Limelight (1/?)

By Liam


Hyperion Hotel
March 13, 2003

“Oh my God!”

The squeal of excitement echoed throughout the building. Fred barely looked up from her latest issue of Psychology Today. Gunn cursed when the sound made him lose a life while playing Super Mario World on Gameboy. Angel and Connor didn’t miss a beat in their sparring match.

“Oh my God!” came another ecstatic squeal.

“You gonna see what the ‘Oh my God’ is all about?” Connor asked. Angel blocked a series of punches that his boy threw at him.

“It worries me when she screams that and I’m not in the room,” Angel deadpanned.

“Oh man,” Connor groaned. “Don’t say that!”

Angel grinned at his son’s disgust. “C’mon. Let’s go see what’s got Cordy so worked up.”

Father and son quickly climbed the basement stairs up into the lobby. They found Cordelia near the phone, bent over with her hands on her knees, breathing deeply to avoid hyperventilating.

“Cordelia?” Angel asked. “What happened? Are you okay?”

Cordelia wheezed a few times, trying to find her voice. “Oh my God,” she gasped.

“So I heard,” Angel joked. “Now what’s with all the noise?”

“I got the part,” Cordelia breathed. “I got the part, I got the part, I got the bloody part!” Cordelia launched herself at Angel and grabbed him in a fierce hug.

“Say huh?” was the vampire’s only response.

“That show I tried out for,” Cordelia explained. “That FBI show for FOX. They want me for the female lead. The pilot episode starts filming tomorrow!”

Angel stood stupefied as Cordelia continued to hang onto him. She got the part? That was great, wasn’t it? No, hold on. If she got the part, then what did that mean? How the hell did she get the part? Was she going to have to leave?

“That’s great, Cordy,” Connor said, although he wasn’t quite sure what the hell that meant. What did FBI mean?

“Yeah,” Angel agreed. “That’s wonderful. You deserve it.”

“Damn right I do!” Cordelia was quickly regaining her breath, and her enthusiasm. “After all these years, I finally got my big break! Hollywood, hear me roar!”

Cordelia slipped on her oversized Dodgers t-shirt and sweatpants before flipping off the bathroom light and stepping into the bedroom. Angel was leaning back on a few pillows against the headboard, reading some book of French poetry. One day she would have to ask how he learned all those languages he knew. Of course, he’d probably be a smart ass and say ‘time’ or something.

“Hey,” she said softly.

“Hey,” Angel answered. He pulled back the covers so Cordelia could crawl in. He then went still so that she could situate herself in a comfortable position, namely, her head on his chest and left arm draped over his stomach.

“Excited?” Angel asked. “It’s a big day for you tomorrow.”

“I am,” she said. “And it is. This could be really big for me.”

“I know. I’m happy for you.”

“Are you really?” Cordelia asked. She stared up at Angel with those beautiful hazel eyes. “You didn’t seem that enthused this morning when I told you the news.”

“I’m sorry,” Angel said honestly. “I guess I’m just afraid of what could happen. That you might decide to leave me. That if this really does help your career take off, you will decide that you don’t need me anymore.”

Cordelia sat up so that she could be at eye level with her vampire. She placed a soft hand on his cheek, and smiled slightly as he leaned into the contact.

“Hey, I’ve gone through too much crap for you to ever walk away. I’ve got the demon DNA, and I got the visions. Like it or not, I’m here for the long haul. Got it, Buster?”

“Sorry for doubting you,” Angel apologized. “That was just centuries of lingering doubt and knowledge that everyone I’ve ever cared about has left me creeping into my conscience.”

Cordelia just stared at the vampire for several long moments before coming to a conclusion. “You think too damn much.”

Angel grinned slightly and muttered, “I’ve never been told that before.” He kissed Cordelia’s forehead before allowing her to settle back down. Cordelia quickly curled up around her vampire before falling asleep.

Fox Studios
Lot 8
March 14, 2003

“What do you think, Raul?” Philip Kramer asked.

Raul Gutierrez stared long and hard at Cordelia, causing her to squirm. Raul, with his shaved head, sideburns nearly to his chin, and dangling left earring, made Cordelia want to break out in laughter. However, being her first day on the job, she felt that probably wasn’t appropriate.

“The blonde needs to go,” Raul stated. “Eyebrows need to be plucked.” Cordelia touched her eyebrows self-consciously. “Oh,” accentuated with a flap of his left hand, “we SO need to work on the wardrobe.” Raul looked about anxiously and found an assistant. “Oh, Bobby,” he called in a fashion that made the assistant cringe. “Would you be a doll and fetch Carol for me. Tell her we need a bottle of Clairol in a chestnut hue, pronto.”

“Well, Raul” Kramer said. “Do what you need to do for her to be ready. We want to do some scenes tonight, so make it snappy.”

“Yes Mister Phillip,” Raul drawled. “C’mon sugar,” he said to Cordelia, “let’s go someplace and get to work on you.”

Cordelia could only answer with, “Uh, okay.”

“This is not a prop,” Max Werner informed. “This is a work of art. You wouldn’t defame Rembrandt would you?” Cordelia was promptly interrupted. “Of course not,” Max said, “so don’t tarnish mine.”

Max handed Cordelia a faux leather holster and a black plastic pistol. Max eyed Cordelia warily as she took the “art”. With long thinning hair, a slight overbite, and a t-shirt that read “I Go to School For the Nookie”, Cordelia found another person she thought she shouldn’t laugh at.

Cordelia handled the “art” carefully and said thank you. Max grunted in reply and watched as Cordelia walked off. He didn’t like handing over one of his babies, especially to a “newbie”.”

“She’s gonna scratch the holster in no time,” Max sighed.

“You’ve done very well for yourself at Quantico, Agent Crane,” Assistant Director Roger Douglas said. The camera panned left so that Cordelia came into view. “Graduated third in your class. Excelled in firearms and showed great talent in the behavioral science part of the program.”

“Thank you, sir,” Agent Laura Crane answered. “I was hoping that my credentials could grant me acceptance into the Behavioral Sciences Unit.”

“Your record at Georgetown and the academy are highly impressive,” Douglas spoke. “In the morning, report to Bill Crichton’s office at Quantico. I’ll have a talk with him tonight and see what we can arrange. How does that sound?”

Laura Crane smiled widely. “Thank you, sir. That would be great.”

“And cut!”

The film stopped rolling and crewmembers began to scamper about on set. Peter Nichols sighed heavily as he shook off his Roger Douglas persona. “Rookies,” he muttered.

“Cordelia!” Michael McMahon shouted. The director of the episode stormed onto the set. Cordelia hadn’t moved from her seat in front of the plywood desk. McMahon removed his Chargers cap and smoothed back his thinning hair. “We’re going to have to do another take on that one,” he informed her.

“Why?” Cordelia asked. “I didn’t screw up my lines, did I?”

“You did it with too much enthusiasm,” McMahon explained as if talking to a slow child. “Which isn’t how it’s described in the script.”

“I just thought, you know, she’s a young girl, wanting to please. She’s going to want to make a big first impression. Enthusiasm would be natural, right?”

“First of all, you’re not paid to think. You’re paid to read the script. And second of all, just remember that you’re not paid to think. Just read the lines like the script says.”

Cordelia was stunned into silence. She gave a meek “okay” and breathed heavily as McMahon walked away. “A hell of a first day,” she muttered.

Cordelia sat alone in the parking space outside Lot 8 picking at her tuna salad. It was nearly seven o’clock, and production was scheduled to continue until midnight. Several crewmembers and actors meandered around the catering van talking and eating. But none talked to her.

George Coney, the “star” of the series had barely said two words to her all day. The only time the director said something to her was to criticize, as did the producers. She couldn’t believe she signed a three-year contract for the series. This could wind up being hell.

“Are you okay, M-m-miss Chase?”

Cordelia turned in her seat and found a man behind her. He was about fifty, with shoulder length gray hair and stubble lining his face. But what distinguished him from everyone else was that he looked kindly at her.

“I’m fine,” she said. “Just thinking about things. Who are you?”

“M-m-my name is Francis McCormick. I-I’m a handyman around h-here. I d-do electrical work and c-c-carpentry.”

“And I’m Cordelia Chase. Resident puppy to be kicked by all those needing stress relief.”

“N-n-now that’s not v-very positive,” Francis stuttered.

“Well, when everybody’s yelling at you, it doesn’t do much for your self-esteem.”

“D-don’t be bothered by them,” Francis said. “As l-l-long you try your b-best, nobody c-can fault you for that.”

“Evidently the producers can,” Cordelia said. “They seem to be wanting perfection. I’ve been told quite a few times today that it isn’t too late to replace me with one of the “Charmed” girls.”

“They j-just want to make money. N-none of them w-worth a bag of manure. I c-can tell you one thing. I’ve s-seen many girls w-wanting to act. Y-you got most of t-them beat. Because you t-try your hardest. I c-can tell that much.”

“Thank you, Francis. That was exactly what I need to hear.” An assistant rushed by the table and shouted that Cordelia was needed back on set. “I gotta go, Francis. Take care of yourself.”

“I-I will, M-miss Chase.”

Cordelia smiled again at the kindly man before rushing off to get back on the set. That really was exactly what she needed to hear.”