Thank you to belladonnalin and emmytie for the betas and encouragement.
Cordelia knew two things. Three, actually, but the third was mostly inconsequential. The first was that she was hot. The second was that acting wasn't exactly her greatest strength, but it shouldn't matter because, well, see number one. The third was that she was hungry. Really fucking hungry. She considered selling another pair of shoes, but she was running low and she had to look good for auditions. She needed a job if she was going to return to eating regularly. There were days when she came home tired and thought about the fact that there were jobs she could get where she wouldn't need shoes, but she generally woke up feeling less desperate--most of the time, anyhow.
Cordelia had learned her lesson regarding legitimate producers and other kinds early on in her stay in LA. The other kinds being those looking to just make a buck off someone who didn't know any better, or looking for girls who didn't have any problems having sex with strangers for money. Which, okay, Cordelia guessed that last kind was technically legitimate, and it might even feed her, but it sure as shit wasn't her ticket to the multiplex. Cordelia might not have been smart, not like Willow, but she wasn't that kind of stupid. She knew how men worked, and she was figuring out how money worked.
Some of the porn producers were upfront, not even sleazy, which was weird, Cordelia had expected sleaze. They would make their offer, and when she said no, they might try to talk her into it once more, but after that they took no for an answer, moved on to another girl, another easy target. Then there were others who acted like they were making "films", which, to Cordelia's mind, was different than "pornos," and yet still the others who tried to make it seem like they were chatting her up, trying for a date.
It had taken a while to sort it all out, and more than a few close calls. Now, if she almost ended up on a bed in the middle of a soundstage, well, it would be because she just wasn't resisting quite hard enough. Cordelia wasn't sure which reason she preferred.
Commercial try-outs were almost more humiliating than just taking her shirt off for a paycheck. For one thing, they were never for cool products, never for Cover Girl or even Doublemint. They were always for rash cream, or STI medications, or cereals that Cordelia couldn't afford, financially or weight-wise. And the auditions always took all day. Even if she arrived at eight, dragging herself out of bed at six-thirty to get there in the early morning traffic, there were already hundreds of people there, people who were ready and willing to take the part.
Often, she was sent away before she even got to read. If she wasn't, reading was a thirty-second task under the disdainful eyes of casting directors who, just like her, wanted to be working on movies and had already seen hundreds of faces that day. It was like being invisible.
They always said, "That will do. We have your number, you'll hear from us."
Her phone never rang.
The funny thing was, Cordelia had seen evil, real evil, the kind that ate little kids and old ladies, the kind that tried to destroy the world and everything in it. She'd never felt as threatened by all of that as she did by the casual lies of LA, the way it used people like her. Maybe that had been a side effect of having the others, even when she had hated them, felt broken and wrecked by them, she had known they would do their best to protect her, if only because she was human, and that was what they did. They couldn't protect her from this, and though she tried, she couldn't particularly protect herself, either.
It was ironic, that seeing Angel's face in a crowd--a face that could turn into the very visage of evil within seconds, could and had, could and had while trying to kill her and her friends--made her feel so relieved, so safe. Sunnydale had taught Cordelia how very little sense the world, made, though. She wouldn't refuse comfort where she could get it, not now.
He looked unsure when she smiled at him--he had never really seen them, only Buffy--but he looked at her, and for the first time, Cordelia thought maybe he had room in his vision for someone who wasn't blonde, wasn't unbreakable. She wasn't sure what it was like to actually get the job after an audition, but she imagined it felt a little something like finally being seen.
If everyone girl in LA was a waitress while waiting on her big break, Cordelia didn't think there was much shame in fighting evil between trying to get someone to notice just how perfect she was to play a starring role. There were certainly worse jobs. Okay, so most days fighting evil involved a surprising amount of paperwork to keep Angel's nose clean, and research that she wasn't all that great at, and other things that she'd sworn she was leaving behind when she left Sunnydale, but somehow, after days and days and weeks and weeks of nobody giving a crap whether she showed up somewhere or not, it was sort of like paradise that Angel expected her to be there every morning. It was definitely paradise that he usually provided donuts. Cordelia tried to limit herself, but she was still getting used to having a regular salary. She'd get used to food again and then she could go back on her diet.
Until then, there was nothing to make almost dying on a regular basis and brain-splitting migraines sweet like fried dough with sugar. Cordelia hadn't always known how to make herself smile without much to smile about but she had learned. It was a good trick to have--for the camera.