A Start

Author: Christie - TINAMISHI@YAHOO.COM

Pairing: Angel/Cordelia (somewhat angsty)

Summary: Cordelia has a vision of Angel and is forced to go see him.

Takes place sometime after Reunion. Sort of reminiscent of First

Impressions.

Spoilers: Reunion.

Distribution: List archives, Stranger Things, CAS Alliance sites

Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon

and David Greenwalt. All rights are reserved by Twentieth Century Fox.

No copyright infringement intended.

 

Dedicated to the A/C loyalists - keep on hangin' on.

 

~

 

There was nothing Cordelia wanted to do *less* than go and see Angel. It

had been almost two weeks since he fired them, and still no word. But

Wesley and Gunn were giving her no choice; combined, their nagging was

unbearable. She'd had a vision. And it was of Angel.

 

Her hand shook as she grasped the handle of the large, heavy doors

leading into the Hyperion Hotel. She had to admit, part of her was scared.

Angel had blurred the line between good and evil and treaded dangerously

close to the edge. For all Cordelia knew, by now he'd fallen - deep into

the chasm of darkness where it was simpler. He'd said it before: evil was

pure. Easy. Lucid. And Cordelia had no idea if he'd found that effortless

place once again.

 

Taking a breath, she pulled the door open, the creak of the hinges

sounding like thunder in her ears. The lobby was dark and silent as she

stepped in, her footsteps echoing against the old tile. She shivered

involuntarily as she ascended the steps to the second floor.

 

His concentration didn't falter as Cordelia opened the door to his suite.

He was in sweats and a tank top, poised in tai chi form. For someone so

imperious, Cordelia knew how graceful he was, and couldn't stop herself

from staring as he pulled one arm back, muscles tense and flexed,

extending the other forward, palm facing skyward. He appeared calm, but

Cordelia knew the intense concentration behind the effortless expression.

 

Angel completed his form and relaxed his muscles, turning toward the

door. His gaze swept over his former Seer and Cordelia trembled, lifting

one hand to brace herself against the door frame. She opened her mouth to

speak, but couldn't decide what to say and closed it quickly.

 

The vampire's voice was flat when he said, "what are you doing here,

Cordelia?"

 

Even without emotion in his voice, it kicked Cordelia into motion and

she strode through the door with purpose. Throwing her purse on the bed,

she perched on the edge of it, crossing her legs and smoothing out her

long purple skirt.

 

"I don't want to be here any more than you want me here, Angel," she

began. It was a lie, of course, but it sounded dramatic enough and if

she was going to get through this, her acting would have to be in full

swing.

 

He seemed to see right through her, and lifted one eyebrow in the

slightest of gestures. "Something wrong?"

 

Cordelia raised her eyes to his, an incredulous expression spreading

over her face. "Other than being fired by the person I considered my

best friend and cut off from his life completely without explanation, no,

everything's peachy!"

 

As soon as the words were out, she snapped her mouth shut, wishing she

could take them back. The thought flitted through her mind that maybe,

perhaps, she hadn't said it out loud, but it was a fruitless hope, and

she knew it as soon as Angel turned his back to her and began picking up

weapons and restoring them in the weapons cabinet.

 

The girl sighed. She shifted on the bed, then stood. "Look, Angel, I - "

She stopped herself. No, she wouldn't apologize. What she'd blurted was

the truth, and if anyone should be apologizing it should be Angel. She

tipped up her chin. "I had a vision of you."

 

He froze for the tiniest of milliseconds, then resumed his task.

Cordelia stared hard at his back, willing him to turn around. He didn't,

and she allowed annoyance to wash over her, standing and clutching her

purse. "You're in trouble, Angel. The Powers That Be, they sent me a

vision."

 

"Darla and Dru?" His voice was low, barely audible, and it took Cordelia

a few moments to discern what he'd said.

 

She shook her head. "No. You." Her voice was firm. New resolve that she

*could* get through to him flooded her. She remained standing, but threw

her purse back on the bed.

 

Angel picked up the last weapon, a squat, thick wooden handled ax, and

stored it away. He took an unusually long time closing and locking the

cabinet. Finally, he turned, hands sliding down his hips, as if looking

for nonexistent pockets in his sweats.

 

"I meant, am I in trouble from Darla and Dru," he asked patiently.

 

Cordelia raised her eyebrows at the condescending tone, but decided

against calling him on it. Instead, she took on her own tone and said,

"No, you're in trouble from yourself." She dropped the attitude and

blinked up at him, eyes pleading. "Angel, please talk to me. Give me

something - anything."

 

Angel blinked, looked away. "I don't know what you want from me, Cordy."

 

Cordy. It was a start. Smiling slightly, the girl plunged ahead. "I'm

your friend, Angel, and I love you. I don't want to lecture you but

you're headed down the wrong path. You know it, and you're doing it

anyway. I guess - " She faltered, squared her shoulders and took a step

closer to him. "I don't want to see you do it. I couldn't handle it if

you turned back into Angelus."

 

In response to her step forward, Angel took a step back, turning once

again and picking a towel off a nearby chair. He wrapped it around his

shoulders, hands balled into fists, gripping each end. "I'm not going

to turn into Angelus," he said flatly.

 

Cordelia sniffed, watching the muscles in his shoulder blades tense and

tighten under the tanktop. Just the top left corner of his tattoo could

be seen peeking out from behind the white fabric.

 

"Fine. But who you are right now? It's not Angel. Angel helps the

helpless. Angel is my friend. Angel is working hard for redemption.

You're not any of those things right now."

 

The vampire shook his head, eyes remaining trained on the floor.

"Cordelia, I can't get into this with you."

 

A hand reached out, and Cordelia touched the vampire's forearm. "Why?

Why not? I won't judge you, I promise."

 

Angel turned and flinched back from the touch, but a small smile inched

it's way across his lips. It disappeared quickly, but it was there, and

Cordelia's heart soared.

 

"It's not about judging me, Cordelia. It's not about you at all."

 

She frowned. "Then why fire me? Why leave me with these visions and no

one to report them to? They're meant for you, you know. Not Wesley and

Gunn."

 

"Just ignore them, then."

 

Irritation washed over her. "I can't. You know that. And you shouldn't

be able to either."

 

Angel paused, then released a long, arduous sigh. "Cordelia, I'm sorry,

but I can't come back and act like nothing's wrong. I have to be

alone - I have to concentrate and I can't do that with you guys around."

 

It was the most explanation he'd ever given. Still, she wasn't buying

it. "Look at me, Angel." Tears glittered in her eyes, and her voice

cracked slightly, but she stood her ground. "Look at me."

 

He tilted his head; meant to raise it to her eyes but couldn't. His

gaze flittered back to the floor.

 

"Why won't you look at me? You owe me at least that much."

 

"Yeah, I owe you." The vampire's voice hardened. "I owe everyone for

what Angelus - what I did. I can't live up to that, Cordelia. I can't

atone for what I did for a hundred and fifty years. It's impossible. I

could save ten lives a night for a century and not even begin to make up

for the pain I caused. So why bother?"

 

Cordelia blinked. She hadn't seen this much emotion from him since

Buffy. Hazel eyes traveled across his face, trying desperately to read

him. It was near impossible, as it always was, and he kept his eyes

averted to the floor.

 

"Angel - some of us happen to think you've already made up for it. A

hundred times over. Some of us happen to think you're the best thing

this city has. Some of us happen to love you, Angel. And you're shutting

us out."

 

"I'm never going to be exactly what you want me to be, Cordy." He, once

again, sounded flat and emotionless. The voice of a person resigned.

 

Cordelia pushed her breath out. "So? That's the beauty of it. It's

called unconditional love. It's what being a family is all about."

 

She waited. No reaction. She let forth a slight, self-depreciating

chuckle. "I'm never going to be exactly what you want me to be, either.

And so what? Doesn't mean you don't care about me, right? Doesn't mean

you don't consider me family. Doesn't mean you wouldn't lay your life on

the line. Cause I know you would. Even now."

 

Still, silence from her counterpart. Cordelia plowed ahead. "You can

pretend you don't care, hell, you might even believe you don't care, but

I know you, Angel. And I know you do. Somewhere, deep down," she pushed

a finger against his silent heart, "in there, you do."

 

It was a long silence that followed. Angel seemed unsure what to do

with himself. His fists tightened on the towel around his neck, and

pulled it to one side, then the other, before finally pulling it off of

himself completely. He unfolded it, then folded it into a neat square,

and placed it on the arm of the chair he'd gotten it from.

 

Cordelia remained standing firm, watching his every move. She didn't

budge, didn't speak, waited as he absorbed what she'd said - or kicked

her out - whichever came first. She began counting the ticks on the old

grandfather clock that stood in one corner of his suite.

 

She was up to 312 when he finally spoke.

 

"So what now?"

 

Still, eyes positioned on his feet. Cordelia couldn't help but laugh.

"Just look at me, damn it."

 

Angel sighed. "I don't think - "

 

He looked up. She met his eyes, choked back a sob. She threw herself

into his arms, not caring if he threw her right back out, just needing

to be closer to him than she was. He accepted the hug, slowly wrapping

his arms around her as she squeezed him tightly, small whimpers coming

from where her face was buried in his neck.

 

Cordelia was grateful that he let her cry, just held her there not

telling her to stop, not telling her it would be okay, because as nice as

it would be to hear, she knew it would be a lie. Truth was, Angel had no

more a clue than she did as to how things would turn out once this was

all over.

 

Or if it would ever end.

 

When she finally pulled back, her mascara had run on his tank top and

part of his shoulder. She sniffled and laughed slightly, reaching for

the towel he had just folded in attempt to wipe it away.

 

"It's okay," he told her, taking the towel from her and tossing it aside.

He kept his gaze on her, tilting his head slightly downward to look into

her eyes.

 

"I was so busy being mad at you I didn't realize how sad I was," she

explained, rummaging through the depths of her purse for a compact.

"I'm sorry I - "

 

Angel reached out his hand, placing it on hers, effectively stopping

her search. "I apologize for hurting you, Cordy. But I can't go back

right now. I need to be alone."

 

Cordelia nodded resolutely. "Fine. You can be alone. But I'm gonna call

you. Okay? And if you need me, you're gonna call me." She stared up at

him. "Okay?"

 

He shrugged. "Yeah." Started to turn away.

 

Her hand on his arm stopped him. "No, Angel. I don't mean fashion advice.

I mean, if you find yourself going into a dark place, darker than usual,

you call me." She raised her eyebrows and gave a small smile. "We'll hang

out. Do pizza and blood. Okay?"

 

He nodded. "Okay."

 

Cordelia studied him, frowning. "Okay. You're still brooding. And you've

got that intense eyebrow thing going." She watched him, but still, he

scowled. Brightening, she acquisced. "But this was good. It's a start."

 

End.

 



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