This should be a no-brainer too. I mean, obviously it’s Cordelia/Angel. But articulating the reasons why is like trying to explain what color might taste like. I subconsciously shipped them on BtVS. That is to say, I liked it when they were together on my screen; I smiled more, perked up a bit straighter, even when the show was clearly steering in another direction. When I heard that Cordelia was going over to AtS, I was excited. Cordelia was my favorite character, and I was eager to have her and Angel on their own show, away from Buffy and Willow and Xander and Giles. I was ready for the spotlight to be on Cordy and Angel. At the back of my mind, I was hoping for C/A but I never thought the show would go there because it was too cliché, and Angel – according to everything I knew up until then, or had been spoon-fed, wasn’t available anyway.
Thank God they didn’t go there at first.
I loved watching these two Sunnydale rejects came together in a strange city, unsure and alone, and became reluctant friends. They genuinely liked each other, Queen C with the acid tongue, and the emotionally unstable former killer. Both of them had been rejected in one way or another by the Scoobies, despite their relationship with Xander and Buffy, tolerated but never really accepted.
(I will always be touched by their mutual grief while watching Doyle’s video in Hero. They both looked so lost, fractured, sitting in the dark, close but still with some cautious distance between them. All they had in the world was in that room. Each other and a VHS tape.)
Despite their respective roles on BtVS, or maybe because of it, they were always real with each other. Cordelia didn’t treat Angel as anything more than a friend with an allergy to the sun.
And he got her humor.
And they had funny moments with each other, the kind two people can look back on later and laugh about together, like when she told him to mush the coffee beans, just mush them, and later on he actually tries to. Or when he gently teases her about making out with Barney. And they had serious talks, one-on-ones where she displayed a deep understanding of his fears and reassured him. She’d be there with him, as long as it took, and she’d be the one to stake him if it came down to it. Whether she could keep those promises wasn’t really the point, his reassurance was. She met him in that place where his fear and self-loathing threatened to drown him in perpetual broodiness, and made him feel less alone.
This was the foundation of my hardcore, bulletproof ship. That friendship.
I believe Angel always desired Cordelia, but being a thing that satiated every appetite all over the world for over a hundred and fifty years, that wasn’t in itself remarkable, until he fell in love with her character.
In s3, every encounter, every conversation, every single goddamned time they touched was brimming with UST. I’ve already waxed on about Heartthrob but it seemed like they were eager to be close together, to touch each other, every chance that presented itself. In Fredless, when the bugs attacked, in Billy and Offspring, with the training in the basement.
Birthday showed how, even though they were in different realities, they were still trying to save each other.
Waiting in the Wings showed how hot the sex they never got to have would have been.
Even when it all fell apart and they lost each other and the only thing left was one last good bye in Angel’s office, their love remained. It was the only thing stronger than the grief over her death.
Now that’s how you do Epic.