Au printemps

Set during the beginning of season three.

She was the springtime he couldn't taste, the sunlight dancing in her hair and beaming from her eyes. Her laugh was brighter than what he deserved to hear, singing like bells and ringing like birds, and he was all twisted up in her. The Fates really were cruel.

Or, Angel supposed, the Powers that Be were cruel. The Fates didn't really deal in this stuff.

He'd seen plenty of seasons in his two-hundred-plus years on this bitter, beautiful earth, but never one like Cordelia. There was nobody like Cordy, like she'd tell you in half-a-heartbeat. Not that he had any of those.

God, he missed her. She was only gone for a few hours, but she had become so integral to him that it was like losing his arm or (as much as he hated to admit it) his fangs.

He'd seen plenty of seasons in his time. The sweet summer of Darla's lips curling over his in a smirk so wicked it gave him chills of the best kind. The dreamy autumn of Dru, so lost in love and life and mind, ever-changing, swirling this way and that. The silent winter of her (Buffy, he reminds himself) whose name still pricks to think, all intensity and passion.

But Cordy. She was something else entirely.

He was the springtime she'd never see. She felt the life trickling out of her veins as clearly as she felt his presence next to her. His quiet smiles in the split-second before she'd turn away were like the first blossoms brave enough to push their way into the frosty air. It wouldn't last; she wouldn't last.

But he would, and it was the sweetest wound to think that even after she faded, he would go on. As it should be. The world needed Angel, and no matter what she told herself, she was just a girl with visions. Replaceable, just like Doyle had been. He was the hero; she was just the decoration on the cake. Still, it was an improvement. A few years ago, she would have been the girl jumping out of it.

She'd heard a lot about love, and more than once she had imagined herself to be in it. Maybe she had been, but it wasn't anything like now. More than a feeling, this was a state of being. She was Angel and he was her. She liked him best, liked them best, when the lines disappeared, when they were no longer the Dark Avenger and Vision Girl but just Angel and Cordy. They could be anybody, just an ordinary man and woman, dancing around their feelings out of coyness rather than out of obligation.

Mostly she didn't like to think about what they could have been if they had been normal, if Angel had just been a normal guy born in the 20th century, the kind who wouldn't burst into flames in the sunlight. Sometimes she wasn't even sure she knew what normal even was, anymore.

She'd heard a lot about love, but she hadn't really seen it with her own eyes until she saw him laugh. Cordelia didn't usually think of herself as a romantic, but when Angel laughed, it was like all the birds were singing and the trees were growing and all of the things that were supposed to be just were. There were no worries, no big bads or heebie-jeebies in the night, nothing complicated at all.

When he laughed, it was just spring, pure and simple.