“Angel,” a small voice questioned.
The vampire’s head shot up; he hadn’t even sensed Cordelia waking up. “Um, Cordelia,” the vampire said in a loss for more words.
Cordelia glanced in puzzlement at her surroundings. The last thing she remembered granted somewhat foggily was falling asleep on Wesley’s bed in the hospital. “Where are we?”
“In a cabin outside the city.”
Cordelia still didn’t understand. “Why?”
Angel didn’t answer. Cordelia stared at the vampire. “Why?” she repeated. She hadn’t seen him since the confrontation in the hotel. Like then, he still looked horrible, but his expression was no longer cold or angry.
Her eyes widened, as she realized Angel looked unsure of himself, even a little scared. Where was the nasty vampire that she had steeled herself to hate?
“I…I wanted to talk to you.”
“You took me out of the hospital?”
“Do Wesley and Gunn know where I am?”
Angel shook his head.
“So, let me get this straight, you kidnapped me so that you could talk to me?”
“I wanted to talk to you alone,” he said quietly.
“Again, I ask why?”
Angel was silent. Cordelia looked in astonishment as Angel seemed to take great interest in the lines on the hardwood floor.
“Angel,” she said sharply. “What is going on,” she demanded getting up. Cordelia winced holding her side at the sudden movement.
Angel jumped up. “Cordelia sit back down, the nurse said that you need to remain immobile.”
“How do you know what the nurse said?”
“She told me,” he answered. “Now, sit down,” he said with his more familar confidence.
“Take me back.”
“I can’t. Sun.” Angel pointed to the darkened window.
“Give me the keys,” Cordelia demanded.
“No, you are not fit to drive,” he said shaking his head in determination.
Cordelia glared at him. “Where is the phone?”
“It doesn’t work.”
“Give me your cell phone,” she gestured to the vampire.
Cell phone, Angel had forgotten that he had that. “No.”
“I am not staying here.” Cordelia got off the couch more slowly this time.
“Sit down,” Angel repeated. “I want to talk to you.”
“Since when,” she said in disgust. “Anyway, I don’t want to talk to you.” Cordelia stood up.
Angel felt another wave of guilt flow over him. He shook his head. He couldn’t let his guilt deter him from his purpose. “Cordelia, please sit down. You don’t have to talk to me, just listen please,” he pleaded.
Cordelia ignored the vampire and looked up to the ceiling. What in the hell was going on, she thought silently. Cordelia was completely confused about Angel’s actions and demeanor. But, it didn’t really matter she was still mad at him, correction she still hated him.
“Are you going to listen?”
“You can’t be serious. You can’t keep me here against my will.”
Angel sighed, “You are not leaving until you listen to me.”
Cordelia glared at the vampire. “My ribs hurt, I am hungry, I am so not in the mood to put up with whatever new flaked out trauma you are going through. And guess what? I don’t have to put up with you and your off the wall mood swings, I don’t work for you anymore. Your personal drama is your own problem, not mine. So, get me the hell out of here or so help me you will be so dusted.”
“Cordelia, I know you are mad, but you have to listen.”
“No, I don’t, not anymore.”
Cordelia looked around again at the cabin. The place was furnished, but it looked neglected like it hadn’t been occupied in awhile. There had to be a way to get out of there. But how? She could probably drive Angel’s car even with her ribs, she thought.
But how was she going to get the keys from Angel? She studied the vampire. He looked nervous but determined. And no matter what she had said earlier, dusting Angel was not really an option. “Fine. I will give you to sundown to say whatever it is you have to say, but then you take me back.”
Angel nodded. Cordelia looked suspiciously at the vampire’s easy acquiesce. “Angel, I mean it.”
He nodded again.
“Okay. But I need some food and aspirin. What?” Cordela said as Angel glanced sheepishly back down to the floor. “Don’t tell me there is no food in this place. What kind of kidnapper are you? Geez, even third-world hostages get fed. What were you planning to do starve me until I listened to you?”
“I wasn’t thinking,” he said apologetically.
“Gee, what a surprise,” Cordelia retorted. “You haven’t been thinking at all for the last month or so.” She looked at the vampire again. “When was the last time you ate?”
“Blood, when was the last time you fed? You look horrible.”
Now Angel was confused. “I…don’t know, awhile ago. I guess, yesterday, maybe.”
Cordelia shook her head in exasperation. “How long were you planning to keep us here, until we both died of hunger? Or were you planning to snack on me?”
“Cordelia!” Angel exclaimed. Had her trust in him been so damaged? he thought shocked.
“Angel, don’t be an idiot, no wait you are an idiot.”
Angel slumped back down into his original position with his hands covering his face. Angel didn’t know what he was doing. Cordelia was right, he was an idiot, he thought hopelessly. Angel handed Cordelia his cell phone. “Call Wesley,” he said sadly.
Damn’t, Cordelia thought, Angel looked so lost. Cordelia sighed in disgust as the ever-present need to protect and comfort the vampire welled up inside her, breaking through her very real anger. She grabbed the phone from the still vampire. Without looking at Angel, she punched in Wesley’s cell phone number.
“Wesley.” Cordelia pulled the phone away from her ear. “Wesley, calm down. I am fine. How’s your head. Good,” she smiled. “I am with Angel. No, really, I am fine.” Angel could hear Wesley’s questions and concern clearly through the phone. And his demand that Cordelia tell him where she was.
“No, Wesley, I am fine. I will talk to you later, I promise. Bye.” Cordelia hung up on Wesley’s questions. Cordelia handed the phone back to Angel.
“Why?” Angel struggled, trying to grasp at the small glimmer of hope that Cordelia’s actions had given him.
Cordelia ignored the vampire’s question. “My rules, understand. If I have a vision, we are going back, no hesitation, no delay, even if you have to ride in the trunk, got it?” she demanded.
Angel slowly nodded. “Second, there will be no growling or vamping out, no matter what, got it?”
“Wouldn’t what, Angel,” she interrupted harshly. “Choke me, growl at me and vamp out at the mention of the bitch Darla,” Cordelia dared him. She scrunched up her face as she saw no signs of demon on Angel’s handsome face, just obvious guilt.
“Well,” she said somewhat bewildered. “You wanted to talk, so talk.” Cordelia sat back on the couch. “Ow,” she winced. “I am fine,” she said as Angel moved towards her. “Just talk.”
Angel sat back down on the chair beside the couch. Angel glanced nervously at his hands. He didn’t know where to start. But, there was something he had to know, something he was desperate to know.
“Cordelia, did you mean it when you said that you loved me?” Angel asked hesitantly.
“What?” Cordelia exclaimed in shock.
“Did you mean it,” he asked quietly. Cordelia looked around the room frantically. She had to get out of there, she thought in panic.
“Cordy, please tell me.”
No, no, no, she thought in fear, she couldn’t tell him. Cordelia could not give Angel that power over her. Angel had already hurt her so much; she wouldn’t give him another way to hurt her. But she couldn’t lie to him either.
Defensively she answered,”How could I love you? You are an un-dead guy and for the last month or so, you have been a particulary nasty one. And ever since I have known you, you have been obsessed with one blonde or another. I mean, how could I love you…” Cordelia fought to stop the tears that threatened to come forth. Cordelia had to get a grip on herself.
“That’s all true, that’s why I need to know how you could love me and if I have destroyed that love,” he pleaded, needing to know the answer. Angel had to know what Cordelia had seen in him that made him worthy enough for the gift of her love. Angel had to know that there was hope for him.
Cordelia moved further away from the vampire gathering her strength trying to control her tears, still not willing to answer Angel directly. “Ever since, you found out that Wolfram & Hart brought back Darla, you changed, changed until you became someone I don’t know anymore. You turned your back on us, on me,” she choked failing to stop some tears from falling from her eyes.
“But, even more important, Angel, you turned you back on your redemption,” she cried her anger breaking through her panic and the fear for her heart. “An innocent could have died last night, because of you. Wesley was injured because of you. If I had lost Wesley…I could have never forgiven you.” Cordelia was angry. Cordleia was too upset to hear Angel’s growl.
“You don’t love Wesley,” the vampire stated loudly.
“Of course, I love Wesley,” she exclaimed, angrily wiping at her eyes. “He is my family. He is the only family I have left.”
“You have me,” Angel growled.
“Are you insane,” Cordelia cried. “I don’t have you. You don’t need me or want me, I had the bruises to prove it, remember,” she shouted. “And don’t growl.” Cordelia jumped off the couch to run away from him, from everything. She gasped as her movement sent a jarring pain through her body. Cordelia fell to the floor clutching at her side.
“Cordy,” Angel quickly went to the girl, gathering her in his arms.
“Don’t touch me.” Her tears were dampening Angel’s shirt.
“Sh, Cordy,” he said bringing her closer to his body.
“I hurt so much,” she mumbled into the vampire’s chest, her body shaking in pain and grief.
“I am so sorry. It is all my fault,” Angel whispered into Cordelia’s dark hair as he realized that she was not crying about the pain in her side. Angel hugged Cordelia closer rocking her gently into his body, his hands trying to soothe her trembling. “I am so sorry,” he repeated over and over again into her hair.
“Why? Angel, what was so goddamn special about Darla that you would give up everything for her? What was it? Did you love her?” a small muffled voice said into his shirt.
Angel pulled gently away from Cordelia. He cupped her tear stained face in his hands. “No,” he smiled softly. “Never.”
“Then why?” she sniffled wiping her face on Angel’s shirt and moved even closer to his body. Angel readjusted his hold on her, savoring the feel of her warm body pressed up against his cold one. What had the stupid song say, ‘she fit him like a glove’. Well, Cordelia certainly fit him.
He sighed, “It wasn’t Darla, not really, I mean…” Angel wanted to explain it to Cordelia but he wasn’t sure that he had the words.
“Go on,” she whispered.
“Darla was me, I guess. I mean she was Angelus’ sire, she reveled in being damned, even more than Angelus. Darla was the epitome of the hedonistic vampire thrill seeker. But then Darla got her soul, she had a chance to regain her humanity, but I failed her.”
Cordelia pulled away from Angel. She tried to calm down and think clearly. She had to try to understand. Cordelia could sense that it was too important to both her and Angel not to try.
“So, because you failed to save Darla from being re-turned, you were willing to risk other souls. See that is what I don’t get, what made her soul or humanity more important than anybody else’s, especially yours. I just don’t get it, not unless you loved her.”
“I didn’t love her,” he stressed again. “When I was with Darla, I was Angelus, I had no soul, I couldn’t love her.”
“Spike loved Druscilla and they were soulless.” Cordelia countered not accepting his explanation.
“They were obsessed, that is not love.”
“It was love, it may have been bloody and psychotic, not your standard hallmark sentiment, but it was love,” Cordelia said with confidence. “Let’s look at the evidence, they were toghether for a real, real long time, like you, or well, Angelus was with Darla. Spike definitely got jealous and would kill to protect Druscilla, well he would kill for about any reason, but you get my meaning. Hell, he played with her stupid Miss Edith. He loved her. Willow told me how he kidnapped her to get a love spell when Dru went off with that demon. Willow said it was kind of sweet in a pathetic, homicidal sort of way.”
“How did this turn into a conversation about Spike. Anyway, William the ‘Bloody’ was a romantic pansy before he was turned.”
“Really,” Cordelia giggled.
Angel wasn’t sure why they were talking about his grand childe but if stopped Cordelia’s tears he would talk about Spike all day. “Sure, he was called William the ‘Bloody’ before he was turned because he wrote bloody awful poetry,” Angel said. He smiled as he was rewarded by another giggle from Cordelia.
“Anyway, I didn’t and don’t love Darla.”
“Really?” Cordelia arched her eyebrows.
“Really. I know what love feels like and that was not what I felt with Darla. When I was Angelus, it was….”
“Stop, I don’t want to hear all of the gory details, please. But Angel, just because it wasn’t the storybook tragic love affair that you and Buffy suffered, doesn’t mean that what you felt wasn’t love. Not all love has to be angst filled to be real, in fact most real love doesn’t make you want to slit your wrists.” Cordelia wasn’t sure why talking to Angel about Darla and Buffy didn’t make her ready to behead something.
Maybe, it was the way Angel was stroking her hair and the feel of his arms around her. Cordelia was still pretty sure that she was mad at the vampire, but it took too much energy to deny the feeling of contentment she got whenever he held her. She sighed.
“I wasn’t talking about Buffy, what we had was special, but that was not the love I was talking about.”
“Oh god, who else? Please don’t tell me that there is another whiney ass blonde running around out there that you will brood forever about. Oh wait, she wasn’t some long lost dead love of your pre-vamp self was it?”
Angel chuckled. “No, there is no other whiney ass blonde that I love or have loved. The only love of my entire life, undead or otherwise that you have to worry about me brooding over, is an annoying, tactless, courageous, beautiful brunette.”
“Brunette? You don’t like brunettes.” Cordelia searched her brain for any brunette that she knew. “You don’t mean loony toons Druscilla, do you? I mean, I know Angelus had the obsession thing going about her, but please. Oh no, you don’t mean psycho Faith, I mean, I guess she is turning out okay, but…”
“Cordelia,” Angel interrupted. “Shut up.” Angel pulled the beautiful brunette to him and kissed her gently on the lips.
Cordelia stilled in shock. She pushed away from the vampire. “Me?”
“I don’t know, are you a real brunette?”
Cordelia stared at the vampire and pushed further away from his body. She was completely confused. Last night, she had fallen asleep knowing that Angel had completely cut her out of his life. And now, he had kidnapped her and was talking to her, really talking to her. And more unnerving than that was that he wanted to know if she loved him. Angel made it seem like it really mattered to him.
And even more bizzare that that was the fact that Angel had implied, if not actually said that he loved her. This was so not for real, was it? Cordelia couldn’t think about it. It was too confusing. Cordelia supressed her burgeoning happiness and tried to concentrate. She had to understand about Angel’s obsession over Darla, otherwise the rest didn’t matter. Anyway, she was still mad, she reminded herself.
“We were talking about you and Darla, not you and me. So, where were we,” she bit her lip. “Right, you were trying to explain to me about Darla. A blonde, petite and deadly, the type that you regularly fall for, though this one you didn’t love, but were still willing to give up everything for her.”
“I don’t love Darla, never did okay,” Angel said in frustration.
Cordelia started to interrupt.
“Please, just listen. I don’t want to hear any more of your theories on vampire love, okay.” God, Cordelia could be annoying, Angel thought with a smile. Angel didn’t know what was happening to him, but he was beginning to feel wonderful.
It had to because Cordelia was talking to him. It was almost normal, in a strange way. It was like she didn’t hate him. It was amazing. No, he amended, she was amazing. Though, he did wish that she had been at least a little bit receptive to his declaration of love. Angel continued, “Yes, I felt a bond with Darla, but it wasn’t love. I had staked her before, remember?”
“That was just because it was her or Buffy,” Cordelia said softly.
“Cordy, you don’t really believe that I would have chosen Darla over you, do you?” Angel’s previous sense of euphoria just got a severe kick in the butt as heard Cordelia’s quiet statement and the belief it implied.
“You did,” Cordelia said softly, tears welling up in her eyes. All of her new found contentment in Angel’s arms was shattered as she remembered all of the events of the last couple of months.
Angel felt real pain. It wasn’t just his, he also felt Cordelia’s. He had thought he had understood the pain he had caused her. But he wasn’t even close, he thought in agony. “No, please, Cordy. Believe me, I would have never risked you for Darla, I wouldn’t, I couldn’t,” he said grabbing Cordelia close. Cordelia struggled against his embrace.
“You did, don’t you see that? You left me alone, with all of this.” Cordelia gestured to her head. “You not only willingly left me to fight your battles, you willingly gave up the fight for your soul. You say you love me. But you don’t, not really. If you did, you would have never risked your soul thereby breaking mine.” Cordelia stood up and tried to distance herself both emotionally and physically from the vampire.
“Angel, I am very relieved that you seem to be trying to rebuild our relationship. And I hope this means that Wesley and I can count on you to be there when we fight for the PTB. But, that means your obsession with Darla needs to be over or at least put in its proper place. She and Dru ‘the wacky’ will cause problems in the future and I will help you track them down and stuff, but they can not be our priority. Our, your priority needs to be the helpless, not the vamped version of Thelma and Louise. If you can’t do it, then all of this.” Cordelia motioned around to the cabin and waved her finger at the two of them. “..is pointless. So are you going to try?”
“Cordelia, I do love you and you love…”the vampire started anxiously.
“No,” Cordelia said putting up her hand. “No, Angel, don’t confuse your guilt and the bond of the PTB’s warrior and seer with that of love. I will help you. I will do what I have to do to help the helpless and be with you as long as you strive for your redemption. But don’t confuse my duty for love.” She lied denying her love for Angel with a strength that she wasn’t even aware she had. Cordelia couldn’t put her heart at risk again.
“You are lying,” Angel growled grabbing Cordelia close to him.
“Angel, I have listened. I still don’t understand, but I said I would come back. What more do you want from me?” She gasped.
“I want you to love me.”
“I can’t,” she cried into his broad chest.
“I need you to love me,” he said in desperation. “You are the only one that can save me,” he choked into her shoulder.
“What?” Cordelia pushed away from Angel. Wiping her tears away she studied the forlorn vampire. “Angel, the only one that can save you, is you. And you do that by the choices you make. I can help and I will help you. But, ultimately it is your choice.”
“But, I can’t. Cordy, I can’t.” Angel fell to the couch, all of his energy and will drained.
“Of course, you can.” Cordelia looked puzzled at Angel. The fear for her heart was gone, replaced by an overwhelming need to understand and help the vampire and love him, she thought with resignation. She couldn’t fight it anymore. Her self protection was no longer important.
Angel just shook his head back and forth, the despair evident on his face. He had been close. Angel had seen what true happiness was like; he had a sliver of it when he had been holding Cordelia. But it was gone now.
Cordelia ignored the dull irritation of her bruised ribs and knelt on the floor by the couch. Cordelia cradled the vampire around his knees. “Angel, what is this all really about? It can’t just be about Darla. What am I missing?”
“Darla was me. She was a damned soul that had a chance at humanity and a chance to be saved. You see? I had to save her, because if she could be saved, then it meant that I could be. But, I couldn’t save her, just like I can’t save my own soul.”
Cordelia listened to him and scrunched her face up in thought. “Angel, you think that because Darla was turned, thereby being damned again, you will never reach redemption. Not, because she herself was important to you, per se, but because somehow, her soul’s fate represents your soul’s destiny.”
“So, because you thought you failed, liked in really FAILED, you just gave up and turned into this cranky, depressed, mean vampire. If your future was so hopeless, why didn’t you just walk into the sun. Shoot, Wesley or I probably would have been willing to stake you last week, if you asked.”
“But you didn’t,” Cordelia continued ignoring the interruption. “And that is because you didn’t give up, not really. You were just going through a really dark period. You know, you may have a chemical imbalance. Maybe Wesley should check on whether anti-depressants work on vampires.”
This time the young girl looked up to the confused vampire. “Angel, something has to be done about these major funks you get in, they are just not at all pleasant to be around. Having a mental health issuse is not something to be ashamed of.”
“Cordelia, I am not suffering from some mental illness.” Cordelia arched her eyes brows at the vampire.
“I failed.” Angel couldn’t believe this, he was bearing his soul and the love of his life was superficially handing out pop psyhicology. He didn’t want to listen to her or talk to her anymore. But, he thought, not moving away from Cordelia, it was nice, really nice, to have her arms around his legs.
Her small hands were generating small flames along his legs as she stroked his calves in a tender and reassuring manner. And he had to admit, that he did like the feel of her dark hair caressing his knees as she gazed up at him with those beautiful hazel eyes, filled with humor and…love? he thought, now totally confused.
Cordelia gave a small giggle. “Angel, my drug store psych diagnosis is just as silly as your belief that you failed and that somehow your soul’s fate is linked up to Darla’s.” She glanced at Angel’s expression. “I’m sorry, but I do think that was the dumbest thing I ever heard.” Cordelia was relieved. Angel hadn’t been turning into some dark evil vampire with a soul; he was just being clueless. She could definitely handle this.
Cordelia worked her way up onto the couch and pulled Angel towards her. She curled her body into his, her arms embracing him to her chest.
“Cordy?” he gasped as he was engulfed in her warmth.
“Sh, it’s my turn to talk. Let me tell you a story,” she coaxed kissing the vampire on the head. “There once was a mortal named Liam. Sh, Angel, its my turn,” she gently chided the vampire as he tried to interrupt. “Now, Liam was a wild boy, always shirking his responsibilites, wooing the tavern wenches and such…”
“Sh,” she called gently but firmly pulling Angel’s head back to her chest. “But he wasn’t really a bad boy, he just had some serious father/son issues to work through. Given a natural life span, I hope he could have worked through those issues. Knowing the capacity of caring and honor that the man, well vampire, Liam turned into I think he would have or he would have died a normal natural death trying.”
Angel listened to the soothing tone of her voice and the unique characterization of the mortal he had once been. Tears struggled to work from his eyes. Oh my god, he didn’t even know that he still had tear ducts.
“But, Liam never had that chance. Sure he was out partying or whatever term they used way back then, but that didn’t mean he asked to loose his soul. It just meant he was out partying. And I guess, Darla was somewhat attractive in a blonde cheap way. Well, anyway, she had almost two hundred years on Liam, who like most guys thought with his dick. Sh, Angel, this is my story,” she cooed as the vampire jerked up.
“Well, as we all know the blonde bimbo was no princess, she turned young Liam. His soul, his potiential was damned. Next installmemt of the saga is the bloody fanged Bonny and Clyde years. Not much I can say about that, but really was it much of a surprise. No, Liam was turned in his wild years. So, why shouldn’t Angelus be even wilder, deadlier, there was no soul or conscious to keep him in check. Just…ok, I will admit it, the beautiful blonde that allowed him every dark fantasy that he had had as a boy and more.” Cordelia paused and sighed.
“Angel, it has been so long since you have been human. But everybody, except maybe saints, have a dark side. It just their soul, conscious, the belief in a higher power, the golden rule, love or whatever that grounds them, that makes them choose not to be evil, hopefully. Angelus didn’t have that. He had Darla. So, he was what he was, a vampire, an especially nasty one, but really are any of them boy or girl scouts. Don’t think so. Then came the famous or rather infamous curse. Angelus got a soul. I think if Liam had been truly a bad boy, you know really evil, then the soul thing wouldn’t have mattered to Angelus, but it did. He could have ignored his soul, hell, lots of souled mortals do, read the papers. Human beings are daily making the conscious choice to be evil. Wolfram & Hart are full of them, well, minus a few now. Anyway, Angelus didn’t ignore his soul or choose to remain evil, he, you, became all traumatized and broody,” she sighed.
“I tried to go back to her.” Angel interrupted. He couldn’t let Cordelia have a false impression. Angel had wanted to go back to what she had called the Bonny and Clyde days.
“What? Oh,of course you did, becoming Angelus again would have been so much easier than figuring out who you were to become. But Angel, you couldn’t remain Angelus. Your new soul gave you a conscious that you chose to acknowledge. And that was the difficult path, to turn away from something that you had know for over one hundred years. Again, it has been along time for you, but humans generally choose the path of least resistance even if that path is not the right one. Why do you think, I was just a die-hard popularity queen in high school? It was easier. They expected me to be a rich snob, a bitch, so I was. My parents expected me to be popular. I was. Lord, what grief, I got when I dated Xander, and started hanging out with the loser patrol,” she smiled.
“But, losers or not, they helped me learn that sometimes the easiest way is not the best or right way. My problems with little Miss slay-it aside, she was the catalyst for the beginning of that change in me and for you. Buffy was why you came out of the ‘sewer years’. She paused. “Noticed how I skipped over them. They don’t even have the requisite sex and violence to keep even the most low brow moron interested.”
Angel chuckled. He couldn’t help it. His life was being dissected in the most matter fact way. Painful memories were flashing through his mind. But, Cordelia’s soft non-judgmental tone and humor tempered the pain, making it bearable. Angel closed his eyes and leaned closer into her caressing touches waiting to her the next installment of his life.
“The high school years, yucky and painful, but very important years for everybody.” She paused. “This is where I want you to pay particular attention. Because this is where, you Angel evolved. You took your past and learned from it, the good and bad, the combination of Liam and Angelus merged. You made the decision to not only accept your soul, but fight for it. Very important stuff. You see, the gypsies failed. They gave Angelus a soul to destroy him. But they didn’t destroy you. Or maybe they did know what would happen. Maybe, they were apart of the whole PTB, maybe they saw something in you, something in you,” Cordelia emphasized.
“…That was of value. Maybe it was Liam’s potential to enjoy life, no matter how painful it was, maybe it was Angelus’s strength and ruthfulness, or maybe it was your ability to incorporate them both, granted the joy of life is falling a little short, with the brooding thing and all. We are going to have to work on that. Anyway, Angel, you saw that there was something worth fighting for, and you chose to fight for it; you could have stayed in the sewers. Or maybe, it was just Liam trying to impress another whiney ass blonde,” Cordelia joked.
“Angel, I am not trying to minimize the impact Buffy had on your life, she had and will have an impact on every life she touches. She is Buffy the Chosen One. I know she was the love of your life, Darla included.”
“No, Cordelia, neither of them were the love of my life. That questionable honor goes to you, only you.” Angel didn’t know if he would ever not be amazed by Cordelia’s ability to accept him and reach into his soul and soothe it.
“Oh,” she blushed as Angel placed gentle kisses along her neck. Flustered she continued, “We are only up to 1996…” She paused marveling in the sensations Angel’s lips were igniting in her body.
“Can’t we skip to 2000, please?” Angel murmured into her skin.
“Angel, I am trying to make a point here.”
“I am listening,” he said lowly nuzzling and nipping at the sensitive skin behind Cordelia’s ear.
“Angel,” Cordelia said taking Angel’s face between her hands. “The point is, you have gone through a bunch of crap and have come out stronger and better for it. Your redemption is yours if you want it. You are not Darla. Darla never wanted her soul. You did and do. You chose your path towards redemption and humanity when you decided to help Buffy. And for the most part, except for some twists and turns and a side trip to hell, you have done a damn great job for the PTB. Mistakes happen, some big, some small, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, or that you are destined to fail, it just means you have to try harder,” she said gently.
“You are the best, most honorable, person/’grr’ guy ever, you just need to keep on making the right choices. Just realize that as long as you have your soul then you have the choice to be good or evil, like everyone else. And you know you did help Darla. This time around she accepted her soul and her humanity, granted it was a little last minute, but still, I imagine it counts.”
“No,” Angel said sadly. “She was turned, I couldn’t stop it.”
“Yes, but this time she fought against loosing her soul. I think she will get points for that. Don’t you see the bigger picture here. You did help her.” Cordelia beamed at him.
Angel returned her smile. “You are wrong, you know. I do need you to save me. Without you I am lost.”
“No, Angel, haven’t you been listening. It is all within you. You have the strength and the goodness in you to reach your redemption.”
Angel kissed Cordelia’s forehead gently. “I was listening. But you are wrong. I need you because you give me hope. Your unwavering belief that I can do this gives me the strength. It is your beautiful and courageous soul that reminds that there is a light at the end of the long dark tunnel. That’s why I tried to cut you out of my life so ruthlessly, that’s why I was so cruel. I didn’t want to be reminded. I wanted to be lost in the darkness. I had failed and your presence was just too painful. It showed me a glimpse of something that I would never obtain. Do you understand? Can you possibly forgive me?”
Cordelia gazed loving at the vampire. “Yes, I forgive you. And yes, I understand that you were being stupid.”
Angel smiled and cradled her closer to his body.
They sat cuddled in each other’s arm for awhile. Each amazed at the other’s ability to soothe and comfort the other. Cordelia smiled at the vampire. “This won’t be easy Angel, but you can do it, we can do it together. Just don’t ever try to shut me out again, it hurts both of us too much. Okay?”
“That’s not a possibility, Cordelia. I tried to get rid of you once and it didn’t work. So, I think it would just be useless to ever make such an attempt again. Face it, we are stuck together.”
“That’s nice. But you know, you still aren’t off the hook. You made Wesley and Gunn mad to. I am seeing some major groveling on your part. And then there was the whole ignoring the vision and letting Darla and Druscilla have the lawyer’s buffet. I don’t think that the Powers are going to be real happy, at all,” she frowned. “This whole episode has probably put your Shansu thing way off into the future,” Cordelia grumbled.
“I am going to be old, gray and menopausal, possibly dead, before you reach your Shansu, now,” she griped. “Uh,” she grunted,”If I am in the old ladies home when you become human, how in the hell am I going to have your children,” she glared at the choking vampire.
“You probably will expect me to be old granny Cordy, who sits there drooling while you prance around with your wife and kids. God, your wife will probably be blonde. I am so disgusted right now; I have to go home. Is it dark yet. No, well you better call Wesley or Gunn, because I am not staying her while you dream of some new blonde bimbo. Gross.” For the first time in his over two hundred years as a vampire, Angel broke out laughing in pure joy.
“What is so funny, ‘grr’ guy?”
“You really do love me.”
Cordelia looked at the vampire like he was nuts. “Duh, where have you been for the last two years.”
“I don’t know,” he said pulling the indignant love of his life to his chest.
“Watch the ribs,” she glared settling back next to the vampire.
“Um, Cordy, I am still a vampire, so no kids.”
“Again, duh, where do you think I have been for the last two years.”
“Taking over my life, my heart and my soul,” he laughed. Angel pulled her into a passionate kiss.
“Yes,” he murmured, as he lay down on the couch, gently pulling Cordelia over his body, his hands slipping under shirt to caress the smooth skin that was unfettered by bandages.
“What are you doing?” she sighed into his kisses.
“I am going to start practicing with the only woman I want to be the mother of my children, even if she is a brunette.”
“Angel, we can’t”
“Yes, we can. I told you to skip to 2000. Then I could have added my own installment, titled Angel’s soul becomes permanent, he goes through some major stupidity, almost loses the one person that makes it worthwhile to have a soul. But after some needless sex, imaginary mind you, and some real violence; both of which the beautiful brunette heroine, maybe we can get her to dye her hair blonde, anyway she finds it in her wondrous, immense and loving heart to forgive the clueless hero. And then they live out their lives as happy as the Powers allow.”
“What?” Cordelia lurched up as well as she could with Angel’s arms wrapped around her. “Your soul is permanent? When? Before the Darla stuff?”
Her eyes widened at Angel’s nod. “Everything happened so quickly. I found out, then the scroll, Wesley saying that I was going to die, then Vocah, and you were in the hospital, then the corrected version of Shansu, then Darla, and then I thought I was losing it somehow,” he justified hurriedly. Damn, this was almost scarier then all the true angst stuff, he thought flinching at Cordelia’s glare.
“You are so going to pay for the little failure to communicate,” Cordelia said calculating. “And you are going to pay, double, no triple for that blonde remark. Yes, Angel, you will pay.” She said with a gleam in her eye as leaned in to capture the vampire’s lips.
Angel and Cordelia were in the cabin’s bedroom, their naked bodies intertwined with each other on its large bed. They were awakened out of a sound sleep by rapid pounding on the front door. Angel had barely time to get up before the front door was kicked in. Angel stood game face for a moment.
“Cordy, you better put some clothes on,” Angel said calmly as he sensed both Wesley and Gunn in the cabin.
“The Calvary?” she asked.
Angel nodded. “They seem to be more than just a little anxious and mad. You will save me won’t you?”
“Always and forever.” Cordelia smiled lovingly at her vampire. She laughed as Angel grinned and threw her his shirt.