[identity profile] biz-munchee.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux

TITLE: Mirror, Mirror (Sticky Extended Fairytale Remix)
AUTHOR: Lamia Archer ([livejournal.com profile] carlyinrome)
SUMMARY: The answer was obvious. She didn’t need a prince or even a magic mirror to tell her.
RATING: PG-13
FANDOM: BtVS/Angel
SPOILERS: Through “You’re Welcome”
ORIGINAL STORY: Changing Perspective by [livejournal.com profile] sunnyd_lite
NOTES: Thank you so much [livejournal.com profile] hermionesviolin for a wonderful beta.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

As a child, Cordelia’s favorite movie had been “Snow White.” Like all American children of her generation, she’d been inundated with wide-eyed, perfectly svelte Disney princesses since leaving the cradle. And, like all apples-of-their-daddy’s-eye, she had been treated not only to the movies – in the theater, accompanied by overpriced boxes of sticky sweets, and on home video – but to all the marketing that came with them. Dolls, cartooned sheets and stationary, life-sized dresses and plastic tiaras.

But Queen C had never been a princess. Despite their beauty and connection to royalty, both of which Cordelia intrinsically knew she herself possessed, princesses were weak. They needed rescuing. Cordelia Chase did not need rescuing. She didn’t need anything from anybody, save their fear and adoration. And these were things she could craft herself, simple as spinning straw into gold.

Every day before she left her palatial home to the school she ruled, Cordelia would check her appearance in her friend, the mirror. Flawless, always. Stunning. With a wicked twist of her perfectly lined-and-lacquered lips, she would gaze into the smooth surface and whisper, “Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . who’s the fairest of them all?”

The answer was obvious. She didn’t need a prince or even a magic mirror to tell her. The magic was hers.

***

At the stroke of twelve, the spell will be broken, and everything will be as it was before.

At first, the visions just hurt. A bad migraine that a handful of aspirin would knock to oblivion. She had thought, in the first few months, that she’d grow used to them; she was tough, and she had a lifetime’s experience growing thick skin. But as the days dragged on, the pain only grew in severity. The visions literally knocked her from her feet, knocked the soundness from her flesh. It wasn’t just her head that hurt anymore: her entire body was ravaged, each vision a ten-second exorcism.

She kept her mouth tight against this secret. Angel had enough to worry about without worrying about CAT and PET scans, and . . . why did all these tests sound like animals? Whose idea was that?

Maybe she wasn’t Queen C anymore, and maybe she wore bargain basement underwear beneath her designer outfits – she had learned, in her first few weeks in Los Angeles, that not eating is not a smart thing to do – but nobody would ever see her as anything but flawless. Her manicure was always perfect, her hair and dress the latest cuts. The damn PTB were not going to shatter her façade.

It turned out the mirror was more than a tool to reaffirm her hotliness. Staring at her fragile flesh in the dimly lit glass, she scried for her strength, for the flawless beauty she knew she was. And, like magic, that girl would slowly take shape from the dark circles and limp mouth, and she could return to her friends without showing a moment of weakness. They needed her strong. Someone needed to make sure this place ran smoothly, and Angel couldn’t even balance a checkbook. Honestly. It’s just plus and minus, dumbass. In what way was he a champion?

***

The princess will not die; she will fall asleep for a hundred years, until she is awakened by the sweet kiss of a prince.

Everyone was always leaving her. This was a major stumbling block, something she couldn’t manage to spin. She was Cordelia Chase; people didn’t leave her. She left them.

Only it never quite worked like that. In high school, it had been a series of emotionless grope-fests, followed by boys flitting away to girls that would let them in somewhere other than their skirts, or . . . you know, turning into creepy cult-leaders. And Xander. Dammit. The one time she’d done the real boyfriend-girlfriend, open your heart thing, she’d gotten it stepped on. She’d never even seen it coming; she still had scars from that fall. Both kinds.

But Groo? She really hadn’t seen that coming. Groo was a champion, and . . . and she was his princess. He was puppy dog loyal to her; how could he leave her?

And oh my God, she so couldn’t be in love with Angel. Seriously. Angel. Goofy, repressed, cheap, couldn’t-work-his-voicemail Angel.

“It’s impossible,” she said.

“It’s ridiculous,” a familiar voice agreed.

“That’s right. It’s—” She looked up to the voice, and started. “Whoa.”

Sunnydale had taught her things. Some things were useful – how to be royalty, how to stake a vamp without getting ashes all over your clothes – others she'd thought she would never use again. Putting rosemary in your tea can make you invisible. Right. Who wants to be invisible? The best time for banishing is during a new moon. Who even knew the difference? The moon was never new; it was, like, really old.

Never place a mirror facing a doorway or a window; spirits like mirrors, doorways, and windows. Portals. Energy can get trapped there.

Maybe she should have listened to that one.

Cordelia stared up into her own face. Not a reflection, but . . . a Casper? Jiminy Cricket? What the hell was this, with the glowing and the being in her dining room?

“Maybe on some level I’ve always known it’s true,” the apparition offered.

“I have?” Cordy asked, misgivings instantly melting away once she realized the phantom was non-threatening, and of use to her. “It is?”

“I’m in love!”

Giddy nausea swirled in her stomach. “I am? I am . . . ! With Angel, right?”

“With Angel,” the apparition supplied happily.

“Just checking.”

Well. This was certainly better than sitting in the dark brooding over an old photograph for hours. This glowy Jiminy Cricket was pretty damn helpful. Nicely done, PTB.

“I’m scared,” the phantom Cordy continued. “But I know it’s right. I know somehow that it’s all gonna be all right.”

“It is? Really?”

The apparition vanished, leaving only the reflective surface of the window and Cordelia’s own true face staring back at her. She looked beautiful. Determined. Staring into the glass, a sense of calm seeped through her veins, cool as menthol.

“Thanks for the tip.”

***

Listen. I have my gift now.

“The Powers That Be owed me one, and I didn’t waste it. I got my guy back on track.”

She wished she could take it back. She knew this was borrowed time, that she was lucky to even have this much, but Angel looked so desolate that she wished, suddenly, that she could just go without him ever knowing.

But she couldn’t. One last gift to give.

“Cordy,” he managed finally. “There’s just—”

“We take what we can get, champ, and we do our best with it.” Her heart hurt. She didn’t think she’d be able to feel pain after . . . well, after everything, but there it was, flaring up dull and horrible in the center of her chest. Radiating everywhere. “I’ll be seeing you.”

She turned from him. She caught her reflection in the polished glass that made up the outer walls of Angel’s office. Deals with the devil. A part of her was kind of happy for him, though. He deserved a little something for once, something beyond slug-infested hotels that violated 100+ building codes, something besides tiny offices with bombs in them.

She lingered a moment on her reflection. She looked sad, but beautiful. Movie star beautiful, perfect for a spectacular exit.

It was all about the exit. She’d always known that.

“Oh, what the hell,” she said, turning and running to him. Not much time left. “One for the road?”

Kissing Angel was perfect. She was, suddenly, furious at herself for wasting all that time not doing this.

Hindsight was 20/20, though, and the topic was past moot.

The phone rang. The pain built up in her chest, snuffing out her breath, as she drew away from him. One last gift.

“You know, um . . . I don’t . . . I don’t need to get that . . .”

Angel had lost all his breath, too. A smile flickered across her face, even as her heart was breaking: she still had it. Pure magic.


(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-22 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] liz-marcs.livejournal.com
I liked the original drabble by SunnyD, so I was curious to see what you did with it. This is a fantastic remix. You pulled a lot out of that drabble and made it work. This was really good.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you so much! SunnyD and I have very little in common re: writing tastes/subjects/etc., so I ended up having to go with a drabble. I'm really glad it worked for you.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-22 06:22 pm (UTC)
kangeiko: (cordelia)
From: [personal profile] kangeiko
Oh, this is fab!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you so much! (Also, I love your icon!)

(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you so much. I'm really glad you enjoyed this.

(I miss Cordy, too! I've been rewatching AtS S3, and I love her so much, but knowing what happens next just makes me so sad!)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunnyd-lite.livejournal.com
She didn't need a prince or even a magic mirror to tell her. The magic was hers. That's our Queen C

Staring at her fragile flesh in the dimly lit glass, she scried for her strength, Nice image

Movie star beautiful, perfect for a spectacular exit.
It was all about the exit. She'd always known that.
Perfect Cordy.
I'm blow away by this remix. It's the perfect expansion of the drabble. The drabble could be the precise of the fic. Great Cordy voice. I likie! Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

I'm really thrilled that you liked this. You and I write at pretty much opposite ends of the fandom spectrum; you're all about Xander and Spike and S/X, so I was really worried at first that I wouldn't be able to find something my speed. But then I checked your wonderful drabbles, and felt a lot happier. (You're a really wonderful drabble writer, by the way; "Changing Perspective" was actually one of five that I started remixes on!)

Thanks so much.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 01:07 am (UTC)
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (buffy - beauty and moonlight)
From: [personal profile] zulu
Awesome character gen. Very nicely done.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you very much. I'm glad this worked for you.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 03:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roguewords.livejournal.com
Oh Cordy. Very good work.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you so much! I'm really pleased you enjoyed it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-25 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spiralleds.livejournal.com
Wonderfully done. Great use of lines from fairy tales to frame this. Great little details, too, such as: Putting rosemary in your tea can make you invisible. Right. Who wants to be invisible? So very Cordelia.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you! I'm taking a short story writing class right now, and short stories are all little details, so I'm pleased that those affected you.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-26 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lastscorpion.livejournal.com
What a wonderful expansion of the original drabble! My favorite line was It was all about the exit. She’d always known that.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you so much! I'm really pleased you liked this, and thanks for telling me your favorite line; I'm always interested to hear what works for people.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-27 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] likeadeuce.livejournal.com
And oh my God, she so couldn’t be in love with Angel. Seriously. Angel. Goofy, repressed, cheap, couldn’t-work-his-voicemail Angel.

That's so Cordy! This is my girl. *loves*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Hee, thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it, and thanks also for telling me which lines really worked for you; I'm always interested to know what readers latch onto.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 12:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistlerose.livejournal.com
Wonderful Cordy voice.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thank you so much!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] girl-wonder.livejournal.com
Really well done. Love the Cordy voice and how much of her was about the appearance even when there was so much going on underneath.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carlyinrome.livejournal.com

Thanks so much. I'm really pleased this worked for you.

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