The Sacrifice
by Andrea Hebert

Chapter 1 – voices

She felt her head drop.



The whole room around her bathed in excruciating silence. Her heart was about to explode. Or was it her head? She didn't know. At this point, she did not really care either.

Cordelia kneeled on the ground, wearing nothing extravagant or fancy, just old sweatpants and a tight dark blue t-shirt, and she let her fingers carefully linger on a piece of metal. Her heart stumbled within her chest and nearly broke itself into pieces.

But despite her heart's misbehaviour, her eyes reflected pure despair, masked by raw anger.

She was angry.

She was sad, but she was angry.

And now, all of a sudden, kneeling down on the cold floor in the basement of the Hyperion, she felt lost.

She was lost.

She leaned back on her heels and looked up, almost pleadingly. Begging with her eyes.

She heard that voice in her head once again. That voice she so desperately wanted to believe.

"Everything's going to be alright. . . trust me."

That voice. That young, confident, reassuring female voice. Nothing was alright. Nothing.

She had lost them. She had lost herself.

Cordelia removed her hand from the sword that lied on the ground and took a deep breath, tucking a few strands of hair behind her ears.

One small tear rolled down her cheek, before she closed her eyes and clenched her jaw, painfully.

* * *

"How is she?" a familiar female voice asked.

Wesley, Gunn and Fred exchanged a worried look before turning back towards Buffy, Xander and Willow.

"Not good." Wesley finally said as his voice threatened to choke.

"I don't understand. . . I mean. . . how? Why?" Xander spoke in a barely audible voice as the realization dawned upon him. "I mean. . . Cordy?"

Buffy lowered her eyes, obviously struck by an emotional whirlwind.

"Has she had any other visions since it happened?" Buffy managed to ask.

"Yes. One." Wesley answered before taking a shallow breath. "Supposedly painless, but. . . " he began but stopped himself.

"That's not where the pain comes from anymore." Fred finished his thought.

"Maybe if I talk to her. . . " Buffy whispered, almost to herself, but loud enough so that everyone heard.

"I don't think that's a good idea." Gunn finally spoke up, his tired face facing the slayer.

"Maybe I can help. . . I know what she must be going through. . . " she tried to explain but the words failed her.

"I don't think you do." Wesley gently informed Buffy. "I don't mean to diminish anything that's happened to you, or the things that you do, and did. . . but I don't think it's a good idea for you to talk to her."

"Well, somebody needs to be there for her. . . " Willow said in a sad tone.

"She won't listen to you." Fred said as a tear rolled down her face. "She won't listen to anyone anymore. . . "

Fred's voice was shaking, breaking into the thick air that filled the Hyperion.

It was suffocating now.

Almost dead.

"She will never trust anymore. . . " Wesley finished Fred's musings in a bare whisper.

"Where is she?" Willow asked.

"Downstairs." Gunn answered, bending his head down as a signal he wasn't going to say anything more.

It had been two days. Two long, agonizing days.

They couldn't help her.

She had shut them out.

She had shut herself out in some way too.

"What is she doing there?" Buffy asked, paying attention to the somber faces of Cordelia and Angel's friends.

"Nothing. Anything." Fred replied in a quiet voice.

"She's probably pushing herself towards exhaustion because that's the only way she's found to not think about this for 2 seconds." Wesley added in a worried yet sad tone. "She's probably practicing her newly acquired passion for sword fighting. . . " he added, sounding pensive.

"Sword fighting?" Xander could not help but inquire. "Cordy fights? With a sword?"

"Well, that's a good thing, right?" Buffy tried to put into perspective. "She's trying to do something. . . she's trying to get back up. . . I would think that's a good thing. . . "

She stopped herself when she saw Wesley's tear-filled eyes stare back at her.

"Not when every time she picks up that sword, it kills her a little more. . . "

* * *

Cordelia's eyes spitted anger into the darkness of the basement. She stood, immobile, in a fighting position, holding a sword in front of her.

Nothing mattered.

Nothing mattered anymore.

The guilt, the hatred, the tears, the anger. . . .the suffering. . . shone through her eyes as she stared in front of herself.

She found herself doing something she had not been particularly found of in the first place. She was practicing those slow-motion techniques Angel had taught her.

"Everything's going to be alright. . . trust me. . . " she heard that voice inside of her again.

Anyone who would have looked at her from a distance would have said she was relaxed, calm even.

But she wasn't. Her eyes were filled with sadness, pain and mostly anger. That never-ending anger. Why was she angry? Who was she so angry at? The answer was simple yet so complicated.


"Why didn't you tell me before?" His voice. Angel's voice.

Cordelia closed her eyes as she continued her silent ritual.

"Don't be afraid to let yourself be saved."

Why had she listened to her, Cordelia wondered as she swung the sword into the air in a fast-paced move suddenly.

"Ok, then, let's just get this over with. . . " she heard her own voice repeat the words in her head.

"Look at yourself!" that teenage voice again.

Cordelia held her breath and swung the sword into the darkness again.

"Cordy, you know what you have to do. . . " Angel's voice rang in her head repeatedly.

"I can't do this. . . " she remembered answering in a faint voice.

"You won't have to." She heard him say again as she inhaled painfully. "I'll be fine. . . "

Those words. Those small words. . .

"I'll be fine. . . I'll be fine. . . I'll be fine. . . everything's going to be okay. . . .trust me. . . I'll be fine. . . "

All the voices chanted together in an agonizing cry inside her head and Cordelia couldn't stand it anymore. She dropped the sword to the ground and fell to her knees almost immediately after. She bowed her head down and suddenly her mind stopped shouting.

Silence again.

She opened her eyes and looked at an invisibly marked spot in the middle of the room and the silence was broken once more.

"One of us deserves to be saved. . . " that teenage female voice whispered in her head once more.

Cordy leaned her back against the wall and wrapped her arms around her legs.

She didn't feel like she had been saved.

She didn't feel saved at all. . .

* * *

"She's strong. She'll get back up. She's Cordy. . . " Xander spoke as if it was that simple. "She's not one to dwell on guilt for too long. . . "

Wesley looked at him and then lowered his eyes.

"She's not that Cordy anymore. . . ." He told him with a bit of pride in his voice. "I know it's easier for all of you to think of the Queen C that made your lives miserable in high school but. . . so much has changed. She's seen so much, and felt so much. . . The girl who didn't care, with the quick tongue and the loud mouth. . . that's not Cordy anymore. At least not entirely. She's not invincible Xander. She never was. . . even though she tried to be." He said. "I'm not sure either of you would recognize her anymore. . . And after this. . . now. . . "

"She's alone." Buffy finished, understanding perfectly what Wesley meant.

"She's not alone. . . " Willow said in an insisting voice, but she stopped herself.

They all stayed silent for a while.

Struck by the news. Struck by emotions. Struck by the simple shock that all of this could have happened so fast.

Struck by so many little things that made them silent.

"At the risk of sounding redundant, how??" Xander asked once again, this time in a barely audible whisper that broke everybody's hearts. "How did this all happen?" he asked, bewildered.

"When you called." Wesley said as he addressed Buffy.

The confused look in her eyes prompted him to continue.

"It all began when you left that message for Cordelia about her cousin. . . "

". . . Emily. . . " Buffy whispered, remembering.

"It all began with Emily. . . " Wesley spoke in a low, painful tone as he remembered the events of that week.

Chapter 2 – Emily

Three weeks earlier. . .

She was running.

She was running faster than she'd ever run in her entire life.



The sound of her reckless feet hitting the ground resounded in her ears as she occasionally looked over her shoulder with eyes that pierced the night with fear. She was out of breath, but she didn't care. She was exhausted, but she didn't dare stop running. She couldn't.

Her long dark hair flew as she hurried on the sidewalk, never slowing down.

She ran as if something chased her.

A young teenager, she was.

Only a teenager. Why was she running so fast? What was she running from?

Suddenly, the young girl screamed in pain and fell to her knees, bringing her escape to a serious halt. Her agonizing cry resounded in the L.A. night. Her palms violently hit the ground as she struggled to get back up on her feet. But it was too strong. The force was too powerful. She lifted her eyes and saw half of the moon dancing above her head, and as her eyes filled with invisible tears, she pushed herself up, struggled to regain her balance and looked over her shoulder one more time.

Drops of sweat sparkled on her forehead as she managed to capture her breath. She brought her hands to her chest in pain, shaking her head, and mumbling something incomprehensible.

"I got it. . . Got it, okay. . . " were the words that she let out repeatedly before starting to run again.

This was getting worse.

Much worse.

* * *

The Hyperion Hotel bathed in profound silence and emptiness, until the loud ringing of the phone broke the tranquility.

It rang. . . .again and again. . . until the machine picked up. Cordelia's voice was heard, telling whoever had called to leave a message after the beep.

"Cordelia?" the familiar voice asked in a surprisingly worried tone. "Cordelia, if you're there, please pick up. . . " after a while, Buffy took a deep breath. "Look, this morning, I got a visit from your cousin, Emily. She was looking for you. . . it seemed very urgent. I don't know what's wrong but she sounded very desperate to find you. I gave her the address of Angel Investigations, so I wouldn't be surprised if she was on her way right now. . . " Buffy explained, still with that concern in her voice. "Cordelia, something's wrong with her. She sounded very strange when I spoke to her. I don't know, maybe it's nothing and I've just been out of the loop for too long. . . Anyway, her parents came barging in just now because she's disappeared from the hospital. . . I didn't tell them I had seen her, but I really think something's up here. . . just. . . juts wanted to let you know. . . " Buffy finished, before hanging up.

Right as her voice faded, the Hotel became silent once again.

Too silent.

* * *

She began running again, as fast as she could until she saw it.

Its roof, its darkness, its grandeur. She couldn't be wrong. It had to be it. She ran towards it as if her life depended on that one last sprint towards the door. She reached the large door of the Hyperion and banged on it, opening her mouth to speak but no words would come out.

"Cor. . . " she began but it only came out as a whisper.

No answer.



She paused to take her breath and examine her surroundings when an invisible forced pushed her against the door violently. She closed her eyes in pain and fell to the ground, right in front of the door.

* * *

Later that same night. . .

"I'm okay, I can still walk. . . " Cordelia's voice was heard from a distance.

"They are getting worse and worse. . . this is not good Cordy, and you are not okay." Angel insisted in a low voice.

Gunn and Angel helped Cordelia get out of the car and wrapped her arms around their shoulders.

"You guys are complete mysteries to the female kind, you know that?" she mused as they helped her walk towards the door. "Big muscles and all. . . .while big, dorky softies underneath." She said looking back and forth between Gunn and Angel, managing a tired smile.

She coughed once or twice on their way to the door.

Angel's eyes rested on her face.


Brave, but tired.

These visions were definitely taking their toll on her and he could see it.

Cordelia turned her head slightly enough to catch a glimpse of his stare. Forcing a smile that went to her eyes, she managed to ease down the hidden fears she'd seen plastered on Angel's face.

Wesley walked in front of them, going to open the door, when he stopped in his tracks.

They all followed his motion, slightly confused, slightly fearful.

"Oh my. . . " Wesley began and then rushed to the door.


Lying on the ground, was a young girl's body.

Cordelia let go of Gunn and Angel as their eyes landed on the bloody, motionless – not to mention unconscious – body. The two men rushed to Wesley's side, never realising the look of horror on Cordelia's face. Fred stood behind Cordelia.

She froze.

She found herself unable to move.

Cordelia's eyes were fixated on the girl.

Angel, Wesley and Gunn turned to face her when they heard her voice and they saw the shock on her face.

"Oh my God. . . Emily. . . " she spoke again as she rushed towards the young girl and knelt on the floor beside her.

"You know her?" Fred asked, as she seemed oblivious to anything and everything else around her.

Cordelia went to touch Emily's face but the blood stopped her.

So much blood.

A long and painful silence befell them.

A haunting silence.

A dreadful silence.

"She's my cousin. . . " Cordelia finally managed to let out.

Angel, Wesley and Gunn all stared at her momentarily, a bit stunned by Cordelia's words.

"We need to get her inside, right now. . . " Angel said, reaching for the girl's hand.

As soon as his fingers brushed against Emily's hands, Angel gasped in pain and fell backwards.

It burned.

His fingers felt as if they were burning.

Cordelia turned and saw him grab his hand painfully and fear spread across her face. She tore her eyes away from Angel and looked back down at young Emily's motionless body. Never mind the fear. Never mind the doubts, or the danger. Cordy grabbed her cousin's arms and tried to lift her up. Her lack of strength was not helping the case here and she knew that.

She didn't care.

The feel of the warm, wet blood on her hands made her shiver initially.

Right then, Emily began to move, and she slowly opened her eyes, grimacing in pain.

"Cordy. . . " her voice was shaky and her words simply wavered out of her mouth.

"It's okay. . . it's okay. . . " Cordy whispered, desperately trying to reassure the young teenager.

Gunn, overcoming the initial shock of Angel's fall, grabbed the young girl and lifted her in his arms.

"Careful. . . " Wesley said, pushing the door open as they all walking hurriedly.

* * *

She barely moved while Cordelia bandaged her arm, carefully. She barely spoke.

Such fear and worry filled everyone's eyes.

If they only knew. . .

"There you go. . . " Cordy said, giving Emily a tiny smile and sitting down beside her.

"Thanks." Emily managed to say.

By the time Cordelia had been done with helping Emily, Lorne had arrived at the Hyperion. His initial reaction to seeing young Emily had been a confusing one.

The look on his face.

His long silence.

His staring.

For some reasons – inexplicable ones – Lorne had been taken aback by the sight of the strong female teenager. The look they had exchanged had not only piqued Cordelia's curiosity, but it had also worried her.

"What happened to you??" Cordelia asked, concern in her voice as she took a seat beside her cousin.

Angel and Wesley sat nearby, while Fred and Lorne sat around the counter in utter silence. All eyes were riveted on Emily.

"Nothing. . . I'm fine. . . " Emily spoke.

Her voice. There was a warning in her voice.

She hadn't arrived on their doorstep by chance.

Her eyes shot Cordelia one of those looks – those same looks Cordy could throw at them sometimes.

"I need to talk to you. . . " Emily said in a low voice as she faced Cordelia.

Such darkness in her eyes. Yet, there was this youth, this lively sparkle of hope.

"Emily, you show up here covered with blood, I think I have the right to know what happened to you first." Cordelia insisted.

"Were you attacked?" Wesley inquired, looking as thoughtful as ever.

"No. . . " Emily said, shaking her head.

What else was she to say? Nothing else except for a simple no came to mind.

None of them seemed too convinced by her rather short answer.

"Oh sure, I end up on people's doorsteps with cuts and bruises all the time too. . . " Cordy sarcastically said before shooting Emily a warning look. "You might as well tell us because we'll find out anyway."

"You can tell us if you were attacked. . . " Wesley said trying to reassure the young girl.

"Was it weird? Did it have weird features and all. . . " Cordelia tried to subtly get something out of her cousin's mouth.

Emily rolled her eyes and took a deep breath.

"It wasn't a demon Cordelia." She said in a tone that made it pretty clear to everyone she knew what she was talking about.

"You know about demons. . . ?" Angel finally spoke up.

"Uhm. . . hello. . . I am from SunnyHell. If you don't know about demons there, you're a hermit or you're screwed, whichever you like best." Emily said in a typically Chase tone.

A short silence invaded the room after those words were spoken.

"You must be Angel. . . " Emily softly spoke as she looked into Angel's eyes.

Those eyes. They seem so familiar. She looked at him as if she knew him already.

"Do I know you?" Angel inquired slowly.

A small smile crept on Emily's face and she lowered her head.

"No." she responded after a short pause.

Cordelia looked back and forth between Emily and Angel. There was something she couldn't put her finger on in the way Emily looked at Angel. It was calm and peaceful. . . it was familiar. All of a sudden, Emily looked calm.

Very calm.

"Emily. . . " Cordelia spoke, not knowing exactly where to start. "What are you doing here?" she then asked with a frown.

"Just wanted to visit my favorite cousin. . . " Emily smiled.

Cordy stared at her, unconvinced.

"Emily, what happened to you out there?" Cordelia asked in a concerned, low voice.

There was a long silence.

Emily stared at her cousin's eyes and stayed silent for a while.

"You should tell her doll. . . " Lorne finally spoke up from the other side of the room.

Emily simply stared at him, still not making a sound.

Cordelia glanced over at Lorne and then back to Emily.

"Tell me what? What's going on?" Cordelia asked, but didn't let Emily answer. "It was a demon, wasn't it?" she blurted out.

"No. . . It was nothing demon-y. . . well, not technically." Emily said, pausing for a moment. "It's complicated. . . "

"I've got time." Cordelia pressed her.

"Well. . . " Emily started and then thought for a second. "God this is going to sound really cheesy, and I really don't want to steal Haley Joel Osment's thunder here, but, hum," she began and then leaned forward closer to Cordelia's face. "I see dead people." Emily finally spoke in a soft, low voice.


CHAPTER 3 – Crossroad Demon

For a moment, it seemed the room stood still.

Frozen almost.

Breaking the awkward silence was Gunn's nervous and disbelieving giggle.

"Right. Dead people. Funny line." He said as if he'd heard the best joke of the week.

Cordelia barely heard his voice. Her attention stayed focused on Emily. For some reason, the look in the young girl's eyes darkened, unwillingly.

It became somber. More distant. More serious. Pained, slightly.

"Glad you find that funny. . . " Lorne mumbled as he stared at Gunn.

Gunn stayed silent, looked back and forth between Lorne and Emily and his face dropped. The teenager had now lowered her eyes, probably trying to avoid cordelia's intense stare. She didn't remember her cousin could be that serious. Of course, Emily had always known that material-girl Cordy was an act.

A good one. A mastered one. But an act nonetheless.

It's in moments like these that t he true Cordy came through. Emily could see that. So could Angel.

"You can see dead people?" Angel said in a quiet, even voice as he sat close to the two young women.

Emily slowly nodded, finally lifting her eyes. Hidden hurt shone through them.

"Yeah. . . " she calmly spoke. "Actually, it's quite crowded in here. You'd be surprised at just how crowded it is. It's kind of distracting if you ask me." She unsuccessfully tried to lighten the mood, in her own awkward way, with one of those breathless rants. "You know. . . " she said, pausing shortly. "Ghosts, spirits. . . it's no biggie, really." She added as she rose from the couch and turned her back on all of them. "It's not why I came here. . . I'm just the messenger." She whispered out loud, but almost only to herself.

"Don't do this, honey." Lorne's highly concerned, yet knowing voice was heard suddenly.

All eyes except Emily's turned to him.

All except her.

"It is a big deal and you should tell them. You can't just tell them half of it because sooner or later you'll have to spill your guts. So out with it." He pushed her. "Unless you want me to do it for you sugar. . . "

Emily didn't even turn around. She kept her head down while everybody waited, not so patiently. Cordelia got up and walked towards her cousin, every step sounding like she was stepping into a dark and sad closed-off space.

"Emily. . . " Cordy spoke, trying to get her attention.

"Tell her. She's seen worse." Lorne told her reassuringly.

"What? Is the green dud psychic or something?" Emily couldn't help but let out as she took a deep and much needed breath, never turning around or lifting her eyes up.

"You're lucky you didn't have to sing. . . " Fred mumbled.

"Hey!" Lorne protested.

"No offense." Emily added, finally turning to look at all of them. "I mean, if I had wanted to insult you, I would have said pink dud. Or, I would have used an actual skin color." She informed him in typical fashion, which reminded Angel of Cordelia.

"Good point." Lorne acknowledged, impressed.

"You two are most definitely related." Gunn raised an eyebrow while pointing at Cordy and Emily.

"Hum, hello?? Back over here, Em. Stay with me on this one." Cordelia said, snapping her fingers in front of Emily's face.

A long silence invaded the room, meticulously making them a bit uncomfortable. Emily paused, closed her eyes, and sighed inwardly before finally speaking.

"I don't just see them." She confessed as she looked into Cordy's attentive eyes.

Tears. Hidden tears threatened to form in Emily's eyes and Cordy could see it.

"I can feel them." She hesitantly continued. "Everything in their souls. The hurt, the joy, the guilt. . . all of it. I just feel them. . . so that I can help them."

Her voice sounded scared.

Cordy had never seen Emily afraid before. Strong, brave, sharp-tongue Emily. She seemed peaceful and scared all at once – if that was even possible.

"The Crossroad." Wesley said as he suddenly remembered.

While Cordy looked at him questioningly, Emily lowered her eyes once again.

"Usually the Crossroad demons have that power. They're good demons though." He mused out loud. "They are servants of the Powers. They're born to physically and emotionally bare the pain of spirits in order to help them cross over." He explained as the information slowly crept back into his mind. "But they can only do it when the spirit actually goes through them."

"Goes through them?" Angel inquired, wanting more specific details.

"Like I see into your souls when you sing; she feels their souls when they walk through her." Lorne pitched in.

"From what I've read about these servants, it's like a gate. Once it's opened, the spirits – or Ghosts if you will – can go in and out of her as they please." Wesley said, his tone showing signs of worry. "Like your visions." He added, addressing Cordelia now.

"So you can feel. . . everything. . . " Cordy said, her voice nearly breaking with that last word.

Emily didn't say anything, but her silence confirmed Cordelia's greatest fear.

She felt everything.

Absolutely everything.

"It's a very powerful power to possess. . . but it can be an extremely dangerous one for a human." Wesley finally spoke, concern filling his voice. "No human can bare a power like that."

Angel's eyes rested on Emily, who had not moved since Wesley had spoken. There was something about her. Something reassuring yet daring and frightening. Something familiar. Like she had all the answers but was just waiting for the right moment to spill them out. Yes, she felt familiar. Like the Powers.


That word. It was all she could manage to ask at that point. It was all Cordy could coherently manage to say.

"Wrong place at the wrong time. Or, right place, right time. Depends on how you want to look at it." Emily said, trying to forge a smile, but unfortunately the smile came about a bit weaker than she had tried for.

Angel was sitting close enough to Cordelia and Emily to hear the rhythmic beating of their hearts. He closed his eyes immediately as he felt Cordelia's heart skip an important beat.

He got up from his seat, for the first time since all of this had begun unfolding before his eyes, and he walked towards Emily. With a very delicate touch, he reached out to touch the cut on her forearm.

"A spirit did that?" he asked in a soft, caring voice.

Emily looked deeply into Angel's eyes.

"Not on purpose." She answered in a bare whisper.

Cordy watched the interaction between the two silently.

"Does it always have this effect on you?" he asked her.

"Not always."

"So, what does happen usually?" Cordy inquired in a soft voice.

Just as those words came out, Emily took a few steps back, looking somewhere behind Angel and Cordelia.

"Oh no. . . " Emily sighed, pleadingly.

Cordy and Angel turned around but saw nothing.

"Can we take a rain check on this? I'm in the middle of a disc. . . "

As soon as the words came out, her body was thrown forward and she gasped in pain. She landed into Angel's arms and Cordelia immediately rushed to her. Emily closed her eyes in pain as both, Angel and Cordy, held onto her shaking body.

"Guess that answers it." Gunn said, looking rather disconcerted.

* * *

There were books everywhere. One could have assumed they had robbed an entire library considering the amount of books that lied around the hotel lobby. Wesley, Gunn and Fred were busy researching some ancient books on prophecies and such while Angel tried to find something on why the Powers would have chosen someone like Emily to bare this power. Cordelia was looking into some demon database on the computer, tapping her foot on the ground impatiently.

"Anything?" Gunn asked, looking back and forth between Angel and Cordelia.

"Nothing so far." Wesley replied in a disappointed tone.

"There has to be something." Cordelia mumbled, never lifting her eyes from her frantic search.

"We'll find something." Angel soothingly spoke as he sat across from her.

"I found a demon of the same family here." She said, thoughtfully. "It's not the same but still. It says that if you kill the demon itself, it automatically neutralize whatever damage it has done." She explains. "So maybe if we track down whatever gave this to her we can stop this madness. . . " she tried to sound hopeful but she couldn't.

"I don't know. . . " Wesley said, uncertain as he kept searching through his book.

"Well, there has to be something!" Cordy exclaimed before taking a deep breath and running her hands through her hair.

"Cordelia," Wesley said putting his book down for a moment, looking rather apologetic. "These encounters with the other world. . . her body is not made to sustain it for a long period of time." He explained.

"So you're saying that these episodes. . . this power that the Power passed down to her will kill her. . . " Angel half-asked, half-stated.

"Eventually." Wesley said in a low voice, lowering his eyes. "She is human. . . "

"What are you talking about?!?" Cordelia exclaimed, almost angrily for the first time. "I'm not going to just sit here like a big fat idiot and do nothing while these damn PTBs kill her! Na-huh. No way." She said shaking her head with determination.

"Hum. . . hi. . . yes, here." Lorne hesitantly spoke, breaking his restrained silence. "I'm sorry to interrupt this lovely rescue mission here, but I think you're all missing the point." He said as all eyes turned to him once more.

"And what point would that be?" Cordelia asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Maybe you're not supposed to save her." He finally said in a calm, knowing tone. "I don't think that's why she came here. She didn't come here to be rescued. She knows her fate, she's just completing her mission." He tried to explain as everyone stared at him blankly.

"Don't take this personally," Cordelia nicely said as she walked closer to him, "but shut up." She then finished in a still calmed voice as she walked passed him.

"I wish I could sweetheart," he said shaking his head sadly. "I wish I could."

"So what are you saying? That there's absolutely nothing I can do? That there's no way to save her? That she'll just eventually die and it's only a matter of time?" Cordy asked in a shaky breath.

"This is nothing new darling. It's like your visions. You can't just get rid of that. It's a part of you. . . " he said as everyone stood silent.

Cordelia's heart skipped a beat as he spoke those words. She lowered her eyes.

Some things only she was aware of. Some things she had never gotten the courage to tell the others.

Some things she never thought she would.

This was one of them.

As she heard Lorne compare Emily's condition to her visions, it suddenly hit her that this frantic search to rescue Emily was a pretense to rescue herself.

In some distant way.

"I'm sorry." Lorne added as he saw the heartbreaking look on Cordelia's tired face. "But I don't think she came here to be saved." He whispered.

"Then why did she come here?" she emotionally asked. "Why then?"

There was a short silence before Lorne answered.

"That's something you will have to ask her. Not me." He said as he picked up his coat and silently headed for the door. He stopped on his way out and faced her again. "Just remember, fear will only hold you down." He said before turning back to leave.

* * *

The air was thick. A warmth invaded the darkness of the hotel.

There was always such a warmth in that room. It had never ceased to amaze her.

Cordelia stood in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe as she watched the sleeping form that lied down on Angel's bed. She bowed her head down and crossed her arms against her chest, taking a much-needed breath.

So many things she couldn't understand.

So many things she couldn't do.

There he was. She could feel him. Even in the darkness, she knew he was there, behind her. Waiting. She tilted her head and noticed that he was standing a couple of inches behind her.

"Are you okay?" he whispered in the most concerned voice a vampire could make out.

"I guess. . . "

It was all she could answer.

"Cordelia, about earlier tonight," he began hesitantly. "I know the visions are taking their toll on you. Don't hide it from me." He gently told her.

"I'm not hiding it from you. . . it's just. . . " she tried but she stopped herself

They didn't need to talk about it now.

"What did she mean by 'I'm just the messenger'?" she inquired out loud, to which Angel had no answer.

They both just stayed there in silence and watched the young girl that slept inside the room. She had been so exhausted. So beat. So everything.

He could hear Cordelia breathing. Her heart pounding against her chest. He could feel the worries, the sadness. . . and somehow, he could feel the happiness radiating from her. It took Angel by surprise at first. Why did he feel like there was a part of her that couldn't help but be happy?

"Cordy. . . " he softly spoke.

The way he said her name. She knew what would follow. She had become used to that tone of his, whenever something serious was going to follow.

"Maybe Lorne's right." He whispered as she lifted her eyes, turned her head and glanced at him. "Maybe she doesn't even want to be saved. Maybe that's not why she came here." He honestly – and regretfully – spoke.

A sad smile spread across Cordelia's face as she lowered her eyes once again.

"You don't get it do you. . . " she whispered back.

Angel simply looked at her, waiting. He waited for her to continue.

She knew he was.

"I don't care why she's here." Cordelia finally spoke, turning around to fully face him now. "Maybe I should, but I don't." she confessed. "I don't care why she came here, because she did. She just did." Cordy's voice filled with repressed emotion. "She's my cousin. Granted we're not inseparable and I don't know much about her anymore, but she's family. I don't care if she came here to die or to fulfill some stupid PTB mission, because the first thing that pops into my head whenever I look at her is ‘God, somebody from my own family travelled all the way over here to see me!' How pathetic is that?! Huh?" she asked him with some sort of sadness and desperation in her voice that Angel had never truly heard before.

"It's not pathetic. . . you are the furthest thing from pathetic." He said in all sincerity as he stared into her sparkling eyes.

"She's just here. And I don't care why, because she's the first real family member who at least pretends that she cares – and we all know those are few and far between. . . if at all existent anymore." She confessed.

"Cordy. . . " Angel whispered, taking a step forward.

She shook her head and smiled faintly.

"Why?" she asked in a weak voice as her eyes involuntarily filled with tears. "Why would the Powers do that to her?"

"I don't know." He said, looking down for a moment. "I promise that if there's a way, I'll find it." He said.

They both stared at one another in silence.

They needed no words. They knew what the other was thinking.

The inevitable.

"For both of you." Angel whispered after a short pause.

Cordelia lowered her eyes and leaned against the doorframe once more.

Angel didn't know.

He just didn't.

And she wasn't sure she would ever tell him.

In the darkness of the room, she felt Angel's hand softly rest on her shoulder. Soothingly. Reassuringly. Caringly.

They just stayed there in the dark, barely touching, yet comforting one another as they watched Emily sleep.


CHAPTER 4 – Cordelia's secret.

The minutes felt like days. That night proved to be a long one for all of them.

Angel knelt beside the big couch, where Cordelia's sleeping form rested in a not so peaceful sleep. But she was sleeping. Finally. She needed her rest and that's all that mattered.

For now.

His hands seemed to tremble momentarily. His hands never trembled, he reminded himself. He took the books from on of her hands and placed it down on the floor beside her. She seemed so tired. More than usual, he thought, as he placed a small blanket on top of her.

He stayed there, motionless, watching her breathe in and out slowly.

He could not help the painful thoughts that kept crossing his mind.

The visions. The Powers.

Her being human.

Her fate.

Angel closed his eyes and took an unnecessary breath before standing up and silently heading towards the stairs.

From one of the desks, Fred, Wesley and Gunn watched him disappear at the top of the staircase.

"Is he going to be okay?" Fred asked, still staring at the empty staircase. "I mean, I realise that it may sound a tiny bit insensitive to be worrying about Angel right now, considering that Cordy's suffering from her visions keeps intensifying and her cousin's kind of just dying there from ghost-busting tendencies, but. . . " she breathed as Wesley and Gunn stared at her with raised eyebrows. "Is he going to be okay?"

"He's worried." Wesley told her as he picked up another book.

"About Emily? He barely knows her. Granted, she's an innocent and she's a lot like Cordy – and I do mean A LOT – but. . . " Fred ranted on and on again but stopped herself when she saw the serious look on their faces.

"About Cordy." Gunn pointed out before going back to his book.

"Why?" Fred questioned with genuine confusion.

Wesley took his glasses off and sadly glanced at Cordelia's sleeping body.

"Because watching Emily is like a preview." He said in a low, tired voice, and then turned to face Fred again. "Of what can happen to Cordelia." He finished as the room fell into a deep silence.

* * *

She was standing in the dark.

It was so dark. Everywhere.

What was she doing in the dark in the first place? She couldn't remember how she'd gotten there either. The darkness enveloped all of her senses, except one. That distinct feeling she always felt.

That familiar vision feeling.

Suddenly, bright flashes of light blinded her. A painful light.

Images flashed before her eyes in a disturbing sequence that almost prevented her from breathing.

The Groosalug.

Groo: "I am unworthy of lifting your burden, highness."

A crowd of dripping, ugly beasts surrounding the hotel.

Cordelia breaking down in tears, holding a lifeless body in her arms.

Groo: "It is foretold in the ancient prophecies that one will
come who is cursed with the visions. She will mate with the groosalug
whose demon blood shall absorb them."

All these images danced in her head, intercepted by images of angel, standing in a poorly lit room, staring into her eyes with such intensity while holding her face into his hands.

The sequence lasted mere seconds, and ended with the same blinding flashes of light.

Cordelia woke in a start; jumping into a seating position and gasping for air so desperately. She grabbed her chest in pain. Her face was covered in sweat, pure fear radiating from her face as she tried to regain a normal form of breathing. Alarmed, Wesley, Gunn and Fred dropped their books and rushed to her side, but she could barely notice their presence, or hear them, as she sat up and grabbed her head in pain.

Her heart was racing with fear, and mostly, utter confusion.

Definitely confusion.

* * *

Fred was now asleep on the couch while Gunn and Wesley watched Cordelia walk up the stairs in silence.

"Doesn't it bother you the amount of loose ends we got in this story?" Gunn shook his head in disbelief.

"Tell me about it." Wesley echoed the black man's confusion.

"Why do you think The Slayer mentioned an Hospital in her message? Doesn't that intrigue you in any way, shape or form?" Gunn inquired, staring at the answering machine.

"Well, seeing dead people has a tendency to make people think you're crazy." Wesley said in a patronizing tone.

"They had her committed??" Gunn exclaimed.

"That's what Willow said when Cordy called back." Wesley said, joining Gunn in his answering machine staring contest. "I think it's a good thing we've all agreed not to tell Cordelia's family about Emily's whereabouts. . . " Wesley mused as they both kept staring at the phone silently.

* * *

Angel sat at the young girl's bedside, trying to make sense of all the thoughts that ran through his mind whenever he looked at her. He didn't know her. He'd never met her before, nor had Cordelia ever talked about her before she arrived in a theatrical manner on their doorstep. Why did he feel she was there just as much for him as she was for Cordy? Why did he get this strange feeling from her?

The room bathed in semi-darkness as he watched her sleep for a moment.

After a little while, Emily began to stir and open her eyes slowly. The exhausted look on her face seems to disappear a little when she noticed Angel sitting in a chair beside her. A tiny, weak smile spread across her face as she greeted him in typical teenage fashion.

"Hey. . . " she whispered softly.

"Hey. . . "

He returned her smile, with less radiance, but still.

Emily swallowed with difficulty, taking notice of how dry her mouth and throat felt all of a sudden. Her eyes looked around the room silently at first and she then turned back to face Angel.

"Where's Cordy?" she asked in a quiet, even tone.

"She's resting – finally." Angel answered in all simplicity.

The look in Emily's eyes seemed to wise, so old, so. . . He didn't know how it seemed. It was just striking. Like she knew more than anyone should be allowed to know. Wise beyond her years.

"She spent this whole time here didn't she?" Emily asked, already knowing Angel's answer.

One look at him and she knew that Cordy had stayed at her bedside for hours before finally being convinced to get some rest for herself. She needed it.

"She's worried."

"She shouldn't be." Emily gently replied. "Everything's going to turn out alright now."

Their voices were nothing more than dove-like whispers.

"How do you know?" Angel said, his eyes growing darker for an instant.

"Have faith." She told him in a serene tone of voice that seemed to hypnotize him for a few seconds.

"I'm not sure I know how to do that anymore. . . " he confessed out loud, not really meaning for her to hear it but she did.

Emily looked at his lowered face and she exhaustingly smiled to herself.

"It'll come back to you." She whispered. "All in good time." She added as his eyes looked up to her once again.



He held all those in his eyes as he looked at her. He couldn't explain it.

"What's this?" Angel asked as he looked down at the girl's hand.

"Errm. . . tattoo." She answered as if it was obvious.

He looked down at the drawing tattooed in the palm of her left hand.

A cross and a rosary.

"Why would you have that tattooed on your hand?" he asked despite himself.

"Hello?? I DO live on the Hellmouth." She said with wide eyes. "You never know who you're going to meet in Sunnydale nowadays. This can be a very powerful weapon." She grinned cleverly.

Angel nodded, impressed.

"They didn't have that when I was there." He said, his tone obviously praising her logic.

"New trend." She simply replied.

A long silence followed this little exchange. Angel looked down, pondering whether to ask his next question or not.

He had to.

He knew Cordelia wouldn't. He had to do it.

"You didn't come here to be saved, did you?" Angel finally asked after a long silence.

Emily stayed silent, looking down at her hands for what seemed like forever.

"I can't be saved." She replied in a heartbreaking, rusty voice, never looking up from her hands. She paused, a sad smile crossing her face. "I'm not sure I want to." She whispered.

The look on her face. The sound of her voice.

Angel had trouble believing that this young girl lying on the bed in front of him was only 17 years old. That familiar thing in her eyes. He finally put his finger on it. That strength. That courageous face that served as a shield for the pain. That typical eyebrow-raising technique that was so reminiscent of Cordelia's tendencies.

That's it.

She reminded him of Cordelia.

Same hair. Same eyes. Same personalities.

Cordelia walked through the corridor towards the room she and Angel had put Emily in. She was still reeling from the vision. Or was it a dream? She didn't know. It had scared her, she knew that much. She approached the room when she heard voices.

"You care a lot about her don't you?" Emily's voice was heard asking. There was no answer. "Cordy, I mean." She specified.

Cordelia slowed down and stopped outside the door. Suddenly, she wasn't sure if she wanted to wait outside or go in. There was a little sadness in Emily's voice but mostly, there was relief.

Why relief?

Cordelia listened from the doorway.

"You don't have to answer." Emily quietly added after angel's long silence. "Just promise me one thing." She said as small tears slowly formed in the corner of her eyes.

"Sure." Angel said with a quiet nod.

"Don't let her get too scared to save herself." She finally spoke after taking a deep breath. "Please. . . " she whispered.

Angel and Emily exchanged an intense stare that was only broken by Cordelia, who finally decided to walk in.

Acting as if she hadn't heard anything, she just stood there, managed a smile and took a deep breath. Her eyes locked with Angel's for a second and she had to force herself to look away. The images of her disturbing dream suddenly came back flooding through her.

"Hi. . . .how are you?" Cordy asked, looking at Emily now.

"Good." Emily smiled.

Cordelia raised an eyebrow, not really buying Emily's tough act, but the young girl's genuine grin eased her suspicions.

"Well, good." Cordy said as she hurried towards the bed with a sudden and surprising agitation. "Get out of bed." She said as she helped the covers off of Emily's body.

"What are you doing? Why? Where are we going?" Emily breathed out the questions with a frown that mirrored Angel's.

"I think I know someone who can help you – at least a little bit." She said while shooting a look over at Angel. "A little help here Broody Boy?!"

Angel immediately helped Emily sit up on the bed and then looked at Cordy.

"You said it was too crowded in here, right?" Cordy said looking at her cousin's pale features.

"Yeah, but, Cordy. . . " she began while shaking her head. "It's too crowded everywhere these days." She confessed.

"Not where I'm taking you." Cordelia answered while she and Angel helped a confused Emily up to her feet.

* * *

"Where are we?" Emily asked.

"My apartment, you Dummy." Cordelia said in a teasing voice.

"You know, if you weren't my cousin I'd be really offended that you've been calling me that since I was five years old." She said in a long breath.

Cordelia smile one of those ‘I know' smile.

"Can you just stay here with her?" Cordelia asked Angel while she pulled out her keys.

Angel was holding on to Emily's fragile frame as they both stood behind Cordelia. On the way over there, he had figured out Cordelia's thinking.

He simply nodded.

"I just need to warn Dennis." She added, unlocking the door.

"Dennis?" Emily inquired, looking back and forth between the vampire and his seer. "Roommate? Boyfriend?" she raised an eyebrow.

"Ghost." Angel replied in a simplistic manner that nearly frightened the poor young girl.

Ghost? He had said Ghost.

"Errm. . . okay." She cleared her throat and shot a stern look at Cordelia. "Bringing me here was a good idea how again?!?" she said as a tiny fear crept into her tone.

"Don't worry." Cordy said, trying to reassure her cousin. "Dennis is going to help. He's not going to do anything to you. He's very Casper-y. Very friendly." She said trying to ease Emily's fears.

"Casper-y?" Emily repeated, not too sure about this.
"Yes, very helpful and such an attentive roommate, unlike others. . . " Cordy said shooting a side-ways look at Angel.

"I can be attentive. . . " he said on the defensive.

"Don't worry, just give me a minute." She said, walking into the apartment by herself.

* * *

Later that night. . .

"Thanks Angel." Cordy said as she walked him to the door.

"Anytime." He said turning back to face her.

He paused, looking at her with worried eyes.

"Are you sure you want to stay here by yourself with her? I mean, at the hotel it seemed more. . . more. . . " he stumbled on his thought there.

"More crowded?" she tried to finish his thought. Not exactly the word he had in mind but he realized that she was right. "Angel, I know what I'm doing. Dennis can protect her here. At least for now." She said in a soft voice. "He's not going to let any ghost or spirit walk in here so. . . "

They both looked over at Emily, sitting on the couch and chatting with an invisible Dennis. Angel and Cordelia raised their eyebrows when they saw Emily burst into laughter all of a sudden.


"They seem to be getting along. . . " Angel acknowledged with a small grin.

"We'll be fine Angel." She said after a short pause.

"If you need anything. . . "

"I know, I know. . . Now go!" she said with a hand gesture. "Go be a big bad Vamp and do whatever it is that vamps do. . . " she paused and tilted her head and frowned at her own words. "Well, not big and bad in a ‘grr' way of course, but. . . you know." He smiled. "So go and brood a little as you broody boys like to do." She smiled as he stood in the doorway.

She lifted herself up on her toes and wrapped her arms around his neck, giving him a small hug, obviously surprising him.

"Thank you." She whispered in his ear before pulling away and shooting him a smile.

Emily watched the scene unfold before her eyes and simply watched in silence. She saw Cordelia close the door behind Angel. She saw Cordelia drag herself back to the couch, silently. Always in silence.

Cordelia sat on the floor and leaned her back against the couch, grabbing one of the ancient books she had borrowed from Wesley and throwing herself into it. Emily watched her as she lied on the couch, her tired and fragile muscles aching at the simple thought of moving. There was a long silence while Emily stared at her cousin with an apologetic look in her eyes.

"I'm sorry." Emily finally spoke in a dejected utterance.

Cordelia looked up from her book, a little taken aback.


"All of this." She whispered back.

"Nonsense." Cordelia argued in a determined tone. "Okay, so you didn't really catch me in my best week, and it's not like we're taking full advantages of LA's overrated fun circle, but, details, details, details. . . " Cordelia said. "I'm not sorry you're here. I'm actually glad you are." She said with a specific honesty that Emily recognized, and acknowledged with a nod. "Now, if we can just find some way to change that whole cursed with Powers issue that us Chase girls seem to be plagued with. . . " she said, flipping the pages of the book she held in her hands.

"Cordy. . . " Emily said, her smile suddenly fading.

"You know, I think those All-Mighty People have underestimated the power of Cordelia Chase's icy stare. Not the first ones though. . . " she said, purposely ignoring Emily's words.

"Cordy don't do this." Emily said, interrupting her cousin.

Cordelia paused and sighed as she lowered her eyes.

"You won't find anything in those books." She added as Cordelia sat there, immobile. "You won't because I looked. I did. But you know what? That's okay. I don't' want you to focus your energy on saving me. That's not why I'm here."

"Then why?" Cordy asked, turning to face Emily. "Then why are you here?" she repeated, nearly choking on the words.

"Because one of us deserves to be save." Emily said as she stared at Cordelia's face.

"What is that supposed to mean??" Cordy blurted out as a confused look came across her face.

"Let's just say that I've extended my area of expertise when it comes to my power." Emily said. From the look in Cordelia's eyes, she felt compelled to continue. "I'm just like you – in so many more ways that you think – but the difference is that I never found what you found here." She said throwing her hands in the air as she looked around. "I'm a Chase too, you know." She said as a glimpse of regret filled her words. "I know what that can do to a kid. It's not a family, it's a prison that we have. But what you got here. . . I never found that in SunnyHell. All I really had was this power. And I got into it. Whenever the Powers needed a hand with something, I was there." Emily quietly and carefully tried to explain without revealing too much.

"I don't get it. . . " Cordelia whispered, shaking her head.

"I gave them a hand whenever they needed some extra favor, or some help with some things. . . even if it had nothing to do with my Crossroad Power." Emily explained. "Let's just say that they owe me big." She laughed softly. "And trust me, I'll collect."

"Then do it now!" Cordy exclaimed in a louder voice. "Ask them to give you back your normal life!"

"No. . . " Emily quietly replied.

"Why not??" Cordy's voice sounded slightly angry for some reason now.

"I made a deal with them." Emily whispered almost to herself.

"What kind of deal?"

"It doesn't matter. . . " she replied as Cordelia stared at her with a glimpse of desperation in her eyes. "It doesn't matter what kind of deal I made with them. . . I've known for a long time that I can't be saved from this." She said.

A long silence invaded the room as Cordelia sat back down on the floor, exhausted by the information Emily had just dumped on her.

"But you can." Emily whispered after a while.

Her voice.

Low yet knowing all at once.

Cordelia looked at her, a mix of emotion running through her.

"You can be saved. You and I both know that." She said as she sat up on the couch slowly.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Cordelia turned away from her cousin, avoiding the discerning look she was throwing her way.

"Yes, you do. I know they told you." Emily spoke, looking at the back of Cordelia's head. "He can save you."

A silence invaded the room.

"Don't be afraid to let yourself be saved." Emily whispered, almost in a pleading voice as Cordelia stared down at the floor in front of her.


CHAPTER 5 – Please Remember. . .

"You don't understand. . . " Cordelia suggested, rising up to her feet and turning her back on Emily.

She felt her heart tremble as she inhaled deeply. She had tried to push these thoughts out of her head for a while now. She had to. She appeared to be highly unsuccessful at it though. But she was trying.

God knows she was trying.

"You didn't tell them. . . They don't know that their answer is right in front of them, do they?" Emily supposed, staring at the back of her cousin.

"Who's them?" Cordelia lied with a fake sigh.

She knew exactly who Emily was referring to by them. Emily stayed silent, knowing perfectly well that Cordy wasn't [b]that[/b] dumb. She pretended to be in this particular instance, but Emily knew better.

Something moved on the table in front of them. A picture.

A picture of Angel, Cordy, Fred, Gunn and Wesley was slowly turned around, so it could face Cordelia, by an invisible hand that both girls guessed belonged to Dennis.

Cordelia looked at the picture Dennis had purposely pointed out to her and felt her heart break into millions of tiny little pieces.

"So, Dennis is siding with you now. . . " she said before looking upwards and sighing. "Thanks Dennis." She mumbled.

* * *

Fred sat, alone, on the floor of the Hyperion. For some reason, she didn't feel all that tired. The nap she'd taken a couple of hours before had helped. Now, the guys were beat and she was still sitting there, going through some books, all by her lonesome. She heard Angel come in but didn't say a word. The thoughtful – dare she say broody? – expression on his face held her back from saying anything that might make him uncomfortable. She watched him climb up the stairs slowly and then peeked back into her book.

She flipped a couple of pages, nonchalantly, and then her eyes widened. A gasp escaped her throat.

She wasn't sure what she was looking at, but she sure knew it didn't look good for them.

"Oh my God. . . " she whispered as she looked at a picture of fifty Crossroad demons surrounding one of theirs, like a wall.

The picture showed an injured demon, lying on the ground, while the others stood around, watching him.

Something about that picture gave Fred the chills.

* * *

Cordelia was still standing up in the middle of the living room when Emily rose from the couch, leaning on the back of a chair, trying to keep her balance.

"I know you're scared to lose the visions Cordy. . . "

"I'm not scared!" Cordy exclaimed with exasperation at her young cousin's perfectly right yet annoying comments. "I'm not scared to give up the visions. I'm just. . . " she paused for a moment as the realisation dawned upon her. "I just don't want to give them up." She honestly confessed.

"And you're scared." Emily pointedly insisted.

"I am not! I'm not scared!" Cordelia declared in a louder voice. "I like the visions." She stated, firmly. "Yeah, they're mind-boggling, and they hurt, and I curse them on a daily basis and they're a pain in the ass, but you know what? I like them that way. I actually do! And I don't want to give them up and go back to being poor, useless, little Cordy who can't help – ‘cause let's face it, I can't fight much except for the sword thing, I'm not a Barbie Slayer, or a witch, or a geeky computer whiz. . . On further observation, I'm not much without the visions. I don't want to go back to being on the sidelines; to being useless. To being nothing." She said, shaking her head as previously hidden emotions began to rise from within her voice. "How useful is a snippy, ex-cheerleader, huh?"

"What?!" Emily literally exclaimed at the top of her lungs. "Do you actually believe half of the junk that just came out of your mouth???" she said in pure disbelief. "God, you just reminded me in less than 30 seconds just how badly this family needs a boost in the self-esteem department. Do you actually think that? You think without the visions you're just a bitchy, useless nothing?"

Cordelia feigned a thoughtful pause filled with sarcasm.

"Well, let's see. . . why don't we run a poll among my previous friends? Better yet, why don't we ask my parents? Heck, if there was an anti-Cordy fan club out there, they'd probably be president!" she nearly spitted out, the anger of everything that was happening mounting inside of her.

Emily raised an eyebrow, as well as her voice.

"God – do you hear yourself?! So your pretend friends didn't know a thing about you – who [b]you[/b] are! And your parents are screw-up, freakin' dumbasses who can't even see what's right in front of them!" Emily spitted out, frowning. "Well, screw them! Screw all of them!" she added in an anger-filled tone that took Cordelia a bit by surprise. "I mean, look at yourself! Is that what you really see? Do you really see yourself the way that they see you? Because, you know, I remember the girl who pretended to be pissed that she had to read me bedtime stories and then started to smile once the parents were out of sight." She pointed out as Cordelia listened to her fast-paced speech. "And if your parents can't see the good that you do and the person you've become, well, it's their stupid loss. If they can't be proud of you then they don't deserve you worrying about them." She finished, shaking her head emphasizing her words.

"Are you breathing?" Cordelia asked, a little speechless for one of the very few times in her life.

Not that she'd ever admit it publicly.

"I knew I was forgetting something. . . " Emily took a deep breath.

An intense – though, much-needed – silence befell them. The two cousins looked at one another; now back to their much calmer selves.

"The visions don't make you who you are Cordy. . . the Powers don't make you." She paused, knowing Cordelia understood her point. "You have a shot at a normal life again. . . "

"What if I don't want to go back to being just plain normal?" Cordy whispered to herself softly, but Emily heard.

"It's not so much the normal part that has me worried, but more the life part that I'm really concerned about." Emily confessed.

There was a long silence and Emily felt a little dizzy. She sat back down, on the floor this time.

"Why didn't you tell them the truth?" she whispered as Cordelia sat back down on the floor beside her.

"Because I can't. If they knew, they'd want to help. They can't."

"When you say ‘they', you really mean Angel, don't you?" Emily quietly asked, trying to sound as though she wasn't prying.

"You don't know him like I do." Cordy replied in the same calmness. "If he knew about the prophecy, I know that he'd do anything to save me regardless of the consequences and I can't risk that."

"Because of the soul thing. . . "

"How would sacrificing his redemption be saving me? I know that if I told him, he'd end up not caring about the soul. I can't." Cordy said and then switching to a more Queen C voice. "And I'm not being a selfless martyr here. I'm also frightened of Angelus, so it's as much for me as it is for him, trust me."

"Well, Angel's not the only guy with demon blood on this planet." Emily thought of pointing out to her cousin.

"Okay. Stop it. Image of me com-shucking with a demon has officially creeped me out. Thank you." Cordelia grimaced.

They both paused shortly, and then looked back at one another.

"What if he didn't lose his soul?"

"Hello?? Curse. Not exactly a way around it." Cordelia replied, shaking her head.

"Well, he didn't lose it with that Darla chick. . . "

"Gee, the comparison warms my heart." Cordy said with a truckload of sarcasm and some disgust thrown in the mix.

"That's not what I meant. . . " Emily began but stopped herself, deciding not to take this further than it had to at the moment.

"I know, but I can't. The awkwardness, the risks. . . " Cordy whispered, slightly shaking her head.

"Cordy, whatever you do, just follow your instincts okay. . . Everything's going to be fine. Trust me." Emily smiled tenderly.

"How do you know so much, Em?" Cordelia asked in amazement at the amount of knowledge Emily had of her life.

"Told you. I got friends in high places. Powers and I are on a first name basis now."

Both girls smiled.

"Why is it that you seem more concerned with my life than your own?" Cordelia than asked with a glimpse of sadness in her voice.

Emily took her time to answer, pondering her words as she stared at Cordelia's tired face.

"You're the exception to the rule, I guess." She shrugged. "You give this crazy family a good name." She whispered in all honesty.

Cordy wrapped one of her arms around Emily's shoulders as the two of them sat on the living room floor in silence.

For a long time.

* * *

The days went by at a pace Cordelia would have wanted to slow down a bit. Every morning bore a fear in her mind, a growing weakness in her body, and a deep confusion in her heart.

Cordelia and Emily's conversation had never been brought up again. The words were left, lingering in Cordelia's head, but Emily never really brushed the subject again.

She knew the impact of the words had left permanent traces.

They didn't need to be repeated.

Watching Emily's health falter and deteriorate as the days went by proved to be a lot harder than any of us had expected.

For some reason, the young 17-year-old left a deep impact on the demon-fighting gang. Watching her somehow changed their perspectives on a lot of subjects. In her own simplistic, subtle way she brought life with her. Whether it was she or the Powers, something seemed to accompany her wherever she went. In her smile.

In her words.

In her way of just knowing.

Her presence opened doors that all of them had kept closed. Locked. Out of necessity. Out of fear.

She seemed to bring a light to Cordelia that had seemed faded before her arrival. Something, which never ceased to make them – especially Angel – smile.

Fred's discovery of the Crossroad Demons' tendencies whenever one of their own died didn't seem to worry nor surprise Emily – though it did the rest of them. The book mentioned how protective these demons were of their fellow warriors-of-the-good, and how they always gathered around a dying fighter. Emily had claimed that they had nothing to worry about.

At this point, they just all wanted to believe her.

As the days went by, her health began to deteriorate, and much to Angel's chagrin, so did Cordelia's. Each vision seemed to steal a little piece of her away. Even though Cordy never brought it up, he could see it.

Despite the impending heartbreak that awaited them, as they got closer to Emily, the young girl never lost her smile. It didn't fade. Not once.

Not when she explained to Fred what the symbol on her sporty necklace meant.

"It's Chinese. It means trust. I never take it off." Emily had told Fred one day, before proceeding in telling her the fascinating tale of how she had become its owner.

The smile never faltered.

Not when she discovered – and shared – Angel's passion for old movies.

Not when she witnessed Gunn singing along the radio – and when she decided to join in.

Cordelia had never seen a smile so filled with amusement on Angel's face than at that moment. Watching Gunn and Emily sing their hearts out. Angel had smiled the brightest smile ever. Cordelia would never forget that smile.

Even when Cordelia looked worried, Emily never ceased to smile along.

The smile never disappeared.

Not when she hurt. Not when she suffered. Not when she neared the end.

The smile never left her face.

It was brave, hopeful, real. Contagious even.

Until that day.

A day where everything changed.

* * *

Cordy sat on the floor in the basement of the hotel, leaning her back against the wall while Angel trained. In the last couple of months, she had joined him on occasion, but these days her health would not allow it. Nor would Angel.

She would talk to him while he listened, busy with whatever training he was doing. That didn't bother her much anymore. She had gotten used to one-sided conversations with Angel. But talking to him was reassuring. So she just did.

Angel approached her, all sweaty and serious, and sat down on the floor beside her. They both stayed silent for a while as he just sat there, staring in front of himself, just like she did, and waited.

"How are you feeling?" he finally asked, almost reluctantly.

"Angel, don't. . . " she said, crunching her nose and shaking her head.

"I know you don't want to talk about it, but I want you to know that we're going to figure this thing out. They're not going to take your life. I promise you that." He said, placing a hand on her shoulder, comfortingly.

Cordelia unintentionally held her breath for a second. She lowered her eyes, feeling his hand on her shoulder.

A guilty feeling crept up inside of her.

Angel felt her shiver under his fingers and he saw the expression on her face change. He wasn't sure what it was but she suddenly seemed sad as she bowed down her head momentarily.

"What?" he asked, sensing something wasn't right.

"Did you feel that?" she said, eying her shoulder.

"The shiver?" he asked with a frown.

Cordelia nodded gently.

"It's stupid. I mean, how many times does a person shiver every day?" she asked, her eyes already filled with invisible tears – ones she refused to let flow. "Now, I can't shiver without thinking about Emily. I keep thinking about this ancient myth that said every time a person shivers it means some sort of spirit went through them. . . I keep thinking about how suffering a simple thing like that has become for her. . . " she said, not making sure her words made sense at the moment.

"Yeah. . . " Angel whispered, leaning his head back on the wall as he stared into the dusty room.

"I feel a stupid shiver and for her it's like an earthquake." Cordy whispered, joining him in his silent stare.

"She's strong." Angel said after a long silence. "Like you." He added, catching a glimpse of her thoughtful profile.

* * *

Fred, Gunn and Wesley all began panicking as they noticed the gooey beasts starting to surround the hotel and pound on the walls and doors.

Emily, who had been lying down on the couch, got up and painfully made her way to the door that led to the basement. Wesley protested, not wanting her to tire herself, but she didn't listen.

Her heart began beating so fast she could barely feel it anymore. She had trouble breathing, and even more so standing up. She grabbed the walls as if they were her lifeline.

She could feel it.

Gunn, Wesley and Fred watched her and realized what was going on when they heard her talking to herself.


They rushed towards the door but Emily had already gone down the stairs.

Cordelia and Angel both jumped to their feet when they saw a tearful Emily stumble into the room and fall on her knees helplessly.

"Emily!" Cordelia exclaimed as she threw herself down on the floor with her cousin.

Angel's eyes looked up and through the small windows, he noticed the demons surrounding them.

"Cordy. . . " Emily whispered in a desperately pleading voice.

Cordelia helped the young teenager up to her feet but she could barely walk. Emily leaned on Cordy's shoulder, grabbing Cordelia's t-shirt with her hands.

"What's happening?" Cordelia asked, seeing Gunn, Wesley and Fred rush into the basement and locking the door.

"Errm. . . .should we fight them?" Fred asked as she looked at the demons through the window.

"No!" Emily said in a voice that simply could not reach the loudness she had hoped for due to her weakness.

"Emily. . . " Cordelia whispered as her eyes locked with her cousin's.

Emily's eyes filled with both, tears and courage. Cordy felt her heart break as she glanced between the demons and Emily's face. Emily was breathing heavily now and when the girl let go of her to face an invisible creature, they all knew what was happening.

"No!!" Angel shouted as he felt the ghostly force throw itself on Emily.

As soon as the shout had escaped his throat, Emily fell backwards, grabbing Cordelia's t-shirt and holding on for her life. An agonizing cry escaped her as both women fell down to the floor. Emily's body began shaking and Angel could hear her faltering heart begin to quicken.

"C. . . Cor. . . " Emily tried to breathe out but she barely could.

"No. . . " Cordelia said, cradling her cousin's head on her lap. "No. . . no. . . .Don't you dare die on me. . . " Cordelia whispered through her teeth as she caught the fearful look in Emily's eyes. "Don't you dare die on me or I'll kick your ass. . . I will. . . " Cordy added as her eyes filled with tears.

"Don't. . . don't be af. . . afraid. . . " Emily managed to say as her grip tightened around Cordelia's hand.

She grabbed Cordelia's other hand with hers and placed something inside of it, then closed it and as she began to run out of air, she let one small tear roll down her face.

Her eyes never left Cordelia's. . . .until they closed and her body stopped shaking.

"Emily. . . Em. . . " Cordy let out as tears now rolled freely down her face.

Gunn, Wesley, Fred and Angel stood around them, at a fair distance, speechless and immobile.

Angel closed his eyes in pain as he heard the last beat of Emily's heart. It rang in his ears like a drum. . . .and then nothing. Nothing. Silence, except for Cordelia's tears.

Cordelia grabbed her cousin's motionless body and brought it closer to her, refusing to let it go. She closed her eyes as a bright flash of light suddenly shot out of Emily's body, blinding them for a moment.

When they opened their eyes, the room bathed in a bright yellow light.

"I'm okay." A voice was heard from behind Cordelia.

Angel turned around almost at the same time Cordy did, only to see Emily, surrounded by a bright yellow light, standing there in front of them.

"Oh my God. . . " Fred couldn't help but whisper at the sight of the young girl's spirit.

"I'm okay." She repeated as she stared at Cordelia, who was still holding Emily's body in her arms.

The look on Cordy's face was pure confusion, shock, sadness. . . a mix of everything humanly possible spread across her face.

"Cordy. . . " Emily spoke in a peaceful voice. "Don't be afraid." She said.

"H-How. . . " Cordy managed to let out.

"I've got my ways." Emily smiled. "Everything's going to be alright. . . trust me." She then said in a calm, heavenly tone. "Just trust me. Don't be afraid to save yourself. Everything's going to be alright. I've got it covered. Just trust me. . . " she said as she took a small step back.

Cordelia nearly jumped to stop her but she didn't.

"Just trust me. . . " Emily's voice faded as the image of the young girl began to disappear. "Everything will be alright. . . " they heard as the room became dark once again.

They all stayed there, in shock and Wesley raised his eyes to the windows. Strange painful cries were heard from outside as he saw the Demons begin to leave.

Angel, for his part, never left Cordelia out of his sight. His eyes were riveted on the young woman, cradling her cousin's body in her arms.

There, in the middle of the room, Cordelia wrapped her arms around Emily's lifeless body and closed her eyes, tightening her grip around the small necklace Emily had placed into her hand earlier.

* * *

Understand the things I say
Don't turn away from me

'Cause I've spent half my life out there
You wouldn't disagree

The sun was shining brightly as the entire Chase family stood in the middle of the Sunnydale cemetery, as they lowered down Emily's coffin. A tear fell from Cordelia's eyes as she watched the remaining of her cousin disappear into the opened earth.

Gunn, Wesley and Fred stood beside her, eyes lowered, dressed in black, and silent as the sun was slowly beginning to go down.

In the remaining sunlight, something sparkled from Cordy's neck.

A necklace.

Emily's ‘trust' necklace.

Do you see me? Do you see?
Do you like me? Do you like me standing there?

A small tear fell from Cordy's eye as she locked eyes with her mother, who was standing at a reasonable distance from her.

Do you notice? Do you know?
Do you see me? Do you see me?
Does anyone care?

The priest was talking but she couldn't hear. People were crying but she couldn't notice. Her tired, mourning eyes were staring at her parents, who had not said a word to her since her arrival. They looked away as Cordelia lowered her eyes, resigned.

Unhappiness where's when I was young
And we didn't give a damn

People began to walk away, but she didn't move. Her eyes were staring out into the sunset, absent, distracted. . . She felt a hand land on her shoulder, carefully. She turned slightly enough to see Willow standing behind her, trying to awkwardly say something comforting. She turned her eyes back to the sunset, not bothering to say a word.

'Cause we were raised
To see life as fun and take it if we can

One by one, Willow, Xander, even Giles, came up to her and said a few words that she didn't really hear. She wasn't really listening.

Buffy stood beside her in silence and looked at Cordelia's tearful, pale face. Unlike the others, words failed her.

The two of them stayed there for a while, staring at the coffin being lowered still, not speaking one word to one another.

After a while, she placed her hand on Cordy's arm, awkwardly, and then walked away.

My mother, my mother she'd hold me
Did she hold me ,when I was out there

My father, my father, he liked me
Oh he liked me, does anyone care?

He saw her, standing there all by herself, as he stayed in the shadows. They were all leaving her.


He saw Mr. And Mrs. Chase approach her from behind.

Cordelia's eyes locked with her parents and they just all stared at one another.

Understand what I've become
It wasn't my design
And people everywhere think
Something better than I am

From a distance, he didn't hear what they told her. He just watched, unable to step outside of the shadows. Cordelia just stared at them, a tear rolling down her face as he saw Mrs. Chase's mouth move to say something.

Angel leaned against a tree and saw the accusing look on Cordelia's father's face right before the two walked away from her.

But I miss you, I miss
'Cause I liked it. I liked it
When I was out there

Do you know this ? D'you know
You did not find me, you did not find
Does anyone care?

They all left. Even Gunn, Fred and Wesley.

They all left, but she didn't.

She stayed.

Never moving. Just staring in front of her, above the hole in the earth that would hold Emily's body from now on. She just looked up at the sun and waited.

She was just waiting, all by herself in the cemetery now.

Angel reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope that had his name written on the back of it. It had already been opened, and read. He had definitely read it, and if he'd had a heart, it would have stopped beating when he read the words.

Unhappiness was when I was young,
And we didn't give a damn
'Cause we were raised
To see life as fun, and take it if we can
To see life as fun and take it if we can

Even from afar, he saw the pain on Cordelia's face. She could hide it all she wanted from the others, but he saw it.

And he waited, too.

My mother, my mother she hold me
Did she hold me, when I was out there
My father, my father, he liked me
Oh he liked me, does anyone care?


The sun had now gone down, and for some odd reason, Cordy had not moved an inch. She was still just standing there, with her hair pulled up with a simply clip, a few strands of hair falling on the side of her face.


Does anyone care?

She felt him walk up to her in the newfound darkness.

She closed her eyes when she felt him stand right behind her.

"Why are you still here?" he whispered in a low voice.

"I knew you'd come." Cordy said, opening her eyes again.

Angel stepped even closer to her, and now he could feel the mourning sound of her heartbeat. It was calm, rhythmic.

He felt a lump gravitate in his throat as he looked at her profile, his shoulder brushing hers. His face conveyed a mix of emotion that included compassion, pain, fear. . . sadness even.

He knew his voice would not be able to comfort her.

He wasn't sure if his mere presence would either, but she seemed at ease with him standing beside her.

Angel lowered his eyes and took an unnecessary breath.

"Why didn't you tell me. . . ?" he then whispered as his eyes bore into the ground.

Cordelia closed her eyes as a tear rolled down her cheek.

She knew what he was talking about.

She could feel it.

She sighed through her tears and glanced at him from the corner of her eyes. At the lost look he saw on her face, he didn't need an answer. He saw the hesitation, the fear. He saw everything.

She finally turned to face him and his un-beating heart broke when he met her sad eyes.

As if everything had been said in this long silence, Angel just wrapped his arms around her and held onto her. Cordelia automatically wrapped her arms around his neck and just held him back, as they both stayed there, in the middle of the dark cemetery.

From a distance, standing near the trees, Buffy watched them, before lowering her eyes and walking away.


Song Credits: "Ode To My Family" by The Cranberries.

CHAPTER 6 – Secret Understanding

None of them seemed to really know what to say at the time. They just looked at each other, questions dangling off their tongues, but all they seemed able to do at the time was stay silent.

It was killing Fred.

It had been two hours now, and already half an hour since she, Wesley and Gunn had decided to retrieve themselves from the conversation. Their presence wasn't crucial, and quite frankly, it made them a tiny bit uncomfortable.

Fred, Wesley and Gunn stood around the couch, quietly glancing at the stairs once in a while, in unbearable silence.

"Why didn't she say anything before??" Fred finally let out, unable to keep going like this for another minute.

Both Gunn and Wesley kept their eyes lowered for a moment.

"You know Angel. . . " Wesley stated in a calm tone. "That's why." He then added as his voice sounded almost sad.

"Because he can save her. . . " Fred pondered out loud.

"Yes." Wesley thoughtfully replied. "Because he can. Because he'll do anything to." He added, staring at the staircase, pensively. "Cordelia had her reasons for not saying anything, and though sadly so, they were good ones. And Angel is the primary one as well." He regretfully spoke, putting his glasses back on.

The short silence that followed appeared to give them some time to process Wesley's words. Gunn looked up, arms crossed against his chest and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Well, at least he explained that whole curse stuff again. . . with more specifics this time around." Gunn said, looking back and forth between Fred and Wesley. "I didn't know it wasn't the sex. Did you know it wasn't the sex?" he pointed towards Fred who shrugged. "How come I was the last to know it wasn't sex?? I should have been told about that small detail." He said with a pensive nod.

"It may not matter." Wesley swallowed loudly.

"What do you mean?" Fred inquired, while both she and Gunn stared at Wesley questioningly.

"Angel went out of his way to explain about that whole Gypsy Curse thing, making it crystal clear that chances are nothin' would happen. . . " Gunn pointed out, getting worried. "He said he lost it with the Slayer because he was madly and passionately in love with the chick. . . it wasn't the intimacy. . . ." He added, his tone growing very concerned.

"He said the emotions, not the act." Fred frowned, questioning Wesley still.

"You sayin' he lied, man??" Gunn exclaimed.

"No." Wesley absent-mindedly answered and then looked at them straight in the eyes. "At least not intentionally." He said, as Fred looked confused for a moment. "What I mean is, you know Cordelia. If Angel had expressed out loud, in front of her, that yes there is a chance he'll lose his soul, what would she have said?" he said as if the answer was obvious.

"Not better now. She's gonna beat the crap out of him. She's not dumb, she knows the risk." Gunn said, raising his eyebrows at the thought of Cordy mad.

"Not dumb. Scared." Wesley somberly spoke. "And so is Angel." He added as another painful silence invaded the hotel.

* * *

The room, lit by a single light in one of the bedroom's corner, bathed in quietness. The intensity in the room could have been sliced with a kitchen knife.

Angel sat in a chair near the bathroom door, dressed in black, as usual, and still wearing his leather jacket. Meanwhile, Cordelia was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking rather pale and exhausted, dressed in jeans, a white top covered by a light blue, long-sleeved shirt. She was holding her head with both hands, leaning her elbows against her knees, as they both drowned in the awkward soundless room. Cordy ran her hands through her shoulder-length hair and looked up as their eyes met.

Even in the poorly lit room, they could see each other's faces perfectly.

"You're not thinking clearly Angel." She whispered in an exasperated sigh.

"I am. . . " he replied, thinking of something else to say, but she thought faster than he did.

"No, you're not." She said as her eyes bore into his from across the room. "This is not an option for you. We have already gone over this. . . we've gone over it. . . and over and over and over it again in the last two hours." She said, getting up and turning her back on him.

Angel slowly rose from his chair as well and walked closer to her. He stood behind her now.

"Cordy. . . " His voice was so pained. Desperate almost. It was tugging at her heart.

"Angel, you're not thinking about the consequences. . . " she said through her teeth as if she wanted to emphasize what he'd be risking.

She turned around to face him.

"Yes I have! It would be saving you!" he exclaimed as he grabbed her arms softly, but with an air of despair.

"Among other things, yes. . . " she said, emphasizing each word to make sure he got her drift. "Angel. . . " she ran her hands through her hair again. "We're best friends. This could be. . . awkward." She said, trying a different approach. "And, hello?!? There's the matter of your curse here – and I know how you've gone out of your way to make me not worry about it, but I do. Thank goodness that I do, because one of us has to, since you obviously decided to forget about that tiny detail." She said. "You need to think about this. . . " she almost pleaded.

"I have thought about it." He whispered in a heartbreaking tone.

Their eyes met and Cordelia found herself unable to tear her eyes away from Angel's and she saw a small tear behind his intense stare. They intensely stared at one another as a mutual sense of fear hammered at their hearts.

"Cordy. . . " his voice was pleading for her to listen.

"Angel, don't. . . " she shook her head and moved away from him, trying to avoid looking into his face.

"Fine. Then you'll let me call Lorne." He said, louder.

"What for?!" she spun around from the other side of the bedroom.

"To find a way through that portal and to get Groo's butt over here." Angel said almost reluctantly. "He can save you, will you sleep with him?"

"No!!!" Cordelia exclaimed, clearly insulted, as her wide eyes stared at Angel in disbelief. "I am not sleeping with Groo – not matter how pinchable his butt may be – and. . . Angel. . . " she stammered. "Argh!!" she groaned, throwing her hands in the air.

Angel took a few steps towards her.

"You're not afraid of angelus, Cordy. . . .you're just afraid to lose the visions." He deducted as she shook her head, silently denying his accusation. "But, they're killing you. . . " he breathed out.

Cordelia took a deep breath and stared at Angel, gently placing her hands on both of his arms, as if she was addressing a little boy. But he wasn't a little boy. She knew that. He was a man. . . desperate to save her.

"Angel, listen to me. . . " she slowly spoke. "This is so typical of you." She tried to control her voice, not sure if she was angry or scared by now. "It's so typical Angel Behavior! But Angel, this isn't something that you can just feel your way into. . . "

She stopped at his wide-eyed expression and frowned.

"Oh – Can we please keep our minds out of the gutter here!" she insisted as she sat back down at the edge of the bed. An apologetic look spread across Angel's face before he sat down next to her.

"Angel. . . " she whispered, looking down at her hands, back to her previous seriousness. "What I'm saying is that you can't just jump into the save-Cordy boat without thinking of the repercussions. Not this time." She spoke as her voice nearly choked on the words. She looked up and Angel saw the tears in her eyes. "This isn't cutting a guy's hand off, or freeing a man from hell." She added, intently staring into his dark eyes. "The beast you could be freeing. . . we may never be able to get him back in h ere." She whispered, touching his chest with her fingers.

He felt a lump in his throat as he looked back into her tear-filled eyes.

"I won't let you die, Cordy. . . " he whispered back, placing his hand over hers. "I can't." his face covered with fear. "Don't ask me to. . . "

* * *

Gunn sat on the left side of the big couch, a crossbow in hand, staring in front of himself. Fred sat right next to him with a stake resting on her lap, also staring, while Wesley sat on the right side of the couch, holding an ancient dagger as he joined his friends in their staring contest.

Another hour had passed.

"What do you guys think is going on now?" Fred let roll off her tongue.

They all looked at one another, very awkwardly, and then turned back to their previous positions.

"Knowing them. . . .they're probably still talking it out. Going back and forth about. . . " he stopped himself when he felt four wide eyes resting on him. "I mean. . . " he stumbled upon his error in wording.

"Long silences. Lots of brooding. Lots of snippy, misplaced comments. And lots of. . . .awkwardness." Gunn concluded as an answer to Fred's question.

They all stared in front of themselves once again, in silence.

"Was that about the two of them or the three of us?" Fred frowned at Gunn.

* * *

they had been talking – and thinking – for another hour now. It seemed like forever since Fred, Wesley and Gunn had slipped out of the conversation. Neither Angel, nor Cordelia, could blame them for it though.

They were both still sitting on the bed, slightly facing each other now, seemingly deep in a serious discussion.

"How can you be so sure?" she asked, not really certain if she wanted an answer or not.

"Because, it's not about the intimacy itself. . . .it's not the. . . ." He stumbled on his words. "You know. . . " he said instead. "It's about the feelings. I was so passionately in love with Buffy and that's why Angelus took over and I lost my soul. . . " he explained for what seemed to be the millionth time.

"So. . . " Cordy began, rising from the bed and standing a couple of feet in front of him. "Since there's none of that mushy stuff between us – obviously – chances are you wouldn't get the big forbidden happy. . . " she theorized, sounding a little distant.

"Yes! That's what I'm saying!" Angel responded, thinking it was what she wanted to hear, but then he mentally berated himself for just how cruel that had sounded.

She looked at him for a moment with a strange expression on her face.

"Gee – was that supposed to be a turn on?" She asked as she raised an eyebrow, in a way that only she could. "If so, you're failing horribly at it." She added.

"It's not. . . what I'm trying to say is that no matter what, everything's going to be fine." He said, getting up and walking towards her, taking her hands into his, slowly. "You will be fine." He whispered in a low, caring tone.

Those words again.

She so desperately wanted to believe them.

There was a short silence between them.

"Angel, what if. . . "

He didn't let her finish.

"There will be no what if."

"But what if there is a what if?"

"There won't!"

"There could be a what if. What if there is a what if? I need to know what to do if there is a what if Angel!"

"This is getting confusing."


Their breathless exchange was so fast-paced that it left them both taken aback and nervous. They stared at one another for a while before Angel moved towards his dresser. Cordelia watched him reach inside a drawer and take something out. Angel slowly walked back towards her and placed a stake in her hands.

"Uh. . . Angel, I'm not into that kinky stuff. . . " a wide-eyed Cordy said, staring at Angel.

He looked at her, perfectly knowing that her sarcasm and humor only served to mask her nervousness.

"You know what to do if there is a what if. . . " he whispered, closing her hands over the stake.

"You said there wouldn't!" she cried out loud, not really knowing why.

"Cordy. . . " Angel whispered, feeling the warmth of her hands beneath his cold fingers. "If anything happens. . . I want you to use this."

"No." she said determinedly, as she stepped back.

"Cordelia. . . "

"This is wrong." She said, shaking her head.

"The visions will kill you Cordy! I won't let what happened to Emily happen to you!" he argued.

"Fine." Cordy said, throwing her arms in the air. "Fine! You want to take the visions away?? Fine!! Go right ahead. . . . Come on, let's get this thing over with." She dared him, standing tall before him.

Her tone was severe but her eyes mirrored the depth of her vulnerability and fears. They were red with tears that she so desperately tried to hide. She stared at him, waiting.

His heart broke.

* * *

"I can't imagine how awkward this must be for them. . . " Gunn said.

"Well, they're very close already. . . " Fred countered.

"Not [b]that[/b] close!" Wesley pointed out.

"And, let's face it. . . .they're both very easy on the eyes so the physical part of the whole thing should be no problem." Fred theorized as the guys stared at her.

"I don't think we should talk about this. Should we be talking about this? I don't want to talk about this." Gunn finally said as the imagery invaded his head.

* * *

Angel looked into her eyes and he felt a tugging at his un-beating heart.

"Come on. . . show me what you got. . . " she said as her voice trembled despite her best efforts.

Angel's voice broke as he spoke.

"I'm not going to force myself on you. . . or force you to be saved."

"You're not. I'm willing. See? This is me being willing. Willingness is pouring out of me right now." Her voice seemed a bit frustrated.

"Cordy. . . " his tender whisper calmed her anger.

They shared a highly emotional stare and held it for a while.

Cordy's head dropped as a tear rolled down her face. She slowly went to sit on the bed while Angel stood in the middle of the room, silently.

"Angel. . . " she whispered apologetically. She held her head between her hands. "I'm scared. I'm just. . . "

She didn't have to continue. He could hear it in her voice. In her breathing. In the beating of her heart.

"I would do anything before I let anyone hurt you, even the Powers. You know that."

A tear fell from Cordelia's eyes as she watched him.

"That's why. That's why I didn't tell you. I knew you would say that." Angel's eyes filled with realization and pain.

"I watched you hold Emily while she died. . . in your arms. . . Don't ask me to do the same with you. . . " his voice broke and Cordelia saw the tears hidden in his eyes. Real tears. "I can't watch you die."

She looked at him and then lowered her eyes, breathing a tiny sigh of relief. Was it relief? How could she be relieved? She didn't care. She just was. They shared a long pause before Cordelia looked up again.

"I won't be able to stake you. . . " she then whispered, throwing the stake on the floor.

"You'll know what you have to do. . . " he whispered, staring at her from across the room.

"I can't do this. . . .stake you. . . "

"You won't have to. . . I'll be fine." He said, waiting for her answer, expectantly.

Emily had promised it. Now Angel was promising it too.

Cordelia looked into his eyes and a certain mixture of emotion came over her.

"Okay. . . " she finally whispered, with a new trusting expression on her face.

"Okay. . . " Angel repeated as they looked at one another, awkwardly at first.

"So. . . " "So. . . " they both said at the same time.

Angel was standing near the door while Cordelia was still sitting on the bed.

"So I guess we just. . . do it." Cordy nervously spoke as they both stood still for a moment. "Let's just do it. . . " she added, beginning to unbutton her shirt.

He saw her trembling hands and immediately walked towards her. Kneeling on the floor before her, he put his hands over hers, tenderly stopping her.

His touch was screaming at her "not this way. . . "

He felt the warmth of her hands beneath his and took an unnecessary breath.

"I never thought I would say this but I really hope this will be your worst sexual experience. . . .ever." she spoke in her typical Cordy voice.

Anything to avoid the big happy she feared.

Angel gave her a soft smile.

That would be impossible." He whispered.

"Right." Cordy acknowledged. "You did have Darla." She nervously said, still holding his hands into hers.

Cordelia was looking down at their hands, not moving. Not speaking. She closed her eyes and quietly listened to her own heartbeat for a few seconds. She then opened her eyes and looked up into Angel's waiting face.

"I don't want to hurt you. . . " she whispered as she felt one of his hands travel from her hands to her cheek, extremely slowly.

* * *

"Do you think it will be quick?" Fred inquired, once again attracting the puzzled stares of Wesley and Gunn. "Well, I mean, logic would be that cold heartless sex would be better to keep Angelus under control. . . " she defended herself as they still stared at her. "You think it'll be like that or that they will. . . you know. . . take their time. . . ?"

None of them answered as they all turned away from one another, trying to avoid looking into each other's eyes. A long silence followed and Fred felt another question coming up. . .

"Will the Powers watch?" she said as both Wesley and Gunn jerked their heads to look at her.

"What?!?" they both said in unison.

"How will they know when to do the whole transfer thing. . . I mean. . . " she grimaced at her own perverse thought. "Will they just. . . stand there and watch. . . .to determine which moan is appropriate to do the transfer?"

Wesley and Gunn both looked disturbed by the young woman's questioning.

"Boy, I so did not need that mental picture. . . " Gunn said, his face twisting as they all went back to staring.

* * *

Kneeling before her, Angel brought his right hand to Cordelia's cheek. A serene silence took over them as they simply stared into each other's eyes.

Emily: "Everything's going to be alright. Trust me. I've got it covered."

They had rarely experienced such intensity in their lives before. It was almost calming to a certain degree. Their eyes seem to speak louder than words ever could, sharing their most private thoughts. Hidden secrets.

Silent Conversation.

Secret understanding.

She felt his other hand brush the side of her face as they stood still, as if time had stopped. It's as though the earth had stopped turning all of a sudden and there was just them. Just the two of them, moving in slow-motion.

As they just stared into one another's eyes, a silent – yet sad – understanding overcame them. If this didn't work, Cordelia would surely die. And if it did work, Angel wasn't sure he would survive. They knew that. There was no need for words. The hidden tears they saw on one another's face was enough of a conviction.

One of them would not make it. One of them would not be saved.

Angel slowly began lowered his face to hers, never breaking the intense connection with her eyes.

This was all they had. For one of them, tonight might be the last. The realization had dawned upon them.

Cordelia's heart stopped beating as their faces slowly began to close the empty space between them. Nothing was rushed. If anything, it was slow, almost calculated yet spontaneous.

Angel, cupping Cordelia's face with his strong hands, gently lowered his lips to hers in a long, emotional kiss. Her hands were not trembling anymore. Her heart was beating again. The touch of his lips on hers was enough to silence any fear that ever inhabited her. She closed her eyes and kissed him back with the same gentleness he had.

What had begun as awkward was now turning into comfort. Angel felt comfort in her kiss. Calmness. The kiss lasted for a while as they both just marveled in the emotions and the delicacy of it all. Neither of them had ever been kissed with such delicacy and it took them both by surprise.

After a moment, Angel pulled away from the kiss, staring into her eyes as if to know if this was right with her. He wanted to do this right. He needed to do this right. Not rushed. Passionate, but not rushed. He wanted to take his time.

Cordelia's eyes seemed to sparkled into the night as she quietly lifted her head up and kissed him once again with the same delicacy as before but with a bit more passion. He found himself mesmerized by her kiss, which served as her only answer to his silent questioning.

She brought her hands up to his in a slow gesture. They seemed unable – and unwilling – to move at a quicker pace, wanting to memorize every single second of this. Wanting to do this right.

The kiss slightly intensified, without ever being rushed, as he felt her tongue massage his slowly.

Cordelia brought her hands to his chest and slowly pushed the infamous leather jacket off his shoulders. He let go of her face long enough so that the jacket could slide down his arms and silently fall to the floor. His lips left hers long enough for her to breathe before she felt his mouth gently take hers again. Their tongues danced with one another, making everything around them disappear for the time being.

Angel slowly pulled away from the kiss, letting his forehead slightly brush against hers as he lowered his eyes to her blouse. With gentle hands, he finished unbuttoning the buttons of her blouse, feeling the warmth of Cordelia's breath on his face as he did so. Cordelia stared at his face, almost amazed by how soft his skin actually was for a vampire, as he slowly pushed the blouse off her body, revealing her bare shoulders.

Their eyes met in a mere instant before they kissed again. He was still kneeling on the floor before her, reveling in the touch of her lips against his. She felt his hands travel from her knees up to her waist, where they rested for a while. There was a strong desire in the way they kissed, touched, moved. . . breathed even. Yet, there was this underlying calmness to it. Cordelia, never ceasing to return his kisses, reached for the edge of his black sweater and began to pull the piece of clothing over his head. Angel helped her free himself of the unnecessary sweater and let it fall to the floor immediately.

Their eyes met in one of the most intense, emotion-filled stare they had ever shared. They didn't need any words. He could feel her heart beating faster, and strangely enough, she could see he was breathing too. He didn't even seem to notice. Their lips met once again in a steamier kiss as she let her hands massage the back of his neck. After a while, she pulled away, slightly enough so she could look into his eyes, and caught her breath. Her hands were warmly resting on h is strong and bare shoulders now. He looked back into her eyes and then lowered them to the beauty of her bare shoulders. Slowly, with a gentleness unknown to himself, he traced an invisible line on her skin with his cold fingers. He let his fingers slip under the strap of her white top and slow, ever so slowly, he pulled it down. Cordy though her heart was going to stop right there, but it didn't. Instead, it began beating even faster. There was such a comfort to Angel's touch. Such a familiarity. A rightness to it.

She felt his cool lips on her shoulder as he gently pulled the strap down, letting his fingers roam on the softness of her arm. He didn't dare kiss the warmth of her neck, somehow not wanting to scare her. She knew what he was thinking. Cordelia closed her eyes, his lips slowly coming back to hers.

This time, when they kissed, she pulled him to her, never wanting to let him go. Never wanting to let this moment go. He was touching her like she had never been touched. He was kissing her like she had never been kissed. Something inside of her wanted to be rational, and afraid, but she couldn't. It just felt right.

He carefully lowered her down on the bed and let his hands rest on her hips as she stared into his eyes. They stood like that, immobile, for a few seconds, staring at one another. There was something in her eyes. Something he never wanted to forget. Something he knew he never would.

He bent his head down once more and tasted once again the refreshing taste of her lips.

* * *

The hotel bathed in a divine silence. Fred was resting her sleepy head on Gunn's shoulder as the two men by her side slept soundly.

Still holding their weapons.

Still sitting on the couch.

They slept.

* * *

The sheets wrapped their bodies with near perfection as the rest of their unnecessary piece of clothing lied beside the bed. The simple sound of their breathing was hear in the room.

Their kissing was more desperate now. More urgent. Without losing its touch of calm sensuality, they were lost in their touch and kisses. Quite frankly, it had been a while for both of them. Yet, they seemed to at ease with one another. So perfectly entwined. The way their bodies touched, the way their hands clasped together. . . the way their mouths danced a dance only they could follow. . . they seemed oblivious to the world.

Oblivious to the risk. The consequences. The sacrifice.

Oblivious to the small blue light that surrounded them as their bodies clung to one another.

Oblivious to it all. . . except their secret understanding.

CHAPTER 7 – "You promised. . . "


That's what it was.

It just lied there, helplessly, on a darkened floor, in the middle of the room. As if the whole world rested upon its metaphorical shoulders. And somehow, it might.

There, a couple of inches away from Angel's leather jacket, a couple of other inches away from the bathroom door, lied the wooden, single stake.



Slightly scattered across the floor were the remaining of their clothes. A light blue blouse resting at the foot of the bed; a dark sweater, cramped in a little bundle a bit further away from the bed; a pair of black pants quietly waiting on the side, near the nightstand; a classic yet comfortable pair of shoes forgotten nearby.

Everything stood still.

The clothes. The air. The sleeping body that somehow rested on the bed, a sheet covering him from the waist down.

The room bathed in a dreadfully intense silence, except for the hushed sound of running water coming from the bathroom.

The quiet, subdued sound of water.

A sound that Angel seemed to be oblivious to as he lied, eyes closed, on the empty bed.

The door to the bathroom was closed. Behind it, a thoughtful Cordelia hovered over the sink, listening to the somewhat calming sound of the rhythmic water. Constancy. Constancy that overstepped on thoughts she wasn't ready to have. Having put back on her white top and a pair of training pants she'd found on Angel's dresser, she leaned on the side of the counter, her palms feeling the coolness of it against their skin. Eyes lowered, she took a long, deep breath.

The sound of the water was reassuring to her somehow. It relaxed her. It calmed her nerves for about a split second.

Her heart began to beat faster again as the realization of what had just happened dawned on her. How had she let him convince her? How had she let him convince her that everything would be fine?

She tried to take reassurance in the fact that so far, everything was fine. Except for the obvious awkwardness that would surely follow Angel's awakening. But, no matter how she tried to think positive, she could not help the fear and thoughts from settling in her mind.


She wasn't sure how to word the whole thing.

She had sex with Angel. She and Angel slept together. Angel had sex with her. . .

No matter how she was wording it, it made her nervous. And it sounded wrong. It didn't feel wrong, but her choice of words did. Who was she kidding? She had a pretty good understanding of what casual should have been like. What simple comfort should have felt like. How simple, heartless sex should have unfolded.

That had been n one of the above. Not that she was ready – or even wanted – to admit it at this point, but the truth seemed pretty obvious. There had been feelings. There had been emotions. There had been. . . .something. She didn't dare go as far as to uncover what that might have been.

Everything had been so slow. So gentle. So. . . not rushed. She wasn't used to not rushed. Her mind had been yelling at her to just rush things. Just do it. Quick. Without feelings. Just to save her. But it had been so delicate at first. So. . . unexpected.

What had begun as a device to save her life had turned into something she both enjoyed and feared now.

Yes. As her heart beat faster and she looked at herself up in the mirror, she uncontrollably became invaded by this urging and constant fear. She ran her hands through her hair and tied it with a small elastic, in a messy little bun.

Cordelia took a sharp breath and slowly reached for the empty glass on the side of the sink. She silently drank some water, letting the water run quietly. Ever so quietly.

Angel was sleeping. And there she was.

Just like he'd told her.

To get away. Not to stay close. Even though he'd promised her everything would be fine – just as everyone seemed to try and make her believe – she had seen in his eyes the worry. The fear. The despair to make her believe something he couldn't make himself believe in the first place.

And there she was. In the bathroom. She wasn't sure how long she'd been in there. 5 minutes? 10? 15? Probably more, she couldn't tell really.

Everything would be fine she repeated herself. No big happy. No big Angelus. . . at least not that she had seen prior to entering the bathroom. Not prior to Angel falling asleep.


Things were fine.

Cordelia placed the glass she had just emptied in one long swallow back on the small counter. She breathed slowly and then raised her eyes towards the mirror again.

Her heart stopped as she nearly jumped in shock.

The blood froze in her veins for a moment as her eyes landed on the image of Emily standing right behind her, a look of warning imprinted on her face.

Cordy immediately turned around, trying to catch a breath of air that seemed lost to her. As soon as she spun around, the image had disappeared.



Emily was gone.

It took Cordelia a few seconds to actually calm herself down. The reflection in the mirror had taken her by surprise – and obviously had troubled her. The look in the young girl's eyes had been mysteriously disturbing. Foreshadowing something she now was back to dreading. She felt her chest rise and fall quickly as she pushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear, carelessly. She closed her eyes, mentally berating herself for nearly letting herself go insane.

Cordelia turned around slowly and as she did so her eyes landed on something on the side of the sink.

Her eyes widened and her heart skipped an important beat.

It had not been there before.

She swallowed difficultly and reached for the sharp stake that now rested on the side of the sink. A growing fear began to take over her being as she took it in her hands. She heard a small noise from the other side of the bathroom door and suddenly, she really wished she had taken Angel up on his offer and just ran out of there as soon as their little "mission" had been finished.

Things are fine.

She repeated that to herself incessantly.

Unsuccessfully at that, however.

Cordelia heard the small rustle of the sheets and she instinctively tightened her grip on the stake. A lump gravitated in her throat as she turned around slowly and faced the bathroom door. Air seemed harder and harder to find by the time her eyes narrowed on the door in front of her.

She bit her lower lip, waiting. Waiting as she stared at the door. Unwilling to imagine the worst, though, unable not to.

* * *

He stirred. Not much of a move, just a stir.

His whole being was thrown up and he gasped in pain. He shot up in a seating position on the bed as an earth shattering growl escaped his aching throat. With wide eyes and pain stricken muscles, Angel fell down on the floor beside the bed.

The room spun around him. He could feel it. The hole in his chest. That emptiness in his whole being. It hurt. It ached. He felt like screaming at the top of his lungs, which cause a frightening growl from his throat.

His hands aimlessly attempted to grab the floor beneath him as he crawled to the door.

* * *

Cordelia slightly jumped back at the sound of Angel's painfully dark groans. She could feel her heart in her throat as she debated whether to open the door or not.

Her fingers were now grasping the stake with such a firm drip that it frightened her. It's as if even though she wanted to let it drop to the floor, she couldn't.

At the sound of angel bursting through the bedroom door and into the corridor, she felt her heart jump out of her chest.

* * *

Angel's body desperately fell through the door and ended up all the way across the corridor. Tears shed from his eyes. A fright somehow unknown to human kind spread across her face. He felt his muscles hit the floor with savage rage and the next thing he knew he was standing at the top of the stairs.

Feeling an impulsive anger-filled growl coming, he just threw himself forward, his body noisily and loudly crumbling down the stairs. His face hit the cold hard steps one by one until he crashed onto the floor.

Gunn, Fred and Wesley sprung from the couch, alarmed by the noise and agitation as they saw Angel rise, grabbing his chest with savage hands. As Angel rose to his feet, his eyes locked with theirs, prompting a very familiar fear in them. The yellow behind Angel's eyes was starting to appear and as Gunn pointed his crossbow towards him, Angel threw himself towards the door to the basement. An alarming cry of pain emanating from him as he crashed down the stairs in the same manner he had the previous ones.

Cordelia's frame appeared at the top of the stairs in a hurry. She rushed down the stairs as quickly as possible as she faintly heard Fred's frightened voice in the back of her head.

"Cordelia! Oh My God!" Fred exclaimed as she saw Cordelia carelessly jump the stairs two by two before barely landing on the ground. She saw Gunn and Wesley run towards the basement as they felt Angel's agonizing growl.

"Wesley!" she cried out but it was too late.

The two men had rushed downstairs, in an attempt to mobilize the beast that Angelus was quickly becoming. Cordelia harshly urged Fred back, but the look in her eyes contained a vulnerability Fred had never seen on Cordelia's face before. Cordelia heard Angel's body hit the ground and barely heard Wesley and Gunn's voices in the background.

She was still unconsciously gripping the stake that Angel had previously handed her when she fidgeted. For about two seconds. With fearful eyes aiming at the stairs, she ran towards the basement and aimlessly made her way down the stairs, fumbling through a darkness unknown to her before.


Everything was dark.

Nothing was fine.

She breathlessly arrived in the doorway just in time to see Gunn being thrown across the room and Wesley's head being smashed on a metal shelf. Angelus fell to the ground, in the middle of the room, his half-naked body shaking as if the life was being sucked out of him.

The life had already been sucked out of him. For a long time.

Now it was his soul.

"Angel, don't!" Cordy found herself shouting at the vampire when she saw him grab Wesley's motionless body.

He let the ex-watcher drop to the floor with such a carefree attitude that Cordelia froze. Angel's back was turned to her and for a second there, she pondered running back up the stairs, grabbing Fred and getting the hell out of there. Her muscles were numb. She was motionless.



The air stopped going in and out of her lungs and her heart momentarily stopped beating. She stood there, eyes riveted on this man. . .

He was not a man.

Not anymore.

She realized that as soon as he shifted his head and glared at her. His dark, evil, soul-less yellow eyes. She found herself paralyzed with fear and with pain.

"Angel. . . " she barely made a sound, but he heard her.

He was kneeling on the floor as he fully turned to her. A glimpse of the real Angel shone through his hungry stare. She could feel it though. It was coming. It was inevitable.

"Angel. . . stay with me. . . ." She whispered in a shaky breath as she venture one step closer.

She immediately backed away when Angel crumbled to the floor with an agonizing cry.

She took a step back when she heard Angel's pleading voice from under his breath.

"Get out!!" he warned her as his tone grew darker and darker.

Cordelia pondered the option for a split-second and began stepping back towards the exit. She stopped only when her back hit the wall behind her.

"Angel. . . " she ventured once again, not moving this time around.

But this time, when he looked u p, there were no traces of Angel left. With his game face on, his fangs perfectly disfiguring his otherwise handsome face, he coldly stared at her, rising to his feet. She heard the tiny growl coming from him as she clutched the stake in her hands, silently praying. She couldn't run. She couldn't stay.

She couldn't do this.

She didn't have the strength to do this.

Angelus suddenly became aware of his half-nakedness and a somewhat evil smirk spread across her face. Pride. That's what she saw. Pride.

"Looks like we had fun." He growled as he took another step towards her.

Cordelia quickly glanced at Gunn and Wesley unconscious bodies as she brought the stake closer to her chest.

She managed to take a deep breath, eyeing the door for a second, and then noticing the chains that were lying in a corner of the room. Her hands were shaking, but she was quickly trying to think rationally. Though, all rationality seemed to have left her at the instant she realized what was happening.

It was her doing.

"It looks like it." She said, pointedly eyeing him.

Her voice was trying to be firm and confident, but sadly so, it was fearful and guilt ridden.

"I can't do this" she kept repeating over and over again in her head as she saw him approach her with an hunger and a darkness that she had known to fear only in her worst nightmares.

"Come on Cordy, show a little spine. . . " she muttered to herself under her breath.

Angelus launched at her in a moment of spontaneity but Cordy managed to get out of the way. She made a head-start to the weapon cabinet she had installed in the basement but Angelus stopped her, grabbing her body and throwing her onto the floor. The stake flew out of her hand before she could even move. She saw it land half way between them and the doorway. His body pressed hard against her, mobilizing her for what seemed an eternity.

"I guess I should say thank you." Angelus spoke in a low, frightening voice as he lowered his mouth closer to her face. He could see the small tears of fear hidden in the corner of her eyes as she tried to free herself from his grip. "You did me a huge favor – pun very well intended." He growled.

Cordelia had one free hand left and she desperately tried to reach for something that was lying beside her.

"Angel. . . " she was calling to him, even though she knew he wasn't there anymore.

"Now let's have some more fun. . . my way." He said as he leaned in for her neck.

Cordelia finally managed to grab what she was aiming for and hit Angelus over the head with a strong metallic object. He rolled over her, giving her enough time to crawl from underneath him. Kneeling on the floor, she crawled to the weapon cabinet. She literally jumped when Angelus grabbed her and pushed her right through the cabinet, making the glass shatter to the floor in millions of little pieces. AS he was reaching to pull her up, Cordy's hand fell on something strangely familiar and without a second though to it, she swung the sword in the air and right into Angelus' direction. The sword hit him hard on the arm, cutting his un-bleeding skin deeply.

She looked at him, wide-eyes gracing her tired, frightened face, as if she had made the biggest mistake of her life. For a moment there, the whole world stopped. She had stabbed Angel with a sword.


Angelus she needed to remind herself.

She was breathing quickly now, still pointing the sword at his face, forcing him to back away slowly.

He smirked. Something that looked like a fake smirk at least. The closest thing to one that a monster like Angelus could have formed she guessed.

"You can't do it. You're not going to hurt poor little Angel. . . ." He muttered, faking a deadpan baby voice.

Tiny drops of sweat began rolling down Cordelia's forehead. She saw Gunn stir silently in the back of the room, and then she brought her eyes back to Angelus.

"You promised. . . " she whispered with clenched teeth as her heartbreaking voice brought tears to her own eyes. Tears she was unwilling to shed. And didn't.

"I lied." Angelus said with pride and joy.

In a move so fast she barely saw it happen, angelus grabbed another one of the swords and lunched at her. She managed to escape his attack, but barely. She was fighting to stand up. The transfer of her visions had drained her of all strength she had left, and quite frankly, that little ‘transferring process' with Angel had been exhausting as well in and of itself.

He pointed his sword at her, suddenly finding this challenge quite amusing.


Never had she thought she would actually fight him.

She didn't want to.

There had to be another way. She was not going to stake him, no matter how intent Angel had been about it.

She couldn't.

Angelus took a quick step forward and swung his sword her way, which she stopped with hers.

"Good girl." He growled. "I taught you well. . . "

"Don't flatter yourself. . . " she mumbled as she tried to concentrate on his face.


That's all she could come up. She felt like she was going to be sick. How did this all happen? What happened to all these "everything's going to be fine" speeches? He could sense her heart beating faster, irregularly almost. He could feel her breathing intensifying. She was scared. That's how he liked it.

He attacked her once again and this time, Cordelia put into use what Angel had taught her. She stopped him and attacked him back, with a pain-stricken look in her eyes as she did so.

She couldn't do this.

She couldn't. Simply couldn't.

A short battle between the demon and the seer ensued, Angelus' sword finally brushing Cordelia's arm, leaving a trace of blood as it moved away. She grabbed her shoulder in pain as her sword dropped to the floor. Angelus took advantage of the moment and pushed her with all his strength, which sent her flying across the room.

"You killed him. . . I hope you're proud. I know I am." Angelus spoke as he glared at her.

She fell, helplessly, to the ground, in the middle of the room.

She flipped over to her side and grabbed the stake that was lying right beside her, just as she saw Angelus come right after her.

As it was the case in most movies she'd watched in her young life, the moment seemed to be dragged into a slow-motion sequence. So slow. So painfully slow. She felt a tear roll down her cheek as her fingers rounded the small wooden stake, bringing it closer to her body. Flashes of images, much like the visions, momentarily flashed through her mind.

Cordelia lowered her eyes and leaned against the doorframe once more.

Angel didn't know.

He just didn't.

In the darkness of the room, she felt Angel's hand softly rest on her shoulder. Soothingly. Reassuringly. Caringly.

Angelus jumped in the air towards her in what seemed like a long, slow-motion movie. She held her breath as she watched him, slowly, ever so slowly, rushing towards her.

"She's strong." Angel said after a long silence. "Like you." He added, catching a glimpse of her thoughtful profile.

Cordelia rolled over on her back as fast as she could, which for some reason, appeared to be very slow to her own eyes.

"Why didn't you tell me. . . ?" he then whispered as his eyes bore into the ground.

Cordelia closed her eyes as a tear rolled down her cheek.

She knew what he was talking about.

She could feel it.

She sighed through her tears and glanced at him from the corner of her eyes. At the lost look he saw on her face, he didn't need an answer. He saw the hesitation, the fear. He saw everything.

She finally turned to face him and his un-beating heart broke when he met her sad eyes.

As if everything had been said in this long silence, Angel just wrapped his arms around her and held onto her. Cordelia automatically wrapped her arms around his neck and just held him back, as they both stayed there, in the middle of the dark cemetery.

Angel violently landed on top of her, grabbing her arms tightly.

"You know what to do if there is a what if. . . " he whispered, closing her hands over the stake.

Time stood still as he lowered his teeth to her neck.

"I won't be able to stake you. . . " she then whispered, throwing the stake on the floor.

"You'll know what you have to do. . . " he whispered, staring at her from across the room.

"I can't do this. . . .stake you. . . "

"You won't have to. . . I'll be fine." He said, waiting for her answer, expectantly.

Emily had promised it. Now Angel was promising it too.

Her hand, which had been frozen over the stake up until now, finally moved. As she felt the tip of his teeth on her skin, she raised her hand, which had been resting on her chest, and pointed the stake to his heart.

She felt his head rise from her neck and her eyes locked with his in a moment that was destined to plague her life with guilt for as long as she'd live.

She had stopped breathing.

She had stopped living.

She gasped as she felt her arm move, heartbreakingly, as she drove the stick into his chest, throwing him backwards.

Her face dropped. Her eyes grew wide. Her heart broke into millions of pieces as she felt her hand hold the stake to his heart.

He leaned back on his knees as she retrieved the stake and stared, blankly at what she had just done.

Angel, cupping Cordelia's face with his strong hands, gently lowered his lips to hers in a long, emotional kiss. Her hands were not trembling anymore. Her heart was beating again. The touch of his lips on hers was enough to silence any fear that ever inhabited her. She closed her eyes and kissed him back with the same gentleness he had.

Images of Angel flashed through her mind as a bright yellow glow surrounded his body. His fangs disappeared and a look of utter despair, fear, and sadness spread across his face. His eyes. His tear-filled eyes stared back at her as he whispered her name.

"Cordy. . . "

He held his chest with both hands as she kneeled before him, unable to breathe, just stare.

Emily: "Everything's going to be alright. Trust me. I've got it covered."

Fred came rushing down the stairs and froze, while Gunn and Wesley slowly lifted their heads up.

Cordelia's eyes welled up with instant tears at the sound of his voice. Underneath her gasp and stare, he vanished.

His image faded as Cordelia stood there, kneeling on the floor with tears silently running down her face. Her hands still grasping the stake in her hands, she just stood there immobile.

There weren't any words for what they had just seen.

There weren't any words for what they were still seeing.





The stake fell helplessly to the floor, the noise resounding so loudly he made her deft. Cordelia leaned back on her heels, still staring at the empty space in front of her, her heart numb from what she had just done.

What had just happened.

The look in her eyes. There was such a mix of emotion in her eyes that neither of her friends could form a word. They just stared. Like her. Wesley and Gunn, bruised and bleeding, reached Fred and wrapped their arms around her, making sure she was fine.

Emotionally drained, she just stood there, unable to move.

Unwilling to.

* * *

The was a long silence. Painful and unbearable.

"And here we are. . . " Wesley sadly spoke as he lowered his eyes to the cast on his forearm.

Gunn, whose bruised face now made sense, and Fred were somberly silent, while Buffy, Xander and Willow sat in silence. Shock.

Buffy lowered her eyes as well, grasping the truckload of information that was just dumped on them.

"Here we are. . . " Gunn repeated in a bare whisper.

Chapter 8 – The Talk

She closed her eyes for a moment, listening.

Just listening.

To silence.

Around her, in the training room, everything stood still. The air seemed unatainable. The sounds were absent. The usual sparring that field this room was gone. Lost.


Her hands trembled. There was such a loss in her hazel eyes. A guilt. A trace inside her face of something so painful that she felt she had to hide it. To cover it up. To paint over it as if to protect herself from its dark colors. It was a guilt she couldn't fight, couldn't touch, couldn't bear.

With a slow, hesitant hand, she picked up the sword she had dropped on the floor earlier. Her fingers dreadfully clutched it while her eyes lingered on its sharp edge long enough to bring a tear to her eyes. She held her breath for a moment, involuntarily. A sinking feeling crept within her. A strong sinking feeling.

Cordelia held on to the sword and carefully walked towards the weapon cabinet. She stopped only when she felt the shattered glass beneath her heavy feet. Her eyes travelled to the broken glass while her hand automatically reached up to the now healing cut on her forehead. Instead of placing the sword in its usual place, she put it down on a table nearby. She swallowed back the lunp in her throat as she carefully felt her fingers linger on the sword a bit longer than necessary.

"Cordy. . . " she heard, coming from behind her.

She immediately closed her eyes, pained at the sound of the voice. That voice. That familiar, quiet voice. She didn't need to turn around – nor did she want to. She just kept her eyes shut, listening as if she just waited for the voice to fade in the back of her head once again, just like it had done so many times before.

Behind Cordelia stood a tall, glowing Emily, with riveting eyes fixated on her fragile cousin.

"Go away." Cordelia managed to word out of her mouth as the emotions began to overtake her. "You're not real. . . you're just a figment of my imagination. . . " she added in a shaky breath.

"Maybe I am." Emily ackowledged with a soft and tender tone. "Then why aren't you turning around?" she then asked, waiting for Cordelia to have some sort of reaction – which she did not initially.

An emotionally draining silence fell between the two and Cordy stared down at the floor for a long while. She urged the tears back as she lifted her eyes up and spoke with a low, shaky voice.

"You said I could trust you. . . " she whispered as she turned around, finally.

Her words trailed off as Cordelia stared into nothingness.

No Emily.

She was gone. Again.

Cordelia breathed deeply and stared at the darkened room in front of her, as if she should have expected it.


* * *

They all fell into an impending silence of their own, trying to process, each in their own way, the current situation. So much had been said. So much had happened that they had not known about.

Somewhere between the beginning and the middle of Wesley's story, Giles had joined them.

It's like a huge heavy weight had been dropped on their hearts. As if paralyzed by the information she had now been given, Buffy had found herself immobile in her chair. Until now. She slowly rose from her chair and quietly walked towards the large window which led on the lobby. She crossed her arms against her chest as her eyes followed the young brunette who had just emerged from the basement. Buffy just stood there, emotionally silent, faintly hearing the voices behind her, as she observed an oblivious Cordelia.

At this point, she couldn't think of Cordelia without thinking of Angel. Or vice versa. She just couldn't. She thought she heard Giles and Wesley talk, but she wasn't sure. Her eyes were riveted on the young woman wearing training attires on the other side of the window.

Her only perception of Cordelia chase thus far was slowly being shattered and replaced by something that overwhelmed her in many ways. Buffy watched, attentively as Cordelia made her way to the small fridge in the back of the room.

Cordy pushed a few loose strand of hair away from her face, opened the door and bent down slightly, reaching for a bottle of water. Her fingers had barely brushed against the cold bottle when she froze. A large tear-filled lump slowly crept into her throat. She let out a shaky sigh and lowered her eyes for a second.

There, in the fridge, right beside the water, was Angel's blood. She should have known, she put it there herself every morning. After a few seconds of staring, she grabbed the bottle of water and forced herself to shut the door. She stood near the counter, oblivious to the crowd that had gathered in Wesley's office by now.

Buffy simply stood there and watched.

"Buffy?" Willow's kind voice pulled her back from her thoughts. "Buffy. . . " Willow repeated, placing a hand on the Slayer's shoulder.

Buffy lowered her eyes momentarily. No one understood. She knew that nobody could understand, except her. She opened her mouth to speak, but paused when words failed her. She glanced up at a still Cordelia before finally speaking.

"So, what you're saying is that," Buffy began, lowering her eyes again, "in less than a week Cordelia has watched her cousin die, watched herself go down the same path, only to be saved by Angel and then having to stake him. And she still got stuck with the visions. . . How am I doing so far?" she somberly spoke.

"Pretty good." Gunn mumbled.

"You guys should be out there talking to her." Buffy stated with confidence.

"She's not listening to us, Buffy." Wesley whispered, letting his head drop, while Giles and Willow moved to the window to see what Buffy was so intensely looking at.



"She's not hearing us." Gunn continued. "She's not even hearing herself right now. . . " he paused as the whole room listened to him.

Everyone suddenly fell back into a painful quietness that Fred found unbarable.

"She just sat there. . . " Fred thought out loud, speaking for the first time, a bit of hurt and amazement in her voice. Everyone turned to face her. "She was just sitting there. . . and I wouldn't be surprised if a part of her was still sitting there right now. We all act like we know her. . . like we know what she feels, what she needs, what she wants. . . We don't!" she said in a tone that nearly shocked everyone. Quiet Fred seemed angry. "None of us do!" she exclaimed in an emotional outburst. "She acts tough and brave and cold as if nothing can touch her but that's not true. Angel touched her. Emily did too. And if you had stood in the doorway, watching her, just sitting there with that look on her face. . . " a tear fell from fred's eyes. "You wouldn't be in here talking about this. You wouldn't be able to. . . " she said as she stormed out of the room.

Cordelia heard the door fly open and saw Fred rush up the stairs in a state of near anger, which wasn't frequent coming from Fred. Cordy glanced back at the office and saw the crowd that had gathered there. She barely gave it a second thought and went back to ignoring them.

Inside the office, Xander, Giles and Willow had joined Buffy in her ardent staring, despite themselves.

"Are those sneakers?" Xander asked with a surprised frown. Gunn stared at him. "On her feet!" Xander pointed out. "Cordelia would never be caught dead in sweat pants much less running shoes. Are those running shoes? I sshe wearing sunning shoes?? And not even Nike or any other famous make!?" Off everyone's look, he finally breathed. "She is. Okay. . . I need to sit down."

Giles pushed a chair his way.

"Is he on medication?!?" Gunn grimaced as he stared at the obviously confused young man.

"No. I'm afraid he was born like this." Willow nodded, knowingly.

"Thanks wil." Xander frowned, not that offended after all.

Buffy barely noticed the little conversation that had taken place behind her. She seemed more preoccupied with Cordelia's every move.

"I still think someone needs to talk to her." Buffy mumbled, still looking through the window.

"And I still maintain that you should not be that person." Wesley softly replied.

* * *

Cordelia had picked up a couple of things upstairs and without addressing any of the scoobies, she walked back downstairs. She entered the training room as a profound sense of doom invaded her once again. With a garbage bag in hand, she slowly made her way across the room to the shattered weapon cabinet. She then carefully squatted down in front of the cabinet. She could still feel the hurt of her head smashing into the glass, as she carefully, as she picked up a few shards with her fingers.

A couple of seconds passed. Barely.

She heard the slow hesitant footsteps in the stairs. She didn't even bother to turn around. Instead, she kept throwing the pieces of glass in the large garbage bag.

The blonde Slayer seemed to hesitate in the background for a few seconds. Cordelia seemed to purposely ignore her. Looking at the silent brunette kneeling on the floor, Buffy walked into the middle of the room at a snails pace. Funny how all of a sudden, she didn't know what to say. A simple "hi" didn't seem like enough, while more than that appeared inapropriate.

"Looks like you've got the brooding thing covered." Buffy finally spoke ambivalently.

Never turning around, never looking at Buffy, Cordy kept on strategically cleaning the mess in front of her.

"Yeah, well, that's me." Cordelia replied, her voice unusually low and dark. "Must be something about me. I kiss a half-demon and I end up with his visions, and I sleep with a vampire and I inherit his brooding skills. How predictable."

There was an underlying sarcasm to her words, but neither of them laughed. They didn't even smile; nor looked at one another.

"Do you need a hand?" Buffy ventured, seeing how Cordelia had not stopped her cleaning frenzy.

"Nope." Her tone was dry and distant, but firm.

"You just look like you could use some help. . . " Buffy added, holding her breath for a moment, waiting for cordelia's answer.

"Not to burst your little slayer hero bubble, but not everybody needs your help, buffy. . . " Cordy retorted, never looking up.

"Just let me. . . " Buffy bent down beside Cordy and picked up some shards from the floor.

"I got it." Cordy replied, snatching it from Buffy's hand.

For the first time since coming downstairs, Buffy got a good look at cordelia's face. Empty tear-aged eyes. A deep healing cut on er forehead. A few scratches on the left side of her chin. The loose strands of hair falling on her cheeks.

"Cordelia. . . "

"I said I got it!" she snapped.

Buffy shook her head an clentched her jaw as she pushed herself back up.

"Fine." Buffy muttered. "Knock yourself out."

Cordy didn't even react. Buffy stood behind her for a moment. Her momentary frustration obviously passed as she paused and stared at Cordelia.

"I know you're angry. . . " buffy kindly spoke.

"I'm not angry."

"You can. . . "

"I'm not!"

"It's okay to be angry. . . " buffy argued, stubbornly.

"I am not angry. I am so way beyond angry right now." Cordy argued back with the same stubborness.

Buffy paused, giving Cordy a challenging look.

"Then why do you look like you want to punch somebody?" Buffy seriously spoke.

"Well, I don't know. . . " Cordy let out in a perfect Queen C. mode. "That tends to happen to me when you're around."

Buffy calmly nodded and looked away for a moment. Cordelia had not truly meant to say that out loud, although a little part of her knew it was kind of true. That was the old Cordy. But right now, she didn't really care, or have control over that for that matter.

"Then why don't you hit me. . . " Buffy suggested in a challenging tone.

"What??!" Cordy let out with utter shock.

"You might as well give it your best shot and let it all out because I'm not going anywhere. So come on. . . " Buffy dared her in typical Slayer behavior.

"You are insane!" Cordelia exclaimed with a frown.

"That makes two of us then." Buffy ackowledged.

"I am not going to punch you no matter how tempting that sounds." Cordy coldly denied, staring at Buffy with an unreadable expression on her face.

"Right. . . " Buffy mumbled, grabbing the sword that was resting on the table beside her. "I hear you're much more comfortable with swords." She pointed the sword at Cordelia.

"Buffy put that down."

"What, scared?" Buffy challenged as her eyes remained surprisingly calm. "You know guilt has never looked good on you. . . and it's quite disturbing to tell you the truth." She confessed. "I know you've dreamed of cutting my head off once or twice – at the very least – so come on. This is your chance Cordelia. . . " her tone was more demanding by the time she finished her sentence.

"I am not going to punch you or fight you alright!" cordelia shouted, staring at Buffy straight in the eyes. "First, because you would reduce me to shreds. I'm not that stupid. And second, because I don't want to hit you!" she lashed out, before turning her back on Buffy.

Buffy lowered the sword as an deep understanding spread across her serious face.

"No, because the person you want to hit is yourself. . . " she said, her voice almost pleading for Cordelia to admit to it.

Cordy didn't answer. An awkward silence befell them and Cordy lowered her eyes and registered buffy's words. They just stayed there, silently, for a long time.

"What do you want?" Cordelia turned around, tears welling up in her eyes, but she stubbornly fought them back. "What?!!" she almost spitted in Buffy's face. "what did you come down here for, huh?? To see it for yourself? Well take a good look around!" Cordelia said, taking a step towards Buffy as the emotions in her voice mingled with anger. "Take a really good look so you can tell everyone just how pathetic and weak cordelia Chase has become. Everyone in SunnyHell is just going to LOVE that! Or maybe you just came here to tell me how stupid I am. . . " she went on one of her breathless rant, not waiting for Buffy to reply. "What?? You want to shout, to yell, to throw things?? Go right ahead! But just cut the useless crap, alright. . . " her voice now heartbreakingly shaky. "We've never been friends – and quite honestly I never really wanted to be – so let's just stop the fake bonding here and just tell me what you want. What is it that you want from me?"

The tears in Cordelia's eyes silenced Buffy for a moment.

"If you want to blame me for killing the supposed love of your life, then be my guest! But whatever you came down here for, just get it over with and leave me the hell alone."

"I didn't come here to blame you. . . ." Buffy replied, taken aback and amazed all at the same time by Cordelia's words.

"I drove a stake through his heart. . . " Cordy emphasized, as they both stared at one another intensely. "How weak is that?" she whispered, almost to herself.

"Weak?" buffy repeated as her features softened with sadness. "You think what you did was weak??" a few tears welled up in Buffy's eyes. "He would have killed you." She said in a shaky breath. "You did what I was never able to do, Cordelia. That doesn't make you weak. If anything, it makes you stronger." Buffy said, in a surprisingly honest tone.

The two of them simply stared at one another in complete silence. Their barriers and anger slowly began to vanish as a silent understanding crept between the two. Buffy was the only one who could understand Cordelia's inner turmoil. They both knew that. They also knew that right now, fighting wasn't going to help anything. So they stood there, in an absence of words that seemed comforting to both of them.

After a few seconds, Cordelia felt the familiar rush through her veins. It was slightly different, but still familiar enough for her to know what was coming. She saw the flashes of light behind her eyes and instinctively leaned against the table beside her.

Angel looked into her eyes and then lowered them to the beauty of her bare shoulders. Slowly, with a gentleness unknown to himself, he traced an invisible line on her skin with his cold fingers. He let his fingers slip under the strap of her white top and slow, ever so slowly, he pulled it down.

Then an image of Emily dying in her arms invadedher brain, followed by an intense image of Angel, standing before her, helplessly tending his hand forward as if asking for help. That image of Angel quickly dissolved into an image of Emily doing the same gesture, then Buffy, and then, in a dramatic twist, one of herself. She was staring at herself.

And then nothing.

Cordelia opened her eyes, stunned by the vision she had just been sent.

"Are you okay?" Buffy quickly asked with concern.

"yeah. Painless. . . almost." Cordy mumbled.

There was a long pause as Buffy examined Cordelia's shocked face. Cordy carefully leaned her back against the wall and let herself slowly sit down on the floor. Silently, Buffy sat down beside her.

"I keep seeing her. . . " Cordy said, burrying her face in her hands momentarily. "everywhere. . . "

"Is she the only one you see?" Buffy asked.

Cordelia's painful silence served as her only answer, and they both knew what it meant. No need for words. For the first time in their lives, cordelia and Buffy seemed to be on the same page, emotionally at least. And a certain compassion inhabited them both.

"He convinced you, didn't he?" Buffy whispered as she met Cordy's eyes. "That everything would be fine. . . "

"I guess I forgot that whenever Angel uses that phrase that never includes him. . . " Cordy nodded, staring in front of her as their conversation became more honest and calmer.

"That's Angel for you. . . " Buffy smiled as she stared into space too, probably lost in her own memories. She then turned to catch a glimpse of Cordelia's profile and breathed deeply. "There's nothing you could have done, you know. . . He would have found a way to save you. No matter what." Buffy paused as Cordelia looked at her silently. "You were too important to him. I know that. He told me." She added in an honesty foreign to either of them until now.

"You don't have to say these things. . . " Cordy softly offered, looking away for a moment.

"I do." She offered. "I know it won't make you feel any better. But you and I both know Angel's always wanted to be the hero. The one to save the people he loved, no matter what."

"I don't feel saved." Cordelia whispered, almost to herself.

"It'll come." Buffy smiled softly.

There was a long silence that followed their calm exchange.

"I'm sorry I snapped at you earlier. . . " Cordy finally spoke, hesitantly. Who ever thought she would say that to Buffy Summers.

"Forget it. Just a little flashback that proved you haven't gone totally softy on me just yet. . . " Buffy replied with a simple understanding. "I'll survive." She smiled.

Both, Buffy and Cordelia smiled quietly as they kept on staring into the darkness.

"It was so much easier to hate you when you were just tactless bitchy Cordelia Chase." Buffy then confessed, shaking her head almost in amazement. "It was almost comforting to know I could always hate you." She smiled to herself in rememberance. "Now you make it so damn hard not to actually like you."

"Sorry my layers got in the way of your comfort."

"That's not what I meant. . . " Buffy quickly replied.

"I know." Cordelia smiled, genuinely for the most part.

They both paused, looking away from each other, leaning their backs against the wall behind them. They seem to take comfort in their shared silence all of a sudden. Buffy then raised an eyebrow and turned to face Cordy.

"Was that bonding? Did we bond? Were we actually bonding?" she asked, almost shocked by her own admission.

"I won't tell if you don't." Cordy quickly answered.

"Deal." Buffy agreed hurriedly.

Another short silence invaded the room as the two sat there on the floor. After a couple of seconds, Cordelia looked down and noticed the chain hanging around her neck. Emily's little chain. Her necklace. She slowly reached to touch it with the tip of her fingers and took it in her hand. She softly un-fastened it from her neck and held it in front of her for a little while. Buffy noticed the gesture and watched, curiously.

"What's that?" Buffy asked.

Cordelia paused, her eyes filling with emotions.

"Nothing." She replied, trying to be emotionless but in vain.

Cordelia threw the necklace on the floor in front of them, as thoughts of Emily ran through her mind.

As soon as the necklace hit the floor, a bright flash of yellow light sprung from the floor and blinded them both. Buffy and Cordy found themselves shielding their faces from the bright light for a moment. A warmth invaded the training room, leaving nothing untouched. When both girls opened their eyes, all they saw was the woman standing in front of them.

Buffy's face dropped while Cordelia's stared in amazement.

They both froze, unable to form any coherent phrase.

"Mrs. Summers. . . " Cordelia mumbled through her shock.

Buffy stood motionless by Cordelia's side.

"Mom?" she whispered.


The Sacrifice – Chapter 9 – Listen. . .

The moment was surreal. Both, Cordelia and Buffy simply stared, mouth slightly ajar, completely stunned. Confused.


By the time they picked themselves up off the floor, their movements were careful and slow. Unusually slow.

Cordelia was the first one to rise to her feet, followed by an awe-struck Buffy. There, in front of them, stood a vision. An angel.

Joyce Summers.

She wore a simple yet beautiful white gown and a warm smile. Buffy simply could no0t tear her eyes away from the heavenly image of her mother, and neither could Cordy. Neither of them understood what was happening before their eyes at that time. All they could feel was the surprisingly calm atmosphere that suddenly surrounded them. Undisturbed.



"I should have known this would bring the two of you together." Joyce smiled at the two disbelieving girls, breaking the intense silence. "Eternal foes. Unlikely allies bonded by grief and unique understanding." Her voice was soft, quiet, reassuring.

Her eyes went from Buffy's pale, tired face to Cordelia's emotionally drained one. Her smile never left her lips as she did so.

"You can't be real. . . " Cordelia managed to speak, knowing perfectly well that Buffy's voice was failing her at the moment.

"I'm as real as you two want me to be." Joyce enigmatically answered.

Buffy opened her mouth to speak but then closed it, unable to get on single coherent word out. All she could do was stare and stand close to an equally shaken Cordelia.

"H-How. . . ?" she finally managed to ask, her eyes never leaving her mother's.

"Sweetie, everybody has a purpose. A mission. A calling." Joyce kindly responded. "You have one. Cordelia, here, has one." She smiled with a soft hand gesture towards Cordy. "And this is mine." She added as the two girls stared at her.

Buffy's eyes welled up with tears.

"But you. . . .you're. . . " She began but couldn't finish her thought out loud.

"Are you a ghost? An Angel?" Cordelia asked, finishing Buffy's previous thoughts for her.

"More like a guiding Angel." Joyce replied, taking a step forward. "I was called in for Emily. . . but the truth is. . . everybody gets a little lost sometimes. . . " she spoke.

Buffy was.

Cordelia was.

Everybody is. We all get a little lost sometimes.

"We all get lost, but we're never alone. And that's why I'm here. It's my mission. To give some guidance. . . ." She explained, vaguely, in the most peaceful tone ever.

"To whom?" Cordy found herself asking, in a quiet voice.

Joyce paused, smiling at the two girls who stood before her in an emotional state of mind. A world of twists and turns seemed to rest on their frail shoulders. Shoulders that were usually much stronger than they looked right at that moment.

"You." Joyce finally answered Cordelia. "Both of you."

* * *

To Willow and Xander's surprise, the others seemed strangely calm about the fact that Buffy had gone downstairs to speak to Cordelia over half an hour ago. They hadn't heard anything since then. The others being mostly Fred, Gunn and Wesley. Why were they so calm? Weren't they aware of the animosity between the Slayer and the ex-cheerleader?

"Should we be worrying?" Xander suddenly asked, facing everyone's silent reaction.

"What about?" Wesley inquired.

"About whatever they are saying to one another down there. . . .which they could regret. . . .which they often do!" he pointedly answered.

"Well, when it comes to vocal-wrestling, my money's on Cordy." Gunn said, looking into a book.

"Strangely enough, I have to agree." Giles agreed, almost to himself as the others didn't really listen.

"As long as it's only vocal-wrestling. . . " Fred, who had come down from her room a few minutes earlier, mumbled.

A short silence invaded the room until Willow spoke up her own worries.

"You don't think they're killing each other down there, do you?" she grimaced at the thought of previous Buffy/Cordy meetings that had gone bad.

"Hopefully not." Giles simply replied.

"Hopefully not?? That's not very hopeful. . . " she worriedly muttered back.

"Well, the last thing Barbie needs is another dead acquaintance in that basement. . . " Gunn stated as they all fell silent again.

* * *

"So you're. . . " Buffy started.

". . . one of them. . . " Cordelia finished.

Both girls seemed a little struck by Joyce's words and extremely vague explanations. Maybe a little amazed too.

"Them, as in those you strongly curse on a daily basis for those mind-blowing visions?" Joyce sarcastically said, though her tender expression remained. "Yes." She then honestly answered Cordelia.

"The Powers. . . " Buffy whispered, still reeling from the realization that her mother was part of those infamous Powers. . .

"Did they send you?" Cordelia's voice was shaky and filled with unspoken fears.

"No." Joyce shook her head slightly. "Emily did."

Cordelia stood still for a moment. The simple mention of Emily's name brought small tears to her eyes. Funny how little time she had actually had with Emily and how quick she had been to let her in. A family member. An actual Chase family member. Her eyes grew darker. She should have known better, she mentally berated herself.

"Poor Emily. . . The girl really tries but obviously, she needed some assistance here. Now that I'm face to face with you two, I can see why. . . " Joyce grinned.

"Assistance. . . " Buffy seemed to register every word one by one.

"Yes. Assistance." Joyce repeated slowly.

"For what?" Cordelia asked in a reluctant tone.

"To make you listen." Joyce said, more seriously. >We don't have a lot of time. . . " she then said, looking up to the ceiling for a moment.

Joyce looked back into her daughter's eyes, as if silently comforting her. Without even talking, Buffy understood her mother perfectly. This was Cordy's mission. Buffy took a few steps backwards, until her hands brushed the wall beside her. Cordelia's confused glance was brief before Joyce spoke again.

"Cordelia, I know things are confusing right now, and life seems very unfair at the moment. . . But you need to listen. You can't shut yourself off from the rest of the world. You can't put these walls up the way you used to. You need to listen. To life, to yourself. . . " Joyce paused, examining the sad expression on the brunette's face. "The hardest thing in this life is to trust where it's leading you." She then whispered to an obviously emotional Cordelia. Joyce took a few steps away from Cordy. "Don't be afraid to trust it." She added, getting further and further away from Cordelia.

The, Joyce stopped and stood still. The room bathed in silence. A silence only broken by Cordelia's gasp when Emily's ghost appeared in the middle of the room. She was surrounded by a yellow halo. Cordy felt her heart stop beating for a few seconds. A warmth and peacefulness seemed to take over the entire room. Buffy stayed back, stunned, and mesmerized by what was unfolding before her eyes. She'd seen a lot as the Slayer, but this was new. Very overwhelmingly new.

"Emily. . . " Cordy mouthed, barely making a sound, as she took a few steps towards her cousin.

"Don't be sad." Emily reassuringly spoke, feeling everything Cordelia was feeling at the moment. "I'm okay."

She could feel Cordy's worries. Her pain. Her sadness. Her near breaking point.

"Everything will be fine. . . " Emily whispered and Cordy stopped in her tracks, suddenly reminded of everything else that had happened after Emily had spoken these words before.

"You keep saying that." Anger could be depicted from Cordelia's shaky breath. "And it's never true. . . " A small tear threatened to fall from her eye.

"Only because you're never listening to me. I mean, really listening. . . " Emily pleaded as she met Cordelia in the middle of the room. "Nothing is a coincidence Cordy. Nothing is chance. There's a reason why I went to Buffy when I wanted to find you." She said, momentarily glancing at Joyce. "I was sent there. . . . There's a reason why you have the visions. . . why you have them still. There's a reason why I didn't ask to be saved Cordy. . . and this is the reason. Right here. Right now." Emily said, staring into Cordelia's confused and tired eyes.

"I don't understand. . . " Cordy swallowed difficultly while shaking her head.

"Remember when I said that pretty much everywhere was too crowded for me?" Emily asked in a serious voice. "Well, it's very crowded in here right now. . . "

Cordy looked around the empty room, confusion sparkling from her.

"Some people want to talk to you Cordy. . . " Emily whispered in an emotional tone.

"Who?" Cordy barely managed to ask, staring at her cousin.

"You need to trust me. . . " Emily pleaded. "I know you did before. You need to trust me again." Her eyes were nearly begging Cordelia with honesty.

There seemed to be a very long silence that followed those words. Cordelia didn't hear the gang walk down the stairs. She didn't see Buffy move towards them. She didn't even realize she had stopped breathing until she was breathing again. She lifted her hand to touch Emily's arm but her fingers fell right through the young girl. Ghost. A tear sprung in Cordy's eyes. But, the gesture was enough of an answer for Emily.

Emily brought one of her hands up in the air and made a swift movement towards the rest of the room. As she did so, a huge flash of light, almost like magic, spread across the room, revealing a crowd of people. One by one, these people – some wearing white like Joyce and others trimmed in elegant gold – were revealed to Cordelia. There were dozens and dozens of them, staring back at her, like they somehow knew her. Like they recognized her from somewhere.

It was surreal. It was just like a vision.

Emily gave Cordy one last silent look and then stepped back to stand by Joyce's side.

Three of the people standing in the crowd approached a stunned Cordelia. The Oracles. Cordy knew they had died, yet, there they were. The intensity was palpable.

"Oh my God. . . " Fred whispered as she and the others watched from the stairs.

"We have been watching you Cordelia." One of the Oracles spoke.

"You. . . you're. . . " Cordelia stammered again.

"Yes we are. All of us. And more." She answered.

Cordelia scanned the room with wide, wandering eyes. Astonishment covered her face.

"We have been meaning to talk to you for a long time now." Another of the Angels kindly spoke. :You have proved to be one of our most valuable and precious seers. . . "

"But the visions. . . " Cordelia started, but was stopped by a high and mighty voice.

". . . Were not meant for humans." The Oracle finished. "Until you came along. We watched. We worried. We feared. But mostly, we witnessed what these visions taught your soul. . . and Angel's." she added.

"Angel's?" Cordy frowned, a bit confused.

"Yes. Angel's." they all replied in Unison. "He didn't need the visions. He didn't care. He did not want the seer. He just wanted you. Safe. Alive. You." One of them continued as Cordy held her breath as the mention of Angel. "He proved that when he gave up his redemption and his life as he knew it to save yours. . . He knew the outcome. . . "

"It killed him. . . " Cordy whispered, holding back the flow of emotions that ran through her.

"Yes. His choice traced his fate. . . "

Cordelia looked painfully disgusted all of a sudden.

"So. . . .that was the plan? You wanted him dead?!" she exclaimed.

"No." they replied all at once. "But this isn't only Angel's mission anymore. It's also yours. You have seen the hurt of those in need, Cordelia." The oracle spoke as the gang watched, silently. "You're mission is only beginning."

There was a short pause that followed the Oracle's statement.

"The union of the seer and the vampire should have broken the Powers in you." Another PTB spoke. "It should have broken the bond between all of us. . . "

"It didn't. . . " Cordy whispered.

"Because you didn't want it to. Neither did Angel. He just wanted you to stop suffering. That's all." They explained.

"But you still took him. How was that supposed to make things better? You took him. . . " Cordy painfully accused.

"No." the Oracles rectified together. "We didn't. He's not in hell. He's not in heaven. He's just waiting."

"For what?"

The stunned expression on everybody's faces was lost to Cordelia.

"For the suffering and confusion to stop. For fate to take its course."

"What does that mean?!"

The three Oracles walked closer to Cordelia as she suddenly fell to the floor in pain. Her knees hit the ground and she grabbed her head screaming. They stood in front of her and watched her as she cried in pain. But there was no vision. Nothing. Just pain. After a while, it stopped, leaving only a tiny headache that she quickly forgot about. She rose her tearful eyes to meet theirs and waited.

Gunn and Wesley threw themselves towards her but they were thrown backwards by an imaginary bubble surrounding Cordy and the Oracles. They couldn't touch her. They couldn't help her.

"What do you want?" Cordelia cried as she looked up to them.

It took everything in Wesley and Gunn not to rush to her. A force pulled them back.

"We want you to choose." Off of Cordelia's confused tears, they continued. "It was never a choice for you. Now it is. You get to choose your life. A normal life, or the one you have here, with your friends, with Angel. . . fighting the good fight."

They waited for her to reply but she just stared, a little scared now.

"You can give up this life and the visions. Angel took the pain but he left you the choice." They waited. "Do you want to give up this life and everything that comes with it?"

The room stood still. Everyone looked expectantly as Cordelia kneeled on the floor silently. Their eyes were riveted on her and they held their breaths. All of them. Gunn, Fred, Wesley, Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles. . .

Then, she heard it in the back of her head again. "Everything will be alright. . . Just trust me. . . "

"No." Cordelia finally spoke, swallowing back the lump in her throat. "It's crazy, and maybe I am. . . .but I like my life." She whispered.

The crowd before her smiled wholeheartedly, as if that's what they were waiting for.

"We were hoping you would say so."

Emily smiled from the back of the room and breathed deeply. A habit probably.

"The one thing about life is it's the only game you lose by refusing to play." The female Oracle smiled, looking down at Cordelia. "You don't know the rules. You don't know where it's leading you, but you chose to play."

She had chosen to play. The moment she had made love to Angel, she'd chosen to play this game of life. This cycle.

"Your strength shall be rewarded, as will his dedication." The woman spoke kindly.

Cordy suddenly sprung to her feet.

"What?" The innocence and the knowledge danced across her face in a silent battle over which one was dominant.

"It is time for us to fulfill a promise." The oracles said as the entire crowd lowered their heads, closing their eyes.

Then, the Oracle walked towards Cordelia and placed a hand on her shoulders as the crowd began to disappear, one by one.

"Someone up there is looking out for you and must care a great deal. You are never alone." The Oracle whispered as she disappeared also.

The room became dark and all of a sudden, a lightning shot through the darkness, making the walls shake. Everyone grabbed each other to keep their balance.

That's when it happened.

His body, his light.

As if falling from the sky, Angel's naked body dropped from the lightning and fell to the ground with a resounding noise. Cordelia rushed to him, disbelief covering her face, helping his trembling bones up. She wrapped her arms around his neck as time stood still. This was one of those moments none of them could grasp. Only react to. Tears welled up in Cordelia's eyes as she felt him shake beneath her touch. Angel desperately clung to her, unable to hold himself up in a seated position. Xander and the others watched. . . moved by the sight before them.

Buffy rushed towards Cordelia and helped her hold Angel up in a seating position. Gunn grabbed a blanket and quickly wrapped it around Angel's freezing body.

"Cordy. . . "

His voice was weak and painful. It brought tears to her eyes. Angel had whispered her name with such emotion and despair. He was leaning on her.

"It's okay. . . " she whispered back through her own flow of emotions.

A tear rolled down her face, uncontrollably, as the others watched.

"What's happening to him?" Xander suddenly whispered to Willow and Giles as they watched the two girls cradle Angel.

"His soul is being restored." Giles whispered back, never taking his eyes off the scene. "Like when you reload a computer. . . you have to process all the data. Angel's processing everything is means to have a soul again." He explained as simply as he could so Xander would understand.

"So he's downloading all the remorse again?"

"Sort of." Willow dismissed him nicely.

They watched as a pained and weak Angle grabbed Cordelia's shoulder in a pleading gesture.

"It's okay. . . ." She whispered again.

Then it dawned on her. The realization hit her like a ton of brick. She quickly jerked her head and looked around the room, looking for her.



But she was gone. Not one trace of Emily was left in the room.

Cordelia stared at the darkness, still holding on to Angel's trembling body, and a few tears rolled down her face as she realized what had truly happened.

What Emily had done. . .

"Everything's going to be alright. . . " Cordelia whispered in Angel's ear as he leaned against her and let his head painfully rest on her shoulder.


Chapter 10 --

The Hyperion was lingering in a quiet sleepiness and had been for the past couple of hours. Emotionally drained, most of them were getting some much needed rest.

She stood alone in the middle of the room for a moment, looking around. There were no voices. No noises. Nothing. Nothing except the sound beating of her own heart. Cordy ran one of her hands through her hair and took a deep breath. She could hear the tiny drops of rain colliding with the windows. Cordelia slowly walked towards the fridge, took some blood out and placed it on the counter in front of her.

Standing on the other side of the counter was a curious Buffy. She watched Cordelia in silence for a short while before addressing her.

"Well, this is disturbing." Buffy smiled when Cordy's head snapped up and faced her. "The Queen of the 'eeww' land actually keeps blood in her fridge." Buffy finished with a slightly tired, slightly amused expression on her face.

"Yes, well, let's just say that my definition of what's 'eeww' has sort of evolved in the last couple of years." Cordelia replied, pouring some of the blood in a tall glass.

"Looks like that's not the only thing that's evolved." Buffy mused out loud.

Cordy eyed her silently for a second, before Buffy continued.

"I think Xander is going to need therapy after all of this." Buffy added.

"Then he can go with Gunn!" Cordy smiled to herself. "I think the whole saving-Cordy-process disturbed him a little..." she explained.

"Oh - you mean sex with Angel..." Buffy calmly said, looking down at her cup of coffee.

She sounded unaffected actually, which prompted a funny stare from Cordelia.

"And they accuse me of being tactless..." she mumbled, almost to herself.

"Well, someone once said that tact was just not saying true stuff." Buffy said, looking back towards Cordelia with a friendly stare. "I dismissed it but I'm warming up to the concept." she paused momentarily. "I'll pass too."

"Wow..." Cordelia nodded, partly impressed. "Looks like here's not the only place where things have evolved. The old me would be so proud of you right now..." she grinned with a tiny sigh typical of Cordelia Chase.

They briefly smiled to one another before falling silent again. The quietness around them was palpable. During the whole exchange, they had kept their voices low as to not wake Gunn and Fred, who had fallen asleep on the two big couches in Wesley's office, probably too tired to get themselves up to the rooms upstairs.

Cordelia leaned her back against the counter for a moment while Buffy sipped on her coffee, thoughtfully.

"I wish I could've had more time to talk to my mom...." Buffy confessed while cordy glanced at her.

"Yeah..." she replied, lowering her eyes as well. "There are some things I wish I could've told Emily too..." she whispered, sadly.


sweat covered every inch of his otherwise exhausted face as he restlessly lied down on his bed. It was almost torture to relive everything his soul comprised. The luggage, the pain, the remorse. It felt exactly like Wesley had mentioned: reloading data into a computer. It was agonizing still.

He kept his eyes closed, twisting and turning in his bed, somtimes holding his chest in pain, sometimes faintly trying to breathe, as if it would somehow help him. But he couldn't breathe. He didn't breathe. He was a vampire. A vampire with his soul restored.

He didn't hear her walk in. He didn't notice her standing beside his bed until she let her hands hover milimeters away from his face. She wasn't touching him, but he could still feel the warmth emanating from her would-be touch. Her presence was warm. Soothing.


Angel began to calm down. It's as if she magically eased the pain with her hands. Angel opened his eyes and saw her remove her hands from above his face. He swallowed back. It was her.


Angel opened his mouth to say something but initially couldn't.

"You'll be fine." Emily whispered to him with a smile. "The pain won't always be that know that." she reassured him.

Angel observed a peaceful Emily as wonder shone through his moist eyes. He felt calm now that she was around. She noticed and gently smiled to him.

"Cordelia..." Angel suddenly spoke with a worried frown.

"She's okay." Emily quickly reassured him. "you both are." she whispered affectionately.

Angel paused, staring into Emily's youthful eyes as he tried to make sense of the confusion that had been invading every ounce of his body.

"I saw you..." Angel then whispered as he looked in amazement into her face. "In that light. I saw took my hand..." he said and she smiled softly. "Why me? Why did you do all of that for me?"

He seemed genuinely stunned.

"You deserved it." she gently responded. "It was just one of those things that were simply meant to happen..."

They both paused shortly. He couldn't take his eyes off of the young girl standing by his bedside. She was like a mirage. A miracle.

"You mean destiny...?"

"Destiny...?" Emily pondered with a little childish grimace. "I don't really like that word. It kind of implies that everything is just planned by someone else....I happen to think we all make our own destiny. We choose our own fate...We all make our own choices..." she told him. "Just like Cordy chose to keep the visions. Just like you chose to save her." she said and then crunched her nose with an amusing grin. "Which, by the way, just between you and me, is another expression I don't really like." she added in that way that was so reminiscent of Cordelia. "Saving her..." she sort of mocked. "I think we all know it was a lot more than that. Not that anyone watched!" she quickly added and then grinned widely. "But it was kind of obvious..."

Angel lowered his eyes and Emily saw a glimpse of a smile on his lips as he listened to her logical ramblings. They both paused for a few seconds while Angel looked away. The mention of Cordelia had obviously silenced him. Emily took a deep breath and watched him. She knew what was running through his mind -- or better yet, who.

"Does she ever give you those exasperating breathless rants?" Emily quietly inquired.

Angel simply nodded and Emily smiled to herself momentarily.

"I do that too." she confessed. "We can't all be perfect." her eyes sparkled as they met with his.

They both stayed silent for a while before Emily's face turned even softer than it had been already. Angel knew that whatever it was she was about to say had great importance to her. And maybe to him too. Emily lifted her eyes up again and looked at his weak body lying on the bed. She tilted her head slightly and spoke.

"She's stubborn, and she has that annoying habbit of thinking she doesn't need anybody. And...okay...she can sometimes come off as a little snippy..." Emily softly and kindly spoke. "But, let's be wouldn't love her any differently." she paused, taking a planned breath, and continued. "And if you ask me, you're just as equally stubborn, if not more, and you have just about the same tendencies that she does... And she probably wouldn't love you any differently either."

Angel, who had been looking away from her, brought his eyes back to the young glowing angel in front of him. He didn't need to say anything. She had pretty much said it all in a few words. The peaceful expression on Emily's face served to let him know she wasn't expecting him to say anything either.

"Some times, actions speak louder than words you know..." she wisely added, meeting his glance. "There's nothing wrong with that." she reassured him and then paused. "You don't need to tell her with words, you know..." she continued in a soft, delicate tone. "She knows. I don't think she did before...but she does now. And so do you." she whispered with a smile.

"You are something else..." Angel could not help but smile as he looked at her young face.

"And that is something I strongly take pride in, thank you." she proudly said.

"...And definitely related to Cordelia..." he finished, shaking his head slightly, probably amazed by the young woman standing by his bed.

"Something else I happen to take pride in." she softly smiled.

Angel knew she meant it.

That's when it dawned on him just how quickly and how easily he and all the others had gotten attached to Emily. They both stared at one another silently, as Angel felt the reality invade him. Emily was dead. He and Cordelia had somehow been saved, but not her. Not Emily.

"Are you going to be okay?" Angel managed to get out in an emotional voice.

"hey, if a girl like Cordelia Chase can fall for the cursed, broody type like yours, I'd say anything is possible in this world." she reassuringly grinned. "Don't worry about me." she then added after a few moments.

Angel stayed silent, obviously not convinced. They fell into a short silence before Emily's voice filled the room again.

"Take care of her..." Emily whispered.

They both shared an understanding look and Angel's silence was enough of an answer for her. The sudden look in her eyes told him she had to go. It was time. Time to leave, time to go back.

"You don't know what I would give to shake your hand..." Angel emotionally spoke as he looked down at the tatooes on both of her palms.

The regret in his voice was there for all to hear. Emily sadly nodded, holding her hands up for a moment and then smiling.

"Not that these make a difference. I can't shake your hand. I'm a ghost remember...." she also regretfully spoke. "Maybe someday..." she whispered, giving him a friendly stare.

"Someday..." he repeated.

If Angel had had a heart, it probably would have been breaking by that point, for reasons he stopped trying to comprehend. He and Emily shared a silent and mental hand-shake.

"It was brief...but it was a pleasure to know you Angel." Emily honestly told him before taking a few steps towards the door.

Just as she reached the doorway, Angel painfully shot up in a seated position and stopped her.

"Emily?!" He called out to her and then paused, not really sure of what he had meant to stop her for. "Thank you..." he finally whispered, staring at her.

Emily smiled, lowered her eyes and thought for a few seconds before opening her mouth to speak.

"You know....I'll always be dead, but you won't." she said, looking up to meet his dark eyes. "I will shake your hand someday. Trust me. I intend to." Emily smiled and then slowly disappeared.

Angel watched as what remained of her vanished into thin air. He kept his eyes on the last spot she had occupied in the room and took an unnecessary deep breath. Everything was quiet again.


And so was he.


"You warm his blood?" Buffy asked, a little stunned at the whole thing.

"He likes it that way...guess it makes it more....real..." cordelia shrugged.

Buffy pondered Cordelia's nonchalant answer for a minute.

"That's a frightening way." Buffy then ackowledged out loud.

"yes." Cordy agreed with a definite nod.

A barely audible but aparent laugh escaped both of their throats.

"It's weird." cordelia seriously said after a few seconds. "I was telling Angel not so long ago how strange it feels to be freaked out and comforted at the same time." she added thoughtfully.

"Disturbing, isn't it?" Buffy stated, her voice understanding and knowing.

"Very." Cordelia agreed and then shrugged. "But, then again, I guess that's part of the job when you work for Angel Investigations..."

"Speaking of Angel..." Buffy hesitantly spoke up. "How is he?" she quietly asked.

"he's here." Cordy answered, thoughtfully as she stared at the stairs. "I'm not sure how he is, but I can tell you where he is. That's what matters." she added lowering her eyes. "You can go up and see him for yourself you know...

Something had been running through buffy's head for a few hours now. As she looked at Cordelia's silent face, she pondered sharing her thoughts with her. Wesley had told them that Cordelia's living with the visions had been difficult and painful, but it wasn't until they had seen her with the Powers that buffy truly realized how Cordelia's life had changed in the last three years. Buffy wanted to say something. Apologize? Just to say something kind. Just something. She wasn't really sure what it is she wanted to say exactly.

"cordelia..." she ventured.

Cordy lifted her eyes up as she took the blood out of the microwave. She waited for Buffy to continue, but she didn't.

"Nothing..." Buffy finally spoke, shaking her head slightly.

One step at a time, she thought.

Cordelia grabbed the blood as the two of them headed for the stairs. Then, suddenly, something stopped Cordy in her tracks. A feeling. An instinct. Something she couldn't describe.

"What's wrong?" Buffy asked, confused by Cordy's sudden change in behavior.

Cordelia's eyes landed on the door leading to the basement.

"Nothing...." she said, absent-mindedly, as she stared at the door with a curious expression on her face. "Why don't you go ahead...Tell Angel I'll be there in a minute..." she said and Buffy nodded.

She waited until Buffy was at the top of the staircase to walk towards the door. Something was pulling her to it.

She slowly made her way down the stairs and into the infamous training room. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs, frozen by what she was seeing.


Kneeling on the floor, in a bright light, was Emily.

Emily was looking down at something on the floor. Cordelia felt a small weakness in her heart at the sight that graced her.

"You dropped something..." Emily whispered before looking up into Cordelia's teary eyes.

Cordy spotted the sparkling chain on the floor and a lump gravitated in her throat. Emily genuinely smiled as she rose to her feet. The chain nicely remained on the floor but Cordy's eyes moved up to Emily's. There was an intense moment of reflexion that followed until Cordelia took an hesitant step forward. Only one. Her eyes were moist and her voice trembling.

"It was you, wasn't it?"

Emily quietly lowered her eyes as Cordelia's words made their way to her ears.

"That was it....that deal you made..." Cordelia emotionally spoke as her earlier realization settled in, finally. "You're the one who made all of this happen, didn't you...?" A tear rolled down her face as she spoke. "You brought him back...that was the deal you told me about, wasn't it...." she paused as more tears welled up in her eyes. "It was you..." she repeated in a bare whisper that conveyed a mixture of emotion that broke Emily's heart.

"I just collected." Emily whispered back in a calm voice. "I told you I would..."

"But you..." Cordelia started as a tear made its way down her cheek involuntarily, but Emily gently stopped her.

"Don't. Don't... I look at you and Angel and if you ask me, it was worth a thousdand lives..." she said in a heartbreaking tone.

The two cousins looked at one another with emotionally pained eyes, and then Emily smiled tenderly. Cordy wiped a tear from her cheek with shaking fingers when Emily slowly began to walk towards her.

"He would die for you." Emily asserted, knowing that Cordelia understood who she was refering to. "He did." she frowned, correcting herself. "He's a keeper." she grinned as Cordelia couldn't help but smile back. "Take care of him, okay..."

A long silence followed those words and Cordelia looked down at the floor for an instant. A helpless guilt spread across her face suddenly and Emily noticed.

"One of us deserved to be saved Cordy." she whispered as Cordelia held back her overwhelming emotions. "I'm glad it was you..." she secretly added. "You have so much left to do and see in this world. You and Angel. Together and on your own..."

"What about you?" cordelia managed to ask.

Emily sighed a sigh of relief, prompting a puzzled look on Cordy's face.

"I was saved too. Just not the same way you were..." Emily softly explained. "One day....maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow....but one day, you'll understand just how much of the saving you actually did."

Cordelia looked confused and cleared her throat.

"I don't understand..."

"You save dme too, you know..." Emily breathed out, tears hiding behind her own dark eyes. "I'm not tied up to a bed anymore because they think I'm crazy...I may not be alive, but I feel saved." she whispered.

"How?" Cordelia murmured, weakly.

"I'm free."

"From what?" Cordy inquired, tearfully staring into her cousin's eyes.

"You know what." Emily paused, staring back at her, a secret understanding flowing through each of them. "They can't hurt me here. Not anymore. They can't get to me. They can't make me into someone I'm not. You got away from them, but I couldn't. Until now...I'm finally free." she carefully and emotionally explained.

A look of amazement overtook Cordelia.

"But you're 17." she emphasized. "You should have had your whole life to be free. You should have had your whole life to get away from them." a glimpse of frustration could be heard in Cordelia's argument.

"I did." Emily smiled through her tears. "I ran from them...and it got me here. To all o fyou." she adds, looking around the place.

"Why did you stop? Why didn't you just keep on running??"

Emily waited before answering, and the two of them locked eyes.

"Because you're not one of them..." Emily finally whispered as a tear fell from her eyes, finally.

Cordelia took a shaky breath, bringing her hand over her eyes for a moment. Emily waited a little while, as the intensity in the room escalated to new highs.

"You should be proud of that, Cordy..." Emily said with a warm, genuine smile. "You have your own little family. Here. And that's better than anything you could ever find out there." she added. "The people you have here...They will never leave you alone in a dark corner when all you need is a hug. Not like them." she said as Cordelia's red and puffy eyes shot up in realization. "That's why I stopped running..." Emily then whispered.

Cordy stared at her cousin's heavenly form and she held her breath for a while.

That's what Emily had searched for her whole life: someone who could give her the only thing she ever asked for, a hug.

She had run away from her own dark corner in search of that hug...which she never got.

Suddenly, Cordelia wished she had seen that before. She began to feel this ache in her heart.

"I so wish you were real..." Cordy finally whispered, staring at Emily's young features.

"I like to think that I am..." Emily replied.

"But not real enough..." Cordelia paused. "I can't give you that hug, now, can I?" She saw the genuinely moved expression on Emily's face. "I can't hug a're not real enough." she added in a barely audible tone.

A warmth slowly invaded the room and Emily looked up towards the heavens. A tiny smile spread across her face as she looked back down at Cordelia. Cordy seemed confused as to what was happening.

Emily took a few steps forward and Cordelia saw the glow around Emily disappear for a moment. Emily stopped and hesitated.

She waited.

She then wrapped her arms around a stunned and emotional Cordy, holding her cousin tightly. Cordelia was obviously speechless. Somehow, this hug was as much for Emily's sake as it was for Cordelia's. They both knew that.

"It's always real if you believ it Cordy..." Emily whispered.

Cordelia remembered to breathe only when she was forced with the realization that she had been holding her breath for a while. She let out a soft chuckle, event hrough a tears.

"When did you go from dummy to Yoda?"

Emily smiled over Cordy's shoulder. Emily felt a little voice inside of her, and she knew she'd almost used up all the time she'd been allowed.

"While I'm on a roll...just between you and me...what your parents said to you about helping me and letting me die... They're wrong." Emily said as she finally stepped back from the emotional hug. "I'd do it all over again..."

They both paused. Cordelia was still holding the young girl's hand in hers when she felt Emily's hand melt away from hers. Cordy's fingers slowly fell right through the hand she had previously been holding and her heart skipped a beat. She lifted her eyes up to her cousin's.

"If you ever need anything -- and I mean anything -- you can always count on me." Emily said, reassuringly.

"How will I know where to find you?" Cordelia asked, a panic invading her at the thought of letting go of the only family member she felt she had left.

"You'll know. Trust me." Emily tenderly smiled.

Cordelia smiled, knowingly and suddenly felt something in the palm of her right hand. she looked down and noticed the small necklace. The tiny chain was tangled between her fingers, as if it had appeared magically. Cordy let out a tiny sigh before looking back up. She opened her mouth to say something but stopped herself.

Emily was gone.

She was gone.

Cordelia looked up and smiled, sadly, but honestly. She clutched the chain firmly in her hand.

"You give this crazy family a good name too..." she whispered into the empty room, a peaceful smile spreading across her face.

From the doorway, Buffy watched, silently. Never making her presence known. Never saying a word. Just watching.


In the dark, quiet room, Cordelia slept, bundled into a small chair by Angel's bedside. A tiny blanket was resting on her legs and she rested her head on the air of the chair.

She slowly opened her eyes, feeling like she had barely slept. She rubbed her face for a moment and then noticed Angel staring at her from his bed. He looked just as tired as she was but for some reason, neither of them appeared to be able to get some sleep. He was awake. He was looking at her.

Those eyes. They sometimes paralyzed her, sometimes energized her. She could never tell which one was going to happen until it finally did. Sleepily, she sat up straight and pulled the chair closer to the bed. A tiny, tired smile spread across her face.

"Hi. . . "

"Hi. . . " he repeated in a faint voice.

"How are you feeling?" Cordy asked, concern filling her every word.

"Better. . . " Angel replied, reassuringly.

"Good." She said with a sigh. "Sleeping in this chair is so not good for my posture." She shot him a teasing glance.

Angel was almost tempted to smile at the familiarity he noticed in her voice. That was the Cordelia he remembered. That was the Cordelia he cared so much about.

"You stayed here?" he asked, painfully trying to pull himself up in a seated position.

"Hey, not getting rid of me that easily big guy." She grinned, helping him sit up.

Cordelia sat back down in her chair as an awkward silence crawled in between the two of them. As her face danced in the faint light, his eyes welled up with tears and fears. For the first time, he was able to get a close-up look of cordelia's cuts and bruises. He slowly reached with one hand to touch her cheek. A look of horror sprung in his eyes and he stared at the scratches on her chin, the cut on her forehead and the bruises on her neck. If he had been a breathing human being, he would have chocked.

"I did this. . . " he managed to get out, his voice breaking the silence.

"No. . . No. . . " Cordelia tried to reassure him as he took his hand away from her face, fearfully.

"I hurt you. . . " his guilt and disbelief wrapped his every word.

"Hey, I killed you." She said as tears hid behind her eyes. "We're even." She tried her best to control her own voice.

There was a long pause that followed her words.

"Cordelia. . . " he began but she stopped him.

"Don't. I'm fine." She intensely stared into his pained face. "We're all fine."

"What else did I do to you. . . " he asked, worried.

"Nothing." She carefully answered. "It wasn't you. . . The hands that did this to my face, they're not the hands of the man you've become. The man that I know." She stated, determinedly. "And I do know you, Angel."

"He's a part of me, Cordy. . . "

"Yes, he is. A small part." She gently replied. "There's a bigger one that I know. One that's a lot stronger, and better. That's who you are." She maintained.

Angel lowered his eyes as her words made their way to his ears. He wanted to believe her so much. And, in that moment, he did. They shared a long, comforting silence that spread through an unmatched duration of time. They were simply sitting there, sharing a speechless conversation, until Angel looked up into her eyes and found himself saddened. An image of Emily dangled from the back of his mind.

"You saw her too, didn't you?" he asked in a weak, emotional tone.

Cordelia looked down and played with her hands momentarily. She nodded as an answer, as tears welled up in her eyes.

"She was the real sacrifice, wasn't she?" Cordy found herself saying out loud. She paused and then looked at Angel's face, which was equally moved. "She was better than all of us. . . "

"She proved it." He whispered to her.

Cordelia took a deep breath and noticed the guilt on Angel's face.

"I'm sorry. . . " he apologized.

Cordelia found herself smiling through her tearful eyes.

"What are you talking about?" she said with a nervous laughter that lightened the mood a little. "It wasn't all bad. . . " she eyed him for a moment.

Angel somehow could not help the tiny grin that came across his lips.

"Obviously. . . My behavior spoke for itself didn't it. . . ." He murmured, smiling back to her.

They held the intense stare for a little while and then cordelia looked down at the floor in front of her. The realization settled in slowly.

They both knew they would probably live with the memory of that night and nothing more. . . Angel knew he'd have to be able to give Emily that handshake before he'd ever be with Cordelia like that again. The knowledge of that was apparent on both their faces.

She took a deep breath and shook her head, somehow suddenly amused by the thought that ran through her head.

"Who would have thought. . . " her voice was gentle, yet filled with amazement. "I came to L.A. . . . and this one night, I ran into this guy, right. . . " she said and then emotionally paused. "And he just saved my life. . . " she finished in a whisper.

"Well. . . " Angel whispered back as he intensely looked into her eyes. "You see. . . I came to L.A. too, and I ran into this girl. . . " he waited for a moment. "And she just gave me back mine. . . " he said in a whisper that was both loving and grateful.

The phantom of a smile appeared on their lips, through their teary eyes, as they sat in silence.

In their own way, that had served as their own otherwise more conventional ‘I love you'. But then again, what had ever been conventional about a vampire with a soul and a vision girl with a witty sense of humor?

"What happens now?" Cordelia said in a barely audible voice, as the intensity in the room, gravitated.

Angel didn't answer. He simply looked at her, slowly offering his hand to her. Her eyes traveled from his face to his palm, and she slowly – ever so slowly – moved her hand from the armchair to the bed. Her fingers gently touched the tip of his, as if they were both hesitating.

Two hands.

Two souls.

Just like everything else they seemed to share, nothing was rushed.

The tip of her fingers carefully traced a few lines in the palm of his hand. It was like the earth had stopped turning for a few seconds. He let his thumb trace a few circles on the back of her hand as she tenderly let her fingers intertwine with his.




Not a kiss could have felt like this. Not a word could have expressed everything that seemed to be said by that simple touch of hands.

It wasn't fancy. It was just this. Just them.

Their hands slowly settled into the other's, fitting perfectly.

"Hi. . . " Angel whispered, closing his fingers around the warmth of her skin.

She looked into his eyes and smiled tenderly.

"Hi. . . " she replied, as if they were seeing one another for the first time.

Whatever happened now, it started here. Now. With this. With the touch of their hands.

Remember how they always seemed to know
We had the forest in our eyes but the earth was in our clothes
And they thought we'd fall
But not at all

Angel and Cordelia just sat there, in silence, never letting go of each other's hands.

Never wanting to.

So look back on your treasured days
When we were young in a world that was so tired
Though it's not what we wanted before
Even the saints had to crawl from the floor

Buffy and Dawn knelt in front of Joyce's grave, emotions covering both of their faces.

And summer's when the money was gone
You'd sing
All your little songs that meant everything
To me

And I'll remember you
And the things that we used to do
And the things that we used to say

Seeing the helpless look on Buffy's face, Dawn reached out and wrapped her arms around her sister.

I'll remember you that way

The two of them just held one another, in the stillness of the night.

Remember how they tried to hold you down
And we climbed those towers and looked out upon our town
And everything you hoped would last
It just always becomes your past
It hurts but

Cordelia stood in the dark, staring in front of herself when a hand gently slipped into hers. She looked up and her eyes locked with Angel's for a moment.

The two of them stood, immobile, holding hands, as they looked at Emily's gravestone.

And summer's when the money was gone
You'd sing
All your little songs that meant everything
To me


They were finally at peace.

They had all sacrificed something. Each and every one of them.

Angel. Cordelia. Buffy.


They'd changed, they'd made choices. . . In in the name of love.

In the name of life.

And somehow, they took comfort in the fact that Emily was at peace as well.

And I'll remember you
And the things that we used to do
And the things that we used to say
I'll remember you always

Behind them stood the rest of them. Gunn, Wesley, Fred. . . Giles, Buffy, Dawn, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara. . . even Spike.

They all stood silently, paying a last respect to a young girl who had touched many among them in a way they would never be able to explain.

And they'd remember her.

They would.

But then how this world slipped through my fingers
And even the sun seemed tired
I still cared
As they lowered you down my heart just jaded
In that moment the earth made no sound
But you were there
You helped me lift my pain into the air

One single tear rolled down from Cordelia's eye and made its way across her cheek.

She lifted her eyes upward as a few tiny drops of rain began to fall.

She sighed and a little smile appeared on her lips as she met Angel's eyes.

I always thought you'd come home

And I'll remember you
And the things that we used to do
And the things that we used to say

Nearby, beside the trees, she watched them. A group, divided by adversities for the most part, united in times of need.


Emily stood there as the rain began to fall harder, and she smiled. Wholeheartedly.

If it don't hurt you it won't hurt me
If it don't hurt me it won't hurt you

Angel lifted his eyes just in time to see her give him a nod and disappear into thin air.

He tightened his fingers around Cordelia's hand and smiled.

If it don't hurt you it won't hurt me I know

Gunn's car drove away just as did the rest of them.

Cordelia and Angel hurried under the pouring rain towards his car.

Suddenly, Angel stopped. He gently took a hold of Cordelia's arm. She spun around, her hair soaking wet from the rain and she stared at him. He was silent. He was just standing there, his hand softly brushing against her coat.

He intensely looked into her eyes for a moment.

He walked closer to her and lowered his lips to hers in a long, heartfelt kiss. His cupped the side of her face with both his hands. She seemed surprised at first but the feeling quickly vanished, and she kissed him back.

"The one thing about life is it's the only game you lose by refusing to play. . . "

They just stayed there, not caring about the rain, not caring about anything.

Not caring where it would lead, or how they'd get there.

They just stood there, wrapped up in that kiss.

In that first official kiss.


SONG CREDITS: Remy Zero "Perfect Memory"