When Worlds Collide. 2

Part 2

Sunnydale. January 2020

Buffy Summers could not believe this was happening to her. There she’d been, after a hard ass day of classes and slaying, ready to go home and rest.

But fate intervenes and she gets nabbed by the goon-squad. Or at least, that’s what they looked like to her. She’d come to about five minutes ago and could tell by the chatter that they were not pleased. The blind fold they’d placed over eyes restricted her from seeing anything. Which kinda sucked.

“What do you mean her DNA is not coming up as one of the X-5’s?” Buffy new by his voice that was the man who’d injected her with a needle. He’ll be Goon 1. Definitely kicking his ass, she thought, as she gently tested the ropes that were binding her wrists and ankles.

“It’s just as I said, sir,” replied Goon 2. “None of her genetic make-up matches anything conjured up at Manticore. She’s not one of ours.”

“Not one of ours?” Goon 1 was seething. Buffy knew anger and she knew this guy was ready to pop. “After our informant with the Initiative supposedly, surveyed this girl for two weeks- seeing the abilities she has- you’re trying to tell me that she’s not one of ours?!”

The Initiative?! She desperately hoped that Graham and Riley weren’t involved in this. Either someone in their outfit really didn’t like her, or they’d pegged her for someone else totally.

She didn’t know who these guys thought she was, but they were going to be in a world of pain once she escaped. Hopefully, they hadn’t noticed that she was awake and playing possum. She wanted to find out as much as she could about these bozos before they began to hassle her.

She did not want to even think about what would happened if she couldn’t get out of here.

UC Sunnydale. Parallel to Buffy’s Abduction

Cordelia Chase had been in a fairly pleasant mood as she made her way though the main quad at UC Sunnydale. Aside from Spike and Sunday’s regular antics, the Hellmouth town had been relatively slow.

Sure it sucks royally that she had no ass to kick, human or otherwise, but it was nice since her professors had started being evil. They’d gone exam happy.

She and Buffy had a major Sociology exam tomorrow, and she doubted the Slayer would have anytime to study. She’d spotted her earlier, as she tackled a demon at the local cemetery. Buffy still had no idea that occasionally she got demon-aid from the brunette on a regular basis.

The Slayer probably assumed it was Riley Finn or Angel helping out. Cordelia always took precautions when she was purposely out fighting to camouflage herself in black with a black ski mask. She couldn’t take any chances at anyone seeing her face.

Although, she was sure that Angel had caught something lurking near him about two weeks ago. She’d gotten the hell out of dodge before she had the chance to test that theory. There was no doubt in her mind that Angel would have been able to catch her scent if she’d lingered.

As she turned a corner, she caught sight of Buffy a few yards away. She chuckled when she saw Buffy almost trip. Just as she was about to run over to the Slayer, Cordelia narrowed her eyes, catching sight of numerous men homing in on Buffy.

Judging by their ‘stealthy’ attire, they were military. Trying to control the sudden pounding of her heart, Cordelia ducked to the ground, not even minding the grass stains on her designer cashmere sweater.

Cordelia watched, restraining the instinct to help Buffy, as the men grappled her down. One of the men, obviously the head of this operation, stepped toward the petite blonde.

He looks familiar.

Using her feline instincts, Cordelia focused her eyes on the sandy haired man who approached Buffy. It was all she could do to not scream out as she recognized Colonel William Lydecker from Manticore. The man who’d shot down Eva and tried to kill the others as they tried to escape into nothingness.

During her time in Manticore, she’d repressed all the warnings that Zack and Max had about Lydecker. Out of their whole group, it was she- Jondy- who had regarded Lydecker as more of a father than a commander. Seeing Eva die at the barrel of his gun had shattered all of those stupid, childhood feelings.

He’s found me, she panicked. She wanted to both run from him and kill him!

Finding the strength to suppress her emotions, Cordelia steeled herself, letting her cold Manticore resolve take hold. It was obvious they though that Buffy was an X-5. Reports from the Initiative branch about Buffy’s abilities must have gotten through to Manticore. Cordy knew that Riley Finn nor Graham Shepherd could have done it. They liked Buffy too much.

But someone had. Ratting Buffy out, ratted her out.

Seeing as they were on the move, she slowly rose, preparing to follow. Who knew what Lydecker and his posse would do to Buffy once they realized the error they had made. Lydecker hated errors.

Sunnydale – Home of Rupert Giles

For some, the Pulse had hit communities heavy and hard, but somehow, Sunnydale had come out okay. Rupert Giles had attested that it had something to do with Mayor Wilkins dealings over the past few decades. Sure, the Mayor was dead, but his protection spells were most likely still in effect.

Even the Big One that hit Los Angeles had barely rattled Sunnydale. The only earthquakes that seemed to actually hit Sunnydale were the ones that were Hellmouth related. Giles couldn’t quite summon if that was lucky or not.

He was just about to go upstairs to bed, when there came an abrupt pounding on his door.

Sighing in brief annoyance, he placed down his cup of tea and headed for the door. He was tired and didn’t want any demon activity interrupting his rest. Opening his door, he fully expected it to be Buffy, but the girl standing outside his loft was, “Cordelia?”

“Giles,” She was only slightly out of breath, but it appeared as if she had run a great distance by the color of her cheeks. “There’s a problem.”

“Come in,” He stepped to the side, allowing the girl to enter. He could tell she’d been in some kind of scrape- she had dirt and grass stains all over her sweater. “What’s happened?” Giles gently closed the door after she’d entered.

“Lydecker. He’s here.”

She’d only mentioned that name during their first discussion about her being an X-5 transgenic from Manticore, but he hadn’t forgotten. “Oh, my God. How do you know?”

Cordelia lowered her head, before answering. Taking a deep breath, she glanced back up at him. “I know because I saw him and his squad take Buffy.”

What?!” This was not the reply he’d been expecting. “Why in God’s name would they have taken Buffy?”

“They think she’s an X-5, Giles,” Cordelia answered, running a hand through her hair. “I saw them nab her at school, then they took her to an abandoned warehouse, just outside of Sunnydale. She’s still alive, but it’s not going to be long before they figure out that she’s not an X-5.”

“How do you know? Won’t they assume that she’s just had the barcode removed like you’ve been doing?” Giles couldn’t imagine what those men would do to his Slayer to find out what they needed to know. The military had ways of extracting information from even the most reluctant and strong-willed person imaginable. Even the Council had men of such nature in their employ.

“As I was leaving I saw them doing a spinal,” she replied, “They’re going to get a full DNA assay. Each of our DNA profiles is on record with Manticore. Lydecker’s going to realize his error, and the bastard ain’t gonna be happy, Giles.”

“What do you suggest that we do?” This was not his area. Demons, vampires- that was his expertise, not military tactics. He’d explained this to Cordelia during their first weeks of ‘training’ nearly two years ago. The girl had merely shrugged and replied that she’d adapt it to her current skills. Rupert Giles had been more than impressed.

Cordelia bit her lip as she rapidly thought this out. She could handle Lydecker and his men if they were spread out- in different locales around the warehouse, but they weren’t . He knew his ‘kids’ too well. They were all staked out around Buffy, in the same room and there were too many of them. Not to mention they used guns- lots of guns as artillery. They’d be able to take out Buffy before she had a chance.

She needed at least one more person to pull off getting Buffy back. Who do I bring? Her first thought was Giles, but he was too old. She knew he could hold his own with one on one, but not this kind of mission.

“I’m going to need someone else,” Cordelia mumbled, mostly to herself.

“Who?” His mind was so boggled with fatigue and this latest development, not one name came to mind.

Riley and Graham were absolutely out of the question. They were probably being watched by the very people who informed Lydecker about the ‘X-5’ Buffy Summers. So who do I bring, she thought again. Moreover- who do I tell?!

It all of a sudden dawned upon her who she could bring, but she really didn’t want to bring him. Quickly, she raced through her other alternatives, which were -none. There was no one else she could think of who had abilities as close to hers to pull this off. This is gonna blow.

“Angel. It’s gonna have to be Angel.”

At least Giles got his wish- definitely no demon activity involved, just human ignorance.

Angel’s Mansion

Giles wanted to smack Cordelia. She’d been practically sulking like an impudent child ever since they’d gotten into his car to head up to Crawford Street, where Angel’s mansion was.

“Blast it all, Cordelia, would you quit your grumbling! We need Angel to help you get Buffy out of this mess.”

“I know,” Cordelia grumbled, “I’m sorry, but this sucks! He sucks!”

“How is it that he sucks?”

Cordelia just shrugged her shoulders and slumped in her passenger seat. “Oh, never mind. Let’s just get this over with.” They’d pulled up to the front gates of his mansion. “The sooner we save Buffy the better.”

“Well just to let you know, it’s no picnic for me being here either,” Giles viciously unbuckled his safety belt. “The last time I was here I was tortured by the very vampire we’re going to see. Granted I’ve forgiven him, but it still- sucks!” He turned to see Cordelia smirk at him. It was always cool to hear Giles use teenage language.

“Right,” She agreed, as they both got out of the car. Swallowing her instinctive foreshadowing of third degree doom, she headed though the back garden with Giles.

Finally reaching the glass doors, Giles gently, but firmly knocked on the glass. Cordelia shoved her hands into pockets of her brown slacks, rocking back and forth as she impatiently waited for Broody to come to the door.

“Would you stop that!” Giles hissed.

“What?” She hissed back, glaring.

“That! Rocking like you’re on the deck of naval ship!”

“Oh, shut up, Gi!” Cordelia countered, clearly not in the best moods.

On the other side of the glass, Angel had heard the knocking and as he got closer he heard the arguing voices of Giles- and Cordelia? Those two were definitely not the people he would ever be expecting at his door this time of night.

Especially Cordelia. The girl didn’t seem too particularly fond him at all.

Opening his garden doors, Angel quickly surveyed their faces. Giles seemed incredibly worried, while also being tired and annoyed at the same time. Judging from his tone a moment ago, he must’ve been annoyed with Cordelia. And the brunette just looked plain irritated.

“Giles, Cordelia- uh, hi- what’s going on?” He had this nagging feeling it was about Buffy. He knew Giles wouldn’t have come here otherwise.

“A multitude of problems, Angel,” Giles answered.

“And you only need to be concerned with one!” The former cheerleader piped in, the aggravation in her voice not disguised at all.

“Cordelia!” The Watcher was clearly at his wits end with her. “Do you have any manners?”

She just rolled her eyes. After a moment she realized they were just standing there, outside the mansion, with Angel just looking at them. “Are you going to invite us in?” It annoyed the hell out of her when her just stared at her. Like, what was he looking for?

Angel snapped out of his revere, and looked down at the brunette. Again. “Uh- come in both of you.” He was used to Buffy being the only one who came to see him. When she did, she just walked in the door.

“And you say I don’t have any manners.” She smirked at Giles, as they walked into mansion’s living room.

“You don’t,” he calmly replied. “Nor tact for that matter, either.” He had no idea how they’d skipped that in training. He must have been to busy with Buffy at the time.


Okay!” Angel finally roared, as he turned around to face them. “Enough with the banter, already.” They were acting like grade school children.

“I am sorry, Angel.” Giles apologized. “It’s just been a rough night and the two of us are under a lot of stress.”

Angel gestured them into the living room, “What’s going on?” He had not idea what could be happening to have to do with Cordelia Chase. The only thing he could assume was that whatever was going on with Buffy effected both Willow and Xander, since neither of them came along.

“In a nutshell,” Cordelia quickly interjected before Giles had the chance to draw a breath. “Buffy’s been captured by a military organization called Manticore, that is actually after me. Someone tipped them off, but they’ve got the wrong girl.”

If she hadn’t been so bothered by all of this, she would have been laughing her ass off at Angel’s expression on his pale face. “I’m the genetically enhanced female they want, and I need your help to get Buffy out. You dig?”

Blinking rapidly in disbelief, Angel turned to Giles for some kind of clarification, but all he saw was a small smile as the Watcher nodded his head. “It’s true, Angel. Every word.”

Cordelia could see the wheels going round in Angel’s head and held up her hand to stop him. “Angel, I don’t have time for twenty questions, and neither does Buffy. The longer we delay, the less chance we have in saving her.” Reaching out her hand to Giles, he handed her the bag he had carried in with him.

“So, I need a place to change.” Pivoting around, she headed out the living room to the nearest hall, hoping to find a room to change in.

Turning back around, Cordelia cocked her head at Angel. He was wearing gray sweatpants and a white muscle shirt. “I’m sure you still have black in your wardrobe? This operation has to have an air of covertness. Okie dokie?” Not waiting for a reply, she continued back down the hall.

Angel furiously glanced at Giles, who only shrugged at him. “Unfortunately, she is absolutely right. You can’t defer even a moment, Angel. Best get ready.” Giles headed over to what looked like a weapons chest, to gather what they both may need.

“Giles?” He waited for the Watcher to turn around a look him in they eye. “When this is done, I want answers.”

Giving him a slight smile, Giles pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “The only answers you’ll get will have to come from Cordelia. This is her fight, her past. So it’s up to her.” Not looking away from the vampire, he dared him to counter his answer.

Seeing the logic and understanding, Angel merely grunted as he turned to head up to his bedroom to change. “That girl better damn well give me some answers,” Angel mumbled out loud to himself, as he pounded up the stairs.

45 Minutes Later

Angel and Cordelia trumped along, cutting through the small wood that lay behind his mansion. The two of them had been casting sidelong glances at each other as they went.

Both of them were not happy about the situation at all, especially cause it had to do with each other. They each thought the other hated him or her, which was far from the truth.

As they walked on, Angel wanted to kick himself, cause he couldn’t help noticing how gorgeous the girl looked. She was an utter and total brat, but seeing her clad in black lycra and spandex was putting those other factors on the back burner.

He hated to admit it to himself, but he’d been aware of her for some time. It was hard not to be. She took every room by storm whenever she entered it, and he was no longer with Buffy so he could look now!

Cordelia was trying with every ounce of energy to restrain herself from poking Angel in the eyeballs. The big dork kept staring at her! It wouldn’t be all that bad if he wasn’t Buffy’s ex-boyfriend.

A few years back, she would not have minded at all if Angel was ‘looking’ at her, but now she and Buffy were friends and- that was bad! It was really bad because she wanted Angel’s glances to mean something.

Much to her extreme agitation, she’d begun to like Angel again. Really like him! And that was a big no-no. You never, ever go for your friend’s ex. It was a Commandment.

So, whenever that rule began to break- you stay the hell away from the ex. But, leave it to Manticore to muck it up, Cordelia raged.

“So, what can you do?”

“What?” She was so startled by the break in silence, she almost jumped out of her skin.

“You are a ‘genetically enhanced female’, so what can you do?” Angel clarified, not letting up the pace as they kept on. “I need to know what fighting skills you’ve got if we’re going to pull this off, Cordelia.”

“What I need you to do to pull this off, is make yourself aware to them,” she replied, “Your body can handle bullets, mine can’t. Head for Buffy, while picking them off as you go. I’ll join the festivities, but I’ve got to keep low.” Angel and Cordelia finally emerged from the wood, and headed down the highway. “Lydecker knows my moves and he won’t hesitate in having all his energy focused on me. I’m the surprise package, Angel.”

“How much of a surprise?” Angel pressed. He needed to get something out of her. There was nothing more dangerous in this kind of mission, if you didn’t know what capabilities your partner had.

Cordelia knew exactly what he meant. “Let’s just say I go hard and I move fast.” She didn’t see Angel’s hooded expression at that particular description. “I don’t move like Buffy at all. I have feline DNA in the mix, so you might see me bounding off the walls.”

“Feline DNA?” It seemed preposterous, but he’d just have to wait and see. Often when he had been near her, he though he had sensed something ‘catlike’ about her. But he had always assumed her parents had a lot of cats. “That’s a little freaky.”

“So says the vampire,” Cordelia picked up the pace as they finally reached the edge of Sunnydale. Buffy was being held near shipping docks that supplied a surplus of abandoned warehouses.

Finally reaching their destination, Cordelia motioned for Angel to lay low. He looked at her like she was crazy. Figures he doesn’t know military signals, she though in exasperation. “It’s a military signal, dorkus! To lay low. Maybe I should have brought Riley or Graham instead,” Cordelia griped, as she pushed around him to the edge of the building.

“And their bodies handle bullets so well!”

“Shut up.” Rolling her eyes, she motioned him to come closer, hoping he understood that one! “I’m gonna go cut the power. When the lights go out move in.” Cordelia pointed to one of the top windows with a ledge.

“That’s the best point of entry for you, Angel. You’ll be able to see Buffy and the others.” She pulled out a pair of black leather gloves from her side pocket and began to slip them on.

“If you’re going to cut the power, how are you going to be able to see?” He hissed as she began to slink away.

Cordelia turned around, grinning. “Kitty genes, remember?” Also tucked in the hem of her pants was a black ski mask that she also took out slipped over her head. “I wouldn’t doubt that I see better in the dark than you do, bubba.”

Her hazel eyes sparkling through the mask, she slid around the side of the building out of sight.

Inside the Warehouse

Colonel William Lydecker was beside himself with rage at the bungling that his Initiative informants had done.

It was true. The spinal had proved that this girl, Buffy Summers, was not one of his kids. He’d even had her prints run to validate that she was not part of any other military organization. The information had come back accurately enough that she was the daughter of Hank and Joyce Summers- ordinary people with an ordinary life.

But he still wasn’t satisfied. He’d seen the strength that girl had when his men had apprehended her at the university. Lydecker knew the girl had been exhausted, but if she hadn’t been she would have been able to cause a lot of damage. If anyone knew about physical capabilities it was he.

Placing his clipboard down on one of the make-shift operations desks, he sauntered over to the petite girl. Her blonde head was still slumped over onto her chest, but he knew she was faking it. Reaching out, Lydecker viciously tore away the duct tape that covered her eyes.

“Ow!” Buffy screamed, snapping her head up.

Lydecker smirked at the enraged girl. “Thought you were up.”

“And it didn’t occur to you to just ask?!” Buffy shook her head to dissipate the sting. “You are so gonna get a punch in the face for each eyelash you murdered.”

Blinking her eyes rapidly to the sudden rush of light, Buffy glared up at the man who had decided to brighten his evening by kidnapping her. “So who in the hell are you, by the way?”

“I’m Lydecker and you’re not who I thought you were.”

“Obviously.” She grumbled, trying to stretch her arms against her bonds. They knew how to tie a knot. “So, what’s an X-5 and what did they do to you? Cause if they made you mad, I like ‘em a lot!”

Narrowing his cobalt blue eyes at her, Lydecker crouched in front of her. “They’re my kids.”

“Bet they hate you being part of their gene pool,” Buffy sneered down at him. Ah, shit, she thought, seeing Lydecker’s fist flying to connect with the side of her jaw.

“You’ve got a lot of sass, girl. Too much.”

Buffy worked her jaw, glaring back down at him. “So I’ve been told.”

“What exactly are you, Buffy?” She really didn’t like the fact that he knew her name. In fact- she darn well hated it. “My allies within the Initiative were pretty detailed in explaining what you can do. It was so incredulous, they had me believing you were one my X-5s. But now I know you aren’t. So… what are you.”

“I’m the Slayer, stupid.”

“The Slayer?”

Buffy rolled her green eyes at him. “You have stool pigeons within the Initiative, but I can tell by that blank look on your face that you have no clue what they do.” Adjusting herself as much as she could in her binds, Buffy leaned in. “I slay demons, dude. They experiment on demons.”

“Demons?” This was getting richer by the moment.

“Yup,” She nodded her head joyously. “What did they tell you? They were just some covert faction of the government that set up shop in Sunnydale because of it’s ideal environment?” Buffy could tell she was getting to this guy and it was fun. “Just a training regiment, perhaps? Am I getting warmer?”

Lydecker rose from his crouching position before the girl, and was about to punch her again when all the lights in the warehouse went out.

“Rowe?” Lydecker shouted out, blindly turning his head to where he thought his first in-command was. “What the hell is going on?”

“Unknown, sir-” Rowe was suddenly cut off by a loud crash from one of the rafters above. Each of the men quickly glanced up at the noise, automatic weapons ready. What they saw was a large dark figure, diving down toward them. Whatever it was began moving fast.

“Take it down!” Lydecker backed toward Buffy, removing his gun from his holster. Narrowing his eyes in the dark, he could tell that it was a man. A strong man. He was cutting down his men left and right.

The only light he was getting was from the full moon, that slivered some rays through the windows above and the fire coming from his soldiers’ guns. This man was coming for the girl.

He and his men were too busy focusing their attention on Angel, that they didn’t notice the slim, equally dark figure slip through the back exit. Seeing the carnage that Angel was inflicting, Cordelia grinned behind her mask, as she quickly launched herself at the man standing next to Lydecker.

She needed to get to Buffy now. Cordelia saw that Lydecker had a gun aimed at her temple. Not even breaking stride, Cordelia brutally slammed her fist into the back of Rowe’s neck, then propelled herself into a back flip, kicking Lydecker in face.

Buffy, like Lydecker, had been too busy watching Angel wreak havoc to notice there was another person there to help her. She barely saw the movement to her right that threw Lydecker and his Goon 2 off their feet.

Cordelia swiftly moved over to Buffy and knelt down, as she began to undo her ropes. She couldn’t tell who the person in the mask was. “Who the heck are you?” Buffy whispered, grateful that circulation was coming back into her arms.

“Questions later, Buffy, or we will never be able to get home in time to study for Kramer’s exam tomorrow.” Cordelia untied her ankles, and reached out to pull the Slayer to her feet. “Angel needs help. You up to it?”

Cordy?!” She would have recognized the brunette’s snarky tone anywhere. “What is going on?” This had to be one of the weirdness things the Hellmouth had ever thrown her way.

“Questions later, Buffy! Fight now!” Giving Buffy a slight push, Cordelia charged herself at the remaining standing men of Lydecker’s team and let loose her fists of fury.

Angel glance up from back handing one of the men, to see Cordelia launch herself from the side of the wall to deliver a dual kick to two of the soldiers standing near her. Recovering instantly from the impact, she proceeded to grab one of the machine guns from another man and club him with it. Angel had never seen anything move that fast. Even the Master’s speed paled in comparison.

Making sure that Buffy was okay, Angel noticed that she was laying the smack down herself on one of Lydecker’s men too. Within moments, the fight was over.

Buffy limped over to Angel, “Let’s get out of here. I don’t know what these guys were really up to, but it was all bad.” Buffy motioned for Cordelia to come over to them. That girl’s got a lot of explaining to do, Buffy thought. She’d never seen anyone move like that before.

Cordelia held up her hand. “Give me a minute.” Straightening her shirt, she slowly walked over to where Lydecker lay on his back. Seeing that he was still conscious, Cordelia kneeled down in front of him. Grabbing a fistful of his hair, she wrenched his face to meet her hazel eyes.

“Leave Sunnydale, Lydecker. There is nothing for you here,” She vehemently whispered, wishing she could rip her mask off to spit in his face. But she couldn’t risk anymore exposure by him seeing her face. “You don’t want Buffy or anyone else in this town. You wanted me.”

“I’m going to need more than that if I’m to give you any guarantee that I’ll leave.”

Home of Rupert Giles

Rupert Giles almost threw himself at the two girls that walked through his door. He had been so sick with worry for both Buffy and Cordelia’s sakes. He hadn’t been worried about Angel at all- never worried about him.

“Oh, thank God you two are safe,” He drew both girls in for a fatherly hug, as the vampire held back. “Nothing broken?”

“Nope, just Lydecker’s men and pride,” Cordelia grinned. Taking off her gloves, she signaled for Angel to come in closer. “Angel really knocked the sense out of ‘em. He’ll think again before he ventures back to Sunnyhell.”

Buffy and Angel shared a mutual glance at each other. They may have been totally broken up, but they could still sometimes tell what the other was thinking.

And what was both on their minds was what Cordelia had to do with this Lydecker guy and how she was able to fight like she did.

“Cordelia,” Angel began, “I think it’s time that you answered some questions.” He’d been good all the way back to Giles’, knowing that seeing Lydecker had opened some deep wounds for her. Cordelia’s hazel eyes had looked like that of a child’s as they’d fled the warehouse.

“I know, Angel,” She quietly answered, shifting her gaze to all three of them. “But I think it would be better if we continue this conversation tomorrow. We’ve all had a rough evening and Giles is about ready to pass out.” There was no lying on that one- the poor Watcher had bags under his eyes that resembled brusies. “And I bet Willow is worried out of her witchy mind right now back at the dorm.”

Buffy gave Angel a friendly smack on the arm. “She’s right, Angel. We’ll get a full history lesson tomorrow.” The only thing she really wanted to do was sleep. She only hoped that the luggage under eyes didn’t match Giles’.

“Why don’t you take Buffy back to Stevenson?” Cordelia suggested. “I’m going to crash here. I don’t think it would be safe for me to be seen in Buffy’s company just yet.” She went to slump down on the sofa. “Lydecker’s not going to leave soon.”

Angel nodded his head in agreement. “Okay, but I want the whole story later. No Cliff Notes version, Cordy.” They both grinned at each other. It was nice when she wasn’t frowning at him. Really nice.

Buffy and Angel waved their good-byes, heading out the door. Buffy complaining the whole way out that her new skirt was now ripped.

Cordelia remained seated on the sofa until she was sure they were out of apartment courtyard. Rising from her seat, she made her way to Giles’ hall closet and removed a dark blue duffel that was shoved in the back.

Giles had been silently watching her every move. He knew why she had told them she was going to stay at his apartment.

“You’re really going to do this?” He calmly took a seat on one of his bar stools and pored himself a brandy.

Nodding, she emerged from the hallway. “I have to. My location’s been compromised.” Roughly opening the bag, she made sure she had everything she needed.

“Believe me, I don’t want to go,” She tearfully looked up at the man whom she’d grown to care for. “But I’ll be keeping everyone in danger here. Including myself.” Slinging her duffel over her shoulder, she reached out to hug him. “You’ll tell them, won’t you?”

Returning her embrace, Giles fought his own welling tears. “Of course I will. Just as we had planned.”

“Good,” Cordelia pulled away, sniffling, as she made her way to the door. The sooner she got away the less the pain would be.

“Cordelia,” He called out. “You will somehow get us word- that you’re okay?”

“Count on it.” She gave him one of her brilliant, toothy grins. Turning away from him, she headed out the door.

For the first time since she and her siblings had escaped from Manticore, she felt that sinking dread in the pit of her stomach. That dread of an unsure future.

“I’m going to need more than that if I’m to give you any guarantee that I’ll leave.”

Leaning over, Cordelia hoped that Angel and Buffy wouldn’t hear what she was going to say. “It’s Jondy, you son of a bitch!”

“Jondy?” This was more than he could have hoped for. She had been his second favorite to Max. So much potential.

“Yeah, it’s me. Only we would know what names we gave ourselves, you ass!” Her face felt so hot with hatred she glared down at the man who had shot her sister. She didn’t know who else had died the night of the escape because of this man. “I’ll be leaving Sunnydale. Heading east. So get out of town and leave Buffy alone! She’s not one of yours.”

“East?” Lydecker scoffed, barely controlling a chuckle. “You and I both know that’s a lie, X-5469!”

Cordelia shrugged at him. “Maybe… but not about my leaving town.” With that she slugged him across the jaw, effectively knocking him out.

Swallowing that nagging bought of fear as she headed from the Watcher’s apartment, Cordelia realized what she needed to do. She needed to find the others.

Lydecker was after all of them and she knew they would be safer together.



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