Night before Junior year
Man this ice cream’s good, Xander thought, as he and Willow walked beside Summit Graveyard. On their way home they had decided to get cones at 31 Flavors. Another bright idea for him.
“Okay, hold on!” Willow chimed excitedly.
“It’s your turn,” He egged, delighted in the game they were playing.
“Okay, um…,” Slowing her pace, as she gathered her thoughts, “In the few hours that we had together, we loved a lifetimes worth.” Sheesh, he’s gonna get that in a flash.
True enough. “Terminator.”
“Okay,” Xander paused, taking a lick of his vanilla cone. “Let’s see… “It’s a madhouse! A ma-”
Now this was more her kind of movie! “Planet of the Apes!” Move over hot stuff, Willow is on the rampage.
But she wasn’t counting on Xander being perturbed. “Can I finish, please?”
“Sorry,” her face flushing red, “Go ahead.” Her nod of encouragement just what he needed.
Willow looked over at him, making sure he was done first. He always did have a conniption fit when it came to his movie quotes. “Planet of the Apes. Good. Me now. Um…”
She wanted to throw her vanilla cone at him. “I’m thinking! Okay.” She turned to him. “Use the force, Luke.”
Xander gave her a withering stare. “Do I really have to dignify that with a guess?”
“I didn’t think of anything,” she moped. “It’s a dumb game anyway.”
Well he sure didn’t think so. “You got something better to do? We played rock-paper-scissors long enough, okay?” It seemed they were gameless tonight. “My hand cramped up,” he mumbled, giving his right had a reassuring flex.
“Well, of course, it your always scissors, sure your tendons are gonna stretch-”
“You know,” Xander interrupted, not wanting to hear the carpal tunnel speech. “I gotta say, this has been the most boring summer ever.”
“Yeah, but on the plus side, no monsters or stuff.” Hence they were able to walk around at night like normal kids- and by graveyards! Willow backed up and took a seat on the stone wall that separated the sidewalk from the cemetery.
“I know, but I’m so restless,” he exclaimed, coming to lean on the wall next to Willow. “I’m actually glad school is starting again.” Xander gave an involuntary shiver. “Do I have a fever?”
Willow gave him a cross looking, while she took another taste of her cone. “Yeah, and that has nothing to do with a certain girl that we both know that is a vampire slayer?”
“Buffy or Cordelia?”
“Oh, please,” Xander rolled his eyes, “I’m so over her.” An unconvincing lie it was. “Did she, uh, say when she was getting back, about which I don’t care!?”
She shook her head. “I haven’t heard from her. I mean, I got a couple of postcards after she went to L.A. and then, like, nothing.” Willow turned around quickly, glancing over her shoulder, to cover the hurt on her face.
“Yeah, I never heard,” he replied. “Well, she’s probably having fun with her dad.” I wish she was having fun with me, he thought. “What about Cordelia? Giles find out anything?”
“Nope,” she quipped, “The Council has found no trace of her. Don’t you think that’s odd? With all the connections Giles claims they have, they can’t find a slayer.”
“And don’t you think it’s odd that Sunnydale has two slayers and they both skip town at almost the same time without so much as a ‘goodbye’ or ‘I’ll miss you terribly’!?” He wasn’t bitter at all.
“Right,” Willow scoffed, “And you don’t care.” Buffy Summers had been the lingering thought in his head all last year.
“Okay, so maybe there’s some interest,” He couldn’t hide anything from Willow. Knowing each other since kindergarten does that to some people. “I’m a man, I have certain desires, certain needs…”
“I don’t wanna know.” I really wanna know!
Xander smiled at her reaction. “Don’t you?” He inched ever so close to her. “I got a movie for you.” Gently, he gabbed his ice cream at her, a cute vanilla streak on the tip of her nose.
“Xander,” Willow protested, only slightly uncomfortable.
“Come on,” he prodded, dabbing her nose again. “You’re Amish, you won’t fight back because you’re Amish, I mock you with my ice cream cone, Amish guy…”
“Witness,” she answered, pushing his arm away. “My nose is cold.”
“Let me get that-” Xander leaned forward to lick the ice cream off her nose. Frowning slightly when she jerked her head away, laughing.
He daubed her nose with a napkin. “What can I say? It makes your nose look tasty.” Just has he was leaning forward, he caught Willow’s eye as she suddenly turned to her left. And there- right between them- was the fist vampire they had seen all summer.
“Willow, go!” Xander could tell by the look of this guy he was freshly risen. Must be the dirt and burial tux! Which meant he was going to be especially hungry.
Willow screamed as the vampire grabbed Xander by the neck, bringing him ever so much closer to his gapping, fanged mouth. Just as she was about to squeeze her eyes shut, the vampire was suddenly pulled away from Xander, it’s mouth meeting a lightning quick fist.
“Hi, guys,” Buffy quipped calmly, as she delivered a roundhouse kick that sent the vampire hurtling backwards to his doom. Buffy’s kick had sent him flying backwards to a broken tree branch, impaling him in the chest. What was left, as always, was a cloud of dust. “Miss me?
Willow and Xander briefly shared a glance, before they flew into Buffy’s arms. “Buffy!” Willow squealed in delight and surprise. Pleasant and alive surprise!
“Hey, Will,” Buffy returned the hug with equal enthusiasm.
“Man, your timing really doesn’t suck,” Xander complimented. He was drinking her in.
“When did you get back?” Willow asked.
“Just now,” she replied. All three simultaneously began walking toward the houses, away from the graveyard. “Dad drove me down. And I knew you losers would be getting into some kind of trouble.” She shook her now head at them, now crowned with short blond locks. “Does either of you even have a cross? Very sloppy…” She teased.
“Well, it’s been a slow summer,” Xander defended. And it had been! He and Willow practically had a picnic just two nights ago. “That was the first vampire we’ve seen since Cordelia killed the Master.” Neither friend noticed the pained look that came across Buffy’s face at the mention of those two, as they headed on.
Sunnydale High was all abuzz with students greeting each other after their long summer, swapping stories about vacation highs and lows. There were groans about what teachers they had, and compliments about new school clothes.
Buffy, Xander and Willow pushed themselves between the halls, spotting Giles and Ms. Calendar talking away. “Giles!” Willow waived excitedly.
“Hey, G-man! What’s up!” Xander conveyed, in his own form of greeting.
“Nice to see you,” He smiled at all three students, stopping at Xander with a pointed stare. “And don’t ever call me that.”
Jenny grinned at his reaction. Definitely carbon dated, but hot, she thought in admiration. “Hey, kids.” Jenny stifled a grunt of frustration as another hurried student pushed past her. “It’s a zoo around here!”
“How are you?” Giles asked quietly, a pointedly to Buffy. He hadn’t heard anything from her all summer long.
“Alive and kicking,” Was the curt reply.
“Buffy killed a vampire last night!” Willow almost shouted, heedless of their surroundings as some students stopped what they were doing, to cast odd glances at Buffy.
Buffy leaned over to Willow. “Uh, I think you can get a little more volume if you speak from the diaphragm. Just a suggestion.”
“Sorry,” Willow whispered, deeply ashamed. All five of them began to move away from the crowds, trying to find a more secluded area.
“We got vampires?” Jenny asked, once they were outside. “I thought the Hellmouth was closed.”
Giles gave a forlorn expression. “Closed, not gone. The mystical energy it emits is still concentrated in this area.” All new things were bound to be headed back now.
“Which means we’re still the undead’s favorite party town.” Xander offered.
“This vampire,” Giles asked Buffy, “Could you tell where he might be from?” He wasn’t picking up on her dejectedness. The most he could tell was that she was annoyed at being back in school.
“Local talent,” she replied. Her monotone voice still unnoticed. “Fresh. He was still wearing his funeral ensemble.”
“Which means there are other vampires about, and they’re already killing. I should have been on top of that,” Giles mumbled. “I wonder if they’re here for some particular purpose…” His voice trailed off as his mind began to do that think of thought and calculation.
Buffy just rolled her eyes. “You’re the Watcher. I just work here.”
He nodded in agreement, not seeing the scorn in her green eyes. “Well, I’ll have to consult my books.”
Xander took his cherry flavored sucker out of his mouth and glanced at his watch. “Eight minutes and thirty-three seconds.” He gave a smug glance over at Willow. “Pay up!” Everyone else watched in confusion as Willow dug a dollar out of her jeans and handed it to Xander.
“I called ten minutes before you had to consult your books about something,” Xander declared. Is it me or is his face turning red, Xander wondered, trying to decide as he looked at Giles’ face.
“We better get to class,” Willow urged, noticing Giles’s face. He was about ready to pop.
Jenny grinned at their cue, and waived goodbye, heading off to the computer lab, Xander and Willow hurriedly following.
“I’m going to call the Watcher’s Council to see if they’ve heard anything on Cordelia,” Giles told Buffy, just as she was about to head off and join the others. “I’ll see you after school for training?”
“I’m ready. I’ll see you after school.” And she hurried off down the hall way to catch up with Willow and Xander.
Cordelia Chase wanted nothing more in the world than to run back onto the plane that had just landed, returning her back to Sunnydale. All she wanted was to be back in Sendai. Better yet, just away from this place.
She gave a disgruntled moan as she entered the baggage claim area, and then remember she only had the one carry on item. She’d been so distraught when leaving Japan, all she had grabbed were things here and there. So I was in a daze, who wouldn’t be if they were returning to hell?
As she made her way out of the crowed airport, she noticed a man holding a sign with her name on it. He was wearing a tasteful, gray and black Gucci suit with loafers that set off his outfit perfectly. It went well with his slightly graying, black tapered hair cut. “I’m Cordelia Chase.”
The man gave a smile, that didn’t quite touch his ice blue eyes. “My pleasure. I’m Douglas Sheridan, attorney at Wolfram & Hart. I represent your parents.”
“That’s all fine and dandelions,” she said, her face falling a bit. “Are they here?” Cordelia took a quick glance around the airport, not seeing them.
“No,” Sheridan replied, walking over to a nearby table. “Please sit.” After she had done so, he gently placed his leather briefcase on the table. Giving Cordelia a curious look, he took out a sealed manila envelope.
At the sight of that, Cordelia felt her heart quicken in apprehension. She was suddenly reminded of what Jun Yoshino had told her just before she had boarded her plane:
“A man is going to meant you, sometime after you arrive back in Sunnydale and he will have a package for you. No matter what it is, you must not be surprised or shocked at what it contains. This is important! Just play along and agree to what he says, granddaughter. Some things have been arranged for you.”
“Cordelia Chase,” Douglas Sheridan, began, is formal air now taking on one of business. “It is my duty to present you with a court order, guaranteeing you an emancipated minor. All parental rights of Alexander and Meredith Chase have been forfeited, per your legal request. Provisions and lodgings have been made for you by your parents and great-grandfather, Jun Yoshino.” Sheridan handed her the envelope, not seeing the slight tremor of her hand. “Chase Manor has been sold, and you are advised to gather what possessions you require as soon as possible. If you have not other questions, I’ll be on my way.” He stood up and quickly closed his briefcase.
“I didn’t ask any questions, lack brain,” Cordelia answered, giving him a sickly sweet smile. “But now that you mention it- where are my parents?”
“All the answers you need are in that envelope.” Giving her a curt nod, he turned on the heal of his Gucci loafer, and headed out the door.
“Well, fuck you, too,” She mumbled to his retreating back. Trying to still the turmoil of emotions gathering within her, Cordelia stilled her shaking hands as she opened the envelope and pored out it’s contents. A few legal documents with her signature (how the hell did they do that?) and her parents’, another envelope with two keys taped to it’s back.
Opening the letter in the other envelope, she sat there in the noisy airport and read the letter, written by her father. She didn’t notice the big drops of wetness that would occasionally fall on his exquisitely penned handwriting, smearing the blue ink, as she continued to read.
Later that Night
Buffy lurched awake, gasping and sweating from the intensity of her dream- no! Her nightmare. She had dreamed that Giles was the Master was trying to kill her again, while Xander and Willow watched and did nothing. Trying to calm herself, she noticed a shadow outside her window.
Buffy stared for a second or two, completely unafraid. “Hello.”
Angel glanced at her, still laying in her bed. “Mind if I come in?” He had watched her for a bit, disturbed at the intensity of her dream.
“Be my guest.”
Stepping gracefully into her room, he came over to stand by her bed. “How are you?” He asked, genuinely concerned.
There was a moment of unnerving silence at that. “So,” Buffy broke the silence. “Is this a social call? It’s kind of late. Or, it is for me. For you this is, what, lunch hour?” She didn’t mean to sound as harsh as she did, but it felt good.
“It’s not a social call,” Angel retorted, giving her the cold air she herself was throwing at him.
Buffy gave a dry chuckle. “And that means grave danger. Gosh, it’s so good to be home.”
“I’m sorry,” And he really was. “I wish I had better news. The Anointed One. He’s been gathering forces somewhere in town. I’m not sure why.”
“So no it’s worry over the little brat,” Buffy scoffed. “Last time we talked it was another brat named Cordelia Chase. Why the change?” She was still majorly bridled about their last meeting, how it consisted of find the great new slayer!
Angel clenched his jaw at the mention of Cordelia, feelings he had been trying to suppress since he had last seen Giles three months ago bubbled to the surface. Trying to cover up his agitation at Buffy bringing her up, he decided to focus on the other problem brewing. “Don’t underestimate the Anointed One just because he looks like a child. He has power over the rest of them. Its source is deep, and old. They’ll do anything for him.”
Buffy just blinked at him. “Is that it? Is that everything? ‘Cause you woke me up from a really nice dream.” More punches and she was loving it.
“Fine. I’ll go.” And just as she turned her back on him, he dashed out the window enraged.
“Angel!?” Buffy called out, after a moments hesitation, but he was gone.
One Hour Later
After receiving that sweet ‘Welcome Home’ packet from her daddy’s lawyer, Cordelia could only think of one thing to take the edge off- slaying.
True, she hadn’t fought any demon since her last time in Sunnydale, but looking at the three vampires stalking toward her, it was like riding a bike. She’d stashed her bag by one of the big mausoleums, had taken out her samurai sword (a parting gift from Jun, made of the finest Japanese steel) and set out what she was meant to do.
“Well, boys,” she grinned. “I suppose it’s good to come home to some kind of a welcome home party. You guys really didn’t have to, but that’s so sweet!” Bracing her sword above her head, she smiled wider at their reactions. Judging from their looks, they had not seen a slayer since the girl before her, whoever that was. Pushing all thought from her mind Cordelia charged forward.
What Cordelia didn’t know was that she had an audience. Angel had just appeared out the clearing. He was still seething from his encounter with Buffy, and didn’t want to go back home just yet. He figured he might be able to get some action tonight to work off his frustration. What he wasn’t counting on was the sight just a few feet from him.
Three vampires, all male, where getting the shit kicked out of them. The girl, clad in black pants and a red tank top that gave a delightful glimpse of her tanned midriff, was giving them hell with a bushido blade. He was about to intervene, when one of the vampires gave her a vicious backhand that threw her against an oak tree, but she bounded off the side and quickly severed his head. Not even breaking stride, she flew right threw the dust of the recently departed, and launched at the one behind him.
“Ah, don’t be upset,” Cordelia coddled, giving the second vampire a font kick to his jaw that sent him flying. “You’ll be going your buddy soon enough.” She ducked down as the third vampire tried to tackle her, instead he missed taking her head off, but settled for grabbing her hair instead.
“Oh, no you did not just grab my hair?!” Cordelia snarled, and flicked her blade backwards, slicing off the offending arm. The vampire screamed in agony, as he watched his right arm turn to dust. Not giving him a second longer, he soon lost his head to her sword.
“What the hell is with you?” The last remaining vampire screamed, inching closer to her. “I thought slayers only used stakes?”
“You know I heard that somewhere,” Cordelia nodded her head in agreement. “But they give me splinters and the sword looks so much better with my outfits. Am I not right?” She pivoted around, her hair now tumbling loose because the other vampire had ripped out her bun. Angel had to agree, she did look great with it.
“But I’ll tell you what,” she said coyly, leaning seductively over to reach the side of her ankle with her left hand. Angel couldn’t help but notice that as she did that her cleavage was more than abundantly showing, and by the grunt of the other vampire, he’d noticed too. “Since you made a personal request- I’ll honor it!”
Angel’s jaw dropped when he saw her take out the small stake sheathed on the side of her boot, and fling it dead on into the vampire’s chest. And another one bites the dust, he thought in admiration.
“Damn straight!” Cordelia whooped, staking her sword into the dirt. “And another one bites the dust, baby!” She swayed to the beat of her own music, as she ran over to get her fallen duster. A little too exited, she dropped her cell phone, which she had just grabbed from her pocket.
Angel watched her in continuous fascination, his eyes transfixed on the radiance blossoming from her. Cordelia was rapidly dialing on her cell phone, grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole time.
“Jin? It’s Cordelia!”
His fascination hit a crescendo as he listened to her conversation- her conversation in Japanese?! She was obviously talking to someone in Japan about her victory over the three vampires. He wasn’t fluent in Japanese, he’d found Mandarin Chinese more beneficial at a time. Now as he listened to her, he wished he had learned the other as well.
After about five minutes, she concluded the call with another whoop of satisfaction, and pulled on her duster. A rather nice one, Angel noted. The black of the coat matched her pants perfectly, and the hem ended at mid thigh.
“I didn’t know you could speak Japanese,” Angel emerged out the shadows, chuckling when she nearly jumped out of her skin. She had been trying to button up her coat, much to Angel’s dismay. He really liked the shiny, red tank top.
“Jesus Christ in a taxi cab!” Cordelia swore, swiftly turning around to met the face of the voice’s owner. And it was a good face, too, she thought. “Well, not very many people ask about my linguistic skills.” She gave him the once over, and frankly thought about giving it twice. He looked good in his black slacks, and tasteful dinner jacket thrown over a white muscle shirt. Very good!
“Hey!” Her face lit up in recognition. She remembered him from The Bronze, when Buffy had been on a date with Owen. “You’re one of Buffy’s boy chippies, aren’t you?”
That stopped him dead in his tracks. “Did you just call me a ‘boy chippie’?” She grinned and nodded. “Well, that’s something I’ve never been called before.”
“In my opinion, not something to be proud of,” she comment, reaching down to casually unearth her sword from it’s staked position in the ground. “But that’s just my opinion.”
“Buffy’s not that bad.” Am I trying to convince her or myself?
“Really? Did she ever try to stab you once? Cause she tried that with me!”
Angel frowned in memory. “She did kick the hell out of me during our first meeting.”
“So did you enjoy the carnage of the demon kitties?” She asked in a conversational manner, as she slowly walked over to him. Cordelia moved in cautionary steps, hoping he wouldn’t notice.
“Yeah,” she replied. “Vampires look like highly pissed of kitties with fangs. First thing that came to my mind when a bunch of them tried to suck my blood through my car windshield. Speaking of which-”
Now Angel considered himself pretty well seasoned for a vampire. After all, he was once know as the Scourge of Europe during his bad years. He was quicker and definitely smarter than the average vampire. He even held more power than most vampires older than him. So imagine his surprise when the new slayer moved on him so quickly, he didn’t even see her.
Cordelia moved with a fluidity and grace that astounded even her. Within seconds, she was right in front of him, the edge of her blade at the base of his neck. Heated hazel eyes met surprised chocolate brown.
“-why don’t you show me your true face… vampire?”