AN: Hi, I'm Emily, and I like Cordelia. Hi, Emily. …I was a big believer in the whole A/C ship, and I'm sure some of you were too, and just because Angel's with Buffy in this particular story, does it mean I plan to make Cordelia horrible? Absolutely not! Read on…
"When did he get home?" Wesley's hushed voice asked urgently.
"I don't know," Cordelia sighed, staring with the rest of Angel Investigations at Angel's closed office door.
Fred whispered, "Late last night."
"Is he all right?" Wesley turned to her.
Fred shrugged at the same time Cordelia said, "I'd guess not."
Gunn moved away from the door, shaking his head, "God, what is this now, the third time? Think it'll stick this time?"
Cordelia whipped around, "Geez, could we be a little more unfeeling?"
"Sorry, I just," he shrugged, "She does seem to die frequently."
Cordelia took a deep breath and thought of Angel's voice as he was on his way to Sunnydale. He hadn't explained a lot, but he seemed pretty sure that it would be the last time he saw Buffy. He was heartbroken. "Well, from what he told me, it really seems like this was the last time. I'm pretty sure it 'stuck', as you so eloquently put it," she crossed her arms over her chest.
"He's gotta be taking this hard, the poor buttercup," Lorne shook his head slowly.
"I know," Cordelia nodded. "We've just gotta be there for him. That's kind of all we can do. He's gonna get through this in his own time."
"Is he in his office?" Wesley indicated the door.
"I think so," she shrugged and moved to open the door. "Okay, everybody ready? We'll just...go in, see how he is, give him our support, and leave him alone. Okay?"
They all nodded. Fred encouraged, "Yeah, go ahead Cordy, open the door."
Cordelia took a deep breath, not knowing what the right thing for her to say to Angel would be. She'd been in an odd spot with him. Right before her little vacation to floaty head land, she and Angel had been on the verge of something more than the friendship they'd held so dear for three years, and now that she was back, there was a good chance those feelings would resurface. However, Buffy's death was the obvious priority before Cordelia's potential love life, she knew. But, there was no denying the finality in such an event. There would be no shadow--no weight--on Angel now, and maybe he could let himself love someone other than Buffy, now that she was really gone. Just maybe...
"Oh!" was all Cordelia could muster. The rest of the group was silently stunned behind her, their eyes wide and faces frozen.
Angel was in there, all right. Only, he wasn't brooding and depressed and alone like they'd thought. He was making out with the girl who his co-workers had come to help him mourn.
"Cordy--!" Angel held a hand out to her as Buffy instantly backed away.
"Sorry!" Cordelia backed away with the rest of the group. "We thought--I mean...We didn't know you were...uh...sorry!" She shut the door quickly and the group moved away from Angel's office, into the lobby.
After a few moments, Gunn shrugged, "Well, I guess it didn't stick."
"Wow," she whispered, unsure if there were any other words capable of expressing such total shock. The cool, night breeze blew through her hair. It made the scent of the jasmine come alive.
"Yeah," he sighed, trying desperately to gage how she was feeling. "It's pretty, uh, unexpected."
She snorted at his understatement, but didn't take her eyes off his face. There was something new there, some alien glint in his eyes. "You're happy," she said.
His mouth pulled up instantly like it did whenever she looked at him, and he shrugged, "I am."
She nodded twice, slowly. "Wow," she repeated. Tears were caught in the back of her throat, ready to come up whenever she deemed it acceptable. She would let them out later that night, when Angel had hugged her goodnight and was far away. He would never see them. She had decided a long time ago that, if by some miracle, Buffy and he decided to give it another go, she would be nothing but supportive--no matter what.
Of course, she had not foreseen her own platonic feelings for Angel developing into something much more. And she had not foreseen him developing the same feelings towards her.
Nipped in the bud, she smiled to her best friend. She had always found something so cruel in that expression. Why not let it bloom? Why not see what it looks like before you end it? Maybe it would be something beautiful--perhaps different from what you had before or what you were expecting--but still, beautiful.
"Listen, Cordy," Angel put his head down to stare at his nervous fingers, "This doesn't have to mean that anything is going to--"
"Change?" she whispered, then sighed. "Angel, I've never been the one afraid of change. I think it's great. Change brings...new people, new experiences, new relationships...and with this new...addition to the family," she smiled. "Things around here are most definitely going to change. I mean, you're a boyfriend! That's kind of putting a tombstone on your whole loner persona. Plus, Dawn's going to live here now, and having a teenager around is going to be...well, different. And Spike--"
"Cordy," he put a hand up to stop her. "I know things around here are going to change. I-I didn't mean that. I meant, things, you know, between me and you. We don't have to change."
"Oh," she took a deep breath, "Angel."
"I don't want us to change," he added, a little more quietly.
Her smile was a little sad, "I don't want us to either, but--"
"But?" he looked to her, pain in his deep brown eyes.
"But...Angel, there is nothing I want to do less than cause you any kind of pain, but I also kind of want to keep myself out of situations that will cause pain for me, and..." she had to look away from him. "And I know you and Buffy have always had this gigantic, romance movie, true love and...and I know that you would never mean to but...for me...just being who I am, and feeling the way I do...it would be really, really painful for me to be...you know, around that."
He didn't say anything; he just stared at the tiny pearl white blooms in front of him.
"I'm sorry," her voice cracked just the slightest.
"You're leaving?" he said, emotionless.
"I think so. I'm...I was thinking maybe I could go back to school. I mean, I've got a very little bit of money saved up and--"
"But that doesn't mean you need to leave," he shook his head. "If you left, you would be leaving because of me."
She winced, "Don't say it like that."
"But that's the truth," he countered.
"I just...I don't feel like I should have to be around for..." she could see it in her head: the two of them, kissing, holding hands, telling little jokes. It would be intolerable.
"Have to?" he stood.
"It's just not where I..."
"God, Cordy! I really thought you, of all people, would be happy for me. All these years you've gone on and on about how much you'd love to see me happy, complaining about all the times that I felt so depressed I thought I might just give up because it bored you, yapping nonstop about which end of the color spectrum I happen to favor! I thought you, of course, would be the least bit happy for me when I finally got one tiny morsel of contentment!"
"Stop yelling at me!"
"But no! You, my best friend, have found some way to make the happiest event in my life all about you!"
She was crying, her head bowed below him. There were so many things she wanted to say in retaliation, but she could not find the strength to look up and see her best friend's face livid with her.
He waited a moment and watched her. His resolve crumbled quickly, and he bent down to one knee and made his voice softer, "I don't want you to go."
She looked up, sadness written all over her usually happy face, "Well, I don't want you love someone else, but I can't change that."
He was frozen for a moment, not knowing how to respond. She simply wiped her tears, stood, and moved to go back inside, before turning to face him again.
"I'm going to go back to school. You're my best friend, and I am happy that you're happy, but I'm also really, really sad, and that's going to take time to fix, which is something you have," she gave a little smile. "I'm really going to miss you," she promised, then turned on her heel and went back inside.
He put his head in his hands after the door closed behind her. He could not imagine his day to day life without Cordelia in it. She had been a part of him for so long... He felt tears pool in his eyes as well, "I'm really going to miss you, too."
AN: All right. Now's the big jump. Fifteen years, anyone curious to see what's changed?
Also, I want to start giving the chapters names, so if you have any ideas for past chapters, let me know! Thanks!