Got the requisite chocolates, dozen pink-stained white roses, dinner with my two favorite people and a half day at work.
Life, as they say, is good.
This fic was for the Stranger Things Valentine's Day Fic Exchange, the brainchild of gabs186. Psst, Gab. Start thinking about St. Paddy's day. Angel *is* Irish, doncha know:P
Title: Happy Valentine’s Day, Cordelia
Summary: Cordelia’s not having a good Valentine’s Day.
Rating: R...for what I’m not sure. Just playing it safe.
Pairing: C/A subtext. Ghosts of Cordy/Doyle
Disclaimer: Not mine. Whedon’s, ME, Fox. Blah, blah, blah.
Notes: For the ’07 Stranger Things Valentine’s Day Fic Exchange. This nearly killed me folks, and though it’s not my best effort, I hope its good enough.
Dedicated: To mph0506. Your prompts were Post-Doyle’s death, bad date, and vodka. Loved them, but they nearly did me in. Hope you like. Special life-saving thanks to starlet2367 for pointing this thing in the right direction.
FB: What, like I’m doing this just because?
Cordelia turns the key in the lock and opens the door, walking into her apartment and tossing the roses onto the coffee table.
She had an hour to get the demon slime out of her hair and off her skin before Scott picked her up, and she intended to use every second of that time.
Slipping out of her clothes, she wrapped a towel around her body and hurried into her bathroom.
“Dennis, turn the shower on, please?”
Trusting her ghost to set the temperature to her liking, she pulls the towel loose and steps into the hot spray, groaning as a day’s tension and grime are washed down the drain. Dennis aimed the spray at the back of her neck, making her groan again, hanging her head as he loofahed her back for her.
Everyone should have a ghost, she thinks.
But not Dennis.
He’s all hers.
Fifteen minutes later, fresh and pink, she hops out and dries quickly, thinking of what she’ll wear. Drying her hair takes another ten, and she mousses the underside before applying her make up.
Slipping her robe tight, she heads into her bedroom, eyeing the choices lying on her bed.
“I like the wine colored number, myself.”
Mind going blank, she whirls around and comes face to face with a dead Irish hero.
“Hello, princess.” His smile is heartbreakingly familiar.
She blinks her disbelief. Yes, she believes in ghosts – hello, living with one – but not this ghost.
Not this one.
“No, not happening. NOT happening.” She turns and runs out of the room, straight into the kitchen. She pauses to see if she’s being followed, but when no one else appears next to her, she goes to the fridge, and brings the Absolut out of storage in her freezer.
Her father’s favorite, seeing him through endless dinners with business partners, and critical in-laws. The night he told her and her mother about the tax mistake, he’d done four shots before getting the courage to admit his failure.
She hopes one will do, taking down a shot glass and quickly pouring herself a shot.
Burning her throat like frozen hellfire, she coughs spastically, calms herself then pours another.
“Aw come on, princess, it’s not as bad as all that, is it? Seein' me?”
She pauses in the act of bringing the glass to her mouth, and narrows her eyes at her dead almost-boyfriend.
Then she slams the glass down on the counter, spilling the contents over the back of her hand, reaches over and slaps him, trusting that he’s corporeal enough to feel the pain.
“Ow! That hurt!”
“Good! I’m glad! You deserved it.”
“What’d I do? Besides save LA, that is.”
“You sucker punched Angel, sent him over the edge and down at least four stories.”
“He’s a vampire, he could take it.”
“He had bruises!”
Doyle opened his mouth but she cut him off by holding her hand up.
“And, and, you gave me the best kiss of my life, before you went all hero-ey and died on me – JUST when you were getting interesting.”
She reached down and grabbed the glass again, taking her second shot without looking away from him, but she eats him up with her eyes, heart squeezing with pain because she misses that stupid offended expression that makes him so adorable.
Made him adorable.
He’s dead, even if he’s standing in her kitchen.
She looks down, the vodka pushing through her body with every beat of her tired and aching heart.
“Whatever you’re here to sell, I’m not buying. I’m going on my date, and I’m going to pretend this didn’t happen. So just go.”
Voice croaking with the kind of rush of grief she hasn’t felt since the night she watched him disintegrate, she turns on her heel and walks out of her kitchen.
She looks up at the waiter holding out her chair and smiles winningly at both of him.
“Absolut on the rocks, please. I’m celebrating.”
Scott, her perfect preppie with a portfolio, pauses in the act of seating himself and blinks his pretty green eyes at her.
“Uh, I’ll have one to.” He says to the waiter, seating himself. “What are we celebrating?”
She leans forward and smiles, hoping her chin dimples the way his does.
“My freedom.” She whispers, righting herself when she realizes she’s leaning to the left.
Scott leans back in his chair and frowns slightly.
Poor Scott. Cute, but totally clueless. Vampires have souls, she wants to say, and half-demons left you stupid, painful gifts as legacies instead of their breathing-plus friendship.
“You can’t get rid of me that easily, Cordelia. I’m here for a reason.”
She swings her head around and frowns at Doyle, standing next to the potted plant on her right.
“Go away.” She mumbles disdainfully, flipping her napkin into her lap and spreading the linen.
Scott’s head jerks up from the menu.
She sighs, rolling her eyes.
“Not you.” She handwaves and Scott’s eyes follow, landing on the potted plant. “Him.”
The waiter brings her drink and she grabs it, trying to put some grace behind the move, and sips slowly, letting the burn chase more of the pain away, leaving numbness like a blanket coating her insides.
“Are you ready to order, miss?”
She nods affirmatively.
“You betcha. Trout, green beans, baby new potatoes.”
Doyle kneels on her other side and whispers urgently.
“Princess, this guy – he’s not everything you think he is.”
She turns to him in the middle of ordering and glares.
“And you were more, but I never got to find that out, did I?”
The waiter and Scott begin to sound like the same person, and she finds herself annoyed that she can’t tell the difference.
She swings her head back around and the room spins and tilts before righting itself, but she manages to settle on the waiter.
“Do I need to repeat my order?” She narrows her eyes and the man's eyes widen as he swallows.
“No, of course not.” He takes her menu like it was a snake about to bite him, and turns to Scott.
She doesn’t hear Scott's order because Doyle won’t stop talking. All through dinner and another Absolut, and his brogue whispers in her ear, warning her.
Scott is bad news; Scott is not just interested in dating her.
She ignores him, and eats. The food could have been cardboard, but she swallows and makes proper noises when Scott asks her how it is.
She stops hearing anything by the time the check arrives, and closes her eyes, Doyle’s voice echoing in her head.
Her head pounding is what wakes her up, brings her out of that dark ocean she's floating in, and back to the present. There’s a distant drip, and something thickly wet against her back.
When she opens her eyes, she’s tied to a wooden x-cross, arms on either side of her head, propped on a platform.
She groans and lifts her head, stomach churning from alcohol and food and the smell that lets her know she’s in the sewers.
She blinks blearily and sighs.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Cordelia.
She never thought anything could top Xander’s insane put-a-spell-on-everyone-but-her whopper, but evidently all she had to do was wait.
Maybe she should just stop dating completely.
Scott is now decked out in a red robe and chanting over a symbol – a glowy-eyed snake with a sword.
“Angel’s gonna kick your ass,” she says simply, both to break his chant and because it’s true.
Scott turns his hooded head, and she sees his eyes, so cute before, glow at her.
Power, she thinks. He’s got a smidge.
Doyle walks out of one of the tunnels and shakes his head up at her, the corner of his mouth quirked in a resigned smile.
“His master wants to impregnate you.”
She rolls her eyes, exasperated.
“What? He was in a fraternity with Wilson Christopher or something?”
“Be quiet!” Scott barks. “He’s coming.”
“Yes, he is.”
Meets her eyes and winks.
Then Angel crashes down through a grate in the ceiling, landing heavily on Scott’s altar and scattering the bones and candles. He’s holding a sword about half as big as he is, and she recognizes it as one that she got last month on Ebay.
His eyes immediately seek her out, face vamped.
She tries to look confident, but doesn’t think the green tint on her skin is conveying anything but a hangover.
“Vampire!” Scott snarls and flies backwards, beyond Angel’s reach, pulling a sword from his robe. “You’re too late! My master comes.”
Growling, Angel jumps down and clasping the hilt in both hands, spins a full revolution and splits the metal snake symbol over the ruined altar in half.
“Not tonight, and not with her.”
He jumps forward, meeting Scott’s howl of outrage with his own growl, and Cordelia watches as the swords clash heavily, echoing into the distant tunnels and scaring some homeless, no doubt.
She struggles not to comment on the obvious sword and snake metaphor.
“Hasn’t changed, has he?” Doyle appears next to her, casually leaning against x-cross. “The hair still sticks up pretty badly, yeah?”
His eyes still twinkle and he still smiles like she remembers, but suddenly it doesn’t hurt as much anymore.
“Are you happy, Doyle?”
He swings his head, surprised at her question.
“Yeah, I am.” He shrugs slightly. “I’m not saying it couldn’t be better, certain things are lackin' in the alcohol-havin', but yeah, I’m happy. The sacrifice, it was right and good. The world needs Angel.”
He sounds sure, and she lets herself breathe for the first time since it happened. There was nothing she could have done, nothing she could have said, that would have changed the outcome.
Doyle didn’t blame her. He was at peace.
“I miss you.” She says simply.
“I miss you too, princess. Always will. But I left you in good hands. He’ll see you through.” He nods at Angel and steps off the platform, smiling up at her.
“Take care of each other.”
She nods, unable to say anything that wouldn’t get garbled by her tears, and watches as Doyle turns from her and walk away a second time, going through the tunnels whistling.
She listens, straining, until she can’t hear him anymore.
When she looks at Angel again, Scott is impaled on the far wall, sword sticking out of his mid-section, half way up from the floor.
“Wow. Overkill much?”
Angel swings around and leaps onto the platform, reaching out and pulling the iron manacles from the wall, freeing her wrists. She slumps, the tunnel spinning, and Angel picks her up in his arms, lifting her against his chest and stepping off the platform again.
She groans and covers her eyes, leaning her head against his shoulder.
“God, take it easy, the room, it spins.”
“Are you okay?”
She nods slightly, hoping he’ll understand. He does, settling her against his chest and walking back through the same tunnel Doyle came out of.
“How’d you find me?” She asks, curious.
“Believe it or not, I dreamt Doyle was pulling me through these tunnels and saying your name. It didn’t feel right, so-“
“What didn’t feel right?” She questions, peering up in the darkness at his face.
He pauses a second before answering.
“Your date. It didn’t feel right, and I know you said to give you some room, trust your instincts but –“
She snorts, and the sound is rude and loud in the concrete enclosure.
“Yeah, I think we better rethink my instincts. Not as sound as they should be.”
She decides not to mention Doyle. She and Angel are both getting to the point where it doesn’t hurt as much, and bringing him up might raise Angel’s hopes of getting their friend back all over again.
Doyle’s not coming back, and she doesn’t want to see the disappointment chase away the hope from Angel’s face again. It hurt more than she wanted to admit the last time.
She leans her head against his chest and closes her eyes, tired and ragged.
His voice is quiet, close to her ear, and the sound rumbling up through his chest makes her shiver, nipples tightening suddenly.
“When did you start drinking vodka?”
She laughs softly and allows herself to fall asleep, knowing she’s safe.
With Angel, she’s always safe.