Title: Monster

Rating: G

Setting: Season 5

Summary: Angel misses Cordelia, he hopes.

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No one buys donuts for the office anymore. That stopped around the time that Connor was born, and no one had remembered to resume the practice since.

When Harmony enters his office, a steaming mug of blood in one hand complete with swollen, miniature marshmallows floating on the top, Angel comments only with disdain. It's too reminiscent of the days when Cordelia used to spike his drinks with cinnamon and invent new concoctions and flavours of coffee. Those fond memories are not welcome now that he has only a vampire receptionist to stir them.

There are no plants in his office. No waxy foliage or rainforest fronds like the small vine Cordelia kept by her desk. No artificial flowers with their fake, cheery brightness. This new basement has not been touched by her light. Let it stay dark.

He still misses her hair. The way errant strands would cling to his clothes and find their way into his apartment. The way they would turn up everywhere in lengthy stray tendrils long after she'd cut it short. He won't wear his old clothes in case he finds one.

He stopped visiting her months ago. He can't bear to look at her there, an empty shell long devoid of her being. Just thinking about her hurts. Casting back, searching his memories for signs, looking for the moment the parasitic thing came into fruition; it breaks him every time he does it, because he never finds an answer. He's always scared that it was there all the time, and that's too distressing a thought to even consider.

Not one tear has ever been shed for her. He can't allow himself to grieve, because that would admit that she's gone. It would prove that he'd never known her love, had never been able to save her, had been ready to kill her but had failed even to do that. It would admit that he'd given up on her and that she wasn't coming back. It would admit that the crushing certainty that he could never win was true.

Most of all, he cannot find tears for her because he is afraid. Afraid that all he ever loved was a monster, and that the beast in him knew it all along.