Title: Tired Promises
Posted: 24 September, 2003
Rating: PG-13-R for now
Summary: AU fic. Giles was turned into a vamp at the beginning of S4, Angel was captured, Buffy was thrown into a cell to prevent a new slayer from coming. This is set 5 years later.
Spoilers: S1 of Angel and S1-4 of Buffy. The Lost Slayer by Christopher Golden (explained in authors notes)
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. The idea for the book came from The Lost Slayer by Christopher Golden, this wasn’t my idea. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Anywhere, just ask!
Notes: The idea from this fic came from The Lost Slayer. I took it and changed it a little bit and started writing the LA side of things that the book didn’t much touch on. Oh, and this fic hasn’t been beta-ed yet.
Thanks/Dedication: You betcha!
Staring up at the clear, dark sky above her, the girl blinked. In the places she’d been before, there’d been stars, each one twinkling on a blanket of navy blue, offering hope, light. Sunnydale, California, had none.
It was like a testimony to what the place had become. Over-ruled by vampires, dominated by the Vampire King himself – there was no hope for the inhabitants of Sunnydale. Those who still lived there did so under force, too scared to stand up to those above them.
They were cowards.
Some tried to run and occasionally, one slipped through – but for the most part, they were murdered before they could pass the ‘leaving Sunnydale’ sign. Somehow, they always knew. Sunnydale had become the sort of town that no one wanted to visit, a ghost town – one that you were told stories about but never visited.
Michelle had heard the stories. She’d heard each and every one of them and, until the day she’d become a slayer, she’d never believed one. Why should she? She’d heard of urban legends, stories with morals telling you not to leave the baby alone upstairs or not to get into your car without checking the back seat first.
Sunnydale was just another one of those – small town, strange history. Not true.
Looking over the border into the small town, Michelle knew different. She’d been naive back then, in her days before becoming the slayer. Quiet, certainly. Michelle had kept herself to herself and that was the way she liked it.
This though, was different. She’d heard the stories of the Lost Slayer. She vowed she’d be different. She’d help.
And as Michelle crossed over the border, the darkness shrouded her like a blanket, offering some kind of warning.
It was then Michelle knew.
This would be the last time she crossed this border alive.
“Back off!” Her voice was hoarse. The smell of disinfectant was almost acidic, scratching the back of her throat. Over these past five years, she’d had to learn survival skills and sometimes, running away from the fight was all you could do – regardless of what or who you left behind.
She raised her foot into a snap kick, spinning the nearest vampire into a wall. This was her city. She’d fought for five years against the Vampire King and his legions, trying to stop the flow of vampires running over from Sunnydale into Los Angeles.
So far, she’d managed to keep the numbers down, but lately… It had been like fighting a never-ending war. It had always seemed that way, of course. Evil didn’t stop coming just because you were tired and wanted a day off. It had grown worse.
Their spirits lately had sunk so low that she didn’t think she could ever raise them, no matter what she said. They were tired, fighting a never-ending battle – knowing that ultimately, they might lose – that what they did would never make a difference.
She turned to watch in silence, wincing as another member of their team went down – the wet snapping sound slicing through her. She cried out again, eyes dark and heavy. “Move, now!”
They glided as one, staving off the vampires as they too surged forward – well versed in moving together – and as the last slipped out, the spell was activated, holding the door in place just long enough for the small group to get out.
“This isn’t winning…” Someone growled from the back, obviously frustrated.
“You’re right.” Said Cordelia, as she turned to lead her team out of there. “It’s surviving.”
The welt on her cheek from the night before looked ugly. Purple in colour, beginning to turn black at the edges. In a couple of days it’d be gone, waiting for the next one to appear.
It wasn’t the worst of injuries Cordelia had endured – not by a long shot. She’d had more broken ribs than she could remember, visited the hospitals more time in the past five years than she had in her whole life – and still, she’d come out the other side.
So far, she’d been lucky – if you could call it that.
She was alive.
So many of her original group had died a long time ago, fighting the fight she’d now taken over. A fight she’d declared her own.
A twinge set deep inside as she thought about all the people they’d lost over the years. Angel, Doyle. All of them dead, their deaths never avenged. She took a breath, let her eyes drift closed a moment, thinking about her lost family.
The pain was still raw, even after all this time, Doyle’s death replaying in her head like a vision – only considerably less painful. He was her reason, or one of them, anyway. He’d given up his life, sacrificed himself so that others could live.
He’d never known what he’d be leaving them too.
On particularly bitter days, Cordelia felt like everything he’d done had been for nothing. And then, she’d remember. Or more pointedly, the PTB would send her a vision – and she’d know.
The mission, was the reason. Angel’s mission. The one Doyle had received the visions for, the one they’d been passed down to hers. That was her reason. That was why she fought.
Months after Angel had disappeared, Wesley had unearthed a prophecy. Unearthed in the sense that they’d broke into Wolfram and Hart and stolen it. In years to come, once he’d stopped the impending apocalypse, survived a few plagues – the vampire with a soul would Shansu.
Angel would turn human.
Her eyes opened then. Reminiscing over with. It did her no good to think of Angel, what he’d lost – what they’d all lost. When he’d disappeared first, Cordelia had held out hope that he’d come back. A year later and that hope was almost completely gone.
He’d promised her that night, right before he’d left that he’d be back, he’d help in Sunnydale and then he’d come home, to her.
Thoughts of their last night came to Cordelia unbidden and she sighed, standing up and pretending to busy herself in the small office that doubled up as her bedroom. He’d kissed her, tenderly, told her that he loved her and that he’d be back for her, no matter what.
“Cordelia, can we talk?”
Her reverie was broken, mind snapping back to the present as quickly as it had gone – eyes blurred through tears but focussing on Wesley.
He hesitated first, though his eyes met hers guilelessly. Down the side of his face ran a scar, courtesy of his predecessor.
“Some of the group are worried. Last night…”
“I made a decision.” Cordelia said immediately, “If they think that was the wrong one then I’m sorry but our people were dying. I had to get them out as quick as I could.”
“It’s not that,” He replied, “They think…”
His pause annoyed Cordelia. She was running this show, had been for five years. It wasn’t a power trip for her – it was nothing like that. It was simply her fight, the one Angel and Doyle had both died fighting.
“They think what, that my decisions aren’t strong enough to hold us together?”
“Then what, exactly, Wesley? We can’t win this fight if there’s not enough of us left to fight.”
“I understand that, Cordelia, truly I do, but…”
She frowned, “But nothing. Do you know three of our best died in that fight last night? Davies went down in the first five minutes. If I’d trusted my instincts at first calling, I’d have taken them out of there then. There were too many, Wesley, someone knew we were coming.”
Wesley paled, his eyes widening. “Surely you don’t think that someone here could have tipped them off?”
“I don’t know.” She sighed, “All I know is, whatever we do? They always seem to be two steps ahead of us and I don’t like it. They get a couple of more steps ahead and our whole operation dies along with us.”
Wesley nodded, gravely. “Then we should proceed with caution. Cordelia, listen…”
“I know, Wesley. You want the best for all of us. So do I. And that’s why last night, I got them out when I did. If they don’t understand that, I’m sorry, but the first rule in our fight is something I learned from Buffy. Don’t die.”
For the first time since he’d entered the room, Wesley smiled. “Shall I inform them of where we’ll be going tonight?”
“Just the team leaders. If someone is leaking information, I want to know who. We need to stop it, Wesley, before there’s no information left to leak…”
Wesley nodded, once, then left the room, leaving Cordelia alone once more. Immediately, her fingers went up to her cheek. Once, she’d prided herself on being able to moisturise with the best of them. Now, her fingers were rough, calloused – worked. She was no stranger to holding a weapon in her hand, be it a stake, a sword or a crossbow.
Her gaze drifted up to the mirror in front of her and for a long moment, Cordelia just stared at her reflection. Her hair was longer these days. Dark. Always pinned up in not-quite the latest style. Her trademark fashion sense was non-existent, Cordelia Chase dressed for comfort – easily-washable clothes, dark – something that made it easy for her to slip into the background.
The more she stared at her reflection, the more the shapes began to blur, become something else. Something I’m not, she thought sourly.
A moment later, Cordelia slipped out of her room, locking her door behind her and walking down the hall.
A bare second after that? The vision hit.
“So,” Said the vampire lazily, “Got a little cocky last night, did we? Fancied our chances against the odds?”
“We won, didn’t we? They ran…”
Sometimes, thought Spike, Lackeys just never show the proper respect. Now if that had’ve been me… Well, we all know what I would’ve done. Not exactly one for rules myself, but still…
“That’s not winning, you moron. She said herself outside the door that they hadn’t won either. All they did was live to fight another day. Tell me how that aids our plans?”
The vampire smiled, teeth curling back to show a hint of fang. “Look.”
He gestured behind Spike to a curtained area where three bodies lay, each waiting for their imminent rise. “The more they send, the more we turn, simple as.”
“And if you’re dusted? What then?”
“Then there’s others to take my place.”
Spike sighed and moved away. Regardless of whatever that wanker was feeding them on that week, that still unsettled him – the willingness to die for the cause. Generally, vampires liked to act big – but thinking big? A little further down the scale than normal.
Then, he’d come along. He was nothing, if not patient, Spike supposed – but it was bloody unsettling knowing that a newcomer – a previous white hat, of all people – had the means and the intentions of doing even what had been done so far.
He’d changed everything. The world wasn’t as it should be any more.
Taking a cigarette out of his pocket, Spike looked at it a moment before lighting it. “I’ve been meaning to give it up too…” He murmured, slipping past two vampire guards and into the chambers. “You wanted to see me, sir?”
“What did you see?” Wesley was on his knees next to Cordelia, his hand wrapped around hers. Her eyes were closed, bright sparks of pain shooting off in her head. Every so often, she’d whimper, softly – eyes rolling backwards into her head as if begging for sleep.
Ever since he could remember, Cordelia’s visions had been like this. Wesley had arrived in town two weeks after Doyle’s death, Cordelia already heading up her own mission.
The first time he’d witnessed a vision, he’d thought Cordelia was dying, her screams tearing right through to his very soul. She’d assured him quite assertively that the visions were always like this and that no, she didn’t want anything.
“A new slayer.” Said Cordelia, her voice quiet yet insistent. She’d endured the visions for five years, regardless of the talk about her mental state, Cordelia refused to let people see them get the better of her.
“By the time we get there, we’ll be too late. Maybe Willow and the others can stop it from happening.”
“Did you see anything else?” Asked Wesley, urgently, the need for information on this latest vision almost surpassing the worry he felt for Cordelia.
She nodded, slowly, moving as Wesley helped her to her feet. “Giles.” She said quietly, “He’s going to kill her.”