DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, everything belongs to Joss Whedon and company. I gain no profit from anything in this document.
There are 63 tiles in the ceiling.
The manager likes to watch gay porn during work.
My neighbor is into bondage.
All facts that I could've lived without. However, my current state of mind won't let me ignore all this useless knowledge. No matter how hard I try, though honestly I'm not really trying. I'm too tired.
I arrived in my old town three days ago. I've spent that time lying in the small bed, in my small room, in my small motel. I can't seem to make my legs work, so I just lay here, hour after hour, listening to the sounds of the world, continuing on without my input.
Without knowing the courageous sacrifice of those dear to me.
I wanted to stand on the highest tower, shouting out for all the world, about the great things my family did. My real family, not those superficial, vain, criminal people that I grew up with.
I barely feel the wetness running down the side of my face, as I silently lie on the dirty sheets of the small bed. It doesn't matter anymore.
I don't even know why I came back here. What was I hoping to find? Some kind of answer, to a question I don't know either. What am I supposed to be asking? And who should I direct it to?
I am way in over my head and I just want to sleep. Sleep and never wake up again.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suicidal. I guess I just wouldn't mind if death came, though I would never seek it out. Really. I just feel so undeniably empty inside, all the way through to my soul. And I know what it is I'm missing, which also means the knowledge that I will never be whole again. How can I, when what's missing is dead and gone?
Angel already used up his get-out-of-Hell-free card back in Sunnydale. He's not coming back again.
I heard police sirens in the distance and briefly wondered if it was supernatural or not. Not that I cared enough to make sure, this just wasn't my world anymore. The only reason I was even here, was the pathetic fact that I didn't have anywhere else to go.
I don't quite know when I stopped caring about other people's fates. Maybe being back here was having a bad effect on me. Turning me back into the former May Queen.
Whatever, it didn't matter. As stated earlier, nothing did anymore.
However, there was a slight twinge in what I think is my conscience, which made me turn on the news a few hours later. I waited for a few minutes, listening to the usual 'stabbed in the neck with a barbecue fork' stories, until things got interesting.
Apparently, earlier this morning, at an address I knew very well, two young women had been shot. The identities weren't divulged, but it wasn't necessary. One died instantly, the other miraculously survived. That's Slayer healing for ya.
I felt the urge to investigate further, but quickly squashed that particular need back down again. It wasn't any of my business, hadn't been for 3 years now. They could handle themselves without me, had been doing just that for years now, right?
Besides, wasn't I just in the way, the last time around anyway?
I was a bit curious, I must admit, about the identity of the girl who didn't make it? Was it Willow? Or maybe a new player that I didn't know? Once more I pushed all of this away; it wouldn't be good for anything anyway. I had learned long ago, that in this particular line of work, casualties of war happened and they happened often.
I always used to say that the first one I lost was Doyle. But that wasn't right, now was it.
Regardless of what I had made others believe back then, the boy had meant something to me. Not much, but enough that his death had done something to me. Maybe even helped in the change that would later happen, when I moved to Los Angeles and began working with a brooding vampire.
To this day, I'm positive that Willow, Giles and Buffy still have no idea that Xander was the one to stake his best friend. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I'm not sure I would have bought it. Especially considering what my ex was like back then.
Despite Jesse's puppy dog behavior, I saw real potential in him, as I later did with Xander as well. I doubt I would ever have fallen for him as I did his friend, but he wasn't as bad as I made him out to be. I just wish he could've known that, in time.
Everyone had been so busy at the time, looking out for Giles and cursing Angelus, that I was overlooked. Willow, as well. Me and the shy redhead had connected with the older woman before her death, in ways the others didn't know anything about. We had even begun to hang out with her in the computer room on Sundays, though we never told anyone due to Buffy's anger at having been scammed by the gypsy.
I cried a large amount of tears for the woman who could've become such a good part of the group. She would've been the balance amongst us teenagers, the one to keep us in line, while making sure that Giles didn't become too stuffy. He was always the most Ripper, when she was still living.
Although technically they are still alive, they became dead to me the moment I discovered the tax evasion. Now while I was certainly not a goody-two-shoe, even back then, some things were just not acceptable. I might like money, but not enough to commit a serious crime just to get it.
I had yet to visit them in prison.
And I think I'll leave it at that. It's still difficult for me to think about, let alone delve deeply into for the sake of this particular topic. The same goes for the ones that came later. The ones that gave me wounds that are still fresh, both figuratively and literally.
I roll over on my side, as the tears keep coming. I didn't mean to rip into old wounds, but that damn news report had jumped them to the forefront of my mind. At least it gave me a momentary reprieve from the other, more recent, images.
It would only be a matter of time, though.
For now all I could do was enjoy the peace while it lasted. Soon I would be asleep, deeply embedded into the dream world that showed me the last moments in the lives of my family. I looked forward to the pain on their faces, the silent screams in their eyes, even the violence of the blood, spurting from their fatal wounds. At least it meant I got to see them, no matter the condition they were in. It was certainly better than forgetting.
I vowed I never would.
I could feel a chill seeping into my fingers, although I was in the middle of a Californian summer night. I knew the memories were attacking my mind, trying desperately to get in. And they would, but not yet. I hadn't reached my final destination just yet.
I had gone over this particular decision many times, a part of my mind trying to convince me that this was a bad idea. It was probably the sane part of me, but whatever.
I needed to do this.
I realized something, late last night as I tried to find sleep, something that had never occurred to me before. There was a very crystal clear reason of why I found it so difficult to think of my hometown and everything that had happened here. I hadn't dealt with any of it yet. So here I was.
And I was going to get closure, once and for all.
I ignored the sound of my heels hitting the pavement below me. I ignored the people around me, as I made my way across town, purposely not wondering why the hell they haven't learned to stay indoors after dark. I even ignored the stone setting in my stomach as I began to recognize my surroundings.
I was almost there.
And then I screamed...
Though, not out loud, thank god. I was alone, but my voice carries. But maybe I should scream? Or pinch myself? Something to get out of this living nightmare.
Why in the world would anyone want to rebuild Sunnydale High School?
I came here expecting either an empty lot, a burned out, torn down building or maybe another building in its place. Not the exact same thing. This just proves that only idiots have control of this city, how else does things like this happen.
In some ways this seemed like a sign to me. Like I had finally discovered the reason for feeling the need to return. I had to keep an eye on the Hellmouth. I knew Buffy has been the Slayer for several years, but certainly she'll be busy with the rest of the town. I'll stick to this one responsibility.
Maybe this is one I won't screw up.
Does it sound like I blame myself for the demise of my family? No? Didn't think so...
I've never been the strongest fighter. I'm not that great with a computer. I can’t build a working piece of weaponry to save my life, quite literally. All in all, there was ever only one thing I was the best at and now that I've done such a good job growing up, I'm no longer proud of it.
What respectable adult wants to be best at ruling a High School?
But despite all of this, I am now making a promise to myself and to the people of this town. I will not fail them, as I failed my family.
No more death, not on my watch.
I stood in the middle of my small, dingy motel room and quickly realized that this wouldn't do. This wouldn't do at all. If I planned to make something of myself in this town, as a Champion, I needed to up my accommodations. Up them through the roof.
The news told of a storm coming, as I quietly packed what little I had brought with me. Enough to fill a small duffel bag. I went around the room, not wanting to forget anything, wondering if where I went next would feel more like home than this did. Or if nowhere would feel that way anymore, now that I was all alone.
I sighed deeply and moved on.
Returning the key to the questionable clerk behind the counter, I hefted my bag higher up on my shoulder and let the bell ring loudly as I left that place, hopefully for good. It struck me as painfully ironic that the old Cordelia would never have been seen dead in a place like this.
But I was dead wasn't I? At least on the inside, where it counted.
I had called ahead to the manager of an apartment building down town. From the address, I was hoping that my past skill involving the Hellmouth would be good on my account. I could make some kind of deal with the owner, if necessary. Help take out the trash, so to speak.
First, there was something I had to do, one more stop to make before I called it a day and hopefully slept in my new home.
A certain abandoned mansion.
I doubt it would be as emotional as the night I left the Hyperion for the very last time. After all, I’ve never been to the house on Crawford Street, more than that one time during summer vacation. It didn’t hold nearly as much heart value as the hotel I had practically lived in for the last two years. Still, I set myself up for going there anyway, after all it’s a place where my best friend lived… and died… and came back.
So many memories.
But they weren’t my memories and that told me that I would be okay. I hope.
Forget the apartment building down town, near all that demonic energy. Forget trying to convince the paranoid landlord that I would be a good addition to the place. Forget my offer to fend off the worst of the worst. I had found my place.
It was dark by the time I reached Crawford Street and I kept my eyes and ears open. This was the time when the beings of the night went bump, after all. But I was adequately prepared to bump back. And more, if needed.
My heels clicked on the dark pavement below, as I searched my memory for the accurate location of the mansion. I seem to recall something about a steep hill top and it being right on top of that. But maybe that’s just my mind playing tricks on me. I’ll find out soon, I suppose.
The building finally comes in to view and I’m shocked to my knees, overcome with emotions. I didn’t think it would be this bad.
I see his smile, I hear his laugh, and I sense his worry for his friends and his son. I feel his pain of losing Connor, I feel his joy at getting him back, and I feel his love for me. Stronger than I think even I knew. Then come the shattering images. Not of the final battle, no that doesn’t hurt as much. No, I watch all the happier moments, knowing I’ll never have those again.
A night on the town with Angel and Doyle, not long after we began working together. I remember feeling surprised about the vampire, wondering if I didn’t underestimate Buffy’s words about the ensouled being. Maybe he truly was more than just a vampire.
That first lunch with both Angel and Wesley, after Doyle sacrificed himself. Realizing that maybe we could be happy again and again being surprised that Wesley might actually end up being the reason for that. Pleasant surprise, nonetheless.
Those days spent in my apartment, after the office blew up but before we relocated to the Hyperion. I remember the joy at realizing that I didn’t need to prove to the guys that I had changed, they simply took my word for it. Not many, who knew the old me, would do that.
I cried out in emotional agony, as the images came to me harder and faster and what felt like permanently. I didn’t want to see these things, but unfortunately I had no choice in the matter. They just kept coming.
The first night I slept without feeling the pain of Angel’s betrayal, simply because I had spent the day with Wes and Gunn. The night I realized that maybe I would be okay without the vampire who brought me into this work to start with.
Being named an official Queen of an entire dimension, the personal pride bubbling up inside me. Connecting with the newly sane Fred. Feeding Connor. Watching Connor sleep. Playing with Connor. My birthday, before the vision induced coma. Going to the opera with my family. And finally, realizing I love Angel.
Suddenly everything went black.
I came to, lying there on the cold, wet pavement. I still felt the pain, the sorrow, the all-consuming grief, but there was something else too. An epiphany, of sorts.
Beyond all those horrible emotions, I also felt relief. Relief that I was able to watch all that and not break down. Well, any more than I did, that is. This was a sign, telling me that given enough time, I might just be okay. Far, far off in the future, but still.
So that determination gave birth to the choice I spoke of earlier. I need to keep myself close to the memories, no matter how painful they are. And I’m sure they’re only going to get worse. But what happened here tonight did more than hurt me. It proved that it was a bearable pain. So that makes it final.
Look out, Crawford Mansion, Cordelia Chase is moving in!