Title: The Los Angeles Story
Content: C/A, C/Other, Fred/Wes, hint of …ahhh screw it, there’s tons of couples or allusions to couples. Just read the damn story
Summary: Here comes the bride! And her ex-husband! And some real blasts from the past! Cordelia Chase struggles to keep her wits about her while her perfect wedding weekend turns into a comic farce, and in the process, learns that the imperfect man just might be…perfect for her!
Spoilers: Through the end of Season Four of Ats and Season Seven of Btvs. Entirely AU from that point on.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made. This story borrows LIBERALLY from “The Philadelphia Story”, directed by George Cukor, screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart. No copyright infringement is intended and there is certainly no profit made.
Distribution: Just Fic. GTC/A. Anyone else, just tell me
Feedback: Always appreciated.
~ 2004 ~
Cordelia Chase checked her diamond encrusted Neil Lane watch for the third time in as many minutes. He’d told her he would be out by 8 pm. It was only 7:45, but still, how long did it really take to move a couple boxes of books and a closet full of leather? It’s not like the man had a lot of stuff. Her lawyers had seen to that.
Cordelia restlessly prowled the confines of their bedroom. No. Her bedroom. It was hers now. It was strange to think of sleeping in that big bed by herself. Funny, she’d been doing just that for nearly a month now. But the prospect of never sleeping next to him again was…
No. She wouldn’t think about it. She shouldn’t be thinking about this now. In a few minutes he would be gone and she would put on her hot little Badgley Mischka number and celebrate. It was long past time she rediscovered night life that didn’t involve demon-hunting or demon goo or demons in general.
She would get dressed and go out and be the life of party. She would do this every night until it became routine and she never had time to think about the man or the life that might have been. She would do all of that. As soon as he left.
Caught up in her torment, the young woman took no notice of the opulent splendor around her. She was blind to the paintings they had playfully argued over where to hang, to the vase they had had to replace after a particularly frantic bout of lovemaking, the plush satin linens on the bed.
She studiously ignored the seductive retreat they had created, together, in this room. None of it mattered now anyway, not with him walking out the door. God, he was really leaving. Even if it was what she said she wanted. Even if it was what she had ordered him to do, she never thought he’d actually…do it. Honestly, when had the man ever listened to her before?
Cordy shook her head violently, as if she were trying to dislodge the thoughts from her mind. It was done. The papers were signed and tomorrow she was going to start a brand new life.
She’d already talked to her accountant about re-starting the agency. Although they were so going to need a new name, it didn’t seem like a bad idea. After all, whatever her quibbles with the Powers or her ex-husband, there were still helpless to be helped. Only this time, she would do it on her terms. No more being at the visions beck and call (cause, hey, no more visions). No more guilty acceptance of Wolfram and Harts resources. No more compromises. She’d already allowed herself to be compromised in too many ways. It would not happen again.
Everything was going to be fine Cordy told herself as she firmly retied the powder blue silk robe. She shouldn’t waste her time thinking about him. Shouldn’t think about what his leaving meant. That after all this time, after all they’d been through, it was over.
When she’d woken up in that sterile hospital room in the bowels of Wolfram and Hart, she’d been so mad. Four months, four months they’d allowed her to just lay there, all Coma Cordy. And before that, not once during that horrible year, where a monster with her face terrorized them, not once had they known it wasn’t her. How could they have not known? How little had they really known her? How little had HE known her? The anger only multiplied when she learned what else had transpired in her absence. Seeing her family firmly in the clutches of what they’d always fought against was too much for Cordy to stand. She’d vowed to get her family back. And in some ways, she had.
After a few awkward days, there had been that huge fight with Angel…which had ended up with them in bed together (ironically it was Wolfram and Hart’s expanded research facilities that allowed Fred to make Angel’s soul permanent). Miracle of miracles, the man actually managed to stutter out that he loved her.
When Cordy woke up, for reasons that still managed to elude them, all the memory spells ended. Slowly the gang started to work through all the lies and deception. Connor returned, sullen and hardened at first, but still there. Despite her protest, everyone was unwilling to leave the firm. Cordelia tried to understand, when Angel explained that they were actually in a position to do a lot of good, when he said that ultimately the mission was still the same. But it was too hard for Cordelia to believe in a mission when evil was writing their paychecks. They agreed to disagree and Cordy moved back into the Hyperion.
Everything was different. Gunn underwent huge changes. He had power now, power he’d never dreamed of before. He started dressing like P.Diddy and spent most of his time traveling for the firm or partying with Ashton Kutcher. Connor slowly warmed to Angel and Cordy and to the idea of “Angel and Cordy” together. Like Cordelia he refused to align himself with Wolfram and Hart, but that didn’t matter much, since fighting the big bads seemed to have lost much of its thrill. He moved into an apartment and when spring semester arrived he started taking classes at UCLA.
Fred and Wes…that was the biggest surprise. Despite the continued presence of Lilah and Wesley’s increasing involvement with the senior partners, Fred and Wes fell quickly and quietly in love. Gone were the innocent naďveté and adoring gazes that had characterized them in the past. They had both changed so much in the past year, but what they had now seemed deeper, better.
For a while there, it worked. It seemed like, for once, Angel stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop. He had the girl, friends, and a kid, well, a kid who no longer wanted him dead. One day he spent three hours describing his emotions to Cordelia before she blithely informed him that what he was feeling was happiness.
She and Angel tried to take it slow. They set limits on how often Angel would sleepover at the Hyperion. Cordelia toyed with the notion of getting back into acting, so that she could separate her business from her personal life. But the bottom line was, they were crazy in love. They were in love with the idea of finally being allowed to be in love. And the temptation to make it official proved too hard to resist. One random April evening Cordy and Angel ran off to Vegas and got hitched. A week later, Fred and Wes followed their lead and tied the knot as well, in a private ceremony at the county courthouse.
Angel had the Hyperion impeccably restored for his new bride. Fred was over constantly, Gunn always stopped by when he was in town, and once Cordy convinced Angel they needed an additional pool outside, Connor spent most weekends there. They were one gloriously dysfunctional but oddly happy family.
It lasted six months.
They’d fought. A lot. Not that she hadn’t expected them to fight, but she figured once they were married, it would be different. She’d expected him to leave Wolfram and Hart, and he didn’t. She’d expected him to make her understand what happened in Sunnydale while she was “sleeping”. He didn’t. Cordelia expected that she would learn to trust him again. But found she couldn’t. So they’d fought and their fights rivaled those of Ike and Tina and eventually even the make-up sex lost its thrill.
Somewhere along the line, they had ceased to be husband and wife, but more than that, they had ceased to be partners in the same battle. One day Cordy woke up and found she couldn’t reconcile being with, she couldn’t let herself be with, a man who so brazenly thumbed his nose at right and wrong, who saw no problem with the blurring lines of good and evil. Not after evil had so royally screwed her.
Lord knows she loved the man, but that day Cordy realized that sappy early 90’s love songs were right. Sometimes love wasn’t enough.
That’s the day she called the lawyers.
It’s not like she’d planned on it turning out like this. She’d never dreamed, when they pulled into that tacky chapel off the Vegas strip, that it would end this way. No, then she had been sickeningly naďve. Imagining it would all go back to normal. Prince Charming would marry the princess, slay all the dragons, and they would live happily ever after.
Cordelia checked her watch again. 7:50. Unable to resist the pull any longer, Cordelia stalked over to the window that faced the street and peeked out. There he was, walking out towards the car, the requisite boxes in his arms. She could clearly make him out in the dimming light.
The sky was still the inky blue of twilight, the sun had only set 15 minutes ago. He obviously couldn’t wait to be rid of her. That bastard. She was up here going crazy and he was calmly loading the car. Wait a second. He was loading the car? Oh no. He wouldn’t get away with that.
She threw open the window, chipping a nail in the process but not allowing that fact to rankle her. She had more important business to attend to.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Angel turned. His eyes immediately focused on where she stood in the window.
“I’m putting my things in my car,” Angel shouted up in an even tone. His voice did not belie the anger that throbbed through him, nor did it hint at the tightness in his heart. He refused to even think about the picture she made, glaring down at him with the light from their bedroom creating a halo around her.
“Uh-uh mister,” Cordy called back
“These aren’t my things?”
“That’s not your car.” Cordy wanted to yank out her hair. They’d been through this already. Had he thought she was kidding?
Angel couldn’t help but roll his eyes. “Cordy, don’t do this. I gave you everything you wanted.” It’s not like he didn’t understand. It was such an obvious play to hurt him. As if she hadn’t hurt him enough when she tore his undead heart out and stomped on it with those red kitten heeled pumps she liked so much.
Cordy seethed. He gave her everything she wanted? Was he talking about their divorce settlement or their marriage? It didn’t matter. He was wrong on both counts.
“Please Angel, you never had a clue about what I wanted.” They both cringed at how shrewish she sounded.
“Cordy, I don’t think you know what you want,” Angel shot back. Because he didn’t feel like screaming, and because he wanted to see her face, Angel walked back towards the hotel, stopping right under where she stood.
“I think I’ve made that abundantly clear. I want you out of my life,” Cordy said. She could see his face now. It was harder this way.
“You want everything to be simple. That’s what you said. To be the way that it was before last year. Before Jasmine,” Angel informed her. He was not above pushing her buttons.
Cordelia bristled at the remark. He knew how she felt. How even hearing that name affected her. “I’m not having this discussion with you now.” Her voice was icy, her tone arctic.
“The fact is, Princess, our lives can never be the way they were before. And it was never simple.” Even with three stories between them, Angel could see her eyes narrow when he said that.
“Here’s something simple,” Cordy said. “I hate every undead inch of you!”
She didn’t realize she’d twisted off her ring until it was hurtling through the air towards him. Angel’s hand whipped out and caught the bauble two inches in front of his head.
“Well at least one good thing came out of this marriage. Your aim has improved,” Angel noted, tucking the ring into the pocket of his coat.
It rankled her, the way he took all of this in stride. She had just thrown her wedding ring at him. She’d just tossed the ridiculously expensive vintage platinum “token of their love” out the window. And…nothing.
“See, you never wanted to be married to me!” Cordelia accused.
“Oh really? Why did I then?”
“Because I was the only option available. Because Buffy didn’t want you!” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. She sounded so bitter and jealous. She always hated herself when this issue came up. And hated him for making it an issue.
“Christ Cordy, not again.” Angel couldn’t believe she was bringing this up again. Actually, he could totally believe it, it was part of their routine now. What Angel couldn’t believe was the fact that she still didn’t see how much he loved her. Completely, honestly, and right now, somewhat violently. “I’m sick of hearing about this every single day.”
“Well tough. I’ve had to go through every single day knowing that I was second choice!”
“That’s not true,” Angel pointed out, annoyed. He’d explained about Sunnydale. Many, many times.
“I saw your face Angel,” Cordelia told him. “ When she came to town after the wedding. Your face was full of regret.”
“I told you! I regretted not telling her first. I regretted that our marriage hurt her.” Angel paused, unsure of whether or not he should continue. He slipped his hand in his pocket, fingers closing around her ring. Eh, what the hell. “I have never regretted you. Or us.”
“Fine Cordelia.” It was pointless to argue. Angel knew he would not change her mind. Not tonight. “Believe what you want to believe.”
“You’ve never given me a reason not to!”
“I thought this was a pretty big reason!” Angel shouted, pulling his hand out of his jacket and raising the ring high in the air.
Cordy didn’t have a response for that. She saw the way the ring glimmered up at her through the darkness. Her finger suddenly felt naked without it.
Gotcha, Angel thought. It seemed, for now, they were done. Angel pocketed the ring and headed back to his car. He needed to finish up here and go kill something. He needed to make sure that someone somewhere was in as much pain as he was.
“Get away from my car!” Cordelia’s voice cut through the relative quiet.
“Don’t do this. Princess, this isn’t you,” Angel responded, not bothering to turn back around.
“Don’t you dare PRETEND that you know me.”
Angel stared down at the car. He could feel her eyes on him, piercing through him. He shut his eyes, collecting himself. This had to be said.
“I know you Cordy. Better than you know yourself. I know you’re scared. I know you wanted me to make you feel safe again, and that I somehow failed. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry I failed you Cordelia.”
He didn’t shout so much as state loudly but Cordy heard every word. She heard it in her bones, Angel’s naked emotion wrapped itself around her heart and for a second she felt that old familiar warmth again. She quickly tamped it down. They were just words. They weren’t real.
“You need to move on Cordelia,” Angel said. “And you don’t have to do it alone. What happened last year was horrible and it changed everything. Everyone. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not still a family.” His back was still to her, she noted. Because he couldn’t lie to her face. Fed up, Cordy turned on her heel and sprinted out of the room.
Outside, Angel was still talking. “I think you’ll find it a lot easier to forgive all of this if you find a way to forgive yourself.” There was no response. “Cordy?” Maybe he was finally getting through to her. He turned around.
Suddenly she came bursting out of the door of the hotel, both arms full, robe slipping off her right shoulder. She ran until she reached the sidewalk in front of the car.
“Cor?” Angel wasn’t sure what was happening here.
“You forgot something,” she told him. Cordelia held up her left hand. In it was an ancient first edition of Pride and Prejudice.
“Actually, I gave that to you,” Angel pointed out smugly.
“Oh, that’s right,” she agreed. “I told you I would treasure it always.” And then Cordy carelessly tossed the priceless book into the middle of the street. They both watched as a garbage truck rolled right over it.
“But this is definitely yours,” she said, calling Angel’s attention back to her and off the ruined piece of classic literature. “I mean, what would I do with a Japanese hurling axe? Wait, I know what I could do,” she told him slyly, grasping the handle in both hands and breaking it over knee.
Except for the part where the stupid thing wouldn’t break. Too bad. She’d have bet money that Angel would have cried.
Angel couldn’t help but smirk. “Well, it appears that 500-year-old weapons crafted in Okinawa are built to last.”
Cordelia’s eyes narrowed. She wasn’t going to lose this fight. “Hmmm, I wonder if 50-year-old steel from Detroit is as well built?”
At first, Angel was confused about what she meant. Until she took a step closer to the car and raised the axe over her head.
Enhanced senses and vampire speed were useless. Angel stood, frozen in horror, and watched as Cordelia brought the blade down onto the hood of the car. Steam billowed out of the hole she created and Angel could have sworn the vehicle made a weeping sound.
“Jesus Christ Cordelia, what the fuck did you do to my car?”
Cordy let go of the axe. “I told you. It’s my car.”
She heard the low growl that escaped, saw the way his eyes flickered a predator’s gold. She started briskly walking back to the hotel. She almost made it do the door when suddenly Angel was right behind her, grabbing her arm and yanking her around to face him. His hand came up. Cordy knew he was going to hit her and yet she didn’t flinch or duck. She waited for the blow to come.
Instead he cupped the side of her face. Softly, the way a lover would. And it was then she flinched. Because the easy caress hurt far more than any right hook ever could.
“You’re so beautiful Princess.” Angel’s voice was thick with emotion. Cordelia’s mouth went dry.
“But you’re such a fucking bitch,” he told her. This time Angel’s voice betrayed no emotion. Then, calm as day, he pushed her into the bushes and walked away.
While Cordelia tried to extract herself from the shrubbery, Angel dislodged the axe from the car and tossed it in a box. He picked up the biggest three packages, figuring they were all he really needed anyway.
“That didn’t hurt!” Cordy screamed as she struggled to free her robe from the scratchy branches. Angel ignored her. A cab was driving past and Angel let out an ear-piercing whistle. The taxi screeched to a halt.
“That didn’t hurt,” she yelled again as she crawled on hands and knees away from the bush. Angel got in the cab. He never looked back.
“You didn’t hurt me,” Cordy said, but Angel never heard her. The cab was already pulling away. “Nobody hurts me,” she pronounced quietly as the tears started to run down her face.
Two long years later…
The LA Times
LOS ANGELES SOCIETY AWAITS SATURDAY NUPTIALS…All of Southern California’s elite are looking forward to this weekend’s wedding between L.A.’s resident party girl Cordelia Chase and affluent entrepreneur Spencer Kittridge. Whether you are waiting for a table at Lucques or hanging out with Kirsten Dunst at Les Deux Café, all anyone is talking about is what E! News Daily is calling “a match made in million-dollar heaven.”
Cordelia Chase, or C.C as the tabloids refer her, is the West Coast’s answer to Paris Hilton, while “Spence” is the software upstart who revitalized Silicone Valley. The bride’s no slouch herself—she’s the titular figurehead of Chase Investigations, LA’s premiere detective agency for all things unexplained. The wedding and reception are taking place at the palatial Chase Investigations Headquarters, in what was formerly known as the Hyperion Hotel.
This is Kittridge’s first wedding; Cordelia was previously married to a partner at prestigious (and notorious!) law firm Wolfram and Hart—the fellas who represented Jennifer Lopez in her recent divorce and left Ben Affleck a virtual pauper. Like many of the uber-powerful (think Cher or Madonna), the former Mr. Chase goes only by his first name: Angel. Cordelia’s surname-lacking ex-hubby has been abroad for 2 years now. Word has it he’s been handling W&H’s affairs in South America…although Hollywood’s single ladies shouldn’t count the deliciously eligible bachelor out just yet. Sources say he was spotted yesterday flying into LAX. Could “the Angelic One” have returned to personally deliver a wedding gift to his former amour…or has he just heard that J-Lo is back on the market?