Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Angel/Cordelia, OMC/OFC
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Weekend Challenge: A is for . . .: Candor (Oops! I almost forgot to post this in time!)
Word Count: 865
Date Written: 1 May 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“The girl certainly has candor,” Wesley remarked, watching Cordelia fire into their prospective client in the office.
“All that talk about not running the clients off,” Angel grouched, “and here she is about to do that very same thing!”
“I don’t think so,” Wes murmured, watching the two young women. “She’s simply concerned for the client’s safety, Angel. That can’t be bad.”
“This is Cordy we’re talking about, Wes. Cordelia Chase doesn’t know how to show concern.”
Wesley turned his back on the women. “On that, my friend, I believe you are wrong,” he said simply to which Angel harrumphed. Shoulders squared, he walked into his office to meet the client before Cordelia could scare her away.
“It’s not that I don’t get how it’s hard to send him away,” Cordelia was saying, her back to Angel. “I do. But you knew what he was. You knew what you were getting into.”
“I -- I had hoped he would change. He said he loved me.”
“Oldest lie in the book, sister. Vamps don’t change. If they’re bad, they stay bad. If they’re good,” she indicated Angel, “they stay good. Unless, you know, there’s a curse or something.”
“Can you do that?” their client asked eagerly, leaning forward in her seat. “Can you curse him?”
“Curses aren’t the answer,” Angel said quickly before Cordelia could volunteer. “But we can help. That’s what we do. We help . . . “
“ . . . the helpless,” Cordelia finished for him. “We help the helpless.” Suddenly, the truth hit her, and she turned her back swiftly on Angel before he could catch the expression on her face. “We help the helpless,” she said again, quieter this time.
Their client looked at her with renewed interest, her teary eyes opening slightly wider.
“If there’s anything human left in your boyfriend, we’ll find it, and if there’s not -- “
“We’ll still find a way to help you,” Cordelia interjected hurriedly before Angel could say what she knew he intended to say. There was no help for the poor woman’s boyfriend, not now that he’d been turned. Angel would have to dust him, but Cordelia would be damned if she’d let yet another beautiful, strong, and capable woman go to pieces because of some jerk of a guy. She’d help her find her strength again just like Angel and Doyle had helped her find hers.
Angel turned and walked away. Behind him, the client waited until the door was shut before peering up at Cordelia and asking, “He’s the reason, isn’t he?”
“He’s the reason why you understand.”
“Oh, he’s not my boyfriend. He’s just my friend.”
“But you wish he was more.”
“No, sister, trust me. I’ve seen how relationships with Mister Broody go. They never end well. We’re friends, and neither of us wants anything more than that.” She might believe in always saying the truth, but she wasn’t about to spill that particular truth to anybody, especially not a stranger.
“We lie to ourselves all the time,” the client said, leaning back in the chair she’d been given and wrapping her arms around herself as though she was suddenly cold. As her hands briskly rubbed her arms, she murmured, “I know I did, back in the beginning with Jeremy.”
Cordelia watched her and saw the look of a woman who had given so much more to a relationship than she’d ever believed in giving, a look she knew well herself. She remembered a literal stake in her heart and a boy who had not been even half the man Angel was who had broken her heart the first time. Then she remembered a Demon who had left a permanent mark on her and taken another piece of her heart with him. Finally, she looked to the foyer where Angel was collecting weapons.
“Why’s he need so many any way? He’s going to try to save Jeremy, right?”
“If there’s anything left in him to save,” Cordy murmured.
The client gave her a long look. “You don’t think there is, do you? You think it’s too late?”
“Yes,” Cordy whispered softly as the other woman broke down into tears again. It wasn’t too late for just Jeremy and Samantha either. It was too late for her and Angel. It was too late to mark him as hers, though she’d tried the moment she’d seen his “salty goodness”, and it was equally too late to keep herself from falling for him. She let a sigh slip out as she moved forward to gather Samantha into her arms.
“You’re right,” she said after the other woman had stopped trying to shove her away. “We do think it’s too late, but if there’s any chance at all of still saving him, Angel will find it. That’s what he does. He helps the helpless. He saves the helpless.” And, sometimes, too often really as she’d seen, the helpless fell hard for him, as she had.
“Tell me the truth. You do love him, don’t you?”
“Yes,” she whispered, that final bit of candor hurting just as much as any wooden stake through her heart ever could have. She loved Angel, but he would never love her. Her case truly was helpless.