All You Have To Do Is Smile
Dedication:To Sugar, Zen and Kath who, as always, give me great lines and ideas with their insane chatter on the CA board ;) and, as always, to the ever patient Laura who can't read this till she's seen the seasons!
To all those on the CA board (Wren, Keira, Kath, Angelfan1099 etc) who gave me info on the surroundings, shops, history etc. (Sorry if I haven't named you, but there are soooo many of you and you're all great!)
But mostly to Carrie, whose wonderful fic "Take Your Time
Notes:This fic will mostly be written from Cordelia's POV with the occasional trip into Angel's psyche.
Cordelia stared at the shadows of the passing landscape. The wind swept through her hair as she breathed in the bittersweet flowers. Only the blood red moon lightened the sky as it taunted them. There was no sound bar the wind and if she let herself, she was sure she could loose herself in the freedom of it.
There was a cough from behind her that painfully snapped her back to reality. She closed her eyes, preparing herself before turning. She had to prepare herself, she couldn't look into Angel's empty eyes, at his tense body, without doing so. She glanced at him quickly, almost wishing she hadn't for that fleeting glance made her heart contract. He was lost.
She turned to look into the back seat and gave Wesley a small smile. She knew that he had wanted to pay his respects but she also knew that he would have given anything to be able to stay behind with Gunn and Fred. She looked at the pale form seated next to him and almost found herself crying. She had never had a friend anything like what Willow and Buffy had been to each other, regardless of how much she wished she had. Yeah, she had Angel, Gunn and Wesley, but it wasn't the same. Anything she might see lost in Angel's eyes was reflected in Willow's watery gaze.
She remembered vividly the look of pain that passed across Angel's face as he said Buffy's name. That hollow gaze had followed him here and she wondered if he would ever loose it, if he could ever move on…if she could stand by and watch him hurting and do nothing. Would he let her do something? Would he be able to turn to her?
She turned away, facing the haunting shadows as she wiped her cheek. She couldn't let them see, she wasn't hurting the same way that they were and she couldn't let them see. She was hurting for Angel. She took a deep, calming breath and closed her eyes as they entered the nightmare.
'Welcome to Sunnydale'
He walked slowly as the pain echoed through him. He felt numb. She was gone and he wasn't able to do anything, he hadn't stopped it, he hadn't been there…had he ever really been there?
The stones crunched under his feet as he walked over his heart, crushing everything that he was, changing everything he would become. The day approached but he had to see it. That morbid pain that forced him to read it for himself, he wouldn't believe it till he had, he couldn't.
They were behind him, walking slower than he, allowing him to get there first. He hadn't seen them, he hadn't seen anything but her face. It had flashed before his eyes as he saw Willow sitting in the hotel fidgeting with her hands and it had overpowered his senses ever since.
He had watched her laugh and cry. He had watched her kiss him, he had held her and loved her and then she had rotted away before his very eyes. Her pale, sun kissed skin had blown away in the warm breeze and there had been nothing. Nothing but an empty hollow shell of memories. Memories of her and memories of all that had killed his heart.
And he stopped. Her death had been spelt out for him as he fell to the ground with dry, vacant eyes.
'Buffy Ann Summers'
She had watched him, felt his anguish pierce his unbeating heart and she had cried. She watched as his hands reached out and tenderly touched the girl's death. She watched as he caressed the name with all the love he had once felt. But she couldn't continue to watch as he died in her eyes.
She walked slowly towards him, shrugging off Wesley's hand and she went to him. She knelt behind him and reached out a hand, tenderly touching his tense shoulder. She refused to offer him hollow words, *It's all right*, *everything will be okay*, *It'll get better*. He had lost more than she ever dared to imagine and she refused to patronize him.
Leaning her head on his shoulder and wrapping both arms around him, she felt the tension leave his body as he allowed her to be his lifeline. And the tears began to fall.
Cordelia pulled him to his feet, allowing him a moment to wipe his bloody tears from his face. She tugged at his arm, a gentle reminder that the day approached. She watched with mixed emotions as he tenderly kissed the name and whispered to the stone that held the Slayer. She tried not to listen but she heard.
"You will always be with me."
The following takes place two weeks after the previous parts
"Wesley, I can't do this anymore,"
"I know," Wesley looked up at her, slowly closing his book and placing it onto the table. "At least you've tried, that's the main thing."
"I did more than try."
"I know, but if it's too difficult, then we can always ask Fred to take over."
"Yes well little Miss brainiac can do what she likes, the accounts are screwed." She said holding out the folder.
"I suppose the fact that we have few clients would play a large part in that," Wesley winced, taking it from her.
"There's also the fact that the great brooding wonder has returned," Cordelia mumbled, glancing towards the hotel stairway.
"He needs time to grieve, Cordelia," Wesley said softly. "We can do little other than be there for him,"
"But he won't let me be there for him!" Cordelia grunted, slamming a drawer shut harder than she had intended.
"Don't give up on him, Cordelia. He needs you, whether he knows it or not."
Cordelia glanced through the crack in the door. He had to know she was there, he had vampire senses, and yet he remained in his chair, hunched over a drawing pad. Her eyes wandered around what she could see of the room, the floor was carpeted in a wad of paper as he churned out drawing after drawing.
"Are you planning on coming in Cordelia?" He asked, not stopping.
"Er…yeah," She cringed at the creaking door, as if its making a sound was disrespectful. She walked towards him not looking at the floor, refusing to let her eyes drift to the pictures that had, no doubt, captured the timeless features of the deceased Slayer.
She took note of his disheveled appearance. His hair remained matted to his head and an open shirt revealed his withering body. She had suspected that he had stopped eating…er, drinking but she hadn't been sure. Until now. His gaunt features punctuated by the movement of the bones beneath betrayed the cool exterior that was masking his grief.
"Let me help you." The words were out before she even realized that she had spoken. Angel abruptly stopped drawing, but he didn't look up at her.
"No one can help me, Cordelia,"
"Let me try," She kneeled down so that she could look up into his haunted eyes. He closed them and gave her a soft nod. Reaching to take the pad from him, she looked at it and frowned. Turning it so that she could see, she drew in a breath at the seductive yet eerie picture.
"Who…who is this?" she whispered. He didn't reply, instead he clenched his fists, his eyes tight shut as a single blood filled tear made a path down his face. She turned to look at the drawings on the floor and, although there were indeed a few of Buffy, they were mostly of the young girl…and of Cordelia herself.
"Angel, who is this?"
"Catherine," his name was spoken so softly, she was unsure that she had heard it at all.
"Your sister?" she asked gently, picking up the picture closest to her. It was, by far, the most beautiful image. Where most of the scattered pictures were simple, yet elegant, outlines, this had been a work of love. The textures of the sky and the sea rolled off the page as if followed by the scent of sea air. The sand was drawn with such patience that he could have sculpted every tiny grain into the page, but the image that struck her the most was the one in the center of the page.
The figures were perfect, right down to the last detail of the exquisite dresses. The faces were full of life, of expression, of love. Glancing past the younger girl, a smaller, female version of Angel, she was drawn to the detail of her own face, drawn so painstakingly perfect that she almost felt beautiful.
"Angel," she breathed, turning to face him, "this is amazing."
"I can still remember," he whispered, "I'd forgotten, but it's all up here," he tapped his head as Cordelia look at him, worry etched in her face.
"Angel, tell me,"
"I don't think I can," he gave her a sad smile, "I wish I could, Cordelia, but I don't think I can."
"Then show me."
"I'm really not sure about this," Wesley said, frowning as he placed three drops of lavender into the small, ornate bowl.
"I'm kinda spooked by the whole thing myself," Gunn said entering the room. He placed the ancient book onto the table and sat in his designated seat, "We're not really going in there are we?"
"No. Cordelia will be alone. Our images will appear, but it won't really be us. Should Cordelia feel it is time to leave, she must simply remove the charm and hand it to one of us."
"But we're not really going in there are we?"
"No, Charles, we're not,"
Gunn raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips at the tone of Wesley's voice, "No need to get your panties in a twist, English. I just don't like the idea that we might get stuck in there."
"For the last time, Gunn, we are not going in there."
"You guys know I'm here right?"
Wesley unclenched his fist, releasing the crumpled leaves into the bowl and turned to Angel, "Sorry. Where is Cordelia?"
"I'm here!" Cordelia ran into the room, bags in tow, "Sorry, I'm late, but Macy's had the most amazing sale ever! …and now's really not the time, huh?" She nodded and sat down next to Angel, "So how does this work again?"
"Do you have the charm?" Angel nodded and pulled a chain from his pocket, slipping it around Cordelia's neck before she had the chance to look at it, "Right. Cordelia, place your right hand on Angel's face, Angel you do the same."
"What? This some kind of Vulcan mind meld?"
Wesley's concentration remained on the book before him, "Yes, Gunn, that's exactly what it is, now link left hands and stare into each other's eyes."
"Now that part I can handle," Cordelia murmured. Angel smirked and she began to blush furiously, "Damn vampire hearing,"
"Now…are you sure about this?" Wesley asked once again. Seeing her nod, he returned the gesture and opened the book, "Should you wish to leave, all you have to do to leave is hand either myself or Gunn the charm. But remember that it won't really be us, simply our image."
At her nod he began to recite the ancient words. Cordelia began to feel lightheaded, her only focus was Angel's eyes. She felt herself being pulled in as the untold mysteries of his life began to open to her. She brushed by the past, the sounds cascading by her like a siren of long forgotten voices.
Colors began to fade into one, faces screaming, clawing at her to be noticed and yet she flew by them, seeking the angelic face that had been etched into so many secret drawings. She was drowning in a sea of the dead, flying back through time, through the buried memories of Angel's life. And then it stopped.
The first thing Cordelia noticed was the smell and her first thought was *Shit, I'm shoveling dung in Pylea again!* The noises began to haunt her senses as her vision slowly began to focus. Opening her eyes, without even remembering she had closed them, she looked straight ahead, and relief flooded through her as she gazed into two beautiful eyes.
"Angel," she breathed.
There was an outburst of laughter, "An Angel he is not, my dear!"
Startled by the presence of other people, Cordelia glanced to the large man next to her. He was still laughing and muttering, "Angel, indeed," under his breath. Turning, she glanced around the room. The smell, she realized was emanating from the people, the hoards of people that were crowded into the small inn.
"Shit," she murmured, turning once again to look at Angel. Only now, he too was laughing. She took a moment to look at his appearance. His hair was long and pulled back into a ponytail at the back. His clothes fitted the time…*What year was it?* She wondered.
The man behind her suddenly grabbed her butt and she yelped, causing all the men near her to roar in drunken laughter, *Damn you, Wesley, I wasn't supposed to be seen by anyone in his head* she thought, cursing the ex-watcher with anything nasty she could think of.
Suddenly a thought struck her, *Oh God, please no.* She closed her eyes, preparing herself for what she hoped would be relief. *Okay, Cordelia, calm down.* she told herself, swatting away the wandering hand that seemed to have found it's way up her skirt, *Now, when you open your eyes and look down, you will be wearing a nice Ralph Lauren top and skirt. You will be wearing a pair of slip sandals and a really gorgeous and expensive Kenneth Cole bracelet you got 50% off. Now, open your eyes* Taking a deep breath she readied herself before opening her eyes and glancing down.
END OF PART 1
I'm still not completely sure this story is coming off the way I want it to, although I have written Part 2. But please let me know what you think, even if it's just to tell me to stop or continue!!!