“Okay, does anyone know what is going on? And why is Angel really scaring me right now?” asked Willow.
“I don’t know, but…” Giles stopped as he heard the clash of steel outside. “But I think we better find out.” Giles went to the door. Willow, Xander and Anya followed quickly.
Riley went to Buffy. “Are you coming?”
“I…give me a minute, please. This is important.”
“More important than a supposed friend possibly getting beheaded out there, more important than an ‘all powerful immortal’, more important than us?” he asked pointedly.
“Whatever,” he said leaving the blonde staring at the vampire.
Buffy barely registered that her boyfriend had left the shop angry and hurt. She went to where Angel was standing by the door. The vampire was standing still against the door jam away from the sunbeams that streamed in. His eyes were closed and his hands clenched in fists.
“Angel,” she said softly. “Angel,” she said louder getting no response. “Angel, what did Cordelia mean about me not holding your soul. I mean our love…it’s me, right?”
The vampire opened his eyes, which flickered from deep brown to yellow. His demon wanted to throw the annoying girl up against the wall, anything to stop her from distracting it from the sound of Cordelia’s rapid heartbeat. Angel struggled with his demon.
He had loved Buffy once, and at one time he had thought she would hold his heart forever; so, he forced down his demon and turned to her human faced.
“Buffy, you do not hold my soul. At one time, you did hold my heart. And I am truly grateful that you allowed me to love you…but if you don’t leave me alone right now, I will kill you,” his demon said taking control.
“You are not Angel,” she cried.
“I am Angel, the vampire with a soul who is destined to live my life with that beautiful, brave girl out there. She is the one that holds my heart and my soul, forever, now leave me alone,” he growled searching for Cordelia’s heart beat.
Angel closed his eyes in relief as heard her rapidly beating heart. She was still alive.
Outside the shop, Cordelia and the immortal were engaged in a fierce sword battle in the middle of the street. Their swords clashing in constant movement.
The mercenary immortal had taken the offensive almost immediately, lunging and striking at Cordelia. Cordelia fought off his assaults, bringing her sword up to block each of his blows easily.
Cordelia was amazed at how the sword felt in her hand. Cordelia merely had to think of where she wanted it and the blade seemed to fly there under it’s own power. It was not long before, the other immortal was on the defensive. The force of Cordelia’s blows pushed him back.
The crowd from the magic shop watched in amazement.
“Things like this can only happen in Sunnydale,” said Willow in awe.
Giles leaned over to Wesley,”What exactly has Cordelia become?”
“I told you, she is an immortal.”
“Not now!” Wesley said roughly, intent on the battle before him.
Cordelia attacked the other immortal with strength and confidence. She didn’t know if her confidence came from the Druid sword or from the left over adrenaline from her fight with Buffy, or from Angel’s anger. Cordelia could feel the vampire’s rage at the other immortal.
Angel’s anger coursed through her, combining with her own; and the sword seemed to channel that energy to make every one of her strokes more effective and deadly. Soon, the immortal for hire was forced to his knees. Cordelia positioned her sword against his neck.
“Tell me, where is St. John? Is it to be tonight? Tell me,” Cordelia demanded pushing her blade into his neck until drops of blood appeared around the point.
“Die, wondering,” he said pulling a dagger from his boot and throwing it into Cordelia’s stomach.
Cordelia staggered back, her free hand going to the bleeding wound. She looked at the immortal in surprise and disgust. “That’s cheating. And you are so not going to get away with it,” she said swinging her sword with a sudden burst of strength.
“Please tell me, she isn’t. Oh goddess, she is,” whispered Willow. The witch cringed in shock as Cordelia with one strong blow severed the immortal’s head from his shoulders.
“Cheaters never win,” Cordelia said softly waiting for the quickening.
The sunlit sky darkened as blue streaks of lightening surged around and through the young immortal’s body. Cordelia’s body shook from the energy pulsating through it and jerked into the air. She fell to the ground as the last energy bolt disappeared.
Wesley and Duncan ran to the young girl struggling to get up. This time Wesley reached her first.
“Cordy,” he asked gently.
She looked at him and smiled at his expression of friendship and concern.
“I am fine.”
“Your injury?” he asked.
“Healed.” She looked around at the crowd gathered. She saw pride and compassion on the other immortals’ faces. She, also saw looks of shock, awe and some disbelief on the faces of the first time witness’ to an immortal’s battle and the quickening.
Cordelia shrugged at their expressions and ran back into the magic shop.
Angel knew when the battle was over. He knew the Cordelia had won, he sensed the surge of power that went through her body as the quickening took over. He could hear and feel her heart beat increase in pace and strength until he thought it would burst.
Slowly, he felt the pounding of her heart return to a state of normal excitement.
Angel stood completely still as he watched Cordelia run into the room and stop a few feet in front of him.
“Angel,” Cordelia begged in need and exhilaration.
Angel’s previous feeling of rage was immediately replaced by the overwhelming feelings of love and possessiveness. His demon visage wavered on his countenance. The demon in him, could not, would not be satisfied until he had her in his arms.
In a blink of an eye, Angel in game face crushed the young immortal onto his body. Without a word, Cordelia grabbed the vampire and pulled his lips and fangs to her mouth. So, intent on claiming each other, neither noticed the look of outrage on the blonde slayer’s face or the astonished faces of Giles, Xander and Willow as they entered the shop. Though, actually, Willow’s expression was more speculative than shocked.
Wesley entered the shop after the others, still wired up by the intense emotions he had just experienced. The former watcher looked at his co-workers locked in their passionate embrace, oblivious to everybody, but each other. Then he noticed the expressions of those gathered around the couple.
“Ummph, Angel, Cordelia.”
“Angel, Cordelia,” he called again, this time louder. They didn’t notice him. Wesley turned to the group of Sunnydalers. “Sometimes, they get like this,” he said apologetically. “Cordelia, Angel,” he tried again.
“Sometimes!” Gunn chuckled, “How about all of the time?”
Wesley glared at his friend. “Angel, Cordelia,” he shouted.
“What, Wes?” Angel growled.
“What? How about you two are not alone? How about St. John is still out there? How about we haven’t found the cave, yet? And don’t growl at me,” he yelled at his vampire friend.
“Wesley,” Cordelia started to whine.
“Don’t you start, Cordelia. I thought we had an agreement, no displays of public affection, when evil things are afoot.”
Cordelia stuck her tongue out at the former watcher, then quickly brought it back into her mouth as she finally noticed the roomful of people.
“Oh, gee, I guess, you’ll are kind of wondering what’s up? Uh?” she said tentatively clutching at Angel’s hand.
“You did this,” cried Buffy, grabbing Cordelia by the arm and yanking her from Angel. The vampire growled.
“Angel, don’t. I can handle this.”
“What have you done to him?” Buffy exclaimed, seeing how the vampire calmed immediately at the brunette’s request.
“What did I do to him? Do you mean Angel or the headless guy outside. The headless guy, I killed. Angel, I have made happy,” Cordelia yelled breaking the slayer’s grasp.
“Happy?! You turned him, you slut. That’s why he is all ‘grry’ and tried to kill Xander!” Buffy lunged at the young immortal.
Quicker than anyone in the room thought possible, Cordelia unsheathed her sword and pointed it to the slayer’s neck. “Whoa, bitch,” she said in quiet rage.
Angel wasn’t sure what to do. His first real love and the love of his life seemed about ready to kill each other. But, if he interrupted what he knew was to be a tirade from Cordelia, he would have to deal with an angry lover later.
But, if he didn’t interfere then…then, he thought, he wouldn’t have to deal with a pissed Cordelia. His decision made, Angel stepped back from the angry young women. After all, he justified, Cordelia wouldn’t actually kill the slayer and he was quick enough to stop Buffy, if it looked like the slayer was going to hurt Cordelia.
Though, he thought with pride, looking at the enraged immortal, he didn’t think that could happen.
With her sword touching the slayer’s throat, Cordelia continued quietly, “Angelus is gone. Angel’s soul was bound months ago. He went all ‘grry’ on Xander, because loser-boy is ‘grr-worthy’. Get over yourself, Miss I-will-kick-anybody’s-ass’. You are not the one foretold in the prophecy. I am. I am the immortal seer that holds the undead warrior’s soul and though, not mentioned in the stupid old books, also his heart,non beating or otherwise, forever.
That’s right me, Cordelia Chase, Queen C, bitch of Sunnydale, useless, selfish Cordy. Now, back off,” she exclaimed coldy, sheathing her sword.
Cordelia took a deep breath. “Can we NOW PLEASE look for the stupid, friggin cave. If the headless guy outside was right, the spell will occur tonight. I would really like to get back home. Oh, and someone should get rid of the body, Sunnyhell or not, somebody might trip over the corpse.” she said to the stunned room.
No one spoke. During Cordelia and Buffy’s confrontation, the others had moved to opposite sides of the room. The Sunnydale group was on one side and the LA gang was standing together along the opposite wall. The members of each faction were staring warily at the two women and each other.
Giles looked over at Buffy, worried about her reaction to not only having a sword pointed to her throat by Cordelia; but also, at finding out that Angel had a permanent soul and that he had chosen to be with Cordelia.
While Giles, knew that Buffy had moved on with her life, he also knew that Buffy considered her first love, the love of her young life. She had been forced to accept that she and Angel could not be together because of the threat of Angelus. But Buffy had also believed that if it weren’t for the curse, they would have been together. And a part of her always thought that Angel would love her and only her, forever.
Giles went to the young girl. “Buffy, we have to stop the emergence of the immortal,” he said gently. She looked at him, her eyes filled with bitterness.
“All of us,” he said louder to the separate groups. “We have to work together, if we are to succeed. Whatever issues have been brought out today- are right now-, not as important as stopping the spell.
Whatever the issues,” he said directing his attention to Angel, Cordelia, Buffy and Riley. Giles had noticed that the ex-commando had placed himself slightly away from the Sunnydale crowd, his face expressionless as he watched Buffy.
“Giles is right.” Willow took Buffy by her hand and led her to the couch. “Buffy, lets sit down,” she said kindly. Xander and Anya gathered around the slayer, offering her their support.
Cordelia rolled her eyes and said in a low tone that only Angel could hear,” Little Miss Slay Happy goes all postal on me and she is now the fragile one. Things have not changed and they never will,” she said disgustingly.
“Cordy, Giles is right, we all need to work together,” the vampire whispered.
“I know,” she said resignedly.
Angel grabbed the young immortal’s hand. “I love you.”
“Cordelia,” Wesley called to the young immortal. “Your vision, describe the cave again.”
“Cave- dark, dank, dreary, and big. What? You want more?”
“Please,” he rolled his eyes.
“Ummph,” she plopped down on the chair trying to picture the cave in her mind. “It was dark, dank and dreary…”
“You said that all ready,” interrupted Gunn.
“Well, it was. Let’s see, it was big, big enough to hold one of those nationwide Amway conventions, but it was filled with ‘grr’ guys rather than obnoxious stepford salesguys.
“Cordelia, how many, um, ‘grr’ guys,” asked Giles.
“About twenty or thirty,” she answered. “Several tunnels hooked up to the main room. It had an altar on one side. With those, you know, witchy type pots on either side.”
“Cauldrons,” interjected Willow.
“Yeah, right, there were flames shooting out of the pots. Actually, the fire kind of made it less dark, dank and dreary. The flames sort of bounced off the red walls and made it all orange and glowy. You know, it was more eerie, than dreary.”
“Red walls?” interrupted Angel.
“Yeah, you know that yucky reddish clay stuff. The stuff that gets all oozy when wet, it’s like impossible to get out of clothes, gross.”
“Cordelia, when were you going to tell us about the red walls?”
“I just did.”
“Cordy, how many times do we have to tell you, we need to know everything about your visions,” snapped Wesley. “Not just what you deem to be important.”
“Don’t get snippish with me, I do tell you everything,” she retorted.
“Oh yeah,” Wesley called back.
“Oh, that is so not right. All I said was that the demon looked nasty. You, Mr. Intellectual- boring guy, wrote down that it was a nasty type. It was not my fault that one of the good guys was killed.” She glared at the former watcher.
“Guys,” yelled Angel.
“How is it that Jr. Tweed boy can badmouth Cordy and no one tries to pummel him,” whispered Xander.
“Because, they are family,” Willow stated in sudden insight. “Look at them.” She gestured to the trio of Angel, Cordelia and Wesley. The former watcher and seer were bickering back and forth, while Angel tried to referee.
“Guys, shut up,” Angel yelled again. “Focus. The cave, the prophecy, please,” he demanded.
Cordelia grimaced and sat down. “What’s the big deal about red walls, anyway,” she grumbled.
“I don’t see it. They hate each other,” commented Xander.
“No, they don’t.” Willow finally saw what the others refused to see. Angel, Cordelia and Wesley were connected to each other in a way, that they never had been with anyone in Sunnydale. It was obvious that they cared about each other, just like it was obvious that Angel and Cordelia truly loved each other.
“Whatever,” interrupted a still bitter slayer.
“Buffy, I am sorry, but they are a family. And Cordy and Angel are really together.” She paused. “Buffy, what about Riley?”
“Yes, he couldn’t have been too thrilled with all of this,” Willow softly answered.
“Oh god,” the slayer whispered looking for her boyfriend.
Riley walked into the middle of the room in response to Cordelia’s question.
“The red walls may be important. The ground around the south cliffs is coated with red clay. It is unique. The cave must be to the south.”