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“Illyria’s genes can save the Asgard,” said Cordelia.
“Are you sure?” asked Cameron.
“I said I was sure, didn’t I? Yes, Cameron, I’m pretty damn sure,” said Cordelia.
“This is another one of your visions, isn’t it?” Cameron rolled his eyes.
“Have I ever steered you wrong?” asked Cordelia.
“You’ve taken us some pretty weird places,” said Cameron.
“But never wrong, right?” Cordelia asked.
Cordelia gave him her thousand-watt smile and Cameron found himself melting as usual. Now, if only the Asgard could save Cordelia! Once he’d come to believe that she and Illyria really were separate, he’d worked up the courage to ask her out, despite the weirdness of the whole situation. Unfortunately, she’d turned him down flat, telling him she wasn’t ‘going there again.’ Wesley had later explained to him that her last relationship hadn’t ended well.
It was clear she liked him, however, and so they’d been in a holding pattern for nearly a year. Several women had made a play for him, but he really couldn’t take it past the first date and after a while, he’d given up on the whole dating thing entirely. Instead, every weekend they weren’t off world, Cameron would cook or grill and invite the entire team over.
Since Colonel Carter had finally married General O’Neill, her former team leader in SG-1, Cameron had found himself thinking about his situation again. Unfortunately, regs weren’t his problem. He knew he couldn’t wait forever. Of course, if she hadn’t turned him down, things would have been complicated anyway. He trusted Wesley with his life, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to live with the man and for the moment, cohabitation seemed like the only reasonable option if things ever went beyond a few dates. He wasn’t sure he was ready for any of the realities of dating someone who shared her body with an ancient blue demon, even one as cool as Illyria. Still, if Cordelia ever accepted his dates, he was sure he'd figure something out.
Cameron Mitchell had decided he had the weirdest team in the SGC and that was saying a lot. Originally, he’d wanted to work with SG-1, but he’d been told in no uncertain terms that was not going to happen. Carter had been promoted. Jack O’Neill was gone, but apparently he’d been replaced by… himself. Jon O’Neill. Apparently, Jack had a clone. That was just weird.
Then again, it was all pretty damn weird. When he’d heard he’d be working with aliens, he’d been more than a little apprehensive. However, his entire team had ended up being terrestrial in orgin and still they were just a little bit strange. No, scratch that. They were fucking weird! A wizard, a slayer… well, two slayers, if you counted Cordelia, and she definitely counted… a scary dangerous ex watcher and his demon goddess.
If anyone else had told him that he’d ever meet people like these, he’d have laughed and called for the guys in white coats. In the year and a half since the big battle over L.A., no starting
with the battle over L.A., Cameron’s life had gone from zero to utterly weird. Commanding them was an experience in the strange and wonderful. Command was probably not the right term. After all, one doesn’t command dynamite… One stands back and lets it blow things up. Mostly his job was to set the charge. Very carefully.
Wesley Wyndam Pryce. The man was as smart as Daniel Jackson was, at least as far as he could tell. Both of them were way smarter than he was ever gonna be. Unlike the tales he’d heard about Jackson’s early days, however, there’d been no question as to whether Wesley was able to defend himself. Wesley, in fact made up for his lack of slayer strength or vampire muscle with fighting skills that impressed even the brawniest marines. It wasn’t that Wesley was macho. He was anything but.
Wesley was often underestimated and he made excellent use of that. When he fought, he was utterly ruthless, something that rapidly made Cameron come to believe that he could trust the man to watch his back and
relieved that they were on the same side. The first time they’d been captured, Wesley had killed a Jaffa with a ballpoint pen. When he couldn’t fight, he used magic. He hadn’t been hired as a magic user, though there had been a note in his paperwork about magic. Then again, the paperwork had come from ISWC and they valued him for his exemplary academic skills, particularly his language skills. Fighting and magic had been tacked on almost as an afterthought.
The three females were just scary. There wasn’t a craft in existence Erin Pierce couldn’t fly or learn to fly almost by instinct. If Erin wasn’t such a loose canon sometimes, she’d be an excellent officer, but as she bonded with her team members, she’d proved to be surprisingly loyal and caring since not even Erin's lover, Blaise put up with the cocky, arrogant crap. He was, after all, still 100% slytherin. Erin was gradually - occasionally painfully - learning to be a true team member.
Cameron was grateful his upbringing had taught him never to slap a lady, because he’d been sorely tempted on more than one occasion. Illyria and Cordelia had apparently earned Erin’s respect at some earlier point, however. Erin never pulled any of the crap with them that she’d tried with him and Blaise or even (just once) with Wesley. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Cordelia and Illyria could put her on her ass without even breaking a sweat. Perhaps it had something to do with the time Illyria had picked her up by the collar of her uniform, before hurling her headfirst into a lake or perhaps it had been Cordelia’s mocking zinger afterward.
“Colonel Mouth, methinks your opinion’s a bit wet,” Cordelia had told her.
Cameron smiled to himself as he waited. Suddenly, Thor appeared beside him, making him jump.
“Greetings Colonel Mitchell,” said Thor.
“Greetings, Thor,” said Cameron.
Every time Cameron dealt with the Asgard, he had to fight the impulse to pat them on the head. They were much too cute for being amongst the most powerful beings in the universe.
“O’Neill has informed us you believe you have a solution to our… problem,” said Thor.
“We believe so,” said Cameron.
“How is this possible?” Thor inquired.
Cameron knew the subtext was ‘how could you possibly know that? You’re backward and you have no technology!’ Cameron forced himself not to smirk at the little fella.
“One of our… people…” Cameron began.
“I had a vision,” said Cordelia. “Illyria and I agree. It offers you a solution if you want it.”
“Illyria?” Thor actually took a step back.
“Your race is familiar with me?” Cordelia morphed into Illyria.
“We are,” said Thor. “You were among the most dangerous entities of the ancient world.
“I do not represent a threat. I have chosen to be an ally to the humans.”
“Interesting. You represented a great threat to the earliest races. Nevertheless, the Ancients drew much from your kind’s manipulation of the elements.”
“It is as I said,” Illyria turned to Wesley, her expression somewhere between smug and haughty. “Did I not tell you they copied wormhole mechanics from my abilities?”
“You are correct,” said Thor, still looking quite wary. “But you are already aware of this.”
“I am,” said Illyria. Illyria got right back to the point. “We have the solution for your genetic failings.”
“But you are not human… nor are you of our race,” said Thor.
“That is precisely why we are able to offer you a feasible solution,” said Illyria. “The genetics of the old ones predate the sentient humanoid races.”
“You are our antecedents?”
“We are,” said Illyria. “This body contains superior DNA uncompromised by years of inbreeding or dilution.”
“We do not breed,” said Thor.
“You may wish to reconsider that. Genetic variation represents strength. Even for mere sport it has merit,” said Illyria.
“We will take that under consideration,” said Thor, inclining his head.
Cameron’s jaw dropped. Did he just hear Illyria right? Did the blue girl just tell the Asgard big boss man that sex was fun?
“If you choose to incorporate this body’s DNA, you will regain long unavailable functionality,” said Illyria.
“Blue’s right. You’ll be physically as well as genetically stronger,” said Cordelia, morphing again.
“We were unaware that the old ones contained more than one consciousness,” said Thor, with a non-expression that Cameron guessed must be puzzlement.
“Oh, I’m not an old one. I’m just the human trapped in here by a nasty cosmic accident,” said Cordelia.
“You’re human?” asked Thor.
“Guilty as charged,” said Cordelia, grinning at him. “Right down to the soul.”
“This is fascinating,” said Thor.
“Here we go, Blue. Many fun-filled hours of probing, prodding and researching,” said Cordelia, shaking her head. “Were you a watcher or a doctor in your last life?”
“A watcher?” said Thor.
“You know, with the books and study… We already know you’re smart enough,” said Cordelia.
“I do know. I possess a great deal of knowledge, yes, but I’m not a scientist, nor am I considered a scholar by my people,” said Thor.
“Might I be able to meet some of your scholars?” asked Wesley a little too eagerly.
Cameron rolled his eyes.
“All I need for you to make me a new body is some of my old DNA?” asked Cordelia.
“That is correct,” said the Asgard scientist. “We could attempt to extract it from anything… If you have any personal items from before…”
“Wouldn’t something like a hairbrush work?” asked Janet.
“I believe that would suffice,” said the scientist. “It is a small thing for such a great gift. Our race owes you a great debt.”
“Not the way Jack tells it,” said Cordelia, feeling quite embarrassed. “I’ll be right back.”
Before he could say anything else, Cordelia teleported from the SGC to the basement of their Colorado Springs house where all the things she hadn’t unpacked from L.A. still sat in boxes. Thank god for obsessive vampires. These were the boxes from when she had been missing. She’d only looked inside a few of them since coming to Colorado, but she knew exactly which box she needed. Maybe it had been just a gross guy thing, or maybe Angel hadn’t bothered to clean it because it smelled of her. It didn’t matter. She hadn’t looked into those boxes until after she’d replaced almost everything from her dresser. By then she’d acquired a new hairbrush, but she’d had the old one since childhood, and she hadn’t wanted to part with it.
Ten minutes later, she was back inside the SGC.
“I believe this is what you needed,” said Cordelia.
“Hi family, my name is Faith and… I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic, but I’m compulsive about everything, you know?”
“Hi Faith,” said the group.
“I’ve been using something – sex, violence, alcohol, power, my friends – since I can remember. I guess the only reason I never used heroin and that stuff… well that’s ‘cause I’m the one who found my mom with the needle in her arm, face down in her own vomit, you know? I couldn’t bring myself to go there… but I went everywhere else. I even killed… I’m a murderer too…” she paused, and looked around the room, her expression guarded.
There were gasps from a few people, but most people didn’t seem all that shocked. Faith continued to speak.
“I only came to meetings to support my friend Angel, here. He’s celebrating a year today. Congratulations, Angel! But I guess I heard my story too… Coming here’s changed my life too. I have six months today. I didn’t want to say anything, ‘cause I wasn’t sure this recovery thing was for me. Anyway, I think it’s time: I’m Faith… and I’m an alcoholic,” Faith said. “Thanks for letting me share.”
“Thanks for sharing,” chorused everyone in the room.
Then she sat back down. Angel who was sitting next to her, hugged her tightly, and the room broke out in applause.
Cordelia really didn’t want to be here. Faith had convinced her to meet with Angel. Cordelia really hoped this wasn’t some ploy on Angel’s part to get back together. She’d heard from Buffy that Angel had recently celebrated a year sober. While she was glad for him, Cordelia really didn’t want to see him, didn’t want to be with him; didn’t want to deal with him at all.
She’d put the whole Angel thing behind her. She’d made a life with her team, and she felt freer than she had for years now she was finally back in her own body. She hadn’t had a chance to tell anyone outside the SGC yet. When Faith had told her that Angel was coming to Colorado Springs and wanted to see her, she found she couldn’t say anything.
It was only as a favor to Faith that she was here waiting to meet with Angel. Faith had helped Angel get sober and she said that he had unfinished business with her, so Cordelia had agreed. Both Wesley and Illyria had offered to come, but she’d decided she needed to handle this on her own. Whatever the man wanted, she would hear it out, and let him down gently. Once, they’d been friends. Once, she’d thought she’d spend her life with him. Once she’d had a blind spot. A big, Angel-shaped blind spot.
Of course, the moment he walked into the restaurant, her heart skipped a beat. He looked so good! The puffy, slightly bloated look he’d had the last time she’d seen him was gone. He was tanned. His hair… He’d finally gotten himself a decent haircut, shorter, not quite military short, but he didn’t look out of place in this town. Guess he’d finally taken a good look in the mirror. The eighties-too much mousse-vampire look… That whole creature of darkness thing – was gone. Wow.
“Hi Cordy,” said Angel, with uncharacteristic tentativeness.
He smiled and it lit up his face. He looked like a different person. Down to the blue jeans that fit... just a little too well. She couldn’t think of a single time she’d seen him in blue jeans before this. Cordelia’s heart clenched.
“Hello, Angel,” said Cordelia, unable to keep the smile off her face.
“It’s good to see you,” said Angel his face eager and hopeful.
“I don’t mean…” he said. “Look… I know you probably didn’t want to meet me…”
“I really didn’t,” said Cordelia.
“I’m sorry,” said Angel.
“And you think sorry’s enough?” asked Cordelia.
“No, Cordy, I don’t,” said Angel.
Cordelia was stunned. The old Angel, despite his obsessive introspection, had never been the most self-aware person in the world.
“That’s good,” she said.
“I’m not here to try to get back with you, Cordelia. My sponsor… He warned me that this was about me making amends… that you might not even want to talk to me. I’m really grateful that you agreed to come.”
“I did it because Faith asked me,” said Cordelia.
“Faith is a good friend,” said Angel. “I couldn’t have done this without her.”
“Wait… you and Faith?” Cordelia blanched.
“No. No! Of course not! Faith… well, she calls me her big bro… No, I don’t think she would ever. She doesn’t see me that way,” said Angel, clearly horrified by the idea. “Besides, you do know she’s married to Robin, right?”
“Yeah… I was at the wedding. I just… I don’t know what I thought… She’s Faith… I know she’s changed, but… well, you know what she was like.”
“She’s not like that anymore, Cordy,” said Angel emphatically. “She’s… Well, it’s not my story to tell, but she and Robin have been really good to me.”
“I’m glad,” said Cordelia, relieved she had been wrong, and a little ashamed for her suspicions. "I don't know what I was thinking."
“Anyway, I need to do this before I get too nervous,” said Angel.
“Make amends,” said Angel, pulling out a few sheets of paper. “It’s called the ninth step. I need to make direct amends to all the people I hurt…”
Cordelia recognized Angel’s beautiful penmanship, though she couldn’t read it since it was upside down.
“Cordelia,” he began. “I know I don’t have a right to even ask you to listen to me. I’ve hurt you, and put you in danger, and cost you so much… Please believe me when I tell you I’m sorry for what I’ve done… I’m sorry for what I’ve said… I’m sorry for ever doubting your love or your friendship.”
Cordelia shifted uneasily in her seat. Angel’s complete earnestness was profoundly moving, and she found herself fighting the desire to reassure him. She also found herself wondering just where this was all going.
“You were a true friend for so many years, and I put you in danger with my selfishness and my pigheadedness so many times. Even before I became human, I didn’t think about the consequences of the things I did. I abandoned you and Gunn and Wes… and you almost died….”
Angel slowly outlined every offense he’d done – things that Cordelia hadn’t even considered as slights at the time. He even apologized for the things he had done and said as Angelus.
“I’m so sorry for how I behaved when I first became human… I treated you… well; I treated you like crap, even though I knew you were trying to help me. I have no excuse. I can’t blame it on the alcohol. I just let my fear and my anger about what was supposed to be my greatest gift take me over… I can’t believe I accused you of… well, what I accused you of. I am so very sorry. I would give anything to be able to take it all back. I know you’d never do anything like that. I know Wes wouldn’t… well, I owe him amends too…”
“Yes. You do,” said Cordelia.
“I don’t expect you to forgive me. I just want to say how sorry I am for everything. There was no excuse. You did nothing to deserve any of it. It was all me. The only thing I can assure you is that it won’t ever happen again…”
“No, it won’t,” said Cordelia.
Tears flowed freely down her face. She was deeply moved by his honesty, by the fact that he wasn’t making any
excuses. Angel really had changed. She realized something fundamental, however. So had she. She was over Angel. He’d been right. She had needed to hear these words. She’d feared the strong pull that she still felt towards him, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. Perhaps if she’d heard those words a year and a half ago… If he’d acknowledged the violation then, the deep wound that had eaten at her, made her angry, made her feel like less than a person, even made her feel a little guilty for Illyria’s actions… maybe that wound would have closed before it became a chasm separating her from even their friendship.
Now, however, Cordelia had a life separate from Angel. She was independent woman in a way she’d never truly been before. She worked for the SGC and for the council and she’d received exemplary reviews from both. The most recent SGC one had been since she’d returned to her own body. Landry and Janet were both impressed by her rapid adjustment and agreed wholeheartedly with Cameron’s assessment. She didn’t need Angel’s validation. Cordelia Chase had never been the type to put up with crap from a man. Angel, however, had been her first real adult relationship and she’d mourned him and missed him for a long time.
“Of course not,” said Angel. “I won’t ever do anything like that again.”
“No, Angel, you won’t. I won’t let you do anything like that again.”
“You’re right,” said Angel, looking a bit crestfallen.
“I forgive you,” said Cordelia.
“You do?” Angel looked stunned.
“I do. I won’t forget, but I do forgive you.”
“Thank you,” said Angel, who now had tears on his cheeks.
“I won’t forget the good stuff either, Angel,” Cordelia smiled, patting his hand.
“That’s… Thank you, Cordy,” said Angel.
“I prefer Cordelia,” said Cordelia, pulling her hand back.
“OK, Cor-Cordelia,” Angel hesitated over her name, looking puzzled and a little hurt.
“It was something Connor said,” Cordelia told Angel, shrugging. “That person is dead, Angel. Cordy was a vain girl who let herself get taken over by a demon… and I did some pretty sick things.”
“Those weren’t your fault,” said Angel.
“Maybe not,” said Cordelia, “But I’ve grown up, Angel. I’m not that girl anymore… and I can’t stand that name any more.”
“Fair enough,” said Angel. “Thank you, Cordelia.”
“You’re welcome,” said Cordelia.
“Did you still want to go to that Rocky Horror midnight show?” asked Cordelia.
“You want to go?” asked Cameron.
He was surprised to hear from her. The rest of the team had had other plans, and it hadn’t surprised him that Cordelia had turned him down too.
“I would love to go,” said Cordelia.
“I think that can be arranged,” said Cameron. “I’ll pick you up at eleven.”
“I’ll be ready,” said Cordelia.