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Cordelia has a lot of dead people in her life.

She works for a dead guy, for one.  A pretty lively dead guy, if not at parties, but for all intents and purposes, Angel's dead.

~

She told herself she wasn't going to lose it.  She hadn't lost it at the wife and she wasn't going to lose it at the wake.

It was Angel's idea, all, "this is a way we can remember him," or something, Cordelia's kind of fuzzy on the details.  And she had had fun, grinning and giggling and probably having too many beers.  When she had gotten home, she threw up, and went to bed, feeling guilty as fuck for having a good time.

~

Phantom Dennis starts a bath for her, and Cordelia wants to cry. "Oh, Dennis, thank you," she starts, and then swallows, and then - because she *can*, she can afford maybe this one luxury, this one careless gesture - she kicks off her suede boots, not caring where they land.

Dennis carefully picks them up and puts them by the door. Cordelia immediately falls onto the couch, and puts her face in her knees. She knows that if Dennis were alive, or even had a body, he'd make sure to pat her shoulder and hold her until she felt better. But Dennis is just a cool breeze, something that will be in this apartment long after she's gone, maybe long after she's dead herself. Dennis is, technically, older than her grandfather.

"Oh, Dennis," she murmurs. A tough day. She pulls her hair down, tries to relax her muscles while the bath fills slowly. Lavender scented oil pours itself into the water. "Did you love your fiance? The one your mom killed herself over?"

Their system isn't foolproof, but he tends to flick the table lamp on and off to answer her: once for no, two for yes. It flashes twice. "Was she pretty?" Two flickers. Cordelia hesitates - despite what other people might think, she's not nearly as heartless as she used to be. Influence from the stupid Scooby gang, maybe, some kind of transfer of goodness and kind-heartedness - being involved in saving the world, even peripherally, making her a better person whether she meant it or not. But he's only a ghost, and he adores her. "Do you wish you'd never told your mom you were marrying her?"

The taps turn off, and the oven timer goes - Dennis even has dinner warming for her - before anything happens. A cushion floats, then one of her shoes. Cordelia gets the funniest feeling that he's fiddling, like someone pacing the room; picking up one random thing and another until he sorts himself out. Finally the lamp flickers, once.

Dennis made sure that her life ran smoothly.  He ran her bath every night, he dusted, he took care of her.  Her roommate was a ghost.  Her roommate, too, was dead.

He was a nice ghost, sure, but he was a ghost, another dead body to add to her pile.

~

Even Wesley, who was alive and breathing, drummed up more of the grave than anything else - because he reminded her of Sunnydale.

~

They kill some kind of demon with blue goo this time, and then Cordelia can't put it off anymore. She goes through her rolodex, and pulls out one of the five numbers in it.  Dialing, she hopes Harry isn't home.

Telling Harry is strangely easy.  Harry cries.  Cordelia says the right things.  Harry's already miles away, voice distant like all those stupid things you hear in greeting cards.  "Yes," Cordelia said.  "He was a hero," she said.

Harry says something about Frances always being brave, and that he deserved to die like that.

"He'll be remembered as a hero," Cordelia says, and then Harry hangs up and Cordelia thinks, what a *stupid* thing.  He'll be remembered a hero.

The one nice thing about L.A. was that no one went around being all hero-y and stupid and more noble than thou and doing stupid things to get themselves or other people killed.  Maybe it's just having known Buffy for roughly a lifetime, but those kinds of stupid things don't tend to work and they're just stupid.  She makes exceptions for Angel, because he's had two more centuries than Buffy to perfect the strategy and really? He has.  But she never knew anyone one else in L.A. to want to be a hero, no one else ever wanted to do the noble thing.  Los Angeles is a city where everyone wants to protect their own necks.

Cordelia was always someone who believed you could help people and protect your own neck at the same time.  She thought she'd finally found a place where maybe other people did, but no, because they're down an employee.  They'll probably always be down an employee.

Cordelia thinks about typing up a 'help wanted' sign.  Angel won't do it.

~

"What are you doing?" Angel asks, coming out of the elevator.

Cordelia doesn't hit stop in time.  "Nothing."

"Is that," and then he stops talking.  It's Doyle on the screen, frozen in time, and Angel doesn't need to say more.

"He didn't want to do the commercial," Cordelia says finally.  "I roped him into it."

Angel leans over her, and she rewinds to the beginning, hits play.