This little mini-bunny has been in the back of my head for weeks, and I had to go ahead and get it out so I can work on both of my regular Buffy stories and not keep ya'll waiting too long. :) Though I will warn ya'll that the week of the 4-10 of July I'll be gone at church camp. No computers whatsoever. Yes that part is ridiculous, but what's a girl to do? Anyway, I was always ticked off that with all of Buffy season 8 that's out they've never once mentioned the fact that Cordelia died. She's gone. You'd think that would effect the Scoobies at least a little, so I wrote my own version of what might have happened when they found out. The couple of year period between the end of the series and the beginning of season 8 is pretty fuzzy, but I used all the canon info I had to make everything fit the best I could. I have season 5 of Angel, all of Buffy season 8, the Tales of the Slayers and Tales of the Vampires comics, and the Willow oneshot to work with, so yeah I had all the information there is. I hope you all with enjoy this small morsel, and please do review! Thanks!
Willow felt it first. Perhaps Cordelia Chase wasn't usually her favorite part of the past, but she was such an involved part that the powerful young witch felt the passing even from another plane—from deep within herself and yet elsewhere entirely, where she was, where she had just begun her journey with Saga Vasuki.
She felt it so deeply that for a moment she broke the unspoken rule of the journey that one forget, while on it, all outside and all that was past and all that might be. She broke it long enough to glance back, to the mortal surface of earth that was usually her home.
She saw Angel, standing forlorn in his office holding a now-dead phone and staring through an empty space where no one stood anymore. From her vantage point, somewhat outside of time and space, she saw much more. She knew more than she would have had she been in the physical plane, standing across the room watching the ensouled vampire begin to mourn, but neither did her current state make her anything nearing omniscient. She did know that she did not envy Angel his task now—meeting Wesley and the others without Cordelia, and having to explain what had really happened.
She didn't want to see that.
As if the universe listened to her, she saw the next day now instead, after it had taken place. She wondered how that was possible before she remembered that time didn't have much meaning here. Or it didn't have to. She saw Angel alone in his office again, saw him pick up the phone on his desk again, and saw him look at it for a long moment before dialing a number. Willow knew who he was calling before he finished the number, and knowing what happened next was not her business she pulled her gaze from the mortal world once more to focus on her guide, who was looking at her strangely.
"I'm sorry," she apologized, for the slack in attention.
The lizard-woman goddess smiled with her blue-green lips. "It's understandable. That was...most unexpected."
"Yes," Willow said sadly. "We heard about some of what happened last year...about the coma. We all knew this might happen, but...it's hard to believe it really has."
She felt sadness, but also a relief that Cordelia's journey was over. She wished her happiness, wherever she was now.
Then, before she took up the mantle of the journey again and thought no more of earth and those there for the time being, Willow sent back a small prayer for those who remained behind.
It was the middle of the night in England when Rupert Giles was roused out of a fairly sound sleep. At waking he rolled over in annoyance, thinking only that it was another of the late-night disasters or arguments one was bound to encounter when living with several dozen teenage girls as he did, being in charge of the freshly formed Slayer squad in London. Then he realized it was the phone he was hearing ringing shrilly in his ear, not high-pitched voices, and he left out a heavy breath and twisted again to pull the handset from the nightstand and hold it to his ear.
"Hello?" he asked groggily. Then another ring reverberated through his skull, and he realized he hadn't pressed the 'talk' button. Blasted modern thing. He was beginning to feel sorry for letting Willow outfit this place with what technology she thought it needed before she'd gone off to god-knew where. Astral projection...good lord. He wondered what she really hoped to learn.
Giles pressed the button and repeated his not overly-thrilled greeting.
Rupert scowled and sat up immediately, recognizing the voice. He pulled the newfangled contraption of a phone away from his ear and glanced at the display, where he recognized the number from L.A. If he hadn't seen it before, the words "Wolfram and Hart Los Angeles" scrolling across the top would have given it away. He put the phone back to his face.
"Yeah. Look, I know you don't trust us anymore. We got that message loud and clear, thanks, but I thought you and...and the others might want to know." Giles knew he'd wanted to mention Buffy.
"Know what?" There was a long pause, and Rupert wondered why he sat up straighter, anxious.
Angel's voice was strained when he spoke again, when he told Giles shortly what had happened and ended just the night before.
"Oh...dear lord," Giles said quietly, when he was able to answer.
He and Buffy and Xander and Willow constituted the 'original' Scoobies, but Oz and Cordelia and Anya and Tara had been the close second rung, all fully accepted parts of their family of sorts at one time or another. Oz was the only one of the group left now, if he was left. They had heard nothing from him since near the end of Willow and Buffy's freshman year of college.
Rupert had felt Tara's death from England—or maybe it was Willow's sorrow and outrage and the magic he had felt—but he hadn't needed the coven to tell him that something was wrong. He'd only needed the details. He missed her still, and missed Anya, and...
He had never thought he really missed Cordelia, when she went to Los Angeles. She was perfectly fine, just not in Sunnydale anymore, and after dealing with her for two and a half years her absence had been refreshing, actually. Of course soon after she had gone they had all been blessed with Anya, but...he had grown fond of Anya, over time, and he knew now that perhaps the same had not been exactly true of Cordelia, but he felt the loss now. When she left Sunnydale, for months he had looked over his shoulder with the others, expecting waspish comments where none came and missing the amusement her straight-forward attitude could afford.
Missing her. Good lord they had all missed her, hadn't they?
And she had grown up. Cordelia Chase had become a confident young woman, and a formidable member of the force against evil. She had helped save the world as they knew it just as many times as any of the Scooby Gang. He had once been responsible for her, in a sense, along with the others, and the knowledge made him proud beyond the sadness.
Angel swallowed on the other end of the line. "I don't know how to get in touch with the others..." he trailed.
"I'll let them know," Giles sighed. He hesitated before he said, "Thank you." Perhaps he wasn't sure if he could trust the vampire anymore, but he should have at least those two words for calling himself about this one.
"Yeah." Then the line went dead, but there had been enough pain and regret in that one word to make Giles wonder what had really been happening in Los Angeles in recent years, particularly with Angel and Cordelia.
He shook his head and took a deep breath, taking a moment and wondering if he should wait until morning to make the next call. He already knew, of course, who had to be told first. The fact that Willow was newly out of reach wasn't needed to narrow it down. But it would be the middle of the night in Scotland, too.
In the end he dialed the number anyway. Something told him he would get an answer, and that the party he was trying to reach might not appreciate later being kept waiting about the news no matter how it might affect him.
Xander Harris was up late because he couldn't sleep. He'd spent half the night wandering the castle in Scotland that was now the brand-spanking-new-but-also-really-old Slayer world headquarters. He had only recently arrived to admire it and get used to being in charge, along with Buffy, of the dozens of Slayers that lived here already.
The story that Buffy and the other few who knew the truth had been graciously circulating was that he'd been in Africa for the past few months, recruiting Slayers...and that was partially true. He'd started out there. But he hadn't been there nearly as long as was widely thought. No, he'd just had to swing through Europe on the way back, stop by in Transylvania, just curious, and end up hanging out with Dracula for months on end whether he'd wanted to or not. By the time Buffy and another Slayer had tracked him down and shown up to snap him out of Dracula's thrall and bring him home, he'd been wearing funny manservant clothes for weeks.
Needless to say, he was having a little trouble regaining his sense of manliness after that.
Missing Anya every day he woke up breathing didn't help, either.
Neither did the call.
"Xander, I'm so sorry," Giles said gently, from the other end of the line, once he'd broken the news as easily as possible. Xander had made his way back into his room when his cell phone rang, and now he slowly sank onto the edge of his bed as Giles continued. "I'm not certain how much of that may or may not remain, but I know Cordelia meant something to you, once. I know this is quite horrible timing, as well, but I thought you should know first. It seemed you deserved that."
He swallowed hard, trying to make sure he was understanding this right. "Yeah...thanks, Giles. I guess. I mean...I mean, god..."
"Will you be all right?"
"Don't have much a choice, do I?" he snorted. "Lose an eye, the love of my life, my dignity...why not throw an ex-girlfriend I care about in the mix?"
There was silence for a moment. "I can't understand the first, but I can certainly understand much of the rest," Giles said quietly.
Xander froze for a moment, cursed under his breath. "Sorry. You're right. I wasn't think—"
"Please, don't worry about it. I'm all right, as will you be—though I won't lie to you and tell you that it can't take a good deal of time."
He closed his eyes, and he saw Anya. "No kidding." Then he saw Cordelia, too. Both of them were gone now. Maybe they were in the same place. Maybe he would see them both again someday.
He wondered if the fact that they had both died as heroes was supposed to be a comfort. He suddenly felt bad, all over again, for the way he'd often treated Cordelia. He'd felt it when he first heard how much she was involved in helping Angel save the world over there in L.A. and he'd felt it when he first heard about the coma, and he felt it again now.
She'd turned into quite the someone after all, even if the rest of the world would never know it.
Xander cleared his throat. "Anyway...thanks, Giles. You want me to find Buffy for you, or should I tell her?"
"I imagine she's quite asleep."
"Well yeah, but waking her up gets real funny these days. Having all these extra Slayers around makes her kinda jumpy."
Giles let out a breath. "Leave her be, Xander. I can call her in the morning, or..."
"No, it's okay. Unless you want to. But I can do it."
A pause. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Thanks. Now you probably want to get back to sleep, so..."
"I suppose. I'm sorry, again, I um...well, good night."
Something woke Buffy Summers from an uneasy sleep and brought her out of her room. She wasn't sure where she was going until she heard faint thumping sounds echoing down the stone corridor, and they led her to this wing's workout room. It was there she found Xander, pounding away on a punching bag in his pajamas.
"Xand? What are you doing up?"
Her friend stopped and glanced up at the clock on the wall before facing her. "I could ask you the same thing."
"I heard the mental distress call," she answered wryly. "What's going on?"
Xander shrugged and went to the couch in the corner to slouch onto it. Buffy followed him and sat close, studying him for any clue about what was bothering him. Of course, it could just be residual annoyance about the whole Dracula redux thing, but she had the feeling it was something else.
"Xander?" she asked gently.
He looked away. "Giles called about half an hour ago. Cordelia's gone."
Buffy's eyebrows went up, and she wasn't sure if she'd heard that right. "Gone?"
"Yeah, Buffy; she's dead. She never came out of the coma, and she died."
She blinked once or twice. "Oh my god." She rested a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "Are you okay?"
He shrugged. "Giles asked the same question and I didn't really know how to answer him, either."
"He said that too."
Buffy looked at him for a moment. "Is there anything I can do?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so. Thanks."
She nodded slowly and stood, but then she grabbed his hands and pulled him up. "Come on. Let's get you out of this stuffy room."
"Buff..." he protested. But he came with her. She found the exit to the nearest balcony and tugged him out into the winter Scotland night. The sky was clear and the air crisp and she brought him to the edge and rested his hands on the cool stones and nudged him to look up at the stars.
"What do you see?" she asked.
Xander looked at her strangely, and then looked back up. "A bunch of balls of really hot gas hanging around millions of light years away. Yes, I actually paid a little bit of attention in school—though high school kinda seems like forever ago now."
"Another life," Buffy agreed. "But those stars were there then, and they're there now. Everyone on earth is alive to look at them, and that's thanks to us more times than one. And it's thanks to Cordelia, and Anya, and Tara, and Kendra, and everyone else we've lost over the years."
He looked at her. "I know that. That's what I tried to tell myself right after Giles called. It didn't really help. Or...not enough. I'm tired of burying people, Buffy—even if I'm not actually there to bury them."
"Me too. But we're fighting evil here, Xander. It's not going to stop just because we want it to."
"Yeah, I figured that one out too," he answered bitterly.
Buffy studied him again, until something dawned on her. "You loved her, didn't you? I know it was a long time ago, before Anya even, but...you did."
His hands bunched into loose fists on the stone, and he didn't look at her. "I think I did. She tried to hide it even when we were dating, but I think she loved me too. I didn't realize until later that that was why she went into such a meltdown over the catching-me-and-Willow-kissing-thing. Stupid me, huh? I mean I was so stupid, but if I'd never broken up with Cordelia I'd never have been with Anya, so I can't exactly say I regret it, but...but god, I was so unfair to her. I was so stupid."
Buffy slipped an arm around his shoulders. "You're still stupid. We're all stupid. You're just less stupid now. You did grow up, you know."
He smiled weakly. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, anyway."
"Any time," she smiled back.
Both of them were quiet for a long moment, just looking up. "So...what about you?" Xander asked eventually.
"What about me?"
"I don't want how you think you gotta act because I'm upset; I wanna know how much this really phases you. Or does it?"
Buffy opened her mouth but stopped before she could say anything, and thought. "It was Cordelia," she said finally. "I mean we were never the best of friends and more often than not I would rather have just kicked her ass, but we had our moments," she shrugged. "I kind of miss her too. I'm sad that she's really gone for good."
"No fibbing," she nodded. Xander smiled again and she hugged him. He hugged her back. "So you gonna be okay?" she asked when she pulled back.
"I guess," he sighed.
"Good," Buffy nodded. "Besides, I'm sure the kick-butt, save-the-world chick I sometimes hate to admit Cordelia Chase turned into would want you to—be okay, I mean."
Xander chuckled, and she was satisfied that she'd done her job in kick-starting the cheering up process. They stood in comfortable silence after that, leaning on the edge of the balcony and absently watching the stars, and after a little while she heard Xander whisper something beside her.