4: All the Rest of It
This was where it was all supposed to happen. This was where the helpless were supposed to come for aid. Well, that plan got shot to hell.
Angel leaned against the wall of what would have been the main office of Angel Investigations. He pulled the cigarette away from his lips and blew out. The smoke filled the room along with the soothing sounds of an Enya CD playing on his small boombox. Said soothing sounds only helped moderately.
He reached over to the side and grabbed a bottle of whiskey. This was helping a little bit more. Angel poured another shot and lifted it up. Mixed with the moonlight, the whiskey appeared to have an odd color that vaguely amused him.
“To you, Adele,” Angel saluted to the heavens and downed the liquid in a gulp. His hand again went to the bottle. As he poured again, Angel heard a light squeaking from the lobby. It certainly didn’t take long for her to find him.
Cordelia stood in the doorway simply watching him and listening to the soft strains of music. “Is this Watermark?” she asked. “I think I have this CD.”
“Actually, this is your CD. I snooped through your collection earlier. And you make fun of my music. At least I don’t own Bananarama.” Angel tossed back another shot.
For the first time all day Cordelia actually cracked a smile. It didn’t last long, but it was there. In the two days since Adele’s death, that was the first one he remembered seeing. He watched as she delicately limped over and sat down next to him.
The calf wound was still playing hell, but she was working through it. But Angel knew that injury was nothing compared to an injured soul.
“Well, I did buy that when I was five. Cut me some slack. At least I don’t listen to Jethro Tull.”
Angel actually managed a quick grin at that. He decided then to forego the shot glass and just drink straight from the bottle. Cordelia looked on as he took a long swill.
“Does that help?” Cordelia began cautiously. “To, you know, not hurt so much?”
Angel paused a moment and offered it to her. “While you’re conscious? No. But if you drink enough you don’t dream. At least that’s how it works for me.”
Cordelia gladly took the bottle. “That’s good enough for me. Dreams haven’t been kind lately.”
“I know the feeling.”
The bottle tipped up and Cordelia took a long drink. She promptly went into coughing fits. “Oh good God.” Angel took the bottle with a slight smile. “Oh, that takes some getting used to.”
“It is an acquired taste,” Angel admitted.
For several minutes they sat there sharing the bottle. Each time Cordelia’s coughs became less and less until she finally began to sip it with ease. The sounds of Enya kept floating into the air. The combination of music and alcohol almost made Cordelia feel better. Almost.
“I finally got through today,” she informed him.
“To her mother? What was her name? Aurelie?”
Cordelia nodded. “Yeah. When I called there was a few minutes of awkward communication. Seems that Aurelie doesn’t speak a word of English. Thankfully cousin Marcus was around whose understanding of the language was fair to moderate. With the English he knew and the French I understood, we were able to communicate to Aurelie…that her daughter was dead,” she finished weakly.
The bottle was jerked from his grasp and was promptly finished off. That liquor was going to knock her on her ass shortly. Oh well, Angel thought, she probably needed it.
“You shouldn’t have had to do that. I could have called, after all…”
“No. It’s ok,” Cordy assured. “She asked me to do it. Besides, you’re the one who’s been making all the arrangements and such. I needed to do something.” Angrily she threw the bottle against the far wall and watched it shatter.
“That looked therapeutic,” Angel observed.
“It kinda was.” Cordelia fixated on the ceiling fan for no reason whatsoever. It suddenly occurred to her she was damn near drunk. “So what are we doing with this place?”
“I called the realtor. Told her we weren’t interested anymore. So she canceled the paperwork and this place is going back on the market. Simple as that.”
“So no Angel Investigations.”
“No. No Angel Investigations.”
There was a long silence. “So what do we do now?”
Angel scratched his chin and felt around for his pack of cigarettes. “I don’t have any desire to stay here. In Sunnydale, I mean. I’m so tired of everything. I’m tired of this town. I’m tired of demons. I’m tired of this life.”
That statement cut through the fog of intoxication. “What do you have in mind?”
“I want to leave Sunnydale. Go someplace. Anyplace.”
“I’ve never been someplace,” Cordelia mused. “Can I come?”
“Sure. If you want.”
After a few minutes of silence, Angel suddenly realized that Cordelia was slumped against his shoulder. The poor girl couldn’t handle her alcohol. What was becoming a habit was he was around Cordelia, Angel managed a smile.
He readjusted his body slightly so that her head wasn’t at an awkward angle. Angel contented himself by breathing in her soft scent as he drifted off into sleep.
How the hell did he get here? Angel could swear that just a minute ago he was asleep in the office. So why the hell was he sitting on Cordelia’s couch watching a Jimmy Stewart movie?
“Because it’s a dream, numb-nuts.” Adele hopped over the back of the couch and plopped down next to him, a goody grin planted firmly on her face. After delivering a quick peck on his cheek, Adele amended her statement.
“Well, it’s not exactly a dream. More of a nexus really. You know, a psychic connection between the consciences of two souls. It just so happens that this one is being manifested in a dream state.”
Angel stared blankly at her. “So you’re…”
“Really here? Yup. For the time being anyway. The Powers normally don’t allow this, but they saw that you and Cor were feeling low. They decided I could talk to you for a short while and give you some vague answers.”
“Why not full and complete answers?”
“Mystery is the spice of life. Besides, there are some things you’re not quite ready to know.”
“You’ve never kept anything from me before.”
“Never before has so much been at stake. Believe me, Angel, if I could tell you I would. But please trust me when I saw that some things must unravel naturally.”
“Fine, some things unravel naturally. But what the hell does that have to do with me? It isn’t like I have a Seer anymore.”
“Oh, c’mon, Angel,” Adele admonished. “You’re old. I’m sure in your lifetime you’ve heard the saying that when one door closes another opens. Another door will open for you, Angel. You still have a purpose for the Powers. There are still people that need saving.”
Angel sighed. This running around in circles thing was making him dizzy. “So what should I do?”
“Well, I hear that you’re planning on leaving Sunnydale. That could be for the best.”
A wry smile played on Angel’s lips. “You just want me away from Buffy.”
Adele pretended to be offended. “I resent the implication. I have nothing but good feelings for the slut, er, Slayer. But seriously though, it isn’t a bad idea. Sunnydale really isn’t big enough for two superheroes. It may be time to search for greener pastures. But you know your work here isn’t finished yet, right?”
Adele nodded in agreement. “The Mayor. Faith indicated the old boy was planning something nasty. Might be appropriate to see this one through.”
“I know. But after that, I make no promises.”
“Fair enough.” She frowned at the TV. “Is this Spirit of St. Louis?” Angel nodded. “I don’t like this movie.”
“Change the channel.”
“I would, but it’s time to go.”
Angel figured she was going to say that. Didn’t make it any less difficult to hear. “I’m sorry I let you die,” he said softly.
Adele rolled her eyes and swatted his arm. “You didn’t let me die, you dork. My death occurred because it was my time. My purpose was served. I brought you to the Powers and convinced you that you had what it takes to be a Champion. I helped set the ball in motion. Now you and Cor need to take care of the rest.” She petted the back of his head and smiled.
“You know I love you two, right? You and Cor were the two greatest people I ever knew. The few weeks I had you both in my life made the whole thing worthwhile. Just remember that, okay?”
“Okay,” Angel whispered. “Doesn’t make this hurt any less, though.”
Adele smiled and motioned she wanted a hug. Angel found himself surprisingly eager to accommodate. They held the embrace for several moments, neither quite ready to let it end. But finally Adele sighed and pulled away.
“I’m sorry. It’s time to go.” The vampire pouted slightly as Adele trailed a finger along his cheek. “Remember, everything will be revealed to you in time. When one door closes another one will inevitably open. Keep the faith and keep your chin up. I don’t wanna have to find a way to go all corporeal just so I can kick your ass, okay?”
“Like you could kick my ass.”
“Watch it A-Dog.”
A small smile played at his lips. For a moment he almost forgot that he would never see Adele again. “I love you, Adele. I want to thank you for so much.”
“Don’t mention it. Now you need to wake up so you can go to my funeral.” Adele’s form started to dematerialize until she emitted a loud, “OH!” She rematerialized quickly. “I almost forgot. When my mom comes to pick up my belongings, make sure to hide that plastic box beneath my bed.”
“The one with the Hustlers and your lesbian gangbang videos?”
“Yeah, that one.”
“You can keep them if you want. Or Harry down at the Paradise Adult Boutique might buy them at a good price. But, uh, I don’t want mom to remember her daughter as a nympho box muncher, ya dig?”
“Okay.” A moment’s silence was followed by, “I’ll see you in the Great Beyond.”
And with one last smile, Adele was gone.
The rain continued to pour as the casket was slowly lowered into the ground. Cordelia, clad in her finest black dress, watched from underneath her umbrella as her friend disappeared into the ground. Her left hand fumbled around blindly until she found Angel’s right. She felt a slight reassurance when he squeezed lightly.
It was a small crowd that attended the service. They were vaguely surprised when Buffy and the rest of the gang actually accepted the invitations and appeared. From Giles, to Xander, to Willow and Oz, the Scoobies wore their most appropriate attire and paid their last respects, however heartfelt they actually were.
Besides the minister, two other figures were in attendance. One was a small petite redhead named Angie. The other was a tall athletic Hispanic woman named Rosalita. Angel and Cordy had met them both briefly before. Adele introduced the former as a friend and the latter as her “Spicy Mexican Treat”. Any further inquiries about the relationships were dropped.
“I’m glad that it is raining,” Cordelia said suddenly.
Angel quickly glanced over at the sad girl. “I know. I’m glad I could be here instead of waiting until nightfall.”
“I don’t mean that. Although, that is good. It wouldn’t be right if you weren’t here. But I meant that it would feel wrong if the sun was shining on a day like this, you know?” Cordelia hoped he understood what she meant. Angel did.
The minister declared the final words and wished everyone a safe trip home. Everyone then began to form in line and took a clump of dirt. Cordelia walked by the hole first and murmured a prayer she recalled from Bible school as a little girl.
Angel followed suit and whispered another prayer his mother taught him centuries before. He then reached into his coat and retrieved a single red rose that was soon dropped on the casket.
Slowly but surely, all those in attendance paid their last respects. Both Angel and Cordelia appreciated the gesture. None had truly known their friend, but all made a polite show of things. But it would be nicer if Xander weren’t picking his nose.
“Hey Cor,” Angel spoke as he touched her arm. “I need to talk with Buffy a second. Is that okay?”
Cordelia smiled slightly and nodded. She had a good idea what the conversation would be about. Handing the umbrella over, Cordy turned and hustled to the car and out of the downpour. Angel waited patiently.
Buffy was the last in the procession. After she murmured a few words and dropped a clump of dirt onto the casket, Angel nodded to the side asking her to follow. She did.
“I’m sorry about Adele,” she began softly. “If I had been paying more attention on that roof she might be alive now. I’m so…”
“That’s not your fault Buffy,” Angel interrupted. “I don’t blame you for her dying and neither would she. What I wanted to talk to you about is something else.” Buffy gazed up at him, her soft eyes shining behind her damp bangs.
Angel hated this. This was the woman he had loved. It was weird thinking he was about to say what he was going to say.
“I’m leaving Sunnydale.” Buffy looked as if she just witnessed an atomic bomb explosion. “After this business with the Mayor is settled, I’m leaving town.”
Silent tears fell down her cheeks. “Why? Why are you leaving? Is it me? I’m sorry for everything I said and did. I was angry and hurt, but don’t leave because I acted irrationally.”
“That’s not it,” Angel denied. “It’s just that…” He tried to figure the best way to say it. “My destiny isn’t in Sunnydale. I was meant to do something with this second chance I received. And with you here to guard the Hellmouth, I don’t have a place.”
“But where will you go?”
Angel shrugged. “I’ll know where I should be when I get there.”
Buffy was simply stunned. It felt like her entire life was running before her eyes. “We’re really over, aren’t we?” she finally asked. The pitiful tone of voice she used made him feel like a bastard.
“Buffy, I’m sorry. It’s just…” Buffy held up her hand to stop him.
“No. Don’t. Just let me process for a while.”
Angel acquiesced to her wishes. He murmured a quick farewell before winding his way through the headstones back to Cordelia’s car. Opening the passenger door, Angel folded up the umbrella and slid in. Out in the cemetery stood Buffy, but now, Giles was there beside her holding an umbrella to protect them from the rain.
“How’d she take it?” Cordy asked softly.
“With remarkable maturity.”
“Good.” Pause. “Now what?”
That was a good question. “We can get drunk and hope to forget,” Angel suggested.
Cordelia seemed keen to the idea. “Okay. But you’re buying.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The drive home was made in silence.