Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Angel/Cordelia, Groo/Cordelia, Angel/Buffy
Challenge/Prompt: fffc: s47: Three's A Crowd and 1_million_words: Say What Friday: "Lust for the future, but treasure the past."
Word Count: 3,735
Date Written: 22 April 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
I was never willing to share a man before, but you’re not giving me much of a choice, are you, Dead Boy? Of course you’re so dumb when it comes to love, you don’t even realize I’ve fallen for you, and fallen hard. I tried everything to keep from falling in love with you. I know it’s not good for me -- it’s not good for either of us --, but thanks in part to Doyle sticking me with his stupid visions, I feel closer to you than I’ve ever felt to anybody else.
I can lie to your handsome face all day long, too, but it’s not just friendship. In a way, I wish it was. It would be so much easier, and I wouldn’t have to fight Buffy for your attention. I’d still be trying to help you get over her and see her for what she really is, but it would be as a friend. I wouldn’t care if you never really stopped having some feelings for her. It wouldn’t hurt me. Seeing you pine for her wouldn’t pierce my heart every time I look into your eyes.
God, do you even know what all your eyes show? I swear it’s like you can see centuries of torment in them. You’re like this giant, puppy dog who I just want to hug, but then you’re also this drop dead gorgeous hunk who I just want to wrap my whole self around and love passionately for hours on end. Loving you would be complicated enough if your heart didn’t already belong to someone else.
But how do you fight a memory? It’s not like you two are still together, and I know you’d say, if I asked you, that you can’t be with her. It goes deeper than that though. It’s not simply because of your curse, not any more. You’ve grown apart. You are two different people, and you’ve eclipsed her like the sun eclipses the moon. You shine so much brighter than she ever will, but you’ll never see it. You’re always be trying to be better, to do more, to save more lives, to somehow get yourself to where you think you can deserve her, but the truth is, Angel, that she doesn’t deserve you.
And the truth is I don’t deserve you either. I was a bitch for years, still am. Just ask any other starlet who’s shown up at the same auditions that I go to, and I don’t even really care about getting the part! I’ve got the part of a lifetime right here as your partner, as your best friend, if not your lover. I’m Vision Girl! My life has changed and improved in ways I never could have imagined before, and I have you to thank for it all.
Don’t get me wrong, though: what I feel for you isn’t just a little case of hero worship, or a big one. I know you have faults, Angel. We all do. Yes, even me. But I love you despite your flaws. I love you despite the fact that I know you’ll never love me. You’ll never even let yourself try. You’ll never see what’s right here in front of you, because you’re always still too busy pining after that little bitch back in Sunnydale. I should have totally kicked her ass when I had the chance, and I could have, Slayer or not, just not physically. There are a thousand other ways for a girl to kick another girl’s ass, though, and if ever there’s been a guy worth fighting for, it’s you.
But it wouldn’t do me any good. There is nothing I can do, say, or change in any way that will ever make you look at me in the same way you stare at a mere photograph of her. You’ll never love me the way you love her. Even if you could ever bring yourself to love me a little as more than a friend, it would never be the same. I can compete with any other living, breathing woman, but I can’t compete with a memory, especially one you keep on a pedestal as high up as you keep Buffy. I could tell you the old saying about being careful when you put somebody on a pedestal, because when they fall, they’ll have a long, hard way to fall, but she’ll never fall in your eyes. You’ll never love anyone else.
I could share you with her, but I can’t share with a memory. I can’t get through to you past her. Yet I still can’t get you out of my system. I can’t stop thinking about you, wanting you, loving you, even when I’m with another guy, another good guy who looks and acts like you in so many ways but still isn’t you. I’m going to have to cut Groo free. It’s the right thing to do, and you’ve taught me to do the right thing.
But when are you going to do the right thing, Angel? When are you going to wake up and realize that I’m in love with you and that Buffy is a dream that will never happen and not just because of the curse? When are you going to realize that she doesn’t love you, but I do? Come on, Angel. I can’t fight a memory, but I love you, and despite what you think, you deserve to be loved.
Willow’s still got that spell. If Angelus gets out, we can put him back in, but that’s not even the thing. I don’t care if you can never make love to me. It would be nice to be kissed by you -- I dream about it all the time, even sometimes when Groo and I are kissing, when we’re doing more than kissing.
I love you, and if you could just find it in yourself to let yourself love me even a little in return, everything I’ve endured, everything I’ve changed, even the fact that this damn visions are killing me . . . It would all be worth it. I could die happy knowing that you love me, but you can’t love me when you still won’t look past her. She’s a memory, Angel. I’m your future, or I would be if you would only pull your ass out of the past!
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? You’re supposed to treasure the past but look for the future, but you can’t see your future for your past. You let your past define you. You’re not about the present. You’re not even about the people you save every damn night. You’re stuck in your past, and here I am, your future, unable to reach you, unable to make you love me, unable to let myself love you out loud because, although I’d gladly share you with her in person, I can’t share you with a memory.
You’re not just condemning yourself, Dead Boy; you’re condemning us both! Get your ass out of the past, and come and love me like I deserve! Give us a future while we still have a chance. Love me before it’s too late. Love me, even if it’s just a little, please?
There she stands, my Princess, watching the guy she loves. As much as it pains me, I am not he. I have left my world. I have left everything I ever knew. I have become everything she has asked of me, fashioning myself after the man she truly loves, but still, I am not he. I can not be him.
I can not be such a fool! He has the love of the greatest, most wonderful vision of a woman to ever enter his world or mine, and yet he barely casts a glance at her most days. Lorne is right: He is far too enraptured in his past to see what is right in front of him, and that past is condemning us all. He could be happy. Princess Cordelia would make him that way. I know she could if he would only give her half a chance, as Cordelia is fond of saying. She has given me more joy and love than I have ever known; yet, she does not love me. Her heart belongs to him.
Yet still, here I stand, watching her watching him. I know she loves him. I know the honorable thing would be to free her of our bond, such as it is, but I can not bear to think of my life without her in it. All I knew before her was one endless battle, and yet she has taught me and given to me so much that I will gladly stand beside her for as long as she will have me even knowing she does not love me.
Krevlornswath did suggest that I find a way to share her with him, but how can I share her with a man who is not even bright enough to understand what it is she is giving him? How can I share her with someone who does not even know he has her although he does? I suppose, in a way, I am already doing so. I know she loves him after all, and yet I will not leave her. I will not leave her until she casts me away like she does a pair of old shoes. Even then, my heart will remain with her. She may not love me, but I love her.
Oh dear, the look she’s giving me now -- I know that look too well. She is thinking of allowing me my freedom again. She is thinking of sending me away from her, because she knows she can not love me and feels she is doing me an injustice. I do not have the words to explain to her that I know she does not love me but it does not change how I feel for her. To be entirely without her would be akin to trying to live in this world without oxygen to feel my lungs, lungs which are aching already just from the way she is gazing at me.
I do not know how to stop the inevitable, but I do know how to delay it. I have learned that manner. She has taught me the method. When we first came together, when she first delivered the lie that I did not understand at the time to be a lie, the falsehood that she loves me and not Angel, she would ravish my lips with her sweet, fiery passion every time she thought of him or caught him looking at us. He is not looking now. He is, as ever, unaware that she has been watching him brood, as she calls it, for the better part of the last hour.
But the only reason why it matters that he does not yet know that she loves him is that it buys me more time with her, more time with the one I cherish, more time with the one I do love and will always love even if she can no longer love me. With one arm, I draw her body against mine. I let her feel how much she means to me in our heated embrace, and when she parts her lips to protest, I press my finger softly against them.
I do not want to hear the words she wishes to speak. I would rather hear a lie every day from her sweet lips than the truth a single time. I know she loves another -- I know she loves that stupid Vampire who she herself calls a dumbass --, but I will always love her. Even when she eventually sends me away from her, I will remain forever devoted to her, my Princess.
She’s looking at me in that troubled way she has, with that expression that I know means she is again being torn between giving in to the passion between us -- and there is passion between us, if not love -- or doing the right thing. She is a heroine, my Princess, but I can not allow her to do the right thing in this instance. I can not allow her to send me away from her as long as I have any chance whatsoever of delaying her from doing so.
I would crawl on my hands and knees across millions of beds of nails just to be able to bask in her presence, and yet that ignorant Vampire does not even begin to realize how much she loves him! How one man can be so stupid, I will never understand; yet, his ignorance is the very thing that allows me to live my most treasured dream. It is the only reason why she has not yet sent me away as I know she will do one day, and on that day, all my joy will be over. My very reason for living, for existing in this strange land, will have come to an end. I dread that day, and I will put it off for as long as I can.
My Princess lifts her head. Her eyes have questions in them now, and I am beginning to suspect that she may know that I have realized the truth. I lift my finger from her precious lips and quickly, before she can utter a sound, replace it with my lips. I kiss her long and deep. I kiss her until her eyes roll back into her head and she makes that little satisfied sound that I always enjoy hearing escape her. I kiss her until once more I feel assured I have driven the thought of sending me away from her mind.
I feel eyes upon us, look up, and catch him watching. Oh, you idiot! She may love you, but as long as you insist on pretending you do not love her and allowing your past to dictate your every action now in the present, you are sending her straight into my arms -- and for that, Angel, from the very bottom of my heart, I thank you. I will gladly share her with you, Vampire, just as long as she will allow me to do so.
Your loss is my gain, and I am forever grateful for however long you insist on barring yourself from the most precious treasure either of us can or will ever possess. For now, my Princess is mine though her heart is yours, but forever, even after she sends me from her, I am hers. We’re both lucky and blessed to be hers; I can only pray you never realize what you truly have in this wonderful woman you claim to only be your friend.
I feel my back straighten abruptly as I watch them. It is both an instinctive measure of defense and a natural recoil from the scene before me. Swiftly, I turn around, before that warrior from another land can see the impact watching him with my Cordy takes on me. I should not be jealous. I have no right to be jealous, and even now, I hear Angelus laughing his cruel chuckle deep inside of me.
I want to yell at him to shut up. I want to claw at my own ears to keep from hearing him, but none of it will do any good. I can no sooner silence him than I can stop myself from loving her, and God knows I’ve tried. I made the mistake of allowing myself to act on love once before. I will not do it again. I will not free him, especially knowing that Cordelia will be the first he kills!
And she will be if he gets out. He won’t go after Buffy this time, unless he goes after her after he has killed my cherished Cordelia and all our friends here. I thought I loved Buffy. So did he, and when he almost forced me to kill her, I thought a part of me would forever die instead. I should have been so lucky. Death is the easy way out, after all.
But either I never truly loved her or I simply do not love her any longer. I admit to being uncertain which is the truth. I need to speak to Lorne about it, but how do I admit to him that I was mistaken? How do I admit to myself that my heart now belongs to another? Doyle told me before he passed that she was my past. I didn’t want to believe him, but now I understand what he meant.
I wonder if he knew then that Cordy and I would fall in love or, at least, that I would fall for her. I hope she has not fallen for me. I hope she does not love me in that way, because loving me would only condemn her. That is why I must be happy for her and Groosalugg. I must support her decision to be with him. She deserves to be happy, and only he can make her that way.
I most certainly can not! I can condemn her. I can let him out and watch in misery as he kills her. I can watch her brilliant, most beautiful life and light be snuffed short, but I can not make her happy. Being with me only condemns the very best of women. It gives them no joy for my love is condemnation.
And I will not condemn her! I would sooner walk into the bright, open daylight than ever harm her in any way. Lorne has tried to tell me that refusing to act on my feelings only hurts others. Doyle tried the same bull. But they don’t understand. They can’t understand! They don’t know what it’s like to have a killer inside of them every second to live or to know that if they make one mistake, if they slip up just one damn time, if they let themselves be happy, that killer will come loose and destroy everyone that means anything to them.
Angelus was unleashed before when I made love to Buffy. That was the most human I have ever felt, including during my mortal life before which I wasted boozing and womanizing. I never knew love then. It’s no wonder I thought what I felt for Buffy was love. But as great as being with her was, as much as she did and will always mean to me, as happy as she made me . . . Cordelia has already made me happier and made me feel more human at times when our eyes have met and I have known that she loves me.
And she does love me. I can lie to myself all I want, but the truth is that she does love me. If I was to admit my feelings for her, she would leave poor Groo in a heartbeat, but doing so would condemn all three of us. We can not live happily ever after. There is no happily ever after for me, and I fear that if I ever taste her lips again, Angelus will be unleashed with that one kiss. It won’t take making actual, physical love to her to unleash that monster. If she proclaims her love to me, as she almost did in Pylea, I will know complete joy, and he will escape. He’ll escape her, and he’ll kill her. I can not allow that!
I can not allow her death or her condemnation, and that is all I can bring her! I can not offer her the joy or pure love that the Groosalugg does. I can not give her even a tenth of what she deserves. In the end, I can -- I will -- only hurt by allowing myself to love her! So I dare not speak a word of that love, let alone act on it. I dare not admit to what I see in her beautiful, hazel eyes every time our eyes meet. I dare not put a name to it; I dare not act on it.
All I can do is let the woman I love be with a man who can actually make her happy, even if she does not truly love him. All I can do is let Groo have her and hope that one day his love will manage to win her over, that he will save her from the wretch that I am and the condemnation that my love brings. All I can do is watch her feign happiness and hope that one day the lies she is currently living become truths. You’d better take care of her, Groo. You’d better take care of her for the both of us, because I can not!
And I had better walk away from this before I screw up yet again and act on all the feelings I feel welling up inside of me. I want nothing more than to run into that room, tear them forcibly apart from each other, admit that I know she loves me, and proclaim my own love for her! But I can not -- I will not do that! I turn sharply and force myself to stride away.
I all but march through the foyer, and I’m aware of all of the others watching my every move. I ignore them all as I stride to the weapons cabinet and take out the biggest, sharpest broad axe we have in our possession. “Angel?” Wesley calls.
“Going to kill something?” Gunn adds. “Need some help?”
“No.” Even I barely hear my whispered answer. I do not look at any of them. I simply take the axe and leave. I will find something tonight that deserves killing, and I will kill it, but I will never allow Angelus to kill my beloved Cordelia, my very own, special Princess who is more a Princess than any of the ones the beast slew in the past. I can see them all now, hear all their screams, and although I regret every one he slew, I will never allow him to add Cordy to that long list. I will never allow him to take her from me or from the world!
The doors slam shut behind me, and I never hear Lorne whispering as he shakes his horned head. “Ah, love, how you screw us all!”