Angel inhaled the sweet scent of Cordelia; his body seemed to float on a languid plain of peace where the only thing in existence was serenity. The room was in near darkness all barring the filtered moonlight that grazed the curtains, the only sound was the breaths of air and strong heartbeat against his chest. Her hot body pressed so close to his, humanity warming him through and through as he lazily placed kisses on her flushed skin.
The warmth grew hotter, forcing him to roll away from Cordelia sweat trickled down his face and his stomach began to seize with a sudden, searing pain and Angel felt something begin to tear loose from inside. Startled brown eyes were wide with panic as reality crashed down, bringing home how far they had gone. Rules had been broken, boundaries had been crossed and now the one thing he feared was happening again.
The demon inside waited patiently for the soul to disappear from the body they shared, smug and content to feel the soul suffer in the pain of being torn away, leaving the world at the demon’s mercy. It was such sweet irony that evil would be unleashed through love, or that final feeling of bliss. But what had taken place hadn’t been about love, it had been about despair, about hopelessness and loneliness, when that crashed down the soul would be in agony.
He didn’t hear Cordelia calling out his name as his entire body trembled; Angel tried to stand and knocked her room decorations to the floor, where they smashed into pieces. Panic-filled brown eyes turned on her, he tried to see through the intense distortion and focus on her. He didn’t want Cordelia anywhere near him, not after this was done.
“Get away from me” Angel choked out his voice shaky, eyes wild, panicked and unstable.
“No Angel, I won’t leave you” Cordelia yelled as she shielded her naked body with the rumpled sheets, her own eyes filled with fear, dread and a twisted form of acceptance.
These words swirled around and around in his head, his hands gripped the wall behind him and he stood on weak legs. Panicked eyes managed to focus on her; a tiny stream of blood decorated her throat, wrists and arms held angry red handprints which were bruising. Angel swallowed and looked at his hands then back to Cordelia who had her knees tucked up to her chest tightly.
The vampire fell down to one knee, fingers gripping the carpet and eyes tight shut, flashes of images spun his happiness out of control. Recent memories of sex, not love, clawed his brain and drove a sharp stab of pain direct through his heart. He’d all but raped Cordelia, his best friend and woman who he had grown to love. Where bliss had streamed through his body, revulsion now moved slowly forcing the cold to return.
He’d stalked her as if she were his prey; he’d trapped her in her own apartment and forced her to want him. Eyes that were full of wild panic a few moments ago were now full of self-hatred and despair as he looked at Cordelia.
As if to sense that he was going to be okay and not lose his soul, Cordelia slowly got off the bed, took a sheet with her and knelt down by Angel. The sheet softly kissed the vampire’s burning skin and she wrapped him up like a child, soothing him with words and lightly stroking his back. Hurting, bruised and sore, Cordelia lay down on the floor bringing Angel with her and tucking her body back into his.
Emotion so vivid raced through his body, how could he be happy when he did this to her? How could he have felt so good knowing he had made the woman he loved a victim? His victim.
Slowly, Angel stopped trembling as he focused light-infused vision on Cordelia, soft-spoken words penetrated the ringing in his ears and gentle touches caress his aching body. Sorry couldn’t describe what he felt but he couldn’t ask forgiveness when he clearly didn’t deserve any from her.
“Angel, what’s happened to you?” Cordelia whispered.
“Just wanted to feel, didn’t want to be cold anymore” he choked out in reply, “So sorry Cordelia, so sorry”
“Don’t say you’re sorry for what happened here, don’t you dare” she told him, words belied the calm whisper of her voice and the soft touches. “You planned this, you planned everything to get back at me. Why? What did I do that hurt you so much?”
“You said you didn’t know me, you do know me. You’re the only one that does a-and I couldn’t let you take that away from me” Angel raised a still trembling hand to cup her cheek and make her look at him. “You’re the only one”
“The only what Angel?” Cordelia asked, conflict all over her flushed face as she found herself meeting his gaze, it was as if he let her see him for the first time. She looked long, hard and deep, saw past the soul, past the demon and into the heart of the man that lived inside. Pain, heartache, misery were shining through the dark hypnotising orbs of his eyes. Beyond the anguish she saw passion, strength, love and everything else that made him Angel.
She saw a man who had forgotten who he was and what made him so special, she saw the rage so raw emanating from the demon it rocked her. She saw him.
“The only one I can’t be without, I need you to know who I am”
“I do know who you are Angel, it’s you that’s forgotten”
“Who am I?” he pleaded.
“You’re Angel” Cordelia replied quickly and simply, yes he needed a friend right now and yes she was willing to listen to him but there was no way she was going to allow him to put himself down. Not even after what had happened between them, they would get get to that eventually but she needed to know what had brought him to do such a thing to her.
“Can we get off the floor please, I don’t want carpet burns on my butt” she asked in her typical manner.
Angel looked at the sheet wrapped carefully around his body then at Cordelia laying uncovered on the floor curled around him. She shouldn’t be on the floor, she should be warm and safe away from him not letting him bring her down to his level.
“Come on Angel, I want to go get off the floor because this really isn’t the place for us to talk”
Nodding in agreement, Angel uncurled his body from hers, unwrapping the sheet he gave it to Cordelia leaving him naked in front of her.
Shaking her head, Cordelia declined the offered sheet “I have nothing to hide from you,” she told him simply. Now looking at the bed, the other sheets were severely rumpled and thrown haphazardly on top of the mattress, pillows were strewn onto the floor and items of clothing were trailing out of the door. She went to get back onto the bed but he stopped her.
“Not there, the scent…” Angel muttered and cast his eyes towards the floor; he didn’t want to be surrounded by the scent of sex, the scent of his betrayal of their friendship and her trust in him.
“Okay,” she sighed deeply, “I could do with some coffee, would you like some?” it was a subtle way of asking if he wanted to go into the one room of her house that was untouched.
“Yes please” he responded, grateful for her giving him a way out of the bedroom.
Cordelia took his arm, rolling her eyes when he flinched at her touch she guided him through the living room, past the wreckage of the broken glass and into the kitchen. Noting he still carried the sheet, she took it off him and began to wrap it round herself. “I may not have anything to hide from you but I do have things to hide from my neighbours” she explained and began to put things ready for some hot coffee. Angel went to do it for her, taking the mugs out of her hand he looked at her.
“I’ll do it, you sit” he told her.
“No, I’ll do it you sit”
“Let me do it” Angel pleaded, he needed to make it up to her in anyway he could, if he could and if she would let him. Starting with making her coffee for her.
Gritting her teeth, Cordelia knew what he was going to try and do but he couldn’t make this right by making her coffee, he couldn’t make this right by saying he was sorry and he couldn’t regain her trust by doing things for her. Looked like they were going to talk about happened sooner rather than later.
“Angel, you can’t make it up to me with words and coffee” she told him, “You can’t make up for trying to make me one of your victims”
Angel’s stomach clenched when she said the words he expected to hear from her, his heart broke in two when she told him he couldn’t make it up to her, he knew she wasn’t going to forgive him. How could he have hoped for her to forgive him?
“You’re right, I’m sorry…” sorry was overused these days.
“Sit down, I’ll make it” Cordelia took the mugs back out of his hands and placed them on the bench next to the boiling kettle. “Neither of us would have had to make it if Dennis was here” may as well start with one of the things that had really pissed her off. Nobody hurt Dennis, he was her friend and she loved him.
Something inside the vampire twisted painfully at the mention of the ghost, he’d taken every precaution nothing interfered with his plans for Cordelia and that had included weakening Dennis. She was right, there was nothing he could do to make it up to her and he couldn’t even say he was sorry because it would seem insincere after everything that had happened.
“Say something” Cordelia urged over her shoulder when his silence got too much to bear.
He didn’t know what to say, what could he say that wouldn’t sound like an insincere lie? Angel fidgeted with the edge of the table and swallowed unnecessarily, casting his haunted gaze away from her. “I don’t expect you to forgive me after what I’ve done” he stated quietly.
“Good, because I don’t forgive you” she replied, “Doing something like this to me is unforgivable and I can’t forget it happened just like that” water hit the bottom of a mug, breaking the deafening silence.
“Why Angel, why did you do this to me?”
Angel didn’t know how to answer that but he gave it his best shot, “When you told me you didn’t know who I was anymore, it felt like you took away what existence I had left. There was nothing but cold”
Turning round, Cordelia placed a mug of steaming coffee in front of him, “Here” taking a seat opposite him and staring into her own hot drink before responding to his words. “I don’t understand, you have everything in you Angel, I would give anything to be like you”
“What? You want to be a vampire?” was what he thought she meant.
“No” at any other time she might have laughed at his thoughts but now wasn’t the time for laughing and joking. Cordelia looked at Angel, “You are the strongest most brave person I know, you’re kind and all that’s good in the world. It takes a special person to live with things that most people have nightmares about and it takes someone very special to come back from hell”
how could she think he was good after this?
“I’m not good Cord…” Angel began and wrapped his cool hands around the burning ceramic mug, “This should prove to you what I am”
“I know you’re a vampire, I haven’t forgotten it’s kinda hard to forget a thing like that when I keep blood pouches in freezer. But that’s not all you are and if that’s what you really think deep inside then there’s no point in us having this conversation” she responded and paused to take a tentative sip and continued.
“I could sit here and talk until I’m blue in the face but it wouldn’t matter if you didn’t hear what I say as the truth. Angel, you can’t save anybody if you can’t save yourself”
“I don’t deserve to be saved, you of all people should agree with that” Angel snapped, “You sit there acting all righteous and trying to psychoanalyze me. Trying to preach to me about how good I am and how I need to be saved like one of the helpless”
Cordelia pondered over this for a second before answering him statement, “I’m not trying to psychoanalyze you, I’m trying to be a friend to you but if all you’re going to do is sit there and snap at me then you can leave. You once told me we can’t pick and choose who we do and don’t help, you’re right. We can’t force people to get help just as I can’t force my friendship on you so if you’re done wasting my time…”
Angel stared long and hard at the brunette who cradled the mug in both delicate female hands taking little delicate sips of the calming liquid. “I was so lonely Cordelia, I thought it was best I sent you away but all it did was make me lonely. The demon was too close to coming out in me and I couldn’t place you in that danger but it made the darkness worse”
“The danger?” she asked, a little confused by the way he talked sometimes.
Shaking his head, he answered in the negative “The loneliness made the darkness worse, there were no sounds in the hotel, there were no smells except for your lingering perfume and that was a constant reminder that I was alone”
“Then you came to the new office and threatened me, which is where I guess you snapped” Cordelia quickly added things up in her head and came to the obvious conclusion. Settling back in her chair, the seer looked at the vampire who’s gaze was now focused on the contents of his mug. “I what it’s like to be lonely too you know, sitting in a room in a large house for nights at a time with no one there. But unlike you, I couldn’t smell my mother’s lingering perfume or my daddy’s cologne and I couldn’ hear any little sounds. For me, there was really nothing in my life except when I got to school”
“I remember you in school, Cordy” Angel looked up at her again, “You had a ton of friends, people followed you everywhere and there were girls who wanted to be just like you. You couldn’t have been lonely”
This was reminiscent of the conversation she’d had with Buffy so long ago, chuckling slightly she repeated what she said to the Slayer. “All my friends were so busy agreeing with me that they never heard what I said and I was so busy trying to be popular that I never made any real friends”
“Why did you try so hard to be popular?”
“It beats being lonely all by yourself”
“You sound like you’ve said that before” Angel commented when she responded a little too quickly.
“You can’t imagine” Cordelia replied wryly and took a larger drink of her now cooling coffee. “I just wish you had come to me before now, we could have worked through all this together. As a family”
“What happens now?” he asked, risking another look at her and hoping for something he knew he wouldn’t get back.
“Well, we won’t be able to go back to the way were if that’s what you’re hoping for. We were friends and I trusted you not to hurt me but you did. You really hurt my feelings and I don’t know where we’re going to go from here” Cordelia replied honestly.
“I’ll leave if that’s what you want”
“That won’t solve anything between us, if anything it’ll make things worse because I’ll start to hate you and I don’t want that. I don’t want you to leave because I’ll miss you and you can’t leave because I’m Vision Girl, your Vision Girl. Something else you seem to have forgotten”
“I don’t want to leave, I don’t want to go back to that place again” Angel confessed to her, “So what now? What happens now between us, between you and me?”
“We both need time to come back from this, I need time to come back from this and you need time to earn my trust, friendship and respect”
“Can we work this out? Is there any chance of there being an us?”
“If there wasn’t a chance then you wouldn’t have been able to make me want you last night. But I come as a package Angel, Dennis and me are a team. While I may be able to get over what you did to me, I can’t get over what you did to my friend”
“I know it’s too late to say this but I’m so sorry about everything I’ve done” Angel gave the most sincere, heart-felt apology of his life. “I’ll do anything I can to make this up to you and to Dennis”
“What about Wes and Gunn Angel?”
“All of you, but you were the most important” he replied, finishing off his coffee and setting the mug back on the table with a little clunk. “I’ve made such a mess of things haven’t I?”
“Yeah and it’s gonna take more than your obsessive cleanliness to mop this one up. But I know you can, I know you Angel and you know me”
“No I don’t” he told her honestly and ruefully, “But I’m going to get to know you because I want you back”
“I want you back to, we want you back. Can you fix this?”
“I think I can do that but you have to promise not to leave me”
“I think I can do that”
three months later…
Angel walked through the doors of the hotel, his broadsword in one hand and a small paper bag in the other, “Cordy?” he called out loudly when he approached her desk and looked around for her.
“Cordy?” he called out again when he got no answer, “Cordy, where are you?” a little louder this time.
Again he got a responding silence, so he tried the one thing he knew would get her attention.
“I guess she doesn’t want to get her present then” Angel sighed dramatically and leaned on her desk, feeling the air swirl around him after a few moments. “Hey Dennis, where is she?” he asked when the present got him no response. a note dropped to his feet and he bent over to pick it up.
“Angel” he read with a confused expression, “I’m tired so I went to sleep and was asleep before you came in bellowing for my attention. Now I’m wide awake, good job” he smiled a little half smile and began searching for a pen and paper to write a note back to her.
“Cordy” Angel started, “What’s with the note writing? Are you gonna ask me to check boxes next? Get your ass down here, I’ve got something for you” he watched as the note floated up the stairs and waited for Cordelia to come down to get what he bought her.
Sure enough, she awkwardly jogged down the stairs in her stupidly high heels that click-clacked against the floor of the lobby. “Gimme gimme gimme”
“Women all the same” Angel muttered affectionately and held out the small paper bag, “It’s not much really but I know you like them”
Gunn and Wesley watched the blinding smile Cordelia gave to the vampire before sharing her jelly bears with him. How come Angel never bought them jelly bears? How come Angel always showered her with attention? Why didn’t Angel ever hold the doors for them? What was so special about Cordelia?
“He’s definitely trying to get into Barbie’s pants” was Gunn’s conclusion