SUMMARY: This is different take on what happened at the end of BtVS Season 1.
POSTED: 27 Dec 2003
CATEGORY: BtVS AU
CONTENT/PAIRING: Very Cordy Centric with C/A, C/AUS, B/A
WARNINGS: Graphic Situations, Violence, and Sexual Content
AUTHOR NOTES: Thanks to you stalkers for trying to keep me motivated.. Scorch, Kimmers, Helen, Lysa, and all the rest of you lovelies!
The Master’s Lair
It was something she never thought would happen- realizing her own death.
All Buffy could think about, as she was being held in the deadly embrace of the Master, was her mother. How she would never know the reason why her daughter had died and by what.
“You tried,” he crooned to her, caressing her cheek. “It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I as going to break free and you came to stop me.” Buffy felt his chest rumble as laughed. “But prophecies are tricky creatures. They didn’t tell you everything.”
Tell me what?
He brought his lips within an inch of her ear. “You’re the one that frees me.” Buffy could sense his glee as he smiled and continued to whisper to her. “If you hadn’t come, I couldn’t go. Think about that.”
Buffy would not think of that, as he proceeded to pierce her neck with his fangs. She wanted to think of her mother. That perfect mother she would never see again- She couldn’t help but cry out at the sudden pain of it. It was more than pain, if was the ever present knowledge that she was going to die. With each drop of blood his was draining, it was a step closer to death.
“God, the power!” He cried in ecstasy and wonder. Who would have ever thought such a little girl could harness that much power within her? Huh, well… now within him.
“By the way,” he conversed, amused as her body sagged from his grip. Falling to her knees, she pitched face-down into the pool of water beside them. “I like your dress.”
Buffy knew he was leaving, to wreck havoc on the world that had denied him for so long. As her lungs filled with water, the slayer felt an inner peace at the fact that it was over- she was dying. She didn’t have to fight anymore. Before she lost total consciousness, Buffy let one final thought go through her mind-
I hope whoever’s called after me has better luck.
And she died.
Cordelia Chase was in a panic and was desperately trying to get home. She had just fled, driving her car as far away from Sumner Park as she could get. Cordelia had gone there to remember Kevin, her almost boyfriend whom she had found earlier that day, murdered. It was near the edge of the woods where they used to park, that she had gone to remember him. And it was there that the monsters had come after her.
She did not even question to herself, why their faces looked liked pissed of kitties with fangs, to know it was time to leave. Maybe it was the glowing gold eyes or the drooling mouths that spurred her to start the car and peel out. All she knew was that she did not want to end up like Kevin, his throat viciously torn out and left like a rag doll to rot.
Got to get home! I’ll be safe when I get home. She didn’t know how she knew that, but it sounded good.
Veering a sharp turn to her right, onto Chesapeake Court, Cordelia felt her heart race in anticipation at the notion she was only two blocks from home. What she wasn’t expecting were the sudden crack of the steering wheel assembly nor the burst of power that caoursed through her.
Screeching to a halt, Cordelia slammed on the breaks. Her heart felt like it was pounding a mile a minute. How did I do that, she wondered, bringing a shaking hand to the huge crack behind her steering wheel. There was no way she could have the strength to do that! She didn’t understand it, but she knew she did it.
Cordelia Chase felt powerful and strong. Well, obviously if I could almost twist my steering wheel off! She knew something had happened to her during that turn- something strange. What was even stranger, was she didn’t feel any of the fear she had only moments ago. She felt exhilarated.
She no longer wanted to go home. Cordelia felt she needed to be somewhere else now. Right now! It was as if some unseen force was pulling at her, calling to her.
Not giving a second thought to what she would find there, Cordelia eased onto the gas and gently turned the car around. She had to get to Sunnydale High.
Angel and Xander raced through the tunnels, trying to get to the Master’s lair. They came to a halt as a glow illuminated through one of the passage ways and a rumble coursed throughout.
“What is that?” Xander questioned.
Angel felt a despairing dread creep into his soul. “It’s too late. He’s gone up.”
Knowing what that meant for them and probably for Buffy, Xander shouted, “Come on. Come on!” Both of them pummeling to the opening, one after the other.
Running through the tunnels, Xander finally began to feel his lungs burn in protest. He wasn’t used to such activity and the fearful pounding of his heart was not helping. Angel was well ahead of him.
Falling in after Angel, Xander came to a complete stop at what he saw. There, in this filthy church, was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen- again. Lying in Angel’s arms was Buffy, in her white dress, drenched from head to toe. Angel was checking the pulse on her wrist, then bringing his head down to her mouth, to see if she was breathing. Please be breathing, please…
Angel lifted his head up, looking at Xander. “She’s dead.”
No, not possible. Buffy can’t die. She’s not going to die. “She’s not dead,” Xander hissed, speaking his own thoughts.
“She’s not breathing,” Angel insisted, shaking his head at Xander. He, more than anyone, knew what death was- and Buffy had seen it.
“If she’s drowned there’s a shot. CPR.”
Angel considered this, realizing that he couldn’t do it. “You have to do it. I have no breath.”
Okay, makes sense as he is undead-boy. He’d have to do it… Xander was an avid fan of Baywatch. Those hotties did this all the time and so could he. Giving himself a shake, Xander leaned in, closing his fingers over her nose and proceeded to give her mouth to mouth.
Alternating between pumping her heart and breathing into her mouth, Xander whispered. “Come on, come on!”
The vampires were steadily coming closer to them, as Willow and Ms Calendar backed away. There was a legion of them, heading towards the school. “Why are they coming here?” said Ms Calendar, pulling Willow with her.
“Not caring…” Willow whispered in reply, turning with Ms Calendar to run back to the library.
Suddenly a car veered towards the women, coming to a stop right by them. There behind the wheel was Cordelia Chase. Willow had never been so happy to see someone she loathed in her very life.
“Breathe!” Xander pleaded, still pumping his hands on Buffy’s chest, willing her heart to beat again.
Angel was about to pull him away, as he shook his head. She’s gone, Angel realized.
Buffy opened her eyes. Sucking a huge amount of air, Buffy began to cough, expelling the water from her lungs. “Buffy?”
Trying to focus her green eyes, she decided to look where the voice had come from. “Xander?” She turned her head to both Angel and Xander.
Xander tried to control the sobs gathering at the back of his throat, and was surprised to find that he could. She was back! He had saved her. “Welcome back.”
Willow and Ms Calendar scrambled to get into Cordelia’s car, Willow taking the front seat.
As she placed the car in gear, Cordelia gave a brief description of what had happened to her. “I was sitting where Kevin and I used to park, and suddenly these things were coming at me- I tried to get home but- Who are these guys?!”
You know what they are.
Cordelia shook her head. Alright, little psychic voice is getting a little creepy. Just then a vampire crashed onto her windshield, causing the women to elicit an ear piercing scream. “What do I do?” Cordelia whispered to them as much to herself.
“We’ve got to get to the library.” Willow said.
Yes, that’s were she needed to go. “Library. Right. Great.” Surging with power and purpose, Cordelia slammed her foot down on the gas pedal and peeled out. Heading for the library, literally.
Ms Calendar and Willow braced themselves for impact, when they realized where Cordelia was headed. “Of course, we generally walk there…” Willow suggested, just before Cordelia’s car blasted through the doors. Ms Calendar glanced behind them, and saw that the vampires were still hot on their trail, despite the wreckage Cordelia’s car was making.
Cordelia slammed on her breaks, screeching to a halt outside of the library doors. The other women screaming so loudly and desperate to reach the sanctuary of the library, that no one noticed Cordelia fling a powerful right hook at a vampire, knocking him down with the female vamp right behind him.
He’s gone up!
This time, the psychic voice was too powerful to ignore, and Cordelia ran down the hall, knocking down vampires as she went.
Willow and Ms Calendar shut the library doors behind them, as Giles ran up to them. “What’s going on?” He asked, as the women began to barricade the doors.
“Guess!” Ms Calendar shouted, as a vampire tried to burst through the doors.
“But why are they coming here?”
Willow felt the blood drain from her face, as she realized they were one brunette short- “Oh, God! Where’s Cordelia?”
Ms Calendar and Giles looked around in alarm. The teenager was not in the room. Willow felt tears spring to her eyes. This was getting too real! “They must have gotten her.”
Amidst the sudden grief, not one heard the rumble coming from the library stacks.
Buffy began to sit up, with the help of the guys. “Easy,” Xander whispered, taking hold of her arm to assist her.
“The Master?” She asked, as she gathered her bearings. Whoa, I just drowned.
“He’s gone up.” Angel answered, holding onto her other side. Hearing this Buffy, rose strongly to her feet.
Xander was not about to let her go charging off. He saw that look in her eyes. “Buffy, you’re still weak.”
“No, I’m not. I feel strong.” She felt more powerful than she ever had, like she could take on the world. “I feel… different.”
Not knowing what to think, Angel and Xander looked at each other in confusion. She had just come back from the dead, alive, but she felt strong? Must be some slayer trait.
As if confirming against their uncertainty, Buffy began to walk away from them. “Let’s go.” Giving each other one last look, the guys quickly followed.
The Roof of the Library
The Master pushed open the door, joy in his every step. The air was crisp and sweet, a scent he despised, but missed. Soon the air would be filled with blood and chaos. Rubbing his hands together in anticipation, he came to the edge of the roof, looking into the distance of the great possibilities beyond.
“My world. My beautiful world.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty. But not yours.”
Turning sharply around the feminine voice behind, the Master glared. Who was this girl to speak such insolence!? She certainly was lovely, as he surveyed her big eyes and lustrous hair. This would make a splendid treat after being locked away for so long, he mused, drinking in her curvaceous figure clad in a cream sweater and skintight, lavender pants.
“And who might you be, child?” He asked, dropping his voice down to a low octave.
Giving a small smile, she took a step forward. “I’m Cordelia. And you must be Ugly.”
Giles and the girls were scrambling to block the library doors. As Willow shoved another chair against the mini-shelves, a loud crash sound from behind them. “They’re coming in through the stacks!” Giles shouted, while the girls ran in that direction, to barricade those doors.
Slamming the doors, Willow shouted to Ms Calendar to start pulling the bookshelves. Both of them got one against the doors, just as the vampires started pounding from the other side. Willow braced herself against the shelves, not noticing a slimy tendril creeping towards her ankle.
The Roof of the Library
Matching her smile, the Master also took a step forward. “Why are up here, Cordelia? Surely just by looking upon me, your heart is filled with fear.”
“Well,” she shrugged, giving his leather get up the once over, “Your outfit is downright ghastly, but other than that- no! No fear.” Cordelia knew he was powerful and ancient. She may not be ancient, but she was just as strong as he was. “Just power.”
The Master bore his demon eyes into hers. Yes, there was power there. But this wasn’t right! It was too soon. He had just killed one, now there was another not more than six feet from him. “No… it can’t be- not another Slayer! Not here! It should have been in another country, or something! But not here!”
Hearing that word was like coming home. “Wow,” she mused. “That’s what I am. A Slayer.” It all made sense now- the sudden strength, the pull to come up here and face Mr. Ugly. The word called to her, even though it was all completely clear.
“You’ve just been called,” The Master realized, taking this into his advantage. “One dies and another is Chosen. But you haven’t been trained and probably have not even killed one of my children. Do you know who I am? WhatI am? I am a Master vampire. Older than any of those others down there and more powerful. Oh, this is going to be rich.”
Vampires. She was meant to kill vampires. That was what killed Kevin and the others, she realized, as a quiet rage began to boil within her. “Maybe I haven’t been trained or whatever, and maybe your are a Master- a master of fashion disgrace. But your children killed some people I cared about and are threatening some more. And for that- I’m gonna have to kick your ass.”
The Master let out a growl of vicious anticipation, as the newborn Slayer flew at him.
Near Sunnydale High
Buffy and the guys were on a rapid move toward the school, with Buffy leading the way.
“How do you know where the Master’s going?” Xander asked Buffy, as he almost tripped over his own footing.
A vampire stepped in front of them. “Oh, look. A bad guy.” Not even breaking stride, Buffy shoved him to the ground and kept on walking.
That’s my girl, Xander thought, admiration surging through him.
Willow and Ms Calendar were desperately trying to hold the back library doors shut, but they were getting weak. “This won’t keep them our for long!” Willow shouted to Giles. Just then, a slimy tentacle wrapped itself around her leg. Screaming, both Willow and Ms Calendar try to pull away from it.
“Giles! Giles!” Ms Calendar screams as she tries to pull Willow away from terror that’s grabbed her.
Just as Giles runs out of his office, weapons in hand, to assist the girls, the ground began to shake as the demon arose. The same demon who had one of it’s tentacles on Willow. Oh, my God, Giles realized in fear. “The Hellmouth.”
“Giles,” Ms Calendar shouts, “Gape later!”
The Roof of the Library
While his child of darkness was being born into this world, the Master was fighting a child of light who had also, just been born.
Cordelia Chase could not believe the agility and force she had. With each kick, punch or blow she felt even more powerful. She wasn’t even fazed with the Master lashed out with claws, raking her upper arm. “If that scars, I’ll go down to hell to kick your ass again.” Cordelia snarled, as she jammed her left elbow across his face, sending him flying.
This was not happening to him. All stories of slayers when the are first called, have always spoken of the girls being off in their strength and strategy. This one fought as if she had been slaying for years. She had just been called for devil’s sake! “You can’t beat me, precious! Hell will be coming to me, not I to it!” He shouted, slamming her against the bottom of the skylight over the library.
Finding her feet a little too fast, Cordelia stumbled against the glass behind her and looked down. Giles, Willow, and Ms Calendar where fighting some big slimy thing. Giving a quick glance over, she notices a broken table with a huge spike pointing up.
The Master, grinned, seeing her almost falter in her step and lashed out again with his claws across her middle. It was sweet music to his ears, as the Slayer gave an involuntary cry of pain.
“Two Slayers in one night. I love this town.”
Buffy came to a stop outside of the door marked “Roof Access”. She had never been up this way before, and noticed that the lock had been broken. The Master had definitely gone up there.
“You wait here,” she told the guys, as she pushed open the door. “Keep the rest of the vampires off me.”
“Right,” Xander nodded, assuming position to guard the door.
“Angel,” Buffy said, the vampire turning to her. “Better put on your game face.”
In full vamp face, Angel nodded to her. “I’m ready.”
“One way or another, this won’t take long.” With that, she hurried up the stairs.
Angel took in a breath of unnecessary air in preparation of the coming onslaught. As he did, he caught the pleasant scent of lavender. That’s weird. The only other being besides the Master who should have gone up there was Buffy, and she smelled of vanilla.
Before he could think on, a waive of vampires came at him and Xander.
Back on the Roof
“Two slayers in one night. I love this town.”
Cordelia glared at him, as she clutched her side, blood spilling over her fingers. Now she was pissed. This sweater was beyond repair!
“I’m sorry to say, Cordelia. I think you’ll go down in history as the Slayer who lived the shortest after she was called- I’ll make sure and call Guinness for you.” Laughing in triumph, the Master grabbed her injured arm, preparing to strike.
Before he could move, Cordelia countered his grab, twisting his arm till in snapped. Grinning as the Master screamed, she reached out with her injured right arm, clutching his neck. Cocking her head to the side in coy amusement, she lifted him off the ground. “My first kill is going to be a Master vampire. Thanks for the idea about calling Guinness”
Lifting him a few more inches, she flipped him bodily over head, right through the glass of the skylight.
As the Master fell to his death, the last thought he had before he was impaled by the broken table below, was of Cordelia. Such a Slayer was bound to do great things. After all, she had killed him and he was her first kill. Feeling the wood penetrate through his chest, he looked up into Cordelia’s eyes. He was sorry he was not going to see her reach her full potential. It would have been worth it.
Cordelia watched as he began to disintegrate. The demon that was attacking Giles and the others, all of a sudden was sucked back into the void from where it had originated.
Hearing the sound of footsteps pounding up the access stairway, Cordelia staggered to the edge of the roof in alarm. The Master had gotten in some good blows against her, and she was not ready to fight again so soon. The wound on her side was throbbing. Just as the access door swung open, Cordelia vaulted over the side of the roof, dropping to the sodden grass below with a painful grunt.
Feeling pumped up with adrenaline, Buffy stormed onto the roof and looked around in surprise to see the Master was not there. From the broken wood and glass, there appeared to have been a battle. Inching forward, she noticed some blood against one of the funnels on the roof. Touching it, she felt it was warm. Definitely not vampire blood.
Coming toward the broken skylight, glass crunching against her white heels, Buffy peered down- there he was, in the last stages of turning to dust.
“Angel! Xander!” She shouted.
Moments later, the guys appeared on the roof, coming to her aid. Xander surveyed the damage, with an impressed eye. “Yowza! Way to go, Buffy!” His grin falter, as he caught her concerned gaze.
“Angel,” she quietly asked, coming over to him. “What do you sense here? Anything off?
She was up here too short a time to do all this. Confused Angel, honed in on his senses. Closing his eyes, he shifted to his vampire visage. He could smell and hear better when he was in demon mode. Taking a waft of air, he caught the scent of lavender again. “Is there blood?” Not really questioning Buffy, he picked up the scent anyway.
Going over to the funnel that held the most amount of it, Angel hesitantly touched it. It was warm, definitely human. Bringing his fingertips up, Angel took in a long inhale of the blood. He could feel his fangs tingle at the scent, his mouth becoming wet in eagerness to taste it. Giving into his urges, despite the gasps from the two humans behind him, Angel closed his eyes in ecstasy at the taste.
What he tasted was heaven. Feeling that coppery blood on his tongue was like coming home, an aphrodisiac- “Oh, my God.” Angel hissed in realization.
Xander was clearly grossed out, as was Buffy. “What? Did it just dawn on you how disgusting that was, Dead-Boy?
Angel wasn’t listening and he didn’t care about the looks that they were giving him. “We’ve gotta get downstairs. Now!” Not minding the confused expressions, he charged down the stairway towards the library.
Giles and Willow were staring down at the remains of the Master, when Angel burst through the doors. Ms Calendar, had just finished moving some of the objects away from the door to see if the vampires had gone.
Seeing his expression, “Angel,” he asked, “The vampires?”
“They’re gone,” Angel assured him. “The Master?”
“Dead,” Giles confirmed, smiling. “And the Hellmouth has closed.” Buffy and Xander had just come through the door. “Buffy?”
Her green eyes were on the skeletal remains of the Master. An odd expression on her face. “Hey, Giles.”
Something was going on. Buffy seemed surprised to see the Master this way, which was odd since she had killed it. “What’s going on?”
Angel stepped forward, “Giles, we may have a problem.” Shaking his head in wonder, he countered his own statement. “Or it may not be a problem.”
“What is it?” Ms Calendar asked, coming stand with Giles.
“The problem is, I didn’t kill the Master,” Buffy admitted, bringing her gazed to Giles. “Someone else got on that roof before I did and-” she gestured to the remains, “did this. Not me.”
Giles shook his head in confusion. Who else besides the Slayer would have enough power to defeat the Master? No demon, of evil origins, would ever assist in his demise. “I don’t understand. How can that be?”
Angel spoke up, a grim expression on his face. “There was blood up there, Giles. Human, but potent blood. It was the scent that drove me- I’ve never tasted anything like it. Like an aphrodisiac to vampires.” Buffy’s eyes widened as she caught the brief flash of pleasure on his face. “But I’ve heard stories of a certain kind of blood tasting that way, having never tried it myself. Giles, I think it was slayer blood.”
Everyone in the room was in a state of shock. What Angel was insinuating was impossible. “It wasn’t your blood, Buffy?” Ms Calendar asked, breaking the silence.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I told you someone got there before I did.”
This was going against everything in the history of the Watcher’s Council. Angel was implying there was another slayer, which was impossible. Ever since the age of the first slayer called, there had only been one per generation. One dies, another is chos- Giles took off his glasses, his eyes wide. “Buffy? Did something happen to you tonight?”
“Buffy drowned, we brought her back,” Xander piped in, resting a comforting hand on Buffy’s shoulder. He was still shaken up at the fact that he had almost lost his friend. He had lost Jesse to vampires, and that was all the friends he wanted to lose.
Angel met Giles’ startled gaze, realization dawning. Buffy had died. The Slayer had died, and another had been Chosen. “Oh, my God. There really is another slayer.” Giles rubbed his hands against his temples. This was too much. Unprecedented.
“What,” Willow asked, “Giles, I thought only one could be called. A Chosen One.”
“Yes, Willow, but when one dies another is Chosen. And you did die didn’t you, Buffy?” Giles finally came forward, wrapping an arm around his Slayer. He saw how hard she was fighting against her tears. Not able to find her voice, Buffy only nodded.
“Oh, Rupert,” Ms Calendar said, coming closer within the group surrounding Buffy. “We’ve got to find her. Whoever she is. Angel,” looking over at the vampire, “Did you get anything else up there? Something so we can find her?”
Before Angel could answer, Giles interrupted. “We have to find her. There’s a newborn slayer out there who just killed a Master vampire, with no training. I’m sure of it. Not only that- she had to have sensed something to know about the battle going on here. I’ve never heard of a slayer who had the opening knowledge to go into the fight. And judging from how much time she had since activation, the Master was probably her first kill.”
Xander let out a whistle of amazement. “So we have an all-knowing, uber-slayer out there? Funky.”
Going back to Ms Calendar’s questions, Angel interjected. “It was female blood, obviously a slayer.” Trying to rake his brain, a frown settle on his handsome features. “She wears lavender perfume. I smelled it in the hallway outside the door to the roof, then again up there.”
“She jumped off the roof,” Buffy stated, “I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, right when I got up there.” A soft look came over her face. “She probably heard me and jumped. Judging from the amount of blood, the Master got in a few good blows. She might have thought I was another demon, and didn’t have enough strength yet to fight again.”
Angel nodded in agreement. “She’s smart. Don’t get into another battle if you’re sure you can’t win it. Especially wounded.” Giles was right, they had to find her. She was going off instincts now. “She may not even know what’s happened to her, who she is.”
“Rarely,” the Watcher began, “If there is a battle of such magnitude as this, the Slayer is somehow summoned by an inner voice to fight. She was answering, and didn’t know what she was in for.” Giving a grim, but respectful smile, he continued. “But she came out triumphant.
“So,” Xander piped in again. “We have to find a bleeding slayer, who smells like lavender- you up for hunting, Dead-boy?”
Angel sneered at Xander. He was getting on his last nerve!
“Cordelia!” Willow shouted, sounding excited. “Cordelia wears lavender.”
Ms Calendar shook her head in denial. “Willow, Cordelia didn’t make it past her car outside. She was attacked by vampires.”
“We didn’t see her get attacked.” Willow countered, trying to remember if they had heard Cordelia cry out in pain. “We just assumed cause she didn’t make it in.”
“Whoa, there best friend of friends,” Xander was trying so hard not to laugh. “That is too Outer Limits, in fact- it’s crazy talk! Cordelia the Vampire Slayer?! No way, no day.”
“Who else do you know that wears lavender perfume? Remember how we overheard her, freshman year talking about how she likes to were floral perfumes that match the color clothes she was wearing?” Willow had a roller-dex filing for a memory. “She was wearing red that day, and wore rose perfume. You, me and Jesse were mocking her for days!”
The rest of the gang, except for Giles and Angel were shaking there heads at the notion. Buffy was really in denial. “I have to side with Xander on this one, Will. No way is Cordelia a slayer.” That would almost be the last straw for Buffy.
“She was wearing lavender pants today, Buffy,” The redhead confirmed quietly, meeting her best friend’s eyes.
“Give me a minute.” There was only one way to resolve this, Angel thought, as he stormed out of the room to Cordelia’s car. The others followed him in curiosity.
Angel opened the passenger door, and that faint scent greeted him again. It wouldn’t be enough to prove to the others though. Rummaging around, Angel found what he was looking for- Cordelia’s purse. A lavender color that must have matched pants. Reaching inside, he fumbled around until he found what he was looking for- a vial of perfume.
Buffy felt her breath catch in her throat as she saw what he was holding. Angel took the cap off, inhaling the fragrance, and nodded his head. “It’s the same as on the roof.”
Ms Calendar brought her hand to her mouth, tears welling in her eyes. “Dear God, we have to find her! Who knows how badly she’s wounded.”
Willow clenched her jaw in fear and frustration. They had just assumed she was dead, not realizing a higher power had called her to face something obscene- something she had no training for. Cordelia Chase had saved the world. It was a scary thing.
Giles took a staggering step towards his office. “Rupert?” Ms Calendar asked, “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to call the Council. Tell them another slayer has been activated in Sunnydale,” he stopped at his door, turning to Buffy. “The Powers must have felt the need to activate another close to the Hellmouth, since it was about to open. Because usually, our potentials are tracked and trained in preparation of their calling. Cordelia was not on that list, just like you weren’t Buffy. She was specifically chosen.” Buffy could feel her lip trembling. She remembered what if was like to be told she was the Slayer, not knowing what that meant. But she had been told by her Watcher, Merrick. Cordelia had no idea. As if reading her thoughts, Giles nodded. “We have to find her and fast.”
“Hello, miss. How can I help you?”
A beautiful, but bruised young woman had just come up ticket window. The ticket clerk, Sybil Warner, didn’t know if she should call someone. The girl was badly bruised, but cleaned up. Reading her expression, the brunette assured her. “Don’t worry about the black and blue. I’m in cheerleading, and got a kick to my check by a powerful leg during the pyramid.”
“Oh,” Sybil sighed in relief. “I’m sorry to stare, I was just concerned.”
“Now,” the ticket clerk asked, a little more refreshed. “How can I help you?”
“One ticket to Sendai, Japan. One way.” She stated, and handed the clerk her cash once it was totaled out.
“Thank you very much, Miss-?” The brunette had paid with cash, not credit cards like most travelers did, so she didn’t have a name.
“It’s Chase-” Suddenly she stopped herself, she didn’t want to give her real name. “Chase Yoshino.” Using the last name of her great-grandfather, Miss ‘Yoshino’ took her ticket and bid the sales clerk goodbye.
That was funny. She didn’t look Japanese. Seeing the woman go through the gateway entrance, Sybil gave a shake of her blond head, and went back to work.
As her plane lifted off, Cordelia Chase placed what had happened behind her. No one in Japan would figure out what had happened and no one in Sunnydale knew of her Japanese heritage. She would be safe. Seeing that she was all alone in first class, she turned her head to the window, looking at the sky filled with light. Her defenses down, she finally let the sobs overtake her.
She was no longer Cordelia Chase. She was a Slayer. She knew who she was.
Angel was getting aggravated. It had been nearly twenty-four hours since the Hellmouth had closed, and they weren’t getting any closer to locating Cordelia. Xander and Willow had gone checking the nearby clinics and hospitals during the day. They had all insisted that Buffy should rest after her ordeal. Giles was currently on the phone, again, desperately trying to contact Cordelia’s parents. Judging by his tone of voice, he seemed to be finally successful.
“I understand, Mrs. Chase,” Giles implored, exasperation was ringing clearly in his tone. The Chases were virtually impossible to contact. Earlier that day, the Chase housekeeper had informed the librarian that Cordelia’s parents would be home at around 6:00pm. “I do apologize for interrupting you and your husband, in light that you just arrived home. But you daughter is missing and the school is trying to find her.”
Finally feeling some of his tension ease, knowing that Giles was on the phone with Cordelia’s mother, Angel took a seat in Giles’ leather chair. He had never been close to Cordelia, in fact, he had never planned to, but- after what happened last night, he wanted nothing more in the world than to find her.
“Mrs. Chase!” Giles shouted, is calm British exterior crashing. “There were terrible doings at the high school last night and I fear your daughter may have been injured! She is most likely confused and hurt right now, which is why I am trying to find her.” Rupert Giles could not believe the woman. She was more concerned about her and her husband resting after their long business trip, than the welfare of her daughter. The watcher could not believe her arrogance.
Just then, Buffy, Xander and Willow came through the door. Angel could tell by their expressions that they had found nothing. Buffy still looked tired, but she seemed more refreshed in her yellow pants and green tank top. Angel knew how hard the last few hours had been, and felt his heart go out to her.
“How you doing?” He asked, coming to stand near her.
Smiling gratefully at his attention, she reached out to hug him. “Better. A lot better. Any luck in finding Cordelia?” She reluctantly pulled away from the embrace.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “Giles is on he phone with her mother right now.”
“Whoa,” Xander exclaimed, plopping himself onto Giles’ sofa, next to Willow. “He’s trying to get information from that woman? Good luck. He’ll have to waive a bottle of vodka in front of her face to get any function from her.” Willow nodded in agreement. He and Willow remembered Mrs. Chase from Cordelia’s twelfth birthday party- an invitation by proxy, the entire class was invited. Mrs. Chase had passed out on their luxurious, Oriental carpeting after drinking too much. It was the only time Xander had ever felt sorry for Cordelia- up until now.
Trying to stifle a growl, that was not what Angel wanted hear. From what he had just found out about the Chases, it seemed less than likely they would find Cordelia through her parents. It enraged him how callous they were.
As if confirming his point, Giles slammed his phone onto the receiver. “Selfish, vain woman! According to her Cordelia, will ‘show up’! And this has happened before, in that Cordelia will stay out all night and eventually come back.” If the woman had been in the room, Giles felt he would have slapped her.
“Actually,” Willow said, empathizing with Giles’ frustration. “Cordelia probably would come home, but they are so immersed in themselves, they don’t notice when she walks in the door.” Even though her parents were like Cordelia’s in their constant business trips, and least they checked in on her when they got home and called her frequently. “Once in eight grade, I overheard Cordelia talking to her best friend at the time, Robin, in how her parents had left the day before to go to Italy. They let the housekeeper tell her.”
Angel had heard enough. “I’m going there to speak to them. Willow, come with me.”
“Why me?” She was in shock that Angel would suggest she come with him to Chase Manor. She was never chosen for special ops like this! It wasn’t for her. “Why not Buffy?”
Yeah, why not me, Buffy questioned herself, trying hard not to let herself pout.
“Because the Chases know you, not Buffy. It will help to see a kind face,” Angel stated, seeing that this did not sit well with Buffy. “Besides, I think Buffy and Xander should go back to the clinics with Giles. There may be a different staff on now, and they’ll talk to an adult.”
Giles did like the idea of somebody going to the Chase home, but he didn’t understand why it had to be Angel. “Why shouldn’t you got the clinics, Angel, and I could go to see Cordelia’s parents? They might trust us more, if a teacher from the school came down.”
Angel shook his head in disagreement. “No, you’ll do better at the clinics. If the Chases don’t open up to a kind face,” he continued, his voice dropping dangerously low, “Then I’ll have to show them my face.”
With that, Angel grabbed his coat and gulping at his meaning, Willow quickly followed.
“Who was that, Meredith?” Alexander Chase questioned, noticing how stiff his wife had become. He had just entered the kitchen when she hung up the phone.
“That was Rupert Giles,” Meredith Chase answered, turning around to face her husband. “The librarian from Cordelia’s school. Apparently, there was an incident at the school last night and he fears Cordelia may have been injured as a result of it.” Her perfect lips were pursed in a thin line, as she considered what that meant. “They can’t find her.”
Alexander bore his clear green eyes into his wife’s brown ones. Any traces of the alcohol from the plane had lifted. Her face was one of grim determination and knowledge. She knew what had occurred and so did he. “Do you think she came home first?”
Nodding, Meredith took a seat on the kitchen stool. “Yes, Eva informed me, just before the phone rang.”
“What was her condition?”
“She was hurt, but when she came down from packing and showering, her bruises were already fading,” Meredith could not suppress the small smile of pride that began to form on her lips. It was happening- just has her grandfather’s mother had predicted. Until they had settled in this town, two years after their daughter was born, Meredith Chase had felt the foretelling was nothing but crap. But everything began to fall into place, causing her and her husband to believe.
Alexander Chase understood his wife’s smile and began to grin himself. Ever since Cordelia had been around two years old, the Chases had forced themselves to place a distance between their only child, and themselves. The knowledge of their daughter’s destiny had remained well hidden, within his wife’s family. It was necessary to push their daughter away, as fate was going to pull her in a direction that had nothing to do with them. Had they been the parents she wanted, they would not have been able to bear the idea of what was going to befall her.
She was destined for great and terrible things. And it was going to be worth it in the end.
Outside Chase Manor
Angel and Willow had just stepped up to the massive, double doors to the Chase home. Both of them had thought it was strange that the iron gates had been left open. Willow knew the Chases were freaks about security.
Knocking on the door, Angel braced himself for who would answer. Moments later, a beautiful woman, with almond shaped eyes answered. He knew right away this was Cordelia’s mother. Aside from her eyes and her shorter height, she was the image of her daughter. “May I help you?”
“Hello, Mrs. Chase,” Willow stammered. Even though the woman was a drunk, she still held an imposing air. Not the warmest human to walk the planet. “I’m Willow. A friend of Cordelia’s.”
Giving her the once over, a small smirk appeared on the corner of her mouth, telling that by Willow’s appearance that she highly doubted that. “And you are?” She questioned, bringing her cold eyes to Angel, her eyes narrowing slightly. There was a faint flare of her nostrils- If Angel didn’t know any better, he’d have sworn the woman was able to sense he was a vampire.
“I’m Angel.” That was all he was going to give her. A flash of respect glinted in her eyes.
“Mrs. Chase,” continued an embarrassed Willow. Even she saw the smirk on her face. “We’ve come because we’re worried about Cordelia. No one’s been able to find her.”
“And you think I know where she is?”
“You’re her mother,” Angel hissed, wishing there wasn’t a home barrier against him. “We figured you might have a clue.” Sneering at her, he inched as close as the barrier would let. “I’m sorry if we were under the impression that mommy might give a damn.”
Oh, cheese and bananas, Willow thought, feeling her face turn red. There’s no way he’s getting in now.
Much to Willow’s amazement, Meredith Chase’s face brightened into a wide, honest smile. It completely transformed her. It was Cordelia’s smile. “Please, come in- both of you.” Was it me or did the ‘both’ part seem a little too poignant, Willow wondered, as she and Angel stepped into the hallway behind Mrs. Chase.
“Make yourselves comfortable in the parlor. It’s to your right. I’ll get my husband, and we’ll join you in a moment.” Turning on her healed Gucci shoe, she proceeded up the winding staircase.
“Okay,” Angel mused, following behind Willow into the black and gold colored parlor. It was lushly decorated with Japanese art, which complimented the coloring of the room. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Totally,” Willow nodded in agreement.
Alexander Chase’s home office
Not bothering to knock, Meredith Chase entered her husband’s office with a spring in her step. “He’s here.”
Alexander glanced up from his filing, to acknowledge his wife. Her eyes were shining. “Who’s here, darling?” It was amazing- the change that had befallen his wife in the last few hours. She was glowing and vibrant. Like the time when they had first met.
Raising his perfect eyebrows in curiosity, he placed his paperwork to the side, leaning back in his leather chair. They’d known of his coming, but so soon? “Really?”
Flashing another brilliant smile to the love of her life, Meredith sauntered over to him, taking a seat on his lap. “Really.” She confirmed bringing her arms around his neck. For the first time in sixteen years, they shared a kiss that meant something. It was all coming together.
Willis-Montgomery Overnight Clinic
Giles, Buffy, and Xander had just arrived at Willis-Montgomery. The clinic was strictly an evening urgent care, and didn’t even open until 8:30pm. Buffy and Xander had assured him that nothing had turned up at the other two clinics in Sunnydale, nor anything at Sunnydale Memorial. This was their last hope.
“Excuse me? Nurse?” Giles ran up to a pretty Hispanic nurse. “Could you help me please Nurse- Montoya?” He asked, after reading her name tag. She was quite lovely. It wasn’t often you see Hispanic women with blue eyes.
“Of course, what can I do for you?” The nursed glanced at the children behind him, trying to see if one of them was ill or injured. Instinct always got the better of her. Seeing nothing wrong physically or in their expressions, she turned back to the British man.
“I’m looking for a student of mine, who may have come here last night with great physical injuries. Her parents have no idea where she is.”
Shaking her head in refusal, “I’m sorry. We have strict patient-doctor confidentiality rules and I’m afraid I can’t release any medical information to you.”
“I just need to know if she came here,” Giles tried to bite back his frustration. How hard was it to find on teenage girl in a small town? It was like a lockdown at the Pentagon for Christ’s sake! “I don’t need to know anything about her medical files, we just need to find her. She’s a brunette, about five foot nine, and extremely pretty.”
Overhearing the nurse speaking to the gentlemen and the two children, Dr. Anton Wakefield, glanced up from his charts to regard them. Hearing the discription of Cordelia Chase, Dr. Wakefield clenched his jaw in concern. He knew who the Englishman was looking for and probably knew why. “Nurse Montoya? Can you take these charts to Dr. Conley in Ward C? He needs them right away. Thank you.” Handing her the paperwork, he waited until she was around the corner.
Knowing that she had gone, Dr. Wakefield stepped around the front desk, coming to a stop in front of Giles. “I’m Dr. Anton Wakefield, and you are?” He greeted, holding out his hand.
Meeting his eyes, Giles took the doctor’s outstretched hand into his. “I’m Rupert Giles. The librarian at the high school.” Gesturing to the teenagers behind them. “This is Buffy and Xander, friends of the student I’m looking for.”
“You’re searching for Cordelia Chase, right?”
“She was here?,” Buffy asked, coming to stand by Giles. “You saw her?” Buffy had never been fond of Cordelia, but she was the first one who had really tried to be-friend her, until she almost mistook her as a vampire at the Bronze. That squashed any potential there. Now that Cordelia was a slayer, Buffy felt something stirring within her about Cordelia. Like a sisterhood of sorts.
“I helped her.” He confirmed.
This was amazing, Giles though with elation. He had not slept at all last night, as he had been worried sick about Cordelia. Instead he had stayed up, leafing through the diaries of previous watchers, trying to find a clue about any slayer that had been called the way she had. Even Buffy’s first watcher, Merrick, had caught up with her right when she had been called. The council was late in finding his slayer for training, but they had found her. With Cordelia, nothing he could find in the diaries or texts could explain why she was called in such a manner.
“I found her in my office,” Dr. Wakefield continued as they walked to a more quieter side of the entrance. “She had broken in through my window- she actually tore it off the shingles, I later found. Now, I’ve know Cordelia since she was a little girl and I know how her parents are with her.” Shaking his brown haired head in amazement. “Her nanny or housekeeper brought her in for her illnesses and immunizations. I’ve maybe only seen her parents twice.”
This didn’t sound uncommon to Xander. He couldn’t even recall one time were Mr. or Mrs. Chase had come to any school function. Parent-Teacher night usually consisted of just the teacher and Cordelia.
“So,” the good doctor resumed. “That’s why I’m telling you all this. It’s nice to see someone concerned about that girl, besides my medical staff.” Dr. Wakefield considered himself a second father to Cordelia. There never appeared to be any concern reflected by her own father. “I found her in my office, bruised and bloodied. She had lacerations- almost like claw marks- on her upper right arm, and deeper cuts on the side of her abdomen. Luckily, it was only tissue damage, but whatever got at her, was only an inch away from causing severe damage.”
Giles’ throat began to constrict, as he contemplated what that meant. She had dove from the rooftop of the school with such injuries, trying to flee.
“I stitched her up, and placed her on an antibiotic with a pain killer. Believe me, I wanted to call the police, but she begged and pleaded, stating there was nothing they could do.” And he had complied, seeing in her wounded eyes that whatever had happened to her, was beyond anyone’s control. “I do hope you find her. She didn’t tell me anything about where she was going. I assumed it would be home.”
“Thank you, so much, Dr. Wakefield.” Giles was able to tell that that was all the doctor knew about Cordelia. “I’m sorry to keep you from your patients.”
“It’s no problem,” he stated, shaking Giles’ hand again. “This was regarding one of my patients. You will contact me if you hear anything?”
“Absolutely.” He was refreshed to see that someone in this godforsaken town, cared about that girl.
Waiting until the doctor walked away, Buffy grabbed onto Giles arm. “What do you think?”
“Angel was right,” Giles confirmed. “She’s going on instincts. She’s running. The only thing is- where is she running to.” Gesturing to Xander, Giles led them out of the clinic. Hopefully, Angel’s got some news.
They had been going around in circles now. He’d ask her about Cordelia, she would compliment on one of her Munakata Shiko wood prints. “He was an excellent artist. You should see his homage to Mount Fuji. He really put his soul into it.” Angel might find it annoying, but Meredith Chase was having a gay old time!
“Mrs. Chase,” he was struggling so hard not to yell. “Please forgive me for being rude, as you can’t forgive yourself, but we need to find Cordelia. She’s in danger.”
“Oh, I highly doubt that,” Alexander Chase interjected, his cold eyes bearing into Angel’s. “My daughter is quite capable of taking care of herself. I assure you.” Willow could see where Cordelia got her cold exterior from, along with her model perfect height. Her father was the most unfeeling man she had ever know. “You may think we don’t care for our daughter,” he continued, seeming to read Willow’s thoughts. “But we do.”
“Prove it,” Angel countered, leaning forward in the Chases’ black velvet chair. “Tell me where she is.”
“We don’t know where she is,” said Meredith as she rose from her seat, “That’s the beauty of it.” Meredith went over to the bar to pour herself another glass of chardonnay. “Are you sure you don’t want anything, Angel? I have red wine.” This did not go over Angel’s head.
“You know what I am?”
“A vampire. Yes.”
This was getting too weird, Willow thought in a panic. Mrs. Chase had been making cracks about the color red and souls ever since she and her husband had come down to the parlor. Now it was confirmed that the Chases knew that Angel was a vampire, but how?
Angel’s face took on a dangerous look as he glared at Mrs. Chase. “Tell me what you know. And don’t lie.” He had no idea how Cordelia had been able to survive and function with people like this as her parents. His might have been overbearing, but at least they were there.
“Fine,” she agreed, coming to sit back next to her husband. “I hope you can stomach the tale. We’ve had to live with it most of our lives.” Her countenance had finally taken on a somber one. Gone was the teasing, cold woman. “My husband and I, have been terrible parents to our daughter. For what we did not give her in love, we made up for by giving her credit cards. This was not something we wanted to do, but it was necessary.”
“How was it necessary to ignore your only child?” Willow asked. She couldn’t help the harsh tone she said it with. She did not like these people at all.
“Patience,” Mrs. Chase replied. “Let me finish. Then you can pass judgment. Our daughter is special and she is meant for astonishing things.” Her face was beaming again, this time with parental pride. “Her future goes beyond us. We were forced, you see, to distance ourselves from her. To deny her the love she deserved, so that we could bear letting her go when the time came. Not only that, but it also assured us that when her time came, she could leave- and not have to worry about leaving the people she loved behind. We know our daughter does not love us, Angel. It was destined to be so.”
This was insane! Parents deliberately trying to force their daughter not care or love them, so if she did leave, she wouldn’t look back!? “You’re crazy.”
“Are we?” Mr. Chase cocked his head to the side in amusement. “So is a vampire with a soul, but you’re here!” Point one for the cold father.
“I was seventeen when I heard of the prophecy for my daughter,” Meredith continued, “And I was in a rage! How could I be expected to turn my heart away from my child? And it was supposed to be for the better?!”
“What prophecy?,” Angel whispered.
“The one about the strongest vampire slayer ever to live. The one about Cordelia. Tell me, Angel- was it Buffy who killed the Master or was it my daughter?” Alexander Chase smiled in fatherly pride, because he already knew the answer. Had know ever since she was born.
She had forgotten how beautiful it was here. There was something so clean and pure about Japan. Back home in Sunnydale, there seemed to be an ever present darkness that seeped out to all that lived there. She hoped, since she had killed a part of that darkness, that some light would shine through again.
“Where to, Miss?” Asked a middle-aged cab driver in Japanese. Cordelia had just left the baggage area of the airport, an had gone out to find a cab.
Replying with a flawless Japanese accent, Cordelia replied. “The outskirts of Yoshino Village.” She wasn’t at all surprised by the shock in his expression. Most people in Japan did not go there, let alone American outsiders. “It is my grandfather-san’s village. Will you take me there?”
Swiftly nodding his head, he hurried out to grab her luggage. Such a delicate beauty like her should have an army of bags, but she only had one large suitcase and a small carry on. “You are Jun Yoshino’s granddaughter?” He asked in amazement.
“Actually, great-granddaughter, but he prefers to be called grandfather.” Cordelia smiled at the man. He seemed humble to meet her, which was not altogether unusual. Jun Yoshino was a famed samurai and friend of the people of Japan. “Shall we go now?”
As the cab rolled on, Cordelia kept wondering what her great-grandfather would do once she’d arrive. She hadn’t called to inform him that she was on her way to Japan. In fact, she hadn’t told anyone. Know one knew where she was and she planned on keeping it that way.
Her first instinct had been to go to Japan. It was the only safe haven she could think of. Her parents and Jun Yoshino had an estranged relationship, so she didn’t have to worry about him calling them. This had never surprised her, given the fact her parents didn’t have a relationship with her except as financial providers. Sometimes she wondered what would happen if she’d just call them ‘Meredith’ and ‘Alexander‘, instead of ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’. They wouldn’t even know the difference, she thought, feeling her eyes mist with emotion.
She had only been to Japan once, during the summer of her fourteenth year, but it had felt like coming home. It had been the first time she had met Jun Yoshino and his second wife, Momiji. Heck, it was the only time- her coming to the island now, would be her second time. She had finally met blood relatives who actually showed an air of love and affection toward her.
On the plane, she had finally gotten a few hours of sleep. It was not restful- filled with dreams of the previous night. Dreams of that bat-faced wonder, with Elizabeth Arden lipstick all over his mouth! I wonder if I should tell them what happened? Thinking about being on that roof sent shivers of fear and excitement down her spine.
Twisting a lock of her hair through her fingers, Cordelia tried to harness what had happened to her. She knew she was stronger- Arnold beware! She could sense things coming her way now- it was as if she had a sixth sense. Cordelia rubbed her temples in agony. It was too much. One minute she was a scared little girl running from monsters, now she was a petrified slayer running from destiny-
Whoa, she thought, startling herself out of her revere- Destiny? Where the hell did that come from? She had so many questions about what had happened to her and why. Obviously, the Master did too. The Master…
You’ve just been called. . . One dies and another is Chosen.
Feeling sick to her stomach, she rolled down the cab window to get some air, as she realized what that meant- she was a slayer because another one like her had died! Two slayers in one night… The other girl had been from Sunnydale, she realized.
“Yoshino? We are here.”
Cordelia jerked at the cab driver’s voice. In the midst of her scrabbled thoughts, she’d forgotten he was here.
The driver pulled the car in front of a massive, wooden compound. It was the original gate built by the Yoshino warriors of the past, and it still held strong. Just beyond those walls was the only place she had ever felt at home.
Pushing her thoughts aside, Cordelia rose to get out the car, the cabbie already had her two bags. The last time she was here, she’d had about eight pieces of luggage. Momiji had laughed herself silly- What do you need with all of that, grandchild? All you need is your mind and soul.
“Do you want me to stay?” The driver asked, he did not want to leave her unattended. “Until somebody comes?”
“No, that’s fine.” She assured him, giving him his fee in yen. “But I thank you. Arigatou.” Bowing her head, as was Japanese custom, he in turn did so and proceeded to leave. Getting back in his cab, he bowed his head again, and started the engine. Smiling, she waived as he made his way down the road.
Turning around to the compound, she dropped her bags on the dirt road and proceeded towards the gate. It was locked, she realized, as she braced her palms against the wood. Locked from the other side. This is not good.
I guess I could push it open. Yeah, that’s an idea. Jun would be highly upset, but she needed to get in there. She doubted anyone was there to hear her shout- “Huh,” she mumbled to herself. “I wonder if I can hear them.” Placing the right side of her head against the gate, Cordelia closed her eyes and listened. Birds, running water… trees rustling in the slight breeze. There was no one nearby. Giving into her slayer strength, she braced her hands on both gate doors and pushed.
That was when the real fear kicked in.
No one human should have that kind of strength! God, what is a slayer and what have I become? She was shaken so much by her display of force, she thought of nothing else but getting to her great-grandfather as she ran up the mile long pathway to the house. Luggage and thoughts of repercussions about breaking open his gate were forgotten.
I’m flying! She was running so fast her feet barely touched the ground. Okay, so not normal! She’d turned into an X-Man and no one had told her. No… a slayer.
You haven’t been trained…
I’m supposed to have a trainer?
The house was just ahead of her- she’d ran a mile in under a minute! Guinness is going to love me, she marveled, coming to a halt outside the home of Jun Yoshino. It was an old-fashioned, gassho zukuri-style farmhouse. A home that had stood for centuries. The place was beautiful- it looked like it had just come out of the movie, Shogun. As did the old man who stood in front of it’s sliding doors. Jun Yoshino, dressed kamishimo- in samurai clothing.
“Daisofu.” Cordelia kneeled to the ground, tying to catch her breath. She wanted so much to run into his arms, and hold on for dear life. She wanted to be safe. But she knew he was a traditional man. No one, not even family, spoke to him without the proper respect.
His aged face smiled in pleasure. She had not forgotten to show keirou. His great-granddaughter was a marvel. He knew she was not like this in America- he had seen her other personality. The one she had woven to protect herself from her parents and outsiders. But he had also seen the personality under it. “How many times have I told you not to call me that?” Being called great-grandfather, daisofu, made him feel older than he was.
She gave a nervous laugh and rose to her feet. “I’m sorry, jiisan.” Cordelia took a step forward, but stopped when he sharply raised his hand. His face lost it’s levity and took on stern countenance.
“Cordelia-san,” he began, “You will go to ankei, and pay homage to your ancestors. There you will meditate. Do not come back from the ancient temple until you have focused your energy.” With that, he turned around and closed the doors behind him.
Cordelia knew what he wanted. She would go to the ancient temple behind the house and meditate. Maybe I should beg forgiveness for being such a mega-bitch at school, too? Gathering her composure, she proceeded to the temple. It was temping to just sit by one of the pagodas and look at the coy swimming around, but he’d know.
Besides, that was the old her in Sunnydale. Here in her daisofu’s home, she would never do that. She’d been reborn.
What Meredith Chase had told him and Willow was unreal. According to Mrs. Chase’s maternal great-grandmother, who had been a prophet and soothsayer, Cordelia Chase was destined to be the greatest slayer the world would ever know. History would not reveal anyone to be her equal, nor would her successors. Cordelia was the true Chosen One, because no one else would be like her. Ever.
Her calling was held within her family. The prophets of the Watcher’s Council were not to know, as to try and monitor her as a potential. This slayer was not to be tainted by their training. She was called by the higher powers.
“Do you understand?” Meredith implored, her eyes beseeching. “Can you understand why we pushed her away? If I’d allowed myself to love her, like I wanted too- I could have never let her go.” Her cold behavior had faded, allowing the woman she really was to come forth. “Her destiny reaches far beyond us. We were only here to bring her into this world.”
Angel did understand. Cordelia had no idea who she would become, but her parents did. And to shield themselves from feeling any heartache at watching their daughter blossom, they’d allowed themselves to hurt their only child. Their only concern was their feelings, their pain, not hers. “Knowing what she would become, what she would face- all the hardship!” He was trying so hard to fight his demon. He wanted to lash out at them! Kill them for what they did to her! “And you pushed her away.”
“You could have loved her, Mrs. Chase,” Willow whispered. “Loved and supported her. By denying her that, it only showed her how ugly the world can be, especially if your own parents won’t love you.”
Alexander Chase had said nothing. He knew where he and his wife were coming from, and didn’t expect a vampire and school girl to know anything. “We won’t apologize for what we did. Not to you, and not to our daughter. Should she come back and ask, we will explain, but never apologize!” Rising to his imposing height, he gestured to the entrance. “Perhaps you should leave and worry about the future. The past is set and if we are damned for our actions to our daughter, you will not condemn us.”
Knowing that their welcome had been exhausted, Willow and Angel rose to their feet, and headed for the door. Angel was growling the entire time.
“Mr. Chase,” Angel turned to face the man again. “One more thing. Do you have any idea where she may have gone? Something?” They had to know something.
“In all honesty, no. But we did tell her, that should something happen to her- something unimaginable to leave immediately and not tell us where she was going.” Alexander met the vampire’s eyes, feeling he owed him that much, considering what the future would possess. “We gave her a key, to a locker at Sunnydale airport when she was fourteen. Told her never to loose it.”
“What was in the box?” Willow inquired, coming to stand with Angel in the foyer.
It made sense. Flee and don’t tell anyone where you’re going. “We’ll leave now, but you had better hope I know everything or I’ll be coming back.” Angel felt his eyes shift to their golden hue. “I have an open invitation now.” His was a long and meaningful glare with Cordelia’s father. Finally breaking the look, he gently grabbing Willow by her arm, and guided them out the door.
Upon hearing the door close, the Chases let down their composure and sank back down next to each other. “He means it,” Meredith said, taking another sip of chardonnay. She’d never truly be scared in her life, until she saw that look in the vampire’s eyes at that moment.
“I know,” her husband confirmed. Alexander pulled his wife into his embrace, letting out a sigh as she snuggled closer.
“Do you think we should have told him?,” she asked, craning her head to read his expression. “About him and Cordelia?”
“No,” Alexander whispered after a moment of thought. “He doesn’t need to know about his part in the prophecy. If he did know what was going to happen, he would try like hell to stop it. For better or for worse, even our own deaths, it has to come to pass. What was foretold must happen. Regardless of the pain it will cause.”
Even our own deaths…
Later that Night
Rupert Giles rose from his sofa, to brew some more tea. He, Xander, and Buffy had just informed Willow and Angel of their findings at Willis-Montgomery. It hadn’t been revealing as to where Cordelia had fled too, but it was a start. “Did you find any information with the Chases?”
Angel gave Willow a brief, disgruntled look. He didn’t know how the watcher would take to the news. He hadn’t liked it one bit. Angel knew that the Chases were holding out on something, but there was only so far he could push them. “Yeah,” he nodded, “You could say we did.”
Uh-huh,” Willow agreed, trying her hardest to maintain her own composure. What they found out was big!
Finally, getting his tea just right, Giles came back to sit between Xander and Buffy. Both Willow and Angel were seated opposite the sofa in chairs. “Tell me,” he took a lengthily sip of tea. It was good, although it still missed something. Tea made in America just didn’t taste right, even if it was English imported.
“I really don’t know how this is going to affect you, Giles,” Angel began, “Or your training with the Watcher’s Council. What Willow and I found out was pretty disconcerting, but feasible.”
Xander made a face, “That word has nothing to do with what it sounds like, right?” That would be so gross.
“No, half-wit,” Willow snapped, throwing a piece of her chocolate chip cookie at him. “It mean’s ‘possible,’ now don’t interrupt.” Mental note, thesaurus and dictionary set for Xander prior to Christmas! Xander needed serious help in that department.
Buffy totally agreed with Willow, and just for emphasis, reached over and smacked Xander on the head. “So uncalled for!” Xander wailed, rubbing the back of his head.
“Kids!” Always the adult (for obvious reasons), Giles chided them. “Can we let Angel continue?”
“Thanks, Giles,” Angel said with a small smile. He wasn’t used to being around them so much, and their teenage prattle was beyond him. “To cut to the chase- no pun intended there! Her parents’ knew what was going to happen to her. Knew it so well that they prepared for her calling by forcing her away from them.”
Temple of the Yoshino Clan
God, she was so bored! There was only so much meditating she could do before she literally fell asleep from it. She had forgotten how warm and comforting it was in here, with the constant burning torches. And she was tired.
How can he ask me to meditate when he could see how tired and confused I am? She loved her great-grandfather a lot, but he could really be a pain in the neck with all this ritual stuff! Extraordinary things had just happened to her, well impossible things, and he wanted her to meditate!
Cordelia could actually feel a temper tantrum rise in her, she was so frustrated. She had been in there for over an hour and no amount of humming or feeling her mind transcend was going to block those horrible images of the Master from her mind. Any time she tried to concentrate, bat-face loomed in front of her. And every time she tried to relax, she’d fall to her side in near slumber. Mediation thingy is going nowhere!
Finally feeling her Queen C. resolve, Cordelia rose from her cross-legged position, her muscles aching in protest. She was still sore from her battle with the vampire. Sitting down again, after riding in the cab attested to that fact.
“Oh, I want some Advil,” she murmured, as she exited the temple. She knew Jun was going to be mad, but she needed his help now, not after self-channeling exercises!
Judging from their expressions, Angel took into consideration that they were shocked. Didn’t seem too uncommon. “Yeah, we couldn’t believe it either,” Angel attested, sharing a glance with Willow. What the Chases had confessed to was incredulous, but Angel knew deep in his soul that it as true. Everything that had transgressed the night prior was proof of that.
Upon the death of Buffy, another slayer would be called- a slayer chosen specifically by the higher powers. The Watcher’s Council was not to know anything about her until after she was called and even then, involvement was not necessary. The girl would be called, with the innate knowledge of the power she possessed and what she was supposed to do with it. No training required. This was giving Giles a headache. “Who, in Cordelia’s family predicted this?”
“Cordelia’s great-great grandmother. She was a powerful prophet in Japan,” Willow offered.
“Whoa, whoa,” Xander shook is head in amazement. He had been a good boy and had let Angel yap without interrupting, but this was too much! “Japan? Cordelia is part Japanese?!”
Willow understood why Xander would be surprised. They may have never liked Cordelia, but they’d know each other since they were kids and nothing had ever been mentioned about Cordelia being of Japanese descent. She’d always assumed the Japanese décor at Chase Manor was just that- décor! Willow had never even considered that it was familial. “Yup, it’s true. Cordelia Chase is one-eighth Japanese. Jeepers, it’s mind boggling.”
All throughout Angel’s story, Buffy hadn’t said a word. She’d sat stoic and silent while Angel had told them about Cordelia…
Cordelia was a slayer. Cordelia killed the Master, saving the world. Cordelia has vanished. Cordelia was part of a great prophecy. Cordelia is the greatest slayer ever. Now- Cordelia is Japanese! Does anyone remember that I died last night? Angel didn’t seem to care. All he wanted to do was find Cordelia… it was all about Cordelia!
Cordelia banged on the door again. “Jun? Momiji?! Let me in!” She’d been standing outside the farmhouse doors for ten minutes, pounding on the door. Stubborn old people, stuck on traditions. They suck.
Finally, a voice boomed from inside, “Did you complete your meditation? Because something tells me you haven’t, magomusume.” There was no getting past Jun Yoshino. The man had eyes everywhere.
“No, I didn’t,” she admitted. “I can’t concentrate, jiisan. I’m tired and hungry and I was almost killed yesterday!” And I smell, she thought wearily. She hadn’t taken a shower since earlier that morning in Sunnydale.
“Those are no reasons to delay you duties to your ancestors. Now, get back to temple and focus your energy.”
This was too much! He was more concerned about dead people than her? “Jiisan! Open the door or I will break it down!” She meant every word of it.
“Oh, really?” Cordelia could tell by the sound of his voice he was getting beyond irritated. Welcome to the club gramps, she thought bitterly to herself. She knew he was standing by the door. “Just like you broke the gate? And you will be helping in getting that repaired.” Suddenly the door slid open, and there he was- the immovable samurai. “You can’t concentrate. Why?”
Because I want to get out of these clothes, she wanted to scream. But that wasn’t the entire truth and he knew it. Bringing her hazel eyes to his brown ones, “Because,” she began, feeling her throat tighten with emotion. “Because when I close my eyes I see his face.”
Jun nodded in acceptance. He knew she told the truth. “The one that did this to you?” He lightly fingered her bruised jaw, which was already fading to a sick yellow. The one under her eye was still black and blue. “The kyuuketsuki?”
The vampire. Cordelia couldn’t hold back her surprise, “What?! How did you know?”
“It is time for you to come inside, granddaughter. There are things about yourself that you should know.” Stepping to the side, Jun gently guided her into his home.
Buffy couldn’t help it, the jealously that welled within her. She’d fought so hard for two years, only to have her glory and her non-boyfriend’s attention taken away from her. And by Cordelia! It was just wrong. “Guys,” she forced herself to her feet. “I’ve gotta go. My mom’s going to be worried about me.” Trying not to meet their eyes, she abruptly turned away, grabbing her coat.
“Buffy?” Giles questioned, still concerned about his slayer. She had a ruff few days, with her prophecy and her encounter with the Master. “Are you going to be alright walking home by yourself?”
“Oh, yeah,” she replied, hoping they wouldn’t hear the tears in her voice. “Slayer, remember? Nothing messes with me, I mess with them.” Waiving goodbye, she headed out the door.
Angel knew she was upset. He only had one guess as to why. “I’ll make sure she gets home, Giles.”
“Great,” Xander said. “Just what every girl wants- a dead-boy escort home.” He ducked another cookie bomb from Willow. Soul or no soul, Angel was still a bad guy. He only hoped Buffy wouldn’t get hurt when she found that out. Xander knew he had no special powers, but he could just see imminent doom radiating off tall, dark and blood-sucking.
Angel didn’t even acknowledge Xander as he walked out the door. Pretty soon that boy was going to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
East Crest Apartments
Sybil Warner sighed in relief as she walked through her apartment door. There was nothing like being at home from a long day at work. She’d had to pull a double shift, cause one of the girls had called off sick. Being a ticket agent sucked, but it paid the bills.
Kicking her shoes off, Sybil stumbled through her hallway, flicking on the light as she made her way to the kitchen. Her thoughts in a jumble from the days work load, she could only focus on having a hot bath. She didn’t even realize that she was about to die.
Her killer was perched on the rooftop of the loft apartments across the street. He had been waiting for her all day. He’d been expecting her a lot earlier, but he was a patient man, and didn’t mind waiting. Sybil Warner now had a tiny red dot tracking her every step.
Gently touching his earpiece, Sybil’s would be assassin, established communication with his employer. “I have the target in sight.” His voice sounded a little muffled under his ski mask, but he doubted his employer would have trouble hearing him.
“Take the shot.” The cold voice on the other end replied.
Adjusting the scope on the lens, he leaned in, his finger applying pressure on the trigger. It’s a shame really, he thought to himself, as he let his eye linger on her face. She was quite lovely. Sybil now had the red dot on her forehead, oblivious to that fact, as she milled about in her kitchen. She’d just finished feeding her cat. A cute, orange tabby. Cat’s gonna need a new home.
And he squeezed the trigger.
What was once a lovely, blond haired woman was a mess of blood and skull.
“Target has been eliminated. Awaiting further insructions.”
Two Days Later
Angel growled to himself in frustration. He couldn’t help it. For two days they had been trying to find out where Cordelia could have ran off to and all they‘d come up with was a big pile of niente. Her parents were no help. Either they knew where she was and were being tight lipped about it or honestly did not know. And he was honestly getting pissed.
Clad in a white muscle shirt and black slacks, he sauntered over to his refrigerator and took out a bag of blood. Not only was he aggravated about not knowing were Cordelia was, he was also being reminded of the conversation he had had with Buffy after she stormed out of Giles’ apartment. Memory of the night surfaced to his mind again, and he slammed the refrigerator door shut in anger.
Two Nights Ago
“Buffy!” He shouted, trying to catch up with her. Angel had finally caught up with her after she’d taken off from Giles’ place, and upon knowing he was following her, she had decided to speed up her pace. “Goddamn it, Buffy, would you wait?!” Running up behind, her grabbed by her arm, wrenching her to a halt.
“What?” She huffed as she flipped her brown hair over her shoulder, trying to hide the fact she had been crying. Playground sand was getting in her sneakers.
“What’s going on with you?”
Trying not to meet his eyes, she glanced over his shoulder. “Nothing. Why?”
“Don’t lie to me, Buffy. I can tell you’ve been crying and I want to know why.”
“What do you care?” Her green eyes took on a fiery rage. “No one really seems to be caring about what’s going on with me or- even just me, for instance!” Seeing his handsome face during the past twenty-four hours, and seeing the concern on his face was just maddening. Especially because that concern was for Cordelia and not for her.
Angel shook his head in bewilderment. “That’s not true and you know it.”
“Oh, really,” she insisted, crossing her arms over her breast. “Does anyone even remember that I died last night? Nope. But they remember that Cordelia Chase became a slayer because of it! Cordelia’s going to be the strongest slayer ever. And-” she expanded her arms for emphasis, “She’s Japanese now, too! Freaking kill-joy.”
“Buffy,” Angel began quietly, stepping forward to bridge the gap between them. “No one has forgotten that you died last night. None of us ever will.” He cupped the side of her face, bringing her tear filled eyes to his. “I never will.” A gust of wind suddenly blew, causing her hair to flutter against his hand. She was truly remarkable and it killed him to know how much she was beginning to mean to him. Angel needed her to understand that he would never forget how lost he had felt holding her dead body in his arms.
Buffy shivered when he gently ran his thumb across her cheek, sweeping away a tear that had suddenly fallen. “It’s just,” she sobbed abruptly, her words catching in her throat. “Everyone seems more upset over Cordelia’s being gone, than about me. About what I went through.”
“I’m sorry, you feel that way, Buffy, but we have to find her. And that does not mean we’ve forgotten about you!” Angel didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but he had to make her understand the necessity for their determination in finding where Cordelia was. “She’s all alone out there, Buffy. She may not know what’s happened to her.”
“How do you know she’s alone?” she demanded, pulling away from Angel. “She could be living the life with Cabana boys in the Tropic with daddy’s money for all you know! You did say he left her with money at Sunnydale Airport right? So, that’s were she is and we can all stop looking for her now!”
Angel couldn’t believe the ugliness coming from her. He knew she was hurt and still violently shaken from what the Master had done to her, but this was just childish. She was jealous of a girl who had been called to share a similar fate with her- “That’s it, huh? You’re jealous of Cordelia because you’re no longer the only slayer.”
“That’s stupid, Angel.”
“Is it?” It was obvious by the sudden flush in her cheeks and they way she abruptly looked away from him. “Or could it be the truth and that’s why you’re running home to mommmy?” Angel knew his words were bitter, but he couldn’t help it. She was being a child- she’s only sixteen, Angel, he reminded himself.
Angel brought his eyes over her beautiful face- a face still plump with preteen youthfulness, that despite her hasty calling to adulthood as the slayer, had not fully been erased. She was only human, and a teenager at that- it was in her nature to be envious. “I can’t stop searching for her, Buffy, and neither should you. She’s a slayer, just as scared as you were when you were called, if not more. Even though Cordelia may not have been a close friend, she’s still a human being and you will always have an obligation to help others.”
Buffy shook her head vehemently, and back further away from him. She would not- could not, believe he was saying this to her. And about Cordelia! “I can’t believe you’re choosing her over me,” she sobbed, stumbling against the playground slide behind her.
“Buffy, I am not choosing her over you! Why is that even coming up?”
“Because it’s true, isn’t it?” Her voice was acidic with it’s accusing tone.
Angel ran his hands through his hair, fighting not to shout. “You know what,” he threw his hands up in exasperation. “We can deal with this tomorrow night. You’re talking about a girl that’s not even here, that I’ve somehow chosen over you and- you’re not thinking straight. So before we say anything else we may regret, we’ll just talk about it later.”
“Would if I could, Angel,” Buffy said, turning away from him. “I’m leaving town tomorrow morning for the summer. We can talk about it in August, okay?” Giving him another tearful look that also held a hint of malice, Buffy took off through the park again.
Trying to hold in his demon, Angel merely watched as she ran at full slayer strength through the trees. He wanted nothing more than to fly after her in a rage and-
And do what, he wondered fearfully. Everyday he had to remind himself that she was his natural enemy. And right now he felt that more than ever.
Giving himself a sobering shake, Angel turned back the way he came, trying to decide if he should go home or hunt or just charter a damn plane out of this- a plane? You did say he left her with money at Sunnydale Airport right? Angel gave a brief smile in realization: Cordelia had left Sunnydale by plane. It wasn’t much to go on, but it was something. There was bound to be some evidence at the airport of were she may have fled to! Feeling energized again, Angel took off running, back to Giles’, his fight with Buffy forgotten for the moment.
Two Days Later
His fight with Buffy had been nerve racking, and so was the news coming over the radio. It was a full sunny afternoon outside, so he had decided to avoid the tunnels and get some much needed rest that wasn’t coming.
After he had told Giles that Cordelia may have left Sunnydale by plane, the librarian, and the kids, along with Jenny Calendar, had taken to the airport the very next day to ask questions about Cordelia. So far, nothing. Each ticket agent they had spoken to had been unable to recall just one tall brunette out of the hundreds they helped daily. And at least two of the staff members had not shown up for work that day, so it left an opening.
Jenny had decided to go back to the airport today to see what else she could find out. Maybe the absent employees had returned back to work.
From the news message he was getting from the radio, Angel doubted those girls would be back to work again. Ever:
The bodies of two Sunnydale women were found this morning, shot to death in their homes. The women were employees at Sunnydale Airport, but the names of the victims are not yet being released to the public until families can be contacted. Due to the fact that the women were shot in the same fashion, and were employed at the airport, that information is being released to warn women employees of Sunnydale Airport of a possible serial killer. Sunnydale officials are imploring that all of the women who work at the airport, should try and stay with a family or friend until the murderer is apprehended. If not, to see if someone can stay with them, especially if they are single. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds.
Angel plopped down in his chair, a frown furrowing on his face. He hoped this was not connected to Cordelia or Buffy in any way. It seemed unlikely, just some random killer stalking female employees who worked at the airport, but still- it seemed weird.
Suddenly there was a knock at his door. Angel quickly placed his glass of blood down and hurried to the door. It could be Willow or Xander with information on Cordelia. Feeling a slight pull of apprehension, Angel opened the door. The person standing on the other side was not what he expected. In fact, he had no idea who the man was.
He was ordinary, with a pleasant face. A face you wouldn’t necessarily remember in a crowd, even if you tried. Tapered brown hair and a medium build. He wasn’t even that tall. He was wearing a gray Irish wool sweater with black pants. He reminded Angel of dock workers he had seen during his time in New York. Ordinary men, nothing extraordinary about them. But this man did have something that made his oval face stand out- his eyes. They were a startling shade of gray. It was as if some little kid had literally opened a box of crayons and colored this guy’s eyes gray.
“Yes,” Angel frowned in curiosity. Not many people knew his name in this town, let alone humans, and this guy was human.
“I’m Sandefer. I was wondering if I could come in for a moment to talk with you,” his voice was extremely calm, and his words articulate. Angel could tell he was a careful man, and with careful men, there came a need for that. “I promise I won’t keep you long.”
Angel knew if he had to, he could take this guy down in an instance. He could sense nothing supernatural from him. Just an ordinary man. “Sure, come in.” Stepping aside, he allowed him to enter. “Please,” Angel gestured to one of his chairs, “Have a seat.”
“Thank you,” Sandefer said, taking a seat, his intense gray eyes surveying the room. “Nice apartment. A little small, but nice.”
“I’ve got no need for extra space,” Angel admitted conversationally, as he planted himself in the chair opposite of his new visitor. “It’s just me here. So what can I do for you, Mr. Sandefer?” Recalling his manners, Angel interrupted the man before he could speak. “You, didn’t want anything to drink did you? I’m afraid all I have is water.” And a coppery liquid that could resemble tomato juice at first glance.
Giving a small smile, Sandefer shook his head. “No, that won’t be necessary. I won’t stay that long.”
“No problem,” he said, he was curious as to who this guy was and why he was here. It wasn’t everyday he got visitors, especially people he had never seen before. “What can I do for you?”
“You can abandon your search for Cordelia Chase.”
Nothing really ever surprised Angel anymore. After all he had seen and done in his long existence, he considered himself pretty immune to surprises. But with what he had just heard, he knew now that he was still susceptible. “Uh, excuse me?”
“Cordelia Chase,” Sandefer repeated slowly, as if he were speaking to a child who wasn’t paying attention during a lesson. “The Slayer. Abandon your search for her. Now.”
Angel felt his anger boiling to the surface. It was funny, but ever since the night they had found out Cordelia was the Slayer, Angel had been having a terrible time in controlling his demon. Nearly every little thing was setting him off, but he felt he was justified in his anger now. This strange ‘ordinary’ man who had just entered his home had come giving him orders! And he knew about Cordelia. Angel didn’t want this man knowing about Cordelia. He didn’t like this man knowing about Cordelia. The sudden possessiveness he felt to the new slayer felt so natural, Angel didn’t even question it.
“Now why should I do that?” Angel gritted out, his voice dropping to a dangerous low. His face was tingling with the urge to vamp out. He wanted to attack this man and rip him apart for the very mention of her name!
“Well,” his calm tone didn’t falter even the slightest, even when he surely had to have heard Angel growl. “To put it quite simply- because I don’t want to die.”
Angel rubbed his temple in confusion. This, guy- Sandefer- had just entered his home, telling him to stop looking for Cordelia because he did not want to die. He had to be a raving loony! Drusilla had been crazy, but that was expected and often funny. Sandefer did not amuse him at all. “So let me get this straight. You want me to stop looking for Cordelia because you don’t want to die?”
“Yes,” he nonchalantly agreed, “That’s correct.”
Angel leaned forward, his hooded gaze inquisitive. “Well, just you telling me to stay away from her is an open invitation for me to kill you.” He smiled at the idea. He couldn’t help it. But to his surprise, Sandefer merely smiled back at him.
“I know, it’s a little confusing, but allow to assure you that it will make sense once I explain myself.”
Fair enough. “For your sake I surely hope so.”
It had been two whole days since she had arrived in Japan. Two whole days of resting and meditation. And frankly- she tired of mediation!
Her daisofu, Jun Yoshino, had finally taken pity on her, seeing her tired and weary from outside of his home. Tradition aside, he had succumbed to his role as a grandparent, and had welcomed her into his home. That didn’t necessarily mean that after a nice bath and some rest (and Momiji’s cooking), that he was going to let her off the hook that easily. Sure enough, the next day she was back in that temple. Meditating.
And he wonders why I’ve abandoned Buddhism, she thought. Meditation, humming- it was so not her thing. It’s boring!
Not only that, but he still had told her how he knew she had fought a vampire back in Sunnydale. Banging her foot against the base of her futon in frustration, Cordelia let out a howl pain, when her big toe collided with the wood base. “Son of a bit-!”
She’d forgotten about that thing!
“Why don’t you go ahead and tell me what Cordelia has to do with you dying,” Angel suggested. “After all, you did say you couldn’t stay that long.” That of course, came out a little more snide than he wanted, but- what did he care at this point.
In all of this, Sandefer’s expression had remained calm and collected. The man seemed to be made of ice, his Crayola gray eyes void of emotion. “Very well, Angel.” Sandefer leaned back in his seat, preparing for his tale. “My current form of employment, is that of a eradicator. Actually a mercenary by trade, but I prefer eradicator.”
“Why not just go by ‘killer’ or ‘murderer’?” Angel did not like were this was going. Eradicator and mercenary.
“Sounds more sophisticated.”
I’ll by that, Angel thought in agreement.
“Anyway,” Sandefer continued, “I’ve recently been hired by an extremely powerful man. He’s virtually untouchable.” Gray eyes still unfathomable. Didn’t this man have any expression?
“Part of my job was completed two days ago, when I eliminated two targets.”
The two women from Sunnydale Airport. This was definitely tied to Cordelia.
This time there was emotion. It was fear. He’d just seen Angel’s eyes flash their demon yellow. “Before you decide to rip my throat out with those fangs that are, without a doubt, itching- allow me to continue.”
“Japan can bite my ass! Japan can bite my ass!” Cordelia sang to herself, as she rummaged through her drawers for a pair of black lycra pants. If she was going to channel her inner-self again for the umpteenth time since her arrival, she was going to be comfy.
Oh, course she really didn’t mean that about Japan, but the futon had hurt her toe and it was in Japan.
Pulling on a red tank top, Cordelia hobbled over to the vanity table and looked into the mirror. Her bruises from the Master were gone. Completely. This was not normal at all! But it’s a good thing, she thought happily to herself. Pain didn’t seem to last long with her anymore, and the proof was with her toe. It had stopped throbbing. She knew this was a benefit from her slayer-ness and to be honest- Bonus!
“I like slayer healing! La la la!”
“Oh, don’t worry,” Angel growled. “I’ll let you finish.”
“Much obliged.” Nothing really seemed to faze this man- expect of course the prospect of dying, which was somehow tied to Cordelia. “So,” he continued. “I’d just completed the first wave of my assignment, when my- employer informed me of what was next on the list. I want you know, that I had no idea what was going to transpire or what would soon be required of myself and my associates.”
Now this was getting interesting, Angel decided, as he reached over for his glass of blood. He figured the guy wouldn’t mind, as long has he was not feasting on him.
“And because of the fact that I did not know, I’ve come to warn you. For my sake. Granted, that’s highly selfish, but you’re looking at an assassin for hire. And I work for good money.” Sandefer shifted around, as if trying to get comfortable with his words. “If you or any of the others, tied to Buffy Summers, continue in your investigation of Cordelia Chase’s whereabouts, actions will be taken.”
“What kind of actions?”
Meeting Angel fully in the eye, Sandefer elaborated, “At this moment, my associates- eradicators as well- are tracking six individuals who are closely tied to you.” He gave a small smile, cocking his head to the side. “They are, Jennifer Calendar, Rupert Giles, Alexander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Joyce Summers- and one, Buffy Summers.”
She was, for the first time since that awful day in Sunnydale, in a good mood. Her face was back to it’s unblemished perfection, and she was away from her parents. She knew neither Jun nor Momiji would contact them at all. It was liberating.
Cordelia grabbed her white tennis shoes, and slipped them on, humming another tune as she tied her laces. Going to the mirror again (she still did not believe the reflection), she flipped her chestnut curls in buoyancy and bounced out into the hallway. It was almost dinner, but Jun wanted to talk to her first.
Maybe her old-fashioned jiisan was finally going to spill the bananas about what was going on with her. You can’t just tell a girl you know something and then not deliver. It was rude.
If his blood wasn’t already cold with lack of body heat, it would have turned to ice in his veins. “You’ll have them marked for execution?” He quietly asked, his hard gaze never leaving Sandefer’s.
Nodding in confirmation, “Yes, and they will be killed if you continue your search for the Slayer. You see,” he said, his voice solemn in his confession. “Should either one of them be hurt by any of my team, I know you will hunt me down and kill me. Had I known that we would be involved with acquaintances of Angelus, I’d have never taken the job. Your reputation precedes itself.”
He’s afraid of me, Angel realized, trying to control the sinister smiling twitching at the corners of this mouth. He found that notion profoundly satisfying.
“My employer knew that you would eventually be led to the airport and would question around about the Slayer, so he wanted anyone who had close contact with her eliminated. So, I was brought in immediately to handle the ‘problem’ of the ticket agent, Sybil Warner, and the gate coordinator, Gillian Richards. I’ve done these kinds of jobs for years, so I never questioned what the motives were or who these people were. It was because of the history of this town, that one of my associates did a little investigating.”
“So your employer, wants Cordelia’s location to remain hidden?” Angel gripped his glass of blood, not even noticing that the glass was cracking. “Why?”
“I have no idea,” Sandefer replied. “All I know is that he has gone to great extent to make sure her whereabouts continue to be unknown.” A bitter smile appeared on his face. “He has even gone so far as to alter our contracts.”
Contracts. “What do you mean?”
“We’re killers for hire, Angel, and we are contracted out to do our jobs. And we’re very good at it. But this is the first time we’ve ever been contracted by someone with a knowledge of magicks.” Sandefer’s face darkened with worry and curiosity. As if he had a mystery to solve with no clues to aid him. “We don’t know who he is, but he has assured us that should I fail in deterring you away from Cordelia’s location, steps shall be taken. In fact they are already underway.”
“And these ‘steps’ are to kill Buffy’s friends?” Angel didn’t like the grim smile creeping on Sandefer’s ordinary face. Grim was bad.
“They’ve already been targeted,” he said quietly, his crayon-gray eyes finding an interesting spot on the floor. Taking in a shaking breath, Sandefer brought his gaze back to Angel’s. “Four of my best agents have already been assigned to track Alexander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Joyce Summers and her daughter, Buffy Summers. If you pursue Cordelia Chase they will executed without hesitation. My job was to come and inform you.”
Finally losing his measure, Angel’s glass of blood burst under the unrelenting pressure of his fist.
“I do wish you could see your face, Angel,” Sandefer laughed. Genuinely laughed! “It is a terrible fright. I know who and what you are. That is why I have come with my purpose, in that I don’t want to die. Even if I tried to call them off, they cannot withdraw because of their contract. It’s the spell, you see? The contract we agreed to forbids us from defecting against our employer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t warn you.”
Rip is throat out! Gorge on his blood, make him crawl in agony… Angel could feel his fangs tingling, his eyes turning gold with hate and blood lust. He wanted nothing more than to let go, to be the demon he truly was. To show him what he could do and how long he could make it last!
“And I know, should any four of those individuals die by our guns,” Sandefer continued, cocking his head to the side at the shift in Angel’s expression. He knew the vampire was on the verge. “-you will stop at nothing to destroy us… Angelus. Jennifer Calendar and Rupert Giles would be next on the list. So, for the sake of those people walk away. My employer is more than protective of Miss Chase, he’s possessive. He’s been tracking her for years, and he will know if you continue your search.”
“What’s to stop me from killing you know, Sandefer?” Angel gritted out, heedless of the blood dripping down his hand. There was glass imbedded in his palm, but he felt nothing. “Cause I could do it. Real easy. Pigs blood hasn’t been too filling lately.”
Sandefer smiled pleasantly. “He’ll be checking in soon. If I don’t answer, the killing will begin. It’s really very simple, Angel. Kill me, they die. Track Cordelia Chase, they die. And once again, if they die, I know you’d find me and kill me. Endless circle of death, that can be prevented only by you.”
Angel knew this man was right. They had another player who was three steps ahead of them. And if he, Giles, and the others didn’t back off soon, Buffy, her mother and her friends would be as dead as the poor girls from the airport. And he didn’t even want to think about what Sandefer’s ‘employer’ had in mind for Cordelia. “You’re going to have to give me something. I need to know if she’s safe, if she’s alive!”
He considered this for a moment, as if trying to weigh his options. Just as long as he doesn’t go after her. “Well, I wasn’t informed that I could not tell where she was. You’re just not supposed to go to her. Now, you must promise to send no one after her. Absolutely no one, and I’ll tell you. Agreed?
“Fine.” He figured it was something, just knowing where she was.
“She’s safe, most likely happy. She’s gone to Japan. I’ll not tell you where exactly, but that’s where she’s gone.”
“Odd, isn’t it? From what I’ve heard about the girl, one might have figured France or Italy. Fashionville. But no- she’s gone to the home of the samurai.” If Angel didn’t know any better, judging by the faraway look Sandefer got in his eye, it seemed as he was slightly curious in finding her, too.
Not his slayer. My slayer. For once Angel found himself in accord with his demon. In fact, he really liked the idea.
“Now,” Sandefer declared, with a satisfied huff. “I’ll be on my way.” Finding his footing, he began walking to the door, a slight prance in his stride. “Wouldn’t want to keep him waiting. Who would have thought being late for a phone call would prove fatal to some people?”
“Hey, Sandefer. It may not be me that kills you one day, but I promise you will die.” Angel turned in his seat, not bothering to get up. The smile on his face was pure Angelus.
The years had made him a smart man, a genius by many standards. He knew Death, and he saw it the vampire’s eyes, that his time would come. “Maybe. But not today or anytime soon.” And with that, he opened the door and walked out.
He gets one more day extra of life for not slamming the door. Angel grinned in sinister amusement. “He never said I couldn’t track down his ‘employer’, now did he?” He didn’t like hearing that his man was possessive over Cordelia. Didn’t like it one bit.
Yoshino Village, Japan
“This is really starting to suck, Jun.” Cordelia stomped behind her great-grandfather, trying not to whine, but it was impossible. “I’ve been here for two days- meditating! Channeling my inner-self and you still won’t tell me what’s going on or how you know about vampires. We can just call me ‘aggravated’!” For all she knew, as they exited the house, they might be heading back to the temple.
Jun chuckled in agreement. “You are absolutely right, my dear. Today we’ll practice fighting.”
“Fighting?!” Cordelia practically stumbled over her feet at hearing that. After Sunnydale, that was the last thing she wanted. She’d had the idea of coming to Japan to get away from the madness called ‘home’. “Why would I want to do that?”
“Because that is what you were born to do.”
“In all the languages of the world- huh? I was born to fight? That doesn’t make any sense. Well at least, my kind of sense.” She was born to shop, and now she had the strength to carry all the bags she wanted!
“Very good. You were destined to fight. Better?” Jun paused beside the coy pond, waving to one of his harvesters has they passed by. Cordelia had come during summer harvest, one of the busiest times for him.
Cordelia glared at Jun, as she came to a halt in front of him. “No, it’s not better!” This time, she really did stomp her foot. “First you lock me out of the house-”
“You broke my gate.”
“Which I helped fix yesterday! Then you get all meditation happy on me-”
“You know when entering the village of Yoshino you pay homage to your ancestor-”
“Which only takes ten minutes by the way,” Cordelia snidely replied. You should just be able to go in and say ‘thank you, love you, and good-bye’!
“Do not sass me about your heritage, young lady,” His voice dropped low, almost deadly, as he took a step forward to his granddaughter. “It is just as great as you and has made you such!”
Ah, shit. Great Cordelia, just step all over his huevos! “I’m sorry, grandfather. It’s just I want answers. We get answers back home, we don’t mediate for them.”
“Well perhaps you should.”
“Perhaps.” Cordelia whispered, slightly embarrassed as he began to turn around to go down the stone stairs behind them. His home was on the summit of a small hill, and down the stone stairway, along the hill was a massive training ground. It was both outdoor and indoor, with a dojo, and an impressive obstacle course that she had played on during her last visit to Japan.
“Now, are you going to come to the dojo or are you going to continue to defy me in my own house? Remember who is master here, grandchild. I know you’ve suffered, but respect must not be forgotten. Wakarikiru?”
“Hai, jiisan. I’m sorry.”
“Humph.” He was satisfied with her humility. Jun knew it was hard for her to show any form submissiveness. Cordelia Chase was prideful and strong. “Good. Then let us go. Each moment we waste is a delay in your training.”
“My training for what?” She was still so confused about everything. It was like she was being thrust towards a life that everyone else knew about, but her. And she was somehow, supposed to know about it. Even that icky Master knew what was happening to her.
“To slay demons and vampires.” Jun raised his gray eyebrows in amusement at the shocked expression on her face. “Your destiny. I must see where you are at in your level of strength and skill. Indulge me this afternoon in honing your skills, then I shall tell you what I know.”
Fair enough. “Okay. I like them apples.”
“What apples?” He inquired, as he headed down the stone steps. “We don’t have an orchard.”
Cordelia began hopping down the stairs behind him. “Uh, yeah, it’s a figure of speech, jiisan. Do I get to play with the bushido?”
“Hi there, Mrs. Chase. I hope you don’t mind I dropped by. Can’t resist those open invitations!”
Well, shit, she thought, hearing the vampire’s sultry voice. “Angel.” Turning around from her bar, she saw that he was comfortably sprawled out on her red chaise. Obviously he had been there for a few moments, watching her fix an apple martini. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, you can start by informing me where you husband is at this moment?” He reached over the side of the chaise and grabbed a pillow. Giving it a few fluffs, he placed it behind his head. “You don’t seem the type to be parted from each other for too long. Dependency issues.”
“In the past, yes, we would seldom part each other’s company. But now it’s different.” Meredith had to admit that the vampire did look exceptionally tasteful, lounging on the velvet chaise. His black silk shirt and black slacks accentuated his pale features.
“Found some balls, in light of your daughter’s calling, eh?” Angel quipped. “Or balls in your husband’s case- I never did understand what the women’s equivalency would be. Ovaries, maybe?” Angel’s brow furred as he mulled over that.
“Funny, Angel.” Meredith was staying right by the bar. There was something sinister about his attitude and she did not want to be close to him. “Truly. And to answer that question about my husband, he’s in Los Angeles on business.” She seated herself comfortably on the red cushioned bar stool.
“Business our daughter!”
“Oh, really? That is delightful to hear, because that’s the other reason why I’ve come. I was just paid a visit by a rather unusual fellow- an assassin by trade. He came to warn me to stop trying to find Cordelia or Buffy and friends would be killed. I found that quite disturbing. Wouldn’t you?”
Meredith slowly nodded her head, not taking her eyes away from Angel. “I would.”
“That’s what I thought” he agreed, almost in a chatty manner. “You’ve got at least some form of a heart now, don’t-cha?” Angel couldn’t stop the sly grin that spread across his face.
“You really hate me don’t you, Angel?” Meredith quietly implored. “For what we did to Cordelia”
“Let me think about that.” Angel bit his lower lip in thought, giving a total mockery about being concerned about her question. “Hate is such a strong word, but- yeah! I do.”
“Pity. The man who came to see you- He looks like an assassin? The perfect face for blending, an ordinary face. Am I right?”
“Hittin’ every button so far.” Angel sat up, turning to face her dead on. He clasped his hands over his lap, as he he placed his feet on her cherry wood coffee table.
“His name is Julius Sandefer. He’s quite a dangerous man. Works for money and does his job well. My husband and I did not hire him, Angel, so get that out of your head.”
Angel’s brown eyes widened in shock. “Wasn’t even in there, but I had an inkling that you would know who he was. And if you knew who he was and what he does- then you just might know who that employer of his is. I’ve got a bone to pick with that guy.”
Meredith tried not to choke on her martini, as his eyes flashed gold. “Angel, this is way more complicated than you think. What has happened to my daughter has been building for ages, through many generations. Granted, I don’t approve of what’s been done to keep her location secret-” Meredith gave a grim smile at Angel’s stunned reaction. “Oh yes, I know about that. The two girls at the airport, and know people close to Cordelia are being threatened.”
“He told me to stay away from her. To leave her alone. I can’t do that, Mrs. Chase.” His voice was more than an implore for understanding, it was as if he were speaking from his soul. Angel didn’t notice the flicker of revelation on Meredith’s face, as he contemplated his own instincts.
“I know you can’t.” Meredith knew her heart was beating fast. With his senses it must have been like a drum in his ears.
“Oh, do you? And how is it that you are aware of this.”
“Some things, Angel, are just not meant to be revealed.” She felt like she needed a scotch now, as she rose to go behind the bar. “Why do you think we never informed the Watcher’s Council about Cordelia? Why do you think we never told her? Because it was meant to be so. Imagine yourself, if you will, as you were when you were human.” The ice clinked in the glass, as she pored the scotch. “What would you have done to prevent what you were to inevitably do? What you would become. The Scourge of Europe. The one with the angelic face. Oh, yes. I know all of the gory little details.”
“Keep talking about this and you’ll know more than just details,” Angel said evenly.
“I’m trying to make a point, Angel. This is more than just a prophecy with Cordelia, it’s heritage. It’s fate. And it cannot be changed by you or by anyone. I know, because I’ve tried.” She slammed the Scotch bottle back into the cupboard, grabbed her glass and came back to sit down.
“You’ve tried?” The sneer on his handsome face was a clear fact that he doubted her efforts highly.
“Absolutely. I went against everything I was supposed to do. Lived the wild life, not the life of a mother destined to birth a human warrior. In fact, I got pregnant twice before Cordelia. I couldn’t bear the thought of my baby having such a life. So, I figured, after aborting the two before her, I was safe.” She could feel her eyes misting as she recalled her past sins. “Alexander and I had just married and he wanted an heir. No god would allow a woman to conceive a savior, when her mother was a sinner, right? A murderer. Wrong.”
“And just to be cautious,” she continued. “I tried to keep my daughter away from all the known Hellmouths. Never took her to Bangkok or Cleveland. Kept us out of Sun Valley because I thought that was were the other one was. The other two were definite confirmations.”
“Why would you think the other Hellmouth would be in Sun Valley?” Angel asked.
“A girl child will be born in the old world, in the valley of her ancestors. And in the new world, in the valley of the sun, when the mouth of Hell opens, she will be reborn.” It sounded like she was was quoting from a scroll book that wasn’t in front of her. “So I assumed Sun Valley. Not the brightest crayon in the box now was I?”
Don’t know about the brightest, but definitely the most bitchiest. “Where was Cordelia born?
“I ignored the signs, Angel.” Her brown eyes were glassy with memory. “God I was so stupid! She was born two months early, in Yoshino Village, Japan. I had some things I needed to get tied up over there, and she wasn’t due for two more months! It couldn’t be stopped, but I kept trying. Woe was me, when I found out there was a Hellmouth in Sunnydale.” Meredith gave a dry chuckle, pausing to sip her drink. “Alexander had just established headquarters here and it was then, that we both knew nothing would stop the chain. Our daughter would become the greatest of all Slayers. And in knowing that, truly accepting that- her pain would be the greatest as well.”
“You are really speaking in riddles here, and I don’t have the patience to solve them, Meredith. Who is Sandefer’s employer and what else are you not telling me?” For added emphasis at how serious he was in getting his answers, Angel stood up and walked to stand beside her. Gently leaning down, he whispered in her ear, “Tell me.”
Taking in a shaking breath, Meredith tried to calm her breathing. His cold breath on her ear was like Death whispering to her. “Julius Sandefer is employed by Cordelia’s grandfather, Daniel Bellaver. My darling daddy! Mr. Bellaver is a senior member of the Watcher’s Council, and he is also aware of Cordelia’s destiny as a slayer. He’d been making absolutely sure that the Council would remain unaware of Cordelia as a potential. We may not be a close family, but we keep our secrets well hidden.”
“Yeah. So hidden two innocent girls had to die because of it. Really amazing, Mrs. Chase. An amazingly, fucking twisted family.”
“Don’t get cynical with me, Angel!” She lurched up from her seat at the bar, and angrily stepped away from him. “It’s all been done for her, to keep her safe! You don’t understand. A slayer of her power- she’s going to be coveted like no other. Look at you- You’re already obsessed.”
There was no going against that. Ever since the night of the Hellmouth’s opening, he’d been more than rash. He was feeling his demon more and was even listing to it. He was feeling more like Angelus by the minute. He would back down. If it meant keeping Cordelia and the others safe. “Alright. I guess this is as far as we go, eh? If I back away from finding her, and tell the others to do so- everyone’s safe?”
“Yes, they’ll be safe from my father’s men. He’s like a machine, you know? He’ll stop once the switch has been turned off.”
It was obvious that Meredith Chase held no feelings of love towards her father. And like so many family traditions go, her own daughter would probably feel the same way towards her. “If Bellaver hurts anyone else with his assassins, I’ll permanently shut him off forever. You’ll see he gets that message right? We wouldn’t want the messenger hurt now would we?”
“No,” she whispered, fear seeping out of her every pore. “We wouldn’t want that.”
Meredith Chase shakily grabbed her phone, once she was positive that Angel had left the grounds. Amid a few outbursts of frustration towards her fingers for trembling so much, she finally dialed the number to her husband’s hotel room in Los Angeles.
“Alex? It’s me.”
“What are you doing up at this hour? It’s after 2:00am.”
“Like you ever sleep. I just had a visit from Angel, Alex. A rather disturbing one.”
“Oh, God! Are you alright, darling?”
“Yes, just a few idle threats against my life and such, nothing big. I did have to tell him about Daddy’s involvement with Sandefer, though.”
“Angel’s going to back off, and he’ll tell Rupert Giles to do so as well. Once that’s confirmed, Daddy will back down, too. But, Alex- there’s something else.”
“He’s tasted Cordelia’s blood.”
“That’s impossible, Meredith! Cordelia hasn’t had any association with Angel since she became the Slayer. We were both sure of that!”
“He’s acting like Angelus would. Or how we think Angelus might act! And frankly, I don’t like him. You know the connection that they are supposed to have with each other, and her blood would be a pure catalyst for bringing his demon out, despite his soul.”
“There has to be another explanation. How would he have gotten her blood?”
“I don’t know, and at this point I don’t care. Somehow, he got some of our baby’s blood. We’ll have to speed things up. Immediately.”
“Fine. I’ll get Wolfram & Hart to draw up the paperwork, first thing in the morning. Remember what to tell them if they call you, Meredith.”
“It’s hard enough to realize we have to insure the care of our daughter to a vampire, so I really don’t want those lawyers from hell after her either. It would be too much, Alex. They’d give anything to have her, you know.”
“Yes, I know. I promise you on my life, darling, that they will never get their hands on her. However, she’d probably bitch at them to death, so it may be worth our while to get them involved.”
Sharing a brief, but unsettling chuckle, the parents of Cordelia Chase disconnected. And first thing in the morning, Alexander Chase would contact his lawyer at Wolfram & Hart to disconnect themselves from their daughter, forever.
Rupert Giles was exhausted, which was evident has his hand trembling in the simple process of poring himself a cup of tea. The last four days had been nerve racking with Buffy both dying and being brought back to life. The result of which, another Vampire Slayer had been called, a school mate of Buffy’s, named Cordelia Chase.
It was now close to 3 o’clock in the morning, and he had just received a call from Angel, an ally of Buffy’s. He had been close to finally falling asleep, when a desperate Angel had phoned, insistent on seeing him. And why shouldn’t he?
Since the Hellmouth had both opened and closed, they had been trying to find out where the newly called slayer had ran off to. Apparently, the overwhelming experience of being called and only knowing instinctively about her powers had forced the teenager to flee Sunnydale.
Most likely, Angel had finally uncovered some additional news about Cordelia, or so he hoped as he went to answer the soft, but persistent knock on his door. On the other side of the door, was a phenomenon, the only one of his kind- a vampire with a soul. Still, it was quite unnerving to have a vampire in one’s home, despite being tied to humanity. Trying to stifle a yawn, Giles invited Angel to his home once again, “This had better be good, Angel. I think I’m going on a total of five hours of sleep in the past six days.”
Giving a slight smile, which was rare to show on his pale, but handsome face. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll want to hear what I’ve found out.” Angel slipped off his trench coat, and followed Giles into the living area. Even though he was thousands of miles from England, his apartment still held that stuffy, British air.
Taking a seat opposite the vampire, Giles took a soothing sip of his tea. “So, what’s go you coming over to my flat at this ungodly hour?”
“Information about Cordelia.”
Just what he had been wanting to hear. Leaning forward in his chair, his sleep forgotten, “Tell me what you’ve found out.”
“Well,” Angel sighed, trying to find the right words to tell the Watcher that he was under surveillance by a group of ruthless assassins. He had debated if he should have called Giles upon hearing what Julius Sandefer and Meredith Chase had told him. After waging a silent war within himself, he figured it was the right thing to do. If Giles stopped looking for Cordelia, then it kept everyone else safe. “I’ve just been given some rather disturbing news, Giles, and what I’m going to tell you can’t leave this room. Okay?”
Giles did not like the look in Angel’s eyes at all. It was as if each word he spoke was making him more and more agitated. “All right.”
Rupert Giles wasn’t the only one who was having problems sleeping. Willow Rosenberg was scrambling around in her bed, her blanket wrapping around her legs in a vise, as she tried to get into a comfortable position. It was useless. She was up and there was only one thing she could do about it- surf the web.
Grumbling about not getting any sleep, Willow kicked off her blankets and stumbled over to her desk. A soft knock interrupted her before she could turn on her computer. Willow’s heart did a flip flop. It was nearly 3:30 in the morning, who could possibly be at her bedroom door? Too bad she wasn’t a party girl. That back door would be ideal for such outings, but it did come in handy when she went on patrol with Buffy. Going over to the door, she pulled the curtain back to reveal a Xander Harris in blue sweats and ratty sneakers.
“Xander? What are you doing here?” She asked, stepping back to let him in. Her pink pajamas with bears was not the attire she wanted him to see her in.
He gave her a sheepish smile. “I couldn’t sleep. Figured school was out, go to Willow’s and have a belated slumber party!” With that, Xander flounced onto her bed, kicking off his shoes. “Come on, sit down. I’ve been having thoughts.”
“Really? That could be a sign of another apocalypse, you having thoughts.” Willow grinned when he scowled at her. “So what’s on that brain of yours?” Should my heart be beating this fast, she wondered, as she sat next to him. On her bed!
“You know what? I bet there’s mischief a foot!” Xander exclaimed, waving a finger at her.
“What do you mean ‘mischief’? And about what exactly?” Willow asked. She was having a real difficult time not looking at his mouth. Bad Willow! No kissing thoughts about Xander.
“Think about it, Will,” he continued, his eyes shining. “Cordelia goes to the airport and right after that, two employees are killed. Standard black ops stuff. Someone is trying to hide her location.” Xander nodded in a agreement to himself.
“That’s silly,” Willow scoffed. “Why- or better yet- who, would do such a thing?”
“What about that crazy family of hers? Her mom and dad are so certifiably whacked, now we learn that she has wasabi eating family in Japan! Do you think Cordy eats sushi?! Yeck!”
Rolling her eyes, Willow threw a pillow at him, which he grabbed and tucked under his head. “So you think that Cordelia’s family murdered the two women from the airport? Other than keeping her location a secret, why?”
“You believe me?” Other than his lover for Baywatch and Star Trek he had a fondness for conspiracy theories. With the whole demonisms of Sunnydale, he was sure that the government has some inside knowledge of the place too. He’d prove that one someday!
“No, I’m humoring you.”
Xander frowned. “That’s not good. Well, anyway,” he continued, draping his legs over hers, not noticing how her face flushed almost as red as her hair. “It makes sense to me, especially with this ‘oh-so-secret-and-special-family-prophecy-of-Cordelia-being-a-slayer.” Xander scrunched up his nose, thinking. “Cordy the Slayer. Vampire Slayer, Cordelia! Baffles the mind, don’t it? There could be a mistake, ya know.”
“Xander,” Willow began, “Get over it. Even though we have not seen her in action, all signs point to Cordelia being the new Slayer. I wonder what happens now?”
“About Buffy- does this put her out of commission or what?” Willow knew that Buffy had not taken the idea of Cordelia as a slayer too well. That was evident when she had stormed out of Giles’ place. Willow hadn’t even had a chance to talk to Buffy about it, since she took off to her dad’s house the next day. “It would sure lighten the slayer load a bit.”
He hadn’t thought about that- Two slayers meant less work load, which meant Buffy could do more… stuff. Like get interested in me and not the blood-philiac. Highly unlikely, but a man had to hope! “Well, Buffy’s ‘load’ should be light and airy now that she’s in Los Angeles.”
Willow’s eyebrows shot up in amusement. “Just because she’s not in Sunnydale, doesn’t meant she’s not encountering some form of the supernatural, Xande. The same goes for Cordelia.” With all the commotion that happened in Sunnydale, it was hard to imagine the outside world could be affected too. “So, other than a ‘massive conspiracy’ to secure Cordelia’s current locale,” she couldn’t help the sacrasm, “What else could it be?”
“Sarcasm duly noted, Willow,” Xander laughed, struggling to get under the covers. He was finally getting sleepy. “It could all be a coincidence, but I doubt it. Someone doesn’t want us to find her, Will. I’ll bet your fish on it!”
Giles had gone from tea to scotch during Angel’s narrative. He’d figured it would curb that chill going up and down his spine at learning he and others were being followed. Not only followed, but targeted for execution, should Angel fail in keeping them away from Cordelia.
“So she’s in Japan?” Giles pressed his fingers had the bridge of his nose, trying to relieved the tension that was steadily building.
“That’s what Sandefer said,” Angel answered, “And Mrs. Chase did mention Yoshino Village, being were Cordelia was born. I’m betting she’s with family there.” That notion gave him some measure of comfort, knowing that the teenager was with people she trusted.
“And your absolutely sure, that Meredith Chase mentioned Daniel Bellaver as being her father?”
Leaning back in his chair, Angel slowly nodded in confirmation.
Giles shook his head in bewilderment. “Jesus. I had no idea that Cordelia was connected to all of this.”
“I know he’s part of the Watcher’s Council, but what power does he hold?” Angel had been curious from the moment Cordelia’s mother had mentioned the man. He still wasn’t fond of the fact that he wanted him to stay away from Cordelia, even in light that he was her grandfather. “And why would he be so determined to hide all of this?”
“The Bellaver family has been part of the Council for generations. Highly tied to it’s cause. Many of the women and men in the family have been Watchers through the ages, and least four girls in the Bellaver branch have been slayers.” With this new development, Giles was finally able to admit to himself that he was no longer tired. Finding new vigor, he wanted desperately to get to the bottom of this. “But what astounds me, is like you asked, why would he keep it hidden if he knew Cordelia was a potential? He must have known about the prophecy that Cordelia’s great-great grandmother predicted.”
“Even so,” Angel began, trying to get on some level with Giles. “All the more reason to come forward, especially if the Bellavers have been tied to the Council for so long. What was he trying to hide?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
Silence rested between them for a few moments, each of them deep in thought. Angel leaned forward, resting his chin in his hand. Eyes narrowed he recalled his recent conversation with Meredith Chase. “Giles? When I was talking with Mrs. Chase she said ‘we may not be a close family, but we keep our secrets well hidden.’” He raised his head to meet Giles’ weary eyes, that were now alive with thought. “What if there was something that Daniel Bellaver has to keep hidden? Something not just about his side of the family, but Meredith Chase’s mother’s side as well?”
Giles could tell that Angel was getting at something, but what? “Okay, go on.”
Angel rose from his seat, and began pacing back and forth. “The Bellaver family has had at least four girls called, right?”
“Yes, there could be more, but I’ve never investigated. Didn’t need to.”
“Don’t you think that’s a high number for any family to have? I’ve never heard of specific families having a line of slayers.”
“Well,” Giles said, “It was kind of a joke within the Council, that the Bellavers carried a ‘slayer gene’ within their girls.” Giles gave a slight chuckle at the memory. “But that was placed aside when we found that two other families had a high number of girls called.” Jerking his head over at Angel, Giles narrowed his eyes. “What are you getting at?”
“What were the names of these families? The other two?”
Rupert Giles stood up, coming to stand in front of the vampire. Clenching his jaw in realization, Giles gave a grim smile. “The Dantes family in France… and the Yoshino clan-”
“In Japan.” Angel finished. Nodding in agreement both men contemplated what this meant. “Meredith Chase is from the Yoshino and Bellaver families. I’m betting that Alexander Chase is from the Dantes side.”
“Oh, my God.” Giles could not believe it. Three families with a common trait of multiple slayers. “They’ve been tying to breed the perfect slayer. Xander was right in calling Cordelia an ‘Uber-slayer’! That’s exactly what she is!” The research involved was going to be tremendous, and he couldn’t wait. “Do you think the families knew about this?”
Angel shook is head. “No. Not until recent generations. I’m betting there’s a higher purpose at work here.” Recalling Meredith and Alexander Chases’ vehement claims at being opposed to Cordelia’s destiny. “It was the last two generations that truly knew. Probably organizing a match between Cordelia’s parents. Meredith knew more than Alexander, and was probably brought in on the family secret after he married Meredith.” This dredged some sympathy, but not much.
Rupert Giles had thought he’d heard of everything. Only two things had astounded him during the past year, this being one of them! The other, of course, was the knowledge of a vampire with a soul. “So, what do you think the best course of action will be?”
“First you’ve got to call Willow and Xander tomorrow, about how we’re going to let the Watcher’s Council be in complete control of looking for Cordelia.” To be honest, he was surprised they had not found her, since Giles had called them immediately upon learning about Cordelia. Most likely Daniel Bellaver’s doing. “And Jenny Calendar, too.”
“Definitely. They won’t ask too many questions if they think the Council’s involved.” The less they knew, the safer they were from Sandefer’s men. Or rather Bellaver’s. Giles could feel is temper rising. Once this was over, he’d find a way to make sure that man paid for the death of those two girls from Sunnydale Airport. “I’ll also call Buffy in L.A.”
“No, that won’t be necessary.”
“Why not? She should know to stop looking for Cordelia as well. We’ll just tell her the same thing- the Council’s searching.”
“Fine, if you think so.” Angel knew with absolution that looking for Cordelia Chase was the last thing on her mind. “Just make sure none of them know about the assassins.”
“Of course,” Giles agreed, “The last thing we want is for them to panic. Angel? You should be getting back to your home. The suns going to rise soon.”
Angel knew that it was still hard for Giles to accept him, even with the soul. Unless it was necessary, he knew he was not welcome to stay, even from the burning rays for the sun. “Yeah.” Giving Giles a brief nod, he headed over to get is coat by the door.
“Angel?” Giles called out, stopping the vampire, just as he was about to exit. “Do you think Cordelia is safe in Japan.”
Turning around, Angel met the Watcher’s eyes. There was a gleam in there that silently warned Giles about the danger, just below the surface of the vampire’s soul.
“She damn well better be.”
Rupert Giles let out a sigh of relief as Angel closed the door behind him. Relying on senses that had never prooved him wrong, Giles could only hope that Angel would remain on their side.
Notage! Just to get the ball moving, I’ve jumped 3 months from the last part.
Jun Yoshino watched his great-granddaughter, Cordelia, in awe. Since her arrival to Japan, nearly three months ago, she had mastered nearly very martial art technique he knew. Judo, ninjitsu, kendo, aikido… she knew them all. At this moment, she was sparing with her cousin, Jin Yoshino, and was winning- yet again.
The girl is like a machine, he marveled, as she bounded of the wall of the dojo, landing with a reflex that rivaled a cat. Cordelia was wearing a white V-neck uniform with a red sash, while Jun was in a black, Judo uniform with a yellow sash. She and Jin had done this nearly everyday since she had begun her training, and Jun knew what the end result would be: His Cordelia would win. He had half expected Jun to reluctant to train with his cousin, but the young man had taken to it quite well. Cordelia was more than a girl beating up a boy, she was a slayer and Jin understood it, much to Jun’s relief. He was, much to his dismay, too old to be her sparing partner.
When he had seen her distraught face, that long ago day after she had fought the Master, Jun Yoshino had felt a sinking dread within his heart. He had know immediately why she had come to him and he hated it. Hated the fact that there was nothing to stop the coming storm. Jun knew the destinies that awaited slayers- he had always known.
He knew of watchers and slayers because his own twin sister, Kaede, and been a slayer. Her Watcher, Yukio, had allowed him to assist her with his sister’s training, because of his skill as a samurai.
“How was that, jiisan?” Jin asked, bringing his great-grandfather out of his revere. He and Cordelia had just ended another round, with her victorious. Jin kind of wished she would just let him win for once.
“Good. Do it again,” he replied with smile. He was proud of his descendants, and what better way for his great-grandson to be an exceptional fighter, than to train with a slayer? “Come on!” He rushed, seeing their faces drop. They had been in there for six hours.
Cordelia rolled her hazel eyes in aggravation. “Jiisan, we have been in here all day. Can we take a break? Please?”
Jun sighed, and rose to his feet, arms akimbo as he walked over to his grandchildren. Narrowing his dark eyes for emphasis, Jun gave her a grim look. “Cordelia, as the Slayer, you will never be given the option of a ‘break’.” Hearing this, she looked down at her bare feet in shame and disappointment. I’ll have none of that, Jun thought, as he raised her chin, bringing her sad eyes back to his. “I’m sorry to say this to you, my flower, but you have to realize what that means. Until the day you die, you will always be the Slayer. You are a warrior of humanity and that is something you have to accept, here and now!”
Jin had backed away from the two, allowing their grandfather to communicate with her. Jiisan’s training had been relentless on Cordelia, and despite her calling, she was not used to such rigorous activity and the discipline that came with it.
“Well?” Jun prodded. “What will it be?”
“Will I die like Kaede did?” Cordelia clenched her jaw, trying to stifle the tears that wanted to well over. The tale Jun had told her of his twin, Kaede Yoshino, had bubbled a quiet well of fear in her heart.
Jun closed his eyes briefly at the memory Cordelia’s words welled within him. Kaede Yoshino had died at the hands of a Noreshan demon on their twentieth birthday. The green and red demon had been too much for her and ripped her apart in front of his very eyes in Tokyo. When his sister had died, a part of him died with her. Not even the knowledge that she had lived well and long for a slayer could comfort his bleeding heart. They had been thirteen when she was called. Much too early to have such a life forced upon her. She was supposed to have grown old, with him! She was supposed to have married and raised children. Instead, he had buried her, too young to go to the grave.
Now another one I love may be destined for the same fate. With all his wisdom and knowledge, the only thing he could offer his child was a lie. “I don’t know how it will happen exactly, Cordelia. I and the rest of your family only bear the knowledge that you would be called. How you would die,” Jun paused, reaching out to grasp his granddaughter’s hands in his. “Is unknown. But know this,” he continued, motioning for Jin to come over to him. “Everything is born, everything dies and everything falls in between. All that are born must die.”
Despite the morbidity of his statement, Cordelia did find it somewhat comforting. Not until she had come close to death on the roof of Sunnydale High, did it ever cross her mind that someday, she would have to leave this earth.
“Fukumasu, jison?” It was important that his children, his heirs understood the balance and cycle that was life.
“Hai.” Both cousins answered, giving a slight bow of the head to their great-grandfather.
“But can we go in and eat now?” Cordelia demanded, giving Jun a slight grin.
Later That Night
After a satisfying meal of Momiji’s sushi and Teriyaki eel, Cordelia was feeling quite sated. She and her cousin, Jin, and relocated to the river at the base of Yoshino Hill. They usually ended up going there after practice. Cordelia thought it was soothing with the sound of the water, and crickets. Occasionally, they’d hear frogs as the sun descended.
“I feel bad, Jin.”
He turned his dark head to look at her. They were both lying on the grassy embankment, side by side. “About what?”
“Mentioning Kaede, like a I did,” she softly replied gazing at the sky as it turned a deep blue. “But I couldn’t help it. I always say what’s on my mind.”
“Cordelia,” Jin began, still gazing at his beautiful cousin. “Jun knows you didn’t mean to hurt him. He has to expect questions like that, and he does understand where your coming from.” It disturbed him greatly too, the possibility of his cousin would die at the hand of some monstrosity. The only comfort he got from that knowledge was that she would give them hell when her time came. He figured it was better her going out as a slayer than a helpless girl with no supernatural power. Jin grinned at that notion- Cordelia helpless? Even if she had encountered a demon as normal girl, he had it upon good authority that she would still give them hell!
Turning onto her side, she grinned at her cousin. He sure is a handsome devil, she mused, in appreciation. He was tall, about six foot one, with a slim athletic build and a face that any magazine editor would die to have on their cover! It was his eyes that were his best quality. They were a pale brown, almost gold and the almond shape of them only added to his exoticness. She figured with was just how Jun had looked in his youth
Too bad he’s family! “You always know what to say to make me feel better, Jin.” She reached over to give him a hug, wishing all days could be like this- safe and happy with the family she loved.
“Hey, I can’t help it if I have a way with the ladies!” He laughed, poking her in the ribs. “Now shut up and enjoy the silence.”
“Yeah,” she huffed. “Crickets, frogs, water- oh- and that linear jet flying overhead is really silent!” Snarkiness was her nature, it was like telling the sun not to rise. “Not to mention your nasal blocked breathing!”
“Where are they?” Momiji Yoshino asked, coming to stand by her husband outside the farmstead.
Closing his eyes in briefly at the blissful presence of his second wife, Jun wrapped his arms around her shoulders. They were older now, but she still fired a passion in him that would never die. “They’re by the river.” The bond between the two cousins had grown quite strong of the last few weeks. He only wished that Cordelia belonged here, in Japan. But it was not be.
Turning her beautiful, ravaged face to him, Momiji noted the sadness in his eyes. It had been growing for some time. “What’s wrong, aruji?” As a member of the Yoshino family, she too, knew of the destiny that their Cordelia had to face.
“I don’t want her to go.”
Momiji closed her eyes in realization. It was a time that she had been dreading too. Cordelia was part of their family and she did not want her to go either. “Isn’t there another way, Jun? Can’t she be the Slayer in Japan? There hasn’t been a slayer here since India Cohen!” She turned around, beseeching her husband. “Why does she need to go back to that godforsaken town!?”
“You know why.” He attested, his voice as quiet as the grave. “She has to return to Sunnydale, Momiji, there is no other way.” He pulled his love deeper into his embrace.
“When will you tell her?” She sobbed.
“When they get back. I have to tell her tonight.” And he had no idea how he was going to bring himself to do it.
Cordelia and Jin had just returned from the river an hour ago, and Jun had been waging a war within himself. He didn’t want to do it- he didn’t want to send his beloved girl back to the hell that had tried to kill her! “But we must suffer the children,” he prayed to himself, to his ancestors, to find the courage.
“Cordelia?” He called out. His voice was strong and purposeful, which surprised him. “I need to speak with you, my dear.” Trying to brace himself for the storm to come, Cordelia bounced into his study. She was now clad in her American clothes of jeans and a sweatshirt.
“Yeah? What is it?”
“Sit down, child.”
Swallowing back a lump that was forming in her throat, Cordelia Chase braced herself for the worst. Not wanting to upset him, she did just as she asked, and took a seat on the mat. He was facing her, legs crossed.
“You must return to school.” Jun gave himself a mental slap. School? He could not come up with something better than that?
Cordelia frowned in confusion. “You mean school here?” She pointed downward for better emphasis on the meaning of ‘here’. She could do that! School in Japan wouldn’t be bad at all! It’s no like I don’t know the language, she thought.
Slowly, Jun shook his head, his eyes not leaving his great-granddaughter’s beautiful face.
She closed her eyes in despair. What he was suggesting was unthinkable. “You mean school back ‘there’?” He couldn’t mean it… not possible! Cordelia felt the color drain from her face as she realized Jun did not disagree.
“Why?!” She stood up, coming to stand before him. “Why can’t I stay here? If not Japan, anywhere else but Sunnydale!” For the first time since she had come back here, tears fell down her checks.
“You must go back.”
Cordelia shook her head in denial, on the verge of hysteria. She’d almost died back there! “I won’t go back, jiisan. I can’t and you can’t make me!” She seethed in rage, all the hurt coming to a boiling point, now this betrayal from the person she trusted the most.
Jun knew this was going to be hard, but nothing could be prepare him for her reaction. She was like a tsunami about ready to crash upon the shore. He only knew of one thing that could reach her behind that mist of red she saw. “Are you a warrior of humanity?”
“Are you a warrior of humanity?” He repeated, keeping his eyes level with hers, once she’d stopped pacing like a caged tiger. “Yes or no?”
And she tried- she tried to block out the calling within her. She wanted nothing more than to turn her back on all of it! The training, the powers, the destiny! She just wanted to be Cordelia Chase, the bitch of all bitches again. “I didn’t ask for any of this, Jun!”
But he was relentless. “Yes or no?”
Sinking back down onto the mat, Cordelia closed her eyes in agony. She knew she had to go back- had know it all along. Being in Japan was only supposed to be temporary. She was a warrior of humanity, and the world needed her to be in Sunnydale.
“Yes, daishihan.” Cordelia opened her eyes, feeling as if she were born again. Feeling that sudden surge of power, like that night she had been trying to drive away from the terror that pursued her. And she looked at Jun Yoshino, not as her grandfather, but as a master, a learned warrior. “I am the Slayer.”
Jun gave his great-granddaughter, his finest pupil, a smile of genuine pride. “That’s good to know. You will leave in one week’s time”.
*** We’ve been out of Sunnydale long enough, haven’t we, precious?
Night before Junior year
Man this ice cream’s good, Xander thought, as he and Willow walked beside Summit Graveyard. On their way home they had decided to get cones at 31 Flavors. Another bright idea for him.
“Okay, hold on!” Willow chimed excitedly.
“It’s your turn,” He egged, delighted in the game they were playing.
“Okay, um…,” Slowing her pace, as she gathered her thoughts, “In the few hours that we had together, we loved a lifetimes worth.” Sheesh, he’s gonna get that in a flash.
True enough. “Terminator.”
“Okay,” Xander paused, taking a lick of his vanilla cone. “Let’s see… “It’s a madhouse! A ma-”
Now this was more her kind of movie! “Planet of the Apes!” Move over hot stuff, Willow is on the rampage.
But she wasn’t counting on Xander being perturbed. “Can I finish, please?”
“Sorry,” her face flushing red, “Go ahead.” Her nod of encouragement just what he needed.
Willow looked over at him, making sure he was done first. He always did have a conniption fit when it came to his movie quotes. “Planet of the Apes. Good. Me now. Um…”
She wanted to throw her vanilla cone at him. “I’m thinking! Okay.” She turned to him. “Use the force, Luke.”
Xander gave her a withering stare. “Do I really have to dignify that with a guess?”
“I didn’t think of anything,” she moped. “It’s a dumb game anyway.”
Well he sure didn’t think so. “You got something better to do? We played rock-paper-scissors long enough, okay?” It seemed they were gameless tonight. “My hand cramped up,” he mumbled, giving his right had a reassuring flex.
“Well, of course, it your always scissors, sure your tendons are gonna stretch-”
“You know,” Xander interrupted, not wanting to hear the carpal tunnel speech. “I gotta say, this has been the most boring summer ever.”
“Yeah, but on the plus side, no monsters or stuff.” Hence they were able to walk around at night like normal kids- and by graveyards! Willow backed up and took a seat on the stone wall that separated the sidewalk from the cemetery.
“I know, but I’m so restless,” he exclaimed, coming to lean on the wall next to Willow. “I’m actually glad school is starting again.” Xander gave an involuntary shiver. “Do I have a fever?”
Willow gave him a cross looking, while she took another taste of her cone. “Yeah, and that has nothing to do with a certain girl that we both know that is a vampire slayer?”
“Buffy or Cordelia?”
“Oh, please,” Xander rolled his eyes, “I’m so over her.” An unconvincing lie it was. “Did she, uh, say when she was getting back, about which I don’t care!?”
She shook her head. “I haven’t heard from her. I mean, I got a couple of postcards after she went to L.A. and then, like, nothing.” Willow turned around quickly, glancing over her shoulder, to cover the hurt on her face.
“Yeah, I never heard,” he replied. “Well, she’s probably having fun with her dad.” I wish she was having fun with me, he thought. “What about Cordelia? Giles find out anything?”
“Nope,” she quipped, “The Council has found no trace of her. Don’t you think that’s odd? With all the connections Giles claims they have, they can’t find a slayer.”
“And don’t you think it’s odd that Sunnydale has two slayers and they both skip town at almost the same time without so much as a ‘goodbye’ or ‘I’ll miss you terribly’!?” He wasn’t bitter at all.
“Right,” Willow scoffed, “And you don’t care.” Buffy Summers had been the lingering thought in his head all last year.
“Okay, so maybe there’s some interest,” He couldn’t hide anything from Willow. Knowing each other since kindergarten does that to some people. “I’m a man, I have certain desires, certain needs…”
“I don’t wanna know.” I really wanna know!
Xander smiled at her reaction. “Don’t you?” He inched ever so close to her. “I got a movie for you.” Gently, he gabbed his ice cream at her, a cute vanilla streak on the tip of her nose.
“Xander,” Willow protested, only slightly uncomfortable.
“Come on,” he prodded, dabbing her nose again. “You’re Amish, you won’t fight back because you’re Amish, I mock you with my ice cream cone, Amish guy…”
“Witness,” she answered, pushing his arm away. “My nose is cold.”
“Let me get that-” Xander leaned forward to lick the ice cream off her nose. Frowning slightly when she jerked her head away, laughing.
He daubed her nose with a napkin. “What can I say? It makes your nose look tasty.” Just has he was leaning forward, he caught Willow’s eye as she suddenly turned to her left. And there- right between them- was the fist vampire they had seen all summer.
“Willow, go!” Xander could tell by the look of this guy he was freshly risen. Must be the dirt and burial tux! Which meant he was going to be especially hungry.
Willow screamed as the vampire grabbed Xander by the neck, bringing him ever so much closer to his gapping, fanged mouth. Just as she was about to squeeze her eyes shut, the vampire was suddenly pulled away from Xander, it’s mouth meeting a lightning quick fist.
“Hi, guys,” Buffy quipped calmly, as she delivered a roundhouse kick that sent the vampire hurtling backwards to his doom. Buffy’s kick had sent him flying backwards to a broken tree branch, impaling him in the chest. What was left, as always, was a cloud of dust. “Miss me?
Willow and Xander briefly shared a glance, before they flew into Buffy’s arms. “Buffy!” Willow squealed in delight and surprise. Pleasant and alive surprise!
“Hey, Will,” Buffy returned the hug with equal enthusiasm.
“Man, your timing really doesn’t suck,” Xander complimented. He was drinking her in.
“When did you get back?” Willow asked.
“Just now,” she replied. All three simultaneously began walking toward the houses, away from the graveyard. “Dad drove me down. And I knew you losers would be getting into some kind of trouble.” She shook her now head at them, now crowned with short blond locks. “Does either of you even have a cross? Very sloppy…” She teased.
“Well, it’s been a slow summer,” Xander defended. And it had been! He and Willow practically had a picnic just two nights ago. “That was the first vampire we’ve seen since Cordelia killed the Master.” Neither friend noticed the pained look that came across Buffy’s face at the mention of those two, as they headed on.
Sunnydale High was all abuzz with students greeting each other after their long summer, swapping stories about vacation highs and lows. There were groans about what teachers they had, and compliments about new school clothes.
Buffy, Xander and Willow pushed themselves between the halls, spotting Giles and Ms. Calendar talking away. “Giles!” Willow waived excitedly.
“Hey, G-man! What’s up!” Xander conveyed, in his own form of greeting.
“Nice to see you,” He smiled at all three students, stopping at Xander with a pointed stare. “And don’t ever call me that.”
Jenny grinned at his reaction. Definitely carbon dated, but hot, she thought in admiration. “Hey, kids.” Jenny stifled a grunt of frustration as another hurried student pushed past her. “It’s a zoo around here!”
“How are you?” Giles asked quietly, a pointedly to Buffy. He hadn’t heard anything from her all summer long.
“Alive and kicking,” Was the curt reply.
“Buffy killed a vampire last night!” Willow almost shouted, heedless of their surroundings as some students stopped what they were doing, to cast odd glances at Buffy.
Buffy leaned over to Willow. “Uh, I think you can get a little more volume if you speak from the diaphragm. Just a suggestion.”
“Sorry,” Willow whispered, deeply ashamed. All five of them began to move away from the crowds, trying to find a more secluded area.
“We got vampires?” Jenny asked, once they were outside. “I thought the Hellmouth was closed.”
Giles gave a forlorn expression. “Closed, not gone. The mystical energy it emits is still concentrated in this area.” All new things were bound to be headed back now.
“Which means we’re still the undead’s favorite party town.” Xander offered.
“This vampire,” Giles asked Buffy, “Could you tell where he might be from?” He wasn’t picking up on her dejectedness. The most he could tell was that she was annoyed at being back in school.
“Local talent,” she replied. Her monotone voice still unnoticed. “Fresh. He was still wearing his funeral ensemble.”
“Which means there are other vampires about, and they’re already killing. I should have been on top of that,” Giles mumbled. “I wonder if they’re here for some particular purpose…” His voice trailed off as his mind began to do that think of thought and calculation.
Buffy just rolled her eyes. “You’re the Watcher. I just work here.”
He nodded in agreement, not seeing the scorn in her green eyes. “Well, I’ll have to consult my books.”
Xander took his cherry flavored sucker out of his mouth and glanced at his watch. “Eight minutes and thirty-three seconds.” He gave a smug glance over at Willow. “Pay up!” Everyone else watched in confusion as Willow dug a dollar out of her jeans and handed it to Xander.
“I called ten minutes before you had to consult your books about something,” Xander declared. Is it me or is his face turning red, Xander wondered, trying to decide as he looked at Giles’ face.
“We better get to class,” Willow urged, noticing Giles’s face. He was about ready to pop.
Jenny grinned at their cue, and waived goodbye, heading off to the computer lab, Xander and Willow hurriedly following.
“I’m going to call the Watcher’s Council to see if they’ve heard anything on Cordelia,” Giles told Buffy, just as she was about to head off and join the others. “I’ll see you after school for training?”
“I’m ready. I’ll see you after school.” And she hurried off down the hall way to catch up with Willow and Xander.
Cordelia Chase wanted nothing more in the world than to run back onto the plane that had just landed, returning her back to Sunnydale. All she wanted was to be back in Sendai. Better yet, just away from this place.
She gave a disgruntled moan as she entered the baggage claim area, and then remember she only had the one carry on item. She’d been so distraught when leaving Japan, all she had grabbed were things here and there. So I was in a daze, who wouldn’t be if they were returning to hell?
As she made her way out of the crowed airport, she noticed a man holding a sign with her name on it. He was wearing a tasteful, gray and black Gucci suit with loafers that set off his outfit perfectly. It went well with his slightly graying, black tapered hair cut. “I’m Cordelia Chase.”
The man gave a smile, that didn’t quite touch his ice blue eyes. “My pleasure. I’m Douglas Sheridan, attorney at Wolfram & Hart. I represent your parents.”
“That’s all fine and dandelions,” she said, her face falling a bit. “Are they here?” Cordelia took a quick glance around the airport, not seeing them.
“No,” Sheridan replied, walking over to a nearby table. “Please sit.” After she had done so, he gently placed his leather briefcase on the table. Giving Cordelia a curious look, he took out a sealed manila envelope.
At the sight of that, Cordelia felt her heart quicken in apprehension. She was suddenly reminded of what Jun Yoshino had told her just before she had boarded her plane:
“A man is going to meet you, sometime after you arrive back in Sunnydale and he will have a package for you. No matter what it is, you must not be surprised or shocked at what it contains. This is important! Just play along and agree to what he says, granddaughter. Some things have been arranged for you.”
“Cordelia Chase,” Douglas Sheridan, began, is formal air now taking on one of business. “It is my duty to present you with a court order, guaranteeing you an emancipated minor. All parental rights of Alexander and Meredith Chase have been forfeited, per your legal request. Provisions and lodgings have been made for you by your parents and great-grandfather, Jun Yoshino.” Sheridan handed her the envelope, not seeing the slight tremor of her hand. “Chase Manor has been sold, and you are advised to gather what possessions you require as soon as possible. If you have not other questions, I’ll be on my way.” He stood up and quickly closed his briefcase.
“I didn’t ask any questions, lack brain,” Cordelia answered, giving him a sickly sweet smile. “But now that you mention it- where are my parents?”
“All the answers you need are in that envelope.” Giving her a curt nod, he turned on the heal of his Gucci loafer, and headed out the door.
“Well, fuck you, too,” She mumbled to his retreating back. Trying to still the turmoil of emotions gathering within her, Cordelia stilled her shaking hands as she opened the envelope and pored out it’s contents. A few legal documents with her signature (how the hell did they do that?) and her parents’, another envelope with two keys taped to it’s back.
Opening the letter in the other envelope, she sat there in the noisy airport and read the letter, written by her father. She didn’t notice the big drops of wetness that would occasionally fall on his exquisitely penned handwriting, smearing the blue ink, as she continued to read.
Later that Night
Buffy lurched awake, gasping and sweating from the intensity of her dream- no! Her nightmare. She had dreamed that Giles was the Master was trying to kill her again, while Xander and Willow watched and did nothing. Trying to calm herself, she noticed a shadow outside her window.
Buffy stared for a second or two, completely unafraid. “Hello.”
Angel glanced at her, still laying in her bed. “Mind if I come in?” He had watched her for a bit, disturbed at the intensity of her dream.
“Be my guest.”
Stepping gracefully into her room, he came over to stand by her bed. “How are you?” He asked, genuinely concerned.
There was a moment of unnerving silence at that. “So,” Buffy broke the silence. “Is this a social call? It’s kind of late. Or, it is for me. For you this is, what, lunch hour?” She didn’t mean to sound as harsh as she did, but it felt good.
“It’s not a social call,” Angel retorted, giving her the cold air she herself was throwing at him.
Buffy gave a dry chuckle. “And that means grave danger. Gosh, it’s so good to be home.”
“I’m sorry,” And he really was. “I wish I had better news. The Anointed One. He’s been gathering forces somewhere in town. I’m not sure why.”
“So now it’s worry over the little brat,” Buffy scoffed. “Last time we talked it was another brat named Cordelia Chase. Why the change?” She was still majorly bridled about their last meeting, how it consisted of find the great new slayer!
Angel clenched his jaw at the mention of Cordelia, feelings he had been trying to suppress since he had last seen Giles three months ago bubbled to the surface. Trying to cover up his agitation at Buffy bringing her up, he decided to focus on the other problem brewing. “Don’t underestimate the Anointed One just because he looks like a child. He has power over the rest of them. Its source is deep, and old. They’ll do anything for him.”
Buffy just blinked at him. “Is that it? Is that everything? ‘Cause you woke me up from a really nice dream.” More punches and she was loving it.
“Fine. I’ll go.” And just as she turned her back on him, he dashed out the window enraged.
“Angel!?” Buffy called out, after a moments hesitation, but he was gone.
One Hour Later
After receiving that sweet ‘Welcome Home’ packet from her daddy’s lawyer, Cordelia could only think of one thing to take the edge off- slaying.
True, she hadn’t fought any demon since her last time in Sunnydale, but looking at the three vampires stalking toward her, it was like riding a bike. She’d stashed her bag by one of the big mausoleums, had taken out her samurai sword (a parting gift from Jun, made of the finest Japanese steel) and set out what she was meant to do.
“Well, boys,” she grinned. “I suppose it’s good to come home to some kind of a welcome home party. You guys really didn’t have to, but that’s so sweet!” Bracing her sword above her head, she smiled wider at their reactions. Judging from their looks, they had not seen a slayer since the girl before her, whoever that was. Pushing all thought from her mind Cordelia charged forward.
What Cordelia didn’t know was that she had an audience. Angel had just appeared out the clearing. He was still seething from his encounter with Buffy, and didn’t want to go back home just yet. He figured he might be able to get some action tonight to work off his frustration. What he wasn’t counting on was the sight just a few feet from him.
Three vampires, all male, where getting the shit kicked out of them. The girl, clad in black pants and a red tank top that gave a delightful glimpse of her tanned midriff, was giving them hell with a bushido blade. He was about to intervene, when one of the vampires gave her a vicious backhand that threw her against an oak tree, but she bounded off the side and quickly severed his head. Not even breaking stride, she flew right threw the dust of the recently departed, and launched at the one behind him.
“Ah, don’t be upset,” Cordelia coddled, giving the second vampire a font kick to his jaw that sent him flying. “You’ll be going your buddy soon enough.” She ducked down as the third vampire tried to tackle her, instead he missed taking her head off, but settled for grabbing her hair instead.
“Oh, no you did not just grab my hair?!” Cordelia snarled, and flicked her blade backwards, slicing off the offending arm. The vampire screamed in agony, as he watched his right arm turn to dust. Not giving him a second longer, he soon lost his head to her sword.
“What the hell is with you?” The last remaining vampire screamed, inching closer to her. “I thought slayers only used stakes?”
“You know I heard that somewhere,” Cordelia nodded her head in agreement. “But they give me splinters and the sword looks so much better with my outfits. Am I not right?” She pivoted around, her hair now tumbling loose because the other vampire had ripped out her bun. Angel had to agree, she did look great with it.
“But I’ll tell you what,” she said coyly, leaning seductively over to reach the side of her ankle with her left hand. Angel couldn’t help but notice that as she did that her cleavage was more than abundantly showing, and by the grunt of the other vampire, he’d noticed too. “Since you made a personal request- I’ll honor it!”
Angel’s jaw dropped when he saw her take out the small stake sheathed on the side of her boot, and fling it dead on into the vampire’s chest. And another one bites the dust, he thought in admiration.
“Damn straight!” Cordelia whooped, staking her sword into the dirt. “And another one bites the dust, baby!” She swayed to the beat of her own music, as she ran over to get her fallen duster. A little too exited, she dropped her cell phone, which she had just grabbed from her pocket.
Angel watched her in continuous fascination, his eyes transfixed on the radiance blossoming from her. Cordelia was rapidly dialing on her cell phone, grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole time.
“Jin? It’s Cordelia!”
His fascination hit a crescendo as he listened to her conversation- her conversation in Japanese?! She was obviously talking to someone in Japan about her victory over the three vampires. He wasn’t fluent in Japanese, he’d found Mandarin Chinese more beneficial at a time. Now as he listened to her, he wished he had learned the other as well.
After about five minutes, she concluded the call with another whoop of satisfaction, and pulled on her duster. A rather nice one, Angel noted. The black of the coat matched her pants perfectly, and the hem ended at mid thigh.
“I didn’t know you could speak Japanese,” Angel emerged out the shadows, chuckling when she nearly jumped out of her skin. She had been trying to button up her coat, much to Angel’s dismay. He really liked the shiny, red tank top.
“Jesus Christ in a taxi cab!” Cordelia swore, swiftly turning around to met the face of the voice’s owner. And it was a good face, too, she thought. “Well, not very many people ask about my linguistic skills.” She gave him the once over, and frankly thought about giving it twice. He looked good in his black slacks, and tasteful dinner jacket thrown over a white muscle shirt. Very good!
“Hey!” Her face lit up in recognition. She remembered him from The Bronze, when Buffy had been on a date with Owen. “You’re one of Buffy’s boy chippies, aren’t you?”
That stopped him dead in his tracks. “Did you just call me a ‘boy chippie’?” She grinned and nodded. “Well, that’s something I’ve never been called before.”
“In my opinion, not something to be proud of,” she comment, reaching down to casually unearth her sword from it’s staked position in the ground. “But that’s just my opinion.”
“Buffy’s not that bad.” Am I trying to convince her or myself?
“Really? Did she ever try to stab you once? Cause she tried that with me!”
Angel frowned in memory. “She did kick the hell out of me during our first meeting.”
“So did you enjoy the carnage of the demon kitties?” She asked in a conversational manner, as she slowly walked over to him. Cordelia moved in cautionary steps, hoping he wouldn’t notice.
“Yeah,” she replied. “Vampires look like highly pissed of kitties with fangs. First thing that came to my mind when a bunch of them tried to suck my blood through my car windshield. Speaking of which-”
Now Angel considered himself pretty well seasoned for a vampire. After all, he was once know as the Scourge of Europe during his bad years. He was quicker and definitely smarter than the average vampire. He even held more power than most vampires older than him. So imagine his surprise when the new slayer moved on him so quickly, he didn’t even see her.
Cordelia moved with a fluidity and grace that astounded even her. Within seconds, she was right in front of him, the edge of her blade at the base of his neck. Heated hazel eyes met surprised chocolate brown.
“-why don’t you show me your true face… vampire?”
“Cordelia,” Angel pleaded, feeling the brush of the blade against his jugular. “It’s not what you think-” He grunted when she pressed harder.
She arched her eyebrow in coy amusement. “It’s not? No pulse, no body heat- you drink something coppery everyday that can resemble tomato juice?” Cordelia stepped closer, so that they were barely inches apart. Staring deep into his eyes, she frowned in disappointment. “It’s a shame really. . . You’re so cute!”
Despite the situation, Angel felt a swell of pride. . . She thinks I’m cute. “Okay, I’m a vampire, but I have a soul, Cordelia!”
“You have a soul,” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm. “Yeah- that’s a good one! Tell you what,” Cordelia offered, cocking her head to the side. “You tell me who made you into a vampire, and I’ll go kill them too. I’m so pissed that some tramp vamp made you into a vampire, keeping the hotness that is you, away from me.”
“I killed my sire, Cordelia.”
This brought a stunned expression to her beautiful face. “You killed your sire? Why?” Jun had told her that vampires were fiercely loyal to their makers. For any vampire to actually destroy their sire had to make them insane or worse- very strong. This made Cordelia steal herself more.
Angel let out a small hiss as her blade made a small cut against his throat. “Because she was going to kill Buffy.”
“Oh, wow,” Cordelia exclaimed, “Your sire was going to drink Buffy?!” She gave a shiver of revulsion at the idea. “Intense.”
“No, she was going to kill Buffy because she was jealous I had feelings for a human,” He continued. “To make it worse, Buffy was the Slayer. This disturbed Darla tremendously.”
What Angel had just said had disturbed Cordelia tremendously, he could tell by her reaction. A look of sorrow and shame crossed her face, her hazel eyes glittered like jewels on account of her sudden tears. “Buffy was the Slayer?” Cordelia felt a hollow sinking in the pit of her stomach when Angel nodded. “I didn’t know. . . I knew some girl died and I was Chosen, but I didn’t know it was Buffy! It didn’t even cross my mind that it was someone I knew.”
“Cordelia,” Angel whispered. It had dawned on him what was going through her head. She thought that Buffy was dead. “Buffy died, but only for a moment. She drowned and Xander brought her back. She’s fine.” During her brief moment, her blade had pulled back a little from his neck, much to his relief. After this was finished, his neck was going to look like a shaving accident gone terribly wrong.
“She is?” Her face was full of hope. She had never been particularly fond of Buffy Summers, but she had never wished her dead. “That’s good-” Cordelia blinked at Angel. She didn’t know his name, but somehow he knew hers! “How in the hell do you know my name?”
“We’ve been looking for you-”
“Who?!” She shouted, pressing into him.
“If you want me to tell you, you’ve got to let up!” Damn she was persistent! “You won’t get answers if I’m dusted, Cordelia.”
“Fine,” she grunted out. “But if you so much as flicker a fang at me you will be- as you so aptly put- dusted!” Moving with the skill of a patient, seasoned warrior, Cordelia took a step back. Her blade was still by his neck, but not pressing against his flesh.
“We were helping Buffy, the night the Master rose. Xander, Buffy and I were on our way to the high school, probably right when you go up there to kill him,” Angel could tell this was painful for her, so he speed up. “All of us realized another slayer must have been called. Willow and I figured out it was you.” Her expression still held a mountain of doubt. “By the time we clued in on what had happened, you bailed out of town. Ever since then me, Giles, the Watcher’s Council- everyone, as been looking for you.”
“Well here I am,” she sang. “But that still doesn’t explain that crap about a soul. Vampires don’t have ‘em. Period.”
Angel rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Not unless they’ve been cursed, like me.”
Cordelia surveyed him with a critical eye. Seeing that there was some truth to what she was saying, she backed up some more, removing her sword completely from him. She still kept it at an angle that gave her the advantage if he attacked. “You must have been pretty bad, to get someone to go to all that trouble of cursing you. Doesn’t seem like you’d get it on just a whim.”
“No,” He replied, his mouth set in a grim line. “It doesn’t.” Angel’s head dropped slightly in shame, as he suddenly was reminded of all the things he had done as Angelus.
“Okay,” Cordelia smiled, abruptly turning away from him. “I believe you, but I’ve gotta go now.”
Her sudden mood change made him dizzy. “What? All of a sudden you believe me?”
“Yup.” She was bouncing down the hill to the nearest mausoleum, oblivious to the shocked look on his face.
“Why?” Angel took off after her, not wanting to let her out of his sight. Nearly all his thoughts this past summer had been consumed with worry of her.
Pausing as she bent down to pick up a large duffel bag, Cordelia slung it over her shoulder. “Only someone who has done a tremendous amount of bad, can have that lost look of shame in their eye,” Cordelia gave a small smile of sympathy as the pain of his past flickered again in his soft brown orbs. “Anyway,” she shrugged, “I knew you had a soul right when I placed the edge of my sword against your neck.” She gave a bright, toothy grin at stunned look.
“Then why did you keep it up?”
“I wanted to know your story.” Giving a curt nod, she headed out of the graveyard, fully aware that he was following her. “If you’re going to be my shadow, can I at least know your name, dork?”
“It’s Angel, not dork.”
He had finally caught up and was walking beside her. “It may not be ‘dork’ but it’s a dorky name! What’s your real one?”
Angel was in a state of shock. She had known immediately that he was a vampire, and after a few moments had sensed that he had a soul. Buffy hadn’t figured anyof that out, not even picking up on the fact that he was a vampire- something all slayers were supposed to do. Now, Cordelia was asking about his real name! “It was Liam,” He was compelled to her, he couldn’t help himself.
Cordelia paused in her swift stride, mulling over the name. “Liam, Liam. . . I like Angel better.”
He laughed, truly actually laughed. It felt funny, but good at the same time. “So where do you need to go in such a hurry?”
“My house- or my old house now,” Cordelia tried to control the tremor in her voice. “I’m now officially an emancipated minor now, so I’ve got to get anything I want from my parents’ old house-”
“What do you mean ‘old house’?” Angel interrupted.
“They’ve skipped town, or rather they’ve skipped the continent. I don’t know where they are, but they left a nice package for me at the airport with a bitch lawyer.” They had finally exited the graveyard, and were walking swiftly in the direction of Chase Manor. “The mansion has been sold, they are in another country- but they’re not without some heart.”
“How’s that?,” Once he found the Chases they were going to wish they had never been born.
“I’ve been left with a substantial amount of fundage and apparently, I’ve got a spiffy, new apartment in downtown Sunnydale,” She brandished the two keys that she dug from her pocked. “Everything is gone from the house, except my stuff and once that’s done, the sale will be complete.”
Angel could tell that this was still upsetting for her, but she was trying to see the bright side of the situation. “I can’t believe they did this to you. You’re only sixteen, Cordelia.”
“Yeah, well,” she mumbled, “Gotta grow up sometime, right?”
“I suppose so,” Angel agreed, giving her an encouraging smile. “Have you seen the apartment yet?”
“No, but it is on the top floor of the Merchant building,” Cordelia answered. “According to my dad’s letter, the entire top floor of this place it mine. The Penthouse or something-” Cordelia turned to Angel, her brow furred in concern when he stopped suddenly. “What’s up? Is it really seedy down there or something?”
Angel shook this head swiftly, “No, it’s not bad at all it’s just-” Angel shifted his stance, “That’s the building I live in.” This was not going to be good, but it was good- or it could be bad. Angel didn’t think he could handle living in such close proximity with her. He was having trouble as it was to stop looking at her lush mouth, and to know that she was only two stories away from him? Could be interesting.
No such thoughts entered Cordelia’s mind at hearing this bit of news. “Cool! I’ll know someone in the building. So, he’s a vampire,” She poked his chest playfully, not aware of the slight twitch in his cheek. “But I’m not picky.” Turning back around, she started off again. “I think I’m gonna need a U-Haul. Do you think they’re open this late?”
Three Hours Later
“For God’s sake, hold on a minute!” The Watcher grumbled, obviously perturbed by the sudden awakening of loud pounding at his front door. Swinging it open, he was only moderately surprised it was Angel. “I should have known. Only you have that persistent knock.” Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Giles stepped aside, allowing Angel to enter.
“Giles, she’s back,” Angel said, in a rather excited voice that wasn’t usually in his tone of voice.
Giles began walking over to his small kitchen, ready to make some tea, just in case this turned into a long visit. “Angel, I know Buffy’s back, I am her Watcher you know.” It still disturbed him greatly, the vampire’s interest in his Slayer.
“No,” Angel shook his head. “Cordelia’s back!”
“Good God, when?” Giles almost dropped his kettle in surprise.
“Just tonight. I ran into her at Brunswick.” Angel smiled in memory. “She killed three vampires in about five minutes, Giles. She’s good. Real good.”
Giles leaned against the counter, and Angel took a seat on the bar stool on the other side. “Did you talk to her? How is she doing?”
“We talked. She seems to be doing good, despite what her parents have done.” Angel noted the confused expression on the Watcher’s face. “Her parents have made her an emancipated minor, without her knowledge. She just found out at the airport, when their lawyer showed up with the documents.”
“Jesus,” Giles breathed out in frustration. “Are they still in town?”
Angel shook his head. “No, they’ve left the country. They’ve purchased an apartment loft for her and are allowing her the time she needs to get her belongings from Chase Manor.” Angel dropped his head momentarily in concern, then raised it again to meet Giles’ eyes. “She’s only sixteen, Giles. This has got to be overload for her.”
“Your quite right,” the Watcher agreed. “Where is she now?”
“She’s at the Manor. I convinced her to stay there and get some rest.” Angel gave another small smile. “She wanted to move out this very night, but she was exhausted. She knows about being a slayer, too.”
“I figured she would,” Giles worked his jaw back in forth in consideration. “It seems that her great-grandfather enlightened her about her destiny.”
Angel fingered the small cut on the base of his neck. “Trained her damn well, too.”
Giles noted the wound on Angel’s neck. “Did something happen in the graveyard, besides the other three vampires?”
“Yeah, Cordelia played a little game.” Giles frowned in confusion. “Giles, Cordelia can sense vampires, almost too well. She knew right away what I was. Buffy didn’t know until I vamped out in front of her.” Angel was briefly reminded of the kiss that went awry.
“What did she do?”
“Oh, just threatened to cut my head off with her sword,” Angel replied. “She prefers her samurai sword rather than a stake, by the way. Cordelia wanted to know how I got my soul.”
Now he was really curious. “How did she know you had a soul, Angel?”
“She was able to sense it and it confused her. A vampire with a soul goes against the very nature of things, and she wanted to know about it,” Angel was still amazed at her technique. “Let’s just say she got what she wanted and was satisfied.”
Giles walked out of the kitchen, and took a seat on his sofa in the living room. He was utterly shocked. Angel swiveled around, watching him. After collecting his thoughts, Giles turned around to face Angel, his eyes shining. “It would appear that the Bellaver, Dantes and Yoshino mix has proved quite effective.”
“It would seem so,” Angel agreed quietly, coming into the living room. “I’ve got a feeling this only the beginning, Giles. We’re going to see a lot more of what Cordelia Chase is capable of.”
A lot more.
The Next Night
Angel stood in front of Chase Manor. In fact he had been standing there for about ten minutes, debating whether or not to bother Cordelia.
He’d heard through the grapevine that she had not shown up at school yet, but this being her second night home, he didn’t doubt that. What he did doubt was if he was welcome here or not. Sure, he’d bonded with her quite well in that she was going to chop his head off last night, but that’d been a façade! She’d just wanted to know how he’d gotten his soul. Perfectly legit.
Angel threw back his head and groaned. This was not like him! Even though he kept out of the spotlight, he was still a straight to it kinda guy!
So why can’t I knock on the door, he debated with himself, shuffling his feet. He knew he had to do something and fast- he had to see Buffy tonight at The Bronze, but- he needed to see her first. Angel couldn’t understand where this fascination with her had come from. All summer she had plagued his thoughts, pushing all others aside.
And he didn’t even know her.
Still immersed in thought, Angel didn’t see the balcony doors on the second floor swing open.
Cordelia opened the doors onto her private balcony, hoping the fresh night air would rejuvenate her will to pack. Or rather get her will started to pack at all!
She had never been a ‘woe is me’ individual, but damn if having your parents skip the country on you with no knowledge of their whereabouts- it was time to indulge in a little cry time. Sure she hadn’t told them where she was going the night Sunnydale almost became Sunnyhell, but that was their instructions. They had drilled into her head for years that if something unexplainable (in a rational sense) ever happened to her, to get the hell out of dodge. Money was set aside for her at a lock box at Sunnydale Airport and she was to go to where she thought she would be safe.
Stabbing her straw into her cherry Capri-Sun, Cordelia leaned over the balcony, looking up at the stars. Taking a sip, she asked herself the question that would never get answered. “Why me?”
Once she’d stepped into the house last night after Angel had walked her home, she had wanted to break down right then and there.
It was all gone. The furniture, the antiques, the works of art- everything but her belongings. Anything that was significant to her; Capri-Suns and her carton of cookie dough ice cream, remained. It was as if her parents wanted everything that reminded them of their daughter to stay behind.
Including me, she confessed to herself, trying to still the stinging in her eyes. Just as she was about to go back in, she heard a noise below. What the hell is he doing here?
Glancing down, Cordelia couldn’t suppress the small grin that graced her glossed lips.
It was Angel.
Yummy, vampire Angel dressed in a dark blue velvet jacket and- surprise!- black slacks. He sure does give bold colors their due, she mused. He was standing directly underneath her balcony, and he was so caught up in thought he didn’t even notice her standing right over him.
Taking another sip of her fruit drink, Cordelia felt her smile widen into a wicked grin, as a thought of diabolical cleverness consumed her.
Time to be bad.
Sucking in a deep breath of unneeded air, Angel chanted to himself that he was gonna do it- he was going to knock on her door.
Just as he was about to leave his position as vampire statue, to go to Cordelia’s front door, he felt a small sprinkle of wetness land on his forehead. Glancing around, he didn’t hear the sprinklers come on and he knew there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Wiping the dew from his face, he brought his fingers to his nose- cherries?
Suddenly an intoxicating giggle came from above.
Jerking his head up, he saw Cordelia collapsed over her balcony railing, consumed with laughter. Shaking his head in disbelief, Angel couldn’t help but notice how nice her legs look in her cut off khaki shorts. Narrowing his eyes he saw that she had spilled some of cherry drink on her white tank top, in her effort to get it directly in his face.
“I can’t believe you just did that, Cordelia.”
“Ah,” she giggled, “But you smell so cherry-rific now!” Trying to control herself, she leaned over a little more. “That’s what you get for coming around here unannounced.”
“Hey, I’m sorry I just-”
“Angel,” she interrupted, giving him another grin. “I was kidding. Why don’t you come on up?”
“You sure?” He couldn’t help but feel uneasy. She was accepting him so effortlessly. No one had ever done that before.
“If I wasn’t sure, would I ask you?”
True. “No, I guess not.” Giving a small grin, Angel walked over to her door, a small thrill of satisfaction coursing through his being as the barrier vanished. He was invited in.
Cordelia bounded down the stairs, strangely excited about being in close proximity with the vampire. Who wouldn’t be? Dead dude was a total hottie.
She knew she was supposed to have some instinct about him, like she did with all vampires, but not with him- it just didn’t ‘vibe’ with him. The only gut feeling she had was ‘yum’ and that he wasn’t going to hurt her. And that unusual, yet nifty, thing of a soul! Boy had that thrown her for a loop. It was almost like she could see it- a soothing, soft golden glow that encompassed his entire being. It had only been for a moment, but that was enough.
Coming to the bottom of the staircase, she couldn’t help the small, bitter smile that toughed her lips when she saw him surveying the emptiness that was her former home. Angel had an expression of shock. “Yep,” she whispered as she came to stand by the vampire, “They took it all.”
Angel could not believe it. The living room, the foyer- all of it had been lavishly decorated when he had last came here, now it was void of everything. He really hated her parents.
“I’m sorry, Cordelia.”
“Don’t be. It just may be for the better any way.” She had a feeling it as better for them. “I rarely saw them anyway. Besides,” she cocked her head toward him, her grin contagious. “This apartment is supposed to be kick ass.”
“It is a nice building,” Angel confirmed, giving her a smile that transformed his entire face into ultra-hottie.
Tugging on the hem of her tank top, Cordelia tried to control the butterflies in her stomach. She never got butterflies. Fluttering in the stomach did not happen to her! “So, why are you all dressed up nice and pretty?” Good, Cor. Light approach on something she was an expert at- fashion… and flirting.
Angel gave a brief glance down at his blue jacket and slacks. He was a little more dressed up than usual, but he figured Buffy would like it. Their past two meetings had not gone very well. “I’m meeting Buffy at the Bronze tonight.”
“Really?” Cordelia had been thinking about the other slayer earlier that night. She really wanted to talk to her about what had happened with the Master. When she had fallen asleep last night, all she kept dreaming about was bat-face. And they were not warm and fuzzy. “That sounds like a good idea. The Bronze,” Cordelia could feel the strain on her face about seeing her familiar haunt, in light of what she had been through last summer. “Mind if I tag along?”
“No,” Angel practically shouted, “Of course I wouldn’t mind.” Having Cordelia around seemed to put him at ease. His demon had been bridled with agitation the past few months, but Cordelia’s presence ebbed that.
Giving him another smile of unparalleled beauty, Cordelia turned on her heal to the grand staircase. “Cool. Just give me two shakes of a lamb’s tail and I’ll be ready.”
Angel wished she would shake more has he watched her run up the stairs. The back of her legs were toned and supple. And where her lower back met the back of her thighs, with her rounded… “Get a grip, Angel.”
Her time in Japan had done a body good.
It was more like forty-five shakes later, when Cordelia finally descended down the staircase again.
Turing to greet her, Angel felt his voice catch in his throat when he saw her. Cordelia had decided to pile her gorgeous mahogany hair on top of her head, with small tendrils framing her face and neck. Her make-up was flawless. Instead of using lipstick, she’d applied a shiny gloss which he liked immensely.
But it was the outfit that was causing his lower half to twitch. She was wearing a vibrant, almost sheer, red dress (what was it with this girl and red?) that ended two inches above her knees. The sleeves ended just below her elbow, and the neckline was modest, just showing the top of her delightful breasts. But it was the slits on both sides that almost had his jaw dropping to the marble floor. They were slit almost to the curves of her ass. It was a dangerous dress.
“You look- um,” he was truly at a loss for words.
Cordelia smiled, finally feeling like her old self. There was nothing like Chanel perfume and a Versace dress to make a girl feel at home. “Feel free. Gawk at the goddess that is me!”
She turned to the side, allowing him a glimpse of her tanned leg that started from her delicate feet, which were adorned in three inch heels. He loved those shoes. Beautiful black, strappy shoes that exposed her precious toes. And the legs. They didn’t end. “Do you think I’m ready to be reintroduced to Sunnydale society?”
“You’re more than ready.” It was honesty.
“Wonderful,” she glided toward him, linking her arm into his. “Will you escort me?” Cordelia couldn’t help it! Flirting with him was as natural as breathing.
Angel gave her a wicked grin, his chocolate eyes twinkling. “I’d be delighted.” Still grinning like a Cheshire cat, he began leading her to the door. Suddenly she pulled away. Angel stifled a growl at the movement.
“Sorry,” she said, “I forgot my wrap.” Lucky for her, she didn’t see his eyes turn from brown to gold at the sight of her retreating figure, as she raced up the stairs to her room. Angel had just seen the back of her dress.
It had no back. It was beyond backless. There was a tiny silver chain that connected the shoulder, with a small ruby clasp dangling down her upper back. The end of her dress ended right before her ass. He could see the small dimples!
Red. Two slits! Completely backless… That meant no bra and maybe no panties, unless she was wearing underwear that resembled dental floss!
Angel inwardly groaned. It was going to be a long night.
The Bronze was packed more than usual tonight. Willow had a feeling Cibo Matto had a lot to do with it. The Japanese pop band had just finished a song, when she turned to Xander, worry etched in her elven face. “I just think something’s up, is all.”
“Willow, you’re paranoid.” It was the only logical explanation.
“Buffy’s never acted like this before,” she continued, as she recalled how Buffy had almost slammed Harmony against the locker doors earlier at school. Harmony had come up to the girl, laughing at how Buffy had showed up at the dance a few months ago, all wet. Of course, the ditz had no way of knowing that the reason why Buffy was soaked in her designer white gown, was because a master vampire had drowned her. But the slayer did not care. “Ever since she got back, she’s been different.”
Xander rolled his eyes in exasperation (or denial). “Buffy’s always been different, Will.”
“She’s never been mean.”
“Any sign of her?” Xander craned his neck around the club. “She said she was coming.”
“No,” Willow sighed. It was back to ‘Buffy is my universe’ for Xander. “The band’s cool though.” Her detachment not notice as he continued to search for the petite slayer.
“Yeah. Cool.” He agreed, but didn’t.
Willow glanced down at her vanilla sundae, a small flicker of hope inside her. Gabbing her spoon, she dabbed a little of the ice cream on her nose, hoping Xander would see… and he did.
“You got something on your nose.” Xander turned away again, and almost gave a whoop, when he saw the object of his masturbatory fantasies walk in. It was Buffy, wearing a sexy cream dress that showed off her legs. With Buffy, he was leg man!
Seeing her gang, she sauntered over to the table, more than aware of the stares she was getting. This was what she had been hoping for, when she had picked out this dress. But the man- vampire, whom she really wanted to see her in the dress was not around.
“Hey guys,” Buffy leaned over, taking a sip of Xander’s soda. “How’s it going tonight?” The place was almost overflowing.
“Good,” Xander piped in, a little too eagerly.
Willow scooted her chair closer to Buffy. “So how’s it going?”
“Fine,” Came the terse reply. “Why?”
“No, reason… well, this afternoon with Harmony-”
Buffy gave a sickeningly sweet smile. “Bitch deserved it.” Turning her back on Willow, Buffy looked over to the entrance of the club. Walking through the doors as if he had the world at his feet was Angel. Buffy tried to suppress the thrill she got just looking at him. He really was beautiful. She totally loved him in that blue velvet jacket.
Angel just stood there, oblivious to the admiring stares of the fairer sex. He glanced over his shoulder, giving a breathtaking smile to the lovely brunette that came up beside him.
Buffy felt a solar flare of jealously squeeze her heart at the warm expression on the vampire’s face. The girl’s red dress put her cream one to an almost childlike shame- the girl was… No. It couldn’t be! It just wasn’t fair!
It was Cordelia.
Hell bent on making someone pay, Buffy grabbed Xander’s hand, pulling him toward her. “Let’s dance.” Not waiting for an answer, Buffy dragged the helpless, hormone ridden teenage to floor.
Willow looked on, a sad, heartbroken shadow clouding her otherwise sunny face. The dance between her two friends was anything but friendly, as Buffy began to sway her hips ever so much closer to Xander’s.
Turning to the soft voice behind her, Willow almost let out a sigh of gratitude when she met the hazel eyes of Cordelia Chase. Where there used to be malicious glee whenever she was around the redhead, there was now an open friendliness. With the brunette was Angel, who was also giving off the vibes that he was glad to see her too. This was just what she needed right now. “Oh my God!” Willow jumped out of the chair to hug the slayer, “Cordelia, it’s so good to see you!”
Cordelia smiled at the sudden move, and hugged the shorter girl back. “It’s good to see you, too.” And she meant it.
Willow pulled back, trying not to let the tears form, as surely as that lump in her throat was growing. “How are you?” She really had been worried about Cordelia all this summer, not knowing what had happened to her.
“Better,” Cordelia admitted, seeing that Willow understood what she meant. When she had left for Sendai, her inner turmoil had been closer to chaos. Cordelia made a mental note to make sure and fill Willow in on her time in Japan. “And you? How’ve you been?”
It was a subtle movement, just a flash of bright green eyes toward the dance floor. Both Angel and Cordelia caught the glance, and brought their attention to the myriad of couples dancing. One couple in particular was a little too hot. Or rather the petite blond was being too hot. Angel blinked in shock as he saw Buffy grind the swell of her ass into Xander’s groin. The poor boy didn’t know if he should hold on or run away.
Seeing the expressions on their faces, Willow gave Cordelia a small smile. “I’ve been better.”
“What the hell is she doing?” Cordelia knew Buffy Summers had no romantic inclinations toward Xander Harris.
“Making a point.” Angel whispered, his dark eyes full of worry.
Buffy was having too much fun. She was tapping into something within her that was both dark and dangerous.
“Xander,” Buffy angled her body around, facing her friend dead on. “Did I ever thank you for saving my life?”
Rubbing her body forcefully against his, she brought her gooey pink lips to his ear, “Don’t you wish I would?” Not waiting for an answer, Buffy turned on her heal, sauntering out of the Bronze without a care in the world.
Cordelia and the others witnessed the exchange with heavy hearts. “Angel,” Cordelia lightly touched his arm. “I’ll be right back.” The vampire nodded his head as he regarded the grim purpose in her mutli-colored eyes.
Giving a slight smile to Xander as he returned to the table, the slayer went in search of the other slayer.
Alley outside the Bronze
Stopping dead in her tracks at the sound of that voice, Buffy rolled her eyes in annoyance. She had just made a grand exit, that she was sure was seen by Angel, now the brunette hussy had to ruin it. Keeping her passive expression, Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned to around to face Cordelia the Vampire Slayer.
Moss green eyes clashed with hazel. Suddenly, this alley felt way too small.
“What’s going on, Buffy?”
Smirking, Buffy took a few steps closer to the rival slayer. “Things that have absolutely no business to do with you.”
The music of Cibo Matto wafted lightly through the alley. Other than that, the silence was deafening as the warriors regarded each other.
“Oh,” Cordelia finally said, her voice syrupy with condescending charm. “I see. No longer the only slayer on the block, so now you have to campaign for bitch of the year.”
“As defending champion, are you nervous?” Buffy was a little perturbed that Cordelia had placed a nail into one of her issues that quickly.
“You know I can hold my own. On both.”
The dangerous tone was not lost on Buffy. “I don’t know about that, Cordelia. Maybe the Queen Bitch of the universe part, but the other- Call me curious.” If anything had been itching within her, it was to throw down with Cordelia. Especially after seeing her with Angel.
Cordelia let out a throaty laugh, her heels clicking against the wet pavement as she moved closer. “Oh, you really don’t wanna go down that road of pain with me, Curious Georgina.” Cordelia could feel her power surging through every fiber of her being. “You may have been a slayer longer than I, but my first kill was a master vampire. Take a moment to think about that.”
Buffy Summers felt the slight swell of both jealously and fear, as she let that sink in. It was true. Not even knowing what a slayer was or anyone to guide her, Cordelia Chase, newborn slayer, and successfully killed the Master. Cordelia, not Buffy, had prevented the world from ending and Buffy hated her for that.
“Good on you. Call it beginners luck.”
“Call it whatever the fuck you want, Buffy,” She had had enough of this. “Whatever’s causing the Joan Collins’tude, deal with it, embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet but get over it.” Cordelia cocked her head to the side, her gaze not leaving Buffy’s even for a moment. “Cause I did.”
Her words were striking too close to home for Buffy’s liking. “I’d say it’s about time for you to mind your own business.”
“What you just did in there,” Cordelia retorted, angling her head toward the Bronze. “Taking your inner frustrations out on a friend that cares about you- that made it my business. So it’s long past. Nighty night.”
Not even bothering to reply, Buffy turned on heal and proceeded to leave the alley.
Cordelia hoped she was going home. What that girl needed was serious R&R with meditation. If Jun Yoshino had been here, Buffy would have been knocked ten ways from Sunday.
Deeply immersed in thought and trying to sooth her mounting rage, Cordelia didn’t see or notice the two vampires, as they emerged from the shadows behind her.
Shaking her head in frustration, Cordelia took a step backward with the intention of going back into the Bronze. Suddenly she bumped into a cool body standing right behind her. Feeling the press of a male chest at her bare back, Cordelia quickly subdued the rage that Buffy had ignited and focused. Ah, shit!
Turning as fast has her skintight dress would allow, she caught the wrist of the male vampire, who had just moved to cover her mouth to silence her. “Why are you making me fight in this dress?” Not waiting for a reply, Cordelia gave a quick jerk of her hand, causing the vampire’s wrist to crack. His yowl of pain echoed through the alley.
Seeing the other vampire in danger, his accomplice- an equally retarded looking male vampire- emerged from his side view angle to aid his demon brother.
“Oh, I love this dress!” Snarling, she lifted her left leg, delivering a brutal front kick to the second vampire’s groin. Has he gasped in pain, the slayer whimpered at the horrible sound of ripping fabric. This was so not going to be fixable, she fumed, giving a vicious yank to the broken wrist in her clenched hand. They were gonna pay!
Using every ounce of her strength, Cordelia wrenched the vampire bodily over, grinning at the loud pop of his shoulder being disconnected. Grasping the wounded arm in both hands, she slammed the vampire into his buddy, who was still whimpering over his bruised jewels.
“So what’s the trauma, suckers?”
Vampire #2 glared up at her, his face in full demon mode. “Bitch! You murdered our Master!”
Cordelia chuckled and rolled her eyes. “Yeah? And I’m gonna kill you, too! Gotta a problem with that?!” Leaning over, she grasped a small wooden plank by her feet. “Sorry, dude.” Plunging the sharpened end of the plank into his chest, she didn’t notice as Vampire #1 hobbled away down the alley, clutching his battered arm.
Just as the dust settled, Cordelia noticed she was down one vamp, but the other was well down at the other end of the alley.
“Hey, get back here! We’re not finished yet!” Fully intent on running after him, she began to sprint down the alleyway when suddenly the heel on her left pump broke off.
“Son of a bitch!”
Back inside the Bronze
Angel, Willow, and Xander were nervously regarding each other in the wake of Buffy’s dance-o-rama.
“They’ve been out there a long time,” Willow quipped, desperate to end the uncomfortable silence. She wasn’t used to being around Angel and Xander seemed to not want to be around anyone. The teenager’s eyes were almost glowing with unbridled anger.
Angel nodded in agreement. “Let’s go check on them.” Stepping to the side, he allowed the teens to go ahead as he solemnly followed behind. Neither one of them knew what they would find outside the Bronze.
Angel had his head down as he exited from the Bronze, so he almost ran into Willow and Xander, who were at a dead stop in front of him. Just as he was about to ask them what the hold up was, he saw what they were staring at.
It was Cordelia. The right side of her body was facing them, as she glared down at the end of the alley. Her once perfectly crowned head of hair was now a bedraggled mess and she was breathing heavily. It didn’t take rocket science to realize she had just finished a fight.
Wedging himself past the two teens, Angel dashed over to Cordelia, “What happened? Did Buffy-”
“No.” She interrupted, her jaw working in aggravation. “Two vampires got the jump on me. I dusted one, but the other got away.” Turning her head to meet Angel’s eyes, the slayer pouted in annoyance. “That’s never happened before.”
Despite the situation, Angel couldn’t help but grin. “I’m sure you’ll live, Cordelia.”
Rolling her eyes, the slayer saw that Willow and Xander were gawking. They’d never seen her in this state of disarray. Cordelia Chase was never in a disheveled state. “Hey there, Xander! How was your summer?” She had decided she would tell Angel later about the vamps knowing it was her who had killed the Master.
“Groovy, huh,” Cordelia smiled and she began to walk toward the two of them, when an unexpected chill graced the left side of her waist. Cordelia felt her face flame red as she realized how far up that slit on her dress now was. “Angel,” she whispered, “Can I borrow your coat?”
Not wanting to speak out loud, she grabbed his right hand placed it on her now bare hip. Cordelia shivered at his cool touch. “I had to kick one of them.”
Angel felt as if his hand had caught fire. He was touching her golden skin and oh, did it feel good! Looking into her hazel eyes, Angel let his pinkie finger caress down her heated flesh. Smiling, Angel delighted in his discovery. She hadn’t worn underwear.
“What happened with Buffy, Cordy?” Xander asked, breaking the brief moment between vampire and slayer.
Shaking herself away from Angel’s dark gaze, Cordelia looked over his shoulder at Xander. “Nothing much, just major baggage.” Still keeping her eyes on Xander, she tugged on Angel’s sleeve. “She doesn’t seem all that ready to talk about whatever is bugging her.”
With a wide grin still adoring his angelic face, he slid off his coat, grinning ever wider when she snatched it out of his hands to cover herself. He liked how she looked in his clothes.
Feeling a little more secure, now that her damaged dress was covered by Angel’s coat, Cordelia moved past the vampire toward her fellow classmates. “Say,” she began, giving them her famous smile, “How’s about we blow this pop stand for an all night diner? I’m just not feeling the Bronze right now.” Both teens agreed in unison.
“Angel?” Cordelia turned back to the vampire. “You game?”
Slowly, Angel nodded, coming to stand with them. Angel considered Cordelia with careful scrutiny- she just made him want to feel a part of something. If felt nice.
Finally feeling at ease with one another, all four proceeded to head away from the Bronze’s main alley toward town.
Xander started to giggle as he realized the reason why Cordelia was limping was because on of her high-heeled shoes was broken. “Oh, shut up, Harris!” Cordelia grumbled, when she saw what he was sniggering at.
“Hey, itoko. You still fighting with everyone? Oyaoya!”
Cousin? Cordelia stopped dead in her tracks and spun around to face the owner of that deep, teasing voice. Not standing more than ten feet from her was a handsome, well-dressed Japanese man in his twenties. The huge smile on his face only got wider at her stunned expression.
Watcher’s Council, Headquarters in London
Daniel Augustus Bellaver dipped his quill into his ink vial, loving how the dark liquid dangled at the tip. He was a fan of the past and a lover of history. Never had he, in his adult life, used anything but quill and aged parchment for writing. Bellaver absolutely detested pens and pencils. The vulgar things had no grace.
Just as he was about to conclude his letter to Quentin Travers, the head of the Watcher’s Council, he was interrupted by a quite knock at his office door. “Enter.”
Vinessa Chandler, his secretary and also a Watcher-in-training, entered through the massive oak doors. “Yes?” He asked in his infamous cold voice, not even bothering to grace her with a look as he continued his work. “What is it?”
“Sorry to bother you, sir,” Vinessa began. She was a strong woman, or she wouldn’t have been able to remain as his secretary for so long. Other girls had tried, but they couldn’t stomach the man’s cold and callous manner. He wasn’t lecherous, which had at first surprised the honey blonde, whose first aspiration was to become a model. He was just the most unfeeling man to have ever walked the planet. Vinessa was sure even Hitler had more heart. “Julius Sandefer is here to see you.”
That got a reaction, as Bellaver jerked his head up, snapping his hard hazel eyes at her. “Is he now?” She nodded in confirmation. “Show him in and go ahead and leave for the rest of the day.” Vinessa blinked in surprise. “Don’t worry, you’ll be paid,” he sneered at her expression.
The blonde’s own blue-green eyes turned just as hard, “Thank you for your generosity, sir. I’ll show him in.” Turning on her heel, she exited, grateful for the blessing that was this Julius Sandefer. She was free of Daniel Bellaver for a whole, precious day.
Bellaver rose from behind his desk and walked over to the small bar he kept just for the kind of guest he was about to expect. Pulling out two glasses, he was just about to pour a brandy, when his doors opened again. The man with the ordinary face, but unordinary eyes came in. “How are you, Daniel?” Julius Sandefer smiled at his old friend and mentor.
“I’ll be fine and well, Julius, when you inform me about my granddaughter,” His eyes glittered with purpose as he handed the gray eyed man his brandy.
“Same old hard-assed, Bellaver.”
“I hate change.” The Watcher flashed a malicious smirk, and went to take a seat with his glass of brandy.
“Well,” he began as he followed the older man to take a seat in the dark leather chairs. “She’s back in Sunnydale and according to what my associates tell me she has already made contact with Angelus.”
Bellaver slowly shook his head, “No. Angel. He is not Angelus- yet.” The sinister grin appeared on his face again has he contemplated what that met. Should any of the other Watchers found out what he was up to, what had been brewing for generations, he would surely be lynched.
Sandefer rolled his eyes, “Whomever. They seem to be getting quite close in such a short time. She’s only been back in town for about two days.”
“That is to be expected.”
Sandefer was a Watcher as well, even though he had made Angelus believe that he was an assassin for hire. Now that had been fun! Seeing the vampire’s reactions to the threat of Buffy Summers’ friends and family. Of course that had been a fabrication. The only two targets that required termination were the women from the airport. But the deep set lie was needed to keep Angel off Cordelia Chase’s trail until she completed her training in Sendai.
Julius Sandefer trusted his mentor with his life. He had too. Only Daniel Bellaver knew that it had been he who had killed his slayer, Corrine Sweeney. She had been the slayer before India Cohen. It was necessary to kill his darling girl. They needed to speed up the process of the Slayer line.
To make way for Cordelia Chase.
Sunnydale High Library
Four Months Later
“Okay, Giles, this is really starting to suck!” Cordelia Chase huffed, as she dramatically flounced her pom-poms down on the library check-out counter. The teenager was in full cheerleading attire and had just stormed through the library doors, obviously in emotional turmoil.
“I’m sorry?” The Watcher-Librarian rose from his crouching position behind the counter to address his newest slayer. Cordelia had only been a slayer for a few months and had proved herself quite the resourceful one at that, too. “What’s starting to- suck?” He was almost afraid to ask.
Cordelia rolled her eyes in exasperation, as she rummaged through her backpack, producing a good inch of envelopes. “These!” With disdain she slammed them down on the table, next her Sunnydale pom-poms.
Giles peered at the mass of envelopes the girl had just produced and began to gingerly sift through them. His mouth in a grim line he realized why she was in such an emotional upheaval- they were bills. “Cordelia, the post mark on these are from about two months ago. They’re long past due. What have you been doing?”
“Uh, let’s think about this… slaying!” She screeched, pleased when she saw him flinch. “I’ve been killing nasties, doing school crap- that, might I add you insisted I keep up with since I’m the new slayer on the block- and just trying to keep myself fed.” Cordelia scrunched up her neck, groaning as her muscles popped. “I don’t have the luxury of a mom or even a dad anymore to keep up with this stuff and to hold up some secret identity jive. I need help! I’m just a kid, Giles!” Cordelia slumped over the counter, laying her head on her arms in exhaustion.
Looking at her forlorn expression across her lovely face, Rupert Giles could tell that the responsibilities of adult and slayer life were starting to get to her. Cordelia’s adulthood was literally forced upon her twofold and she was going to buckle soon if she didn’t find a schedule. Unlike Buffy, Cordelia had to be an adult and provide for herself. Luckily, during those beginning months upon her return to Sunnydale, Cordelia’s cousin from Japan, Jin Yoshino, had come to stay with her to help her set up. But he had had to return back to Japan, leaving the slayer alone again.
During her time back in Sunnydale, there had been a rash explosion of demonic activity, keeping both slayers busy. Cordelia had already made a personal enemy out of Spike, the latest master vampire to hit the Hellmouth. Granted Spike hated both Buffy and Cordelia, but he seemed to have a more special yen toward Cordelia since she’d nearly killed him on Halloween. According to Angel, that was the nearest any being, slayer or demon, had come to killing him.
“Have you spoken to Angel about this?”
Cordelia snapped her head up, glaring at Giles as if he were a loon. “Why would I want to talk to him about my woes?”
“I-I just assumed since you live in the same building with him, he could try and stop buy on occasion- to m-make sure you were getting along with your bills. A friendly neighbor sort of thing.”
“Well my bills and I are not getting along at all, and the last thing I want is Buffy’s boyfriend to know about it.” The less she saw of Angel the whole lot better off she would be!
Cordelia spun on her heal, to take seat at the infamous Buffy-worship table to take a seat. Funny how this used to be a library at one time or another, she mused to herself. “I figured I could ask the Watcher for some kind of guidance other than slaying. It’s not like I’m asking you to be my surrogate father or something!” Trying to ignore the fluttering ache in heart at the mention of Angel’s name, she began to absently flip through a volume on succubae and incubi. She didn’t notice Giles’ face turn red at the mention of him as her surrogate father.
“Speaking of which,” Cordelia looked up from her book, “Any news on that?”
“Your father?” Giles was thoroughly confused.
“Uh, no, me getting my own Watcher.”
“Is there something wrong with me being your Watcher, Cordelia?” This was disconcerting. There was nothing that came to his mind to think of what he could have done to have offended the girl in anyway, to have her want a new Watcher.
She shook her head, as she leaned back in her chair, “Not in the least, it’s just that every Slayer has her own Watcher and wouldn’t it be easier for you? Buffy is a handful and I’m sure not that easy on your ulcer either.” Cordelia flashed him one of her brilliant toothy smiles.
“She is absolutely right, Mr. Giles. She is past due to have her own Watcher.”
Both Giles and Cordelia whipped their heads in the direction of the foreign voice that had just interrupted.
Cordelia could feel her face loose color as she looked into the eyes of the man who was standing in front of the library doors. It was the same eyes that she saw every morning, but this was not the face she ever wanted to see again.
“So, Buffy, we gonna Bronze it tonight?” Xander Harris eagerly piped, as he and Willow ran into Buffy outside of physics class.
Willow gingerly swooped in beside her best friend and looped her arm through Buffy’s. “Can we invite, Cordelia, too?” This was like mine fields, but it was worth a try. Buffy had to learn to get along with the other slayer and it was long past due.
The blonde halted in mid-stride, her sneakers screeching on the linoleum. “Do we always have to make an issue of this?”
“How are we making it an issue? She’s a slayer now, Buffy. She fights on your side.” Willow could not understand why her friend was so adamantly against associating with Cordelia. Aside from having to do occasional slays together, Buffy avoided her like the plague.
Buffy shifted on her feet, trying to control her temper. “It’s complicated, and I don’t want to go into it. Okay?”
Xander wrapped his arm around Buffy’s shoulders, “No prob, Buff. You can tell us when you’re ready.” He ignored the murderous look that Willow was giving him, and steered Buffy toward the library.
With silence hanging heavily between them, the three friends headed through the library doors and almost ran into the two people standing right beyond them.
“Whoa, there!” Xander exclaimed, as he and the girls came to an uncomfortable stop. This was not usual. Very foreign people in their sanctuary.
Giles was standing by the counter, looking ramrod straight and more serious than they had ever seen him. Cordelia was as beautiful as ever in her cheerleading outfit, not taking her eyes of the strange couple that was standing just before Xander and the girls.
And what a strange couple they were: the woman was positively gorgeous, with honey blonde hair and the man was distinguished, with raven-black hair peppered with gray. As Cordelia was staring at them, they were staring at her.
“Giles?” Buffy skirted around Xander, and the ‘odd couple’ to stand by her Watcher. Her look to him was ‘Who the hell are they?’
It wasn’t Giles who answered her, but the man instead. “Buffy Summers, I presume?” His accent was pure, classic British. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, my dear, I’m Daniel Bellaver.” He came over to her, extending his hand out, pleased when she shook it.
“Yeah, charmed. Who are you?” Buffy released his grip, and nodded to the woman.
The woman gave a sweet smile that set her beautiful face to an almost angelic expression. “I’m Vinessa Chandler, Buffy. We’re from the Watcher’s Council. I’ve heard a lot about you.” Vinessa turned back around to Cordelia and stepped over to the slayer. “And I’ve heard much about you too, Cordelia.”
“Yes,” Cordelia whispered, still not truly taking her gaze off of Daniel Bellaver. “I’m sure you have. Excuse me.” Cordelia gracefully came around to stand in front him. “What the hell are you doing here?!”
“Cordelia!” Giles shouted out in alarm. He knew exactly who this man was to the girl, but he was not prepared for her rude behavior. And poor Willow almost swallowed her tongue at the outburst.
The emissary from the Council merely smiled, “Cordelia Bellaver Chase… now is that anyway to speak to your grandfather, young lady?” He did admire her spirit. Always had.
She just shrugged. “You’re lucky I spoke to you at all, Grandpa.” Cordelia flipped her long hair over her shoulders, and smirked at him. “I can see that the pretty lady is obviously going to be my new Watcher, and she could have come here all by herself. And so I ask you again, what are you doing here?”
“Can’t an old man come and see his only grandchild?”
Buffy and the rest of the gang were watching this whole escapade in stunned silence. Not only was Cordelia getting a new Watcher, but her own grandfather was part of the Council? Buffy couldn’t believe how much was being revealed about the brunette in just a few months!
Giles decided he was going to take this into his own hands. “Um, Mr. Bellaver, Ms. Chandler? What’s say we have the children go so they can resume their classes? I think we have much to discuss.”
“Oh, I think so, Rupert,” Bellaver turned to the younger man. “Especially how it is that these other children know about the goings on of slayer business.”
“Uh, ye-yes,” Giles sputtered, clearly embarrassed about the whole situation. “Th-that would be best. Uh, Buffy, Cordelia- we’ll speak later.”
“Sure, whatever,” Cordelia grumbled, obviously brimming with rage at seeing her grandfather so suddenly. Gathering up her stuff, she politely sneered at him again and stormed out of the library, the rest of the gang following suit.
There was no way in hell she was going to stay on campus as long as he was here! Winter mid-term be damned, she thought to herself.
“Cordelia, wait up!”
It was Willow shouting after her. With Buffy and Xander likely in tow, old kill joy. Cordelia wanted to just keep on walking, but Willow and Xander had been the only ones to be treating like a human being, so she decided, “What the hell.”
Stopping by a bench in the outside quad, Cordelia ceremoniously dumped her pom-poms and books on the seat. Spinning on her heal, she turned around to great the coming onslaught of questions. And judging from the fiery green in Buffy’s eyes, they would be coming from her.
“What is going on, Cordelia?” Buffy stopped mere inches in front of the other girl, not happy that she had to look up into her eyes. It was one thing before when she hadn’t been a slayer, but now she held equal power to her and was taller. “Why didn’t you tell us your grandfather was part of the Watcher’s Council?”
This chick was really starting to get on her last nerve. Ever since she had seen her nearly come apart when the Anointed Twerp had tried to raise the Master, Cordelia had backed away, given Buffy some room. She’d realized that night that Buffy needed Willow, Xander, and Angel more than she ever would. So, she had decided to step off to the sidelines, hoping that Buffy would come around and realize that she wasn’t that bad anymore, and would begin to accept her. They were slayers; never in the history of their existence had two been activated at the same time. One would think the girl would be bright enough to see how much damage they could bestow to the dark side, but no! Buffy was a twinkie.
Cordelia was tired of being nice and tired of the bleached blonde. I think it’s almost time to throw down, she gleamed. For the first time in weeks, Cordelia felt a smile spread upon her lips that actually touched her soul.
“Are you going to answer me or not?” Buffy pressed, “And what’s with that stupid grin?”
Xander quickly jerked his head toward Willow, whose eyes were equally wide. This was so not good. Buffy may have never wanted to admit it, but Cordelia was a better fighter. Xander had been there with Angel when she had almost beheaded Spike on Halloween. He’d seen the bitch in motion and it looked like she was about to go ‘ka-boom’. Slowly, he began to inch away from the super-chicks, pulling Willow with him by her backpack.
Crossing her arms over her ample chest, Cordelia took a large step forward, until she was toe to toe with Buffy. “In regards to ‘what’s going on’, it seems as if I’m getting my own Watcher, so now you’ll have Giles all to your very own. No more Cordelia getting in Buffy’s way of bonding with her Watcher!” Buffy looked like she had just been slapped. Pretty. “And about my grandfather being part of the Council-” Tilting her head up to the blue sky above, she let Buffy sit on that one.
“You. Never. Asked.” Turning on her heal, Cordelia went to gather her things.
“Whoa! I never asked?!” Buffy had leapt forward, right in front of the other slayer as she was about to get to the bench. “How dare you speak that way to me! We had the right to know that you had a direct link to the Council, Cordelia. What’d you think you were so special that you could keep it to yourself?”
Oh, that did.
Balling up her right fist, Cordelia laid a punch so hard against Buffy’s jaw that she slammed into a spruce tree four feet away, her shoulder hitting the trunk. That suede jacket was definitely going to need dry cleaning now.
“Cordy!” Xander shouted out in alarm as he ran over to were Buffy was struggling to pick herself up. Her lower lip was totally split open with blood dribbling down her chin.
And to make matters worse, nearly half the school was out there witnessing the whole event. Most of the student body new that Buffy was stronger than normal, by having seen her do the impossible with their own eyes or stories passed down from peers. But now they had just seen Cordelia Chase, picture perfect cheerleader, display an equal amount of physical prowess.
Holding up her hand in warning, Cordelia’s hazel eyes bore into Buffy’s. “That was just an appetizer. Unless you want the full course, dumbass, I suggest you watch what you say to me from now on.” She began gathering her stuff, still not taking her warrior’s gaze off of Buffy. “The day you declare that my personal life is your book to read again, is the day your ass is grass. Again!”
Giving Willow and Xander a brief smile, she headed back into the school. She had a chemistry mid-term to take, and she suddenly felt more than capable of taking it on. Surprisingly, Cordelia found no trouble making her way through the crowds. They were making way for a queen.
Later that night
Cordelia shuffled her feet against the damp grass, as she made her way through the surrounding headstones. She was still wearing her cheerleading outfit from earlier. After school had gotten out, all she wanted to do was take off. She’d figured the outfit was all smelly from practice, so why change for the sake of slaying. Better one funky outfit than two.
After today’s slayer versus slayer fiasco and seeing her tweeked grandfather, a night out slaying was just what she needed. Seeing Daniel Bellaver for the first time in ten years had unleashed a rage inside her that was boiling. Her only wish was that somehow he was a demon or would become one so she could kill him.
Thinking about him was fogging up her instincts. She could sense there was a least one vampire in close vicinity around her. Clutching her stake, Cordelia tensed her muscles in apprehension.
Whipping her head around, her high ponytail flying, she tried to home in on it’s location. “Stop checking me out and come out, vampy. I’ve had a bad day and I don’t feel like hunting your ass!”
Just as she was about to cut around one of the mausoleums, Angel stepped from the side, directly in front of her.
“Whoa, damn!” Her senses had been totally primed, ready to attack a vampire. And her slayer-sense had not failed her. She just wished it had been another kind of vampire. The soulless kind. “You so almost got wasted! What the hell are you doing out here?!”
Angel clenched his jaw as he dragged his eyes over her form. He’d never seen her slay in her cheerleading attire. There was something so incredibly innocent, but sexy, seeing her with that on. The stake in her hand only added to her dangerous allure. “Uh, sorry. I was just- um- looking for Buffy.”
“She takes over the north side of town,” Cordelia rolled her eyes in annoyance, as she maneuvered around him, carefully trying not to touch him. “It was part of our agreement, remember? She takes the north, I take the south side.” A few months ago, Cordelia had made the suggestion about dividing the cemeteries between the two of them. It was a perfect arrangement. Cordelia slayed- alone, while Buffy & Co. slayed in groups. Occasionally, Willow would join in Cordelia’s fray, but Buffy always made it silently clear that she didn’t want her friends anywhere near the other Slayer.
Giving an exasperated sigh, Angel decided to drop the pretenses. “Actually, I was coming to find you, not her. I heard about what happened today at school from Giles. You okay?”
He could tell she was lying and it pissed him off. “Why can’t you open up to me?” For months, ever since the final battle with the Anointed One, she’d been pushing him farther and farther away. It was driving him nuts, especially since he didn’t know why she was doing it.
“What are you going to be? My diary?” Cordelia scoffed, with a nasty sneer. She pivoted around and began to move away from him. Walk away, walk away, she silently chanted, hoping he would do just that. She couldn’t be close to him, not now!
“No,” he shouted out, moving with his vampiric speed. Angel reached out and grabbed her wrist, spinning her back to face him. “You are not walking away from me this time, Cordelia. We’re going to talk. Now!”
Wrenching her arm back, she took a step back away from him. She really didn’t like the look in his dark eyes. They seemed be trying to bore into her soul. Cordelia could tell by the chip in his voice that he wasn’t going to let her go without a fight. And that was out of the question. She didn’t want any physical contact between them! She didn’t think she could bear it.
Angel took a step toward her, trying not to growl as she instinctively backed away. He hated this. Hated that she kept avoiding him. “I want to know what happened today. From your point of view.”
“Buffy got mad that my granddaddy is part of the Watcher’s Council and I never told her. She made a big fuss and got knocked on her ass for it,” She crossed her arms, glaring up at him. “Sorry I decked your girlfriend, so can I go now? I’ve got things I need to do.”
“The only thing you need to do right now, Cordelia, is to stay here and talk to me,” Giving her a wicked sneer, he again invaded her space by stepping forward. “Unless you wanna go back to my apartment and take this up there?” Angel secretly smiled to himself. Her back was to the mausoleum, as she kept moving away from him, she was unconsciously cornering herself for him.
His apartment would be the only place he could take her at the Merchant Building. She’d never invited him into her penthouse there. “And what would dear, sweet Buffy have to say about that one? I’m sure she’d love finding me in your apartment.” Her eyes lit up in merriment. “On second thought- yeah! Let’s go there. There’s always fun to be had in that category.”
Shaking his head at her, Angel couldn’t believe how she was acting. “Why are being like this?”
“Just being the person everyone thinks I am, vampire. A cold hearted bitch.”
“Nobody thinks that.”
Cordelia laughed, “Your girlfriend does. So apparently, whatever Buffy thinks is true for what everyone else thinks.” Tucking a stray hair behind her ear, Cordelia tried again to will Angel away. “I really don’t have time for this, okay? Why don’t you go to the north side of town and leave me alone! I’ve got my own Watcher now, so none of you have to deal with me anymore. So go!”
“I’m not going anywhere, Cordelia,” he whispered, inching closer to her again. This time he let a smile catch his lips, when he saw the realization on her face that she was now cornered by him. She was pressed up against the wall and she knew there was no way around him. He’d stop her every move.
“Leave.” She clenched her hand tightly around her stake.
The movement did not go unnoticed by Angel. “You gonna stake me?”
“If I have to, yes.”
Calling her bluff, Angel ripped open his dark red shirt to expose his chest. “Go ahead. You want it so badly, just do it.” Opening his arms wide, he offered himself to her.
Cordelia’s heart was beating so hard she felt as if it would burst from her chest. She knew he could hear it too.
“Come on, Cordelia. Give in.” Angel pressed even closer to her, letting his arms drop. “You want to destroy everything around you, then start with me.”
“I don’t want to start anything with you!” Feeling the cold wall against her back was a slight comfort to the heat that was beginning to spread through her body. This is why I can’t open up to you, she silently confessed to him. Every time she was around him, she could feel- almost see, that connection between them grow inevitably stronger. She felt consumed by it.
Angel could almost taste the desire that was seeping out of her. It matched his tenfold. “Don’t you? Say my name, Cordelia.”
Letting a grin come on his face, not unlike that of Angelus, Angel moved impossibly closer to the girl that haunted his dreams. “I want you to say my name. I haven’t heard you say it all night. In fact- I haven’t heard my name on your lips in weeks.” Hearing the rapid sound of her heart, seeing her flushed face- she’d already confessed to him with her body as to why she was avoiding him.
“All right,” Her smile just as calculating as his. “Liam.”
Angel blinked at her incredulously. She was deliberately provoking him, testing how far he bring himself. Her beautifully classic face was turned up to his, and she wasn’t batting a lash.
It had become too much for him. All the way back to that first taste of her blood after she’d slayed the Master, to seeing her come back from Japan. Those brief, yet wonderfully welcoming days when she had returned to Sunnydale and they were becoming friends. Then those months that she had receded from him completely, almost shunning him.
Releasing a growl of pent up anger and desire, Angel violently grabbed her by her upper arms, bringing her against his chest. Ignoring her gasp of alarm, he took the opportunity to assault her glossy parted lips.
Trying to pull herself away from him, Cordelia soon felt lost when he slid tongue past her lips, roughly caressing her tongue. Cordelia groaned when he locked her arms behind her back, her wrists held together by a large hand. Absently, she notice that her stake dropped from her limp fingers to the damp grass below.
Using his free left hand, Angel slid his fingers long the side of her waist and up toward her right breast. All the while not letting up on his kiss, if anything deepening it. Feeling her body lax to him in surrender sent another growl rumbling from his chest. She tasted like everything he’d imagined she would. She was his! This cemented it.
Cordelia gasped in his mouth, as she felt his hand skim over breast, pressing into it’s fullness. There was a silent alarm sounding in the back of her mind, as Angel sealed himself against her. He knew exactly how to kiss her, his blunt teeth nipping her lips, then crushing her mouth open to dual with her tongue. This was what if felt like to be truly alive. Her body hummed with it.
Angel had to get closer. Releasing her arms, Angel kept kissing, moving his hands down to her hips. Grinning to himself, when her heard her cry out, as he lifted her up. Slamming her against the mausoleum wall, Angel groaned when she gripped his waist with her long legs. Cordelia wrapped her arms around his neck, trying not to cry out when his hands traveled from her hips to explore underneath her cheerleading skirt.
This was too much too fast. Much too fast. Mustering all the inner strength she had left, Cordelia wrenched her mouth away from his, bracing her palms against his shoulders and pushed with all her might.
Completely taken aback by her sudden burst of strength, Angel fell back on the ground, Cordelia slumped out of his grip onto her knees. Still in the tides of passion, Angel looked at her with heavy lidded eyes. She was crouched before him, her chest heaving as she fought for control of her turbulent emotions.
“Do- don’t do that again!” She stammered, not taking her hazel eyes of his. Her hand searching the ground for her stake. Finding it, she surged to her feet on shaky legs. “Or I will stake you.”
Still not moving from where she’d shoved him to the ground, Angel narrowed his eyes at her. “This is far from over, Cordelia. It will never be over!” Now that he had tasted her, felt his desire for her- he knew now this could never end. “All this time you’ve been avoiding me- It’s because you’re in love with me. Don’t deny it!”
“No,” she whispered. “I don’t love you. I can’t love you!” Her anguished scream echoed through the cemetery. “God, just stay away from me, please!”
Angel shook his head, leaping to his feet before her. “Never. You belong to me!” He moved again, so fast she barely had time to raise her hands to him. Grabbing her wrist, he snatched the stake out of her hand, throwing it over his shoulder. “No matter who comes into your life, you’ll always belong to me, Cordelia!”
Cordelia kicked out, her tennis shoe slamming into his knee cap. Feeling his grip slack, she pulled away and began to run. Pausing by a headstone, she turned around, “This has to stop here and now, Angel! I know- I feel it in my gut that this- us will end badly if you don’t leave me the hell alone!” Seeing him slowly shake his head at her words, Cordelia felt tears well in her eyes. “Stay away from me or I will leave town. For good!”
Turning on her heal, not waiting for him to reply, Cordelia sprinted out of the cemetery as if the devil himself were on her heals.
Straightening his shirt, Angel allowed her to run from him. This time.
“Next time,” he whispered to her retreating figure. “You won’t be able to run from me. And there’s nowhere in this world that I won’t be able to find you.” Deciding it was best not to hook up with Buffy and her crew this evening, Angel opted for a much needed drink in town. He rapidly headed that way, his only thoughts were of Cordelia
Too consumed with their passion, neither vampire nor slayer had noticed they had had an audience. Daniel Bellaver and Vinessa Chandler had seen and heard the whole spectacle. Emerging from the shadows, Daniel grinned at his beautiful charge.
“When I leave, Vinessa, you know what you must do?”
Bringing her blue-green eyes to meet his, she obediently nodded. Vinessa finally saw when she looked up at the head Watcher, that Cordelia had his hazel eyes. Of course, she didn’t have the evil that lay within the depths that Daniel Bellaver had. “Yes, sir. I know exactly what to do.”
Cordelia ran into her apartment, slamming the doors shut behind her. It still felt like he was near her- running his hands all over her body. Locking her doors securely, she tried to take in a few calming breaths.
It didn’t help. She still felt like she was spinning out of control.
Wiping the tears and make-up from her face viciously with her palms, she made her way to her bathroom. She needed to wash his scent from her. Smelling Angel all over her- it just made her realize how much she longed for him! She’d wanted to be consumed by him, right then and there in a fucking graveyard!
Seeing her flushed and disheveled self in the mirror, Cordelia wanted to smash it with her fist. Break it into a hundred pieces, just like her heart. But she didn’t have the money to replace it right now. Scratching that plan, she opted for a hot bubble bath instead. Moving over to the large, oval shaped bathtub, she removed her cheerleading clothes as she went. Her skin felt so flushed.
No, that wouldn’t help. And it so didn’t help knowing that she would soon be laying naked in a rose scented bath and Angel would be two stories below her! Living this close to him had started to become torture- being so near to someone she could not have. Never have!
Even though it had pained her at first, seeing Buffy and Angel become closer, it was a relief in so many ways. The night the Anointed Twit tried to bring back the Master had been a revelation to her.
The Master had killed Buffy. Pint-sized slayer would have stayed dead if it hadn’t been for Xander. Coming back from the dead to avenge her own death by killing the Master would never happen. Cordelia had destroyed the most powerful vampire in the world. A brand new, fresh off the production line Slayer had killed the Master. Not Buffy. Cordelia knew, without a shadow of ego, she was stronger than Buffy. She also had the word of Rupert Giles attesting to that fact. The Brit had left his journal opened at the library.
Three weeks ago, after finishing an early sweep of Newberry, she’d beat all of them back to the library for regrouping. Feeling a need for tea, she’d wandering into his office, hell-bent on sampling the brew when there it was- a Watcher’s journal.
In those remarkably penned pages, she quickly absorbed the information that Angel and he had discovered about her family history. All the Watchers- all the Slayers. Yoshino, Dantes and Bellaver. It was insane! He even had penciling of her family tree!
When Cordelia had seen the torment in Buffy’s eyes when she’d mashed his bones to chalk, it had dawned on her- Buffy needed people. She didn’t.
Xander, Giles, Willow and even Angel- Buffy needed them all. Despite her reputation as a cast-iron bitch, she still had a conscience. Regardless of the fact she was falling in love with Angel, he was off limits and she would respect that. Buffy Summers, in her sappy existence, had to have the love bubble around her. Cordelia Chase had boundaries. But Angel had tarnished those limits while she had been out hunting.
Cordelia gave a slight chuckle at the term ‘hunting’ as she added her rose oil to the rising water. Buffy called it ‘patrolling’ while she used the other phrase. Just showed how different they were. Lately, she had been feeling more like a hunter than a slayer. Something was stirring within her.
Turning off the tap, Cordelia let out a small hiss as her toes connected with tepid water. Slowly, she eased herself in, trying to relieve the days events from her mind. Cordelia leaned back, letting her mind drift. Commanding her aching body to relax, and she willing succumbed to sleep.
When Cordelia had fled from him, it had taken everything he had to not run after her. All he wanted to do was hold onto her and never let her go. And he couldn’t understand it.
In all actuality, he barely knew the girl. Sure he had fought at her side… well, rarely, since she’d begun to push him away. Trying to stifle the growl rumbling in his chest, he took another swig of JD. Angel had been at Willie’s for the past two hours. Within thirty minutes of sitting at the bar, Angel was on his second bottle of Jack Daniel’s. When he had demanded his first bottle, he had seen the look of alarm in Willie’s beady eyes. The lovelorn vampire had been hoping that Willie would refuse and he’d have an excuse to kill him. Alas, fate did not understand and the weasel had seen the fury radiating from the vampire.
Willie wasn’t the only one to notice. Every demon in the place was shying away from him. Not that he minded, most of the riff-raff in here smelled or their appearance hurt his line of vision. Taking a glance around, Angel saw there were a few humans in the mix. Didn’t surprise him too much. Sunnydale being the Hellmouth and all, there was bound to be a few in the populace that knew about their demon neighbors.
There was one human in particular that was watching him. This human did not look like she belonged in this mix at all. With her honey blond hair and blue-green eyes, she looked as if her home was the cover of Vogue. And even though she had the face and body of a beauty queen, her mind was near genius level. Only Rupert Giles’ scores were higher than hers in scholastic achievement. The two brightest minds the Watcher’s Council had to offer were now both in Sunnydale.
And one of those minds was surveying a vampire with great interest. Vinessa Chandler narrowed her vision, trying to gage her approach to Angel. She knew the turmoil he was going through and wanted to help him. The problem was she in practical servitude to Daniel Bellaver. The son of a bitch had a leverage over that she could not get away from. No matter how callous and despicable her job was, she had to comply. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t manipulate herself around those rough edges.
Cordelia and the others had believed that Bellaver had left for London yesterday morning. Bellaver had deceived them so that he could spend some additional time prepping his spy Watcher to fulfill her secretive duties.
Vinessa Chandler was to keep Cordelia Chase in Sunnydale no matter what. The only time this was to be ignored would be in the days after the Slayer’s seventeenth birthday. Bellaver had made it absolutely clear that if his granddaughter wanted to leave the Hellmouth, for any reason, it was to be vehemently denied, unless, it was after her birthday. After that date, she would be allowed to leave, whatever the issue.
It was obvious to the young Watcher that Cordelia’s birthday held some cataclysmic purpose, but she had no idea what it could be. Not only was Cordelia supposed to remain in the town, but so were Angel and Buffy. All three needed to be present. It was primary duties to make sure that both slayers and the vampire keep the present situation as is. But seeing how distraught Angel was at the bar just ahead of her made her worry just how difficult a task it would be to keep that trio in the same vicinity.
Clenching her jaw in determination, Vinessa rose from her corner booth and began to work her way though the demons occupying the haven. She had taken precautions and had added some holy water to her perfume mix. It took away some of the overall scent, but it kept unwanted attention at bay. She would have to rely on her martial arts skills to ward off demons of a non-vampire origin. The pretty Watcher only hoped that her eau de blessed perfume wouldn’t cause Angel to back away too.
Coming to stand next him, Vinessa perched her foot on the barstool next him. Keeping herself calm and her vision focused on the mirror behind Willie that only reflected some of his customers.
“How are you this evening, Angel?”
The vampire swiveled around slightly in his stool to gaze at the woman who had crept up beside him. Fully human, it mildly amazed him how she had been able to approach him without his noticing. Only Drusilla had been able to do that to him… once. “Just dandy, Vinessa. Thanks for asking.” Giving a cocksure grin, he turned away from her, intend on his love affair with JD.
“Obviously,” She retorted, quirking an elegant eyebrow at his preferred companion. “I do apologize for intruding on your business with your fluid friend, but I need to ask for your assistance, Angel.” Vinessa saw how his expression had not changed. Sliding her delicate figure onto the stool next to him, she decided to offer him clarification. “It’s about Cordelia.”
Pausing in mid swig, Angel slowly placed down the bottle. “I’m listening.”
Vinessa gave quiet smile, knowing the mere mention of the Slayer’s name would give him cause to pay her heed. Unbeknownst to both Cordelia and Angel, she had seen them at Newberry. Their display of passion was enough to give anyone pause. “I need help with her, Angel. More than you know.”
This definitely piped his interest. Turning to face her, Angel tried to gage at what she was getting at. “How do you mean?”
“She’s vulnerable, Angel. More than anyone knows,” Vinessa could definitely see in his obsidian-like eyes that this was going to get to him. “She’s ostracizing herself from her peers, not just Buffy’s friends, but her old friends as well as far as I can see. Granted, this kind of behavior has been expected of all slayers in the past, but it’s not going to fly with this new generation. Buffy is an excellent example of that.” Signaling to Willie, Vinessa ordered a gin and tonic. “My slayer has to communicate with others. She needs to feel grounded. I think she is only seeing her life without goals or purpose, unless it’s slayer related.”
Taking a sip of her drink she continued, pleased to see that the vampire was completely enthralled with what she was revealing. “Her mother and father have abandoned her.” Vinessa tried not to take notice of the somber growl coming from Angel. “She’s now legally an adult with adult responsibilities that she has not been prepared to undertake. Before too long she’ll be lost in an adult world that she was forced into. Normally, I’d say Cordelia could take that duty by the reigns and make the most of it, but she can’t. She’s also a slayer now.”
The young Watcher could feel a pull in her own heart as she expressed to Angel the ramifications of Cordelia’s current positions. “She’s a sixteen year old girl who will not only carry the fate of the world on her shoulders, but also the horrifying reality of bills that need to be paid.”
“So what do you want me to do, Vinessa? Oh, I’m sorry,” Angel quickly covered his mouth in quick alarm. “Do you go by your first name or is it just Chandler like the Watcher-boys?”
“You can call me ‘Cast-Iron Bitch’ for all I care, I’d just like you to hear me out, jackass.”
“Oh,” Angel gasped in mock alarm, “The Watcher’s got bite! I like that in a woman.” Angel could feel his demon rise ever so slightly. Just the tip of the ice berg. All of the tension between him and the two slayers was getting to him. Giving a mild chuckle, he turned away from her mildly widened eyes. “Why this sudden concern for her, Vinny?”
Vinessa couldn’t control her sneer at the name he had decided to bestow on her. “I received a call on her mobile phone about an hour ago. She seemed very shaken up. Something I don’t think comes lightly to my Slayer.”
“What did she say?”
Angel’s shoulders had become visibly stiffer. “Cordelia would like to move to Cleveland, Ohio. As soon as possible.” Vinessa Chandler, who normally did no scare easily, suddenly felt like a trapped animal as the bottle in Angel’s hand shattered in his physical rage. His expression remained passive.
“Yes,” she replied, hoping her voice didn’t waver. “This is unacceptable. Even though there is another Hellmouth in Cleveland, she needs to remain in Sunnydale. Council orders.” Vinessa had told Cordelia to come to her hotel suite tomorrow so they could speak of this calmly. She had no idea how she was going to explain the logic of two slayers at one Hellmouth, while the other one only had human protectors who were not supernaturally blessed.
Turning to the beautiful Watcher, Angel granted her a wondrous sight. Something that rarely came across his features- a smile. “Well, we’re just going to have to make sure she follows those orders. Aren’t we, Vinny?” Widening his smile, Angel playfully clucked her chin and left the bar.
In all her brilliance of mind, she could not puzzle the pieces together about how Angel, a vampire was connected to Cordelia, a slayer. But her parents knew, and they had fled the country leaving their daughter to the vices of fate. Her grandfather knew, and he could barely contain his delight as the signs, whatever they were, progressed.
And her cherished great-grandfather, Jun Yoshino, knew… having seen his own twin sister, Kaede, sacrifice herself at twenty years old to allow the slayer line to progress. To progress to the Divine One.
…TO BE CONTINUED…
THIS STORY APPEARS TO BE UNFINISHED