let’s go inside. I don’t want to be dustbusting you up in the grass. Please.” She begged.
“Watch,” Angel replied, drawing her to his side.
Cordelia eyes widened, her frantic gaze switching back and forth from the rising sun and her best friend. Her eyes stayed on Angel as the sun became fixed in the sky. She watched as the vampire’s face was swallowed up by the most beautiful smile she had ever seen.
“Isn’t it beautiful,” Angel asked in awe.
“Yes,” Cordelia whispered. Then she shook her head. Angel was talking about the sunrise. He was standing in the sun talking about the sunrise, the sunrise, her mind kept repeating.
Cordelia scrunched up her face trying to wrap her mind around that concept. Sunrise, vamp dust, not dust, no fire, no smoke, not possible……unless.
“Angel?” Cordelia whispered; afraid of the joy that was embracing her being.
Angel turned to the beautiful girl and nodded. He grabbed her hand and placed it on his chest. Cordelia jerked her hand away as she felt the pounding. Her eye’s widened further as she slowly placed her hand back to his chest; a smile matching Angel’s in awe and beauty transformed her face.
“You’re alive,” Cordelia whispered, her eyes welling up with moisture.
Angel nodded again, his grin getting even wider, if that was possible. He started to laugh. It was contagious, Cordelia started to giggle; then her body began to shake with the joy of it all. Angel grabbed up the young woman and spun her around. Cordelia’s head was thrown back, her laughter and tears flowing.
Angel suddenly stopped. Cordelia had to clutch onto his shoulders to maintain her balance. Cordelia’s laugher died as she saw the intensity of Angel’s gaze. His warm eyes bore into her’s. Her body automatically moved closer. Angel’s eye’s centered on Cordelia’s bottom lip as he dipped his head.
Cordelia’s head jerked up as Angel’s stomach let out a grumbled growl. “You’re alive and hungry,” she laughed again planting a quick kiss on his cheek, camouflaging her nervousness at what would could have turned into a real kiss. “Come on Pinocchio, breakfast,” Cordelia said happily, pulling at his arm.
“Cordy,” Angel said, looking back up at the sun. The near kiss forgotten as the sun shined bright in the sky.
“Okay, soon to be king of the sun worshipers, you stay, I’ll go make you something to eat.”
Angel turned to the young woman, his eyebrows reaching the top of his forehead. One miracle already happened that day, he couldn’t imagine that another one in the form of Cordelia suddenly being able to cook would also happen.
“Um, I don’t know,” Angel said as his stomach let out another howl.
“Jeez, I can cook. But, if it makes you feel better, you cook, while I tear down the curtains in my apartment.” Cordelia offered.
“Deal.” They both ran laughing back into Cordelia’s apartment.
“Dennis, let us in. You know it’s me.” Cordelia shouted through the door. “Dennis,” she said slowly, her voice becoming menacing.
The front door slowly opened.
“Thanks.” She grunted. “Dennis, This is Angel, he’s just not a ‘grr’ guy. He has been ceremoniously kicked out of the walking un-dead club.”
With a whoosh of air, the bedroom door slammed shut.
“I think Dennis may be a tiny bit jealous.” Cordelia shrugged at Angel.
“I don’t blame him,” Angel responded, his smile still firmly planted on his face.
“Yeah,” Cordelia met his smile. “Food, human guy.” She directed him to the kitchen as she ran up to the living room window and yanked down the heavy curtains. “You won’t miss a ray, now go cook,” she laughed.
Angel returned her laugh and went into the kitchen.
Angel opened the refrigerator door. As usual, Cordelia didn’t have much in the way of ingredients. But she did have some eggs and vegetables. Omelets again, just like normal, except this time he could join his best friend in her breakfast.
Wow. Angel’s hand brushed up against a carton of blood. He stared, pulling it out of the refrigerator. He turned it around in his hand, watching the thick darkish red liquid splash up against the plastic. Angel took off the lid; he raised the opened container to his face.
“Angel?” Cordelia questioned as she came into the kitchen.
“Nothing.” Angel responded. “It does nothing for me. I don’t want it. Actually, it’s kind of gross.” Angel laughed pouring the blood in the sink. Cordelia ran to the basin. She and Angel stood side by side and watched the reddish substance circle then slip down the drain. Angel’s stomach growled again.
“Yeah, but you want something.” She giggled. Cordelia pulled up a kitchen chair and climbed up to her top cupboard. “What I’m about to show you is a secret, you must swear not to tell Gunn or Wesley,” she said seriously to Angel.
Puzzled Angel nodded.
“I mean it, not a word.”
“I won’t,” Angel met her hard stare.
Cordelia scrunched up her face and slowly nodded. She reached into the back of the cabinet and reverently pulled out a box of girl-scout cookies. “Tag-a-longs, the food of gods, Wesley and Gunn must never know, promise,” she clutched the box protectively to her chest.
“I promise,” Angel said in exasperation. All this for a cookie?
“Not, just a cookie,” Cordelia defended at Angel’s look. “But a peanut butter and chocolate piece of heaven. Here taste,” she said pushing it up to Angel’s mouth. “Tell me that just doesn’t make you want to cry.”
Angel fingered the cookie and took it tentatively up to his mouth. He took a small bite. Angel’s eye’s widened as the chocolate and peanut butter skimmed over his revitalized taste buds. He popped the rest of the cookie in his mouth, chewing and making moaning sounds.
“I told you,” Cordelia said knowingly.
“More,” Angel demanded.
“Okay,” Cordelia said. The light in her eyes belied her begrudging tone. “One more, then you cook.”
Angel nodded, accepting her terms. He took a deep breath of pleasure as the cookie melted and crunched in his mouth. He automatically, reached for another one.
Cordelia swung the box behind her back. “Cook, I want eggs. After, you can have more,” she blackmailed. Cordelia laughed at what should have been a growl turned into a snort in Angel’s mouth.
Angel grumbled and pulled out the necessary pans. Cordelia turned back to her cabinets. Angel liked Tag-a-longs, then he should love straight peanut butter. She searched her cabinets. Damn’t she thought, Gunn and Wesley cleaned her out again. Thank god she hid her cookies.
“Wesley,” she shouted. “Does Wesley know?”
“No, I just found out and I wanted to tell you first.” Angel said his back to her.
Cordelia bit her lip, her eyes tearing again. Angel wanted her to be the first to hear his wonderful news. She smiled.
“I should call him,” Angel said.
A brief flash of disappointment crossed over Cordelia’s face. She wanted this to be their moment. Her eyes widened. Their moment? The miracle of Angel’s shansu happened, nobody mentioned the miracle of him loving her.
She shook her head. “I’ll call him. And make him bring……doughnuts. How about that?”
Angel turned. “I can eat doughnuts.”
“Yeah, and now you can actually like them.” She laughed.
Wesley narrowed his eyes at the bright glare of the morning sun beaming in the windows.
Cordelia, Angel,” he called puzzled by the show of light. The sound of Cordelia’s giggles led him to the kitchen.
He stopped, stunned at the picture before him. Angel was sitting at the table alternating shoving eggs and cookies in his mouth. Cordelia was trying not to laugh out loud but small little snorts kept escaping her lips.
“Stop, you’re being a pig. Stop, Angel, you can get fat now. And eww, to that,” she laughed as Angel’s eyes shot up.
“I don’t care,” he mumbled after a moment of thought, his mouth still filled with food.
“Gross,” Cordelia moaned.
“Cordelia, Angel,” Wesley called.
Both Angel and Cordelia jumped.
“Oh, Wesley, we didn’t hear you come in. I guess Dennis is back to doing his proper doorman duties.” Cordelia said getting up.
“Cordelia, Angel?” Wesley said again, pointing to the food Angel was stuffing in his mouth.
“Oh good, you brought the doughnuts. Angel, doughnuts,” Cordelia took the box from the still motionless Wesley.
“Gimme me,” Angel choked.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Here, Chocolate or jelly?”
“Both,” he said swallowing and grabbing for the box.
“Pig.” Cordelia giggled.
“Cordelia,” Wesley squeaked.
“He’s hungry. I guess that’s what shanshuing will do to you, uh,” she said matter of factly, she turned to Wesley, a big bright smile was on her face.
“Shan…..Oh my god, Angel…..the prophecy…..the scroll……..You’re human,” Wesley stuttered.
“uhuh,” Angel put another doughnut in his mouth.
“Oh my god,” Wesley repeated. His eyes grew round as he watched Angel plunk another pastry in his mouth. “How much as he eaten?” He said under his breath to Cordelia.
“Enough to make him sick for a week,” Cordelia giggled.
“Shouldn’t we stop him?”
“You thought Angelus was mean, you try taking food away from the human version….vicious.” she wrinkled her nose.
“Hmmm…..Cordelia how did this happen?” Wesley was still whispering.
Cordelia shrugged. “He just came over, banged on my door, and dragged me out to watch the sunrise. Angel watched the sunrise, Wesley,” she said in happy wonderment.
“Marvelous.” Wesley was silent for a moment. “That last battle, that must have been it. Angel saved the world and the Powers finally rewarded him.” He nodded in awe. “It’s over.”
“Over, what’s over?” Cordelia asked.
“The fight….the quest…..Angel’s redemption. It’s over, he is human.”
“But…..” a sense of unease crept up Cordelia’s spine.
“You don’t expect that the Powers will use him as a warrior for their fight anymore, do you?..Angel has done his time, he has gotten his gold watch so to speak. It’s wonderful. He deserves it. It’s time for him to really start living.”
“Of course,” Cordelia agreed adamantly, driving her unease down. “A party, we need a party. Angel, stop eating! you will make yourself sick,” she called to the preoccupied now human. “You don’t want to miss your party, do you?”
“Party?” Angel glanced up from the box of tag-a-longs.
“Of course, pop the champagne, yell the good news from the rooftops, tell everyone. First, Wesley call Gunn and, jeez, we better call Lorne, Fred, too and…….
Angel dropped the cookie he was holding. “Call, Buffy, no, I have to go tell her,” he said getting up.