Cordelia wouldn’t answer any questions until Angel finished his blood, including that left warming on the stove. As he drank his second cup, he realized just how hungry he really was. He felt the lifeblood spread through his body, gaining a warmth unlike he had never experienced. Even the end of one of Angelus’ massacres in which he gorged himself on his victims never felt like this. Whose blood was this?
“It’s human. Actually it’s more like human – plus.” Cordelia answered the question he didn’t realize he had ask aloud.
“Human plus Frellian. Freely given.” She added.
Angel could feel Angelus’ shock mirror his own.
Frellian demons were almost considered myth they were so rarely seen. There hasn’t been a confirmed sighting in almost 700 years because of effortlessly they blend into the human population. They look human, act human, can even change their scent to smell human. They can mate with humans but the demon gene is so dominant it would never be bred out no matter how many generations are descended from a full-blooded Frellian.
They are completely unremarkable until threatened. To take one on is to take them all on and no god or demon would save you. They are warriors born and bred, nurtured from infancy in the ways of their culture. It is said that the Spartan soldiers based their brutal training on the Frellians but had to tone it down to suit their weaker bodies. However, a major difference in the cultures is that among the Frellians, strength was not everything. If a Frellian child did not succeed in the arena, they may have their talents nurtured in other areas.
They are proficient in almost all types of warfare and magicks. They have the innate ability to warp their surroundings making them immune to almost all hostile magicks, or changing the intention of the spell and granting an increased chance of success when casting their own magic. They are most notably fast healers and if one should happen to gain the upper hand in battle and beat them into bloody submission, chances are you will die from exhaustion before they die from their injuries.
Their blood coveted amongst the highest echelon of demons. A few drops taken orally will heal superficial injuries in a matter of seconds. A tablespoon would heal tissue damage and broken bones. A cup would bring the drinker back from the edge of death in less than an hour. Legend has it that if a vampire were to drain a Frellian, it would gain immunity to sunlight, crosses and stakes and would increase strength, stamina and reflexes making them practically invincible, save beheading for an indeterminate amount of time, possibly forever.
To have a Frellian give its blood freely was a honor of the highest order and unheard of…
“How did you find a Frellian? And how did you convince him to give you his blood?”
“It’s part of the explanation to come but I will say that it is to be used sparingly. There’ll be a delivery about every 7 weeks and it’s reserved for only the worst injuries.” Cordelia pulled a small vial from her pocket. “This is all that’s left. Unless you are one step away from turning to dust or those you call clan are beyond help, you will not receive more and definitely not until the scheduled time.”
“No more questions. I’m trying to enjoy my deliciously greasy Chinese food before my teenage body becomes horrified over the extra calories. I’m already going to have to spend an extra 20 minutes in the pool in the morning to make up for it. Now let me indulge in peace.”
~~Damn lass has a point. Shut up and eat~~ Angelus growled. ~~Don’t you dare waste a drop of that blood~~
Cordelia waved her fork at Angel. “What he said.”
Less than twenty minutes later, Angel washed his cup and pot from the stove and Cordelia put her trash in the bin. Instead of sitting back at the table, she took her bottle of water and walked out the back door to the yard overlooking the town a few miles away. There was two chairs and a table waiting for her with a notebook and pen resting on top. They sat down and Cordelia took a minute to just breath in the air. She closed her eyes.
“I never realized this town has a smell. There’s nothing else like it. It’s nothing obvious, at least that a human nose can smell, but those born and bred here can tell. LA had a bunch of odors good and bad, but this smell is uniquely Sunnydale. You only notice it when you haven’t been in it for awhile.” She opened her eyes and looked out towards the lit town below. “It smells like home.”
She snorted. “I never thought I would ever willingly call Sunnydale home. But it is. Even with the First, the Master, the vampires, the demons, and the ever-presented threat of death, it’s home.”
Angel stayed silent. He thought back over his time in Sunnydale. He’d been stabbed, poisoned, exorcised from his body, cursed, tortured by his Childer, teased and taunted by a teenage boy, sent to hell, and brokenhearted. But he had also been loved, accepted…
~~Not completely~~ Angelus interrupted snidely.
~Shut up~ Angel growled at Angelus.
~~I don’t know why you’re getting so maudlin for anyway. Unless we’ve been sent back to destroy the damn town, I don’t see many changes happening. You keep fantasizing you’re a man and you need to be redeemed. It’s never gonna happen and until you accept that, you’re gonna be miserable.~~
~Shut up~ Angel hissed.
“Actually Angel, he has a point.” Angelus smirked.
“What?” Angel was dumbstruck. “Cordelia, you were one of my main champions. You kept me going when I was ready to just give up and let Angelus take over.”
“Yes I was.” Cordelia nodded. “But that was before.”
“Before I died. Before that alley. Before this little adventure began.” An angry look came over her face.
“Basically Angel, the Powers-That-Be, champions of all that is good and just and true, screwed us. All of us.” Her face turned sad.
“But Angel, they screwed you most of all.”
Cordelia watched Angel as he processed her words. This was gonna be the hard part, explaining what happened and what has to happen. Part of her was hesitant to do what needed to be done. This was the part that cheered Angel on his fight to redeem himself for his past. She had believed whole-heartedly in what he was doing and want to let nothing and no one, especially not some blond twit, impede his success. She was even willing to set aside her own love for him. After the experience of Connor and Jasmine, she lay in a coma and vowed if she woke up, she would not let Angel get distracted again. So when the PTB offered her the opportunity to say her good-byes and pass on a message to put him back on track, she jumped at the chance.
She gave a deep sigh in the silence. It had all seemed so straight-forward, so logical, so easy. ‘We should have questioned it. Since when do we take the word of a stranger, especially proclaiming goodness and light?’ Perhaps it’s a result of the events of the last few years but it’s a suspicion, bitterness and ability to see around crooked corners that was well-earned. So much pain, so much suffering, so much loss and all for a promise of a future that there was no sign of actually happening.
Yes they had been screwed. But much of it had been their own fault. Now it was time to correct that mistake.
“You once told me that something drew you to Sunnydale, that Whistler only showed up after you were already here. What brought you here?”
Angel thought for a moment. “I don’t know. It had been tugging at me for a few years but the six months before I arrived was like a storm raging in my head. All I could hear was thunder. All I knew was pain. I knew I had to get to Sunnydale and as long as I was there, the noise and the pain would stop.”
“You were here for just over a week before Whistler came? That’s when he told you about your redemption? Told you to get close to the Slayer?” Angel nodded. “What did he say?”
“’You will find your redemption at the side of the Slayer.’” Cordelia shook her head in disgust.
“They certainly know how to make you draw your own conclusion by being vague. No wonder they able to lead you down this path.”
~~What the fucking hell you talking about, cheerleader?~~
“Whistler and the Powers-That-Be. They nudged and maneuvered you until you were right where they wanted you to be and they did it so subtly they practically got you thinking it was your idea.” Cordelia locked her brown eyes with his so he could see the truth in them.
“Angel, there is no redemption.” Cordelia said in her usual ripping-the-bandage of way. “At least not in the way you think.”
Angel saw no dishonesty in her eyes and a sinking feeling came over him. Inside Angelus laughed uproariously.
~~So you mean all of the ‘good deeds’ this nancy-boy has been doing since meeting that bitch has been for nothing?~~ Cordelia looked at Angel with a slightly pitying look on her face as she answered Angelus’ question.
For the next few minutes all that could be heard was the sound of Angelus’ laughter. If he’d been required to breathe, he would have died from asphyxiation from laughing so hard. Meanwhile Angel was steadily growing angry.
“What do you mean there is no redemption?” Angel said through gritted teeth. Cordelia took a sip of water.
“The Piece-Of-Shits-that-be made it all up. They prayed upon your feeling of remorse because you were an oddity. You were a vampire who felt guilt, who felt pain, and who turned against his nature. Even the oldest vampires, the ones who reclaimed their souls the usual way never forgot they were vampires at the core. They didn’t brood—“
“What do you mean vampires who reclaim their soul? And what usual way? There is not usual way. I was cursed with a soul. The only vampire cursed.”
“Yes Angel. The only vampire cursed with a soul. But that’s not really true. A more accurate description would be cursed with a conscience or the guilt you love to wrap around you like a security blanket. A vampire cannot be given a soul. They already have one. It would be like trying to curse me with a soul. There’s no point.”
~~I don’t have a bleeding soul, cheerleader. I’m not like this bastard. I still enjoy bathing in the blood of my victims and the more innocence the better. I get out of this cage again and I will unleash hell on Earth and there’s no little girls, blond or brunette, here to stop me~~
Cordelia sat unfazed by the snarls of the demon. The only change in her expression was a raised eyebrow.
“Are you finished?” Cordelia ask. Angelus growled.
“May I continue without the peanut gallery constantly interrupting?” Cordelia waited about 30 seconds before she continued.
“When a vampire is first turned the soul does not leave. In fact, it is an integral part of the vampire. It is the soul that holds the memories and motivations of the complexion challenged. When you were turned, your first instinct was to kill your family, your father because he was a bastard, the rest because they didn’t stick up for you. There was no reason for the demon to go after them. He has no ties to them. It was the soul’s past experiences at the hands of your father and indifference of the family that drove the first deeds of the newly risen vampire. When Spike was turned, his first deed was to turn his mother because he was dying. What would a demon care about the soul’s mother?”
~~Will was always a bit soft.~~
“Because that is how he was in life. He was a foppish mama’s boy who wrote poetry, and with the exception of his tendency to pick a fight over something like a bottle of Jack Daniels, he is still that man.” Cordelia spread her hands on the table. She gestured with her right hand, holding it up with her elbow on the table.
“Imagine a white string as an anchor or a core. That is the soul. It is always present and serves as a foundation. It is made up of decisions, experiences, and morals--all the things that shape us and make up our personalities.” She gestured with her left hand, holding it up with the fingers spread. “This represents the demon after turning. It’s a thick black loosely-braided cord that stands parallel with the white string but it quickly starts to weave in the white string. Because the cord is so much thicker, it stands dominant. But it is incomplete. After a few years of bloodlust, there is more of the white string woven through making the cord tightly braided as it progresses.” She moved her hands together and laced her fingers tightly. “More of the soul begins to affect the demon to the point where there is no separation of the two. For the cord and the string to be completely interwoven, it will take a Master vampire of at least 200 years to achieve that completion. Spike managed it a bit sooner because he started out with both more intertwined than usual.” Cordelia chuckled. “If you ask me, Spike was the real oddity.”
“So what the hell happened to me?”
“In your case, you were almost at completion." Cordelia spread her hands. "Angel you got to remember, Angelus is not so different than Liam. He was just molded by Darla, who was mad at the world because she was gonna die from an illness she got while being the plaything of anyone who could pay. She wanted the streets to flow with blood and she took an neglected, selfish rake who wanted nothing more than wine, women and song because he knew he would never please his abusive father. Angelus is just Liam crossed with Jack the Ripper. “Angel could feel Angelus preen at the words.
~That wasn’t a compliment, you bastard~
~~Still made me warm inside~~
“No it wasn’t a compliment. It’s just fact. For all intents and purposes, ‘Angel’, as you are right now, doesn’t exist. You are a effect of the curse, not the soul.”
“So what did the curse do, if it didn’t give me a soul?”
“It took a sharp dagger and shredded that cord. It separated soul from demon and kept them apart and isolated. It took over 150 years of cohabitation and forced a barrier between the two. It almost succeeded. ” She nodded at Angel. “But you, Angel, you finished the job.”
“What did I do?” Angel sounded indignant while Angelus stood at rapt attention.
“You slept with Buffy.” Angel gaped at Cordelia.
“How the hell is me sleeping with Buffy have anything to do with my demon and soul separating if it wasn't the curse?” He shot to his feet and roared.