Title: Not Alone
Category: Hurt/Comfort, angst.
Summary: Angel goes back in time, and lands on the worst night of Cordy’s life pre-LA. Uh, did I mention I suck at summaries?
Spoilers: Btvs S3 Lover’s Walk/AtS early S2
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Please ask
Notes: Warning, this is unbeta’d. I just wanted for Cordy not to be alone that night at the factory. Hence the brilliant title.
Feedback: Is yummy. Concrit also welcome.
He hates time travel. It’s disorienting and makes him feel like he’s a second behind the rest of the world. Nausea has him crashing to his knees the second the portal closes and he gives in to the urge to fall over, rolling over to watch the stars spin in the sky.
At least he landed at night. The talking bush wasn’t clear on the exact time constraints so Angel was a little aprehensive about catching fire the second he arrived.
Looks like Wes came through, though.
He owed the man a raise.
Angel rolled to his feet and staggered before steadying himself. He was so tired his bones ached but there wasn’t a lot of time. He had to get the talisman from the old factory and get back to this spot before dawn, if he was ever going to get home.
Looking around, he realized he’d landed in the park that bordered the old woods. His mansion wasn’t far from here. It was 1998, which is when Trick had hidden the amulet after Kakistos was slain after their arrival in Sunnydale.
He started to make his way out of the park, the path familiar to him. Buffy had patrolled here, sometimes alone, sometimes with him, and he remembered the twisting, turning path like he had just walked it yesterday.
Too many memories assailed him. Walking with Buffy, stalking Buffy, never being a part of anything, just the vampire in black who disappeared when Buffy’s eyes weren’t on him. He remembered that yearning, but didn’t feel it anymore. Couldn’t quite recall the urgency to be with her, that ache that never went away.
He was almost surprised to discover he didn’t really feel any of it anymore.
The factory smelled as bad as he remembered, smoky from the fire, a faint metallic tang, and if he breathed in deeply enough, he could still detect Spike’s scent.
In a small, burnt out room, he looked over the badly plastered wall. A different color than the rest of the room, it was obvious something had been hidden in there.
Angel curled a fist and punched through, feeling around with his fingers and snagging a chain. Bringing his hand back out, the amulet dangled limply in his grasp. Dull gold, with small gems encrusted around it, it didn’t look like much by way of dimension-collapsing objects. But the monks wanted it for safe-keeping and had paid in cash. Lots of it. He was under threat of a dusting by his hazel-eyed seer if he didn’t come back wtih it.
He turned and began to squeeze through the collapsed door. It led to another, slightly bigger room, full of plaster rubble and rebars sticking out of what used to be foundations. He was about to turn and find another way out when the whispers reached him.
He stopped and listened, scenting blood suddenly.
Someone was bleeding.
He cocked his head, and realized he knew the voices. Xander and Willow. What were they doing at the fac-?
With horror, he listened to the sounds of their kissing, and the sound of footsteps along with the scent of Cordelia.
There was a hushed, horrified silence before he heard Cordelia’s small voice, followed by Xander and Willow, then Oz.
He remembered what came next, remembered the way Buffy had told him nearly two years previous, with regret and concern coloring her voice. Remembered that he was only slightly interested then, thinking only that Harris was an idiot.
Now, all he can do is listen with a sickening sense of inevitability as Cordelia rushed back up the stairs towards his position, the awful give of the rotted wood and plaster under her feet and then her body hurtling downwards, pulled by gravity and heartbreak, body tossed by falling debris until she landed with a ripping sound.
For a few merciful seconds, a white cloud obscured his vision but the sudden, nearly overpowering smell of blood rushed over his senses. For the first time since Darla bit him, the smell was wrong, and all he could think of was that precious liquid spilling over the floor under her supine body.
The dust cleared and the sight of her lying there, with the rebar jutting up obscenely out of her torso, was so much worse than anything his mind conjured.
“Cordelia.” He whispered, staring fiercely, the need to go to her overwhelming. He barely held it in check, knowing that none of Buffy’s friends could see him since he was supposed to be with Buffy and Spike at the Magic Shop. But the sight of her lying so still and small made him sick inside and he willed Xander to hurry and climb down. She looked so alone.
Finally Xander did, crawled over to her and whispered she’d be alright.
He could hear her heart, erratic but beating, and she moved her head to the sound of Xander’s voice, calling his name weakly and saying she couldn’t see him.
Angel’s hands convulsively gripped the turn in the wall as he watched Xander repeat her name as she faded into unconsciousness.
He watched the paramedics extract Cordelia, heard her agonized cries as they transported her onto the gurney and lifted her through the hole. Long minutes passed and then he was alone again, needing to throw up so bad he tasted old blood in the back of his throat.
He shook the feeling off and continued on, finding his own way out of the factory and heading to the hospital.
It was a chaos of artificial smell clashing with illness and tainted blood as he walked through the emergency room, but he followed the sound of talking nurses and doctors until he found the right area. Cordelia was lying behind a door, being operated on and Xander stood with a devasted Willow in the waiting room, frantically trying to call Cordy’s parents.
He found a corner and waited.
Hours later, the crowds thinned and died out, and the hospital quieted. Everything was muted, like trying to listen through glass. He floated through the hallways, easily keeping out of the way of the night staff as he located Cordelia’s room.
Opening the door slowly, he entered, eyes drawn towards the bed at the far end of the room.
It was a private room, softly lit and quiet as a tomb, the only sound the beep of the monitors they hooked up to her.
He walked closer, taking in the the limpness of her body. She smelled like iodine and rubbing alcohol, and raw pain. Just two days ago she’d waved a wrist under his nose, asking him what he thought of her new musk. He’d smiled slightly and said it was okay, then spent the rest of the day following her around the apartment, trying to catch more of that subtle scent that weaved around her.
He took her cold hand and squeezed tightly, willing her to feel him.
“Cordelia,” he whispered. “You’re not alone.”
When the threat of dawn rolled over his senses and his vampire instincts screamed at him to take cover, he stood up and bent over her.
“I have to leave, so I can go home. Wes is there, and Dennis. And you’re there.” He leaned over and pressed his lips to her forehead. “You’ll be okay. I promise.”
He let her hand go, turned and walked out of the room.
The amulet bumped the side of his thigh as he walked, a reminder of what was waiting for him.
The nausea was just as bad going back, the dizziness twice as bad.
He landed in a heap on Cordelia’s living room carpet, groaning and wishing for some blood.
“Angel, you made it.”
Wes sat up on the couch and blinked at him. The ex-Watcher was still tender from the explosion that nearly killed him, and the rasp of his voice wasn’t just because he’d been sleeping.
“Yeah,” he replied. “I made it.”
“Did you get it?”
Angel reached into his pocket and dug out the talisman, tossing it lightly through the air. Wes caught it easily and reached for his glasses, slipping them on and examining it closely.
Angel climbed to his feet gingerly, steadying himself against the bookcase. Outside, it was still dark, the lights of LA twinkling softly.
He swung around.
Cordelia stood in the hallway, the open door of her bedroom in the background.
“How was the trip down memory lane, literally?” She smiled, softening the harsh edges of her question.
He shrugged, eyes taking in her appearance. Thin t-shirt and pajama bottoms, her hair was down around her shoulders. His gaze lingered on her belly, wondering about the scar, if it was white, or darker pink against the light tan of her skin.
She eyed him sympathetically, misinterpreting the reason for his silence.
“Hard seeing Buffy again, huh?”
He simply shrugged and let her believe that. Easier than explaining the truth roaring through him as he gazed at her, the knowledge that gripped his soul tighter than the curse. Of what he was feeling for her, of how long it had been floating around the edges of his awareness, pushed down out of habit and discipline.
She walked up and hugged him, arms tight around his back as she gave him comfort, never knowing she was giving him the succor of her body.
It came to him like truth.
He loved her.
God help him.