“Cordelia, is this the place?” Giles asked as she and the others joined the first group on the ridge overlooking an immense underground chamber.
Cordelia nodded. “This is it, minus the crowd of bad ‘grr’ guys and the old crackpot.” The subterranean room had a stone altar against the far wall with two unlit black iron cauldrons to either side.
“How much time do we have before the entertainment begins?” asked Xander.
“Sundown is in about two hours,” answered Angel. “This ledge seems to encircle the chamber. Wesley, stay up here and find the best spot to shoot from.” Angel pointed to the crossbow in the ex-watcher’s hand. “Buffy, other than you, who is the best shot?”
“Um, Angel,” Willow broke in tentatively. “That would be Riley or me, but I need to be down there to perform the incantation. And well, Riley should probably…”
“Be down there,” finished Angel. “Willow, how close do you need to be for your spell to be effective.”
“Can you and Anya do the spell alone?”
Willow nodded. “Um, Xander is pretty accurate.”
“Okay, Willow, you and Anya go down there. Hide off to the right of the altar behind those pillars. Xander…”
“Hey, dead guy, who made you the general in charge? You can’t just order my girlfriend and best friend to make themselves targets.”
“Sh, Xander. Angel is right, we have to be down there,” Willow reassured her friend.
“Well, I am going down there to.”
“Xander, you can protect them better, if you go along the edge and shoot anything that goes towards them,” reasoned the vampire.
“Xander, do it,” Buffy interrupted. “They will be protected on the ground. Spike will go with them.”
“Me? I am not playing bodyguard to the witch and little helper,” complained the blonde vampire.
“Yes, you will,” ordered the slayer. “Or, I will stake you, it is that simple.”
“You need to do something about your anger issues, little miss slayer. It’s not my fault that Peaches and the cheerleader are shagging.” Spike doubled over in pain as Cordelia’s fist connected with his stomach.
“Ow, damn’t Poof, what’s with you and your tendre for women of violence?”
“Spike,” Angel growled a warning.
“Fine, come on witch and assistant, let’s go prepare for some defensive conjuring. But moron boy better know which vamps he is aiming at.”
“I don’t know it is pretty dark and I my hands may shake under the pressure and all,” Xander smirked.
“I will head over there.” Giles motioned to the overhang by the largest entrance. “The rest of you should go down there and get ready.”
Buffy turned to Duncan and Methos. “Can you two, and I am still not sure who you are, handle those things?” She pointed to the swords in their hands.
“Don’t worry about them,” Cordelia said. “They have had years and years and more years of practice. Angel, I should go with Willow. I need to be near the altar just in case the immortal emerges.”
Angel nodded reluctantly. “Cordy,” he said lowly.
“I’ll be fine,” she reassured the vampire. “I promised.” She gently kissed him. “This is why we had to come to stupid Sunnyhell.”
Xander stood by Buffy as she watched the loving exchange between Angel and Cordelia. “Buffy?”
“I just don’t understand it. I mean, why Cordelia? You dated her, what is it? What is so special about her?” Buffy demanded.
Xander didn’t know how to answer the slayer. He had been gaga over Cordelia. She was beautiful and even though he would never admit it to anybody, he knew that when they had dated, she had had the capacity to be a very caring and sincere person.
They just weren’t good together, not for the long haul. He hadn’t been able to give her the love and security she needed to allow for the compassionate Cordy to emerge and remain. For the longest time, he had refused to acknowledge his fault in their break up and her subsequent reversion to the bitch he had known most of his life.
That’s why the news of her supposed death hit him so hard. Because he knew that he was part of the reason Cordelia had left Sunnydale and ended up with Angel.
“I don’t know, Buffy,” answered Xander. He couldn’t defend Cordelia to Buffy. The slayer didn’t want to hear about any good qualities Cordelia may have. “Buffy, do you love Riley or Angel?”
“I…” Buffy saw Riley head down to the chamber floor. “He has to talk to me.”
“He will. And he will understand,” reassured Xander.
“I hope so,” she said softly and headed down the ledge.
“So, Willow, will this spell work?” asked Cordelia. The young immortal was pacing nervously around the circle of stones that the witch and ex-vengeance demon had placed on the ground.
“I…I think so.”
“I am sure it will, you are like, a great witch,” Cordelia said in an attempt to build up her confidence as well as Willows.
“The guest are arriving,” interrupted Spike. “Get ready, kids. Hey, cheerleader when did you start carrying?” He looked in interest at the sword, she was holding.
Cordelia ignored the vampire and got closer to the pillar, scanning the area for Angel. She smiled as she caught Angel’s eyes and his small nod. God, she loved him. He always seemed how to boost up her confidence and courage.
What seemed like a small army of vampires, streamed into the open chamber. They slid up and surrounded the area around the altar. The members of the Scooby Gang and the LA group stilled trying to avoid detection until the last possible moment.
“Oh shit,” Spike grumbled. One of the vampires closest to the altar growled as he detected the presence of the unfamiliar vampire and humans.
The growl of the vampire alerted the others and almost instantaneously the battle began. Cordelia and Spike moved immediately in front of Willow and Anya taking down the vamps that approached.
The fighting was violent in the other areas of the chamber, as well. From above, Wesley, Xander and Giles fired their wooden arrows at as many vampires they could line up in their sights.
Buffy and Riley, forgetting for a moment the tension between them, worked in the partnership that they had established over the last year, pummeling and staking the vampires that lunged in their path.
But as many vampires that they dusted; more seemed to flow into the chamber. Angel fought viciously, always keeping sight of Cordelia. The young immortal was standing her ground, guarding Willow and Anya as they chanted their spell.
Spike noticed with some interest that Angel was not the only combatant to keep a watchful over the cheerleader. The tall dark man brandishing his sword quite effectively, also seemed to be aware of Cordelia’s every movement.
“Angel,” Cordelia yelled as she saw the old man at the altar. Angel glanced up at Cordelia’s yell. He rushed forward, pulverizing everything in his path that separated him from Cordelia.
“Shit, how did he get in. Willow, hurry.” Cordelia called to the witch.
Willow saw the old watcher start to chant. She closed her eyes and clasped hands with Anya. Both girls tried to channel all their power into their incantation. The cauldrons at the side of the altar started to smoke. For every chant and gesture the old immortal directed to the pots, the witch responded with her own charms.
The flames would burst up and then sputter and die, as Willow worked her magic. St. John glared at the source of the competing magic. He shouted an angry chant in the girl’s direction. A flash of light exploded over the girls, as a vampire broke through Cordelia and Spike’s defenses.
“Spike,” Cordelia shouted grabbing the vampire and throwing him into Spike’s waiting stake. “Protect them.” She ran towards the altar. “No,” the young immortal yelled as she saw the cauldron’s flare up in intense blue flames. Cordelia could feel her sword vibrating in warning. A glow descended over the old watcher at the altar.
Cordelia fought her way through the battling crowd. She turned as a body collided into her, raising her sword. “Watch where you are going, blood breath,” both Cordelia and Buffy said at the same time; Cordelia’s sword at the slayer’s throat and Buffy’s stake up against the immortal’s heart.
They looked at each other in disgust and lowered their respective weapons. When suddenly, Cordelia yelled,”Duck.” As soon as the slayer bent down, Cordelia sliced the head off the vampire reaching for Buffy.
“I have to get to the old man,” she yelled to the stunned slayer. Buffy nodded and started to plow through group of vampires protecting the altar. The others soon noticed Cordelia’s goal and concentrated their slaying towards the vampires around the altar.
Finally, Buffy reached the altar with Cordelia right behind her. Buffy turned and practically threw the brunette up on the altar. Cordelia landed on the altar, sword in hand. Cordelia turned and gave a quick thanks to the slayer.
“Yeah, whatever. You too,” Buffy responded reluctantly. “Now do it,” she yelled to the young immortal.
“No, not yet.” Cordelia watched the old watcher’s body glow and shimmer as she heard his chants. “It’s not time,” she said confidently. And Cordelia was confident. She could feel Angel’s energy and her’s combine to empower the sword. The sword would know when it was time. She waited and watched.
“What are you waiting for,” yelled Buffy, convinced that Cordelia would screw up.
“Shut up,” Cordelia yelled back.
The vampires on the ground had been vanquished; those that were still alive slinked away. Wesley, Xander and Giles quickly scrambled down from their perches. Spike gathered the still stunned witch up.
Slowly, the battered victors surrounded the altar to watch the growing phenomenon. St. John’s body faded in and out, growing in size each time it reappeared.
“Cordelia?” Angel said softly.
“Not, yet Angel. It’s okay,” she said with certainty. The brightness around the old watcher’s new body was growing in intensity, causing the spectators to shield their eyes from the glow.
“Now,” the young immortal said softly as the glow diminished and the new body gained a corporeal form. Cordelia swung the Druid sword forcibly, decapitating the emerging being. In a sudden bright explosion, the being and the Druid sword disappeared.
The force of the explosion tossed Cordelia across the room, where she landed in a crumpled heap.
“Cordelia,” yelled a frantic dark vampire. Angel ran to where the unconscious Cordelia lay. Duncan was not far behind the vampire.
Spike decided that he didn’t like the other man running to this grandsire’s property. It is not that he cared about the poof, but it was the principal of the thing.
Spike quickly moved to block the highlander’s path.
“I wouldn’t do that if I was you, Granddaddy Peaches is pretty possessive with his stuff. Have you ever met Angelus?” Spike vamped.
Duncan looked at the blonde vampire. “Yes, just like I have met you and those two vicious bitches that you two were so fond of,” the immortal said coldly raising his sword.
“Oh,” Spike said in surprise. “Where?”
“Prague,” the immortal responded.
“Prague? Hey, you were the guy with the sword; which, I see you still have. Those were some grand times. I thought we killed you. You aren’t planning the whole revenge bit are you? You know for the Prague, pillage and plunder party, are you?” Spike glanced at the sword.
The Highlander stepped closer to the blonde vampire, when Methos came between them. “Am I interrupting?”
“Not really, I thought I would be a helpful type bloke and give him the heads up on vampires and their possessive natures, that’s all. He is the one getting all hostile.”
“Right. Duncan, come on. You, go away.”
“Whatever,” Spike said walking back to the witch.
“Mac, stop it. Now you have got a renegade, useless vampire in your face. Cordelia is not your responsibility, accept it.”
“She doesn’t belong here, in all of this,” Duncan gestured angrily in the dust filled chamber.
“Actually, she does. This is her destiny and so is he.” Methos pointed to the handsome vampire cradling the still unconscious young immortal in his arms. The vampire was whispering into her dark hair.
“This is exactly, where she belongs. Come on,” the older immortal said gently.
The whole group returned to the magic shop. Angel had bundled Cordelia in blankets and placed her snuggly on the couch.
“Angel, I’m okay,” said the now conscious immortal.
“Cordy, rest,” the vampire ordered, tucking the blanket closer to her chin.
“Angel, it is like 70 degrees outside,” she complained pushing the blankets away. “I want to go home,” she whined. “Please, we have plenty of time before dawn, please.”
“You need your rest,” he argued.
“I need to be home, in our own bed,” she answered, oblivious to those around her. Angel couldn’t disagree with that sentiment.
“Cordelia and I are going back to LA. You guys, can come or stay,” he said to Wesley, Gunn, Duncan and Methos. The immortals nodded. Now that the danger was over and Cordelia was safe, neither had any reason to stay in Sunnydale.
“Yeah, I do need to get back to the crib, the kids need me,” commented Gunn. He ignored the Sunnydale gang’s questioningly looks at his statement.
Wesley glanced at the Druid text, then apologetically at the older former-watcher. “Giles, if you want to look at the text some more, then come to LA. I am going home.”
“But, nothing. Sunnydale may have the hellmouth, but LA has it’s own evil and it’s home. If you need the book, then come to us.” Wesley packed up his bag, putting the text inside. “I’m ready.”
Angel picked up Cordelia and headed for the door. Cordelia whispered something into his ear. The vampire nodded and let her down.
Cordelia glanced hesitantly at the room. “I realize that this has been a truly weird experience for everybody, in more ways than some. But, I just wanted to thank you all, and not just for the today stuff.”
She looked at Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles. “You know, Giles, I probably spent some of the most boring afternoons in my life in that stuffy, dusty, old school library. But, I actually did learn something about boring research from you, so thanks. Xander for a definite loser type you aren’t that bad and dating you wasn’t as horrible as I complain. Except for the spearing thing. That hurt. Anyway, you actually taught me some stuff to, so thanks.” She smiled at her old boyfriend; her expression belying the less than affectionate tone of her words.
“Buffy, we may never be friends, but I honestly do respect who you are and what you have to do, maybe more so now, because I know what it feels like not to be in complete control of your life.” She turned to Willow.
“You, witch, I thank more than anybody. I treated you horribly all through school, but somehow you have gotten past that and accepted me. You have become a real friend, I hope.” Cordelia turned away brushing her eyes, then turned back. “Oh, undead Billy Idol, if granddaddy ‘grr’ guy says it’s okay you can come visit anytime, just behave…”
“Cordy,” Angel interrupted.
Cordelia laughed. “Thanks for watching my back,” she gave Spike a huge smile. Spike returned the smile, despite himself. Shit, he thought, this girl might actually be interesting.
“What?” he said in response to Angel’s growl. “The cheerleader is okay.”
“Yes, she is,” Angel said proudly. He knew how hard that it was for Cordelia to show any gratitude to the Sunnydale gang. For now what may be the millionth time, he thanked the powers for giving her to him.
Cordelia blushed and began to have second thoughts about her attempt to show the Scooby Gang that she cared. They would probably just laugh at her after she left. Willow ignoring the stunned expressions on Buffy, Xander and Giles ran up to the young immortal.
“You’re welcome and it wasn’t that hard. E-mail me, I never did get to hear the details about Dennis’ move. Maybe, I could visit sometime?”
“Please.” Cordelia hugged the witch.
“Okay, that was emotional,” Gunn said to Duncan, Methos and Wesley. “Can I get a ride with you guys. There is going to be major couple stuff in that car. I can just feel it. And I can’t deal. I almost got killed on the ride down.”
Duncan nodded in final acceptance of Cordelia’s destiny as he saw his former student go into the handsome vampire’s arms.
“What was that about?” griped Buffy. “Like Cordelia Chase could ever understand what I have to deal with. What was she doing? Trying to make some sort of lame apologies for her years of bitchiness?”
This time Giles, Xander or Willow didn’t go rushing to reassure the slayer.
“What?” the slayer asked as she noticed her friends hesitation.
Willow looked at her best friend and turned to Spike. “Will you walk me home?”
“Sure, red,” Spike said shaking his head at the cluelessness of the blonde.
“Yes, it’s been along day,” commented Giles. “Everybody should get some sleep.”
“Xander?” Buffy asked.
Anya stepped up. “We have to go.” Anya wasn’t even sure if she even liked Cordelia. But Cordelia had shown a lot of courage tonight and the ex-demon didn’t feel like hearing Buffy or Xander belittle the young immortal.
She underestimated Xander.
“Anya is right, we do have to go. And Buffy, you asked what was so special about Cordelia, well that was it. She had and does have a good heart, she just needs to be given a chance to show it. And I’m just grateful that she looks at me with some remembrance of okayness. Bye.”
“I don’t understand? What is it about her?” Buffy exclaimed into a near empty room. Riley came up and held her hands. “You really don’t. But when you do, then we can talk.” He gave her a small kiss on the forehead and left.
Cordelia sat cross-legged on the bed, Angel’s shirt engulfing her slight frame. She was trying to comb the tangles out of her dark wet hair.
She looked up as Angel walked into the bedroom. “So, were you nice?” Cordelia had already said her good-byes to Duncan and Methos. She had left Angel and the others downstairs to go take a shower.
“Very,” he grinned, taking the comb from her hand and started to gently untangle her silky strains with his fingers. “You would have been proud. I was the very picture polite gratitude. I didn’t growl or vamp or anything.”
“I am always proud of you,” she smiled leaning up against the vampire’s broad chest.
“And I was, am very proud of you.”
“Mmmm,” she sighed as Angel’s fingers began to stroke her collarbone. “You know it’s not fair, I should have been able to keep the sword. It was a great sword.”
“I guess Wesley was right, the sword was designed for one specific purpose and now that it is over, you don’t need it.”
“I hate it, when stodgy research guy is right,” she yawned.
“You should sleep.”
She nodded. “Probably, but I can sleep tomorrow,” she whispered. Cordelia took Angel’s hands and placed it under her shirt. All thoughts of sleep flew out of his mind as he felt her smooth skin. The warmth of her skin inflamed his desire. “I love you,” he growled, flipping her over on the bed. His hands stroked along her body, his lips following the path made by his fingertips. Cordelia’s body arched into his touch.
Her responsiveness always amazed him. Angel caressed every part of her body. Angel needed to feel her warmth to prove that she was alive and safe. He had never felt such love or fear until he opened up his heart to the young woman beneath him. Loving Cordelia had taken him to the extremes of all his emotions. He had felt love, joy, fear and anger; and when she was really annoying, exasperation. She was his everything.
Cordelia reached down and pulled the vampire up along her body. “I love you,” she moaned capturing his mouth. Angel groaned in pleasure as Cordelia’s small hands freed his straining cock. Angel leaned over the gasping girl, licking and kissing at the delicate skin around the pulse points on her neck. He penetrated into her warmth, until he was fully embedded in her heat. Angel slowly thrust in and out, deliberately increasing their mutual pleasure. The pressure building up in Cordelia’s nerve endings was almost unbearable.
“Oh God, Angel,” she gasped and cried out as her body exploded in ecstasy. Angel’s body convulsed in an intense orgasm as Cordelia’s muscles contracted around him. Angel’s fangs gently pierced her skin. He lovingly sucked at her neck, savoring the taste of her bittersweet blood.
Cordelia stretched in the bed. “Angel.” She rolled over on top of the vampire.
“How long have we been up here?”
“I don’t know, a day, two days, I lost track of time,” he smiled holding Cordelia close.
Cordelia giggled. “I am surprised the Wesley has left us alone for so long.”
Angel listened for a moment. “He is downstairs pacing and yelling at Dennis. I think maybe your ghost has barricaded us up here.” The vampire smiled. “I must say, Dennis can be very helpful.”
“Yes, he can,” she giggled. “I guess we should get up, uh?”
“Mmmm, in a little while,” Angel said kissing the laughing girl.