Road Trip, Interrupted
*~*~ Part Fifteen ~*~*
"Cordy, are you okay?"
Cordelia turned to face Angel, the wind whipping her medium-length brown hair over her frowning face, her hazel eyes inexplicably sad under the clear light of the moon.
They had been driving steadily for about an hour, the Plymouth's top down as always, and all during that time Cordelia had been silent. Which in Angel's extensive experience was not a sign of the good. To Angel, Cordelia was many things - beautiful, witty, clever, honest but irritating at times - but not silent. Never silent.
Angel had the market cornered on silence and broodiness, and he had a radar about these sorts of things - namely, the brooding 'I've got something on my mind' kind of silence. And also the fact - and he couldn't stress this enough - that Cordelia wasn't talking.
"Cordy?" He repeated, his voice edged with concern. Now he knew something was wrong. "What's wrong?"
She continued to stare at him while he tried to stare back at her, not wanting to break their intense eye contact but not willing to drive them straight into a tree either.
Finally he sighed and stared at the silently rolling white lines on the road just in front of him. Angel could feel that there was something she wanted to tell him, something big and major that she had kept from him until now because that was her way of trying to protect him from getting hurt. But he didn't want to push her. Somehow - he knew that she would tell him when she felt ready to do so.
The silence dragged on. Angel tried to not notice her hazel orbs staring at him, nor feel the intensity of her gaze almost burning a hole through his undead skin. He swallowed, trying to relax his shoulders and chest muscles that were now knotted with tension. He wondered if he should say something - anything - just to fill in the obviously charged silence.
"Angel, pull over." Angel's eyes snapped to Cordelia beside him, her eyes stonily downcast. He frowned, half from tension and half from irritation at her puzzling behaviour.
"Stop the car." She replied, her eyes still avoiding his.
"Just do it." She hissed, sounding both scared and annoyed at the same time. He opened his mouth to say something, but thought better of it.
Angel slowed the car to a halt by the side of the road, the sound of the car's weight grating on the rough dirt and gravel surface under it the only sound in the silence of the night. He switched the ignition off, swivelled his body in the seat to face his Seer and waited.
They sat like that for a few moments, Cordelia staring intently at a spot on the dashboard while Angel waited expectantly, a feeling of mounting fear and irritation bubbling up from inside him. There was something - something very, very bad, that Cordelia was going to tell him. Given time, he could probably have worked it out.
But suddenly, Cordelia's entire body snapped to attention, as if she had been deliberating on a course of action and she now was decided on what she would do, or say to him. She turned to him and leaned in closer. Her hazel eyes were misty but strong as she whispered firmly, "Angel ... I'm dying."
Angel opened his mouth to reply, but no sound came out. He swallowed - once, twice, a few more times, but his voice did not seem to work, which was stupid, because he had three really important things to say to her. Namely, 'You're not dying', 'you're not dying' and 'you're not dying - ever'.
But he couldn't. In the intervening moments while he was waiting for his frozen consciousness to defrost, a dark, heavy certainty had crept into his mind - the visions. How many times had he noticed the way they had been affecting her? The way the vision headaches had been getting longer and more obvious, so obvious that she didn't even bother to try to cover them up any more. Her crying after nearly every vision now, not from the visions but from the pain caused by them. And lastly, the latest clue in a long, long list of clues - the post-vision bleeding.
He sat immobile as a statue as the seconds ticked by. The seconds that meant that Cordelia was that much closer to - to not being here any more. To not being with him.
"You're not -"
She placed a finger on his lips, silencing him with the pain he could see in her eyes. They had been through so much, had so many memories of all the incredible things that they had done, the beings they had defeated and yet - he could see, as clearly as if she had told him herself - that she believed this was the end. The end for her, at least.
He had to give her hope. Because if there was one thing he had learned from living in this world, it was that there was always hope. And ... Cordelia needed hope to keep on trying, to keep on living. He needed to give himself that hope, because he could not imagine living without her by his side.
She was crying now, her tears streaming silently down her face, made pale by the moonlight. He cupped her face gently, feeling the warmth of her despair burn his cold, marble-like skin. He forced her to meet his gaze, noting the trembling coursing through her entire body.
"Cordy," he said softly, "we'll find a way. We'll find a way, okay?" She nodded mutely. "There's always a way. We'll ... we'll get Wesley to go through his books. And Lorne ... we'll get him to contact the Powers, see if we could -"
"I'm so scared Angel." She cut him off, her voice making her sound oddly young and vulnerable. "I'm trying to be brave, but I'm so scared ... I don't want to die."
"You won't." He muttered into her ear as she collapsed against his strong frame, sobbing into his shoulder. "I won't let you die Cordy."
Angel looked out into the inky darkness around them, the silent mantra coursing through his veins. "I won't let you die Cordy. I'll never let you die."
(c) April 2002