Title: Provisions Of The Heart
Category: Angst, Humor, BtVS season 2
Summary: Angel and the Gang try to get back on track with their lives at AI. The rift between Angel and Cordelia has not yet been healed and they try to work through all the wrongs that need to be righted.
Spoilers: Background up to Epiphany, after that it’s all my imagination.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: NF, anyone else please ask
Feedback: Be gentle, I’m a virgin
“What precisely don’t you understand about the phrase ‘No thank you. I’m fine.’? Sounds pretty self explanatory to me.”
Angel watched as his Seer sat down in her chair with a, not so inaudible, sigh and decided it was best if he just slowly back away.
His shoulders slumped in defeat, padding softly out of the office and up to his room, thinking he would never mend the rift between him and his dearest friend.
I let it go too long, let it get too far. My own selfish pain and regret got the better of me. First what I thought was my own subconscious having the dreams of Darla, my guilt of the animalistic nature of those dreams. Then the reality of her and shock of her humanity. And lastly my failure to save her and lack of ability to deal with it. All self centered reasons, everyone of them. I thought I’d gotten past that. Thought I’d grown, but no. I’d still not learned that those people I see and work with every day are not just friends but family. More a family to me than my own flesh and blood ever was. And yet I still internalized everything. Let it all eat away at me until it was too late for them to help. And now…….he didn’t know how to fix it.
“She’s not gonna let up on him anytime soon is she?” Gunn said quietly to Wesley as they watched him retreat quietly up the stairs.
They had been working but were now standing across the lobby trying to stay as far away from the very vocal, very pissed off Cordelia.
“No. I’m afraid she isn’t. But can you blame her?”
“Guess not. But we did all agree to be civil to the guy.”
“Yes but after all Cordelia and Angel have been through together, she was the one that felt most betrayed. They were very close. Closer than I thought Angel ever could be to anyone given his circumstances. And with the same token, I believe closer than Cordelia’s ever been to anyone as well. It can’t be easy to be betrayed by one of the only people in your life you’ve ever come to trust unconditionally. “
“And what? We had no big ugly betrayal goin on?”
“Well yes, of course. I was just as astonished by his behavior, as you well know, but there’s a link between them, more than one actually, not just on an emotional level but the one they share regarding her visions. Metaphysical one might call it. The Mission binds us all but it’s that much stronger with them because of their connections with The Powers. Neither by choice I remind you. She’s tied to him in a way that no human, or vampire I might add, has ever been before. At least to my knowledge.”
“So not just the regular “My-best-friend-turned-his-back-on-me” kinda hurt then?”
“Far from it. I believe the connection was, and is, so strong that she was physically ill from it. And still is. And something more……I can’t put my finger on it…..but it’s almost as if she’s been soul sick……”
Cautiously they both glanced over at Cordelia, wearing identical looks of concern.
“What? What!?!” Cordelia yelled as she bolted out of her chair and stomped over to the two men who had backed them selves against the lobby wall. Now with identical looks of fear on their faces.
“I swear if one more person looks at me with a creased brow and a “we-must-help-poor-Cordy” look on their face I’m gonna start knockin’ heads into the wall! What is it with you people? Have I ever not asked for something when I needed it? Demanded it even?”
Simultaneous nods from the two frightened men.
“Haven’t I always been the one to shoot straight from the hip when something needed to be said?”
Again, nods in the affirmative.
“So what’s with the careful all of a sudden?”
“Cordelia. We’re…” Wesley started.
“What? Worried about me? I told you. I’m fine. Yes, I’m still adjusting to being here. But it’s only been a week. We just barely got everything put away. But all the looks and concerned questions are driving me nuts! Am I going to be okay? I don’t know. But there isn’t anything either of you can do about it. This is something I’m going to have to work through myself. Something that is going to take time. And believe me, if there was anything you could do I would ask. I know you’re both here for me. I know you care. I know you’re worried. But please, just lets try and get back to what’s important. The Mission. And those that need our help. The more normalcy around here the better. Okay?”
“Okay. You’re right.”
“Sure. I got cha.”
“Thank you!” She said, throwing up her arms and walking back to her desk.
A little deflated that they could do nothing for their friend but wanting to do as she wished, they both went back to what they were doing before, Wes researching in the office and Gunn polishing the weapons. That is before Cordy had snapped when Angel had stopped his hesitant looks and nervous pacing and decided to ask Cordelia for the fifth time if she was ok or needed anything.
Looking past the weapons cabinet and up the stairs Angel had trudged only minutes before, Gunn thought to himself that Angel really was on a long road to redemption concerning his Seer. He hoped that Angel would make it.
Up in his room, slumped in his chair, all Angel could think was How can I fix it? How can I make it all the way it was? And at the same time realizing that he couldn’t. That it would never again “Be as it was”. That so much had changed. Not just because of the hurt he had caused his friends but because he had changed. Specifically, he’s feelings for Cordelia. Maybe changed isn’t the right word. Realized. He’d come to realize that the closeness that existed between the two of them was more than a bond of friendship. More even than that of family. But he had no name for it. He only knew that it was there and it bound him to her. He would not lose her again. It was beyond his comprehension to think of what his life would become if that happened a second time. And he was bound and determined to never find out.
Coming up out of his brooding state, Angel realized that it was now in the pre-dawn hours. He searched the hotel with his vampire senses and realized he was alone. No one had come up to tell him ‘Good-bye’.
Exhausted emotionally and physically, Angel got up to go to bed. Resolved that, for now, he could do nothing further to mend the huge gap between him and Cordelia. That all he could do at this moment is be there for her if she needed him. Give her the space she said she wanted and hope to God he came up with some kind of plan soon. He was not the “sit-around-and-see-what-happens” kinda guy.
Even though it seemed his best recourse would have to be waiting and watching for a clue. Listening for some kind of hint from her as to how she needed him to make his amends. Because “I’m sorry” sure as hell isn’t working. But he had no idea how long his patience would hold out. As he drifted off to sleep, his last thoughts were of Cordelia. Her voice, her face, her smile, her scent. All the things that now represented those feelings of coming Home.
Cordelia had come into the office early. She had gotten very little sleep. Tossing and turning all night unable to think of anything but how angry she was. It had been 5am when she gave up and got out of bed.
She had tried. Really tried, to let it go. But just looking at Angel made her want to scream! Punch and kick. Scratch his eyes out. To hurt him because he had hurt her. And as with every morning since he had brutally kicked her out of his life, she stood and sobbed in the shower. She had felt as if he had ripped a part of her right out of her chest and all that was left was this huge empty space that constantly ached.
So with too many thoughts and nothing to keep her mind off of them at home, she opted to just go to the hotel and start the day.
Puttering around the office, making coffee, putting out the donuts she picked up on her way in, straightening the files left from the night before. Her mind turned to a happier time.
I always liked coming in before everyone got here. Having those moments of quite before Gunn and Wes came in bantering. Before Angel strode down the stairs all Hero-y, ready to face whatever the day brought on. Demanding his morning coffee, smelling all clean and……
A little smile tugged at her mouth. “Damn it!”
Why’d he do it? Why? We were all so happy. Sure we had our troubles but we always got through them. We could have gotten through this too. Together. Like we always had. But oh no, Mr. All-big-and-broody had to keep it all to himself. Couldn’t let us in. Couldn’t let us help. Wouldn’t…….he wouldn’t let me help.
They found her sitting at her desk with her head in her hands. She hadn’t even noticed they’d come into the lobby.
“Cordy?” Wes said, gently placing his hand on her shoulder.
Startled, she jumped a little and then gave them both a weak smile.
“Morning guys.” She got up and walked over to pour herself a cup of coffee.
A look passed between the two concerned friends. And with a small shake of his head Wesley communicated to Gunn not to say anything more than polite conversation.
“Yes, Good morning to you as well Cordelia. Have we got any cases on the books for today?”
“Just the one from the vision I had over the weekend. The Versalack demon that’s going to do that whole burrowing under the sand to lay it’s demon spawn at Newport Beach.”
“Right. Well we can’t very well go and exterminate it in broad daylight with all the beach goers. We’ll have to wait until the sun goes down and the area is less populated.”
“That’ll be fine. My vision didn’t say the things would hatch or whatever until the end of the week. And the ah Mother, crawls back into the ocean and dies after it lays it’s eggs. So no immediate danger there.”
“Then I’ll go and do some research on it before we go.”
“All right, I’ll see what I can find out on the internet about the tides and when the shops shut down for the night.”
Walking toward the back of the office Gunn said over his shoulder “Well you two seem to have the research thing down. I’m gonna go see if we got any movies I haven’t watched more than 5 times yet.”
Standing at the top of the stairs Angel watched his three friends start their morning……without him.
Well I can’t just stand here all day.
Coming down the stairs and cautiously walking into the office he felt like an intruder.
She didn’t even look at him.
Wesley looked up from the book he was reading at his desk.
“Good morning Angel.”
“We’re ah, researching the patterns of a Versalack demon. Cordelia had a vision Saturday that one was gong to lay it’s eggs on the beach at Newport.”
“oh. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“No. Wes and I got it.”
Wesley looked back and forth between the two.
“Ah, yes. It’s a fairly simple creature. Well documented on. We won’t have much to do.”
“But it was a vision. Right? So it must be serious or the powers wouldn’t have told you about it. Right Cordy?”
Barely giving him a sideways glance she answered him in a cold voice.
“Yea. If we don’t destroy the eggs they’ll hatch and eat all the sunbathers.”
“Wes and Gunn can handle it.”
“I know, but…”
“I said they can handle it!”
“But the visions you get come for me, so don’t you think……” His words trailed off, realizing the blunder he just made. Then seeing the look on her face, he took a step back.
“That’s right, Angel. They come for you. So, where were you when I got the vision of the demon attacking that girl in the warehouse? Or the two-headed thing under the girls school? Where? Oh, that’s right, you were off chasing some blonde!”
“Cordy, there was more to it than that. There were so many lives at stake with Darla and Drusilla running free. I had to stop them.”
“Oh, like the way you stopped them from killing all those lawyers? Good job there Angel.”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, sorry, I don’t.”
“They were evil!”
“They were human!”
“What do you want from me? I said I was wrong already! I said I was sorry!”
“That doesn’t make those people alive again!”
“What do you want me to do!?! I can’t take it back!”
“I can’t just forgive you! I can’t just forget how you hurt me!”
“I know that but you have to give me something, anything!”
“Why? Why do I have to!?!”
“Because I don’t know how to fix us! I don’t know how to take the first step!”
“Well I don’t know either!”
The both stop and look at each other as they hear:
‘If you need help, then look no further… Angel Investigations is the best. Our rats are low—‘
‘It says ‘rats’. …’
Their eyes connect and they each can’t help but smile a little.
‘Our rates are low, but our standards are high. When the chips are down, when you’re at the end of your rope, you need someone you can count on. And that’s what you’ll find here. Someone who’ll go all the way, who’ll protect you no matter what. Don’t lose hope.’
Angel’s smile fades as Cordy bows her head and looks at her clasped hands.
‘Come on over to our offices, and you’ll see there’s still heroes in this world.’
Cordy looks at Angel. He can see in her eyes all the pain and suffering he’s put her through. But he can also see a spark of remembering. A bit of the closeness they once shared.
But is that tiny bit enough?
‘Is that it? Are we done?’
“Hey, who’s the Irish dude on the video?” Gunn asks walking into the front office.
Seeing Angel and Cordelia there, they’re eyes locked together in some kind of trance, Gunn looks to Wes.
Wesley motions him back into the office and gets up and closes the door after him, leaving the Vampire and his Seer to have some privacy.
Angel goes to reach out and comfort Cordelia but stops and pulls his hand back.
I don’t have that right anymore. To comfort her, to touch her. I lost that when I put Darla before her. Thinking of it now I don’t even know why. This woman means more to me then anything else in this world. Why would I throw it all away?
“You did though.” She says softly.
“I did what?”
“Threw me away.”
“…How did you……?”
“I don’t know. Don’t worry, I don’t hear what you’re thinking.. It’s just more like I “know”. I can…feel it. I’ve been able to for awhile now.”
She walks past him into the lobby, wearily she sits on the couch in the corner. Angel stands there a moment taking in what she said then follows her and sits beside her.
“When did it start?”
“I guess I first started to notice it after Vocah hit me with his whammy. I mean, I could always kinda read you even before the visions. You don’t exactly have a poker face you know. So I just thought for awhile that I was getting better at reading your face and body language. But then when you were helping that pregnant woman, after Gunn brought us that medallion, I was in the kitchen and all of a sudden I could feel your surprise. Not only that but a huge amount of guilt. I just “knew”, you know?”
“When we ran in here, The Hyperion.”
“We knew something had happened to you here but you never gave us the full story.”
“I know. You thought about it a lot the first few weeks we were here.”
“So, you know what…..I did?”
“After that I just sorta started testing it. You know like when Gunn ran after that tiny informer guy that turned into that big nasty demon? You had me drop you at the hotel and take your car home. Not the most Angel-y thing in the world to do. So I sat outside for awhile and ah, I guess that was a bad example…”
Standing up and pacing in front of the couch she try’s to explain. .”I didn’t ‘know’, but I like ‘knew’. I felt your thoughts…I mean not words, but like….aggghhhh! I don’t know how to explain it!”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“What was I supposed to say? ‘Oh by the way Angel I know you’re having hot and heavy dreams about Darla……just thought I’d let ya in on that little bit of info.’ I mean, come on!”
Not being able to look her in the eye, he stares at the floor instead. “Does Wes and Gunn know?”
“No! I would never tell them anything so private.”
“I was really worried about Gunn at the time so he took up most of my thoughts for awhile. And except for that first time, I have to actually kind of “tune in” to you to get it. Unless it’s like something really big and then it kind of hits me and …….”
She knows. She knows what happened with Darla.
Looking up at her he doesn’t even have to ask. He can see it in her eyes.
I can’t do this. I can’t remember that night again. All his pain, all that emptiness. Sitting in my room, feeling him with her. It’s too soon. It’s too much!
As her eyes fill with tears she turns and runs to the bathroom. He hears the lock click on the door.
Will we ever be able to get through this? She knows so much of what I’ve done. Oh God, she knows! How do I explain? Does she even want me to? I can’t even explain it to myself!
Suddenly the coffee table flies across the lobby and shatters against the wall. Stamping through the debris he heads toward the basement……and then hears her screams. Reaching the door he can’t get it open.
“Cordy! … … Cordy!”
Gunn and Wes storm out of the office right behind Angel just as he’s stepping back to kick the door open. With wood flying everywhere Angel runs in. She’s on her knees but still holding the sink. Her grip so tight her knuckles are turning white. Just as another spasm hits her he catches her before she hits the floor.
~ flashes of lights, pain, Herself with bags packed walking out of the Hyperion FLASH Gunn lost, alone and full of guilt being turned into a vampire FLASH Wesley afraid and alone being ripped apart by a demon FLASH Herself on the floor of a motel room having seizures, blood coming from her ears and mouth, alone and dying FLASH Angel sitting in the hotel in his room, wasted away from not feeding for so long, fire all around him singeing him, he doesn’t move, alone, full of remorse and sorrow he turns to dust ~
“NO! NO! Angel! NO! Oh God! Wesley! Gunn! NO!!!!!!”
Wrapping his arms around her he pulls her in close. She turns her face into his chest curling up against him. Her body wracked with sobs as she sees the vision replay over and over in her head. Angel glances up at Gunn and Wesley. Their countenance tells him they’ve come to the same conclusion. The vision was about all of them and it wasn’t good.
They snap back, Wesley getting her pain pills from the cabinet, Gunn a glass of water. Angel shifts to stand so he can pick her up.
“No! Angel, don’t leave me!” She clings tighter to him.
“I’m just going to pick you up. Come on, lets move you off this cold floor.”
He swings her up into his arms and she lays her head on his shoulder. Heading up stairs to his room, Wesley and Gunn follow.
In the room Wesley pulls the comforter away as Angel bends over to lay her down. Her arms around his neck, she holds on tighter.
“Please. Please don’t let go.”
He picks her back up and sits on the bed himself. Leaning back he cradles her in his lap. Her whole body is shaking. He pulls her in closer. Trying to take in her pain. Wes and Gunn place her pills and water on the bedside table and leave the room quietly, closing the door behind them.
He gently runs his hand over her hair again and again hoping to comfort her. The minutes tick by in silence as they sit there. After the shaking calms she lifts her head and looks at him with pain filled eyes.
“I ca-can’t tell you.”
“shhhhh, it’s okay”
“I just can’t…”
“It’s all right”
” …but maybe…”
She leans up, looking in his eyes, searching his soul. Then gently presses her lips to his. Willing with all her might she pulls him into her.
All Angel can feel is the sweet press of her lips on his. Then he’s enveloped by her. Her heat, her scent, her being. Then he’s free falling……flashes of light, screams, loneliness, despair, pain. Images of himself and his friends dyeing brutal, lonely deaths. And Cordelia alone and in pain, he unable to reach her. Then blackness.
Angel opens his eyes. As he looks down at the one person in the world he’s ever truly loved, a single tear slips down his cheek.
She unfolds her hand and gently reaches up and cups the side of his face. A gesture she so often used to ease his pain, he closes his eyes and feels the warmth of her hand on his skin.
“It will be my fault.” She states with all the sorrow in the world in her voice.
“Yes Angel. You saw it. I leave and one by one our friends die horrible deaths. Scared and alone.”
“No. It hasn’t happened yet. I won’t let it.”
They both silently acknowledge her omission of their own deaths in her vision. Aware that speaking of them would cause an unbearable pain.
“You can’t stop it. The vision said it was my choice. If I can’t …….”
“We’ll find a way.”
Knowing she must put some distance between herself and his safe embrace to think clearly, she pushes out of his arms. All the while feeling the loss of that connection as a physical pain. She sits herself up on the opposite side of the bed, pulling her knees up she wraps her arms around her legs and rests her chin atop them.
“What if we can’t……?”
He tells himself that’s not an option. He will not lose his family, his life, his love. He *will* make it right. Whatever sacrifice he must make to keep those he loves safe, he will make it. He just needs to find out what it is. Getting up from the bed, his brow furrowed, his mouth set in a determined line, pushing his emotions aside, his mind quickly puts in place his objectives.
“You need to rest. Try to get some sleep.”
Seeing the look on his face, the tenseness in his shoulders, the rigidness of his back, she knows whatever it is he’s set his mind to, no arguing on her part will change his mind.
“What are you going to do?”
“Don’t worry about it. Rest.”
“I’ll be back soon.”
He strides to the door and then pauses. Turning around he looks at her on the bed. Curled into herself like a child awaiting a nightmare to come to life. Tear tracks stain her face, eyes full of pain. His chest feels as if there is a huge weight crushing him.
Her look follows his course back to the side of the bed. A bit of surprise crossing her face as he sits down in front of her, reaches out and takes her hand in his.
“I’m going to go downstairs and talk to Wes and Gunn. They need to know what you saw. I’ll explain as best I can. Then I’m going to go talk to Lorne. He may know something. And if he doesn’t, he might be able to point me to someone who does. I will call you from there and tell you what he says…………ok?”
A small light of understanding flickers in her eyes. She realizes, even if he doesn’t, that he just took that first tiny step to mending the rift between them. By not leaving without an explanation, intent on fixing everything himself, he made the smallest of openings for her so that she might do the same for him. Securing one thread of the connection they once had.
Looking deep into her eyes, he realizes something has happened. A spark of the trust that has been gone so long is just barely evident now. But that gives him more hope than any words she could ever say.
He squeezes her hand gently and stands. Leaning over and brushing a soft kiss on the top of her head, he turns and leaves the room.
Entering the lobby, Angel stops on the steps and faces the two men sitting there. Two men that are as different as night and day but who share, at their core, that same nameless something that keeps them coming back day after day to risk their lives for people that will never even know their names.
They found him by accident, lost and unsure of their path, finding a place in his mission, forming a family with ties that will forever bind them all. Both his friends, both his brothers and yet both much more than either of those.
Standing as he enters, worry etched in their faces, Wesley takes a step toward him.
“How is she?”
“Better. She’s resting.”
Assured that Cordelia is all right, Gunn steps up beside Wesley.
“Her vision…..it was about us.”
Angel runs his hand through his hair, uncertain of how to begin. Coming down the steps, he heads over to the couches and sits.
Seeing how difficult this is for him, Gunn and Wesley follow and sit across from him, waiting quietly for him to put his thoughts together.
“She couldn’t tell me about the vision.”
“It was too painful for her to even think of words to explain what she saw.”
“But she was able to……do something else. She gave me the vision. No. She ‘pulled’ me into it. ‘Shared’ it with me. With a kiss ……just a press of her lips to mine and I could see it, feel it. I lived it, just as she did.”
Wesley shifts his weight forward on the couch, his face expressing how incredible Angel’s statement is.
“You ‘saw’ her vision?”
“I don’t know how. I don’t even think she does.”
With too many questions running through his head and knowing now was not the time to ask them, Wesley leans back and stays quiet to let Angel finish what he needs to say.
Angel looked at them, trying to put words together to tell them of their deaths. A subject he couldn’t believe he was thinking of, much more the fact that he actually saw it. Their worst fears come to pass. The horrors in the night that we dream of when we’re alone in bed. The things we don’t mention because the weight of their pain is too much to carry.
“It was jumbled and confusing. There we’re a lot of emotions mixed in with the vision itself. The one constant thing was that we were alone, each of us, as we were dying.”
Gunn being a man of few words himself said only one thing.
Before Angel can answer, Cordelia comes into the lobby. And with an enormous measure of strength in her voice says,
They all look at her. She’s standing tall and straight with defiance in her eyes.
“I won’t let him tell you. You think you want to know but you don’t. I will tell you this, my vision was specific. If I couldn’t mend my relationship with Angel, then I would leave. I would walk out of here and leave everyone and the mission behind. And that is what kills us all………Me.”
Pangs of guilt assault Angel, upset that she would take on all the responsibility of this when it was he that betrayed her.
“No Angel. I mean it. I’m not trying to keep anything from you guys, honest. I just don’t think telling you would help us fix this. Right now I need to know *why* The Powers sent me this vision. I need to know why they gave me the ability to *feel* your thoughts and emotions Angel, because without the knowledge that I have from that power I probably would have been able to move on and forgive you. But because of what I know……I can’t. As much as I try, I just can’t get past it.”
I will not cry. I will not cry. I will be strong. For Gunn, for Wesley, for Angel. But most of all for myself. I will be strong. I will get through this and I will not leave and bring down the destruction The Powers showed me.
Straightening her shoulders and putting a determined look on, she faces all three of them down.
“Angel, please go speak with Lorne. He’s our only possibility for finding some kind of reason for all this. Wesley, could you please finish the fact finding on the Versalack. We still need to take care of that tonight. Gunn, I need you to check the machine for any messages. And if there are cases you think you can handle yourself than take care of them. And I need to finish my research.”
“Don’t just sit there, come on! We still have a business to run and people who need saving. Just because we’re now in the ‘Need to be saved’ category doesn’t mean we stand around like idiots. We didn’t lose our higher brain function. Let’s go people!”
Eager to please her as always and never wanting to defy her when she gave a command in *that* voice, they scatter to their duties. Pushing the fear and uncertainty to the back of their minds to handle the tasks at hand.
Thank God! For a minute there I thought they were gonna tell me “no”. Geez, what I would have done then!
Sitting down at her desk she digs into her research.
That smallest of connections with Angel held close to her heart.