Everytime I Hear Your Name
By Shakespeare's Girl
A/N: To clarify: Yes, I stole the title from the Keith Anderson song. Yes, I stole the idea from the Keith Anderson song. No, I am not Keith Anderson (which is good, as I don't really want to be a cowboy) and I do not own his song. However, I will admit I never really intended to post this. It got written not long after "Feels Like Joy" which is ironic, as that piece is dark and angsty in the non-hopeful way, and this one is dark and angsty in the hopeful way. I guess this is an Angel/Cordy story, even though Cordelia's not in it, except as a memory (and no, I didn't just spoil the ending.) Set during the ep "You're Welcome."
"Yeah, it's Angel."
The voice on the other end of the line says something, but I only hear the first two words. Cordelia. Chase.
"What?" I ask, trying to keep myself calm, trying to fight the urge to suck in a deep breath and scream or to start crying or something. The voice on the other end repeats what they've just told me, and I still don't comprehend it all, the only thing that sticks is the fact that they aren't telling me she's dead. They're telling me she woke up.
Two words, and my chest feels like someone trapped it inside an iron maiden. Two words, and there are suddenly three iron bands constricting my heart and lungs and vital organs, making it hard for me to get enough air to talk, to ask my one word question. Two words, and I'm pretty sure all higher brain function has shut down.
I wish I could cry, but I'm in my CEO's office, with my crack team surrounding me. Wesley, Gunn, Fred, Lorne. Suddenly I can't see them anymore, all I can see is her face, the way she would look at me just so and tell me that I was being a complete idiot, and my shoes were kind of dorky too, but she loved me anyway, and would I please hurry up and do the right thing already, she had a fabulous Hollywood party to go to and I was wasting her time with this whole "help the helpless" deal.
I have to start breathing in order to calm myself down.
I take a calming breath, and try to refocus on what's going on around me. I inhale, like I have so many times before, then exhale, and all the while I am listening to the voice on the other end of the phone, chattering away about mystical comas and the likelihood of a full recovery and other important sounding things that I just can't care about, because for the past months since she went into that coma, and even for a few weeks before, I have been wishing for her back.
For months I would do a double take everytime I saw a girl with the same shade of brown hair, the same build, the same skin tone. For months I would look up everytime someone wearing that light yet distinct perfume Cordy loved passed me, half expecting it to be her, even though I knew it wasn't. I'd finally stopped all that, and stopped my other compulsions too. I'd stopped thinking about her every other thought, stopped cringing when someone mentioned her in passing, stopped hating myself for going on without her. I stopped calling the hospital every day, every week, every month, and I stopped worrying in the back of my mind about whether or not today would be the day I got the phone call that she'd died.
I'd been able to put up a picture of her in my bedroom, although no one would ever see it, except maybe Spike, if he happened to barge in without permission. I was slowly going through the few things of hers I had left and throwing them out, giving them away or selling them. People named Dennis no longer made me infinitely sad, and neither did the thought that I would probably never find Cordy another apartment, haunted or otherwise.
Things were beginning to go back to normal.
And then I'd answered that stupid phone, and the person on the other end--I didn't even remember if it was a man or a woman--had said the words "Cordelia Chase." Her full name, and I suddenly couldn't divorce myself from the sadness, the choking, overwhelming need, the love, the want, the sorrow, all the emotions I wasn't supposed to have and yet couldn't suppress anymore. All of it bubbled to the surface and paralyzed me, and I knew without a doubt that I would never be over Cordy.
All it took was someone saying her name, and it all came back.
Yeah, it's Angel . . . What?
She's alive, and she's awake, and she's well, and she wants to see you, and when will you be able to get here?
"What is it?" Wesley asks me, and he's maybe the one person who understands what I'm feeling right now.
He's maybe the only one who will understand why when I answer him, I sound like I'm being strangled, and I can only force out two words. He's maybe the only one who will understand that she means so much to me that I haven't heard anything past the words "Cordelia Chase" that actually made sense to me. "It's Cordelia," I tell him, and I can see everyone's faces go slack with shock, and then tighten into worried masks, unsure if this is good or bad news.
I'm the only one who has any idea what's going on, and I can only think It's Cordelia. She's back, but that's not what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about acid wit and a love for shoes and a need to shop and stealing my credit cards and cleaning the hotel and holding Connor and that night at the ballet and in Pylea and in Sunnydale and how the first time she saw me she called me salty goodness and didn't realize I'd heard her because the Bronze was so crowded and she didn't know I was a vampire and how even then she'd been smart and funny and exactly the same way she was when I'd last seen her, except bitchier and more focused on selfishness instead of selflessness, but she'd learned quickly, and hadn't let what she knew of the world change her too significantly. And then I'm thinking about the sickening feeling I got watching Jasmine hatch from her stomach, and the way I felt even worse after I learned the truth about Jasmine, because Cordy's death--as I thought at the time--had been for this monster, and I hadn't even had the wherewithal to stand up to the thing that had killed her.
I can't sit there for another instant. I drop the phone, hearing it clatter on the desk as I rise, feeling the eyes of my staff on me, even as Wes picks up the phone. I head for my elevator, and hit the call button, wait two seconds for it to arrive and get in. I go upstairs, change into my standard off-hours wear, the same thing I'd been wearing for the past decade barring the homeless stint, and go back down to my office. I let the doors open and Wesley steps in. I'm glad it's him coming, and not Fred or Gunn. Wesley will know not to talk, not to reminisce, not to say anything. We don't know what shape she's in, don't know anything except that she's awake.
We reach the garage and I do something I haven't done in a long time. I get in my old convertable, which Spike had dubbed the Angel-mobile shortly after he found it beneath it's protective covering, and I start the engine. It purrs, and I realize Wolfram and Hart's mechanics must have tuned it up, because even in the old days the motor didn't hum like this.
Wesley says nothing as I drive, just stares ahead, out the windshield, and I am content to let the drive pass in silence. This is not a happy trip, not yet, so there is no chatter, no small talk, only us driving as fast as I can with safety of any kind.
I roar into the hospital parking garage, squealing around corners and sliding sideways into three handicapped spaces and a crosswalk. Wesley still says nothing, not even noticing my extrememly illegal parking job as he turns and looks at me. We stare at each other for a moment, and I realize he's been trying not to cry this entire time. Finally, he takes a deep breath.
"Cordelia Chase," he says.
And instantly, it all comes flooding back.
I wonder, as we get out of the car and walk to the hospital, if it will always be that way. If it will always send me into that dizzying tailspin of memories, if I will be always on the brink of over her, but never quite.
I wonder if it will always be like that, every time I hear her name.