Title: Mourning The Dead
Posted: July 06
Summary: Life goes on, doesn’t it?
Spoilers: Set post-Hero, pre-Parting Gifts.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Please ask first.
Notes: The idea had been floating around my brain for a while now, how it must have been in that thin sliver of time when it was just the two of them.
Feedback:Welcomed and appreciated.
His ribs ached steadily as the bones struggled to knit back together, and Angel thought it was a lucky thing breathing was optional. He could feel the scrape against his tender insides and fought the urge to groan.
The elevator down to his apartment squeeked along quietly as it could, somehow mindful of the grieving girl next to him.
He glanced at Cordelia, taking in the brackets of pushed-down grief that lined the sides her mouth. She hadn’t said a word since they had finished the fight, merely allowed Angel to help her up after the demon had knocked her into a brick wall, slipping from his support as soon as she knew she wouldn’t fall back over and gathering up their weapons silently.
She’d fought hard, with more passion than he’d heard her speak with in the last few days, since Doyle-
-since Doyle died.
His ribs seemed to throb harder and he held himself with one hand crossed over his front, and her eyes flickered down at the action as the elevator finally stopped.
She moved before he could, opening the grate so he wouldn’t have to reach for it, and walked on into his private quarters. He followed her, tossing his weapons on a chest before heading into his bedroom.
She threw her bag onto his bed and disappeared into his bathroom, coming back with a large first aid kit.
“Cordelia, you don’t have to-“
“Yes, I do.” She interrupted, not wanting to hear the rest of his protest. “Get on the bed.”
He thought about refusing – this being his apartment and all – but one look into her empty hazel eyes and he lowered his head, walking over and easing himself onto the mattress.
She put the kit on the bed and climbed up behind him, on her knees so she’d have a better reach, and reached to the front of his body to unbutton his shirt. The action pressed her body against his side and he flinched at the feel of her breasts, moving away and slapping her hands off.
“I, uh, I can do it,” he muttered, taking his shirt off fast. He glanced over his shoulder and caught her rolling her eyes at his behavior. She reached up and peeled the shirt from his back, sucking in an audible breath at the deep scratches and punctures the beast had made.
Other than the breath, she wasn’t moving so he looked again and saw her anguished, panic-stricken face.
“Cordelia-” he half turned, wanting to reassure her but the pain from his ribs stopped him, made him gasp.
“Don’t move, Angel, or you’ll stake yourself with a rib or something.” She turned him so he was facing away from her again and opened the kit. He heard her ripping open gauze and smelled the ointment she used to kill any germs that might be lingering and went to work.
Her hands were cool but shaking. He could hear the sniffing as she tried not to cry and he wanted to turn and hold onto her, remembering how she clutched at him as they watched their friend disintergrate in front of them, how he held on to her in return, hanging onto his only remaining friend.
“It’s okay, you can cry for him,” he whispered instead, staring straight ahead.
The fingers smoothing ointment over the bite marks on his shoulder blades trembled harder and she snorted.
“I’ve cried enough, thank you,” she answered in a strangled voice.
They finished in silence. She wrapped the bandage around his ribs four times and secured it with half a dozen pins before beginning to clean up the mess scattered around her.
“Okay, you’re all fixed up.”
Her voice was calmer, as if she had pushed through something.
He stood up and reached for his shirt again, gingerly pulling it on as he gazed at her.
Her eyes were swollen, even though she hadn’t let the tears fall. Her cheeks were dry, her mouth a hard line of control.
Cordelia grabbed an armful of dirty gauze and slid off the bed carefully, padding into the kitchen to dispose of the cotton and torn packaging.
He followed, watching her quietly, taut as a bowstring, betraying nothing.
She turned and caught sight of the whiskey on the counter, freezing for a long breathless moment.
The whiskey was Doyle’s, left after one of his last vision-induced fits of drinking.
There was a small sound and her shoulders started to shake badly, and then he smelled the hot salt of her tears as the dam broke loose.
Her body bent over, as though she couldn’t quite hold the pain in and he was at her side instantly, taking her shoulders and supporting her weight as her knees gave out and she cried against his chest.
He didn’t make any noise, knew she wouldn’t appreciate the meaningless comforting sounds one usually made at times like this. His own grief for Doyle was softer, sadder, having been through something like this a time or two before.
But this was Cordelia’s first loss, and she was so young, not even twenty.
A vague feeling of dread rode over Angel’s pain, and he questioned again why he’d allowed her to stay, to risk so much of herself, possibly her life, over his mission. She needed to be living, pursuing her dream of stardom in the sun, not crying jaggedly against his chest while they were both covered in the stink of a demon she’d helped him kill.
Some time later, he thought it might be close to dawn, her cries turned soft, tired, and finally she just breathed.
He didn’t let her go, arms tight across her shoulders, until she pulled away first.
She stepped back, out of his embrace, and the air between them cooled rapidly as he watched her go over to his sink and run some water, splashing her face.
She turned back around after drying the water off, looking at him unflinchingly.
Her voice was a little hoarse and she sounded tired.
And then, while he tried to think of something to say, her stomach rumbled.
They both glanced down at the noise.
He looked back up at her face.
“Would you like some eggs, Cordelia?”
She didn’t say anything, and he thought she might refuse, but then she smiled, just a little one, and nodded.
He echoed her okay and walked over to the cabinets, pulling out a pan and then turning to the frige for eggs and milk. She busied herself during his preparations by getting his blood out of the fridge and setting it in the microwave, then turned to get some dishes.
She set the table and sat down, taking the lid off the butter and jelly while Angel scrambled eggs and made toast.
After a few comfortable minutes of silence, she spoke again.
“Angel, Doyle isn’t the first one I’ve lost.”
He brought the eggs and toast to the table and sat down opposite her. The blood he left in the microwave.
She glanced down as she spooned eggs onto her plate, steeling herself.
When she looked up, her eyes were soft with memories.
“His name was Kevin,” she told him.
“Boyfriend?” He questioned.
“Yeah, for a little bit. He died the day the Master rose – remember that night?”
Angel would never forget.
“He was supposed to meet me, to set something up for the dance, but he never showed, and we found him in the A/V room at the school.” She glanced up at him. “Vampires.”
He wanted to say he was sorry but she waved it off, and he knew that to her, it had nothing to do with Angel.
“Anyway, he was the first boy I really, really could’ve loved…”
He listened as she talked, listened as she mourned for the boy she lost three years ago, as he had listened to her cry over the friend they’d both lost a few days ago, and he found that a little of his own ache eased as he did so.