Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Dennis, Angel/Cordelia, mild Gunn/Fred (with a nod to geckogirl89
Challenge/Prompt: fffc Amnesty: r18.01: Suitcase
Word Count: 1,487
Date Written: 6 September 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
He watched as they moved about the apartment. They felt like intruders to the privacy of himself and his Princess, for whom he’d cared more than any of them. He once would have considered them friends, family even, but they were the reason why his Cordy was no longer there, especially that damn Vampire. He wanted nothing more than to blast Angel out of the apartment and into broad daylight, but the sun wouldn’t rise for several more hours. By that time, the rat who wore an Angel’s face would be gone.
No wonder the Slayer and Cordy both had had such trouble working the cretin out of their systems. Even now, Dennis could admit he could see what the girls saw in the Vampire. He was handsome, but he was a loathsome creature, perhaps even more loathsome than Angelus. This one had a soul, after all, but it was clear he didn’t listen to it. He could see emotions bubbling in the Vampire’s eyes, but every one of the others had broken down and cried somewhat.
Wesley had locked himself in the bathroom, pretending to do other things while he had sobbed quietly into one of Cordy’s towels which still held the lingering scent of perfume. Fred had barely stopped crying the entire time they’d been here, and Lorne had made a transparent excuse and beat a hasty retreat, a torrent of tears falling from his red eyes before he could escape the building. Even Gunn had let a few tears slip as he’d traced Cordelia’s beautiful smile in photographs before packing them away. He was supposedly dividing them between the packages they’d send to Cordelia’s parents and their own stash of items to remind them of their fallen Queen, but Dennis had seen him slip one photograph out of its frame and into his own pocket.
He couldn’t blame the man. He couldn’t blame any of those four. They hadn’t wished this on Cordy. They had done everything they could to be her friends. But he still wanted to shout at them to leave them alone, to leave the apartment touched so that everything would still be the same when she returned as it had been when she’d left. Of course, the problem with that scenario was that she wasn’t coming home this time, and it was all that damn Vampire’s fault.
He didn’t know what had happened. He wasn’t clear on the details, but he knew that she had somehow died trying yet again to save that lowly bastard who didn’t deserve, who could never deserve her. None of them could have ever deserved her, but at least he and the other men would have treated her far better than Angel, who had never stopped pining over Buffy, Darla, or both long enough to see that the most beautiful woman on Earth wanted him, that she had fallen in love with him and no other man would do.
God, how many times Dennis had longed to be alive again just so he could show Cordelia what true love was like! True love wasn’t making each other suffer, as Angel had made her cry time and again; it was giving of one another to make the other better, to make the other person happy, to make him or her know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that they were loved. Angel had never given that to Cordelia, not once, and here he was, the only being in the apartment who wasn’t trying to sob his heart out calmly packing away the Princess’ things!
Dennis howled soundlessly as he swept through Angel again. He stumbled but didn’t fall as Dennis had hoped he would. “Damn it, Dennis! Take it easy! None of us like this!” Dennis screamed again, turned, and blasted him once more. “WE’RE NOT ANY HAPPIER ABOUT IT THAN YOU ARE!” Angel roared, Vamping. Dennis hit him a third time, mostly because he knew the Vampire was full of lies. He didn’t care about Cordelia! He didn’t care that she’d died trying to become some kind of a “Higher Being” so that she could help him even more than she already did -- and she’d been given her life to him to start with! They all knew the visions had been killing her, and Angel had not done a damn thing to help her!
Fred looked up through tears streaming down both her cheeks. He could see her even though she was in the next room over. “Please, Dennis,” she cried out, “he’s telling the truth! We all miss her! Angel just -- He just -- “ Her voice dropped to a choked, emotional whisper, “He just won’t let himself cry, because he’s afraid if he starts, he won’t be able to stop.” She coughed, tears sticking in her throat.
Gunn popped his head into Cordelia’s bedroom. “Talking to the ghost, sweetheart?”
“Someone needs to,” she told him. “Someone needs to try to help him understand.”
He sighed, walked over, and dropped himself down beside her onto Cordy’s bed. “Someone needs to help us all understand,” he murmured.
“Oh, Charles!” Fred threw herself at him, sobbing. He wrapped his strong arms around her and rocked her slowly back and forth, as any man should do for the woman he loved.
Dennis found himself approving of the two of them being together, but he still needed to get through to the dead dumbass who had caused them all to lose their precious Princess. He flashed through the bed and used all his remaining strength to shove at a suitcase Cordy had kept locked for years underneath her bed. It came out fast and collided into the back of Gunn’s boots.
He looked up in surprise. “Charles, what -- “ Fred started to ask, wiping the tears from her face only to have more fall in their place.
“I don’t know,” he said. Releasing her, he turned swiftly to a kneeling position beside the bed and took out the suitcase. Fred frowned down at it and watched as he opened it.
Slowly, Gunn started lifting items out of the suitcase. “That would have been her homecoming sash,” she explained, “her crown, and the dress Xander bought her.” He looked up in surprise. She shrugged. “We were girlfriends,” she explained. “We . . . shared secrets and stuff, you know.”
Gunn riffled through several other items until he came to a series of photographs that looked like they’d been shot in a kissing booth although Cordelia was alone in them. Neither of the humans had realized the Vampire’s quiet, stealthy approach until Angel spoke. “Those were of us,” he said quietly. “We were being followed, so we ducked in there and she insisted on taking pictures. She said it would make it look like we were just any other couple. I tried to tell her my picture wouldn’t show up, but she wouldn’t listen.”
Because, you dumb ass, Dennis wanted to roar at him, she wanted one moment of normalcy with you! You couldn’t even give her that, though, without being a jerk, could you?! He blasted through him again, and Angel shivered in his wake.
He shivered again when he saw the stakes, garlic, and vials of holy water that lined the bottom of Cordelia’s suitcase. Fred’s eyes were wide. She placed her hands quickly upon Gunn’s as he started to lift the items out of the suitcase. “It’s okay,” Angel told them both as Fred looked up with sympathy and Gunn glanced uncertainly up at him. “I understand, and I deserved it. She had to be ready to leave me. She had to be ready if Angelus came out again.”
He spun around suddenly and stalked from the room. He went out into the night without another word to anyone and made his way up to the roof where he thought he’d be alone. Dennis followed him, however, and watched as Angel wrapped his arms around his own self. She’d had to be ready, he had said, to leave him. Perhaps she had been ready, but he had never, and could never, he realized now, be ready for her to leave him. Thinking himself alone, Angel finally let tears stream unchecked down his face.
Dennis watched him fall apart. He had thought he would take some kind of comfort if he knew that Angel was hurting as badly as he was from losing their Princess. He had thought it would make a difference, somehow make things a little better, if Angel realized just what he had lost. But it didn’t. Angel was just another soul lost without their Princess, without their Queen. Raindrops began to fall like tears from the dark heavens, and Dennis whipped into the wind, howling as he went and grieving as he always would for the beautiful, amazing woman they had all loved in their own ways. Nothing, he now knew, would ever make it better.