Title: Time Trip. (1/3)
Posted here: 08/05
Category: Time Travel
Content: A/C…and B/A. Yes, you heard me right.
Summary: Angel and Cordelia travel to a very familiar past.
Spoilers: I’ll say up through ‘Provider’ on ‘Angel’, just in case. Also general spoilers for ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Anywhere, just drop me a note so I’ll know where to look.
Angel staggered against the marble pedestal.
The priceless vase perched atop it teetered for a moment before giving up the fight. It fell, shattering into a thousand pieces when it hit the floor.
“No!” the lead Kempaar demon howled, hands clutching his head. “My Ming!!
With cries of pain and outrage, the dozen other Kempaar pressed their attacks.
Fights ranged throughout the chamber in which the demonic thieves had stashed their…booty.
Gunn put his homemade axe to good use. Any Kempaar that came within 6 feet of him lost their heads. Literally.
Wesley and Cordelia, outfitted with swords, fought back to back. Aside from the occasional shriek or “Ewwww!” when a spurt of slime found its way onto her person, Cordy held her own. Her beheading technique had improved a great deal since Pylea.
Angel, in full vamp face, had a sword of his own. The Kempaar, while strong, weren’t the best fighters in the underworld. Angel chopped them down like a lumberjack let loose in a forest.
“Kill them!” the lead Kempaar ordered…while making no attempt to join the fight himself. “Kill them all!”
And his minions tried. They really did. Because, along with being greedy, they were also loyal…to anyone who could make them rich. Which there leader had done, as one look around the chamber proved.
But they were no match against the demon hunters they faced tonight. In no time at all, the lead Kempaar was the last Kempaar.
As it realized the fighting had ended, the demon stopped moaning over its Ming and took stock of the situation. The tentacles that hung from its lips (and sort of resembled a handlebar mustache) twitched. It’s pale blue skin turned a sickly shade of gray.
Whimpering at the thought of the wealth it was about to loose, the demon ran.
Straight towards Cordelia, who happened to be closest to the entrance.
“Cordy!” Angel cried as he started towards her.
But he didn’t have to worry. The former May Queen of Sunnydale High was prepared. Tired of getting slimed, she decided against beheading. Instead, she skewered the demon, driving her sword through its chest with a forceful “Ha!”
The creature’s momentum pushed her backwards, and she staggered into another pedestal, this one topped by a small, bronze, egg-shaped figurine.
The bronze egg fell, hitting the floor with a CLANG bigger than its size should have allowed. A brilliant light exploded from it, bathing the girl and the demon impaled on her sword.
Still half a room away, Angel watched in horror as the light engulfed his best friend. A million tiny, blue sparkles covered her body. Seemed to seep into her skin.
“Cordy!” he cried again.
“Angel!” the girl cried, terrified.
With a burst of vampiric strength, Angel reached her. Knocking the impaled demon aside, he wrapped his arms around her…and felt a strange tingle pass through his body.
“Angel!” Wesley cried.
“Cordy!” Gunn exclaimed.
Those were the last words the vampire and the seer heard.
Cordelia Chase staggered against the counter, hands clutching the edge. Eyes closed, she waited for the dizziness to pass.
“So I told her,” a voice said, “if you don’t want to be called a skanky ‘ho, don’t wear a blouse that goes all transparent when sunlight hits it.”
“For total sure!”
“She’s such a loser!”
Cordelia frowned. That wasn’t right.
The last thing she remembered was being in a chamber filled with the ill gotten gains of a pack of demonic felons. Somehow, the chorus of feminine voices discussing some girl’s poor fashion sense didn’t belong.
Still feeling faint, Cordy opened her eyes…to find herself looking in a large wall mirror. In the reflection, she saw what appeared to be a public bathroom. And a very familiar one, at that. If she didn’t know better, she’d think she was at the Bronze. But, of course, she knew better. So…
A group of girls stood by the door, chatting and gesturing as if the fate of the world hung on their conversation. They looked like a group of girls she knew back in high school. Cordette wannabes who were way too desperate to be popular. They tried so hard, but there was always something off about them.
The hair was wrong. The shoes were knock-off. The clothes, though stylish, were last season. Stuff most people wouldn’t notice, but Queen C spotted in an instant.
With a shake of her still spinning head, Cordelia stared at her own reflection. Her sensible—but fashionable—demon fighting ensemble was gone, replaced by a pair of leather pants, and a silver silk tank top. And her hair, chin-length and blond-streaked just a second ago, was its original mahogany brown, and hung well past her shoulders.
“What?” she whispered. This wasn’t right. None of this was right.
Cordy turned and half sat on the counter. Where was that damned chamber? Where were Wesley, and Gunn, and…
Cordy turned to see that the girls were now staring at her. The one who had spoken—Tracy something—looked almost scared.
And Cordelia remembered why. Whenever one of them had talked to her, she was quick to put them in their place. Didn’t want to encourage them.
Standing erect, Cordy dredged up a weak smile. “I’m fine,” she said. “Just tired, I guess.”
Tracy and her cohorts looked shocked. Stunned. Cordelia Chase being nice? Impossible.
Too preoccupied to worry about it, Cordy turned back to face the mirror. What was going on?
And what could she do about it?
Angel turned in a full circle, taking in his surroundings.
He knew where he was. In Sunnydale. In the alley outside the Bronze.
But how? How did he get there?
“The statue,” he concluded. The one Cordelia knocked over. He remembered the wave of energy the thing had emitted. The panic he felt when Cordy got caught up in the light show. And the electric tingle that passed through him when he grabbed her.
The thing must operate as some kind of portal. Somehow, it had transported him from Los Angeles to Sunnydale.
But, if he was here, where was…
“Cordelia!” he called. “Cordy!”
There was no answer.
Feeling the first stirrings of panic, Angel started to search the alley. If he was here, she had to be here too, right?
But he kept remembering Wesley’s lecture about portal jumping. Two people who jumped through a portal at the exact same time wouldn’t necessarily end up in the same place. In fact, they could end up on opposite sides of the world.
“No!” Angel denied. He shook his head. Cordelia was here. Somewhere.
And he would find her.
It was a typical Friday night at the Bronze. Dancing. Music. People shouting to be *heard* over the music.
Buffy and Willow sat at a table near the stage, pretty much insuring they wouldn’t be able to hear until sometime tomorrow morning. Dingoes Ate My Baby might not be the best band in the world…or even in the tri-county area. But they were definitely loud.
The red head was gazing at the stage, her adoring eyes glued to Oz. Every time the guitarist looked at her, she’d give him a shy little grin, and a wave.
Buffy tried to pay attention to the band. She really did. But she couldn’t keep her eyes from searching the club. Searching for a particular set a broad shoulders. A distinctive, leather duster. An intense, handsome face…
“Isn’t it great?”
“Hmmm.” Preoccupied, Buffy glanced at her best friend.
“Oz wrote this song,” Willow said. Her eyes sparkled with pride. “He says it isn’t any good because there are only four cords. But I think it’s the best!”
Buffy forced herself to listen. It kind of sounded like the first song Dingoes played that night. And the song they played before the ballad. But, noticing Willow’s hopeful expression, the Slayer smiled and offered a polite, “Yeah, it’s great.” And, of their own accord, her eyes started to search again.
And Willow, of course, noticed. “No sign of Angel yet, huh?” she asked sympathically.
“No,” Buffy said. “But he didn’t say he was definitely going to come tonight. Just that he might. It was a maybe. A solid, more likely than not, but no promises, maybe.”
Willow gave her a reassuring pat on the hand. “He’ll show up. I know he will.”
And Buffy *did* feel reassured.
Once upon a time, before she had a boyfriend—or even the prospect of a boyfriend—Willow lived on daily doses of the drama that was Buffy’s love life. Always there to cheer Buffy on when she felt uncertain about her relationship with Angel. Which was most of the time.
Even now, Willow had no doubts. As far as she was concerned, Buffy and Angel belonged together. End of story.
Buffy, on the other hand, was confused. She and Angel were…Well, she didn’t know what they were at the moment. They were *trying* to be friends. Who sometimes held hands while on patrol, and stole passionate kisses behind whatever mausoleum was handy.
Last night had been a “let’s patrol while trying to keep our distance, shall we?” night. Buffy spent most of it babbling about one thing or another, afraid to let an awkward silence fall. And Angel contributed by pretending to care that Mrs. Staley gave her a C on an essay that deserved a B at least.
Buffy was almost glad when he walked her home, and disappeared into the shadows. Then, she spent the rest of the night telling herself that climbing out the window and sneaking over to the mansion was a bad idea. A bad, *bad* idea.
“Hey, my two favorite girls!”
Buffy and Willow turned to see Xander Harris loping towards them. He plopped down at their table.
“You better not let Cordelia hear you say that,” Buffy warned. “Or you’ll probably end up singing soprano.”
“Of!” Xander exclaimed. Alarmed, the gangly teen looked around furtively. “How are two *of* my favorite girls?”
“We’re good,” Willow said. “Except Buffy’s upset Angel hasn’t shown up yet.”
“Thanks, Will,” Buffy sighed. She knew how Xander felt about her sort-of boyfriend.
As expected, Xander’s expression turned sour. “So, how is tall, dark and deadly?”
“Xander!” Willow chastised.
“Hey, would I ask if I didn’t care?” Off their looks, he shrugged. “Okay, I *don’t* care. But wasn’t it thoughtful of me to ask?”
Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. “Angel’s fine. Where’s Cordelia?”
“We’re meeting here. After she almost killed me by wrapping her car around a telephone pole last night, I decided to spare her the inconvenience of picking me up.”
Buffy shook her head. She still didn’t get what Xander saw in Cordelia. Or, to be honest, what Cordelia saw in Xander. Neither one was the other’s type. And, unless they were kissing, or one of them was in mortal danger, they didn’t seem to like or care about each other all that much.
But they were still together. Their relationship had even survived the summer, which Buffy had so *not* expected.
((It has to be chemistry,)) she decided. ((There’s no other explanation.))
“Hey!” Willow suddenly exclaimed. Her smile was smug as she pointed toward the door. “Look whose here. Just like I said he’d be.”
Heart pounding with anticipation, Buffy turned.
Seeing Angel made a shiver race up her spine, goose bumps cover every inch of exposed skin. And everyone else in the room seemed to disappear.
“Look at him,” Xander scoffed. “Standing there all mysterious and…stuff. Makin’ the big, dramatic entrance.”
“I know,” Willow sighed. “Isn’t it romantic.”
Towering over the throng of teens that surrounded him, his intense eyes roamed the room, searching for…
((Me,)) Buffy knew. ((Searching for me.))
She held her breath, preparing herself for the shock that would pass through her when his eyes met hers.
But they never did. Instead, his gaze settled on something else. And a look of intense relief passed over his face.
Curious, Buffy tried to find what he was looking at.
“And there’s my sweetie,” Xander said. He actually sounded glad to see her. In a sarcastic kind of way.
Cordelia was walking across the room. And she didn’t look happy.
((Of course,)) Buffy thought. ((What else is new? She probably saw someone in the exact same designer original. And we’ll get to hear her bitch about it all night.))
Shrugging, the Slayer turned back to face the man she loved…
Just in time to see him move with the speed and grace only a vampire could possess. In an instant, he was across the room. And was wrapping his arms around a startled Cordelia Chase.
“What?” Xander exclaimed as he jumped to his feet. “He’s attacking my girlfriend!”
“I don’t think so, Xander,” Willow said in a soft, hesitant voice. “I think he’s…hugging her?” She paused, as if waiting for someone to dispute the statement. When no-one did, she continued. “And she’s hugging him back.”
And she was. After a moment’s hesitation, Queen C wrapped her arms around the vampire’s broad back.
As Buffy watched with growing disbelief, her heart did a sickening THUD. Angel and Cordelia clung to each other. The seemed unaware of the people around them. Of the curious glances they received.
“What the hell?” Xander demanded. And he all but fell back into his chair.
Pain slicing through her like needles, Buffy squeezed her eyes shut. Suddenly, she remembered all the times Cordelia had tried to get Angel’s attention. All the times the brunette had thrown herself at him, clung to him, flirted with him. It had made the Slayer insecure for a while. She couldn’t deny that Cordelia was beautiful. That any guy would…
But Angel never seemed interested. The vampire seemed not to notice any of Cordelia’s signals. That, or he’d just chosen to ignore them.
Or had he? Buffy had always thought it was strange. One minute, Cordy was all over Angel. The next, she seemed to pay about as much attention to him as he did to her.
Was that all a game? A lie? Were they…? Had they been…?
“Oh, wow,” came Willow’s shaky voice. “There…um…wow.”
Gritting her teeth, Buffy’s forced her eyes open. They were still hugging. Still touching.
The pain grew. And with it came anger. Hot, blinding anger.
She didn’t know what the hell was going on. But she was going to find out.
Relief flooding through him, Angel held Cordelia a little tighter.
“Breathe,” she gasped. “Like to breathe sometime soon.”
“Oh. Sorry.” Reluctantly, Angel stepped back. Still holding on to her forearms, he looked her up and down. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” Cordelia said. “Except…” and she indicated her hair.
Angel fingered the long, mahogany tresses. He eyed the outfit she wore. “You look like…”
“Like I did back in high school,” Cordelia finished. “And look at the stage.”
Angel looked…and was surprised to see Oz there, along with the rest of Dingoes Ate My Baby. When had the werewolf returned to Sunnydale?
Frowning, the vampire looked around the room. Now that his frantic search for Cordelia was over, he allowed himself to notice the details. Hadn’t Cordy said something about the Bronze being redecorated? Something about a troll attack.
Well, to Angel, the place looked exactly the same.
He turned to see Buffy, arms crossed, glaring at him. Behind her stood Willow and Xander. The former looked puzzled and confused. The latter even less happy to see Angel than usual.
“Buffy,” Angel said…and realized she looked different than she had the last time he’d seen her. Hair was shorter. Body a little more filled out. Younger.
She also looked hurt. And angry. Her eyes were glued to his hands, which still held on to Cordelia’s arms.
“What’s going on?” she demanded, voice shaking.
Sighing, Angel closed his eyes. “I think I know.”