downton abbey | cora/robert | as you both shall live
She steps, quite new, into his old world. She's nearly as lovely as she is necessary. (It could have been worse, is the not-precisely-gentlemanly thought that follows him through her first days here. It could have been much worse.) She speaks often and well, polished and polite but so very American. Her words, the shape of them, are curious and unpinpointable; some cross between a bell and a carving knife. People listen when she talks. They cannot help it. In her manner and her bearing she is a near-perfect imitation of any of the dozen English girls he might have married, were circumstances different. She keeps her head demurely down, but sneaks upward glances with clever, curious eyes when she thinks no one is looking. And so he develops the habit to look. When she catches him, she smiles.
She does not melt right into the scenery of Downton, fading until she looks as correctly placed and unremarkable as the curtains in the parlor or the mantle clock. She is not quite a piece of this puzzle. Not yet. But she is essential to it -- the lifeblood pulsing through, the harbinger of little footsteps and heartbeats that will grow into sons and daughters that will carry this life on as it has always carried on.
(He is a little afraid of her -- absurdly, embarrassingly. There has always been talk of men fearing their wives, but she is no comical archetype, no henpecking burden. She is too quick and too bright. In these early days he is forever certain she will find him out -- though of course she knows already; theirs can hardly be mistaken for a love match -- and will tell him as much. Bells and carving knives. But she remains forever silent.)
She has a bedroom of her own but stays in his all throughout the night. She says, when he remarks upon it, that going back and forth would make her feel too much like some concubine in a harem, called when wanted and then sent away again. He laughs and tells her that he's never imagined himself much of a sultan. Thank God for that, she says. She seems as happy to fall into his arms as she is to meet any of her duties here.
In time, he forgets that she is not something he chose.
angel | wes/cordy | starstruck
"I do say!" Wesley scowls, the big toe on his left foot still smarting as, well, some person continues down along the red carpet, met by much shouting and the flashing of cameras. "That rapscallion just stepped right on my foot without the slightest bit of remorse!"
"I knowwwww!" Cordelia says, (surreptitiously) bouncing up and down as if it's cause for celebration. "Oh my God, just wait until I tell all my-- oh. Wait. I guess it's just you guys." She frowns. "I have got to get some friends with interests of the non-blood-and-guts-and-demon-goo variety."
"Why, thank you," Wesley says darkly.
"Yep," she answers, merrily oblivious as ever, and pats him on the arm.
"I wonder how much longer Virginia will be detained," Wesley muses, squinting across the crowd, "by that--"
"Meryl Streep," Cordelia interrupts impatiently. She gives him another pat on the arm. Though this one is more an admonitory punch. "Come on, Wes. Seriously?"
Wesley puts on his blankest of expressions. Quite frankly, sometimes she asks for it.
Cordelia groans. "Have I ever mentioned that part where a rich girlfriend who's totally in with all things glitzy and fab is completely wasted on you?"
"Perhaps," he suggests, standing up a bit taller, "she appreciates that I offer an escape from this world of superficial dazzle."
Cordelia rolls her eyes. "Oh, barf. Keep talking like that, and I'm going to have no choice but to steal her from you."
"You just try," he scoffs, and it goes without saying that nothing in his brain latches onto this new concept or any of the mental wanderings it inspires. God, no.
"Oh, buddy, you so do not want to play that game."
It takes him a moment to remember that she doesn't have any mind-reading powers, and is therefore replying to his last statement. Right then. Even that can't quite excuse the fact that what he replies is: "Bring it."
"Nerd," Cordelia declares. Wesley suspects that the huge, radiant smile on her face is only partly for the cameras. He offers his arm with more gallantry than he's accustomed to directing toward her these days; she takes it -- to his surprise, without a snippy remark, just a look that is rather indisputably fond. They continue down the red carpet together, as good as famous. At least for tonight.
doctor who | river & eleven | my hero
She's still young, when he gets to her. Not young enough -- not young enough to get the childhood she deserved, to quite fit into her mother's arms -- but young enough that he can see the bits of Amy and Rory that make her up, an odd and perfect puzzle, whereas he couldn't before. River Song came before her parents; breezed in and out of his life, whole, fully (and exquisitely) formed, quite the grownup. But this is Melody, not River, never mind what name she answers to.
"You saved me," she observes, awed but doubtful, in that voice kids have when they're teetering towards thirteen and desperate to be taken seriously.
"Aw," he says, and doesn't sound so certain either. More like he's doing an impression of himself, and not a very good one. "Don't worry about it. I owed you one. Or two. Or seven. After all, there was that thing with the bipedal octopi--"
She looks up at him, her eyes bright and discerning. More familiar than he wishes they were. "What does that mean?"
And perhaps usually it'd tickle his brain, the irresistibility of it, the big grand story, You and me, time and space, you watch us run. But not here. Not now. Not her.
"Bipedal?" he says instead. "Two feet."
She rolls her eyes. "I knew that."
"Then why'd you ask?"
"I didn't ask that."
"Um, yeah, I think you did."
"You're very annoying. For a savior."
"And you're very annoying for a save-ee. But I suspect we'll get along anyhow, Melody."
"It's River now," she says, her voice going -- something (tired, dark, too damned old), and he wishes he didn't have to read between these lines. "Nobody calls me Melody."
"River," he repeats, obedient. "Let's see if we can't get you home."
"Home?" Like it's a word in a language she's never learned to speak.
She's a quick study, he reminds himself, and hopes.
angel | cordy | five people cordelia chase never fell in love with
1. Spike. What exactly is so dreamy about vampires? It's not like they have a steady job -- unless lurking counts, which, wow, that's a real go-getter occupation -- which means that you're not getting any presents, unless some guy's torn out ribcage counts. It shouldn't, if you have, you know, standards. And if maybe she kind of gets the tall, dark, and handsome thing (Angel, despite his astoundingly sucky taste in women, has the whole tall-dark-and-handsome thing down), well, the Billy Idol peroxide 'do pretty much means that this guy's getting his 'dark' privileges revoked. And so even though the thought crosses her mind, fleetingly, when it turns out the new big bad in town is actually somewhat easy on the eyes for once, it's not like that's enough to tempt her away from
2. Xander Harris. Also known as: human proof that even the most glorious of women aren't completely infallible. Cordelia doesn't know what never-ending bad hair day of the soul could have possessed her to put up with that for so long, but one thing's for sure: love had nothing to do with it. Not once, not ever. Not even when he'd get all stupid and sputtery and crazy-eyed in the middle of arguing, and she got to revel in the satisfaction of his silence, and his stupid face, and the way his stupid eyes would turn from annoyed to God you're great and then, inevitably, they'd wind up kissing. It's not like kissing means anything in the long run anyway, unless the person you're kissing is
3. Doyle. As if Xander wasn't bad enough, the next guy to recognize her (undeniable, right? Right?) worth was a tiny Irish dork who couldn't even trust her to be totally open and accepting of his pointy-faced demonocity. Thanks! Stupid idiot. The idiot who trusted her with the most valuable thing he had. The idiot who met her when she was living in Cockroach Palace and begging (lucky) vampires to hang out with her, and liked her anyway. The idiot who tore her whole life apart -- by leaving something behind. By going. By choosing her. By knowing she could handle it. Doyle is the what if? she never quite lets go of. She hates it, but what can you do? It could be worse. Her what if could be
4. Wesley. Which, um, let her break it down for you: no. NO. An empire of no. You know what? Just call her The Empress of No. She likes to ignore the part where she ever used to sit in the library and, like, ogle him with his suits and his sexy-glasses. (Looking at him now, they are such dork glasses. God, it makes her hope they're new glasses, and that her perception hadn't been that hopelessly skewed.) Cordelia Chase will never trust a foxy accent again for as long as she lives. For the record. She's been through some nasty stuff -- that goes without saying, in her glamorous line of work -- but she's pretty sure nothing has ever quite matched up to The Kiss That Failed, And Failed, And Then Failed Again, Some More. Sometimes, these days, when Wesley's spiraling into a hissy fit because she set her coffee on one of his dusty old demon books, she looks at him and just thinks, WHY. Occasionally, this thought is followed Oh yeah, mister? I wonder what you would do if I kissed you right here right now. She likes to think he would faint. It's a thought that keeps her smiling even on days with the gnarliest of vision headaches.
Not that it's, like, a recurring fantasy of hers or anything. Please. Have you not met her? Remember that thing about standards? Yeah, that counts even in the buried depths of her imagination, thank you very much. Except for, okay, that time involving
5. Buffy Summers. Like, simmer down, deludo-brain, it was one dream. And Dream Cordelia just wanted to see what the big fuss was about.
btvs | buffy/spike | some love small enough
"Are you watching me sleep??"
"What, and that's some big surprise? A tip, luv: if you're squeamish about that sort of thing, perhaps it's not best to take up with the evil undead. 'Creepy' kind of goes without saying."
"There's evil undead creepy, and then there's you creepy. Whole different ballpark."
"Oh, come on. 'S not like you've never had a bit of how's-your-father with a vamp before. What, when Angel watched you catch your z's it was all string quartets and boxes of chocolates? Please."
"Angel only watched me sleep when he was evil. And -- and he drew creepy pictures of me sleeping and left them around afterwards to freak me out, so at least he was accomplishing something. Not just being all stare-y for stareiness's sake. And how's-your-huh?"
"You know. How's-your-father. Slap 'n tickle. Just ask Giles next time he phones, hmm?"
"Ew, no." Trust Spike to resort to dorky British sex synonyms and Giles when they're supposed to be ... well, whatever the depressing, wrong, this is so the last time this is happening version of afterglowing is. "What's so great about sleepy Buffy, anyway?"
"Same thing that's great about normal Buffy," he replies, and kisses her shoulder; it reminds her of Riley and lazy weekend mornings and she wants to hate that, "but less punching me in the face."
"I like normal Buffy better," she decides, moving as casually as she can out of Lips of Spike range. "She sounds like a gal with her priorities in line."
"I like seeing you peaceful," he says, undaunted, and runs a slow hand up and down her hip. She wishes he wouldn't look at her like that. How has she not beat that look out of him yet? What's it going to take to make him stop--
"Why?" she snaps. "I thought you were so into Came Back Wrong Buffy, tormented creature of the night, so you could try to recruit her into your Spike's a Lonely Loser Gang of One. Which, by the way, I wouldn't get your hopes up. So what makes peaceful look so good on me, exactly--?"
"Because you look dead," he interrupts harshly; poof, look gone, replaced by something that's all anger and sex, love nowhere to be found, "or good as. And that makes us two peas in a pod, wouldn't you say?"
"I hate you," she says, standing up, ready for the clothes search; she's gotten way too used to postponing this part.
He chuckles, a low warm sound. She feels it all over.
His thoughts go a little iambic, looking at her with her eyes closed, her face calm and breathing steady. It takes him back to summers in the countryside. Everything kissed by gold and full of light. He's penned his share of sonnets to dark-haired beauties over the years, sonnets in determined ink for Cecily and pulsing through reverent hands for Dru, who was never much of a reader. But Buffy -- he thinks of her dressed in white, hair long again and dancing in a July breeze. (He knows she hacked it off on his account; he's not an idiot.) There's this brook on an old uncle's estate, lined by trees and a green grass sea. He'd used to sit there scribbling away for hours. He'd take her there, he thinks; watch the worry and the wanness leave her face, watch her loosen and glow. She'd hold up her skirts and step into the water, cry out at its coldness but wade on in anyhow, all bold and valiant, tossing smiles back at him. God knows he'd catch them, every one. He can't quite shake that one inescapable truth -- her walking away, away from him and into the sunlight where she belongs -- but he can turn it nicer for them both. Even if it's just in stupid half-dreams like these. Ghost impulses from a life he's never exactly been broken up about leaving. He's not taking her sunbathing anytime soon, that's for sure, and it's not like she'd want him to. She'd laugh herself sick if she knew; that wouldn't be so bad, so long as he could laugh along with. He thinks of her laughing, really laughing (with him, and not the merry band of morons who've already got dibs on all her happy moments).
Doesn't seem so impossible, when she's sleeping. God, she looks young. Beautiful. Strong enough to take on the whole world with just the strength she's got in one pinky. Girl's good with her pinkies. You can't say that about everybody. She looks sweet, too, and not just in the to-eat sense. Sweet enough that she'd laugh if he kissed her awake, that she'd stay even if he stopped making her hurt so bloody good, that--
"Are you watching me sleep??"