Wishing to Be Snow
Category: Character Study
Characters: Angel, Cordelia, Wesley
Summary: Cordelia wants a happy ending.
i watch me be this other thing, i never know
if i’m marooned or where the purple people go
then lily white matricide from vicious words
it doesn’t leave a scratch so therefore no one’s hurt –Tori Amos
In the beginning, before all this got really complicated, there were always three of us, just the three of us against the world. First, there was Angel, and it’s weird how time sort of makes him seem more romantic than he ever was. I mean, that was back when he was all super-dorky. He didn’t quite like having me there, either, all loud and brash and unforgettably part of the Sunnydale period. But at the same time, cuz you know how people are, he did. Because without me there, he didn’t have any reason to smile at all.
So, yeah, second, there was me. You know me. And I keep thinking back to the way I used to be, the pretty little thing with the long dark hair and not a clue about how things were really like. I mean, kicking ass even like that, but yeah. I probably almost got myself killed a thousand times, but you know, I got to be the heart of the operation, even before the visions that were ever-so-ironically given to me by a good-bye kiss.
Third, there was Doyle, and I don’t forget that, because forgetting Doyle is a bad thing, a very bad thing. Because Doyle was my friend, and I love him and I miss him still. But I have to admit, sometimes the kiss he gave me good-bye and the kiss Wesley gave me hello seems to be part of this unbroken continuum of things. Like an arrow pointing to the fact that Doyle was never going to be with us very long, and Wesley was always our third guy. The guy who made the three of us the three of us.
Wesley, Angel, and me. Complete with the photos. You’d think, between the three of us, we’d know that was a trinity not to break up, huh? You’d think that I’d never get distant from the guys who were there when I woke up one day nine months pregnant after what was not quite my first time, but pretty damn close to it. You’d think that after Faith, after stopping temporary-Angelus, after hearing that shanshu could mean to live or to die, I’d know where my heart was.
Sometimes young is stupid. Young is always about more; about the things you feel the hardest. And oh, I’d only been in love once, the brief happy teenage love of Cordelia and Xander, and it seemed so possible that Groo was destiny, coming down to lift me back into my place as a princess. Except destiny isn’t a good substitute for boring old-fashioned relationship building. It also doesn’t help when one of your two best friends has decided he’s in love with you and he’s a guy like Angel.
Try it, sometime, if you don’t believe me. Try not being in love back when those big, dark, puppy-dog eyes are looking into yours, and you know that everything is yours. Maybe if you’re not twenty-one, and he’s not your best friend, and he’s not gorgeous, and you haven’t had a single solitary sex fantasy about him, you’ll be able to resist. I’m not as good as all that. Normal human girl here, even with all the special demon powers. Hell, Buffy was the damn Slayer and she went even more melty for him than I ever did.
Angel is Angel, you know? And Wesley, my other guy, my other best friend, the guy who held my hand while I was crying in the obstetrician’s room, who organized a bunch of peasants into an army to save me in an alternate dimension, the guy who could swallow my less-successful breakfast attempts without even a grimace, he was disappearing. By the time Groo and I got back from a desperate attempt at being the fake sort of normal happy that seems so much better on tv, he was gone and not the sort of gone you come back from.
And I didn’t do a damn thing. I was crazy about big dark puppy-dog eyes, and I don’t know what else. There was that empty cradle and I couldn’t think about what could have possessed Wes except jealousy or big evil. That’s what I say, but the truth is I was in love with Angel and the idea that it was supposed to be the three of us against the world didn’t register. An angel’s face is tricky to wear constantly, you know. Even with glowy powers, sometimes, you just have to go with your heart and your–lower parts–and Angel was my heart.
The stupid thing, the big stupid thing that my dumb Angel-filled head didn’t think of was that Angel was Wesley’s heart, too. That maybe he loved us as much as he professed to. And God knows it’s not like Angel isn’t capable of stupid with a big ol’ side of scary. If I’d seen Angel vamping out over Connor and saying the baby smelled like food, if I’d been there, if I’d been Wesley, I don’t know what I would have done. I might have been riding shotgun in the SUV. It seems so easy to say that I would have told someone, but, it’s not easy to tell the girl who broke your heart and your ex-best-friend that you need their help.
I’m saying heart too much. I don’t have a good word to use as a synonym. Wesley might know, but he’s not here. So it’s just me and my repetitiveness.
And it hurts, you know? The whole part where I keep thinking that if I hadn’t told Wesley that Fred was interested in him, the part where I think if I hadn’t been so selfish and trying not to be in love with Angel, if I’d paid attention to someone I claimed to love so fucking much, I wouldn’t be sitting alone at the coffee shop right now, trying to figure out what the fuck happened to everyone.
Talk about a shift from romance to reality. Thinking about everyone annoys me so much gets under my skin like nothing else.
Connor’s a little–grr–just like his mommy and daddy. I guess I should give him a break because he’s sixteen and all sixteen-year-old boys suck, but he locked Angel in a box for three months. Then he didn’t even try to apologize. The only thing I want is for Connor to go far, far away where Wolfram and Hart can’t get him so that Angel doesn’t have to suffer any more. Some people need to learn the hard way, and Angel’s son? Definitely one of them.
Fred and Gunn are annoying the hell out of me, worried that I might go all forgetful again if I go too far away. I know that they’re just worried, but hello? Powerful part-demon being? From Sunnydale? I can totally get coffee by myself. Plus, they’re annoying in general with the Wesley-hate. I almost smacked Fred when I found out what she said to Wes in the hospital, but like I’ve got room to talk?
Still, I don’t think Gunn, Mr. So-Whipped-by-the-Pussy that he totally can’t forgive his former best friend (and oh, I cannot believe he said that they weren’t. I was there for the brother shakes and the part where Wes took a bullet for him and one day, when the Fred-unit’s not around, I’m going to kick his ass for lying), has quite gotten over that I called her an idiot to her face. He’s lucky he didn’t get to hear me call her a mealy-mouthed dumbfuck anorexic passive-aggressive maneater, which is what I was chanting in my head. Among other things.
No, I am not always St. Cordelia, nor am I meant to be. If there’s anything a stint in Heaven taught me, it’s that when I deny the bitch, I’m more fucked than if I behave like Lilah. Though currently, behaving like Lilah means actually speaking to Wesley, unlike the rest of us. So maybe, go her. Except for the evil part.
I cannot believe Wesley’s screwing her, but then again, she has actual fashion sense, unlike Fred, and Wesley is drawn to the fashionable monster bitches. How did Wesley and I ever imagine it was going to work with Fred? Fred has never read a copy of W, or even Cosmo, and Wes and I used to call Cosmo the Bible. Angel used to laugh at us and act all superior, but that’s before he was dumb enough to use ink on the quiz and we busted him.
I look down at my notepad, which I’ve brought along just in case the Powers that Screw You decide to play funny. It has the hotel address on it, and a lot of doodling. Stick figures, mostly. I can identify them with their little stick accessories. Stick-Fred is leaning against Stick-Gunn, who has his axe and looks all grr-argh. Stick-Angel is wearing his coat, with the cavebrow glowering at Stick-Connor, who is on his hands and knees scrubbing the floor for penance and my own amusement. Stick me is sort of standing there with a smile and a coffee.
And then there’s Stick-Wesley. He’s leaving. And nobody notices, but Stick-Lilah is waiting with a limo and a smile. I don’t think Stick-Lilah is wearing underwear, because even Stick-Lilah’s evil and slutty and strangely smart about these things.
Shit. Even the Stick Figure family us sucks. I turn the page on the notepad, write the hotel info again and try again, wondering how much longer before I get a call that I need to come home because I’m needed to watch us get poorer. Real Wes has stolen most of our clients, because he’s not a dumbass in business, unlike the rest of us. When he takes a case, it gets done promptly and privately and without busting up too much property.
We’re probably not going to get a happy ending, I don’t think. No one wants to apologize, not really. There are too many barriers, too much ongoing rage. No matter what anyone says or tries to do to make up, it just gets worse and worse. Wes gets darker and darker, Angel gets angrier and angrier, and I feel stupid trying to do too little too late.
But in the land of Stick Figures, it’s a little different. It’s Christmas in Stick Figure land, and we’re at Wesley’s apartment. Connor is totally getting us all eggnog and he’s smiling. And then he and Gunn are going to mess around on Playstation 2. Fred’s messing around with her Palm Pilot and for once isn’t dressed like a hippie reject. Stick- Fred has discovered Cosmo and Sex and the City and Fashion Week. Go Stick-Fred, go!
The best part, though, is me, Stick-Angel, and Stick-Wes. We have the camera out and Stick-Wes is fussing with it so that we can get a group shot. Angel’s making goofy faces and I’m trying to make him stop because this one needs to be good. There needs to be a good picture of the three of us.
“If you’re in it, the picture’ll be beautiful,” Angel says as I wrinkle my nose.
“Yeah, well, don’t ugly up my picture by getting all dork-boy,” I say, smacking him on the shoulder. “Wes!”
“Almost ready–” Wes says fussily. “Okay. Ready. Ten–nine–eight–”
He hustles into position. Suddenly, there are two arms around me and I’m just grinning like I’ve won the lottery (Stick Figure Me. Real Me is finishing the last gulps of her latte and trying to be all stoic because it’s never going to be like this) and I lean my head against Wesley’s shoulder, then on Angel’s, and the camera flashes when I’m in between.
Freezing the frame in Stick Figure Land, and leaving me with a big ol’ stomach-ache.
I am not going to cry about this. We all make our choices. We have to live with them. Wesley decided not to forgive us, Angel decided he didn’t trust Wesley, and I decided that Angel needed me more than Wesley. None of it can be taken back, no matter how much we want. Or don’t want. Wesley doesn’t answer the phone. He slammed the door in my face. Seven times. I went glowy on him and he chanted a spell at me so that touching the door isn’t so fun for me anymore.
Angel says he doesn’t care. He’s lying through his teeth. Wesley saved his life. Wesley fed Angel his own blood after Angel tried to kill him. That’s love, goddammit, and we’re just throwing it away.
Stupid. God, so stupid.
I pick up my notepad and leave the coffee cup behind, blinking back tears. None of it makes any sense to me at all.
A beautiful, smoggy LA sunset greets me as I leave the coffee shop and walk toward the hotel. I can’t stop thinking about Wesley. Why won’t he let us in? Why can’t we just go back to the way we were?
“You can say you’re sorry until the world ends,” Wesley told me the last time. “It doesn’t change the fact that when I needed you, you left me to crawl home with a gaping throat wound and the clear impression that I’m only worth your time when you need me, and not when I need you.”
“Wes–there were–it was compli–”
“You would have forgiven Angel. You forgave Angel cold-blooded murder because he bought you clothes,” he hissed. “But you couldn’t forgive me. Go to hell, Cordelia.”
It hits me as I’m almost at the hotel that he’s right. God, he was right. We never–I never–he was my friend. He was my other best friend. I told him that a thousand times. And I let him twist in the wind. Fuck.
So I walk into the hotel and Angel is sitting there, worried as usual. But tonight I don’t have time for him, not if he keeps acting the way he’s been acting about the Wesley Situation.
“Cordy, I was worried–Cordy, I–what are you doing?”
“I’m taking your car and I’m going to Wesley’s,” I say resolutely. “I’m camping out in front of his doorway until he lets me in.”
“He did the wrong thing, Angel,” I say, stopping suddenly. “But so did you. And so did I. And we’ve done the wrong thing over and over again and we get forgiven. So you know what? About fucking time you start putting your money where your mouth is. You say you’re a champion? You say we have to live in this world like it’s the world it should be? Then you come with me now. We make this right. Because, you know, how are we going to save the world if we can’t save Wes?”
He stares at me with his mouth open. Yeah. I’ve got a point, Angel. So what are we going to do?
We’re a family. I’d forgotten. And as I dangle the keys and watch Angel fight with himself on whether to be a hero or not, I promise never to forget again.