Title: Rooks and Pawns
Category: Post Season 4 – Angst, Humor
Spoilers: Just everything so far!
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Anywhere, but please let me know, k?
Notes: This is my version of Loveangel’s Challenge. For those who want to read the fic without preconceptions, I’ll put challenge at the end of the fic.
Here comes the sun. And more sun. And then…whadayaknow…more sun. It’s a regular sunutopia if you like that sort of thing. And he really thought he would. I mean what could be wrong with the sun? Except for the cancer and flame factor, it was pretty…and bright. Yeah, buddy. That’s bright by a factor of infinity.
Then why did it feel so wrong? Well…the fact that he was a vampire might have been a factor. Maybe he just needed to adjust. But how do you adjust vampire night vision? It’s just how the eyes work, and you can’t trade them in for a new set, right? Oh, God. I’m going to have to wear sunglasses inside the building. Everyone will think I’m trying to be cool. I hate people trying to be cool.
“Why don’t you close the shades? You’re gonna give yourself crow’s feet if you keep squintin’ like that.”
Fred stood in the doorway, fidgeting with her hands in front of her, waiting for the sign from Angel to enter. She wasn’t sure how all this worked now. Could she just pop in anytime she wanted or did she have to make an appointment? It was all a little too much like dropping out of Pylea again except without all the swirly suction affects.
Angel swiveled around in his chair so he could face her without craning his neck and grinned. That was the signal. She half ran and half tripped her way into Angel’s office and plopped into the comfy chair across from him. Instantly she thought maybe plopping wasn’t proper etiquette for this fancy place, and she sat up straight with embarrassment beginning to burn her cheeks.
“I was just trying to decide if the view was…all…ya know… So! How you doing, Fred? Getting settled in your new offices?”
He really wanted to be positive about all this, at least in front of the others. He was the one who got them into this after all. It wouldn’t be good for the great leader to have any doubts (even if he had about a gazillion of them and wanted to run like hell out of there every second of every day so far). But he’d made a deal he couldn’t go back on. Not if he wanted to keep Connor safe and bring Cordy back. All that damn blood oath crap was getting really old.
Fred grinned and started yammerin’. “Oh, it’s great. They’re great. You know I’ve got three computers just for me and a Cray that’s just about the most amazingly fast number crunching machine ever made. I mean they don’t even have one of these at the Pentagon for Pete’s sake. And talk about state-of-the-art lab equipment. I mean, WOW! I didn’t know half this stuff even existed. And heck half of it doesn’t exist, in this dimension I mean. And the people here are really nice which isn’t what I expected. Being it’s Wolfram & Hart evil place and all. And, Angel, when are we going to leave?”
Angel loved that about Fred. The way she could just do a 180 without taking a breath. It always reminded him of…
The light was funky. Fluorescent…yuck. Why couldn’t there be windows? I may be comatose, but I’m not dead yet. Everything in the room was gray. Even the people were gray. Not a speck of warmth to be found in any corner of this tomb except on her fingers and toes. Even the golden highlights that used to streak her warm, dark chocolate hair looked like ash here.
But her digits were alive. Alive with Really Red nail polish. That was the flavor this week. Last week was Perfectly Pink and the week before was Passionate Plum. At least they realized her color palette was not cool spectrum friendly. Lying there with Baby Puke Blue would have been more than she could take. She might have actually had to sit up and protest that. Assuming she could. She really thought maybe she could sit up any minute now and she actually tried occasionally. Each time she was sure she had moved even though it felt like her body was being held down by a wrecking ball.
The weird thing was how she knew everything going on in the room and the color of her nails and yet she felt like she was inside her body. But how could she be if she could see all these things without opening her eyes? She definitely wasn’t floating around. Not like she had been up there. And she wasn’t all astral projectiony like when she became part demon. No, she was inside but somehow outside her body. And that was just freakin’ weird. To be able to feel Angel’s hands around her hand and yet seeing him do it from above, behind, in front and below all at once was just too psychedelic sixties for her tastes. It gave her a headache every time.
But it was worth it. The visits from Angel and the rest were everything to her. Although the visits from Fred were especially brain pain producing considering all the stream of consciousness babble she loved to spew. It was bad enough to listen to it awake, but to see her arms flailing and head wobbling from every angle at once was like being in the Fun House and on the Scrambler at the same time. But please don’t stop coming, Fred. I can live with it, I promise. When is Angel coming back?
“Angel. Angel?” Fred had been trying for at lease ten seconds to bring him back from lala land. He just stared at her. Well he was actually staring through her even though she knew logically that wasn’t possible. But it sure felt like it. And it had felt like it a lot lately. I wonder where he goes when he does that? And I wonder if it’s always the same place?
Angel finally focused on the woman in front of him instead of the one ten floors below and who knows how many planes away. “Huh? What? I’m sorry, what were you saying, Fred?”
“I was just… Oh, it was nothing. Not really. I’ll just get out of your way so you can get back to being, ya know, the head guy and all and doing what you do now. ‘Cause I’m sure you’re really busy. I mean we all are, right? Busy, busy, busy…” Fred slowly backed her way toward the exit, which seemed incredibly far away right about now.
“Fred, stop. I heard you. I’m sorry. I wasn’t ignoring you. You asked when we were going to leave here, didn’t you?”
Fred stopped inching out and decided her feet needed a good looking over right about now. She couldn’t believe she’d actually said that about leaving. She was sure none of them wanted to leave but her, and she hated being the weak one all the time. But she just couldn’t take all the loneliness.
“Well, yeah, I did. But it’s not that I’m ungrateful or anything. It’s just that we never see each other anymore. You guys are my best friends and, well…family…and it’s not like it used to be. We used to actually be with each other all the time and now we barely talk. It’s so lonely here.”
Angel got up and crossed around the desk to Fred. He put his hands on her arms and tried to look in her downcast eyes. “Fred, I know what you’re saying. I feel that way, too. I miss you, Wes, Gunn, Lorne and…everybody. But it just isn’t practical. Wes needs to be near all his reference books, you need to be where all the scientific stuff is going on, Gunn needs…well, to be honest I’m not sure what Gunn needs anymore.”
“Ya see? That’s what I’m talkin’ about. We don’t even know what we’re doin’ anymore. I mean I know what I’m doin’, which isn’t much as far as helpin’ the helpless goes, and we both know what Cordy would say…” Fred stopped short when she saw the flash of pain shoot through Angel’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, Angel. I just miss everybody so much.” She looked into his blank, pain-filled eyes and the dam burst. With tears streaming, she put her hand on his cheek and said the one thing she knew they both were thinking. “I miss her, too.”
Fred’s touch and words brought Angel back to the moment. He saw her tears and heard her words, but he couldn’t feel any of it any more. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t cry. He couldn’t speak. He was truly dead.
Angel’s stillness frightened her. His cheek suddenly felt ice cold and it burned her. She pulled her hand away from his face and her body from his grip.
“Angel? Angel.” Nothing. No reaction. He seemed…gone. He’s so lost. How can he save Cordy or us if he can’t save himself? She slowly backed away toward the door. He stayed seated on the edge of his desk apparently not even realizing she was leaving. Fred was sure if the world was ending right now, he would welcome it.
Gunn was a man in love. The weapons lining the walls of his office were the most interesting and deadly he’d ever seen before. How could these guys NOT have put our piddly asses down with this kinda serious mojo? What were they waitin’ for? “Glad I’m dungeon master now.” He smiled at the thought of being his own master. It was about time. Following the undead Elvis had put a serious grease spot on his leadership shroud, and it was time to take that baby to the dry cleaners. A buzzing interrupted his lovely daydreaming and a soothing, alto voice said, “Mr. Gunn, Mr. Wyndam-Price is here to see you.”
“Thank you, Alisha. Send him in.” Gunn stayed seated to greet Wes. Fuck the people who think standing is the power position. Staying seated when others stand about you takes the most courage. And it’s a helluva lot more comfortable.
Wesley entered and immediately understood. He had requested a meeting with Gunn and Gunn had said he was too busy to come to his office. So Wes had agreed to meet in Gunn’s. What struck Wesley immediately was the amount of business Gunn was actually not doing.
And to stay seated when he entered was the human equivalent of a lion not giving a field mouse the respect to even notice it in the vicinity much less bother to pounce. Of course all the phallic-shaped weapons adorning the walls and the ones behind Gunn’s head strangely arranged in an apparent crown were just more signs that Wesley had been out maneuvered and outwitted by Gunn. What apocalypse was this? Five? Or was it six?
In the instant it took Wesley to absorb all the layers of this meeting, Gunn was absorbing something, too. The look on Wesley’s pale, English face. Winning felt so good and felt so right on his shoulders. The smile was just too good not to share. “Wes! Glad you could drop by. How do you like the digs?”
“Very impressive. It suits you. Did you decorate it yourself?” Wesley sidled slowly around the room pretending to inspect the weapons while actually trying to figure out a way to turn this fiasco to his advantage.
“No way, man. They asked me my birth date and what time I was born, and then wham-bam, thank you Martha Big Dawg Stewart ma’am! I think they captured my inner whoop ass, don’t you?” Gunn took the opportunity to rise and swagger on the ‘whoop ass’ part. Good blocking was just as important as a good line.
Wesley watched the Gunn show and decided that, indeed, he got the ‘ass’ part right. “Yes, I see. I think you’re absolutely right. It’s truly phenomenal how well matched the décor is to your…um…chart, is it? And here I thought astrology was sheer nonsense when, in actuality, it’s an underutilized resource for interior design. So glad we uncovered that deep, dark Wolfram & Hart secret.”
Gunn was about to take the nearest torture device off the wall and test it out on Mr. Pomp-ass, but decided he’d let the alien have his fun. But it would certainly be the last time. He gritted his teeth and stood just a little taller so he could stare down at Wes. “So what did you need to see me about? I’ve got to get back to what I was doing.”
You mean playing with yourself while you fantasize about where you’re going to stick all these lovely weapons? Wesley smiled at the thought that Gunn couldn’t see the homoerotic shrine this was and knew one day he’d surely have to bring it to his attention. But today wasn’t that day. “Yes, well. It seems there’s been a change in Cordelia’s condition and I thought we should discuss it before mentioning it to Angel.”
“Okay, but wouldn’t they tell Angel first if there was any news about Cordy?” Gunn was totally not interested in Queen Coma. As far as he was concerned, she was still the enemy even if she was possessed. Whatever, man. You butcher a whole family with your hands, you’re evil. No excuses. Not anymore.
“I convinced the doctors and all the other paranormal specialists working on her case that Angel was just too close to matters to be a good judge of what was in Cordy’s best interest. So they’ve been reporting to me any important changes so that we can, as a group, decide what is or is not the best course of action to take.”
“So why is this the first I’ve heard of anything?” Pretending to be interested was so hard considering all the hunting and fighting he was aching to do.
“This is the first change that has required any discussion. It seems Cordelia’s brain functions have been deteriorating steadily. Presently her condition is such that it seems impossible for her to ever awake and function normally again. None of the paranormal doctors have been able to locate a spirit, essence or even a smattering of aura. For all intents and purposes it appears Cordelia is gone, and we need to decide if it’s time for us to let her go.”
“My vote is sayonara, baby,” Gunn said in a matter-of-fact, flat tone that he instantly regretted. No use letting his true feelings out of the bag so soon. “I mean, it’s not right keeping her all hooked up like a robot if she’s not coming back. It’s cruel, right?”
While not totally surprised by Gunn’s opinion, the manner in which he delivered it was a bit shocking to Wesley. Gunn was certainly enjoying all the perks that working at Wolfram & Hart engendered, but they were obviously affecting him more than Wesley had imagined. Perhaps it was time to discuss these changes with Angel…assuming Angel still cared. It was hard to tell anymore.
“Well, alright then. I imagine a few of the others will feel the same way. But we’re going to have to come to a consensus before we talk to Angel. We’ll need to present a united, logical front to Angel if we expect to convince him to…uh…”
“Pull the plug? Yeah, I get that. Sorry to rush you off, Wes, but I’ve got a lot of helping the helpless stuff to do, and I’m sure you’ve got to talk to the others and start building that front and all.” Gunn was pushing Wes out the door as he spoke and finally got him past the threshold as he said, “So just send me a memo when you’re ready to, ya know, confront Angel and convince him to kill his girlfriend.” Close door. Wipe hands of problem. Smile with wicked glee. Bow. End scene.
” ‘Into the woods, And down the dell, The path is straight, I know it well. Into the woods, And who can tell, What’s waiting on the journey?’ ” Lorne was singing his little Sondheim-lovin’ heart out and Cordelia was smiling and tapping her feet right along with him. Well, in theory, at least.
The tall, green-faced, red-horned demon was one helluva Broadway diva, and he was going to do the whole damn show for Cordy. Sure she wasn’t big with the applause, but he knew no matter what those other wannabe aura readers said, that on some level she was here and having a great time and that’s all that mattered.
“Sing it girls,” Lorne encouraged the rest of the cast whom he’d recruited from the Entertainment Division’s least tone-deaf lawyers and secretarial pool. He rehearsed them mercilessly for the past month and he was going to make damned sure they performed like the opening night that it was. No second-night downers for this group. He had promised them all personal readings and, secretly, told each one that he/she would be the only one to know the destiny of all the rest.
Sneaky little demon, huh? Playing on their evil dreams to get what he wanted. How Wolfram & Hart of me, huh? Who knew? But it was all for the greater good, and who cared if some gnarly lawyers and staff were betrayed by their boss? All in a day’s work at W&H. It wasn’t like his ethics were being compromised. These people were evil and they deserved worse.
Although right now they were kind of a fun group. The last month of heel-toe-kicking had been tons o’ fun and a lot more entertaining than answering phones or facing down a mucous demon. As much as he missed ol’ leather pants and the gang, he had to admit that this was much more his highball glass of Seabreeze with a Hot Toddy chaser to boot. Oops. That was his cue.
” ‘ Because the baker had lost his mother and father in a baking accident–well, at least that is what he believed–he was eager to have a family of his own, and concerned that all efforts until now had failed.’ ” Knock on the door. ” ‘Who might that be?’ “
The show must go on, and on it was going when Angel entered the room and immediately brought down the house with his all-gloom, all-the-time one-man festival. Lorne caught a glimpse of the dark prince out of the corner of one eye and decided to go for the big finish rather than let Angel ruin the number. But once it was over, Lorne gave the kids the no-go signal and the music died.
“Hey, crumb cakes. I didn’t know you’d be visiting today. We were just giving the Princess our best Garland and Kelly version of Summer Stock. You know. ‘Hey, let’s put on a show in the barn’ kinda thing?” Angel just stared into red eyes and those eyes could see not an ounce of recognition. “Okay then. We’ll just pack up the tap shoes and come back when you’re not so much…ya know…here. Let’s go kids. Back to the never-ending grind that is Entertainment law.”
Lorne hustled the disappointed lawyers out and the rest of the medical staff departed as well. That was standard procedure now when Angel visited. Before he left, Lorne turned back to Cordy to say good-bye. “That was just a tease, hon. We’ll knock your socks off tomorrow. You won’t believe how well I can pull off the Witch and Cinderella at the same time. It will blow your mind!” Lorne left on that note and closed the door behind him.
Angel stood there stunned by that last comment. How tacky can you get Lorne? Telling a woman with no mind that you’ll blow out what’s left? He sighed at the perceived insult and turned to face Cordelia.
She was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Even though her skin had lost the bronze glow that somehow enveloped her year-round without seemingly stepping one foot in the sun. And her hair was a little less silky and more cottony now. Note to self. Make sure these idiots use the right shampoo and conditioner and bring in a tanning bed. She can’t wake up and not be perfect. But even with these flaws, she still shone brighter than any star in the sky, night or day.
He grabbed his chair and brought it to her bedside. Before he sat, he stood over her and performed his ritual. He stared down at her face and lightly brushed her cheek with the back of his fingers. “Hi Cordy. I’m here.”
Angel. I know. I always know. Your touch always feels warm to me. Why is that?
He softly drew the back of his hand across her jaw and chin and watched her face keenly. In his favorite dream, at this point he would see her smile and watch that smile exude out of every pore of her body. That’s all he wanted. Then he could die. Knowing she was alive and happy and that Connor was the same was all he wanted and needed now. Nothing else would ever mean as much. Not even the long-forgotten shanshu.
Of course, he could live for another thousand years if she would just twitch. She hadn’t moved at all in so long. At first there had been some eye movement and an occasional involuntary finger point, but the last was weeks ago. Hope was something he’d forgotten even existed except when he was in this room. Then it was all there was.
“Cordelia, I thought we’d take a look at the latest GQ today. I know you prefer women’s fashions, but I remember how you like to insult my clothes, so I figured maybe you could give me some advice on what to pick up for Fall.” He reluctantly pulled back his hand, sat next to the bed, and opened the magazine.
Angel, you dumbass. I could smack you. Fall wardrobe? Pfft! Like you have a Spring, Summer and Winter one? You have one “look” and it’s multi-seasonal. Oh, look! That shirt’s nice.
“Yeah, I like that one, too.”
Lorne was looking at Wes’s gray jacquard vest when he said that, but he was referring to his hair-brain idea.
“Are you insane?” Fred was pacing in front of Wes’s desk like a caged animal. “I mean I’d understand if you are, because God knows I’ve gotten a little more cave-girl retro loopy myself since the whole Wolfram & Hart worship started, but even so, you can’t tell Angel to kill Cordy. He’d kill you, me, Lorne and anyone in this building who tried to hurt her. You know that. What are you thinking? I know she may look dead, and she hasn’t moved in weeks and all the doctors say there’s no hope but, really, Wes, are you insane?”
“Fred, calm down. Angel will not kill us. Of that I’m…uh…relatively sure.” Wes was frankly getting a bit nauseous watching Fred’s nervous jaunt around his office and had the most fervent desire for her to land someplace immobile. When she didn’t, he decided instead to look at Lorne languishing in his Chippendale Gentleman’s chair getting fingernail clippings on the cushion. Oh, yes. That’s better.
“He will be understandably upset. We all are. But eventually he will come to terms with the fact that Cordelia has left this mortal coil and has moved on. He will do what is right for her. That’s what he always does. Eventually. It will just be more difficult for him to do in this case.”
“Well, you may trust in Angel puss’s compassionate nature, but I have seen nary a glimpse of that recently. His aura is blinding these crimson peepers with it’s ‘don’t come near me or I’ll eat you’ vibe. Which, in layman’s terms means, you’re idea blows harder than a wind called Mariah. Besides, my English muffin, my super antennae are picking up some freaky frequencies when I’m in that room.” Lorne got up and brushed all remaining nail chips off his purple slacks onto Wes’s 200-year-old Persian rug and was exiting stage right.
Wes had heard this before and let out an exasperated sigh. “Lorne, I have read the reports from all the psychics, mystics, witchdoctors, faith healers, and every known medical specialist known to several dimensions and not one of them can confirm what you say you sense about Cordy.”
“And how many of those specialists are moi? How many of them know Cordy like I do? How many of them are hard wired to the Powers that Bounce signals off my ass like sleeping beauty and me? Okay, that didn’t sound quite right.”
Fred took up the argument. “I trust Lorne. Maybe the rest of you have decided that we can’t fix this, but I just don’t think the PTBs would abandon us like that. At least not Cordy. Not with all she gave up for them.”
“Fred, we’ve seen no evidence that the Powers still have any connection with Cordy. And Lorne, you haven’t been able to state what it is you think you sense. Is whatever it is even her or is it some random spirit? No. I’m sorry, but everything and everyone except Lorne believes Cordelia is already dead. And I think it’s time we all accept it and let her rest in peace.”
Lorne and Fred just stared at their friend, brother and former boss not believing he was actually giving up. “Come on my little rebel yell. Let’s find the closest watering hole and drown our sorrows with Cuervo and lime juice up to our tear-soaked peepers.”
“I’m sorry, Wes. I know I’m a scientist and I’m supposed to trust all the hard evidence, but this isn’t science. This is love and hope, and I haven’t lost those yet.” Fred gave Wes a timid smile, turned and followed Lorne from the office.
“Well. It seems it’s up to me.” And Gunn? How odd and disturbing. The two who’ve known Angel and Cordelia the longest are the two most willing to kill her. No, not kill her. Set her and Angel free.
There was a slight breeze by Angel’s ear. His tongue was hanging out and his thumb was on its way to meet it when the motion stopped midair. It took a second to register. Was that? And then another second to shake it off. No. Just wishful thinking. And a third second to come back around to the first second. Maybe it was!
Angel dropped the magazine as he stood and cupped Cordy’s face in his hands and stared a hole through her closed eyelids. “Cordy! I heard you, didn’t I? You said ‘that shirt’s nice,’ didn’t you? Please tell me I’m not imagining it. Cordy can you hear me? Say something!”
“Angel? You heard me? Oh, my God. Angel!! I’m here. Really I am. I feel you. I see you. Please, please…”
But he couldn’t hear her because of the vision. She felt like a tornado had ripped her from her body, from Angel’s touch, from the world itself. She was tumbling and then soaring and swirling, and then being sucked into a vortex. And all the while her other senses were consumed with screams, howls, the stench of utter terror, the burning eyes, the gnarled claws, and more blood than one small child’s body could possibly hold. And then there was calm. No substance or floating. Nothing to weigh her down and nothing to pull her up. Just a sense of being and in that feeling came the knowledge. I can go home.
Fala was the picture of the dream child. Big almond, crystal blue eyes; long, silky jet-black hair; and skin the color of cinnamon and sugar. She was of no race and all races and possessed the wisdom to go with her genetics. Well beyond her meager 8 years.
Playing in her room with her age-appropriate learning toy in her small house on Bellingham Drive, just off Chandler, in Valley Village no one would ever imagine the horror that was coming for her. Except for her. She knew but she wasn’t afraid.
The Naluso was even now slithering its way toward her, leaving a trail of vile hatred and vengeance for any and all to follow. It didn’t care. Nothing of this earth could stop it so why be cautious. Only the child mattered. The child who sees life and gives it must die. She must be eliminated now, before it is too late. Eviscerating and bleeding a small child was Nasulo’s reason for being, and it was a being that enjoyed its work. If it could, it would be whistling right now.
Fala smiled and correctly spelled ‘forgiveness’ when prompted by the toy.
Angel stared at her motionless form for what seemed like an eternity. He was positive he’d heard her voice, at least in his head. But now there was nothing…again. “Okay. You seemed motivated with the fashion magazine idea, let’s give that a try again.” He scooped the crumpled journal off the floor and quickly fanned the pages until he found something interesting.
“Look, Cordy. Closed-toe Birkenstocks. New for Fall. ‘For the man who insists on stylish comfort.’ Oh! They even come in pumpkin! Perfect. Whadayathink?” He flashed her his goofiest smile and shoved the disgusting image in front of her thankfully closed eyes. “C’mon, c’mon. I know you want to say something. It’s just killing you. C’mon!”
It wasn’t as if she had to see Angel (or those disgusting shoes) or even hear him to know he was there. All she needed to do was feel him…his strength, his sadness, his desperation, his heavy burden of guilt…to recognize him across eternity. He was unique and her soul knew him without question. Just as she realized she would know the rest of her family and that she could be with any or all of them at once in an instant.
But she also knew her limitations as a disembodied soul. Not even Lorne with his THX, sensorama vibe detector would be able to communicate with her. It wasn’t allowed. “Geez, you can’t even escape rules in the netherworld. Who knew that was the answer to ‘why am I here?’ Because the rules say so dumbass.”
So as much as she wanted to tell Angel how tragic those earth-mother shoes were and even more so how tragic he was for even suggesting them, she knew he wouldn’t hear her. No, he wasn’t the one she needed right now, but she had no doubt which member of her family she did need.
She was home. The one place she was always happy. Well, except for that one time with the burning arms and the puss-filled boilalicious face. Oh, and the demon spawn impregnation debacle. But other than that…well there was the infamous psycho Faith eye poke and who could forget the evil bitch mother ghost from hell. Okay, so maybe this wasn’t ladada perfection, but it was home dammit. And, most importantly, it was home for Dennis. Sweet, kind, loufah-loving Dennis. She hoped he wouldn’t be too mad at her for disappearing and staying away for so long. But as a ghost and another entity similar to her in the netherworld, he was the only one of her family she could communicate with. And she desperately needed to communicate this vision. It was the key to everything…the key to life.
“Hi, honey. I’m home. What’s for dinner?” A little levity to break the non-corporeal ice couldn’t hurt.
“Deeennnnisssss. Yoohoo. I’m ready for my bath.” Nothing. No cold draft, no pictures being thrown. Humph.
The apartment was different. The new occupant didn’t have the taste she did, but it was livable in a total not Cordelia way, but who was she to judge. Pfft. If she could only move stuff around, she’d show this interloper how to decorate. Oh, God. What if they exorcised Dennis? No, they hadn’t. She knew Dennis was here. He just wasn’t answering her.
“Okay. I know I’ve been gone for a long time, but you know I would never have left you if I had a choice? Well, I did have a choice, but I didn’t have time to tell you about it. It all happened so fast. Dennis, honey. I’m sorry. I’ve really missed you. Please forgive me. I really need you right now.”
First there was a warmth, then a quiet whimper and then he was around her and through her. Dennis the being. Phantom Dennis was crying and hugging her. She hadn’t felt this loved in a very long time. Maybe never. Maybe humans just weren’t capable of it with all the distractions of living. Pure love was indescribable.
“Dennis, sweetie, I’m so glad you forgive me and I’m just as glad to see…er…feel you, too. But I need you to do something for me. And it’s pretty urgent.”
“Cordelia. It’s really you. Why did you leave? Are you home to stay? Please don’t leave again. I promise I’ll be good, if you just stay.”
“Whoa, slow down Dennis. I don’t have time to answer all your questions right now. Wow, this is weird. We’re actually talking to each other. I mean I can hear you. Cool.”
“I’ve always heard you.”
“Yeah, I figured by the way you always did what I asked, but I could never hear you before. You have a really nice voice, Dennis.”
“Thanks. I used to sing with an orchestra before Mother… Would you like me to sing something for you? How about “She’s Funny that Way” or…”
“Really, Dennis, I’d love to hear you sing later. Right now I’m kind of in a hurry. There’s this little girl I’ve got to save and we don’t have a lot of time.”