Title: Lost To Her (A Darkness Within fic)
Summary: Angel’s not coming back and Cordelia can’t follow.
Spoilers: This takes place at the end of Redefinition, after Angel sets Darla & Dru on fire, but before Wes comes down to the basement to make his declaration. Nothing in the scene, however, is spoilery for that ep unless you squint.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask
Notes: It’s a little rough, but I honestly can’t do anything else for it.
The kitchen’s a little spare for food, but she tries anyway, scrounging in the fridge. The hangover that mostly disappeared with her vision in Caritas is still trying to make waves in her belly and she needs a little something to calm her rolling stomach.
Comes out with jelly and some bread, and smiles slightly before remembering why she’s standing in her kitchen with a slight hangover.
She never thought, ever in a million years, that this is where she’d be at twenty-years-old. Her picture of her future involved splitting her time between college and traveling Europe, double majoring in decorating and Business Admin.
Instead, she’s an unemployed secretary; an actress with no agent left to speak of, and, as the ache in the back of her head reminds her, still a full time seer.
With no Angel.
Taking her load to the kitchen table, she puts the jelly on the bread and spreads with quick and even strokes, murmuring absently when Dennis brings her a glass of milk.
She crazy for thinking they were going to be able to make the Agency work without the namesake, but she’s surprised to find that she’s jazzed that they’re going to try.
Wesley’s knowledge, Gunn’s fighting skills, and her conduit-ness – it still counts.
They’d saved a girl.
Killed a demon.
They could do it.
But first they needed their tools.
Finishing her too-sweet sandwich, she downs the milk and gets up with purpose.
She’s mildly surprised her key still works and slips into the dark lobby with as little noise as she could manage.
Holding the empty box in a light grip, she moves quietly behind the counter, opening up the built-in cabinet and pulling out her reference books.
She flips through them quickly, trying to pick the ones she thinks they’re going to need the most, and chooses three, dumping them in the cardboard box.
“What are you doing here, Cordelia?”
Yelping, she jumps from her crouch and ends up sprawling back on her butt, heart pounding painfully in her chest as she stares up Angel.
He’s half shrouded by darkness, his face painted up with cuts and purpling, angry bruises.
“What, the lawyers fight back this time?” She stands up. “Know what? Never mind, I don’t want to know. I’m just here to get some Agency property and then I’m gone.”
She crouches down again, and continues her inventory.
Now she doesn’t feel the bound leather from the tingling in her fingers, doesn’t see the titles because every one of her senses is honed on Angel, so she haphazardly grabs two more volumes, tossing them carelessly in the box with her other texts without knowing if they’ll be useful.
“Fine, take them and get out.”
He disappears from her peripheral.
“What is your damage, Angel?” She’s up on her feet and hissing at him before she could think about it.
He stops on his way to the stairs and turns back around to face her.
She rounds the counter and comes to stand in front of it, hands propped on her hips.
“When did you decide to make our decisions for us, tell us when the fight was over?”
“When I fired you.”
“It’s not that easy,” she counters, her head throbs, suddenly, as if in agreement, “not that easy for some of us to walk away.”
He stares at her with a face of stone, and doesn’t respond.
“Don’t you care that you’re taking the low road? That you’re throwing away everything you’ve worked for?”
She sees her answer in his eyes before he opens his mouth to confirm it.
“No, I don’t. Now get out.”
She sets her jaw and glares at him with scalding eyes, hating that he can get to her so easily, feeling him like a shard of steel right through the center of her heart.
“Then you’re just another vampire, and I’m wasting my time.”
She turns to get her belongings.
She’s leaning over for her box when she’s jerked back around by a hard grip on her elbow, and finds herself nose to nose with a pissed off vampire.
“You know what, Chase, maybe you need a lesson, you know that?” Backing her against the counter, amber eyes rimmed with red, he snarls into her face, lips pulled back over a predator’s teeth.
“I am a vampire, something you seem to forget pretty easily when you’re telling me who to hire and who not to kill, who to help and who doesn’t deserve it!”
He’s yelling into her face and if he grips her any harder, she’s going to start hearing bones crack, in addition to the blinding pain.
“Someone has to, you lost your ability to reason out the obvious months ago – and let go of me, goddammit!”
She reinforces her demand with the cross she keeps in her front pocket, pressing it with her whole palm into the back of his forearm.
His skin hisses instantly, and he pulls back with a pained snarl, letting her go and jumping back from the object, getting between her and the double doors on both sides of the lobby.
Angel regards her calmly with his demon’s face, glancing at his arm to check the damage before considering her for a long moment.
Her shaking breath fills the empty air between them, and he smiles grimly, smiles at her fear.
“That wasn’t nice.”
“Wasn’t meant to be.”
“Well, good to know the rules, then.”
He moves faster than she can blink, knocking the cross from her hand and grabbing her arms, pushing her back against the counter, holding her there with his body.
“You aren’t playing by anyone’s rules but your own, Mr. King-of-the-Universe.”
He nods approvingly, grunting as his eyes circle her face and neck.
“Catching on, Cor – that’s good.”
“Better late than ever, I always say. So now that I know the score, I’ll just leave you to your suicide dive,” she glares up into his face. “I’ve got better things to do.”
“Wes and Gunn can wait. You, on the other hand, need a lesson on what to expect when you go pulling crosses on friends.”
“We’re not friends.” She grits through her teeth and tears.
He stares down at her for a second, face in shadows she can’t see into, thoughts gone where she can’t follow. She wants to cry because he’s so far removed from what she thought he was – lost to his past and its hold over him.
“Maybe we never were,” he mutters before lowering his head and kissing her.
Except it doesn’t feel like a kiss, it feels like an invasion – another way for Angel to take something from her, to push her further away then she already is from him.
It nearly works.
She wants to stick her cross up into his ribcage and get the hell out of dodge but –
As he invades the inside of her mouth with his tongue, she tastes something different.
It’s in her mouth, salty and bitter.
Opening her eyes, she sees the tears down his face, going through the bruises and the cuts, mingling with his saliva on her tongue.
The shard of steel through her heart twists deeper, and she softens her body against his, tugging against his hold so she can bring her hands up against the sides of his head, holding him instead of pushing away.
Her mouth opens of its own volition and her kiss deepens, taking him in, trying to give him the succor of her touch, to heal some of the hurts that has him so twisted up he can’t see anything but pain and revenge.
His arms wrap around her torso, bringing her up closer, against his chest, holding on convulsively, his hands fisted in the back of her shirt, desperately taking what she’s giving him like a thirsty man in the desert.
The room narrows and time stops as Angel holds her, the world centers down to this moment and she thinks maybe she’s reaching him, bringing him back from the brink of whatever precipice he’s standing on.
She breaks away because she has to breathe, and he buries his face in her neck, his body vibrating with tension and a grief she doesn’t understand.
Then suddenly, he thrusts her away and she nearly stumbles back before catching her footing.
She thought it hurt when he fired her, that it couldn’t hurt any worse than knowing he could cut them out of his life so easily.
She was wrong.
This is worse.
He turns half away from her, steadying his voice along with his resolve, fists clenched against the sides of his thighs like he was looking at a cross.
“Are you really making this choice, Angel, because there’s no coming back – you know that, right?”
Her voice is soft but firm. She can’t afford to cut out more pieces of herself to hand over to him so he can stomp all over them. There’s got to be something left, or she’ll disappear, and if he sends her away this time, she’ll stay away.
“I’m not coming back, Cordelia. Get out.”
She nods once and goes to pick up her box, hefting it under her arm, and leaves him to his misery.
But she’s crying because she can still taste his pain in her mouth.
She can’t hear him tear up the inside of the lobby, can’t see him pack up her personal belongings and shove them into a closet.
Because she doesn’t look back.