Rating: PG 13, just like the show.
Summary: Cordy's insight after Willow's tragic news of Buffy's death.
Spoilers: Uh...Buffy's tragic death??? Tehe. Up through "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb"
Disclaimer: Don't own Angel, unfortunately, otherwise I'd be ravishing him right now.
Distribute: All over the place, please.
He's just sitting there.
He's been like this for a while now. The news of Buffy's death is killing him I think, inside...deep...undeniably. I want to help him, but I don't know how. I've lost a lot of people in my life, but not like this, not from death. No, the people I've lost decided to get lost; they didn't die. Except for Doyle. Doyle was close. Doyle was very close. Doyle died...
The few people I've known who have died I wasn't very close to. First Jesse. Then Jenny. Then Joyce... I knew them, I respected their lives, but I wasn't close to them and so their deaths didn't effect me as so. Death is awful any way you put it, but so far I've been lucky. Buffy lost way more than I did...
I was not close to the slayer. In friendship terms, I wasn't close to Buffy at all. In fact I resented her most of the time, and some days she made my life a living hell. From the top of her shiny blonde hair to the tip of her sharp, wooden stake, I resented that girl up and down. She was just too perfect. She always had to do everything right; she always had to be the center of attention.
Okay. Really. It wasn't her fault. People just flocked to her for some reason. And she was, over all, a good person.
No, I know. Buffy was a good person. Buffy cared. Otherwise she wouldn't have done all that she did.
And okay. So I was jealous. I was a bitch. But I've tried to make up for it. And maybe someday I'll be able to tell her that I'm sorry—
I cover my mouth and almost choke. She's gone. I keep forgetting. It sounds stupid, but...I keep forgetting.
Angel's looking at me.
He heard me. It was just a squeak really, but her heard me. Dammit. Why did he have to hear me?
He looks so empty inside. His eyes linger on me, and then, slowly, helplessly, hopelessly, his eyes drop back to the ground, and his head turns slowly back to face the wall. He's lost. I hate this. I want to fix this, but I don't know how.
"Willow left." I say. He says nothing, but barely nods his head.
She left in tears. I don't tell him that part. And she left by magic...a ‘transportation spell'. I don't tell him that either. It's dumb I know, but even with the news everyone found it intriguing. Wesley looked impressed. He knew Will when I did, before she even had the courage to stand apart let alone against a God. She hurt this Glory demon? Wow. Willow...a real witch. And obviously a powerful one, to be able to transport herself like that. It was a surprise. Truly. But to bring it up now; it just seems like idle chitchat. And I don't think Angel needs to hear that. I don't think he'd even give a rat's ass.
I know I wouldn't.
Staring at him I wonder what it'd be like.
Losing someone who'd been that close, losing the slayer. Wondering such a question...grim? Morbid? Disturbing? Yes.
But I wonder how it feels...
I know what pain is. And I know of other's pain. I feel it everyday.
But I don't know his pain. I don't know the depths of it. And he is lost in it. Swimming in it. I don't know what that feels like, but I have this strong need to. Don't know why; just do. I guess its...curiosity? I'm not sure. But I see him, and I feel him falling. I wish I could do something. Anything. Anything besides stand here with red, puffy eyes, a lump in my throat, and a stupid expression on my face. God, I can't just stand here staring. It's rude. It's not what he needs. I wish I could give him what he needs.
All I can do is be here for him.
I slip up quietly and gently take a seat next to him on his bed; I lower myself so carefully that the mattress barely shifts under my weight. He looks at me though; acknowledges me, and that's a good sign. I stare sideways at him, sniffing a little. And his eyes flicker with gratitude. Good. He's not unreachable. He's not dead to me. That wasn't a pun. It's serious. Don't laugh. None of this is funny.
I look down at his hands. Balled into a tight clasp in his lap. The cuffs of his black shirt are pulled down over his wrists, and I stare at where the black fabric ends and his pale skin begins. Poor Angel. I wish I could do something, but I don't know what.
"How's Fred?" He whispers suddenly, his lips moving but his body otherwise still.
They're the first words he's spoken in nearly four hours.
"Good," I manage. "Gunn gave her a room, got her some real food...she's excited about sleeping in a real bed again."
I think I just saw a small hint of a smile in his eyes.
His mouth barely moves but he grunts, "Good."
"How are you?" I ask. He finally looks at me, and his body goes through the motions of a sigh, but no breath escapes him. He starts to answer but then only shakes his head, lowering it further. His shoulders are slumped and his feet are apart and his hands are still clasped and he looks so sad. "Can I do anything?" I ask. He shakes his head, and I know if there were anything I could do, he'd be begging me to do it. But as it is, there is nothing. I can do nothing. I cannot do anything to make this easier on him.
"Angel, I'm sorry."
It's something. It's nothing that can change anything, but its something. He nods, and I reach out and prying his fingers apart, I take his hand in mine and just hold it while we sit.
He hasn't even cried yet. I've never seen him actually cry, but I suspect that he does. And I know he'll cry about this. He will; it's just a matter of time. He will...
God. Will. She told us what happened. She sat down, had a cup of tea; her hands shaking as she took the cup that Wesley poured her, and she told us the whole story while Angel sat across from her, completely silent, his eyes boring into her with horror and dread at her every shudder, her every tremble, her every word describing Buffy's death. By the end of the story, he'd begun to shake himself.
Then he went into his room and didn't come out again. Will stay slumped on the couch for a while, gathering her courage I think, until she finally decided it was time to return home; back to the place I can imagine she'd secretly wanted to escape by coming here, even if only for a little while. As bad as it was to have to come here to tell us this news, I think it was a relief to her. I think she needed to step out of their world for just a little while, even if it meant bringing a piece of it with her into ours. I know I'd want to have gotten out of Sunnydale just then. I'd have jumped at the chance to leave. But then I'd done that once before. And maybe Will's got better character than me. I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt it.
What with all that's gone on, I'm questioning my character right about now.
Will's strong. I could feel her fear clinging at her as she readied herself for the zap back. But I could also feel her sense of responsibility empowering her to find the courage to go back. By the time she went, Will looked at least a little more at peace then when she had come; and maybe more importantly a lot determined.
I wish I could see a little peace in Angel.
"Angel," I start, very slowly, very deliberately, and I caress his fingers in mine. His face turns slightly in my direction; his downcast eyes staring at my bare feet.
I'd changed out of my princess garb the moment Will finished the story and he'd disappeared from the lobby.
The jewels. The cape. The tiara. I felt stupid wearing it. As much as I'd enjoyed it the past few days...it was better than those slave rags, and it was fun, like dress up...it felt so wrong, and frivolous, being faced with reality like this. I'd removed every single piece of stupid jewelry and I'd washed off every inch of stupid makeup and I'd put on my old jeans and a shirt and then I combed my hair. And then I'd sat in the bathroom and cried a little. After forcing me to face myself, I checked my reflection in the mirror; staring long and hard and critically. This might sound really dumb, but I made myself smile. I'd smiled into the mirror until my mouth hurt and then I'd returned to the lobby and listened to Will talk some more...about...well...pretty much everything she needed to get out at that moment. I would not let myself cry. I would not let myself cry.
God! How Willow loved Buffy!
God. How Angel loved her.
I catch myself wondering who loved her more, and then I shake myself out of it. What a horrible thought. How stupid. I don't know why I thought it; the thought was just there. I shrug off the shame of thinking such a detached thing, and try to convince myself that I don't mean it. I don't mean any of the lousy things I've been thinking; I swear I don't. I'm just...I don't know, I'm just trying to find a way to deal with it. Maybe it's a form of denial. Definitely a way to displace it.
"This is dumb," I mumble. "I'm so dumb." I'm shaking my head at myself. My fingers have tensed around his, and he's still just staring at me; that dry, hopeless look in his eyes. And suddenly everything that's happened in the last few days seems like a distant memory instead of real events. I feel so bad right now. I struggle, fight, try to remember what I'd felt there at the castle in Pylea; sitting on the throne, feeling so deserving for once, and so finally appreciated, and then finally kissing Groo; and I realize none of it was really real. I remember what I said...oh man, what I said when I stepped between Angel and Groo out in the courtyard. And I remember...oh, man, I called Angel a dumbass. It's dumb, it's so not even an issue right now, I know, but I feel so ashamed of that part imparticular. God, what he must think of me...
I shake my head at myself again, wishing I had a spine. I'm so dumb...worrying about how Angel perceives me at a time like this. He's not even thinking about any of that; he's thinking about what he's lost. I am so selfish...I so deserve whatever I get after this. I exhale a heavy breath and try to gather the courage to move. Right now, I just want to melt into the floor. Disappear. Fade from sight.
I recoil a little, withdrawing into myself, thinking that I should have just left him alone. I don't have anything to offer him, not a damn thing to make him feel better. Why did I even think I could...?
"Angel," I swallow. He's listening, but he's still not looking at me. "Earlier, when I said that I loved Groo, I hope...I hope you understood...I don't love him deeply, not like I do this. Not like everyone here,"
Now he's looking at me. His face is blank and I'm wondering if he's gone completely numb. I'm wondering if what I'm saying is completely wrong. I don't know. But I say it anyway. I don't know what else to do.
"I do love you Angel," I whisper. Damn. A tear slipped out. I catch it before it falls. I catch it and I wipe it on my pants and then I take another breath and I sigh before I can speak again. "Don't think I don't, okay? Don't think Wes and Gunn don't either. I don't even know if you realize how much. But we do. Me especially. I hope...I hope it's enough, Angel. I hope you can feel it, and I hope it's enough to keep going for."
He seems to contemplate this. I see his face fall a little more. I look away and then I feel his head against my shoulder. I look down and I see his eyes are closed as he just rests against me. He's still thinking, he's still silent.
But I know that he's not numb.
So I wrap my arm around him and pull him closer. I tuck my chin against his hair and rub his back and just sit with him. I lean into him letting him know that I'm here, and he responds by burying his face into my shirt. After a moment, I can tell that he's crying.
I think the others were afraid to come in here. Wes...Gunn...both terrified. Maybe it's a man thing, I don't know. Fred wasn't afraid because for one, she's not sane enough to be afraid. Two, she didn't know Buffy or anything (I'm guessing) about Angel's past with her. Fred's like a child, and so she doesn't understand, and so it wasn't an issue with her and she just sat quietly, taking everything in. No, Fred wasn't afraid, but I know that Willow was. I don't know what scared her more: saying the words, or just saying them to Angel. Willow looked terrified, terrified of Angel the entire time. But then she doesn't know Angel like we do. Yes, she was afraid of Angel.
But I wasn't. Not of Angel.
After everything, how could I be?
I can't give him much, but I can give him my shoulder to cry on. I can let him know I'm here, and I can give him my love. And I can remind him that he matters. And hope and pray and make damn well sure that he understands, and have faith that it's enough, enough for him to keep going.