Spoilers: To ATS S5.4
Rating: R for themes and images.
Disclaimer: Not mine, belongs to Joss, Fox, WB etc, and it was the Bad, Evil, hoppity thing that made me write it. Not beta'd.
Warning: This thing squicks the hell out of me. It's bad, evil, scary and horrible. It contains images and concepts that some might find disturbing; I do.
I'm sorry for inflicting it on others for Halloween, but the bunny threatened to take out most of Central London if I didn't write it.
They've all slowly stopped visiting. She's been trapped like this for months. They have lives; she knows that. Hers might as well be over. She often wishes that it was, but vengeance demons don't get much business from coma patients.
Angel stopped first. She'd be surprised if she didn't know him so well. She's been placed in the same to-be-brooded-over category as the humanity and Buffy he gave up, and he's got her tucked away being cared for by others so he can do it properly.
Gunn came a couple of times, told her how he wished he could have saved her, like she tried to do once for him, told her about his new life and how it made him feel valued, but busy, real busy. He doesn't even sound the same, nothing does.
Fred came daily for weeks, told her all about how she was trying to get her back, how she was working on it real hard, but from what she said it's clear that she had no real clue about why Cordy's in a coma. Fred's tried to solve the problem from a flawed premise with missing evidence, and inevitably failure's meant she's had to give up. Besides, she's had other things, other problems on her mind, she's told Cordy all about them. Inside she's screaming to talk to Fred, to tell her everything, but she can't, she's just a beautiful mannequin lying in a bed surrounded by the flowers Wes sends every week.
Inside, she's still the Cordelia Chase who once told a ghost that she was no snivelling cry-Buffy, but the nastiest girl in Sunnydale history who took crap from no-one. The bitch might be back, but this time she's not even able to raise a perfectly shaped eyebrow to the ghosts that haunt her.
They came as soon as she was lain here in the Wolfram and Hart medical wing. There's ones she recognises, Gavin with his severed head, and the bitch that tried to buy her eyes, and who had her own put out by the Beast in the harrowing of Wolfram and Hart. Cordelia would vomit if she could at the memory of its lips on hers, and of her own voice purring with slaughter, the feel of the blood dripping and drying slowly on her skin, but she can't, she can only endure. The absolute strength of will built into every fibre of Cordelia Chase, the very thing that kept her alive once she'd fulfilled her function, it's her curse.
The ghosts know how empty she is. The thing that took her filled every cell in her body. Its tendrils threaded though everything that was her, and then ripped itself out of her. Left her an empty vessel, function accomplished, abandoned in an empty church dressed in mourning veils. Left her straddling the borders of life and death. Made her open to be filled again.
And she is. The ghosts hide in her before they're pulled away screaming as hard as she is. She feels their pains. Glass flashes through her eye into her brain. Her fingers are cut off, and she feels it. Her head does a dance macabre before Gavin's pulled out of her. She feels Hell pull at them both and she's terrified, but no-one can hear her pleas.
The almost innocents are almost the worst. She feels them using her to smell the flowers, her skin to feel, to be real, to be in the world. They never last long; Hell consumes them for canapes. The murderers last longer; their will's stronger. But each ghost that possesses her fills her mind. She has nothing that's hers. Nothing that they can't touch, defile, make her feel. She knows their murders as well as she does those carried out with her own hands. The grit of dried blood under her nails can't be seen on the best manicure in Los Angeles, but she'll never feel clean again.
Each leaves her alone in the darkness eventually. They're dead, ghosts, dead things fighting the final curtain, nothing that can't be ripped away. The pain when they are, its blinding, but Cordelia fights her way through it each time to be Cordy again for a little while.
It never lasts.
It gets worse, so much worse. There's one that's different. One that doesn't try to hide in her, or to touch the world again with her fingers, one that isn't quite a ghost - that's incorporeal but with his own life-signs, something impossible. The one that sat on her bed on Halloween and talked to her about the good old days of red-hot pokers and costumes becoming real, who kissed her forehead in a strange sort of apology, while telling her she still looked smashing. The one that was immediately pulled into her and trapped there, fighting to get out and screaming.
She's an incarnation machine. Demon DNA fused with her own to produce a mechanism to birth the corporeal out of something that's not, to turn will and something that's truly other into solid. Her body was almost drained the first time, and she knows she won't survive a second, but she can feel her body consume itself to build the vampire. She wishes that Spike had killed her back on parent-teacher night, it'd be so much faster than absorbing everything that was her to make him.
They're mind to mind, body to body and he's taking everything. She knows he's sorry, so desperately sorry, how very much he didn't intend this. She can feel the pain of his soul - and how weird is that she's felt the pain and the murders of both vampires - can feel him try to free himself, save her, save the girl. But he can't. Her body was designed by a Power, to contain a Power, to incarnate a Power - a vampire is as nothing to it, even though it will kill her to birth him.
But she's been designed to be ultimately disposable and there's no-one to help her. They don't visit. They stopped the metaphysical monitors long ago when they gave up on her, opting not to hurt her with more than the minimum necessary care-giving tubes, needles and drips. The people that could spot what's happening to her and so help her don't remember what to look out for, and this time it's a smaller task, so it's so much faster. She's the girl who isn't there, and it's killing her.