Yet to Be Seen
Copyright March 2006
Disclaimer: Characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, the WB, and UPN.
The halls are a familiar haven, welcoming and comfortable, and Marcie keeps close to the wall more from custom than necessity or wariness. This is her place, her world, her realm, this is where she belongs. That will change when others begin to arrive, but for now she is at perfect ease. She has (most of) the building (mostly) to herself at night, too, but she loves the mornings most.
Even the thought of the coming crowds and clamor is enough to introduce a dark serpent of discord into her sunny self-created paradise, but she pushes that resolutely away. It doesn't matter. She won't let it. She is the architect of her own fate, and she chose Sunnydale High as the place where that fate was to be formed, until such time as she is ready to move out into something further and greater.
She doesn't keep food in her hideaway, because she has a long-standing but still potent horror of rats. Besides, the morning trip to the cafeteria is part of her daily routine. All the others — the amorphous they who consigned her to the status of nonentity — have tried to shut her out, lock her away, negate her existence. Moving where she will, as she wills it, is a repeated affirmation of their failure, and her own indomitable refusal to be banished.
"Mine is a solitary destiny." She wrote that in her notebook back at the beginning, when she was still trying to divine some meaning, some purpose behind what had happened to her. Because she's not a victim, she won't be a victim, she won't allow anyone else that kind of dominion over her. If they did this to her, that would mean she was a victim. If it's the foundation of her fate, then she's part of something larger.
Breakfast is crackers and milk. She doesn't cook — too much work, and someone would notice — and that's enough to carry her until lunch. She takes the empty wrappers and milk carton to one of the waste cans out in the hall; again, not leaving anything to raise the question of who may have been in the lunchroom when no one is supposed to be. As planned — as always — she's well clear of the area before the first of the school staff begin to arrive.
This is her life, and she, she, is the one who controls it.
~ – ~ – ~
Isolation has a way of accelerating things. She's been through a number of phases in the last several months, different attempts to reconcile herself to and accommodate her current situation, and she suspects there will be more to come. She tries to not let this bother her, to deny the sense that she's flailing without aim. She isn't flailing, she's seeking her path. It's there somewhere, if she'll just keep looking. It has to be there.
At first, she tried to embrace her identity as Student, and strove to continue with her routine even though she was — visibly, at least — no longer truly one of them. That's why she prepared her hidden loft; she wasn't tied to the school, like some lame-o ghost, she could have gone anywhere, set up howsoever she chose. (She still could.) She simply felt more at home at SHS than anywhere else. So she attended all her classes, kept practicing with the flute (and sometimes accompanied the band from under the bleachers or at an unobtrusive sideline, at pep rallies and football or basketball games), studied and listened and …
It didn't work. She just couldn't keep her heart into it. However much she wanted to think of herself as the "school spirit", the fact was that the school was unaware of her, and she was alone. Sitting in on the classes was one thing — she still does that, though not all the same classes — but she couldn't participate in any of the discussions, couldn't take the tests (duh!), couldn't do anything that actually made her part of things.
She still loves learning. She's a good student, and the removal of distractions has made her even better at it. But at the same time she relies on her anonymity for protection, she feels the ache of separation. Finding a way to bring both impulses into concert is an ongoing process.
When the role of Student didn't work out, she attempted to take on that of Chronicler. She was the proverbial fly on the wall, the perfect witness, her state allowing her to see things no one else ever would. She watched, followed, listened, memorized, wrote out endless notes and profiles in the safety of her hideaway. Ultimately, it was boring. High school students were boring. They made a huge deal out of things that didn't matter at all, and the ever-shifting relationships and alliances had no more importance than kindergarten games. Intense, pointless, and tacky. Like them.
The library crew was a different matter, now. Hanging around them, listening in on their reports and councils and campaign plans … well, that was boring, too, but at least with them she could see that there was actually something worthwhile taking place. Willow and Xander had a lot in common with her (except that their devotion to each other meant they'd never fall off the radar the way she had); Buffy Summers was exactly the kind of bubbly plastic Britney-clone who should have naturally belonged to the hated ruling class, only somehow she'd wound up friends with self-acknowledged outcasts, and seemed to like it that way. The librarian himself gave her the creeps — the flyaway hair and vague, stammery speech did not go with those predator's eyes — but he treated the others with a kind of exasperated respect that left her with an odd sense of yearning.
Maybe she should have kept watching them. She still wonders about that, sometimes. Making sense out of what was going on with them would have taken a lot of work, however, and the effortless solidarity they shared made her all the more acutely conscious of her own isolation. She just hoped Willow was sharp and ruthless enough to keep Buffy from stealing Xander from her. (A princess, even an outcast, would never open her heart to a peasant … but screwing over one of her plain-Jane friends? oh, yeah, that would be classic princess behavior.)
Even though she chose not to continue following their activities, though, that led to her third chosen role: Hero.
In a way, it was a different aspect of the "school spirit" theme. And it really made sense, right? There were a lot of strange things going on at Sunnydale High, and she did have special abilities (funny to think of not-important-enough-to-be-seen as a power, but there you were); there was a situation, and she was suited to deal with it, this was a way that what had happened to her could actually have meaning.
And she tried. She really did. She killed the insectile things she found skittering around the science classroom — four, five, maybe more, hard to be sure when all the pieces got mixed together — and cleaned out the remaining egg-sacs in Dr Gregory's closet, and hoped that was all of them. When the vampire shaman set up his mystical circle next to the central fountain and started his ritual, she moved up next to him under cover of his chanting and stabbed him with the sharpened end of one of his own fetishes. (Okay, that had been scary. He seemed to hear something, he kept looking around, but he trusted too much to his eyes. And it was a good thing she'd listened to Xander and Willow reviewing staking techniques; shoving a wooden spike through a human's sternum would have required a lot of muscle, but somehow wood was like vampire kryptonite, it just slid straight in.) When Morgan was going all Anthony-Hopkins-nutso with that dummy of his, she knocked him out and left him where the library crew could find him; somehow that went wrong, but it still had to have been better than letting him run wild, right?
There had been some satisfaction to that, but not enough. It wasn't enough, it still wasn't quite there. Whatever her function was supposed to be, there had to be more to it. Maybe similar, but definitely more.
"Mine is a solitary destiny." She can feel the truth behind those words. She just hasn't yet figured out what that means in practical terms.
~ – ~ – ~
She's in place for her first class well before anyone else. That's the way it generally runs. The later classes are something of a problem, she has to wait for the main rush to clear before she can travel without the risk of being trampled, yet still arrive before the door is closed. Sometimes she just doesn't bother, but usually she follows through. What else does she have to do? Besides which, making it work is another way of maintaining control. So, she does what has to be done.
It's toward the end of second period that she suddenly realizes she's naked. It startles rather than panics her; how could that have happened? Short answer is, it couldn't. She always leaves her clothes in the loft when she goes to shower — they become visible when she takes them off, and she doesn't like to lay them out in the girls' shower room where they might be seen — but that's at night, and she dresses again before she goes to bed. This is some kind of SHS-weird, and she files it under annoying and sits quietly while Ms Miller calls for opinions on the Wife of Bath (Canterbury Tales). Big surprise, when she stands at the bell to go to the next class, her clothes are back. Freaky.
Third period, Larry Blaisdell starts talking in a high-pitched lisp. Finding himself the center of attention, he plays it up, all limp-wrist gestures and exaggerated swish. Predictably ordered to sit down and shut up, he does so with the satisfied grin of an unrepentant jackass who's just put on a show; but, when his jock buddies try to prod him into another performance, he waves them off without speaking — in fact, he doesn't say anything for the remainder of the class — and he's out the door the instant the bell rings.
When a clutch of snakes erupts from Carlie Nochs' makeup case in the cafeteria, and Carlie's shrieks turn the panic around her into a mass stampede, it just means Marcie can stand back in the serving area and eat at leisure, instead of grabbing cookies or slurping down small bowls of Jell-O when nobody's looking. (Lunch has always been tricky, but she welcomes the challenge to her cunning.) Snakes. Huh. Definitely something brewing around here. Worth thinking about, once she's had her way with hot dogs and vanilla pudding.
~ – ~ – ~
Afterward, she listens to several students comparing the incident with the snakes to what happened with Wendell Sears and the spiders. This is news to Marcie, but certainly interesting. It isn't until fifth period that she hears about Xander walking into class in his boxers. Her first thought is to wonder why he was spared total nudity, but right behind it is the realization that naked-in-class used to be one of her periodic nightmares. She's heard other people mention the same fear, and now it starts to make a kind of sense. Snakes, oh yeah, pretty much everybody's scared of snakes … and Larry would absolutely be terrified at having anyone believe him gay.
So what's the key, nightmares or just plain fear? She isn't especially worried for herself — her own worst fear is what she's living now, and she turned it to her advantage — but it's always a good idea to pay attention when things begin to percolate around here. No doubt the library crew will have all kinds of theories, the snake/ spider incidents will have alerted them and Xander's embarrassing exposure will have made it personal. She's tempted to swing by and eavesdrop, for curiosity and entertainment, but lets the idea go after brief consideration. Past experience tells her matters like this usually escalate for a day or two before gaining enough substance that the crew can begin to formulate any firm theories. Tomorrow, maybe; they'll be going strong by lunchtime tomorrow, and then she can decide whether she's interested enough to follow their investigations … and, who knows, maybe even pitch in a bit.
There's nothing unusual about her decision, nothing to distinguish it from others of the same type. It signifies, nonetheless. She has ample time to reflect on just how much it matters, when she is roused that night to the feel of rats scampering over her in her hidden bed. Her bladder lets go in the initial moments of terror and realization, soaking her skirt and underwear. Paralysis holds her motionless in those first awful seconds, and then she remains unmoving by choice, in the senseless, frantic hope that her current condition will shield her from detection. It's irrational and counterintuitive, she's invisible not intangible, but the besieged mind will cling to the most unlikely refuge. She lies there for an eternity, her nostrils filled with the sharp stench of fear and her own urine, feeling tiny claws catch on her clothing and filthy little bare feet scrabbling over her exposed skin, horrible hairless tails slithering across her face like dry worms. In the end, she doesn't really know whether she falls asleep again from adrenaline exhaustion, or simply passes out as a means of escape.
In the end, it doesn't really make any difference which it is.
~ – ~ – ~
When she awakens the following morning, she tumbles from the loft and runs to the showers, standing fully dressed under the pelting streams of water until the last traces of her self-fouling have been sluiced away. Then she wrings out the drenched clothing and, nerves twitching, returns to her hideaway to inspect it in the cold light of morning. Insistent reason tells her that the previous night's events couldn't be natural; swarms of rats crawling all over her, in a ceiling space with no food available to attract them, when she's not seen a single one of the filthy things in all the preceding months? (And none of them bit her, don't forget that, it's as if they were there solely to be her nightmare, rather than to be and act like rats.) The absence of droppings confirms it for her; when did any rat or mouse or rabbit or hamster ever pass through your living area without leaving pellets as a memento?
Maybe it really was her terrified immobility that protected her. Maybe her separation from normal life truly did provide a measure of concealment. Regardless of the mechanics, one thing is clear: she isn't immune from whatever is going on. In prior developments, she's been able to participate or not as she chose; in this one, like it or not, she has a personal stake.
Fine. They've gotten her attention. If she has anything to say about it, they'll come to wish they hadn't.
~ – ~ – ~
She washes her clothes once a week anyhow, usually Saturday or Sunday, so she has a change available, and leaves the others hanging in the loft where air circulation will dry them in due course. It puts her behind schedule, though, and there are people in the building before she can make it to the cafeteria. She doesn't have much appetite right now anyhow, but she'll be feeling the pangs by lunchtime.
She'll cope. Coping is what she does.
Her next step is so natural that she's already moving toward it before she realizes the fact. The clock tower, yes, that's where she may be able to find the perspective and balance she badly needs. The main entrance is locked, for obvious reasons, but there are ways around that; she has her own favorite method, but hers wasn't the first. Once she gains access to the stairway, she proceeds with all the stealth and craft at her disposal. It won't be enough, she already knows it won't, but this is just the way it's done. A tradition, almost a ceremony.
She covers the last few feet on all fours, staying low, keeping her weight broadly distributed to minimize any warning creaks from the stairs. There are none such; even so, the moment her eyes rise above floor level, the irritated voice comes to her where she crouches: "Oh, for Christ's sake. Buzz off, weirdo. Can't I have a minute to myself?"
It's the standard greeting. Marcie has been 'haunting' the school for nearly five months now, she's learned to move quietly and avoid contact, choose her route and control a tendency to fidget when surrounded by others. No one has ever detected her; few have even looked around. Yet every time, every time she approaches Nancy Doyle, the other girl is aware of her … and, if nobody else is around, brusquely addresses her. Maybe Nancy is a low-level telepath. Certainly she's unique, even if clarifying the definition remains elusive.
Preliminaries satisfied, she continues up onto the observation floor, still as silently as possible but more quickly, clearing the stairs and finding a position where she can wait with the least likelihood of unwanted collision. Over by the portico, Nancy shakes her head and growses, "When was it I volunteered for perv-bait? 'Cause I'm just not remembering it."
Silence, stillness. Established pattern, yes — maybe even necessary in some way — but it's not a conversation and never has been. Receiving no answer (again, part of the pattern), Nancy continues to look down at the Quad, and after a minute or so she speaks again.
"Somebody who didn't have any imagination would come up here with a rifle, try to pick off the drones once they were all clustered. Dumb. Too many avenues of retreat. Me, now, I'd go at it a different way. I saw this old movie once — Gene Hackman, Patrick Swayze, some others — and they had this demolitions guy who set up sequential killing zones. It'd take some doing, but that's the approach I'd use. Proximity fuses, remote detonators, lay it out so one blast would drive them straight into the next one. Lemming pinball."
Lengthy silence. Nancy may be letting the image settle in, or she may be reflecting on her own words. At last she says, "People will try to tell you that high school is a microcosm of society. That's crap. If it were true, football players and cheerleaders would be running the world, instead of peaking at their glory days before they reached drinking age. No: high school is where natural enemies learn to recognize each other. Where the good-looking and athletic and confident try to cram everybody else into little social ghettoes, and the untouchables bank their grudges and plot revenge. Because the lords of the earth will turn into nobodies the moment they're handed a diploma, and the math nerds and business club pimple-vectors will be middle management before the ten-year class reunion. High school is where the cream settles to the bottom, and the top layer gets skimmed off and dumped because it's not worth a damn for anything."
This is not a new sentiment, but Nancy has been known to repeat her favorite themes. There has never been a huge likelihood that any of her soliloquies might directly pertain to the events currently in progress; even as the thought occurs, however, Nancy abruptly observes, "Now people are starting to talk about having their nightmares come true around this place. Is that some kind of comedy, or what? High school is a nightmare, it's a gauntlet they make you run before they'll cut you loose to tackle the rest of your life. I guess the theory is that you can manage anything if you can survive that … but, God! it's one cold bitch while you're having to live through it."
She turns away from the vista below her, not bothering to look around for her unannounced companion. "I don't come up here just to plan bloody, flaming destruction; that's fun, but not anything serious. … Well, probably not. Mainly I like to scope the herd before I have to deal with them … and make sure that, no, I won't be doing a flyer down to the bricks in front of the fountain, not today." Nancy starts for the stairs. " 'Course, that doesn't mean you can't do it. If you've got a mood going, don't let me get in your way."
When the other girl is gone, Marcie moves to the portico to look down. The people below don't look like ants, the tower isn't nearly high enough for that, nor does she feel the faintest trace of an urge to jump. She and Nancy share certain opinions, and she draws value from the occasional one-way interaction, but the two of them aren't really alike in any significant way.
Still, the brief exposure has brought her back to a stable focus. Nancy may be a frustrated proto-Gertrude Stein, but she's right about the essentials here. Whatever may be going on at SHS right now, her own tasks are what they've always been. Survive. Endure. Don't let the bastards grind you (her) down.
Okay, then. She's got it. On with the day.
~ – ~ – ~
There's no question but that she'll be looking in on the library crew, she's known from the start that this matter falls within their range of specialization. The real decision concerns whether she should actually deal with them, instead of listening to their discussions and perhaps lending an invisible hand. There are safe ways she could do it — leave a letter, set up an e-mail link, even call the library phone — but she's held herself aloof for so long that the thought of any personal involvement, however indirect, makes her uneasy. (Against which is the possibility of another night visit from … yeughh. No. No, no, no.)
She won't need to decide until lunch period. Maybe she'll make up her mind after she sees what they have to say to each other. It's a big step, and she can tell that it could very well change her entire existence. That's not the kind of thing she wants to rush.
Still, though she shies away from committing herself, the weight of the coming choice makes it difficult for her to concentrate. No surprise, then, that the subtle shifts in the patterns of light have been going on for long minutes before she registers what she's been seeing while her mind was elsewhere.
She looks around, blinking. Even before her gaze settles on the odd flickering in the classroom, she can tell that none of the other people present can see it; they sit incurious, unconcerned and unnoticing, so apparently this phenomenon is visible only to her own eyes. There are … swirls, in the air above and around the seated students. It's difficult to focus on them, because there are no lines or colors or shapes, only roiling movement and a sense of presence and liquid mass. Another blink, and she better understands what her vision can't quite track: it's as if she's watching the changing play of light on something, only the light source keeps moving and the 'something' being illuminated is itself invisible. The effect is vaguely evocative of the light-bending camouflage used by the alien hunter in Predator, only subtler and less sharp-edged.
Within a few seconds her brain has sorted the new patterns into a reference framework that she can more readily process. The shapes are like eels, five or six of them, winding through the air and rows of seats, threading their way among — and sometimes, it appears, through the bodies of — the seated rows of students. They range from two to five feet long, and of a breadth roughly equal to the thickness of her wrist. She stands, takes a step forward to study one more closely … and stops, for they all jerked slightly back, in concert with one another and in a way that uncomfortably suggests they might have reacted to her movement.
Before she can consider her next act, they wheel together and dart away, most sliding through the closed door but at least two passing through the classroom wall. She follows, breaking her normal habit to the extent of pulling the door ajar just far enough to slip through; she almost never does that, usually electing to wait either for a door already ajar or a time when she can open it without witnesses. This is only a minor violation of her standard cautious practice, however, and she can't ignore the distinct possibility that the ghost-eels might be connected to yesterday's nightmare events.
More of them are in the hall. Dozens, at least, their ceaseless movements making it impossible to count them. There are subcurrents within that movement, and after a few seconds of observation she understands: there's a central mass, and individual eels are constantly departing from and returning to that center. Trying to escape, only to be drawn back? Coming to receive orders, leaving to carry them out? Bringing nectar to the hive, then going back to gather more? Many explanations suggest themselves, but no way to be sure.
She approaches the nexus, moving carefully and without abrupt motion. As she draws closer, she can make out the suggestion of details, and … something more. The central point isn't a concentration of eels, but a person, or at least the simulation of one: she gets the impression of streaming hair, large intense eyes, long slender legs and spidery-fingered hands. She's somehow reminded of a character called the Silver Banshee that she saw in old Superman comics, though there's really no telling if the figure she sees is even female. Everything is shadow and suggestion, abstract art where the observer's mind supplies structure only hinted at by the lines themselves.
The 'something more' is even harder to define. The best comparison she can make is to listening to a TV show playing in another room, the volume turned so low you can't make out the words … but it's the rerun of an episode you've seen many times, so your memory can follow the dialogue strictly through the rhythms and intonations. This, now, has nothing to do with memory, but she's intuiting meaning in a way that feels like that.
Interesting. How? Trick, trap? Opportunity, promising, new door opened. Much possibility, but careful. Shield walls gone, minds unprotected, endless power and sustenance. Caution, caution, but SO rich —
Oh, crap. Knowing is good, but knowing about something big and nasty … well, that's complicated. She'll have to get this information to the library crew, and doing that without revealing herself … Not easy, not at all.
A sudden burst of light flares through the viewing pane in one of the classroom doors; screams echo from inside, and a shout of "— fire extinguisher, over here —!" Three of the ghost-eels come through the walls and undulate to join their floating master/ mistress, to be greeted by the cold injunction: No, softly, softly. A light touch until more is known, position made firm. Then, with surety, an ample harvest.
The floating woman-shape drifts down the halls and around a corner, her entourage trailing and surrounding her. Marcie follows, still moving softly, racking her imagination for some way of reporting the facts that doesn't result in her exposure. Then the assemblage halts, a single note of wordless inquiry making itself felt, and a moment later the entire mass, leader and all, passes through the wall into yet another classroom. Again overruling her usual caution, Marcie turns the knob until the mechanism releases, then eases inside. She has to follow what happens, has to know.
As soon as she's inside, she regrets it, because Cordelia Chase's voice is the first thing she hears. Marcie has strenuously avoided contact with Cordelia ever since entering her new existence; whatever other adjustments she's successfully made, there's something about the automatic, effortless disdain of the acid-tongued cheerleader that rips straight through her defenses, even when she need no longer face that scorn directly. Her earlier determination forgotten, she turns back to the door —
— but one of the eels curls about her elbow and up her arm, another is at her waist, and more are starting for her. Yes, it follows, it sees, the thought comes to her. Quiet, and sly, almost hidden, but we mark it. Not to be tolerated, no.
Three more of them are on her. She almost screams for help, her mouth is open, but instinct and habit won't be overridden; and, really, what good would it do for an invisible girl to shout for aid against invisible enemies? She shoves for the door instead, reflexively seeking protective solitude — she's always fought her battles alone! — and as she emerges back out into the hallway she hears Cordelia again behind her, laughing brightly with heedless, gleeful malice.
It makes no difference that the laugh wasn't directed at her, that the other girl didn't even know she was there. When did Cordelia Chase ever register her existence?
She tears at the things clinging to her, staggers down the hall in retreat from the others swarming to join them. See it flail. Entertaining. Go deliberately, savor the spectacle. Fury fires her growing desperation. They aren't that strong, thank God, but they're relentless, and one circles her throat and that's it. She slams her elbow into the glass covering a bulletin board, and a bright spear of pain shoots up her arm but it doesn't matter, she snatches out a knife-shard of glass with her other hand and slashes at the eels layered over her body.
They jerk and shudder, some of them phasing to immateriality to escape the vicious punishment. A mental shriek commands, No, no! Surround envelop crush KILL THE THING! She has a few seconds' relief as the swarm hesitates and then swings back to her; the glass has sliced into her fingers, she shakes her sleeve down to cover her hand, then grips the weapon again and returns to the attack.
Her rage is a furnace roaring inside her: not just the drive to live, but years of ostracism and dismissal, of being disregarded and shoved aside and relegated to nothing. She seizes, slashes, they try to melt away but she forces strength into the fingers below the maybe-broken elbow and won't let them go intangible, won't allow it, tearing and mauling like a rabid tiger. The Banshee is yammering fury, exhorting its creatures in a keening needles-in-the-ears howl, and the stupid bitch is too close, Marcie yanks her attention away from the eels and launches herself at their keeper.
One hand catches something: elbow, tentacle, no matter, Marcie feels it trying to slide away and she does the will-thing again, making it be solid, and then she's all over the drifting demonling. It isn't belting out orders now, it's screaming, and with more than sufficient cause. Marcie is lost in kill-lust, stabbing, tearing, strangling, biting, and if the eels are still at her she's too far gone to notice it.
She continues to savage the thing's body long after it ceases to move.
When she's able to think again, Marcie gives it a few more shakes to be sure there's no life left — as sure as she can be — and then casts away the corpse. As soon as it leaves her grip, it seems to fold in on itself in one of those shifts of light, and vanishes. The ghost-eels are likewise gone. Only Marcie remains.
Her throat aches; one of the things did get enough purchase to try and choke her. Her fingers are badly cut, and the pain in her elbow, shoved aside in combat, is now sickeningly insistent. She'll have to break into Nurse Greenleigh's office for bandages and disinfectant, and for once she's not concerned with what evidence she might leave. Hell, she knows where a dozen guys keep their drug stashes (and locker combinations aren't a problem when you can stand next to somebody and watch him dial it in), she'll dope herself into happy oblivion tonight and deal with the repercussions tomorrow.
Repercussions … the Banshee said/ thought something about a new door opening; Marcie didn't see any evidence of the thing until today, and it was behaving as if it had just arrived and started looking around; did it cause yesterday's (and last night's) events, or did it hitch a ride on some other creature's activities? She hurts so bad it's hard for her to think, but she needs to call on the library crew, find out what they know, tell them what she just did —
No. It has nothing to do with anything, but she can't forget that laugh, Cordelia's laugh. Everything she hated, impotent and unimportant, all those months and still it bites into her as sharply as ever. She was wrong, she was stupid, fooling herself, lying to herself …
"Mine is a solitary destiny." Pathetic. The truth is, her destiny is to be alone, because the rest of the world doesn't want her, isn't interested. Fighting for her life, fighting to save them, only a few feet away, and Cordelia laughs. That laugh.
Bandages, and drugs, and food, and after that she can take the time to think some things out. She's hidden from the truth for a long time, but that's going to change.
She actually doesn't mind that nobody can see her. She likes that, it suits her now. But it's about time — high time — past time — that she started being noticed.
No hurry. Whatever she does, when she does it, it has to be right. The main thing is to decide exactly what kind of impression she wants to make.
And on whom.