“OhmiGod, you’re you!” Cordelia attempted to pull away from the suffocating hold of the stark staring-mad redhead. “I thought you were a Vampire- but that couldn’t be right cos, what with the no skin and teeth, duh. Who’d athunk my Holy water pistol could come in handy,” she drew a much-needed breath, “Sorry about the whole squirty thing, but I had to be sure.”
“Okayy…” So that made a lot of sense- Not! “Enough with the teddy snuggles already!” Gripping skinny arms, she pushed until free, wiping her face on the sleeve of her top. Willow stood there staring at her with – was she crying? “We, we thought you were dead! We saw the body and everything … well not in the actual flesh, just the photos, ewwe, and-“
“What? What body?”Cordelia interrupted, her voice rising with each word. Almost instantly Willow glanced wide-eyed at her door making a shushing sound. Walking over and sinking slowly onto the bed, she stared at Willow in stunned confusion. What little color she had had, disappeared completely.
Settling herself timidly on the edge of the bed, keeping a healthy space between them, Willow tried to control her habit of blurting out the first things that came into her head. After a bombshell like that, softly softly was in order. But it was sooo hard to keep it together considering that she’d thought the girl not two feet away was d.e.a.d.
She kinda missed the man-eating woodpecker in her dream. What was a little beak-jabbing compared to this? Taking a deep breath – didn’t help, but Cordelia’s expressions of angry confusion and disbelief warned her that she’d better start talking.
“We, that is, Xander,” she amended, “went looking for you non-stop”. Reassured by the slight softening of the girl’s eyes, her nerves settled a little. “He searched every cemetery in Sunnydale- even alleys in town. We- me and Giles, that is, well, me on my laptop and Giles with his newspapers, we searched for anything that might lead to you.” Aware she was rambling, Willow took a much needed breath and paused. She wasn’t at all looking forward to telling her the rest of it.
“What about Buffy?” at Willow’s confused look; “Wasn’t she looking?” Cordelia clarified. “I mean, she’s the super-powery Slayer, who kills vampires for a living. Why did she leave it all to Xander?” She folded her arms tightly; chin lifting in renewed anger.
“Ohh, you don’t know what happened after. Sorry.” Willow cringed at the death glare sent her way. How could I forget that?! “B-Buffy was kept in Hospital for a few days- virus. That’s why she fainted.”
How could I forget that? Not that she cared she’d bitched her out, but still. “Sorry, What with being grabbed by her evil ex, and fearing for my life, I kind of forgot that bit.” Willow looked suitably cowed. “Is she okay now?” As much as it pained her to ask.
I think so, I mean, yes, she got better; even killed a monster in the Children’s Ward.” The witch shuddered, thinking about it. Clearing her throat, she attempted to broach the dead Cordelia bit.
“What do you mean “think so”? Cordelia cut in first. “You two are practically joined at the hip”. Her interest peeked noting the shadows growing in the girl’s eyes; but it didn’t last. She wasn’t here to discuss the finer points of Scooby relationships. “So tell me about” air quoting “‘my body’?” Willow was relieved at the change of subject – then remembered that the other subject was just as bad.
“Giles found an article about a girl being killed in the alley behind The Bronze. So I checked the Police report to see, you know,” she stumbled over the words, “to see if it was you.”
“And?” So succinct. What I wouldn’t do to be like that, Willow thought enviously.
“Well, she had dark hair, like yours … She was wearing the clothes you wore that night- including personal stuff, like the-the locket Xander gave you.” Cordelia shrugged, outwardly calm.
“Just one look at her face woulda told you it wasn’t me!” Thinking back on the disappearance of her things from Angelus’ room. Did he think they were that stupid? Open to debate, she thought bitterly, since the ONE place they never thought to look was the most obvious for a start.
“Um, well, her face was gone,” and that came out badly. I should have called Buffy. She’d handle this better. But that wasn’t even a possibility right now. Chewing her bottom lip like a Terrier worrying his toy ‘prey’, she returned her attention to the obviously confused/stunned girl facing her. Eep! In for a penny … “He’d cut her skin off and pulled out her teeth.” Since it wasn’t Cordelia after all, thankfully, the other details were irrelevant.
Silence reigned for an interminable length of time; Willow thinking that she’d prefer to have been cut down with Cordelia’s special brand of bitch than having to watch the multitude of emotions racing across her pallid features. Reopening the conversation with the question she wanted to ask her would probably not be such a good idea, but it had been riding her since she’d opened her window to a girl she’d thought dead.
“Cordy, where did Angelus take you? You’ve been gone nearly a week,” Willow nearly choked on her words when Cordelia’s eyes lifted abruptly; so much pain and fear stared back at her- then she blinked and all emotion fled as if wiped with a squeegee. “I know that poor girl wasn’t you, but Xander said only vampires were at the mansion when they got there-“
Cordelia was only half listening to Willow. Still thinking of the sickening fate of that girl. She’d also had the sucky ‘luck’ of grabbing Angelus’ psycho attention. Thinking how easily that could have been her fate. Then her full attention was caught when she realised what was just said. “Who went to the mansion?!” she asked tightly.
Willow paused, startled by the brittleness of the girl’s voice. “Buffy – and Xander.”, adding, “They went to rescue Giles …”
Willow continued on, telling her of the events after the ‘first’ kidnapping; Cordelia’s breath caught in her throat when told of the Gypsy curse they’d found. This little factoid sent a dart of anger through her. What would that have accomplished?
The story continued: Buffy and Angelus fighting to the death…”I don’t know how it played out after Xander left. Buffy left Sunnydale after the fight. We’re not sure where she went, but when we went back, the next day, Acathla was still a statue and the Mansion was deserted.” Her voice wobbled and she looked down at her twisting hands; missing the angry bitterness flooding Cordelia’s face.