Word Count: 1,523
Disclaimer: Joss wins.
Death was much more life-like than Cordelia had expected.
There was no light at the end of the tunnel, no golden gates, and no white, fluffy landscape. Instead there was a big, cushy armchair and elevator music.
In front of her were around two dozen seats, two to a row. The tops of heads peaked out from behind them and swayed lightly with the train's motion, the walls and floor vibrating faintly around them. A man two rows in front of her was snoring.
Out the window a sprawling field of long, green grass - dotted with groups of fat, grazing cows - crept by. Passing through the aisle beside her, a woman in a pale pink dress offered Cordelia something to drink. In a daze, she declined.
The last thing she remembered was being in Angel's office - Angel's Wolfram and Hart office – and having an unbelievably important conversation about why dealing with evil law firms is a bad idea.
She knew that they would all be lost without her, but honestly.
The woman in pink offered her some of those airline peanuts, and she took them without thinking; fingering the package in her lap.
Evil law firms aside, there was a lot to be said for the lot of them surviving the last apocalypse, even if Cordelia hadn't. Now that she'd gotten a certain C.E.O.'s undead ass back on track, they would be just fine.
Even if a selfish part of her was wishing passionately that they wouldn't, wishing that they would miss her and need her so terribly that they would bend the laws of time and space to get her back. That at the end of the day she could go back with them to the Hyperion and it would all be normal again. They would sit up late eating crappy Chinese take-out and bitching about the forces of evil, and there would be warm arms and more kissing, this time without good-bye tears.
But Cordelia knew better. She knew that she wanted them to go on and live their lives; to move on and be happy, and all that Hallmark crap.
So she was dead, life went on. Or..unlife. Whatever.
Cordelia was pleased to see that she was still wearing the same fashionable, button down blouse and slimming black pants, finished off with a pair of heels so stylish she might have given Lilah Morgan -(though surely she would be in a much more firey place)- a run for her money. She had been worried the afterlife would throw her into some tacky white robe like in the movies - because the last thing she needed was to spend eternity looking like she had just gotten out of the shower.
The chair beneath her was soft and comfortable, and the view out the window was constant. As the train ride drew on time took on a strange sense of meaninglessness, and Cordelia became increasingly aware of the odd sensation that she'd been on the bus for either moments or weeks, but which she couldn't say.
In time the cows and grass fazed from view, and they were passing buildings, cars and people. The gentle rumble of the train's engine died down as the world outside became stationary, a light voice ringing out over the loudspeaker, "Sarah Terange, Jessica Beskle, John Small.." Cordelia blinked, eyebrow arching as it continued, "Tenecia Serae, Mark Hares and Cordelia Chase, this is your stop. Please exit to the right, and watch your step. There will be someone waiting to greet you."
Cordelia's first instinct was to grab for her luggage, but looking around she found that she didn't have any. A few expectant faces had lined up behind her in the aisle so, empty-handed, she filed out, stepping down curiously onto a crowded platform.
Almost instantly a hand was in hers, pulling her away from the people congregated around the door. Bodies nudged and bumped around her, and faces of all colors and shapes moved past in the crowd. Once they'd come to a stand-still on the outskirts of the mob, her hands found themselves on the surface of a worn, brown jacket that stretched over an average set of shoulders. A pair of smiling green eyes and a familiar, distinctly Irish voice greeted her, thumb brushing her chin. "Hey there, Princess."
Cordelia's unintelligible shriek was not nearly as loud as the one that left Doyle as she tackled him enthusiastically to the ground.
The grass was soft under her feet, heels abandoned temporarily at the edge of the park they now wandered through. People of all sorts passed by, most of them walking, but a few floating. Several were naked - in a vague, misty way - and looked almost incorporeal.
Doyle explained that the longer people stayed in the afterlife, the more things like their appearance and their surroundings came under their control - became unearthly, ethereal. The more they let go of life, the less life-like the afterlife became.
Since Doyle's hand was still very much hand-shaped, intertwined casually with hers, she presumed that he too was still attached to the feel of his good old, Doyle-shaped body - and apparently also to his old, Doyle-shaped clothing.
That man's fashion sense was tragic, and she was beginning to think that he might have done better in the white robe getup.
"Well, 'least ya got a hero's exit." His voice was soft and familiar at her side, listening quietly through the details of her last few years of life. Though, she got the distinct impression that he already knew them.
"I'd imagine you know a little something about that." She nudged his arm with her elbow, shooting him her best attempt at the stink eye. "Nice parting gift, by the way."
"The splittin' headaches with pictures? Yeah, sorry 'bout that.." His thumb brushed the edge of his lips absently, twitching up into a smile, "S' got a kinda ring to it though, don't it? Cordelia Chase, seer!" His free hand gestured at the air emphatically, adding with a smile, "Part demon now too, way I hear it."
"Yep. Well, I think so..not totally sure how the PTBs were playing that one. Could have been a sham..but," she offered with a shrug "there's was floating, and random bursts of light."
"No scales, no tail? Sounds like you got the short end of the demonic stick," His eyes were twinkling, and she wondered if they had always been that bright. "Was a brave thing, that. Takin' those visions from Angel. Man would've been lost without ya."
"Don't I know it." She was looking at the grass beneath them. Their feet lifted off it and almost immediately the blades sprung back up into place with an unearthly determination. Her eyebrows knitted together, eyes on the motions of the grass. "Well, me-me anyway. Evil-possessed-me I think everyone could have done without."
Dark magic and murder and sex with somebody who was practically her kid. None of that had been on her agenda. Ever.
Doyle's hand was on her shoulder, gently turning her towards him. Her eyes lingered on his jacket collar, but his hand tilted her face up. "None a' that was your fault, Cordy. None a' it was you, ya know that.." Her eyes were closed, blocking out the view of his painfully sincere face. With a thumb stroking along her jaw line, the soft Irish tone added, "Angel knows that."
"You loved him, an' he loved you." Her hands grew momentarily rigid, eyes flickering open to see his locked onto hers, unwavering. "He understands, n' he 'aint mad. Nobody blames ya, you've seen that fer yourself."
"S'alright Cordy," his hand gave her shoulder a soft squeeze, lips in a small smile. "Didn't expect ya to wait around - stay madly in love with me once I'd gone. Movin' on, it's all good n' natural."
"Madly in love?" A smile flickered over her lips, "A little vain of you, don't you think?"
He winked, "Just call 'em like I see 'em."
She rolled her eyes, but just the same couldn't resist a smile when his fingertips reached for hers.
They took to walking again, meandering along the edge of the park in silence. The sound of birds twittering goodnight was around them in the trees as the sun began to sink down in the distance, leaving a trail of pinks and golds across the sky.
Somewhere along the way Cordelia's smile faded into a thoughtful frown, eyes on the sunset as her voice left her tentatively, "He'll move on without me, won't he? Move on like I did."
There was a pause, then Doyle nodded. "He will. Takes time, though."
"Especially with Angel." She felt a smile on her lips again. That man took forever to get over anything, especially women. Then again - being immortal and all - he wasn't exactly in a hurry. "He's got that though, doesn't he? Time."
"Yeah, he does." The hand in hers gave a quick squeeze, green eyes fixed out on the sunset and lips in a smile. "N' so do we."