Title: Visiting Hours
Rating: R for language
Content: C/A tentative friendship
Summary: Angel visits Cordy in hospital…and sees another side to ‘Queen C’
Spoilers: Set right after Lovers Walk -BTVS S3.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask
“How do you deal?”
“Huh?” Angel’s head shot up from his contemplation of the grey floor tiles, fixing his confused eyes on the young woman in the sterile bed.
He wasn’t sure why he was here. After a few days of moping around the Mansion, broken only by the occasional trips out for blood, Angel’s morose thoughts had eventually drifted to another walking wounded of that unforgettable night.
After bumping into the Redhead on the way to one of his trips, she’d spilled the whole sorry story of her fall from grace.
He still wasn’t sure why Willow had shared such personal information with him- maybe she just needed someone outside the Scooby gang to listen; more likely trying to show him that he wasn’t the only one to suffer consequences that night.
And that’s why he was here now, sitting by the hospital bed of another casualty of love.
When he’d arrived, Cordelia had been sleeping, her body curled half on her side; her hand unconsciously resting protectively over- where he assumed, was her Rebar wound.
Angel had never cared for Xander Harris- who he personally thought of as a complete Prick.
-And on looking at the sleeping form in front of him, it only confirmed his opinion.
Her face pale, shadows like bruises under those eyes… His jaw had clenched as she’d whimpered in her fitful sleep. As he watched her, it slowly dawned on him just how classically lovely she was.
With rich mahogany hair, spread silkily on the starched white pillow; tendrils softly framing her milk-pale face- how the ravages of trauma hadn’t detracted from a beauty that he instinctively knew would grow even more as the years passed…
“Well?” Angel brought his attention back to the now-awake Cordelia Chase.
Her clear Hazel eyes stared into his, a single brow lifted in query; a hint of amusement in those striking eyes.
“I asked: – HOW DO YOU DEAL?” rolling her eyes, as she enunciated each word.
“Deal?” the eyes rolled again- this time with the accompanying rise and fall of exasperated hands.
“You know, with the whole “ you’re only here ‘cos of the semi-jonesing, sorta-what-the dear-god-in-heaven-am-I-thinking-of slayer, and the put-up, shut up; skulk in the corner-but-don’t-expect-us-to-like-you deal?”
Angel stared mutely, inwardly digesting her blunt description of his relationship with the Scoobies.
“I… “ She cut him off before he could formulate a sentence.
“Look, Angel, Con. Cen. Trate. Since they found out about the whole grry thing, deciding-but-then-not staking your ass and the major willies of having you around. Lashings of distrust and various ‘dead Boy’ comments- not to mention your sudden embracing of the dark. The ‘Oh-let’s-kill-Buffy’s-friends’ fest, followed by your seriously kicked ass and loaded on the bus to Helliday Camp; not forgetting your ‘Semester’s-Over’ welcoming home party… how do you deal with all the crap thrown at you’re seriously spiky head?” she drew a deep breath, before folding her arms; wincing slightly-and getting annoyed at herself for doing so.
The brow lifted yet again at his hesitance. “Well? You want me to repeat that? – cos, one word- PFFT!”
Angel’s hand lifted automatically to his gelled hair, defensively- not noticing the quick smirk thrown his way at his worried action.
From the tips of that cute spiky hair, to his…well NOT going there! He was HOT -for an Undead creature-of-the-night, anyway, Cordy thought. And wondered why he was here?
Angel caught her look, which rapidly melted to a deliberately innocent wide grin.
His breath hitched for a moment, unevenly, at the blinding beauty of it- the dull room’s personal ball of sunshine, lighting every nook and cranny around them. He shook his head -an almost imperceptible movement, before answering this bewitching creature.
“I suppose I-‘deal’ by not thinking too much about it.”
“Pfft! That’s just a copout.” Angel’s brow furrowed slightly, her expression openly displaying disgust.
He sighed heavily, wondering if he’d made the right decision by coming here. At least she now wasn’t the huddled, forlorn figure of his initial scrutiny.
“Okay…In my entire life- and unlife! I’ve never been accepted. You don’t miss something you’ve never experienced.” his tone matter of fact. He wasn’t looking for sympathy; it’s just the way it was -had always been. Although acceptance was found when he was turned into a soulless monster – not that it mattered to him then.
Cordy’s heart clenched none the less. “How awful is that!” she thought sadly. “Buffy cares about you- loves you even. She still does, right?” he shook his head.
“Caring isn’t acceptance, Cordelia. And… love doesn’t necessary mean both, either.”
Angel wasn’t sure about their ‘relationship’ any more- and a small part of him was fed up of the whole “Love is meant to be painful” crap. “Anyway, I’m not exactly a part of that…giving crowd any more,” surprising her with his show of humour; a depreciating smile gracing his wide angular mouth.
“What about you?”he asked, as she tried to ignore the slight flutter in her belly, as his smile enhanced his already handsome face. Buffy was a complete Bonehead, She thought, scathingly -then belatedly registered his query.
“What about me?” She wasn’t expecting that!
Two could play at this game. Angel wasn’t as far up Buffy’s ass as certain people liked to believe. And he’d often observed the almost cruel, on occasions; way the ‘scoobies’ treated her. The derogatory comments about her personality and even her morals- the latter had left him feeling guilty for not saying a word when Buffy had called her a whore.
True enough, Cordelia thoughtlessly hurt people’s feelings, frequently bringing up subjects that were awkward, cringing and- and sometimes, downright unpleasant.
But 99% of the time, she was spot on- and some things truly needed to be said. Maybe a little less viciously, but still.
No-one would deny Cordelia could be- and was often- a complete and utter bitch. Something he felt sure she was pretty proud of being at times. Maybe a cover to hide behind? Angel doubted she’d ever admit it.
She was as much as an outsider as he was-if not more.
Buffy may not be able to ‘deal’ at all that well with their…’association’- but she’d never shown him the complete lack of decency and respect that The Harrison boy had carelessly dished out to Cordelia, on a regular basis. The cheap digs, again regarding her morals, to a girl you were in a relationship with went beyond the pale in his opinion.
Angel pulled out of his thoughts at the sound of her voice. “The trick is to rise above it. I’ve always found it pretty easy to do. Plus I am so totally above those Freaks when it comes to class!” ‘Queen C’ reared her lovely head proudly.
But he detected the hurt not quite hidden in the far recesses of her eyes.
“I mean, look at them!” Cordelia continued, needing to vent much more than she realised. “A self-absorbed ‘I’m-so-not-enjoying-this-cool-power’ Slayer, A Werewolf with so many issues, his Pedigree papers, if he had them would be a trilogy long-” she ticked them off slim fingers, eyes darkening to coffee brown.
“A Brainiac in a Dead End-and-yes-I-so-hear-the-irony-in-that-description, job – Not to forget the wannabe Bad-Ass Wicca Geek. Maybe she has the skills, I’ll admit that, but she hides a lot of nasties under her skin … And the wannabe loser. If there was a ‘Best Loser’ competition, Alexander Lavelle Harris would end up in second place.”
Angel’s lips twitched at her harsh but perfect sum up of that seriously irritating little Shit. How he managed to get a girl like cordelia to date him was still a complete mystery to him.
The room became silent- but not oppressively so, as they both became temporarily lost in their own thoughts.
Angel’s eyes fixed on the slender tanned hand that had again crept up to gingerly rest on her injury, her face poignant. Catching his gaze, she saw the soft sympathy, and something undefinable in those dark eyes…
Her features hardened defensively in a heartbeat. Cordelia Chase didn’t need pity! Especially not from him. “He visited once, you know.” They both knew who she meant. Angel remained silent.
“He mumbled and stuttered, trying real hard to look like he regretted the major lip-fest with that skinny little Witch. Pfft! Told him what dark place he could shove that pathetic posy he brought.” not caring that she was exaggerating a fair bit. She’d only just managed, through foggy pain to tell him to get out and not grace her door again.
“Those are beautiful.” Angel gestured towards the large bouquet of roses and carnations with Babies Breath nestled generously around them.
“My Parent’s offering. Had them delivered. -They’re away for another month yet. An early return was out of the question” she shrugged uncaringly. her eyes told a different story.
Angel’s heart broke for her. Except for that little bastard who’d put her here, he’d so far been her only other visitor.
If Harris had actually taken the time to really get to know the real Cordelia, maybe he wouldn’t have treated her so shabbily. As it was, the vampire hoped one day that the idiot would come to realise what he’d lost, and regret it.
Angel knew he would, in his place.
Confused by the new feelings and thoughts going through his mind as he watched her settle, he fidgeted in his seat. “I’d better let you rest.” Angel finally rose to his feet. He was strangely reluctant to leave her alone again, but her eyes were slowly drifting closed; thick lashes casting shadows beneath her eyes.
“Yeah…Like I’m lacking in that department, Grr Guy.” A slight smile touched her full pink mouth. He paused, awkwardly shifting his feet. Cordelia raised that now-familiar slim brow in a silent query.
“Would you…can I visit you tomorrow night?” he found himself asking hesitantly. Cordelia closed her eyes.
“Sure. You’re a lot nicer to look at than these seriously depressing walls.”
A faint smile touched his beautiful mouth as he turned to the door.
“Angel?” glancing over, he noticed her lids still covered those jewel-like hazel irises. He waited; hand resting on the door handle.