Title: "The Stars Speak"
Author: Pirate Turner
Rating: PG
Summary: She was taken from them far too soon.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, names, codenames, places, items, fandoms, titles, and etc. are always © & TM their respective owners, not the author, and are used without permission. Any and all original characters and everything else is © & TM the author and may not be reproduced in any way without the author's express, written permission. The author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: 244. That's the number of stories that were sitting on my hard drive collecting dust because I lack the energy and time to take care of them as I once did. My betaing pattern has always been to write, then type up if written on paper, the story, read it aloud to my beloved Jack and our children, editing as I go, and then finally format and post. Sadly, this part is simply taking too much of my time and energy, and my beloved Jack and I have too little time together in person these days to be able to keep up with my stories. So what to do? Give up writing? I actually considered it for a while, tried to make excuses to myself other than the large number of stories collecting cyber dust on my computer, as to why I lacked the energy and Muse to write new tales. And then, with the turn of the new year, I decided to stop running and face the problem. The problem is, quite frankly, that once one gets so bogged down in formatting and editing that writing is no longer a pleasure but the actual posting of those writings becomes a hassle and - egad! - work, it's time to cut something out, and that will never be the writing process. So, in short, yes, there will be mistakes in this tale. Yes, it's missing about half of the header information I usually include. But I wrote it for pleasure and am posting it in hopes of sharing that pleasure with others. Do with it as you will.

He liked to come up here when the others were away killing things and scheming on how to kill things. It was the only peaceful place in the entire Wolfram and Hart corporation, and Lorne loved this little, private sanctuary that the younger members had taken to calling Angel's Batcave. He suspected Angel would be mad if he knew he came here when it wasn't occupied, but Angelcakes could no more keep his Batcave to himself than Batman could keep his slew of Robins, Batgirls, and the one Alfred out of his.

Lorne smirked as he wondered idly if he would be more of a Robin or a Batgirl. He didn't fit either role, he decided quickly as he watched the stars filling the night sky, for he wasn't a fighter and they both were. Angel had plenty of Robins. Gunn, Wesley, and even Spike, to a certain extent, fit that bill, but Batgirl was supposed to be the right hand woman for both guys. She was to be there when they couldn't be, and to be there to support them and hold them up when they were determined to fight but could hardly swing a right hook.

There was only one woman, Lorne thought, who could fill that role for their Batman. Fred tried, bless her heart, but was no more of a fighter than he was. Angel's Batgirl hadn't been a fighter, either, not in the literal sense, but hers had been an old, warrioress soul. Lorne thought of her now, as he always did when he watched the stars in the one place in the whole city where the night sky could actually be seen for the neon lights.

He was a city boy. He loved the thrill and excitement of the city as much as Cordelia had, but he loved it here, too, with the cool, night wind caressing his green cheeks and the stars stretching out before him in an endless, dazzling array. He always thought of when he saw the stars for they sparkled like her smile always had.

She'd always been quick with those smiles, too, he thought with a sad smile and a pain in his heart. She'd always had a smile for him even in the darkest days for she was constantly trying to uplift the spirits of those around her. He'd heard the tales of the way she'd been in high school, but that had been high school. Some people left their school personalities behind, but Cordelia had and she had grown as beautiful and bright, both inside and out, as the stars Lorne now watched.

He remembered something some time about the deceased putting the stars in the sky. He knew well, too, the story from The Lion King about how the Kings of ancient past looked down on those they'd left behind from the stars; his smile grew as he remembered taking Cordy and Fred, and dragging Angel and the boys along, too, to see The Lion King on Broadway. That had been a great show, but he had lived a greater one.

He had seen love up close and personal. He had traveled from one dimension to find another kind of love than any he'd ever heard about waiting for him in this world. He had known a family. He had been a part of that family, and he grieved for it and its mother now. The team was not the family they had once been, and they all knew the reason why: Their heart had been taken.

Far too young, far too soon, the one woman who kept them all going, their Batgirl, their Seer, the woman without whom so many of their missions could not have been completed or even began, their Cordelia had been killed. And she had gone, he knew, to her death willingly under the premise that what was to happen to her would save the whole world. The girl who had once been considered the most selfish and spoiled brat to ever walk the halls of Sunnydale High or, Lorne suspected, from the stories he'd heard, any high school really, had become so giving, caring, and kind that she had given the ultimate sacrifice to save the world: She had given her life and, in so doing, left them all behind.

Angel's wasn't the only heart she broke by sacrificing her life and then returning trapped by Jasmine in her own body to wreck evil in the world and try to force everybody together under one omnipotent, but wicked, power. She had broken a piece inside of them all, and Lorne knew that no matter what they did, how many times they saved the world, or how hard they tried to pretend that everything was normal, or normal for them at least, none of them would ever be whole again without Cordelia's light shining and sparkling as only she could in their lives.

The Demon wiped tears from his red eyes and gazed back up at the stars. He always had liked those old stories, and he liked to pretend now that she was watching over them and that the stars were her smiles sent to try to cheer them. In truth, it only made him want to be with his friend more, but somewhere inside, some small part of him did receive a tiny bit of comfort to think that Cordelia was still watching them, still caring for them, and still wanting them to be together as a family.

But their family would no more grow back together than she would rise again from the dead. It took them too many years and too many deaths before they finally figured that out, and when they did, it was too late to save them. It was too late to save them, including himself, but there was one whom he still hoped to help as he labored on beneath them all, fighting the good fight no longer for a soul or to be redeemed but because he didn't know what else to do with himself and hoped that, in the battles, he could at least, for a little while, forget the pain that haunted his heart every night. He hoped to forget Cordelia, but Lorne knew he never would because love can not be forgotten.

"What are you doing?"

"What you should have done long ago, Brown Eyes," Lorne answers idly, knowing she'll try to stop him if she suspects what he's creating.

She rolls her eyes and grins playfully at him. "Like that hasn't been said, like, a million times before."

"Ye've got that right," Doyle agrees from beside her, grinning. From the look in the other Demon's Irish eyes, Lorne suspects he already knows what he's about. He winks at him. Doyle blushes, but his grin grows even as he looks away.

"This has been done a million times, too," points out Lorne. "You've been shining your lights since you died. Now it's my turn," he smiles, his red eyes twinkling mischievously, "and I'm going to let my little Demon light shine."

Cordelia laughs, and it sounds as musical as it ever did while they were alive. "Fine," she says, her hazel eyes shining like the stars. "Go ahead. Let it shine."

"Oh, you bet I will, honey." Lorne twists and throws the newest constellation out into the night sky. He hears gasps behind him but doesn't turn around.

"He's going to be mad," Fred says, and Lorne can hear her pout in her voice. "You made one without permission!"

"He's never mad," he confidently tells his friends, "where love is involved."

"Lorne!" Cordelia cries as a "C" explodes into the sky. "You didn't!" The "C" is joined by an "A". "Oh my God! You did!" she shrieks. "How could you?!"

"Wait for it," he instructs, avoiding her slapping hands. He grabs her wrists instead and holds her still.

"Look, Princess," Doyle says for him. "He's seein' it."

"I know, and it's just gonna upset him!"

"Why?" Lorne asks, knowing she won't have the answer. "You would have told him if you hadn't been killed. Now, at last, he'll at least know."

"But it doesn't matter!" she cries. "I'm dead!"

"Love always matters," Lorne says gently, and together, the growing group of their family in the clouds watches as Angel kills another evil Vampire and looks up to see the new stars shining in the sky. Cordelia cries as he cries.

Lorne feels her falling to pieces in his arms as Angel lowers his head. "Wait for it," he whispers knowingly, his red eyes shimmering with his own, unshed tears, and sure enough, as they look on, Angel raises his head again. He raises his head. He looks at the stars, and through his tears, he smiles. He smiles, because he knows, at last, that he is loved. She does love him, and that makes everything else worthwhile.

The End