Higher beings don’t get old. At least not in body. I used to think that was the coolest thing, but I wasn’t so sure these days. Now I wondered if I wouldn’t rather be my age in face and body as well as heart and soul.
“Ghosts don’t get older, either,” my companion informed me with a smile. “We just get harder and harder to see.”
I’d never met Tara Maclay while she was alive. She’d been after my era (as she sometimes joked, there had been Cordelia’s Sunnydale, and then post-Cordelia Sunnydale), and the part where she’d died and I’d ascended at approximately the same time had cut off any chance of a face to face meeting. But I could tell that she’d been a damn cool woman while she was alive, and she was an even cooler ghost, even if she did get harder to see as time went on. We got along well. I glowed, she faded. It was sort of a balance thing.
We were waiting to go back to Los Angeles after an extended trip through New York, London, and the Chaos Dimension of J’llyrth, where I’d spent the better part of the year liberating people from something that looked and smelled an awful lot like Angel’s old hair gel. That was pretty funny until I had to kill it. I mean, how do you kill hair gel?
“So what year is it?” I asked Tara, looking at myself in the mirror. The pinned-up French braid would do for a hairstyle. I just needed to get the last traces of hair-goo off my face. “What year? What world? What city?”
Tara rolled her eyes slightly at the dramatic monologue.
“You know we’re almost in Los Angeles,” she said dryly. “It’s 2022, and the world is the same one we were born in. And yes, Cordy, the hotel’s still standing.”
“Really?” I asked, pleased. “Sometimes I’d think–”
“Well, it’s like your friend Lorne said,” Tara replied. “Certain places are required to be, no matter what the outcome of the war. I guess the Hyperion’s one of those places.”
“Besides, Wesley? Demolish a piece of historical architecture?” I asked with a certain gallows humor. “He may be evil incarnate, but he’s still a big old historical nerd at heart.”
Tara nodded, not that she’d ever met Wesley while alive, either.
“He knows you’re coming, by the way,” she said calmly. I made a face. Damn Wes anyway–he always knew more than he should. Plus, I wasn’t going to LA for business. I was there for personal reasons, which he might cheerfully screw over to satisfy that twenty-year grudge match with Angel.
“I will fuck him up if he gets near me on this trip,” I announced. “You hear me?”
Tara flipped her hair out of her face and grinned at me wryly.
“I always hear you, Cordy,” she said. “It’s Wesley who can’t hear you.”
I sighed and looked around the ‘room’ suspiciously, getting the last bit of hair tar off my nose. No, he couldn’t hear me. But you never knew with Wolfram and Hart.
“I hope not,” I muttered. “But just in case–if you can hear me, Wesley, I will fuck you up if you bug me. Okay?”
We both paused. Utter silence echoed back.
I laughed (not a happy laugh, a bitter laugh) and finished cleaning myself off. Damn hair gel thing was worse than beach tar. I pulled open my wardrobe and looked at what I had to wear. I was dismayed to realize I had no idea what current fashion looked like.
“Hey, Tara?” I called. “What’s everyone wearing in 2022?”
“You’ll be happy to know that natural fibers are in again,” she said with a teasing smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “It’s very simple styles. Do you still have that cream dress? The raw silk one?”
I looked back from the depths of my wardrobe. “The sleeveless anklelength or the shift I put under the long black jacket?”
“Totally the ankle-length,” she replied without blinking. “Dress it up with a nice black shawl. Black’s the signal that you’re on the right side of this conflict. Then some sandals, and–”
“Voila,” I said, looking at myself in the mirror, in exactly the described outfit. I looked good. I looked young, not at all like the Warrior who’d just done five years of quality work for the Powers without a single break. It seemed rather strange that I was still so unscarred and pretty. I wasn’t going to complain, though. “Ready to go, Tara?”
“Ready, willing, and waiting,” Tara replied. “There’s nothing better than an LA vacation. At least I can talk to the Dead around there without wanting to cry. LA Dead are way more accepting of their state than most. It’s like, ‘Dude, I’m dead? Oh, well, least I don’t gotta work tomorrow.’ Then they move on.”
“The Dead are strange,” I told her, shaking my head slightly. Tara smiled back. Her eyes were suddenly that filmy, milky color that I only see once in a while on her, but much more often on other Dead types. She was a little faded, too.
“Truer words were never spoken,” she informed me, blurring back into normal ghost-Tara.
I closed my eyes. I opened them.
We were there.