Left Standing
by Princess Twilite

It was a cloud of dust, billowing up through the curtains and out the open window. It obscured the sun, like tears might if she felt the need to cry them. She didn't.

Cordelia stood up from where she had fallen in the struggle; bare feet caked with the dried mud that she had ran through, leading him back into this singular place above the Hellmouth. Rain dripped down her face, evaporating in the heat.

A simple stake fell from her hand, ringing out hollowly as it hit, barely heard above the screaming of the wind. It rolled across the floor and fell into the split earth, eaten by the ravaging fire that sprung from between its edges.

She wiped a hand over her bloodied mouth and stared through the broken glass at where the world began to fragment, the rain ceasing to fall as the wind burned torridly through the air. They sky slowly turned black, seeping to obsidian and glinting like a hell-ish shadow.

Her own blood dripped from her fingers and splattered on the ripped up carpet below her, a tribute to the fight she'd just survived.

"You're good Angel," she murmured, "but that's your biggest weakness. Kissing the devil isn't EVER a good idea."

Cordelia smiled.

She heard someone take a few steps behind her in the rubble that had once been an office, but didn't turn around. Her shoulders stayed straight, a warrior past the battle and feeling the victory so acutely her stomach ached.

"Is it over?" A low, female voice asked.

Cordelia nodded, rubbing her fingers together to squeeze out the last of the blood. Her hand was dry. When she looked down at her torn open palm, it had already healed.

"He's really dead?" Lilah came up beside Cordelia, standing shoulder to shoulder as they both stared out the window. Perfume filtered between them, as tempting as Eve holding the apple to Adam's mouth. Sucker. "As dead as me?"

"More," Cordelia shrugged carelessly. "He's not gonna be sticking around to see the fireworks."

"Been there," Lilah said dryly. "They were a little overrated."

"Tell me about it. You'd think the kid would have inherited something from his father. He didn't," Cordelia muttered and then shook her head. The tips of her hair, blonde when the rest was brown, slapped against her cheek.

A slow moan filled the air, choppy. Like someone was crying as the world sickened.

The heart, the center, was dying.

About fucking time.

"So," Lilah began, running her finger over the dust that had landed on the windowsill. When she licked it to see how it would taste, she frowned. She had forgotten she could no longer taste. "Still evil?"

"Yep," Cordy responded, flicking her hair back and straightening the battered clothes on her body. Her jeans were irretrievable and damn it, he'd bled on her flower-patterned shirt. Cordelia patted her hand on her fly. Her stomach curved near her pelvis, but for a woman that had so recently given birth to the First Evil's new form, she looked mostly healed. Hot as hell. "Comes with a better paycheck."

"Life insurance?" Lilah questioned, turning to look at Cordelia for the first time. Cordelia met Lilah's cocky gaze with her lips curled up and eyebrows arched slyly into a satisfied smirk. Woman to woman, there just wasn't much left to need. Not in the end.

"Who needs it? Dead or alive, you're still employed," she pointed out, waving a hand as if thinking too deeply about it were unnecessary. Her nail polish was chipped from dragging them along Angel's face, reaping deep canals in his cheeks.

The shocked look on his face echoed happily before her eyes.

"True," Lilah conceded, nodding as she looked back toward the sky. The sun began to burn blue, visibly cracking down the center. Lilah shivered slightly, though not from cold. The dead didn't get cold. "I still have two years before my contract is up. Those assholes just don't know when to give me a break. I want a vacation."

"Probably won't get one for a little while," Cordelia pointed out, tapping a finger on her temple as if she were listening to someone speaking inside her head. "The new world is in the works. Evil has to get settled in before any of us get some time away."

"Still. A weekend off wouldn't upset me."

They stayed in silence for a moment, standing side by side as the world turned dark and bleak and the sky bled as if ripped open at the heart. Wind caused the shaky foundation of the school to shudder, quake in fear. Good, after an eternity of ruling, had lost. Evil finally had its day.

The rest of existence would be spent with the universe in darkness, beginning now.

Or tomorrow. Whatever, it was something like that.

"Was it fun?" Lilah flicked some dust of the sill, sent it swirling out into the deadly wind and Cordelia turned, waiting for her to clarify. "Killing Angel, I mean? I always planned to, but something kept coming up and we'd need him. And then there was Wesley---"

"You got soft," Cordelia accused, eyes narrowed and derisive.

"I did not!" Lilah yelled, offended. "He was a good fuck, what can I say? All those daddy-issues made for a real repressed English boy with tendencies toward violence. He was fun. Chopped my damn head off though. Still pissed about that."

"Don't be vain, Lilah," Cordelia said derisively, imitating a priest, but grinning and rubbing her throat. "It's a sin, you know."

Lilah smirked and nodded, turning to negotiate her way across broken bits of a desk. She stood near where the floor had cracked in two, split raggedly open like a woman's thighs. Fire arched up through the hole, hot and hungry. Lilah stared down into it, mesmerized by the fierce hate it radiated.

If one listened closely enough, you could hear souls screaming.

"It WAS fun," Cordelia admitted as she finally dragged her eyes away from the sun. She watched Lilah, lit by the flickering flames that reached up like they might eat her. Beautiful, she thought. And so wickedly bad, she knew. Lilah's hair was long, hanging down around her naked body. If you looked at her just right, you could see clear through her to the other side of the destroyed room. "He was always such a tease. And my god, was he anal!"

Lilah laughed, full-throated and deep as she stepped away from the flames before they consumed her. Her half corporeal toes had brushed the heat too teasingly and hell's fire never could resist temptation.

"I wonder how long we have before they start sending the troops out, gathering up the dead and dragging them to hell," Lilah said, picking up a half-burned photo of a black child, unframed. "They go all out, you know, bludgeoning the stragglers."

"I'm just glad we're on the winning side," Cordelia stepped beside Lilah, took the picture from her and tossed it down into the fire. They both watched it immediately crumple to ashes. "Why do you wonder?"

"We should go raid the stories downtown, before they destroy the Donna Karen suit I had my eye on before Angelus killed me. I'm sick of being naked." Lilah said as she began walking toward the destroyed wall, stepping casually over fallen and crushed bricks. Her muscles shifted against each other, sleek and deadly as she negotiated herself over the wreckage and turned, raising an eyebrow suggestively for Cordelia to follow.

Cordelia gave one last look toward the sky through the frame of the shattered window. She caught just a glimpse of dust swarming across the blue, burning sun.

Too bad, she thought, Angel was probably a damn fine thing to miss in bed.

And then she laughed, harshly, slapping her hands down on her ripped jeans.

The Powers that Be were probably pissing their ethereal pants. Good. No one betrayed Cordelia Chase and got away with it. Rotating her shoulder to the dying light, Cordelia followed Lilah over the disaster area---the place where Angel had finally fell---careful not to step on any glass. Quick healing didn't mean torn flesh was without pain.

She hated pain. No one gave her pain without regretting it.

"Yeah," Cordelia replied and Lilah shifted toward her, slowing her pace. Lilah, beautifully bare, was a face reflecting the flames that surrounded them. Wind kicked up her hair. "It just isn't a good end of the world unless I've grabbed me some Gucci."