Title: Negotiations (1/?)
Pairing(s): Eventually Doyle/Cordelia, references to Angel/Cordelia, and probably more.
Summary: First, Cordelia deals with Doyle's death, post "Hero." Then, years later, Angel deals with hers. Then the Powers step in at the last possible moment.
Spoilers: Whole series.
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Angel or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's note: This is just something that popped into my head after watching "Hero," for the first time in years. Seriously, I haven't watched it since before Glenn Quinn died. So after I stopped crying, I typed this out. If you'd like to see where it goes, leave a review.


There were very few secrets Cordelia Chase actually took to her grave, but she doubted that a single one of them would have surprised those that had been closest to her. The love she had felt for Angel in her last few years, even though she'd never revealed it (but she thinks Jasmine might have), was obvious. Every person in her life had known about it before she had. So no, that wouldn't have surprised a single one of them.

What she'd felt for Doyle probably wouldn't have either, though it was only Angel who ever had an inkling. Wesley saw her mourning, true, even helped her through it, in his way, but he couldn't have sensed the extent of her feelings, having never met the half demon himself.

She thinks that maybe one of the ways she dealt with his passing would have surprised them. It wasn't uncommon, maybe, but…well, it wasn't like she wasted good clothing often. Another thing she never told anyone, a week after Doyle's death, she burned the clothes she'd been wearing when he died. It wasn't out of anger, for the visions he'd gifted her with. And it wasn't because, every time she looked at that outfit, all she could see was the blindingly bright light that had stolen her friend from her. It was simply because she missed the feeling of his lips on hers, and the idea of wearing that outfit again felt like moving on. So she made sure she wouldn't.

She didn't burn them right away though. She took her time with it. Doyle's scent was still on those clothes, after all, and she needed to memorize it before it had a chance to fade. Or before she poured gasoline all over it and set a match to it. So the day before the fire, she sat in his apartment, with her clothes, and simply took what was left of him in. He smelled like whiskey, mostly. But she also thought she smelled coffee, and maybe a hint of the redwood forest her parents had taken her to when she was little, before they decided she was too delicate for camping. If they only knew.

On her way out, she stole one of his shirts. That would have surprised them for sure. After all, she didn't usually make a habit out of petty larceny. But she knew that, as soon as she managed to tell Harry that Doyle was dead, she'd be by to pack up his stuff, and send it to wherever dead people's things went. Maybe she'd donate it all; maybe she'd sell it. Maybe she'd send it off to storage. No matter what she did it with it, it all ended up the same: Cordy would never get the chance to touch any of it again. So she figured it was a better idea to steal it now than regret it later. After all, Harry would never miss it. It was just a shirt. Well, it was just two shirts. One, a dark green button up, she took to keep, and to protect. The other, a light blue flannel, she ended up sleeping in nearly every night for two years, until it was long past worn. But she could still have sworn that it smelled like him.

She knew that was probably just her imagination. Some part of her brain making up phantom scents. After all, she'd worn it hundreds of times, and it had been through the laundry more than she could count. So, logically, the smell had to be gone. But when it came to Doyle, logic tended to fly out the window and down the street. So she allowed herself to think it still smelled like him.

Before Harry arrived to clean out the apartment, and after she'd set fire to her own clothing, she'd gone back and taken his brown jacket. But that was the last of it. And then everything was gone. As if he'd never existed.

She went back one more time, when the place was empty. She'd posed as a possible tenant, and asked to be left alone to bond with the space. It got her five minutes, during which she decided that death really wasn't the worst thing. The worst thing would be to be Angel. To live forever while everyone he loved died around him. The idea that, one day, he might be doing the same thing for her as she was doing for Doyle brought her to tears. Her face was already sore from all the crying she'd done in the two weeks since Doyle's death, but she couldn't stop herself. She sat on the miraculously clean floor of the horribly empty and lifeless apartment and cried for the friend she'd lost, for how he could have been so much more, and for what it would be like for Angel when she inevitably passed and he didn't.

When the real estate agent came back and found her in tears, he assumed he hadn't made the sale.

Angel used his key and slipped quietly into Cordelia's apartment. He'd kept up the payments when she'd fallen into a coma, but now that she was gone, he wasn't sure what to do. As much as he wished it otherwise, she wouldn't be coming back.

There was no dust. Everything was perfectly clean, which told him, without a doubt, that Dennis was still around. He felt a pang of guilt. Had anyone told him about Cordelia? About her possession, her coma, or her death? Had he just instinctively known? Or was he still in the dark?

He felt more sympathy than he could have anticipated for the ghost. To be dead and trapped for all those years, and then to end up forming a bond with a life force so vivacious as Cordy, only to have her leave him alone again? He must be so lonely. Angel knew the feeling.

He walked into the bedroom and turned on the light, casting his eyes toward the whiteboard she'd put up specifically so Dennis could respond when she talked to him. He wondered when the last time it had been used was. Cordy had stayed mostly at the hotel or with Connor while she had amnesia, and he really doubted Jasmine, while she was still in Cordy's body, had been all that talkative with the phantom. Angel was sure that, if she had, Dennis would have seen through the act in a way that none of the rest of them did.

Being surrounded by her things was intoxicating. He really wasn't sure what he could do with all of it. He'd given away her clothes once before, and he wasn't sure he could do it again. Especially not now, when buying her new ones wouldn't do him any good. Still, he wasn't sure why, but it was her closet he was drawn to first.

And as soon as he opened the door, he knew why. Doyle's jacket hung on one hanger, and a green shirt he vividly remembered his old friend wearing, on the hanger next to it. He wasn't sure how long he stared at it in shock, but the feeling of the ghost's presence pulled his eyes back toward the whiteboard.

'There's another shirt of his in the dresser. She slept in it until it got too worn out, but she still kept it anyway,' Dennis wrote.

Angel nodded, finally understanding why, weeks after Doyle's death, he still smelled him, very faintly, whenever Cordy entered the room. He'd thought he was going crazy at the time. "How much do you know?" he asked. "About what happened to her?"

'More than you, probably.'

"So you know she's…gone?" He couldn't bring himself to say 'dead.' Even when he had explained it to the rest of the team, he managed to get through his entire speech without any mention of 'dead.' Luckily, they hadn't asked too many questions. They'd simply joined him in mourning.

The board erased itself before the marker lifted again and wrote out, 'I felt her go.'

He wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't sure if there was anything to say. After all, a woman they'd both loved had just died. There wasn't a lot that could be said without sounding trite. Just when he was about to sputter out something in the place of the overbearing silence, the marker wrote again.

'Don't worry. All hope isn't lost quite yet.'

The brightest source of light in his universe was dead. The person who made him feel more alive than any other because of how full of life she was, who had fought and died for his cause, had been violated by a higher power who was supposed to help her. Now he was working for the bad guys and feeling very much without guidance, despite how nicely she'd set him back on the right path. If there was hope anywhere to be seen, he'd sure like to know about it. "What do you mean?"

'Negotiations are in progress.'