Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 3:16 AM
Sometimes Cordelia still thinks this is the best idea she's ever had. Most of the time, really. When she looks out the window and sees the lights of a city twinkling around her, it's worth it. Coming home at six-thirty from a Barcelona discotheque with a man named Hans from Prague. When she's sitting in a diner or coffeehouse at three-thirty in the morning and listening to the short-order cook sing in broken Spanglish as he puts on the fries. When Cordy sees a particularly beautiful or absurd or banal sight that could only happen in Rome/India/Lincoln, Nebraska. Then it's worth it. Worth everything that's she's given up.
Living on the road, jet-setting with the only other person to remember things the way they actually happened, become someone destiny and the Powers never intended her to be. This is Cordelia's fuck you to the universe that betrayed her. Cordy is tired of supposed to, meant to, the whole idea that she's meant to sleep out her days in a hospital bed, mourned like she'd died at twenty-one instead of just getting fucked over hard by The Good Guys.
Tonight is not one of those nights. The town's too small, the view is uninspiring, and their room is empty except for her laptop, a mattress, and their suitcases.
It does, however, beat the alternative. Cordelia Chase was never the kind of woman who could live her life asleep, not once she woke up. And who better to abscond with than a not-exactly-dead, not-quite-living, walking talking bad girl cliche? Lilah's good company on the open road and in the almost-fabulous apartments, rooms, and various semi-domiciles they spend time in before taking back to the road and the sky.
Right now, Lilah is stretched out on the queen-sized mattress, yawning and stroking the scar on her throat, stomach bared to the sky. Her breasts are barely hidden under a slightly-too-small tank top they'd bought in Hawaii three months ago.
Bubba's, it says, emblazoned across her nipples, We cheat tourists, drunks, and attorneys. Lilah, who moonlights as all three, loves the tank top, has worn it ragged so that the lettering is faded.
Cordelia thinks Lilah also loves moonlighting as an ever-so-slightly butcher femme fatale, because along with the tank top she's wearing high-heeled boots, a pair of white cotton boy-cut panties, and nothing else. She looks just as sexy in semi-Faith-wear as she did in designer suits, and Cordy's fascinated at how easy it is for Lilah to become someone else, to shed her skin and start all over.
It's why Cordelia needs her, even when Lilah's being a pill. Cordelia might have all these leftover remnants of mystical powers, but she's very much Cordelia Chase in every situation.
Lilah Morgan can be whoever she wants to be, and apparently always could.
One day, she's a powerful, smirking lawyer with connections in all the right places. Another day, she's Ms. Middle America, complete with a tendency toward Midwestern slang and petit-bourgeois tastes. Once in a while, she is the Lilah who lost her heart to Wes and those are the days Lilah takes off on her own for hours and hours before stumbling in at four in the morning, very quietly shedding a few tears as she climbs into bed next to Cordy.
But sometimes she's this particularly Lilah, who is probably an outgrowth of a teenaged Lilah, who is slightly trashy and capable of staring at the ceiling like she's forgotten a decade or so of polite adult behavior. She is also remarkably quiet, which is adding to the boredom. There's a huge latte next to the mattress, which Cordy knows for a fact is cold because they got it at a Barnes and Noble six hours ago, pretending to be hip intellectual types from New York slumming it at a chain bookstore.
That's another role Lilah's awesome at -- put her in all black and a pair of cat-eyed glasses, and she can turn into someone who chain-smokes cloves and talks about gender identity and philosophers Cordy's never heard of. Then, after ten minutes of spinning the heads of all the English major clerks, she buys a Cosmo, a W, and a Harlequin before walking out in her knee-high leather boots and laughing at the pretentious rubes.
"Doesn't that taste horrible?" Cordelia asks, looking up from the laptop. They're leaving here the day after tomorrow; she's found a ridiculous cheap ticket to Toronto if they leave at one in the morning. "It's got to be cold."
"Caffeine," Lilah says, staring at her boots. "What are you looking for?"
"Where to go in Toronto. What to do in Toronto. Places to stay, trends to notice," Cordelia says. "The usual things on our last night anywhere."
"After Toronto, we're going someplace warm," Lilah says, taking another swig of her cold, vile drink. "I'm tired of being freezing cold all the damn time. Maybe we can go to South America. I like South America."
Cordy is not surprised to hear this. Lilah likes everywhere she's not. When they go to South America, Lilah will yearn for the temperate weather and culture shock of Tokyo, or wonder how long they could survive in Sweden in the wintertime. Or she will simply bore of Spanish and suggest they try Jamaica.
She appreciates it, because anyone trying to follow them must be utterly confused about their lack of itinerary, their multiple passports, the way they don't conceal themselves but are still impossible to find.
"Do you think they worry about us?" Cordy asks as Lilah goes back to her emotionless staring and sipping. "We've been gone for a long time now."
Angel should worry. If Wes was less impacted by the mindwipe spell, he'd be worried, but he's still a Wes who can pine hopelessly over Fred, one who doesn't realize that it shouldn't have ever been that way. But Angel, Angel knows. He should be worried. He should be trying to contact them by now.
"I don't think anyone cares if I'm alive, dead, or what's behind door number three," Lilah replies tonelessly. "And I hate to tell you, Cordelia, but Angel's got a notoriously short attention span when it comes to his one true loves. He's probably forgotten you're still alive."
Cordy shrugs, ignoring the cold pinch in her stomach. Lilah's a cynic. Always has been. That's how she disguises how much it hurts to be forgotten, but Angel...Angel isn't affected that way. He can and does remember.
"Maybe he knows we're okay. Maybe people are watching us."
"Maybe," Lilah says. "Anything's possible."
She then goes back to stroking her own skin, hearing her own particular internal beat that Cordelia's never been able to catch. They've been at this two years or more and not a word, not a postcard, not a phone call from LA or the former Sunnydale people. Lilah's right: they don't care. It makes Cordy's stomach go from pinching to aching, how very little anyone cares. Between Cordy and Lilah, they'd very nearly wrecked the world to its foundations, but once they'd faded from view, almost died, refused to end quietly, they became nonentities.
If you're not serving the greater purpose, it erases you. Cordelia's learned that lesson the hard way, almost literally. The only person left to care about Cordelia's continued life on a day-to-day basis is Lilah, and Cordy's not sure she cares all that much.
"Lilah?" Cordelia hears herself say as she shuts down the laptop.
"Yes?" her companion asks irritably, clearly wanting Cordy to shut up and leave her alone to whatever world in her head she's created.
"Wanna have sex?" It had taken Cordy six months to get directly to the point on the subject, but direct always seems to be the best method for dealing with Lilah.
"What the hell," Lilah says, standing up and pulling off the tank top efficiently. "Lonely?"
"Yes," Cordy says. "Aren't you?"
Lilah answers her with a kiss, and for a second, the part of Cordelia with all the latent power remembers how it felt to plunge a knife into her enemy's neck and know that she'd neutralized the only one who could stop her. After a quick blink, she's back to normal-Cordelia, the one who still isn't sure why killing Lilah had mattered so much.
Maybe they don't remember everything, after all. Or maybe Lilah does, Lilah who was really dead and not just possessed and sleeping for years.
Maybe they're both dead, and the reason nobody cares is because they're not really going anywhere. Cordelia's not sure, can't ever be sure. But she knows two things.
One, that this is her choice, and she doesn't regret it no matter what else she regrets. Because she's got choices again as long as she doesn't regret the original one to leave.
Two, that as long as someone feels the same way...even if it's Lilah...she'll survive even the bad days. Missing Angel, missing home, missing being special even if it was deadly.
As long as she's not forgotten by everyone, it'll all be okay.
"I used to be Ustinov, but used to's not good enough for me" --Lauren Christy
http://www.imjustsayin.net -- glam rock existentialism
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Title: Tourism for the Dispossessed
Author: Jennifer-Oksana [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | PG-13 | 8k | 02/14/04
Summary: What do you do when you've been forgotten by everyone you loved? I guess you take up with someone who knows how you feel.
Notes: Spoilers: Home
Archive: lists, standing orders, others by permission.
Disclaimer: Joss, not me.
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