Summary: Wesley so desperately wants to remember loving Cordelia.
Notes: Set Post-You're Welcome. Spoilers.
How was it possible that the entire day with Cordelia had been an illusion? She had felt so real in his arms, as fresh faced and as beautiful as the first time he had seen her in Sunnydale. A thousand questions jostled on Wesley's tongue, and he knew deep down that Angel had the answers to most of them. Yet he couldn't pull his mind away from images of a young vibrant Cordelia going out of her way to be no more than arm's length from him.
He saw stunning dresses and hair immaculately coiffured; done, he knew, just for him. Before that ill-fated kiss, Cordelia was his for the taking, and he nearly had. Just the once. After finding her face to face with Willow's doppelganger, a terrified girl running through the school's halls, crashing into his arms. He had nearly wet himself as he held the cross shakily in the direction of the vampire and the thought made Wesley almost nostalgic now. He'd killed so many vampires since coming to LA that he hardly remembered what it had been like to be that scared fop in the hallway. He'd forgotten what it felt like to be in love with Cordelia. Now that she was gone forever he wanted to remember, wanted so much to remember that feeling.
"Well this is nice," Wesley said with a courteous smile. He fumbled with his water glass and watched a few droplets fall onto the dark red table cloth.
"Mm hmm," Cordelia muttered, fidgeting with her own water glass, a bored look on her face. Wesley couldn't help but smile, wondering how many hours she had practiced that look, stolen from fashion magazines and French films.
"So," Wesley started, looking for some topic to spark their impromptu dinner date. "What were you searching for at the library earlier?"
"Oh, you know...books."
"Well you certainly found more than you were bargaining for."
"I know. Can you believe how scary Willow looked? I mean that horrid pink blouse not withstanding. Scary." Cordelia shuddered at the memory of Willow as a vampire.
"It was quite upsetting. I'm afraid the council will have many questions, those closest to the Slayer of course being in peril more often than the average student."
"Yeah, the Slayer's best friend getting turned? I think someone's getting a big old black mark on her permanent record."
"Yes, quite." He found himself just watching her was she pored over the menu, her luxurious brown hair piled loosely on top of her head, a few tendrils framing her face and every so often she would curl a finger around the soft hairs that lined the nape of her neck. She really was quite stunning. Even dressed up in a sequined gown designed for a much older woman, she exuded youth, the best kind of self confident youth. Wesley couldn't help but admire that in her, couldn't help but wish he had a little more of it in himself.
"So, what are you going to have?"
"Huh? Oh yes," Wesley eyed the menu lying before him a moment before responding. "I was thinking of the braised lamb."
"Oh, that sounds, um, shepardy." Cordelia reached out a hand to point to her own selection, the Caesar salad, and her finger's brushed against Wesley's wrist. The watcher let out a little squeal and, nearly knocking over the candle that made up the table's centerpiece, lurched backward in his seat. Cordelia quickly yanked her hand away, her gaze flicking around the room to see if anyone was watching them.
"Sorry about that," he chided himself quietly for being so jittery after his encounter with Willow earlier. "I'm usually a lot less..."
"Sissy?" Cordelia asked. A cruel question, yet her smile was genuine and he knew she didn't mean to hurt him.
"Well, yes I suppose." He waved to the waiter and asked for a glass of wine, stopping himself before asking for a second glass.
"Wesley, believe it or not I knew you were over twenty-one when I asked you out." The smile was still there, lighting her face.
"Thanks for that," he returned her smile, hoping he wasn't looking too much like a simpleton. She had an unsettling way of turning him into a babbling fool. In her presence he constantly felt his well planned words fall from his lips in rambles and stutters. That was her power over him, and he truly loved it.
The dinner had been enjoyable. After the initial awkwardness, their conversation flowed freely. They talked of her friends, Mr. Giles, the many odd goings on that one dealt with living in Sunnydale. He told her of his parent's home and English summers, she told him about Spike hunting them in the school, finding Xander in the factory with Willow, her summer trips to islands and ski resorts he had never visited.
At the end of the evening he had driven her back to the high school to fetch her car. She lingered in the passenger seat, clearly wanting the evening to continue. It took every reserve of strength Wesley possessed to keep from kissing her; he had wanted her so much. Of course he wasn't wont to give in to those feelings then, fearing his reputation with the Watcher's Council, having to explain a child bride to his father, and losing himself in her world.
Looking back at that night, that first night he knew he loved her, brought tears to Wesley's eyes. Only a few short months later she had turned eighteen. He had eaten her birthday cake and, even as the icing melted in his mouth, he planned their escape from Sunnydale. They would find another town with a need for a watcher, a place where every block they passed held no memories of terror and death for her.
Best laid plans. That kiss - that hungry desperate kiss that neither of them had been able to make work - ended their attraction as quickly as it began. Now here he sat, four years later, and she was dead and buried. Cordelia the fair; so brave, so loved. Wesley couldn't remember telling her that during her last day with them. Had he really spent the whole day with her and never said the words? "I'm glad you're back. I love you."
No, he hadn't.
"I love you," quietly whispered through heavy tears and shaking shoulders. Wesley leaned his head against her tombstone and listened to the night, hoping her reply would find its way to him.