Not Like This by Chris Kenworthy


Summary: The true Cordelia's take on this season.


Spoilers: Up to Inside Out, Season Four.


Distribute anywhere you like, please! I'm not sure where to post this.


Notes: POV vignette. Angsty.


I don't wanna die.

I mean, sure, yeah, I don't want the world to get taken over by Hell- bitch. If my death is the only sacrifice that can stop her then by all means, off with my head. But I don't wanna die. And I sure as hell, (as the saying goes,) don't want my death to be the fruition of her dastardly plan.

I still remember when it happened. I was on the higher plane, looking down on my guys as they left Las Vegas, everyone safely accounted for. I was even feeling a little juiced that maybe I had been a part of that, that maybe by WANTING it hard enough, I'd been able to nudge Angel's slot machine so that it won, thus bringing Ange into the control room where he could kick some bad-guy butt and save his friends. (Not to mention get his destiny back.) It felt great, like as far away as I was, I was still a part of the gang. Then that feeling started to wear off and I went stir-crazy again, wondering what the hell... oops, I really shouldn't use a word like that about the higher realms, I guess, should I? What the phooey I was doing up there and when I would be allowed to do it, instead of just sitting on my glowing, fabulously dressed keester. (Except that I couldn't even seem to sit while I was up there, I just stood, surrounded by the brightness and the harp music. Woulda really bugged the piss outta me except that my feet didn't get tired, which bumped it down to 'mildly annoying.)

But I'm getting off-topic. Wondering why I had been called to the higher plane? REALLY not a question I wanted to know the answer to, as it turned out. Because the way I've worked it out, I didn't go there to serve the forces of good. I went there to fufill the purposes of evil. One very particular evil force. I'm still not sure why SHE was there, maybe being held prisoner by the powers that be or something, and I was part of the escape plan.

It happened so suddenly. BAM. I had a vague feeling of a presence approaching mine... was hoping it was one of the senior higher beings coming to tell me what was what, but no such. This... this *aura* slammed into my body and immediately started making itself at home. And then an instant later it left the higher plane, bringing my body back to its home realm in some way that I REALLY wish I'd been able to do by myself first. Bringing it back to earth.

I didn't really understand how little I was in charge, though. I arrived in the hotel lobby just a few instants before the gang started tromping in... of course, I didn't see them come in. Angel called out my name, (I could never mistake that,) and I turned around... I mean, I actually thought it was me. I thought I was calling out "Oh, Angel, angel, I'm so glad to see you, I'm so glad I'm home..."

It took a few seconds to realize that what actually came out of my mouth was "Who are you people??"

Yes, I've seen and heard everything that she's seen and heard with my body, and touched, and smelled, and you get the picture. (Speaking of touch, that night with Connor... shudder. Not that it wasn't pleasant physically, but, you know... horrendously awkward emotionally, not to mention I had a notion it was part of this demon-girl's worst plans. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

We have these mental conversations, too, where I scream and rant and complain about how unfair what she's doing to me is, and she acts all snide and superior and makes me feel like a lost baby puppy who deserves to be put down. Sometimes, if I annoy her enough, she does this thing to torture my aura, like make me feel as if I'm being drawn and quartered by horses or eaten alive by fire ants. More often than you'd think, she doesn't even bother.

While our body sleep, sometimes we're in a dream together, and we can actually talk, and fight, face to face. I never win there anymore. But I don't stop fighting. I don't care how much she can make me hurt anymore, even the smallest possible chance of hurting her back would be enough for me.

But let's see... I was telling you about when 'we' first came back. I could tell that she was lying about having amnesia... even if she couldn't pull memories out of my head one at a time... (It was like the most personal parts of my mind were locked out against her, but she could get the keys by finding each one inside my aura... it took a while, and wasn't pleasant for either of us, mostly me, but she could get into anything she wanted to.) As I was saying, even without my own memories, I was plenty sure she knew the gang, and my own life, well from her own research. Bitch did her homework. But she wanted to make the gang think she, or I, couldn't remember anything though. For one thing, that made it easier to manipulate and upset them.

And she ran away from the hotel to Connor's place. That was no coincidence. She wanted to start cultivating him right away. It's weird, I really did start to develop a deeper empathy for him, just from being there, watching him while he was with her. Sure, he locked Angel up into a big box and sent him to the bottom of the pacific, still angry about that, but we all have our issues. He's been through a lot and he's not sure where his life fit. Demon-me gave him an answer to that question, a lying answer, but still. I don't blame him for falling for it.

So, let's see, the memory spell. She was expecting that, of course, waiting for it. She really hammed up the amnesia angst every time she was around Angel, making him really WANT to see her/me get my memories back. I realized that the spell was really her idea, that she had had Skip deliver the spell to Lorne's contact. Given that she was living inside my head, (among other places I'd rather not get into,) it actually wasn't that hard for me to tell what was going through her mind. Even when she'd rather not have had me know. Too bad I couldn't actually DO anything with the dirt I got.

Skip. Yeah, he was working for her, I figured that out early. Which made me wonder if not only getting 'called up to the majors,' but accepting my demon half was part of the evil master plan. To make it possible for my body to serve as the host for a full demon spirit. I can't tell you how much that scares me. Even if I get out of this alive, I'll have to figure out what I really am... if I'm human or not anymore, in the best sense of the world. But I'm getting off topic.

Once the memory spell went wacky, I was really in the driver's seat for a bit, I'm sure that I was. Of course, I didn't remember anything that happened before my sixteenth birthday, which kinda took all the fun out of it. Still I cherish that memory, of actually being able to interact with the others as me. Who'd a thunk Fred for a little stoner chick, huh? And Wesley... as endearing as always as a nervous young student watcher. Gunn had already been through so much even when he was that young, that's kinda sad in a way. But you could also see how noble and brave he was, starting to shine through already.

And then there's my Angel-boy before he was a vampire, a rebellious little Irish kid who wanted nothing more than to get even with his dad. (Wasn't that hilarious when he couldn't get his Irish accent back??) And as for me... well, I just wish I hadn't turned back into the stuck-up popularity princess, that's all I'm saying. And poor Lorne, tied up yet again.

I don't think the spell had done anything to disrupt HER control over me. She had let me gain back control, knowing that I couldn't blab her secret, and was watching me. Watching my reactions, my mannerisms, so she could imitate be better thereafter. As soon as she had any reason to, she took the driver's seat again. Which was when Connor showed up again, surprise, surprise. (I admit that I was scared, but even as a teenager a line like "... and you're getting a big reward" was so not me. But she had her own reasons for teasing Connor, as we all know.)

Then the spell was over, with that blob of horrible-tasting something on our tongue, and I remembered everything. (Teenaged me had been starting to freak out at having Multiple Personality Disorder, which was so not a cool disease,) but then I remembered how I had been posessed.

And at that instant, all of those mental locks on my memories that were trying to keep Demon babe out of my personals flew open. Master key city. Mistress of all she surveyed. After a second to make sure that it was all accounted for, she sent a telepathic message to her Beast telling him to begin the journey to the surface, and then went into her fake 'traumatized by my memories' routine.

I guess while I'm here, I'll give *my* answer to Angel's question. Were we in love? (Her answer was just one more attempt to tug at Angel's heartstrings and throw him off balance.) But as for me... I'm really not sure. I really thought I was at the time, but maybe it was just the situation. What I do know is that I'm not going to be able to find out unless I can get rid of this fiend queen and spend some time with Angel, just me, for real, and him. And I'm not gonna be able to do that if I don't live through this.

Okay, fast-forward here, kinda get the feeling we don't have a lot of time for a detailed trip down memory lane. She brought Connor to the spot he was born on purpose, of course. She must have already instructed the Beast that that was to be its point of emergence. Why, I'm not sure, unless it was just to make Connor feel bad, that the demon's rampages WERE his fault. Actually, that's not sounding like a bad theory. And back they ran to his place for some awkwardness. Don't make me go there again.

I really don't know what she had against Wolfram and Hart, or if she knew that Connor and Wesley would be there when the Beast attacked. The 'hear what's going through her head' routine only goes so far. She did have a quick meeting with Beastie Boy on her way over to the Hyperion - she has this teleportation routine that makes clandestine meetings like that quite a bit easier. Told him where he was supposed to go, and what he was supposed to do, right down to killing the little girl and taking her energy.

You should have heard me after the guys got zapped back from the little girls' room. (Oops, shouldn't call it that I guess... the white room, yeah, that was it.) "The answer is among you." I was practically shouting that it was me, of course, the only one who could hear was demon me. First they thought it meant Connor, then they thought it meant Angelus. Sometimes cryptic isn't what it's cut out to be. (Of course, I have no idea if the little girl really DID mean demon me. I just know that's the true answer.)

Yes, she did spike Angel's blood at Gwen's apartment and kill Manny. (She'd given the beast instructions telepathically as to where to find the three other totems a little bit after Wolfram and Hart went down.) And yes, she did strip my body down to the buff to avoid blood splatter. (Yech.)

The sun-blocking ritual itself was a new kind of freaky. The beast couldn't do that complicated magical ritual by itself. Demon-bitch used some kind of freaky spell to twin herself, part of her was keeping me on autopilot while another part, I could kinda feel it, was guiding the Beast through the ritual, and through the fight. (Oh, and yes, she had the Beast do the spell at Connor's place so the gang would distrust him more, telepathic instructions, again. And yes, she faked the visions of Angelus and the Beast's meeting - the meeting was real enough, she had researched it, but the visions were phony.)

She could see into Angel's fantasy when the mystic guy was depriving him of his soul. Actually, we both could, and I think she could change things in it, just a little. She was laughing and laughing at the part where Angel killed the beast, brought back the sun, and had a moment of perfect happiness with me. Said maybe it would have been worth it to do that for real. I just screamed at her.

I've thought a lot about what she wanted, what was real in her plans and what was just a fake-out meant to confuse us. This body growing inside of me, I'm sure that was something she wanted. Angelus working for her... I'm pretty sure she wanted that too, she was furious when Willow brought him back and Faith kept Connor from killing Angel. The rain of fire and blotting out the sun, I'm pretty sure those were just diversionary tactics, and maybe items on her 'evil deeds to accomplish before I turn 3000' list. Nothing really important in and of themselves.

Moving on... yes, she killed the priestesses who had banished the Beast before... that was easy. She already knew where the interrogation of Angelus for the Beast's weaknesses would lead, and she knew Angelus was a stubborn enough cuss that it would take him a while to cough up the dirt. A little teleportation whizz-bang and a surprise attack with something heavy and sharp... family massacre. (She would have sent the beast up against them, but he's not big with the surprise and vulnerable to their magic, of course.) It's hard to tell if she was more upset and pleased that Angelus was able to deduce the existence of herself as a higher power giving the Beast orders. Probably pleased. That was why she wanted him, his evil brain more than his physical strength.

Yes, she stole Angel's soul, faked the vision, put a clouding spell on Lorne so that she could manipulate his empathic sense whenever it pleased her to do so, let Angelus out, and killed Lilah. She hadn't been anticipating that Wesley would call in Faith, or that Angelus would be so stubborn as to slay the Beast while it was focusing on its victory over the Slayer. And she hadn't anticipated that Willow would come with a strategy to counter her capture of Angel's soul and restore him.

But by that point I'm not sure if she cared. My body was pregnant, and that really was her greatest priority. At first I expected the same things out of the baby as you... some horrible demon that SHE would be able to command to rule the world.

It took a little bit of an intuitive leap to grasp the 'giving birth to herself' bit. At first I was actually happy that I would be rid of her control, of her voice inside my brain. That's when she told me the bit about how the birth would kill me, suck my life force out. And how even if I were to survive, I still wouldn't have my free will back, because I'd be at the mercy of her powers.

I could feel her pouring her essence from my body into the vessel that was growing inside me, weakening her control over me. Making her get careless. And Angel finally clued in. I really hoped that he and the gang would make the trap tight when they caught her in the basement. Everything looked good, except that they'd forgotten to plan for Connor. That's nearly always a mistake. Down he came, a flurry of superheroic action, totally getting the best of Angel, and dragging evil-me out of there, while she scoffed at the white hats.

Just when I thought things couldn't be any worse... blood sacrifice plan, to keep this bitch safe during the transition to her new body of course. Yes, I saw Darla too. Why she was there, I don't know... Darla's been an exception to too many rules. When Wolfram and Hart brought her back she was in a human body and had a soul... was that her human soul, the same way Angel's is his human soul?? Or had they taken Darla's vampire essence and made it human too?? And when Dru re- made her... was she a new vampire, the same vampire as she had once been, or something completely different??

All I know is, yes, she made a selfless sacrifice to bring Connor back into the world, and she was back, trying to convince him to do the right thing. Of the evil things that I'll never be able to forget my evil alter-ego doing, making Connor turn away from Darla has to be... well, in the top five at least.

But know it's done. The sacrifice has been performed, (Connor, how COULD you,) and he smears his bloody palm across our tummy, completing the ritual. Angel has charged in, fighting with Connor... oh, god, this hurts. And yes, I know what he's here for.

I don't want to die. But if I have to die, I want it to be like that, Angel finishing things, sacrificing me for the greater good. Actually, I would do it myself if I could, like Darla did, and spare him the torment. But I can't even move my pinky finger by myself. So It'll have to be him.

And he's here, standing at my side. "I'm sorry." I forgive you, Angel, really I do. I know how it has to be. Just do it already.

Then one huge push... and a burst of magic that turns my ordeal from a birthing into something completely different. The blast knocks Angel across the room, and Connor too. I can feel the energy being drained out of my body as SHE manifests for the first time in her own body, the body she's put us all through so much torment to fashion.

I can feel oblivion closing in on me, and it tastes like skunk. I wanted to die.

But not like this.


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