A/N: My first ANGEL fic, written a couple of years ago. Wish we could have had a little more closure.
Obviously, I don't own ANGEL, or any of the characters. I just put words in their mouths for my own amusement. Or tragedy. Whatever.
"Good morning Cordelia."
"Have a good night, did you?"
Sure, went home, watched some stupid movie on WE and cried myself to sleep.
"Yeah, it was alright. Me and Dennis had a bit of a girls' night."
Angel walked into the room from his office, barely glancing at the two of them as he scanned the file in his hands.
"He's her ghost."
"Your…ghost?" Wesley tilted his head with curiosity, stepping closer to her desk.
"Yep. His mom bricked him up in my living room, and we let 'im out, so now he lives with me," she smiled brightly.
"Interesting," he commented, pausing thoughtfully. "We could do something about that, you know. Get him off to his better place and all that," he gestured vaguely with his right hand, as though trying to point the way to this Better Place.
"No, Wesley. Dennis can stay as long as he wants. He's no harm."
"Ah. Well." He looked around for a moment and then headed into Angel's office, as the tall dark and brooding boss had left their company without so much as a sigh.
"Who is this guy anyway? Is he serious? Tryin' to muck t'ings about in his first week? Even I wasn't that bad."
The voice that had hovered near her for the last week, the soft Irish tones of her lost friend, became audible again. She tried to think hard at the spectre or whatever it was, telling it to go away. It never worked.
"Go away," she whispered without looking towards the corner where she knew he would be standing. The corner where he was always standing.
"Aww, Cordy, don't say that. You know you're t'inking it. He's a right headcase, he is."
"Wesley is a nice man."
"Nice man, eh? Exactly how nice is that?" Even though she wasn't looking, she could see the look on his face in her mind's eye – curious and sarcastic; and if sarcastically curious were a facial expression, he could do it.
The voice was now nearer to her ear, and she thought she could even feel his breath on her neck as he whispered in his ear.
"Not that nice," she snapped in low tones, and made a waving movement with her arm to make him go away.
"Cordelia? Who ya talkin' to?" Angel poked his head out of his office, his eyebrow raised. She forgot he could see her from in there.
"Just myself. Talking to myself."
"Hmm," he said, and disappeared again.
"Doyle!" she hissed. But he did not appear again.
"Behind the milk," the voice offered, as she rooted around in her fridge for the last of the orange juice. It surprised her, and she jumped, banging her head on the door of the fridge.
"Ow," she said, clenching her teeth together and holding her head. "Don't do that," she said, and fished the jug out from behind the milk – just like he said. She closed the door and tried not to look at him, standing in the corner of her kitchen, leaning against the wall like that, smiling at her.
From the other room, both the TV and the stereo came on at full blast – a military film mid-action and a station that was specializing in goth-rock.
"Look what you've done. You upset Dennis," she said sharply, and turned to go out of the kitchen, the glass still on the counter, and the orange juice jug open.
"Dennis! Dennis, please turn it down! I'm sorry, I promise he'll go away!" The TV flicked off and the stereo turned down to a soft classical station.
"Do you really want me to go away?" he asked, still in his same leaning posture in the kitchen.
"I don't know, Doyle." She sighed heavily. "I miss you," she said, still not looking at him.
"I miss you too, Cordy-girl," and he walked over to her, planting a kiss on her hair. She inhaled, closing her eyes, and her body instinctively leaned back as if into his embrace, but found nothing rather quickly, and she stumbled. He was gone again. She wiped her eyes roughly with the heel of her hand, trying to keep the tears from fully forming. Two deep breaths later, she finally poured her orange juice.
She hadn't seen or heard Dennis in two days. She figured it was because of Doyle. She hoped he wasn't gone forever.
Sitting alone in her apartment at night, she liked Dennis' company. Made her feel less alone.
"What, nothing on the telly?" The TV was off, and she just sat curled on the couch, picking at a bowl of unsalted, unbuttered popcorn. She shrugged.
"I don't feel like watching TV."
"C'mere," the voice said, and this time when she leaned backwards, it was into soft leather, and he smelled slightly like Scotch and faintly like some cologne like Aspen. He wrapped his arms around her, and she fell asleep.
"You sleeping alright?" Angel cocked his head at her, and tried not to be awkward in his concern.
"Why? Do I have bags under my eyes?" She looked panicked for a moment, tugging open the top drawer of her desk and grabbing a handful of makeup, including a compact mirror and a greenstick.
"Well. No. But you seem…distracted," he stepped closer to her desk, and opened his mouth as if to speak, but then closed it, and paused in thought, tapping the folder against his hand. "You…is…is something wrong?"
"Wrong? Why would something be wrong?" She laughed lightly, trying to make it seem like a small issue, and went back to examining her eyes in the compact mirror.
"Oh. Okay. Well…if um, if there's something you, yanno, want to talk about, I'm here," he gestured vaguely to his office, his voice trailing off as he offered his future assistance.
She looked him in the eye, and with her lips pressed together, nodded once. "Yeah. I know. Thanks, Angel."
He nodded at her like they had reached an agreement, and went back into his office and closed the door.
"Where's Cordelia?" Wes poked his head into Angel's office the moment he arrived and noted her absence.
"She said she wasn't feeling well. She's not coming in," he said, not looking at him, his legs up on his desk and concentrating on a file.
"Oh," his face visibly fell. "Well. What do you do when she's not here?"
"I make the coffee all by myself," he said looking up from the folder at Wesley with something that passed for a fleeting, if forced, smile.
"Oh." He stood for a moment, unsure what to do or say. "Well…do you think she's sick? Maybe someone should take her flowers, check on her," his voice trailed off as Angel raised his head off his closed hand to look at him.
"Wesley. I'm not going to give Cordelia the third degree as to why she's not feeling well. Not that I'm all that up on," he waved his hand in the air, "her sick days, paid vacation days, all that stuff. But if she says she's not feeling well, but leaves out the 'Angel I'm deathly sick' part, I'm just going to believe her." He looked Wesley in the eye as well as he could from across the room, driving his point home. "And leave her alone. She'll be back tomorrow."
"Ah. Alright. So. What do you have for me to do?" He grinned, clasping his hands together with a childish glee. "Demons to research, weapons to locate and purchase on the black market, what?"
"Could you make some coffee?"
The next morning, Cordelia opened the door, the bell jingling, and Angel's head snapped up. Something was wrong.
"What are you doing, Cordelia?" he asked softly, but seriously.
She cocked her head at him, halfway to her desk. "Well hello to you too, Captain Inquisitor," she mentally shrugged off his glare and continued to her desk, bending down to tuck her purse in the bottom drawer before rising to remove her coat and hang it on the coat tree.
"Yes, Angel?" The sound of exasperation in her own voice caused her to cringe. There was no reason to snap at him.
"You smell like him, Cordelia."
"Will you stop using my name like that?!" She turned to face him, but did not come any closer to him. Instead, he stepped two steps toward her, uncertain how to talk to her, what to do.
"I. I know." He paused, trying to find the words to communicate with someone he'd only recently come to think of as a friend, and trying to put into words exactly what he was keeping to himself. He sighed. "I know it's hard."
She dropped her gaze, and pressed her lips together before lifting her head to look at him. "I know you know," she said softly. "Just let me deal with it in my own way, okay? I don't…I don't really want to talk about it." She swallowed hard and turned around to smooth her jacket on the coat tree.
"He's worried about you," the soft voice said a few moments later.
"I know," she whispered, her back still turned. She hoped Angel had gone back into his office. "He misses you too," she said, and turned her head slowly to the left, to look in his clear, moss-green eyes as he stared at her, hands in his pockets.
"I know. But he'll be alright," he shrugged, giving her a half-smile and a wink. "He's a tough guy, Angel is."
She nodded. "Yeah."
"Yeah," he said, and smiled. She blinked, and he was gone. Again.
She lay in her bed that night, curled with her back against his chest, looking at his leather jacket draped over a chair.
"What if I could have loved you?" She whispered to him in the semi-dark.
He made a sound like a short laugh. "I wish we could've found out, Cordy-girl."
Her hands held his arms around her, and her thumb stroked the back of his hand absently. "I'm sorry I ignored you," she said, and she could feel her voice betraying the tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
"That's what made it half the fun," he assured her. "I knew I'd have to make some grand gesture to get you t'notice me."
"But you died."
"I know. Some grand gesture, eh?"
She tightened her shoulders, trying to bring his body closer to hers, holding on like she never wanted to let go. He kissed her gently on the side of her jaw before laying his head back down on her hair. She fell asleep then, but in the morning, there was no sign of him. There was no leather jacket on the chair, even though she was curled tightly like he had been right there. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, trying once again to stave off the tears.
"Dammit, where is my stapler?!" Cordelia said loudly to whomever was in earshot. She narrowed her eyes when there was no reply. "Wesley!"
He peeked out from beside the file cabinet. "Yes?" He said meekly.
"It was nice of you to rearrange my desk," she said, in a tone that made it clear exactly how nice she thought it was, "but it would've been nice if you hadn't hidden all the things I need."
"Um. Try the top left drawer?"
She slid the drawer open. "Nope."
"Umm…Angel's office?" He offered.
"Why would my stapler be in Angel's office?" she said, getting up from her desk. Wesley didn't answer.
She ducked into Angel's office, but saw he wasn't there, and so felt a little better about rummaging for her stapler. She opened a bottom drawer and there, laying on the top, was a picture of the three of them. Sitting around a table at D'Oblique, she had no idea who had taken the picture, but it looked like even Angel was almost smiling. And Doyle had his arm around her shoulder, and she knew she looked like she was grinning, but wanted to shrug it off, to keep him from touching her. She used to hate it when he was always trying to touch her.
Then she collapsed to the ground, the space behind her eyes feeling like there were dull knives carving at her brain, and the sound that was not quite a scream, not quite a yell, was halfway out before the elevator grate was thrown open, and in two strides Angel was crouched by her side, just as Wesley appeared in the doorway. He had no idea what to do, or what was going on. He'd never seen her have a vision, even though he imagined this was one of them.
She pressed the heel of her hand to her forehead, and the scream turned into a body-wracking sob. Angel brought her body to his, and she laid her head on his chest, her breaths interdispersed with sobs as he rocked her back and forth. "Shhh, shh," he said as he stroked her hair.
"Can I?" Wesley whispered from the doorway. Angel tilted his head to look at Wesley, but then just shook it slowly, closing his eyes for a moment. He took the hint and left the room.
"What did you see?" He asked softly.
"Why would they do this?!" She said loudly, as though to make her voice carry over her own sobs. He kept rocking her slowly. "Why?!"
He thought about asking "why what?" but thought that maybe his silence would keep her talking better than his questions.
"I had to watch him die! Again! Why would they do that to me, Angel?" Her ability to draw in the deep breaths she needed was impeded by the wracking sobs which were only now beginning to abate into softer crying.
They were silent, holding each other on the floor of his office, the quiet broken only by her occasional sniffles as she calmed down. He could see her mascara running down her face, and thought to himself that she would never forgive him if she knew it was his fault. But she had to let go. And this was the only way he knew how. He couldn't hold on forever, as much as he wanted to. At least her makeup would blend in with Angel's shirt, he thought to himself with a small chuckle.
"He's gone," Angel whispered.
"I know," she whispered back, and she opened her eyes, just to see him standing in the doorway, and for the first time, watched him fade, a soft, sad smile on his lips.