Soulripper 16

(Dedication: To Amber Benson, for over two years of being by favorite character on that show. This part and story is dedicated to her for Amber’s oftentimes underrated, under appreciated, but always remarkable work. (Liam begins to sob uncontrollably). They (Hits) killed (head) my (on) babydoll (desk)! Those bastards!)

Part 16: Epilogue

Three Days Later 

They had been allowed to move back into the Hyperion the previous day. The AI gang all breathed a sigh of relief as they entered the spacious lobby. It was like coming home.

Near the door sat the bags of Tara and Willow. Buffy and Xander would be coming soon to take them back home. Their job in LA was done, although both were sad to leave. It was a change to get away from the squabbling of the Scoobies, and work with the AI gang. Both were curious how the aftermath of this ordeal would turn out.

Cordelia stepped gracefully down the Hyperion stairs. Dressed in faded jeans and white t-shirt, the Seer had bandages wrapped around both of her wrists. Willow was amazed that this was the same Cordelia Chase she knew in High School. For a girl that Willow could once barely stand, she now held Cordelia in the same esteem as she did the Slayer.

“Are you sure that you won’t stay longer?” Cordelia asked them. “Now that everything’s been settled, it’d be a great chance to relax in the big city. We could grab Fred and have a girl’s day out at Disneyland or something.” Cordy was very sad to see the pair go. She owed them so much, but she knew she had little to offer in return.

“No,” Willow said kindly. “We really should be going. We’ve missed enough classes as it is. Besides, Buffy and Xander are already on their way. Should be here any moment.”

“Thank you for offering though,” Tara added. She respected Cordelia a great deal. She admired the love and devotion she showed towards Angel. Plus, Tara thought with a grin, she’s kind of cute.

The three stood in silence for a few moments before Cordelia began. “I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you helping us. You came down here even though you had nothing at stake in this. You risked your lives to save Angel and myself. I wish I had something more to offer you both, but all I can say is Thank You.”

Tara and Willow just smiled back. They had no idea how to respond. ‘No problem’ or ‘Que nada’ just didn’t seem appropriate.

“But I want you both to know,” Cordelia said her voice becoming thick with emotion, “that if you two ever need anything, you can always come here. The door is always open.” Cordelia laughed at that. “Well, except for whenever we’re surrounded by Lilliad Demons or Vampire Cult. Then that sucker is barricaded.”

“So,” Tara began, “are you going to tell Angel that you love him? You know, in the more than platonic, best friend kinda way?”

Willow looked at her ex-girlfriend in surprise. What the hell was she talking about? Cordelia however, didn’t skip a beat.

“I don’t know. I don’t think now is really the time. So much has happened lately, starting with Connor and Wesley. And what the hell would I do about Groo?”

“Dump him,” Tara said simply. “I mean, he’s probably a real nice guy. A little on the slow side though. But as for timing, maybe it’s the best time to tell him. It might just give him the incentive he needs to keep going.”

Cordelia considered the words for a minute. “Maybe,” she shrugged. “Life is a bitch.”

Although she wasn’t real sure about the whole Cordelia/Angel love thing, Willow joined the conversation. “So where is Angel? Isn’t he going to come say goodbye?”

“Angel’s still in his room. He was asleep when I checked. But he’s still brooding over everything. I think he’s getting better,” Cordelia said honestly. “I’ve gotten him to smile a couple times. I even got him to chuckle once. Hopefully he’ll be back to being his normal dorky self soon.”

Willow looked at the Seer dubiously. “Dorky self? Are we both talking about Angel?”

“Yeah, I always heard he was kind of quiet,” Tara added.

“Pfft! That boy is the biggest dork you’ve ever met. He actually thinks Urkel is cool.”

Tara and Willow both laughed at that. So the vampire had layers. In Sunnydale, Willow could probably count the times she saw Angel smile on one hand. Even then, it was always around Buffy, and it always contained a tinge of sadness to it. But from the way Cordelia made him sound, Angel had changed. He almost seemed human.

A car horn sounded from outside the Hyperion. “That must be Buffy and Xander,” Tara said. The girls grabbed their things, Cordelia grabbing a couple of duffle bags to help out. Opening the door, they found Xander and Buffy waiting in his car.

“Before you go, there’s one thing I have to ask, “ Cordelia began. She helped put the bags in the trunk as the warm California sun shined down on them. “What the hell happened to Diaz?”

Willow grinned wickedly, causing Cordelia to break out smiling herself. “What?” the Seer asked.

“I altered his visas,” Willow said. “Then I entered the INS database and put out an alert that he’s in the country illegally. He’ll probably be held a few days, questioned to make sure he’s not doing anything dirty, then they would normally deport him after that.”

“Normally?”

“Well,” Willow said evilly, “he might be arraigned if there are any international warrants out for his arrest.”

Cordelia didn’t even want to know. “Don’t tell me! Plausible deniability! Remember when I said if you ever need anything? Well, if you get arrested, forget it. You can make your own bail, got it Red?” Willow grinned in response.

“So what about Wolfram and Hart?” Tara asked, changing the subject.

“They won’t be bothering us for a while, considering most of the Los Angeles hierarchy are dead. But right now we have to concentrate on healing. We’ll worry about Wolfram and Hart later.”

Cordelia then gave both girls hugs and bid them a safe trip. “Remember,” she told them, “the door is always open.”

Tara and Willow smiled their thanks and said goodbye. Climbing into the backseat of the car they waved farewell to Cordelia.

“So how did things go?” Buffy asked as they pulled away from the curb. “Cordelia didn’t irritate you too much, did she?”

“No,” Willow said. “I never thought I’d say it, but she’s a hell of a person.”

Xander looked at his best bud in the rearview mirror skeptically. “Right,” he drawled. “Now Willow, I am going to ask you to pass forward the wacky weed. You know that stuff isn’t good for you.”

“So what did you guys do?” Buffy asked.

“Research, surveillance, filing, nothing special,” Tara answered. Off Willow’s amused look she said softly, “Need to know information. They don’t.” The girls shared a knowing smile while the two in front just shrugged in confusion.

“Any interesting gossip? Thoughts, comments, suggestions?” Xander inquired.

“Not really,” Willow said.

“Just that Cordelia and Angel need to say ‘I Love You’ and get it over with,” Tara added.

The car came to a screeching halt. Buffy and Xander jerked around to look at her. “WHAT?!”

“Did I say that aloud?”

End. 

Liam

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