A couple of people have pointed out that it's a little OOC for Buffy to care this much for Cordelia or vice versa, but I like to think that the two buried the hatchet after the whole graduation thing. They seem friendly enough the couple times that Buffy appeared on Angel
I own nothing from House
. Chapter Seven
Buffy Summers waited nervously in the lobby of Newark Airport. She had only seen Angel a handful of times since he had left Sunnydale six years before and only once under such miserable circumstances. She had welcomed his presence on the night of her mother’s funeral, but she was dreading seeing him now. Seeing Angel would make the fact that Cordelia was in a coma a reality.
She turned at the sound of her name to see Wesley striding quickly through the hall toward her. She ran to him and hugged him tightly, fighting against the tears in her eyes. “It’s good to see you, Wesley,” she said.
“You too. Did you come alone?”
Buffy nodded. “Giles in England working on Council stuff and Willow and Xander are holding down the fort at home. Dawn’s with them.” She sniffed and tried to swallow the sudden lump in her throat. “Xander especially wanted to come, but he just couldn’t.”
Wesley squeezed her shoulder. Buffy noticed another man and a woman who had come up behind them. “Is this your staff?” she asked.
Wesley turned around. “Oh, yes. Buffy Summers, this is Charles Gunn and Fred Burkle.”
Buffy nodded her hello. “Fred,” she repeated. The girl nodded. “You’re the one who inherited Cordelia’s visions, right?” Buffy asked.
Again, Fred nodded. “For four years now. They’re not that bad.”
Buffy smiled ruefully. “Yeah right. And Charles?”
Gunn grimaced. “Please, call me Gunn.”
“Okay then.” Buffy looked around. “Where’s…?”
Wesley held up a set of keys. “He’s waiting to be picked up.”
Wesley drove their rented car down the airport access road. “Now remember,” Wesley said. “We’re picking up the body of Buffy and Fred’s father. Gunn, you and I are their respective husbands.”
Buffy and Fred shared a look and rolled their eyes. Gunn shrugged. “Cool with me. Just point me in the direction of the coffin I gotta grab.”
“Let me do all the talking,” Wesley added.
Fred flashed a thumbs-up. “Check.”
They pulled up in front of a warehouse, lit only by a naked floodlight in the quickly deepening dusk. Wesley and Buffy climbed out of the car and headed for the door.
The knock echoed through the cavernous building. After a moment, a man opened the door and raised an eyebrow. “Can I help you two?”
Wesley put his arm around Buffy’s shoulders. “Yes. My name is Wesley Winters. This is my wife Buffy. We’ve come to pick up a coffin.”
The man frowned. “I’m sorry for your loss. What was the name of the deceased?”
“Wade Angeles,” Buffy said. “He was my father.”
He disappeared back into the warehouse and reappeared a moment later with a clipboard. “I need the signature of the next of kin. Mrs. Winters, I assume that would be you?”
Buffy nodded and accepted the pen that she was offered. She signed on the dotted line, playing the appropriately distraught daughter, and then returned to Wesley’s embrace. “Can we take him now?” she asked.
“I’ll bring it right out,” the man answered.
“Thank you very much,” Wesley said.
They waited in the twilight until the large loading door creaked open and a forklift began rolling toward them. Buffy shuddered when they saw the plain coffin perched on the lift. Wesley squeezed her hand. “I’m so sorry about this,” he said softly.
Buffy looked up at him. “About the coffin or this fun masquerade?” she whispered back.
He shrugged. “Both.”
Gunn joined Wesley at the forklift and the two men and Buffy lifted the coffin between them. They popped open the back of the SUV they had rented and carefully slid the wooden container inside. Once they were back on the road, Wesley called back, “We need to get out of the city, Angel. Then we’ll pull over somewhere and let you out.”
A dull thud was their answer. An hour later, along a wooded and deserted stretch of road, they pulled the car over and opened the back. Wesley gestured to Buffy. She smirked and grabbed the edge of the coffin lid, ripping it off with one hand.
Angel sat up and dusted off his shoulders. “Thanks,” he said, accepting Buffy’s hand and climbing out of the box. Once he was standing beside them on the road, Wesley and Gunn lifted the coffin out of the car and heaved it into the woods. They brushed off their hands and returned to the roadside. “Well,” Angel said. “Let’s go to the hospital.”
The lobby of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital was nearly empty, save a nurse sitting at the reception desk. Buffy and Angel shared a look and headed slowly toward her. She looked up and saw the five people approaching. “Can I help you?” she asked when they reached the desk.
“Yes,” Angel said. “We’re looking for Dr. Robert Chase.”
She flipped through a chart on the desktop. “Dr. Chase is a member of our diagnostics team,” she said. “Headed by Dr. House. His office is up on the second floor.” She glanced at the clock and raised an eyebrow. “Someone might still be up there.”
“Thank you,” Buffy said. “Where’s the elevator?”
The nurse pointed to the right. “Just down that way.”
Buffy pushed the button and the group stood in tense silence by the elevator doors. No one spoke until they left the elevator and found themselves looking through the glass walls of a conference room at a blonde doctor sitting at the table. Angel was the first to push open the door. “Dr. Chase?” he asked.
The doctor looked up. “Yes. Are you Angel?”
Angel nodded. Chase stood and shook hands with the vampire. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”
“Of course.” Angel gestured behind him. “This is Buffy, Wesley, Fred, and Gunn. Cordelia worked with all of us.”
Chase shook hands with each in turn. “It’s nice to see that Cordy had such devoted friends. I, uh, hadn’t spoken to her in several years before recently.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Exactly how much do you know about Cordelia’s life?”
Chase looked uncomfortable, but was spared having to answer by the arrival of Dr. Cameron, Dr. Foreman, and Dr. House. House looked at the assembly and said gravely, “I’m glad you’re all here.”
Chase frowned. “These are friends of Cordy’s from California. Has there been a change in her condition?”
Sadly, House shook his head. “If you’d like to see her, I think we should go now. Then there are some things that we need to discuss.”
Chase frowned, but Angel and the others followed House without question. Buffy and Fred both stifled sobs when they were led into Cordelia’s room. “Oh God,” Fred whispered.
Angel bent down by Cordelia’s side and brushed a strand of hair away from her face. “I’m so sorry, Cordy. I’m sorry that you got dragged into all of this.”
“What’s causing the coma?” Wesley asked quietly.
Foreman and House shared a look. “Your friend was in the hospital once before,” Foreman said. “Five years ago.”
“Yes,” Angel said. “She was admitted to the neuropsychiatric ward at St. Matthews.” Wesley cleared his throat suddenly and Angel glanced at him. “It was an unexplained psychotic break.”
House scoffed. Chase glared at him, but said nothing as Foreman continued. “Whatever happened to her then has caused her brain to slowly deteriorate over the last five years. It had degenerated to the point of no return.”
Gunn and Wesley brushed at tears in their eyes. Angel once again turned to Cordelia, lying on the bed. “I’m so sorry,” he repeated.
House waited a moment, then said, “Cordelia is not going to wake up.”
Buffy gave him a sharp glare. “Not one for the tact, are you?” she snapped.
He did not reply to her. Instead, he focused on Chase and Angel. “We need to track down her next of kin.”
“Uncle Callum,” Chase said. “Cordelia’s father. Why do we need him?”
House turned his gaze to the floor as he said, “Because the question has to be raised about turning off her life support.”
Fred broke down. Buffy wrapped an arm around her protectively and kept her angry stare on House. “You’re a monster,” she spat.
“Buffy,” Wesley said warningly.
Buffy rounded on Wesley. “No! I will not stand here and listen to this moron talk about killing Cordelia! I mean, she and I were never the best of friends, but we went through hell together! She was there on Graduation Day!” She looked at Angel and Wesley. “She fought with us! And then when she inherited Doyle’s gift and helped you, Angel – how can you all just sit here and listen to him talk about letting her die?”
Angel stood up and spoke quietly to Chase. “I think we need some time to process all of this.”
Chase nodded. “Of course.” He turned to House and said, “We’re leaving.”
For once, House did not argue. Cameron and Foreman were the first to leave, then House and Chase. Chase cast one last look at his cousin and left her alone with her friends.