Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Angel/Cordelia, Dennis
Challenge/Prompt: sunnydalescribe MC 1: Potential
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death
Word Count: 1,883
Date Written: 27 August 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“You’re moody tonight. What’s wrong?”
He turned his head to face her, and she could see in his eyes the number of years that separated them. He had been this way so long that he’d been accustomed to . . . She paused, contemplating the next word. You certainly couldn’t call what they did living, but then what was it? What had Angel said once when confronted with nearly the same issue? Vampires didn’t live. They . . . existed? Yet she felt like she was doing so much more than merely existing. There were some nights when she felt more alive now than she’d felt for most of her actual life.
“Do you ever think about it?” he asked.
“What?” she questioned, frowning.
“Do you ever think about your missed potential? All the things you could have done, all the things you didn’t get to do.”
Cordelia sighed as she bobbed up and down. A wind whispered from her through the small apartment, but the current tenants, a recently married couple and their young child, were sleeping peacefully. “Not really,” she said, and then she stopped. “Okay,” she admitted, her lips drawing down into a pout, “so there is one thing I think about.”
He watched her intently, and just like he had when she’d still been alive, he seemed able to read her more easily and clearly than anyone else she’d ever known. “You think about him, don’t you? You gave your life for him, and you still think about him!”
“Of course I do! That’s what people do when they love each other!”
“Does he love you, Cordy?” Dennis asked. He was growing annoyed and flitting in and out of her vision. “If he did, why didn’t he ever tell you? Why wait until the very night when you all but died?!”
“Because he’s a dumbass, that’s why!” She fluttered up toward the ceiling and then let herself drop back down again. Dennis didn’t mean to sound ugly. He just cared about her. He always had. At times even, it had felt like he was the one person in all the world who still cared about her, who understood her, who loved her, but she knew now that wasn’t true. “I was a dumbass too,” she admitted, her voice dropping to a heartfelt whisper. “I could have told him how I felt first. You wanna talk about missed opportunities? That’s Number One on my list, the only one that really matters.”
“I guess I can see that,” he said softly, his head bowing. “It’s just . . . If he’d told you sooner . . . “
“I might still be alive? The first year I was dead, Dennis, I thought that every night, but that kind of thinking doesn’t get us anywhere. We can’t go back and change what’s already happened. We can only go forward. Besides, how many times do they say everything important in life is already planned out for us? When and how we die is determined before we’re even born.”
“But he still could have told you. You could have been happy!”
“I was,” she argued. “It just didn’t last long enough!” Yet, if she hadn’t gone out on that bridge that fateful night to tell him how she felt, perhaps she would still be alive. Perhaps they would have acted on their feelings by now. Perhaps they would have been happy, -- And then what? Angelus would have come out? She would have had to have done a Buffy and killed the man she loved? She did pout this time, her beautiful face falling down with sorrow. “We weren’t meant to be happy,” she whispered, tears forming in her haunting, hazel eyes.
He was instantly at her side. “Don’t do that,” he commanded, drawing her into his arms and the kindly embrace of the brother she’d never had.
“Don’t do what?” she questioned like she didn’t already know.
“Don’t blame yourself. Don’t say you were never meant to be happy. Of all the people I’ve ever known, Cordy, you’re the one who most deserves to be happy.”
She thought of Buffy, risking her life every night to save others. She thought of shy, little Willow, overcoming her fears to help in the Slayer’s quest to keep mankind save. She thought of Xander, standing by his friends no matter what, even when he lost an eye. She thought again of Angel, moving pass his own sorrow to help true innocents wherever and whenever he could. She thought of Doyle, who had died saving the world, and of Wesley, who had grown from being a trembling coward in the face of evil to being one of the most courageous men she had ever known.
And then she thought of herself, the girl who had always used the excuse that she was fighting evil only to help her own hide. The girl who had taken the visions that had been thrust upon her and refused to give them up even when they’d been killing her. The woman who had accepted the calling to what she’d believed was a Higher Power to help the man she loved far more than the world around them. Yeah, she couldn’t blame Angel for her death. Too much of it had to do with her own ego. “If you say so,” she muttered aloud.
“I more than say so! I know so!” He squeezed her. “Cordy, you always put out that you don’t care about anybody other than yourself, and maybe that was true a long time ago, before we met each other, but it hasn’t been for years. You were human, but you were right there beside the Vampire and the Slayers and the Watchers and everybody else doing what you could do to make the world a better place.”
She scoffed and pushed playfully at his shoulder. “Stop making me sound like some kind of a hero! I wasn’t the only human there!”
“No,” he admitted, “but you couldn’t fight like Gunn, and you had a choice. You didn’t grow up on the streets. You didn’t lose a sister to Vampires.”
“Yeah, and Fred?”
“How often did she actually fight alongside you guys?”
“Courage isn’t always having the strength and ability to fight. It’s standing up for what you believe in and doing what you can to help even when you’re terrified.”
“Says the woman who lived by that motto every day since I met her.”
“You really think so?”
“Yes! Like I said, I know so!”
Caught between facing her own flaws and admitting to his truths, she made a face. “Maybe,” she acknowledged, “but that doesn’t change the fact that we could never have been happy.”
“You told me Willow found the spell to cure him once before. It could have been found again, or written again.”
“Not with our luck,” she muttered. “Besides, it’s not like any of that matters now.”
“No,” he agreed softly, drifting down toward the floor and taking her, his phantom fingers entwined with hers, along with him. “But is that really all you regret?” he asked thoughtfully, looking up at her.
She paused, considering. There had been so much she’d wanted to do with her life, so much she’d planned on doing. She’d never won that Oscar. She’d never dated Keanu Reeves. She’d never even been in a single movie. But she had helped to save the world time and again. She had made unforgettable friends and travelled to places most people never knew existed. She had loved the most wonderful man there was and been loved by him in return even if they’d both been too stubborn to admit it.
She blinked back tears as she smiled. “Actually, yeah,” she admitted, almost as surprised as he was.
“You do mean it,” he said, watching her and marvelling. “I can tell.” He shook his head. “You really don’t ever think about the rest of it, do you?”
She had at first, but that felt like so long ago now. She couldn’t care less that she’d never made a go of an acting or modeling career. “Not any more.” She glanced out the window where she could see the pink rays of the morning sun beginning to rise over the buildings to the east.
“Go,” Dennis said and hugged her again. “I’ll see you tonight?”
“Of course,” Cordelia assured, hugging him back. She couldn’t help but to consider how lucky she was that she wasn’t tied to a single place. Unlike Dennis, she was connected to her friends and family, not the place where she had died, and that enabled her to go to them when they needed her even when they couldn’t see her and when, like now, she just wanted to check on them.
In the blink of an eye, she was across town and gazing down at where Angel slept alone in his bed. She was surprised to see that he was still sleeping underneath the black, satin sheets she had once bought him with the thought that they might one day share them. She drifted down, watching him stir in his sleep. “Cordy,” he moaned her name, but he didn’t sound pleased. He sounded troubled, and she sensed that, if he had had a still beating, human heart, it would have been pounding.
“Sh,” she whispered to him as she swiftly closed the distance between them. “I’m right here.” She brushed her lips across his forehead, and he began to still. She kissed his lips, and he relaxed. She kissed him again and watched, pleased, as his lips curved up into a peaceful smile. “I’ll always be right here, my Angel,” she whispered, blinking back tears from her hazel eyes.
Oh, yeah, she didn’t regret one thing she’d done in his presence except for the fact that she’d never been brave enough to tell him that she loved him while she’d been alive. He wasn’t the only dumbass in their relationship; she was equally to blame. One night, though, he was going to be a fraction of an inch too slow. One night, it was going to be his last night on the mortal plane. One night, he was going to come home to her, and though she hoped for his sake and the world’s that that night would be a long, long time in coming, she looked forward to it at the same time.
She knew, too, the very first thing she’d do when he was with her again and could see and hear her once more. She wouldn’t hide any more then or lie or make up excuses. She’d throw her arms around him, kiss him in person or, rather, “spirit”, and tell him how much she loved him, a love that had began when she’d first spotted him in Sunnydale and had only continued to grow by leaps and bounds over the years they’d known each other. She’d tell him how much she loved him, how much she always would, and spend the rest of eternity making sure he knew it with her every word and action.
Oh, yeah, there was nothing she regretted about her life, nothing but one thing, and she’d fix that one day. “I love you, Angel,” she whispered, floating just above him and watched him smile until she went away again with the morning sun.