Calm lurks beneath the fire

The Fire Within

Author: Kyizi, the Diva of Darkness ;)

Disclaimer: If I could claim Angel I could but my fangs need sharpened… ;)

Dedication: To Elektra who gave me a new appreciation for writing in the present tense. This is my attempt…eek! If this sucks let me know 'cause I've never really had any luck with this style before!

Notes: Yes, I have nothing to do at work besides sit on my arse, answer the phone and write fanfiction!!! Part 3 of All You Have To Do Is Smile is with Kath, my luvly beta, and I haven't written any more to realizations, so this is to tide you over!

Feedback: YES PLEASE!!!

Email: kyizi@lineone.net

~x~x~x~x~x~

Calm lurks beneath the fire. That timid roar crescendoing through the air, always detached, alone, fighting the serenity within. The flames lick the air, tasting, reaching for new heights as they suckle the life from the surroundings, feeding the hunger. That constant tempt of fate, the humming, the pure life energy that thrives around it, within it. Always are they ready to drain it, suck it, destroy it. It is always in control, always ready for that one chance to live, to breathe, to destroy.

It captivates, enthrals, entertains, as it leaps out of control. It calls to you, allows you near, beckoning you as it mesmerises your senses. And then it strikes, leaps at you with no warning as the small voice in the back of your head taunts you. You knew the dangers, but still you allowed yourself to get close…too close. You allowed yourself to burn.

~x~x~x~x~x~

Cordelia walks slowly towards the door, the gentle hum of the radiator tickling her ear. She imagines him pacing, his feet pounding gently into the softly carpeted floor, as he replays the incident over and over in his head. That's how he reacts, how he copes. She wanders into the room, smiling sadly at her accurate imaginings as he walks back and forth in a continuous loop.

"Wesley," she says softly, jarring him from his thoughts, "stop this. There was nothing we could have done," she casts her eyes onto her fidgeting fingers. "Nothing," she whispers, more for herself than anything else.

"I know," Wesley's soft reply brings tears to her eyes. She knows. She knows that nothing could have happened differently, nothing they could have done at least. And yet as she hears the words, it all becomes real, that instant of clarity where everything comes crashing down, where everything changes.

She feels the tears, she sees nothing. The river of grief flows sharply into her heart.

~x~x~x~x~x~

It is rumbling, growling beneath the surface, burning, raging steadily beneath his skin. A hot flush of fear rises as he grasps for air, choking like a fish out of water. And then it ends. He smiles as he stands, his lips curling into a sadistic deception as she saunters closer to him.

The fire within him rages as she grips his arms, grinding her hips seductively against him. Her fingers curl around him with a deceiving fragility as she slowly tortures his senses. Smiling, she leans into him, her teeth gently nip the tender skin on his shoulder.

She tilts her head, gazing up at him through her large, brown, seemingly innocent eyes. She turns around and starts to walk away as gentle ramblings fall from her lips as easily as snow from the sky. A hidden message lurks beneath.

She growls, a deep rumbling within her chest callously taunting her unbeating heart, tormenting his. A high-pitched squeal echoes dimly through the empty room as her nails scrape against the chalky surface. Learning is absorbed around them, it seeps through the walls as the people watch in morbid fascination.

She chuckles as she walks slowly towards the front row relishing their shudder of fear. They stare at her, knowing her face but unable to believe, unwilling to believe. The bloody corpse of their professor stares back at them, unseeing, as they cower from their captors.

Pulling the pretty blonde from the front row, she growls and turns to him, painlessly torturing the girl as she trails her fingers across the blonde's neck. She pushes the girl towards him and he effortlessly grasps hold of her. He smiles as he pulls her small frame against him. And the fire stirs.

~x~x~x~x~x~

She watches, stares at the disbelief, the dismay etched into his face as the timeless moment burns into her memory. He shakes his head and she feels the tears sting at her eyes again.

"Naw, this ain't happenin'."

Cordelia closes her eyes as her mind echoes Gunn's thoughts. The reality of the situation lurks in the air, surrounding them, choking them. The darkness is approaching but no one notices, no one cares.

"It don't make sense,"

"I can hardly believe it myself," Wesley sighs.

"What about Ang…"

"Don't, don't say it," Cordelia pleads and Gunn nods slowly, still in too much shock. She can feel them staring at her. They don't know what to say. There isn't anything they can say.

"So, who?"

"Who else?" She looks at Gunn stonily, "Who else can ruin us like this?"

He sighs and nods as the name rolls of his tongue, "Darla."

Cordelia closes her eyes to the tears, closes her heart to the pain. But still it lingers. "But hey, ding dong the bitch is dead." She replies in a monotone voice as she speaks the expected words.

"So she staked the bitch then?" Gunn asks as they nod.

"Right after she was turned," Wesley replies softly.

But," he takes a calming breath, "Why Fred?"

~x~x~x~x~x~

Cordelia watches the stars. They sparkle before her, brilliant lights on a darkened blanket. The tears flow freely now as she remembers. Remembers his cool touch, his smile, his voice, but mostly she remembers his eyes. Their depth, the gentle resignation that covers the torrent of guilt and pain. But no more. His eyes have become vacant, a hollow shell fuelled by a raging fire within.

She recalls the look, that one moment where everything changed. A simple, colossal smile that tore at his soul, that ripped him apart. And as she said the words he was gone. He was gone before she had even uttered them. But she had to speak. Had to hope he'd know and so she whispers again, to the stars, "I love you,"

~x~x~x~x~x~

Wesley watches him as he hunches over, his head in his hands, "There was nothing we could have done,"

Gunn sighs as he looks up, "Don't make it any easier,"

"No, no it doesn't,"

"She was like a sister, man. I already lost one of those," Wesley heard his voice tremble but he doesn't comment as he watches the pain in the younger man's eyes.

"I know,"

They look up as Cordelia enters, her face is red and blotchy but they say nothing. Neither of them mentions Angel, for Cordelia's sake if nothing else. Coping with the news about Fred is difficult enough and yet they think about it, unable to ignore the look on Cordelia's face.

Suddenly she grabs her head as the tingling sensation alerts her to a vision. She grasps in pain as it takes hold of her. The images, sights and smells wreak havoc with her senses, collaborating into a cacophony of emotion.

As the pain leaves she is empty. The vision takes with it every sense of security as she grasps for anything bar the scene left to replay in her head. She walks through it again and again, her vague glimmer of hope spiralling out of control as she looks within. Not all is lost.

~x~x~x~x~x~

THE END

Well, was it a fair attempt at present tense writing? If I change tense anywhere, let me know so that I can change it because I HATE that!!!

Should I continue?