Bound by the Heart


AUTHOR: GROUP FANFICTION – ANYONE CAN JOIN THE PROJECT
SUMMARY:
RATING: R/NC17
POSTED: This is still a project in AO’S Writers Workshop. Never officially posted, but you can see how far we got.
CATEGORY: GROUP FIC / ANGSTY DRAMA / ROMANCE
CONTENT/PAIRING: CORDELIA/ANGEL
WARNINGS: Explicit Sexual Content
FICPIC CREDIT: Lysa
TIMEFRAME: Late S2 / Early S3 (Episodes aired between Apr & Nov 2001)
AtS: Post Beige-Angel / Pre-Connor. Post Pylea, but no Fred.
BtVS: After Riley’s departure. After Joyce’s death. During the Glory Arc after Glory becomes aware that Dawn is ‘The Key’. Pre-Buffy’s Death.
WRITERS INVOLVED in the DISCUSSION PROCESS:
Lysa – Scene 3
DamnSkippy (Deb) – Scene 1
Livvie (Kelly)
jean-vic (Alex)
chatty (Liz) – Scene 2
Cordy69 (Pat)
Anna
Ferr89 (Jenn)
wereleopard (Lea)
Califi ‘Cali’ (Sach)


ficpic_boundbytheheart


Scene 1

Are We There Yet?

The air reeked of sulfur, burnt ozone, five-day old Brut and a smidgen of singed hair. Lightening crackled as an ear-splitting boom shook the walls and blinding colors rent the black stage with a brilliant light show. Then with a final push, the atmosphere ripped open spilling its guts of chrome, steel and once lost heroes.

Angel wildly pumped the brakes as the black chariot flew over the stage, its rear tires nipping the rim before the front ones kissed earth and slid across sticky, beer-coated concrete. Sturdy oak tables splintered like matchsticks as chairs and stools ricocheted off the front bumper and into the smoky swirl of the vehicle’s wake.

It was a very impressive show except there was no one there to welcome them back and no one who even knew they’d been gone. And perhaps that was for the best, because the only thing that detracted from their cool and very brave looking entrance was the screaming. For champions they sure did scream. A lot. And very loudly.

But once the car jerked to a full stop and they realized they were finally back and in one piece – well, several individual pieces and not a horrifying quintuplet Siamese twin thing – then the only thing that could be heard was a collective sigh of relief, one final suction-like pop of the closing portal and then…blessed silence.

Lorne, Gunn, Wesley, Cordy and Angel. Home.

It was almost too good to be true. They’d made it. Somehow, against all odds, beyond all expectations and in spite of being totally ill prepared, they had done the impossible. They had saved each other and they had survived.

No one seemed more aware of that than Cordy. As she stared at her friends and watched as each one slowly began to smile as the realization hit them, her eyes glistened and her breath hitched as she finally grasped what they’d all done. For her. To save her.

Each one of these guys had risked almost certain death leaping into another dimension because she hadn’t been careful enough not to get sucked through a portal. She could have been responsible for getting them all killed.

And how did she thank them? She ordered their heads chopped off.

Granted, for Lorne that seemed not to be a problem, but…oh, my God, she thought. She hadn’t even thanked them. They almost died for her and she sat on a throne eating grapes and listening to the boring adventures of a Groosalug and daydreaming of comshucking while they were fighting for their lives.

As that thought finally sunk in, she sucked in her first big gulp of LA smog and let a tear slip out. Luckily, the rest of the guys were too busy checking out their important body parts to make sure they were still intact to notice. She hastily swiped it away just as Lorne cleared his throat and broke the reverential hush.

“You know I’ve been thinking about remodeling the bar. Who’s up for a nightcap?”

Wesley exited the passenger door and stood by while Lorne squeezed out from the back seat. The two exchanged a handshake, and a discussion of the merits of a Seabreeze versus a hearty ale could be heard while Gunn, too impatient to wait for Angel and Cordy to let him out, easily hopped over the side to join them.

Cordy felt Angel’s massive weight ease from the front seat next to her and watched as he turned and held out his hand to help her out. So gallant, she thought. So brave and handsome.

Suddenly, she remembered something he’d said in Pylea.

“She loves me, too, right? As a friend and coworker. Maybe love is too strong a term?”

What a dweeb. Of course she loved him. He was her best friend. How could he not know how much she cared about him?

Then her stomach got queasy when she realized that even before Pylea she never really thanked him for all he did for her. Ever since his epiphany and return, she’d pretty much treated him as an unwanted stepchild. Sure, she’d forgiven him before the clothes, which were a nice bonus, but she never really expressed it in words. She’d never told him how happy she was that he was on his path to redemption again and that he was still a part of her life.

And then in Pylea, the way she fawned over a guy she barely knew and left Angel hurt and bleeding…well, it wasn’t as difficult to understand how Angel could get the impression she didn’t care.

If he only knew what she’d given up. A chance at a normal long life – a chance to escape the vision death sentence – he certainly wouldn’t have had to ask that question.

Well, she thought, he isn’t going to know. He’d just go all broody and try to send her back for her own good. No way was she leaving him…any of them…ever again. At least not until she died, but that was a long way off she hoped.

Through hazy lenses, she scanned the room and for the first time in a long time clearly saw her mission. Smiling as her friends laughed and congratulated each other on their successful adventure, she made a silent pledge.

A warm flush blossomed from her chest with the new determination that her final days would be spent not only helping the helpless, but making sure the people she cared about the most knew, without a doubt, that she died loving them. And she wouldn’t wait another second.

As she turned and took Angel’s outstretched hand eager to begin, her eyes caught his. For the second time that night, she had to gasp. She’d never noticed that look in his eyes before. It was fire and light and everything in the room went blurry but his face. His face – with that smile that transformed it from a death mask to Hollywood hottie – was crystal clear and glowed with such joy. She began to feel lightheaded from the gentle stroke of his thumb on the back of her hand as he helped her out – as she floated out.

Again she was thrown back to Pylea and heard, once more, with new ears…

“Don’t hurt him. I love him. I love him.”

“You love me?”

“Not you dumbass. Him. I love him.”

“Oh.”

That one word held such pain and disappointment. She’d missed it. She’d been too busy fussing over Groo to really hear him.

But looking at him now, into those eyes that were brimming with passion, how could she not see and feel it? The warmth of his gaze, the glint off his staggering smile, the tingle from his caring touch – he practically shouted it.

Wow. She was loved and she almost tossed it away for a crown and a roll in the hay.

The moment her foot touched the floor she threw her arms around Angel’s neck and hugged him fiercely.

“Hey, what’s wrong? Cordy, are you okay?”

Angel’s arms swept around her, at first just to keep from falling over but then they pulled her snugly and firmly into his body.

She sniffled and a warm breath tickled his ear as she sighed. He hugged her even tighter.

“Shh, whatever it is, I’ll fix it. I promise.”

She smiled. She couldn’t help it. He would always be her hero, her big, dorky hero who thought all he had to do was kill the big bad and everything would be fine. And usually that’s how it worked. But not this time. This time she would have to save him.

“Nothing’s wrong, Angel. I just…thank you. Thank you for saving me and bringing me home.” She remained glued to his chest for a moment longer, not wanting to let go. Ever.

Angel wasn’t loosening his grip either. She felt one of his palms splay and glide up her back. It was so big it almost spanned both shoulder blades. His other hand gripped the opposite hip and clung to her. Never had she felt so protected and cherished.

She couldn’t help it. She pulled back from his cheek, took his face in her hands and kissed his lips. It was just for a second – a friendly thank-you peck – but it lasted a fraction of a second longer than she’d intended. And in that tiny sliver of a moment, she felt the ground beneath her shift.

Oh, no.

She pulled away quickly and looked at Angel. Wide-eyed shock pretty much covered it. But then those lips she’d just melded with perked up and out, spreading into a look of…

Oh, no.

She’d never seen that look directed at her before. Well, she had, but definitely not from Angel. It looked like…like he wanted her…badly. And, God help her, she was feeling the same way.

That kiss had zinged through her heart and it was fluttering like a hummingbird’s wings. His smoky gaze made her lightheaded, and she felt a riptide of want tugging her deeper into his embrace.

She had to stop this now. Nothing could happen. Nothing. It was too late for her. For them. The only thing that she could focus on now was preparing him and everyone else for her death.

It was going to be hard enough for him to see his seer and best friend die. She knew that. She saw what losing Doyle had done to him. The depression, the guilt, the feeling that he was destined to lose everything good in his life. Her death wouldn’t stop those feelings from resurfacing, but she couldn’t take the chance of hurting him any more than that.

Losing a friend was one thing. Losing someone he was in love with could destroy him. She couldn’t risk him giving up. He had to redeem his soul. He had to Shanshu. It meant everything to her. It was her legacy. She knew she’d never give life any other way, and she needed to die knowing she had at least helped Angel gain his.

Whatever this attraction could have meant…well, she’d just have to wonder and fantasize about for eternity because nothing was worth taking away Angel’s future. She cared about him too much.

Selfish Cordy was dead and buried in Pylea. Good riddance. The new and improved Cordy decided there was no time like the present to begin her new mission.

The first step was to nip the bud off any lovey-dovey hope that might be flowering in Angel’s heart and hers. She knew she might be mistaken about what she saw in Angel’s eyes and felt in that one kiss. But she couldn’t take the chance he might be feeling the same way she was and that he might want more than she had life left to give.

She pushed on his chest trying to get him to let go. Since he didn’t seem to want to do that anytime soon, she yelled over her shoulder.

“Guys, could you come here. I need to say something.”

As one, Wesley, Lorne and Gunn answered her call with Seabreeze, Guinness and shooter in hands. It seemed Angel’s daze was broken by the movement of others in the room and slowly his hands relaxed and Cordy slid from his embrace.

The room immediately turned cold and Cordy felt – bereft.

“Whassup?” Gunn asked as he reached her side.

“Just this.” She balanced on her toes, grabbed his cheeks just as she had done to Angel and kissed his lips. She could feel the moment Angel’s shoulders slumped and added guilt to her grief.

“Thank you. Thank all of you.” She moved down the line to Wesley and finally Lorne and repeated her frog kissing. This time it wasn’t to rid herself of a gift but to give one to Angel. The gift of freedom from possibly loving her.

She was pretty sure he wasn’t appreciating the gesture at the moment, but eventually he would understand and be grateful. At least she prayed he would be.

“Well, that was unexpected, Princess,” Lorne said. “What brought that on, not that I’m complaining. At all. In fact, if you want to show any more gratitude, I’ve got 400-count Egyptian cotton just waiting…”

Angel’s unmistakable crinkled forehead with matching glare couldn’t be heard but everyone felt it without looking.

Cordy reached behind her and stopped Angel’s advance with her hand to his abdomen and widened the gap further by placing her other hand on Lorne’s chest and pushing him back.

“I just wanted to thank you all for saving me. You didn’t have to. In fact, you probably shouldn’t have risked everything to do it, but I’ll never forget that you did. And I wanted to say I’m sorry. For the way I acted in Pylea. I can’t believe how ungrateful and selfish I was…”

“Hey, don’t give it another thought,” interrupted Gunn. “If I’d been the one with the throne and the people bowing and scraping, I don’t think I would’ve wanted to give that up for more vamp dust and demons that fart fire either.”

“Gunn’s right, Cordelia. You were merely blinded by the fantasy. We all would have been.” Wesley stopped long enough for everyone to affirm his statement with nods before continuing. “But we’re very glad you chose us and the vampire dust and…the demons that have fire coming from orifices that shouldn’t. We don’t know what we would do without you.”

She felt a host of tears threaten to form, so she stepped away from the group and walked to what was left standing of the bar hiding the conflicting emotions that she knew were written so clearly on her face.

She loved them all so much and she didn’t want to leave. Especially not with everything left undone. They were just men after all. What good were they when it came down to important stuff like knowing where to get the best bargain on fax paper or just how to talk to Phil, the dry cleaner, to get him to clean three shirts covered in goo for the price of one? They were hopeless. They were going to be lost without her. Damn this dying thing sucked!

Her fingers lightly glided along the fragment of bar untouched by destruction as she steeled her determination once more and silenced the pity party in her brain. She had already been forming a plan to prepare them prior to the side trip to hell. She just needed to get back on track and take it one step at a time.

Step one had been unexpected. The crushing of Angel’s possible puppy love hadn’t been on the agenda, but she felt sure that was all it was. After all, he’d certainly not shown any interest in her in that way prior to tonight – or maybe a little in Pylea after rethinking things. But that was more than likely just relief misconstrued as love.

And whatever she was feeling wasn’t important. It was pointless and hopeless so the best thing was to just forget it ever happened. She could do that. Hell, she’d done that her whole life hadn’t she? Forget and move forward because what’s behind is gone and what’s ahead is the only thing within reach.

What was within her reach was death but her gift to her family would be life. Angel’s Shanshu was the most important thing, and preparing the rest of them to help the helpless and keep the business up and sputtering without her was next.

But to keep them in business they needed transportation which, at the moment, was crammed in a karaoke bar with no visible means of escape.

With step two staring her in the face, she turned back around showing them the face they expected to see. All traces of uncertainty and pain were locked away for now only to be brought out again in private.

“Well, you guys may not know what you’d do without me, but do you know what you’d do without a car?”

“What do you mean, honey bunch? Your car’s right here, in my…oh, I’m hopping on the clue train now.”

Angel just stared. “I don’t get it.”

Cordy felt her skin tingle as she looked at her truly befuddled champion. He’s so adorable. Almost immediately, however, she shook the feeling of warmth off and got back in the game.

“Duh, Angel. Your car is inside a building. It got here through a portal and not the front door. Do you not see a problem with that?”

“You mean how are we getting it out? OH! How *are* we getting it out?”

Wesley pulled out his cell phone and began dialing. “Well, that’s amazing. It still works despite what had to be enormous electromagnetic forces encountered in both portal jumps.”

“You took your cell phone to Pylea?” Cordy asked.

“I didn’t intentionally take it. It was just in my pocket.”

“So who you callin’ now?” Gunn asked.

“Someone who specializes in getting gigantic metal things out through tiny holes I hope,” Cordy said.

“Sorry to disappoint, but I rang a taxi. We’ll discuss how to retrieve the car once we’ve had some rest and food. Lorne, you’d better pack a suitcase and stay at the hotel. There’s a chance the energy from the portal and our entrance may have inflicted serious damage to the structure of this building.”

“Right-o, I’ll just be a jiff. Why don’t you guys go up and wait for the cab?”

Gunn and Wesley headed for the stairs as Lorne disappeared down the hallway toward his bedroom.

Cordy remained still, rooted to the floor as she peered around the room memorizing details of this moment in her life. She hoped she would be allowed to remember everything when she left and was once more alone.

Angel watched her for a few moments before disturbing her reverie. “You ready to go?”

Cordy turned, still a bit lost in thought, “Huh?”

“We’re leaving, remember? Shall we?” he asked and gestured toward the stairs swinging his right arm wide in a courtly gesture that almost buckled Cordy’s knees.

When he crooked his left elbow and waited for her to take his arm, she felt a moment of awkwardness and fear. Could she touch him now and still just be friends, she wondered?

Angel looked puzzled by her hesitation. When she remained there unmoving for a few seconds longer, he shuffled his feet and stared at the ground like he’d just made a fool of himself – again.

Cordy’s uncertainty disappeared when she saw the lost look on her best friend’s face. It only took an instant to decide that she could deny what she was feeling for the length of one little taxi ride.

She turned on her blazing smile, curtsied slightly and took the offered arm. Angel reacted immediately with an equally infectious grin and Cordy’s laughter echoed throughout the bar as they started up the stairs, her arm wrapped around his and their fingers entwined. Still just friends.

30 minutes and one cab ride later…

The sounds of happy, hungry people could be heard in the little garden of the Hyperion before any of them rounded the corner. The hinges of the heavy metal gate choked as they resisted being opened wider so the gang could all enter at once.

Gunn’s baritone voice carried the first clear words onto the grounds. “I can’t believe that Fred girl wanted to stay in Pylea. I thought she couldn’t wait to get out of there.”

“Oh, please,” Cordy said rolling her eyes. “I’ll admit she had a good line about wanting to educate the former slaves but…”

Angel stopped at the fountain forcing a pileup of everyone behind him. “Wait. What do you mean? Why else would she stay?”

“You’re so cute when you’re clueless. Duh! The Groosalugg. She may have forgotten her own name or how to use a brush, but she had no problems remembering how to bat an eyelash.”

“What?” Angel’s eyes bugged out apparently unable to believe what he was hearing. “So both of you…what is it with that guy?”

Cordy felt a slight rush of embarrassment recalling her moments of girlish fantasies involving the blue-eyed hunk. But she quickly went into cover-up mode. “I so did not. He was just a sweet but, let’s face it, dimwitted guy with a crush on me. I felt sorry for him.”

“But you said you loved…”

“Angel, I barely knew him. How could I love him? I’m not that shallow, am I?” She sensed a witty reply coming from Gunn’s direction and deftly intercepted. “Don’t say it if you still want teeth to chew pizza with.”

Gunn swiftly closed his mouth and wisely changed the subject. “Yo, that portal jumping is a fun ride. We sell it to a theme park we could get paid!”

“Smart move,” Cordy winked and continued toward the hotel entrance.

With the gang moving once more, Angel leaped in front of them and actually bounded up the steps almost giddy.

“Okay. Can I say it? I wanna say it.”

“Say what?” Wesley asked.

In reply, Angel pushed open the double doors with the same theatricality he exhibited rushing up the stairs and said, “There’s no place like…”

He stopped mid-sentence and halfway through the door. Once again everyone piled up behind him.

“What?” Cordy asked before turning her head to follow his gaze and see what had made him suddenly as rigid as a board and his face completely void of the fun they were just having.

Then her eyes landed on cool green ones framed by a blonde cascade and all the joy drained from her as well. She became stiff with dread.

“It’s Buffy.”


Scene 2

“It’s Buffy.”

“Buffy!”

It had all happened so fast, Cordelia realized. One moment, they’d been climbing the stairs, all rosy cheeked and triumphant. The next, Angel was frozen in the middle of the lobby, visibly struck with confusion. Was he actually chewing on his lip? Adorably awkward vampire.

Buffy didn’t say anything at first, but just stared at him. Angel, shifting uncomfortably, stared back.

Sure, he hadn’t seen the girl for a while but jeez! Enough was enough.

Cordy cleared her throat loudly to break the silence, but only Gunn noticed.

“Who’s Blondie?” he whispered and Cordelia rolled her eyes. Living proof that men never listened to anything important.

“Duh! She’s Buffy!”

Gunn shrugged. “And that means what?” She could see the minute it clicked. “Oh, wait. You mean, that’s Buffy? As in, the ex? The slayer ex?” He checked the new arrival out again, shaping his hands over his ax handle appreciatively. “Wow. She’s really the slayer? She’s so … tiny.”

Cordelia snorted. Was every guy a sucker for a petite body and blonde hair? “Yeah, well, that tiny girl could punch your lights out.”

Gunn smirked. “Nice.”

Cordy was all set to teach him a few things about manners, but Buffy was looking up at Angel with big soul-sucking eyes and Cordy could almost feel herself fading into the background.

“Angel,” Buffy was saying, “we have to talk. I need – Sunnydale needs –” She cut herself off, glancing around the room at the four pairs of curious eyes watching her. “Isn’t there somewhere we can talk?” Her voice lowered into a whisper that Cordelia had to strain to hear. “Privately?”

Wesley opened his mouth, but Angel interrupted him. “Why? What’s going on?” His eyebrows lowered into his familiar glower. “Are you in trouble?”

Buffy crossed her arms over her chest and angled her jaw toward the shaded courtyard. “It’s important,” she said softly, in a pale imitation of the commanding voice Cordelia remembered oh so well. It had never failed to raise Cordy’s hackles in the past and Angel had never failed to respond to it.

But now, Angel was different. They were all different. They were a team – a family – and surely he’d tell Buffy that. Cordy crossed her own arms and settled against the stairway to watch the action. And sure enough, he turned toward Cordelia, obviously expecting some help. “Buffy, I don’t think—”

Buffy’s entire face fell, and suddenly she wasn’t The Slayer. She was a terrified girl at the end of her rope, watching her last hope fade away. And they helped the hopeless. Even if the hopeless were bossy slayers that thought they knew everything. Cordy knew what she had to do.

“Angel,” Cordelia cut in abruptly. He was rocking back and forth on his heels, stalling for time. At her interjection, his face lit with relief, knowing she was about to make his decision for him. “Go on,” she said. His brows jerked together in surprised disbelief.

“What?” Poor confused vampire. Maybe he’d expected hostility or possessiveness. She’d surprised him by showing neither. Not that part of her didn’t want to push Buffy out the front door, point her in the direction of Sunny-hell and resume their celebration. They deserved it – all of them. But what they wanted, and what they deserved, none of it mattered. The mission mattered. And it had taken her friends risking their lives in Pylea for her to learn that. She wasn’t about to forget.

So she nodded again – emphatically – and gestured toward to door. “Go. Talk!”

Buffy watched them, confusion slowly melding with the barely veiled fear in her eyes. Instead of saying anything, Buffy simply followed as Angel took the stairs to the courtyard doors in two steps, and even held the door for her. And then he closed it firmly behind them.

In those two seconds, Cordy went cold. Just minutes ago, Angel had been smiling at her like she was special. Like she was loved, and something inside her had sparked. That something sputtered now, once, maybe twice, before it flickered out. Now, she simply felt cold. And dread. Something felt wrong, and dangerous. While usually she felt confident that Angel Investigations would save the day, everything was different now. Buffy was here and she looked as if the hounds of hell themselves were chasing her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lorne move behind their makeshift bar. Ice tinkled lightly and then a moment later, a green hand snaked around from behind her, offering some fruity pink drink. She took it automatically and sipped, raspberry vodka searing against her throat. “Not the homecoming you had in mind?” Lorne asked sympathetically, and Cordy automatically shook her head.

She could feel his eyes on her, and spun around to glare at him. “Stop reading me, Lorne,” she ordered.

His smile was a bit sad. “Green isn’t really your color, honey pie,” he said.

“Isn’t that my line,” she muttered crossly under her breath.

She sipped the drink again and tried not to watch Angel watch Buffy. Gunn, on the other hand, couldn’t take his eyes off them. “She’s really the slayer? Think she’d want to go a few rounds later tonight?”

Cordy shot him a dirty look. “Riiiight,” she drawled, sarcasm dripping off each letter.

Gunn held up his hands in surrender. “That’s not what I mean, I swear! I mean sparring. You know, a little one-on-one?” He demonstrated, bouncing on his tip toes and mock jabbing the air.

Guys were absolutely all alike. She blew out a breath so forcefully that her bangs flew off her forehead. She was about to tell him that, when Wesley leant forward, touching her elbow lightly. “I think, perhaps, some research will be in order,” he said calmly. But she could hear the aggravation and thinly veiled hurt in his voice. And when she turned to look at him, he had those dark sad little boy eyes, the ones that made Cordelia wish she could go back to England and smack some sense into his terror of a father.

So she watched him watching Angel and Buffy, but it was only for a few moments before he started pulling up the old defenses, forcing his back straight and his shoulders stiff. He didn’t need those walls with them anymore, but seeing Buffy – or having Buffy ignore him – had obviously reopened old wounds.

“What, exactly, are you planning on researching?” Cordelia asked. Did everyone know something she didn’t? “What do you know?”

“Nothing, really. Except whatever it is must be important if it’s brought Buffy here. She hasn’t been to L.A. in nearly two years. I seriously doubt she’s here just to relight some old flame.”

Cordelia seriously hoped he was right. “Are you sure?” She gestured to the courtyard again, just as Buffy placed a slim hand on Angel’s shoulder, and she could just imagine the pleading in those big eyes staring up at the big, dumb vampire. “Sure there won’t be any history repeating itself?”

Wes frowned. “Cordelia, Buffy looks terrible. There’s obviously something seriously wrong.” He paused for a moment, and pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Although I’m rather surprised Angel didn’t mention there’s been a change in management.” His shoulders sagged a bit, and his hurt sigh was furtive; a soft breath of resigned disappointment.

She nudged him with a comforting elbow. “She’ll figure it out once you have one of those Eureka moments.”

Wesley’s smile was lopsided, but genuine. “Yes, well. Anyway. She mentioned Sunnydale, so I’m assuming there is a threat stemming from the hellmouth. It must be serious for her to come here, to ask for our help.”

Cold dread tickled the back of Cordelia’s neck and she shivered instinctively. “I know. Something feels really, really wrong.”

Wes squared his shoulders, determination firming his mouth. “Well, my duty is to research as much information as possible to help. And that is what I intend to do.”

He strode off, and moments later the sound of books thumping against the desk filtered back from the office. He was researching to be useful, and she knew it, but he didn’t even know what he was looking for. Really, he was just trying to prove something because Buffy didn’t know the person Wesley had become and her opinion counted – at least to Wesley. And any second now, Cordelia was going to march into that office and let him know he didn’t need to prove himself anymore. He was respected enough already. They’d made him the boss, hadn’t they? He didn’t need to add himself to the ‘chasing after Buffy’s approval’ list.

She didn’t even make it two steps before Gunn’s hand landed on her arm. “Hey, Cor, how long do you think she’s staying? I’d love to take her down to the boys, show them what a real slayer can do.” Inspiration struck and his eyes lit with enthusiasm. “Hey, why don’t you have a vision!” He poked her with a finger, as if that would do it. “Then we’d get to see her in action.” He poked her again. “Have a vision!”

Cordelia caught his finger in her fist and glared. Fiercely. “God, I just cannot catch a break.” Gunn opened his mouth again and she shot another glare his way. “Don’t. Just, don’t.”


Scene 3

Angel watched Buffy pace to the edge of the fountain and back. Tension tightened the lean muscles on her tiny frame. She looked as nervous as a caged cat ready to pounce on anything that moved; boundless energy searching for an outlet. Eagle eyes traced every shadow before settling on him.

Sensing that she was wary of intruders or eavesdroppers, he took a moment to survey the courtyard. Night vision, enhanced hearing and scent confirmed his instincts. “We’re alone.”

A wide-eyed stare followed as if Buffy was startled by the fact that he had her actions pegged. Or maybe it was just that he’d bothered to speak before she was ready. Her gaze drifted past him and she let out a frustrated sigh. Angel turned his head to see that they still had an audience watching from the other side of the glass, concern and curiosity on their faces.

He caught Cordelia’s gaze for a moment, watched the questioning quirk of her eyebrow curve upward. Interpreting the silent ‘get on with it’ Angel accepted it as Cordelia’s unique brand of encouragement.

When he turned his attention back to Buffy he found her pacing in the other direction. It didn’t help when he assured her that the others couldn’t overhear their conversation. She stopped in front of a flowering bush, plucked off a leaf and shredded it before tossing the remains to the ground.

“What is it?”

Whatever reason brought her here it was tearing her up inside. It was also hell on the foliage. Angel watched her reach for another leaf. He leaned back against a pillar waiting for her response niggled by growing impatience. He’d gotten used to Cordelia’s tactless habit of spitting out the truth without thinking. She had a way of cutting to the quick of it, good or bad. This was the latter, he guessed, considering the way Buffy treated the waxy green leaf like it was something to slay.

Pushing back the sides of his coat, he stuck his hands in his pockets, calmly waiting. A couple of minutes passed by with Buffy gaining control of that inner raging energy, her wild heart rate slowing beat by beat and breathing steadying. With a half-turn she faced him. Angel simply met her apprehensive gaze with an unblinking stare, unintentionally challenging.

“I-I don’t know where to begin,” she finally broke her silence and the floodgates opened.

Tears sparkled making her eyes look glassy in the moonlight. She didn’t bother to wipe at them, titling her chin somewhat defiantly. He caught a flash of anger that preceded, “Dawn’s in danger. Big Bad kind of danger. I need your help.”

Now he understood the dread in her eyes. It stirred memories of his young sister, Kathy, her sweet innocence, her vulnerability, the life that was taken from her far too soon. She had deserved so much more than that.

So did Dawn.

Pushing away from the column, Angel stepped up to reassure her, lifting his hands to her shoulders and squeezing gently. He knew he could speak for everyone. “We’ll all—”

“No!” Buffy snapped cutting him off, her cheeks reddening. “Just you. Angel, I-I need someone I know I can trust with this.”

Angel lifted his hands away as if he’d been burned. The implication was clear. Quickly, he glanced through the glass doors separating them from the others. He’d learned a lot about trust recently, lessons he’d learned the hard way. If Buffy expected him to go traipsing off to Sunnydale without a word to Cordy or anyone, she was mistaken.

“You know Cordy and Wes.” The confidence and implied trust he conveyed went ignored.

“Yeah, all too well,” Buffy grumbled, her attention wandering toward Lorne who appeared to be cleaning a spot on his bright yellow suit with club soda, “but I’ve never met those other two before. As for Wesley and Cordelia, I don’t need to deal with your hired help.”

Her low opinion was not only way off base, but insulting to all of them.

“They are no more hired help,” he said, the disdain for the term evident in his voice, “than Willow or Xander are to you. They’re my friends. And, for the record, Wes is actually in charge of Angel Investigations.” He felt a hint of satisfaction at her resulting confusion.

Frowning, Buffy sputtered, “You’re right. I’m sorry, but it’s important that you’re the only one who knows about this. Promise me, Angel. Promise me that this stays between us. Dawn’s life depends on it.”

He didn’t like it. A knot of discontent tightened up inside him. Buffy obviously felt he was the only answer to her troubles trusting that he couldn’t risk turning down her demand for secrecy if it would place Dawn’s life at risk. Keeping secrets from Cordy would be dangerous because she’d probably stake him for it. Or at least make his life hell for doing so. After all he’d gone through to get her back there was no way he was going put their friendship at risk by lying to her.

Jaw set determinedly, he gave Buffy the only promise he could. It was the right thing to do. “You know I’ll do whatever it takes to save Dawn.”

A sob of relief caught in her throat. Buffy flung her arms around his waist and hung on tight. He wasn’t expecting it and his spine stiffened momentarily at her touch. Too distraught to notice, Buffy pressed her cheek to his chest. There was nothing he could do except offer a little comfort to his distraught friend, if that was how Buffy Summers could actually be classified these days.

His arms wound around her in a comforting way. Angel worried that it might look like something else to anyone watching. He wondered about the expression on Cordelia’s face just then, but his back was turned to the window. It bothered him that touching Buffy, even in such a platonic way might be misconstrued. Though he wasn’t certain why he thought she’d care.

True, Cordy encouraged him to get on with his life and to stop brooding about the past. He was trying. Every day she opened his eyes to something new. There were times when it was almost possible to forget the things he’d done, the people he’d killed, or the pain he caused.

Unfortunately, the past had a way of coming back to haunt him.

Thinking that way while Buffy was crying in his arms caused a twinge of guilt. Angel wasn’t certain why she had come to him for help, but there was enough desperation in her voice to convince him that he couldn’t turn her down. Cordy would be the first to remind him of his mission. Though he had to admit that while Buffy wasn’t exactly one of the hopeless she was doing a pretty good impression of it right now.

As a champion and a friend he felt obligated to hear her out. He meant what he said about helping save Dawn from whatever it was that was making Buffy scared for her sister’s life. However, the conditions of secrecy that she was trying to set weren’t a negotiating matter.

Finally, the soft snivels ceased. “Thanks,” Buffy muttered into his chest, drying her eyes on his loose shirttail. He frowned at the mascara stain left behind, but focused on the more important issues at hand.

Extracting her from his arms, Angel took a step back. “Where is Dawn— back in Sunnydale?”

“Right now,” she started to pace again, “Dawn is somewhere over the Atlantic. Giles thinks the Watchers Council can hide her from Glory.”

Okay, that surprised him. “She’s on her way to England?”

The scenario of going to Sunnydale, rescuing Dawn and killing the Big Bad to avert some impending apocalypse suddenly fell apart. Despite the fact that the girl was thousands of miles away, Buffy seemed to believe she was still in danger. The notion that a villain would stalk the Slayer’s teenage sister all of the way to Europe might seem ridiculous to anyone else. Angelus would’ve tracked the kid to Timbuktu if it meant causing the Slayer pain, so he didn’t doubt Buffy had a reason to go to such lengths.

Angel walked over to the nearest bench, content to let her pace in circles if it got her talking. “Who’s Glory?”

Coming to a sudden halt, Buffy gave him a pained look and sank down next to him limply falling against his shoulder. Instead of answering directly, she muttered, “This plan has to work, Angel. You’re the best chance we’ve got.”

Disturbed, Angel realized it wasn’t just her words that left him unsettled. It was the way Buffy snuggled up to him as if she had every right to do so. He gulped down his surprise that he was no longer entirely comfortable with Buffy being so close.

He shifted slightly giving her head a slight nudge. It caused Buffy to straighten up. She sighed, her lips forming a natural pout and Angel realized the move wasn’t quite as subtle as he intended. “Maybe you should start at the beginning.”

Buffy nodded slowly as if realizing she could no longer put off the inevitable. “I guess that would be the day I discovered Dawn isn’t really my sister.”

“Oh.” His response sounded as awkward as he felt.

Infidelity. Adoption. Switched at birth. The possibilities clicked off in Angel’s head as he watched Buffy struggling for words. When they came, they were the last thing he expected.

“Dawn’s a Key,” she blurted on a note of pain, “a mystic ball of energy made to look human.”

That wouldn’t have been his next guess. Angel’s brow furrowed deeply as he tried to make sense of that one. Wes probably would’ve jumped right in with knowledge of some obscure reference in one of his texts, but he wasn’t here to do so. Angel drew a blank. While he was shocked that Dawn Summers wasn’t really the human girl he knew from Sunnydale, it was somehow unsurprising that she had somehow become part of the Slayer’s family.

The name Glory meant nothing to him. He caught himself before suggesting they get Wes working on research. That would likely cause her to clam up. Angel wanted to hear it all before convincing her she was wrong not to trust the others.

Buffy grabbed his hand and pulled it into her lap, threading her fingers through it. He was distracted from the urge to inform her about personal bubbles as she said, “This chick, Glory, showed up in Sunnydale looking for her Key.”

Ah. “Looking for Dawn.” Angel nodded, thinking that he was with her so far.

“Not exactly,” corrected Buffy. “Glory didn’t know back then that Dawn is the Key. Now she does and she’s pulling out all the stops to find her.”

There was something about the way she said it that filled Angel with dread. This was more than just concern over her sister. “Who are we dealing with, a sorceress?” He could handle that.

Buffy gave him a hard stare. “I’d just ask Willow for help on that one. Glory is a god, not some random baddie.”

The scope of the situation suddenly got a lot bigger. There were beings who claimed godhood, but most were routed out as charlatans according to the texts he’d read. If Buffy’s watcher felt it necessary to sequester her sister—this Key—away, it seemed likely that they were up against something with enough power to be considered the real thing.

“An ancient demon god from the bitch dimension,” added Buffy snarling angrily. She let his hand go in order to slam her palm down on the wooden slatted bench. “Glory needs the Key for some big mystic alignment thingy. There were these ugly demon monks who I guess were good guys. They hid the Key from Glory by…,” Buffy gulped loudly, “turning her into my sister.”

He had no doubt of her sincerity, but the situation seemed unbelievable. If Dawn did not exist until recently that meant all of his memories were manufactured. The girl’s entire life was fake. “Did she know what she was?” he had to ask. Angel doubted it. Dawn seemed like a typical girl.

“No.”

Once, Dawn caught him sleeping on Buffy’s floor and threatened to tell her mother. There was also the time Angelus had gone to Buffy’s house demanding to see her. While Joyce had lectured him for corrupting her oldest daughter, the little one yelled at him from the foyer to stay away from her sister. All of his memories were as vivid as any other.

How many other memories were affected in order to convince people that Dawn was a part of their lives? One thing seemed clear to him. “They wanted you, the Slayer, to protect the Key from Glory.”

“Yeah. Sucks, doesn’t it? It’s not fair. One minute my life is just normal stuff. School, patrol, slaying… and the next I find out that my bratty pest of a little sister is actually some mystical doodad that could cause the next apocalypse.”

It sounded like a routine day at the Summers’ house. Angel wondered how he had ever expected Buffy to lead any kind of normal life. As long as there was a Hellmouth, she would need to be there to protect it from the likes of Glory. He found it surprising that she chose to come to L.A. herself rather than sending one of her friends.

Angel wondered, “Won’t Glory take advantage if she discovers you’re not there? I guess the others are barricaded in the library.”

“Oh, none of us are there. That’s part of the plan. Except for Buffybot. She’s keeping up appearances.”

Rather than clearing things up, Buffy was managing to stir up more confusion. He rubbed at his neck where tension had started to build up. His ears had to be playing tricks on him.

“Buffybot?”

Turning pink and looking anywhere except his eyes, Buffy rushed through a hasty explanation of the Buffybot’s creation. Angel suspected there was more to it than she let on, but the fact that a robotic copy of the Slayer was now guarding the Hellmouth was a secondary concern.

“Why not stay and fight?” Angel was ready and willing to help. He only had to convince Buffy to let the others participate. They were far stronger as a team and the reason for keeping them in the dark was still a mystery.

Buffy sat up straight again, turning her body so she faced him, and tucking her legs beneath her. Her head hung low for a moment. Raising it again, she admitted, “Glory’s stronger than me. I can’t defeat her alone and I can’t risk putting Dawn or anyone else in danger.”

“So you’re here to…”

“Lay low. Hide out. Stay under the radar,” Buffy nodded. She tucked a loose strand of golden hair behind her ear. “That’s it in a nutshell. Dawn stays safe in England. Everyone else goes off in a separate direction in case Glory comes after us.”

He thought about their plan and hated it. If Glory was as powerful as suggested then she could track them down one by one. Better to pool their resources and come out fighting. Angel spread his legs wide and leaned forward, elbows on his knees, to rest his chin on his folded hands, thinking about the strategy.

Mulling over it for a few seconds, his gaze slid back to Buffy when he realized why she’d agreed to it. “Glory plans to get to Dawn through you,” Angel suddenly understood the need for the deception. “You think she’d forget about Willow, Xander, and Giles because you’re the one who is supposed to be protecting Dawn.”

Buffy gulped and quipped, “Yup! That’s the plan. If Glory finds out that Buffybot isn’t me, then she’s going to start looking. She’s got creepy minions and magic to do her dirty work. Eventually, she’ll find me, Angel, and that’s why I’m here.”

Her expectations settled on him like a crown of thorns. He completely understood the desperation in her voice, the need to keep her people safe, to protect those under her care, save someone she loved.

Angel understood those things all too well because he’d just come back from doing the same thing. When Cordy accidentally disappeared through that vortex into Pylea he was prepared to do anything to rescue her. Losing her was not an option.

Now that he had Cordy home safe and sound, Buffy’s presence was putting them all at risk. Danger was part of their lives. Standing their ground in order to save the world was something they did everyday, but they had a right to know the reason. He wasn’t about to put his people in harm’s way without preparing them for what was to come.

He reeled inwardly at the thought that any of them, especially Cordy, could be hurt or killed. There was a time he might have brushed off their deaths. Human lives were brief, and expendable. It had taken him a long time to understand the value of those lives as he struggled with the urges of his demon and the constraints of his soul.

Now Angel knew how cold and empty his existence would be without Cordy, Wes and Gunn. He valued their loyalty and friendship. Buffy thought they were his employees, but they were as close as he was going to get to a family. It wasn’t a traditional one by any means, but he’d risk almost anything to protect it.

The reasons why were too numerous to count, but for some reason he kept thinking of Cordy and that misconstrued thank you kiss. What an idiot he’d nearly made of himself believing it meant something else. For a second, when her soft lips touched his, he’d thought that— but it didn’t matter what he thought.

Choosing not to dwell on it, Angel said, “I’ll do what I can to help you, but only under one condition.”

The surprise on her face was evident. Wide eyes, gaping jaw. Apparently, Buffy never expected him to set conditions or expectations on her. That scraped at a raw spot deep inside him. “Those are my people in there. I won’t endanger them by leaving them in the dark. We need them. If Glory is as powerful as you say we’ll need everything they have to offer.”

Angel rose from the bench to stare down at her. Maybe it was mean of him to lay down the law to an ex-girlfriend who was running scared and trying to do the right thing for her family. But he had to do the right thing by his.

“No, you promised to keep it between us,” Buffy’s jaw tightened. She stood, glancing over her shoulder toward the glass doors leading back into the hotel. Naturally, they were all watching, concern and curiosity written on their faces. “The fewer people who know the details, the safer it will be.”

“They’re all good people,” Angel assured her. “They’d never betray you or Dawn.”

Crossing her arms, Buffy wasn’t about to budge. “Not even her highness?” Her eyes and head rolled toward the French doors and the gold-clad figure beyond. “Keeping her mouth shut? Not her best feature.”

Angel risked a glance at the woman in question and tried to see the same one Buffy remembered – younger, innocent and carefree. But all he saw was the woman he knew now – vision scarred with the pain of thousands on her soul – whose eyes bored into him with all the worry and dread that she sensed from everyone around her.

A smile crept to his lips from his heart as he realized just how much she had grown and how difficult it would be to explain it to someone who hadn’t witnessed the transformation.

“Cordy’s…different.” He faced Buffy again. “A lot has happened to her in the past few years.”

“A lot has happened to all of us, but some things don’t change. I can’t put my sister’s life in the hands of someone I don’t completely trust.”

Running his hand through his hair, his mind raced to come up with an explanation without letting his unexplained emotions tinge the argument. But everything he thought of boiled down to his feelings for and about her. He couldn’t tell Buffy that she should trust her because he just felt it would all be okay – because that’s how Cordy made him feel every day. Could he?

He looked at the young woman in front of him, arms crossed, equal amounts of defiance and fear pouring from her, waiting for him to do what he’d always done and just go along with her, and he knew the answer to that question. When Buffy was in Slayer mode, nobody’s gut feelings were important except her own.

But his gut was screaming at him that trying to keep this from Cordy, Wesley and Gunn would be a big mistake. They were still stitching their friendship and trust back together. This? Teaming with Buffy against them? He shivered thinking about the fallout. No, he couldn’t give in to Buffy this time. Cordy wasn’t the only one who was different.

Taking Buffy’s arms and tugging them apart, he slipped his hands in hers. “Buffy, it’s not just Cordy who’s changed. I’ve changed, too. I don’t live alone anymore, not like I did in Sunnydale.”

She pulled back, her shield back in place in an instant. “Is this where you tell me I don’t know you anymore? Well tell me something I don’t know. The Angel I knew wouldn’t hesitate to help me if I asked. What happened to him?”

“I’m going to help you. I always will. But those people in there are very important to me.”

“More important than me?”

Angel stiffened at the question. “Don’t. You know it’s not like that. But I can’t keep a secret from them that affects their lives. Any one of them could die if Glory finds you here. How can you ask them to give their lives protecting Dawn without knowing why? If you trust me with this, then trust them. Because I do…with my life.”

“Fine. You want to put your life in their hands? Go ahead. I’ll even trust you to put mine there. But I can’t risk Dawn’s. She’s the only thing that matters.”

The impasse seemed as impenetrable as her cold, green stare. It was obvious to Angel that she would not back down, and he couldn’t really blame her. He understood her protectiveness of her sister and the world. The first was her heart and the second was her duty.

He looked once more inside the hotel to see Cordy still there – alone. The others were probably not far away beginning research or prepping weapons in anticipation of the expected trouble to come, but Cordy was still watching and waiting – for him and his decision about whatever Buffy wanted. He could see the tension in her neck and her scrunched brow. He didn’t want to hurt or disappoint her again. He couldn’t. He just didn’t know what to do.

“Angel?”

Buffy’s voice forced him to drop his eyes and focus back on the problem in front of him.

“Angel, I get that you want to protect your group and it’s not like I want any of them…even Cordy…”

Cutting her off there, “Buffy, don’t start.”

“No, I get it. I do. You don’t want anyone hurt or, ya know, dead. But this whole Key thing is too big. It’s not just Glory that could use her to destroy the world.”

“What do you mean? I thought this was just about Glory. Is there somebody else after her?”

“Well there are these knight guys, but we can handle them…”

Angel’s eyes widened. “Night guys? Like ninjas?”

“No, like of the Round Table only way less chivalrous. But they don’t matter. I’m talking about the ones we don’t know about.” Buffy drew closer, standing toe to toe, her gaze clear and direct. “Dawn is the Key to open dimensions between worlds. We don’t know how many and what kinds. Maybe all of them.”

Angel searched her eyes for the missing puzzle pieces and in seconds they fell into place. “And if one demon god wants to open a hell dimension…”

“There’s probably a thousand more and their minions waiting in line to have a little hell fun. Anyone, even a sleazey demon snitch, could be looking for her.” Taking a final step closer, Buffy grasped his hand and held on. “Don’t you see, Angel? The less people who know about Dawn, the safer it is for Dawn, for them and the world. If it’s just you and me, we can keep the threat contained. Please, Angel.” She squeezed his hand tighter. “Please.”

On the verge of tears again, she was staring up at him with those big woeful eyes. He didn’t need that pressure again, so he looked up and saw the other pair of eyes – less moist but just as piercing – still watching from inside. He was literally trapped between a rock and another rock and the only way out was down the middle.

“Okay, I get it, but get one thing straight,” Angel added stepping back from Buffy’s touch and taking a firm stand on the subject, “we tell my people everything—except for the fact that Dawn is the Key. That should minimize any threat to her and the world while giving my people enough information about Glory to research and keep themselves alive.”

Buffy’s tears dried up. Frowning, she walked over to the edge of the fountain to gaze down at its murky depths, thinking about his offer. “I guess I don’t have a choice. I need you, Angel.”


PLANS FOR SCENE 4:

Plot Summary:

Angel reveals to Cordy & the others that Buffy is going to be living at the Hyperion for a while. The length of time she is to stay there would have to be open-ended or ‘as long as it’s necessary’.

Re: The Gang Sensing That Angel Knows More than Buffy is Revealing:

I can imagine Cordy asking, “Does Angel know?” Angel doesn’t say anything but Buffy says, “Yes.” Cordy humphs and says, “If he can know, then so can I. Or at least Wes. He’s the boss and knows all the book stuff. He should be told everything!”

When Buffy refuses saying only that it’s imperative as few people as possible know and Wes agrees with her, then Cordy can feel not only is this something that bonds Angel and Buffy and excludes her, but perhaps sees Wes as abandoning her and kowtowing to the all-powerful slayer. Maybe images of all her guys becoming Buffy whipped start to form. However, she is still all about the mission and knows she’s got to suppress these feelings for everyone’s sake so she let’s it sit in her gut and ferment.

Scene 4 seems like a natural place for a Chapter Break.


PLANS for SCENE 5:

Plot Summary:

Takes place the next day after the Fang Gang return from Pylea & Buffy’s arrival

*

*

Having stopped at the Krispy Kreme (or wherever) to pick up donuts, Cordelia heads to work. Naturally, Angel & Lorne won’t be up for hours. Who knows when Buffy will emerge from her room. So Cordy expects a normal beginning to the day followed by arranging to get Angel’s car out of Caritas. When she gets to work, Wes, Gunn & Buffy are munching on chocolate éclairs and Napoleans that Buffy bought as a thank you.

*

*

Cordelia pushes aside any negative feelings realizing that Buffy is just being polite & showing some appreciation for their help. So she grabs an éclair & says thanks. When going for a cup of coffee and seeing there isn’t any made (because of course not— who else would do it) says that she’ll make some. She even asks Buffy if she’d like a cup being the gracious hostess. Buffy comments that she’d better not. That she’s still jittery from all the coffee she and Angel had last night while patrolling.

*

*

Cordy’s gut jumps at that remark although why she’s not quite sure. Naturally, Buffy and Angel would start patrolling. Just like the old days. The thought is unsettling.

*

*

Buffy excuses herself and says that she needs to catch a few more z’s. She didn’t sleep very much— new bed and all. She tells Wes that after she’s had a little more rest, she’ll be back down to help with the research.

*

*

The office routine begins. Wes gets back to the research, Gunn snatches another donut while whines a little about missing patrol. They were all a little beat after the whole Pylea thing. He’d gone back to his place to sleep, but he would have stayed up if he thought there was going to be some action. Cordy heads to her desk to start making phone calls to get Angel’s car out.

*

*

Cordy has a vision. Despite the fact that he’d been upstairs sleeping, Angel has never not responded before. Wes & Gunn are there to try to comfort her, but it’s not the same. They fuss and run after pills and a glass of water. Cordy tries to chase them off & doesn’t want them hovering around.

Wes asks about the vision, concerned that it might be about Glory.

Gunn says he’ll get Angel & Buffy. It hadn’t occurred to Cordy that Buffy would be helping out with the visions. Patrol is one thing, but the mission is Angel’s.

Cordy tells them that they can let Angel sleep because the vision isn’t relevant until tonight. Gunn’s comment about getting to see Buffy in action rubs a raw nerve, drawing an irritable look from Cordy who is still in pain. Both Gunn & Wes back off.

Wes comments that he should get back to the research. If that had been a vision about Glory, they’d be unprepared. Gunn says something about checking out the weapons.

*

*

Stuck with her after-vision headache, Cordelia picks up the phone and gets back to work. Something about a demolition team and knocking down a wall at Caritas. She has to explain how the car got there in the first place. Fortunately, she’s dealing with a demon-run company or demon-knowledgeable demo guys. “How do you think it got there? Swirly hole, sucked into another dimension, repeat swirly hole and rinse!”


PLANS for SCENE 6

Plot Summary:

The scene opens mid-battle. Angel, Cordy, Wes, Gunn & Buffy are there. Cordy is not completely well, but not incapacitated. She’s there to help because the vision revealed she was needed to guard the Girl Scouts while the others deal with the demons. She is armed with a crossbow & guards them while the fight goes on around her.

Wes rattles off some demon know-how in the middle of the fight by advising Buffy to ‘aim for its gut where its heart is located’ or ‘watch out for the horn, it contains a paralyzing poison’. Buffy is impressed by his ability to come up with that stuff off the top of his head.

At some point, one of the demons sneak up behind Angel & Cordy shoots it with the crossbow. As she’s reloading it, the demon she injured goes after her. She hits it with the crossbow across the jaw & it staggers back, but when it regains its senses, it leaps for her again. Angel tackles it from behind & finishes it off.

Afterwards, maybe Buffy can say something like while she’s there, maybe Cordy shouldn’t risk going out with them. She did a good job protecting the kids, but if Angel hadn’t saved her, she would have been d/v/w chow. Cordy can say, “And he wouldn’t have been able to save me if I hadn’t saved him first. We’re a team. That’s how we work and have been long before you got here.”

Angel can step in seeing a fight possibly starting and say, “Buffy, Cordy doesn’t always go with us but she’s right. We are a team and we help each other whenever and however we can.” Then looking at Cordy. “But maybe she’s got a point. Just while Buffy’s here, maybe it would be a good idea if you take a break from the fighting.”

Well the argument starts with Cordy saying she doesn’t need a break and Angel arguing that she doesn’t need to risk her life needlessly when they’ve got a slayer on the team now. That really doesn’t sit well with her and she insists she could be just as valuable as any slayer if they’d bother training her – and what’s up with that anyway. Why haven’t they trained her? Angel says he never wanted her putting her life on the line that way. The fighting part is what he’s there for and she did enough having the visions and pointing him in the right direction. She says she’s more than a glorified hunting dog and, besides, sometimes she has to be in the fight like today. So doesn’t it make sense she’s prepared to fight?

Cordelia brings up the whole Glory issue and the fact that they should all be prepared for what might happen.

Surprisingly, Buffy agrees with Cordy for which Cordy grudgingly thanks her. She even volunteers to work with Cordy which momentarily freaks Cordy out. Angel sees the panic in her eyes and says, no, he’ll do it. If, and that’s a big if, she goes out on missions with them, it would be better if she knew his style of fighting. But he’s only agreeing to it so she’ll be more capable of defending herself, not so she’ll go out on every mission. Cordy says fine knowing she’ll get what she wants eventually.


PLANS for SCENE 7

Plot Summary:

The Training Session will be set up as…

“VERSION C”:
1. Angel and Cordy are training. They’ve been at it a little while so Cordy has some moves down. During the session both of them have moments of lustful thoughts, maybe some accidental “wrong” touches.
2. Buffy comes down to watch and wait for her turn to train with Angel. She notices Angel teaching her something that Buffy thinks is wrong and says so.
3. She comes down to show Cordy and Angel what she means. Cordy and Buffy spar a little while Angel watches getting aroused by watching Cordy move and then about busting a gut when they tumble onto the floor on top of each other.
4. Angel goes to help Cordy up once Buffy stands, maybe or maybe not holding onto Cordy tightly and she notices his arousal, and then Angel begins to dispute what Buffy was trying to show her. Buffy and Angel begin sparring each one trying to prove their method/move is better while Cordy watches.
5. The two of them get caught up with trying to outmaneuver one another and completely forget about Cordy. She eventually gives up and leaves.

Why does she leave? A part of her is bitter that *her* training session has become the Buffy/Angel smackdown of the century. A part of her is exhausted and is glad for the excuse to sneak out.

Angel’s reaction? Maybe a little disapponted she’s gone because part of the idea to prove Buffy wrong was to impress her with his superior skills. Maybe confused that she would leave her training session – the one she insisted on having.

Buffy’s reaction? She suggests that Cordy was probably just tired so since she’s gone they might as well begin their session. Angel wants to find out, but figures it can wait until later.

Deb Note: I’m thinking that having her feel his arousal is too soon for her to think he’s attracted to her and too soon for her to think it’s a reaction to Buffy and be jealous. I’m not sure the lesbian idea would immediately come to her or if she’d just assume it was because of Buffy – I think it would be the latter – and I don’t feel that’s right for this scene.)

More Deb Notes: Other than some lusty feelings and very slight (subconscious) jealousy on Cordy’s part, I really don’t think this first training session should be anything more than that. I think it’s too soon for any strong Buffy/Cordy bitterness or Cordy bitchiness to be showing through or Angel catching on to any of it. This is sort of our base line of what their “adult” relationships are like so that the later slights will be in contrast to this.


PLANS for SCENE 8

Plot Summary:

Follows up the Training Session issues and leads into the Visions-Are-For-Angel talk.

Later: Angel asks Cordy why she left bringing up the fact that she was the one who insisted on being trained. Cordy says that both of them trying to train her was just confusing and on top of that she was exhausted. Besides, obviously he wasn’t too concerned because he waited until now to find out what was wrong.

Angel explains Buffy figured they might as well have their session right then while he was still warmed up. Cordy mumbles, “I bet she did.” Angel doesn’t catch it and says “What?” She says, “Nothing, I just said that was a good idea.” Angel says, “Yes, it was, which is why I said okay.” Angel then concedes that it probably was too much to take in with two people coming at her at once. It is best if only one person train with her to begin with and says he’ll talk to Buffy about it on patrol.

Wes can come in at this point (interrupting the C/A convo) and have questions about Glory. It’s been a full day and a half (I think) by this point so he’s done some research and maybe found a vague reference to Glory being “shadowed” or “behind a veil” and he wants to know if he or Buffy knows what that means.

Angel doesn’t know anything and Buffy comes down the stairs having taken a shower after the training and Wesley asks her. She isn’t sure – maybe it means the fact that she’s disguised as a normal person. Wesley says he doesn’t think so for some reason and says that typically in this language the interpretation would mean “hiding” or “in secret” but since Glory isn’t doing either it is odd.

This could be a point where Buffy gives some praise to Wes for finding something out so quickly. That’s something that Giles hadn’t uncovered even with the weeks they’ve had to research.

Cordy can see Wesley puff up at Buffy’s praise so she agrees with Buffy that Wes is the best, but then zings him with something like “and shanshu meant what exactly?” She smiles and Wes is suitably de-puffed.

((DEB’s NOTE: I’ve come to the conclusion my thinking was wrong about Angel’s epiphany. I think there’s a distinction between “redemption” and his “Shanshu.” The Shanshu was foretold as a reward for his helping the PTB’s in avoiding apocalypses and defeating all the baddies. It didn’t necessarily relate to being redeemed or forgiven. So while I think Angel believes that no matter what he does, he can never be redeemed/forgiven for all the lives he’s taken, I don’t think he’s totally given up at this point on possibly being rewarded and made human. So, later when Cordy and he have the fallout about Buffy helping with the visions, it would be about him no longer believing he can ever be redeemed and not about his humanity. Well, that’s my opinion anyway. Do you guys disagree or agree?)))

Buffy is curious about Shanshu. Wesley explains and she’s OMG, you’re going to be human? Angel says something like maybe – some day. But it’s a long way off. Cordy sees the dreamy expression on Buffy and the slight blush as the possibilities for a future with Angel cross her mind and she wants to nip that idea in the bud. So she says something like, yeah a long, long way off – like not in our lifetimes – right, Angel? He is suddenly depressed that Cordy thinks that and at the thought that he won’t be human while she’s alive and mumbles his agreement.

Buffy sees the change in attitude and tries to cheer him up with, well whenever it happens it will be wonderful. I’m happy for you.

Angel grins a little and says thanks and Cordy is annoyed that Buffy made him smile. Then Buffy asks Angel if she can talk to him alone and he says sure so they go out to the garden (the shady part). Cordy watches them leave and not wanting to stick around to watch that angst festival and still having to deal with the car, she takes the opportunity to go to Caritas and see how that’s shaping up.

(((Cali’s Note: Obviously it’ll cross Cordy’s mind that Buff wants to talk about the shanshu some more- in private, and we all know what would go through our mind- uh oh, R & J rears its ugly head again . She wouldn’t want to stick around and dwell on it.)))

PLANS for SCENE 8

Plot Summary:

Follows up the Training Session issues and leads into the Visions-Are-For-Angel talk.

Later: Angel asks Cordy why she left bringing up the fact that she was the one who insisted on being trained. Cordy says that both of them trying to train her was just confusing and on top of that she was exhausted. Besides, obviously he wasn’t too concerned because he waited until now to find out what was wrong.

Angel explains Buffy figured they might as well have their session right then while he was still warmed up. Cordy mumbles, “I bet she did.” Angel doesn’t catch it and says “What?” She says, “Nothing, I just said that was a good idea.” Angel says, “Yes, it was, which is why I said okay.” Angel then concedes that it probably was too much to take in with two people coming at her at once. It is best if only one person train with her to begin with and says he’ll talk to Buffy about it on patrol.

Wes can come in at this point (interrupting the C/A convo) and have questions about Glory. It’s been a full day and a half (I think) by this point so he’s done some research and maybe found a vague reference to Glory being “shadowed” or “behind a veil” and he wants to know if he or Buffy knows what that means.

Angel doesn’t know anything and Buffy comes down the stairs having taken a shower after the training and Wesley asks her. She isn’t sure – maybe it means the fact that she’s disguised as a normal person. Wesley says he doesn’t think so for some reason and says that typically in this language the interpretation would mean “hiding” or “in secret” but since Glory isn’t doing either it is odd.

This could be a point where Buffy gives some praise to Wes for finding something out so quickly. That’s something that Giles hadn’t uncovered even with the weeks they’ve had to research.

Cordy can see Wesley puff up at Buffy’s praise so she agrees with Buffy that Wes is the best, but then zings him with something like “and shanshu meant what exactly?” She smiles and Wes is suitably de-puffed.

((DEB’s NOTE: I’ve come to the conclusion my thinking was wrong about Angel’s epiphany. I think there’s a distinction between “redemption” and his “Shanshu.” The Shanshu was foretold as a reward for his helping the PTB’s in avoiding apocalypses and defeating all the baddies. It didn’t necessarily relate to being redeemed or forgiven. So while I think Angel believes that no matter what he does, he can never be redeemed/forgiven for all the lives he’s taken, I don’t think he’s totally given up at this point on possibly being rewarded and made human. So, later when Cordy and he have the fallout about Buffy helping with the visions, it would be about him no longer believing he can ever be redeemed and not about his humanity. Well, that’s my opinion anyway. Do you guys disagree or agree?)))

Buffy is curious about Shanshu. Wesley explains and she’s OMG, you’re going to be human? Angel says something like maybe – some day. But it’s a long way off. Cordy sees the dreamy expression on Buffy and the slight blush as the possibilities for a future with Angel cross her mind and she wants to nip that idea in the bud. So she says something like, yeah a long, long way off – like not in our lifetimes – right, Angel? He is suddenly depressed that Cordy thinks that and at the thought that he won’t be human while she’s alive and mumbles his agreement.

Buffy sees the change in attitude and tries to cheer him up with, well whenever it happens it will be wonderful. I’m happy for you.

Angel grins a little and says thanks and Cordy is annoyed that Buffy made him smile. Then Buffy asks Angel if she can talk to him alone and he says sure so they go out to the garden (the shady part). Cordy watches them leave and not wanting to stick around to watch that angst festival and still having to deal with the car, she takes the opportunity to go to Caritas and see how that’s shaping up.

(((Cali’s Note: Obviously it’ll cross Cordy’s mind that Buff wants to talk about the shanshu some more- in private, and we all know what would go through our mind- uh oh, R & J rears its ugly head again . She wouldn’t want to stick around and dwell on it.)))


PLOT SUMMARY SCENE 9

Plot Summary:

B/A Convo in the Garden, Dealing with the Car & Cordy/Lorne Convo at Caritas

1. Shanshu, just to break the ice. Maybe Angel is a little uncomfortable talking about it, afraid she’ll bring up getting back together.

2. Buffy isn’t feeling the big honkin’ love for Angel and she doesn’t want to bring it up either, so to head him off of the subject she makes a remark about Cordy’s statement about it being a long time off. What’s up with that?

3. Angel starts waxing on about Cordy in some way. Like he can’t shut up about her. Buffy gives him a strange look which he notices, and tosses the convo back to her asking why she wanted to talk to him alone.

4. Oh, yeah. She just wanted to make sure he was still okay with her being there. She’d understand if he thought it was too big a risk for the group. She could always keep moving.

5. Angel’s like no, you need our help. You need Wesley’s research help.

6. Buffy’s says what about Cordy? She gets the feeling Cordy’s not real thrilled about her being there.

7. Angel says Cordy would have made a great vampire because she’s very possessive of her family and doesn’t like any threat to it. But more than that, she’ll do what’s right for whoever needs help – including Buffy. She’ll come around eventually.

Cut to Cordy at Caritas raving to Lorne about the tiny tornado and how she’s totally taking over and now that she knows about Angel’s Shanshu she’s all over him.

She’s going there to oversee the car being taken out and while she’s there her concern that she may have opened a can of worms by spilling the Shanshu deal to Buffy comes out – maybe after Lorne asks her what’s happening at the homestead with their newest guest. This is something she just tosses out in conversation. Lorne doesn’t have to assure her too much. He can just say what a normal friend would say in that Angel’s a big boy and he can handle any false expectations Buffy might have on that subject. This could just be Lorne’s second inkling (assuming we keep him at the hotel in the first scene) that there may be trouble brewing between Cordy and Angel.

Whatever he says can have her feeling she’s just being foolish. She does trust Angel not to leave again – at least not until he does Shanshu – and what he does after that really isn’t her business. Then she thinks, why does it hurt to think he’d leave her once he’s human? So she’s a little reassured and so whatever happens next does shake her confidence that all is well.


 

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