Angel was getting aggravated. It had been nearly twenty-four hours since the Hellmouth had closed, and they weren’t getting any closer to locating Cordelia. Xander and Willow had gone checking the nearby clinics and hospitals during the day. They had all insisted that Buffy should rest after her ordeal. Giles was currently on the phone, again, desperately trying to contact Cordelia’s parents. Judging by his tone of voice, he seemed to be finally successful.
“I understand, Mrs. Chase,” Giles implored, exasperation was ringing clearly in his tone. The Chases were virtually impossible to contact. Earlier that day, the Chase housekeeper had informed the librarian that Cordelia’s parents would be home at around 6:00pm. “I do apologize for interrupting you and your husband, in light that you just arrived home. But you daughter is missing and the school is trying to find her.”
Finally feeling some of his tension ease, knowing that Giles was on the phone with Cordelia’s mother, Angel took a seat in Giles’ leather chair. He had never been close to Cordelia, in fact, he had never planned to, but- after what happened last night, he wanted nothing more in the world than to find her.
“Mrs. Chase!” Giles shouted, is calm British exterior crashing. “There were terrible doings at the high school last night and I fear your daughter may have been injured! She is most likely confused and hurt right now, which is why I am trying to find her.” Rupert Giles could not believe the woman. She was more concerned about her and her husband resting after their long business trip, than the welfare of her daughter. The watcher could not believe her arrogance.
Just then, Buffy, Xander and Willow came through the door. Angel could tell by their expressions that they had found nothing. Buffy still looked tired, but she seemed more refreshed in her yellow pants and green tank top. Angel knew how hard the last few hours had been, and felt his heart go out to her.
“How you doing?” He asked, coming to stand near her.
Smiling gratefully at his attention, she reached out to hug him. “Better. A lot better. Any luck in finding Cordelia?” She reluctantly pulled away from the embrace.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “Giles is on he phone with her mother right now.”
“Whoa,” Xander exclaimed, plopping himself onto Giles’ sofa, next to Willow. “He’s trying to get information from that woman? Good luck. He’ll have to waive a bottle of vodka in front of her face to get any function from her.” Willow nodded in agreement. He and Willow remembered Mrs. Chase from Cordelia’s twelfth birthday party- an invitation by proxy, the entire class was invited. Mrs. Chase had passed out on their luxurious, Oriental carpeting after drinking too much. It was the only time Xander had ever felt sorry for Cordelia- up until now.
Trying to stifle a growl, that was not what Angel wanted hear. From what he had just found out about the Chases, it seemed less than likely they would find Cordelia through her parents. It enraged him how callous they were.
As if confirming his point, Giles slammed his phone onto the receiver. “Selfish, vain woman! According to her Cordelia, will ‘show up’! And this has happened before, in that Cordelia will stay out all night and eventually come back.” If the woman had been in the room, Giles felt he would have slapped her.
“Actually,” Willow said, empathizing with Giles’ frustration. “Cordelia probably would come home, but they are so immersed in themselves, they don’t notice when she walks in the door.” Even though her parents were like Cordelia’s in their constant business trips, and least they checked in on her when they got home and called her frequently. “Once in eight grade, I overheard Cordelia talking to her best friend at the time, Robin, in how her parents had left the day before to go to Italy. They let the housekeeper tell her.”
Angel had heard enough. “I’m going there to speak to them. Willow, come with me.”
“Why me?” She was in shock that Angel would suggest she come with him to Chase Manor. She was never chosen for special ops like this! It wasn’t for her. “Why not Buffy?”
Yeah, why not me, Buffy questioned herself, trying hard not to let herself pout.
“Because the Chases know you, not Buffy. It will help to see a kind face,” Angel stated, seeing that this did not sit well with Buffy. “Besides, I think Buffy and Xander should go back to the clinics with Giles. There may be a different staff on now, and they’ll talk to an adult.”
Giles did like the idea of somebody going to the Chase home, but he didn’t understand why it had to be Angel. “Why shouldn’t you got the clinics, Angel, and I could go to see Cordelia’s parents? They might trust us more, if a teacher from the school came down.”
Angel shook his head in disagreement. “No, you’ll do better at the clinics. If the Chases don’t open up to a kind face,” he continued, his voice dropping dangerously low, “Then I’ll have to show them my face.”
With that, Angel grabbed his coat and gulping at his meaning, Willow quickly followed.
“Who was that, Meredith?” Alexander Chase questioned, noticing how stiff his wife had become. He had just entered the kitchen when she hung up the phone.
“That was Rupert Giles,” Meredith Chase answered, turning around to face her husband. “The librarian from Cordelia’s school. Apparently, there was an incident at the school last night and he fears Cordelia may have been injured as a result of it.” Her perfect lips were pursed in a thin line, as she considered what that meant. “They can’t find her.”
Alexander bore his clear green eyes into his wife’s brown ones. Any traces of the alcohol from the plane had lifted. Her face was one of grim determination and knowledge. She knew what had occurred and so did he. “Do you think she came home first?”
Nodding, Meredith took a seat on the kitchen stool. “Yes, Eva informed me, just before the phone rang.”
“What was her condition?”
“She was hurt, but when she came down from packing and showering, her bruises were already fading,” Meredith could not suppress the small smile of pride that began to form on her lips. It was happening– just has her grandfather’s mother had predicted. Until they had settled in this town, two years after their daughter was born, Meredith Chase had felt the foretelling was nothing but crap. But everything began to fall into place, causing her and her husband to believe.
Alexander Chase understood his wife’s smile and began to grin himself. Ever since Cordelia had been around two years old, the Chases had forced themselves to place a distance between their only child, and themselves. The knowledge of their daughter’s destiny had remained well hidden, within his wife’s family. It was necessary to push their daughter away, as fate was going to pull her in a direction that had nothing to do with them. Had they been the parents she wanted, they would not have been able to bear the idea of what was going to befall her.
She was destined for great and terrible things. And it was going to be worth it in the end.
Outside Chase Manor
Angel and Willow had just stepped up to the massive, double doors to the Chase home. Both of them had thought it was strange that the iron gates had been left open. Willow knew the Chases were freaks about security.
Knocking on the door, Angel braced himself for who would answer. Moments later, a beautiful woman, with almond shaped eyes answered. He knew right away this was Cordelia’s mother. Aside from her eyes and her shorter height, she was the image of her daughter. “May I help you?”
“Hello, Mrs. Chase,” Willow stammered. Even though the woman was a drunk, she still held an imposing air. Not the warmest human to walk the planet. “I’m Willow. A friend of Cordelia’s.”
Giving her the once over, a small smirk appeared on the corner of her mouth, telling that by Willow’s appearance that she highly doubted that. “And you are?” She questioned, bringing her cold eyes to Angel, her eyes narrowing slightly. There was a faint flare of her nostrils- If Angel didn’t know any better, he’d have sworn the woman was able to sense he was a vampire.
“I’m Angel.” That was all he was going to give her. A flash of respect glinted in her eyes.
“Mrs. Chase,” continued an embarrassed Willow. Even she saw the smirk on her face. “We’ve come because we’re worried about Cordelia. No one’s been able to find her.”
“And you think I know where she is?”
“You’re her mother,” Angel hissed, wishing there wasn’t a home barrier against him. “We figured you might have a clue.” Sneering at her, he inched as close as the barrier would let. “I’m sorry if we were under the impression that mommy might give a damn.”
Oh, cheese and bananas, Willow thought, feeling her face turn red. There’s no way he’s getting in now.
Much to Willow’s amazement, Meredith Chase’s face brightened into a wide, honest smile. It completely transformed her. It was Cordelia’s smile. “Please, come in- both of you.” Was it me or did the ‘both’ part seem a little too poignant, Willow wondered, as she and Angel stepped into the hallway behind Mrs. Chase.
“Make yourselves comfortable in the parlor. It’s to your right. I’ll get my husband, and we’ll join you in a moment.” Turning on her healed Gucci shoe, she proceeded up the winding staircase.
“Okay,” Angel mused, following behind Willow into the black and gold colored parlor. It was lushly decorated with Japanese art, which complimented the coloring of the room. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Totally,” Willow nodded in agreement.
Alexander Chase’s home office
Not bothering to knock, Meredith Chase entered her husband’s office with a spring in her step. “He’s here.”
Alexander glanced up from his filing, to acknowledge his wife. Her eyes were shining. “Who’s here, darling?” It was amazing- the change that had befallen his wife in the last few hours. She was glowing and vibrant. Like the time when they had first met.
Raising his perfect eyebrows in curiosity, he placed his paperwork to the side, leaning back in his leather chair. They’d known of his coming, but so soon? “Really?”
Flashing another brilliant smile to the love of her life, Meredith sauntered over to him, taking a seat on his lap. “Really.” She confirmed bringing her arms around his neck. For the first time in sixteen years, they shared a kiss that meant something. It was all coming together.
Willis-Montgomery Overnight Clinic
Giles, Buffy, and Xander had just arrived at Willis-Montgomery. The clinic was strictly an evening urgent care, and didn’t even open until 8:30pm. Buffy and Xander had assured him that nothing had turned up at the other two clinics in Sunnydale, nor anything at Sunnydale Memorial. This was their last hope.
“Excuse me? Nurse?” Giles ran up to a pretty Hispanic nurse. “Could you help me please Nurse- Montoya?” He asked, after reading her name tag. She was quite lovely. It wasn’t often you see Hispanic women with blue eyes.
“Of course, what can I do for you?” The nursed glanced at the children behind him, trying to see if one of them was ill or injured. Instinct always got the better of her. Seeing nothing wrong physically or in their expressions, she turned back to the British man.
“I’m looking for a student of mine, who may have come here last night with great physical injuries. Her parents have no idea where she is.”
Shaking her head in refusal, “I’m sorry. We have strict patient-doctor confidentiality rules and I’m afraid I can’t release any medical information to you.”
“I just need to know if she came here,” Giles tried to bite back his frustration. How hard was it to find on teenage girl in a small town? It was like a lockdown at the Pentagon for Christ’s sake! “I don’t need to know anything about her medical files, we just need to find her. She’s a brunette, about five foot nine, and extremely pretty.”
Overhearing the nurse speaking to the gentlemen and the two children, Dr. Anton Wakefield, glanced up from his charts to regard them. Hearing the discription of Cordelia Chase, Dr. Wakefield clenched his jaw in concern. He knew who the Englishman was looking for and probably knew why. “Nurse Montoya? Can you take these charts to Dr. Conley in Ward C? He needs them right away. Thank you.” Handing her the paperwork, he waited until she was around the corner.
Knowing that she had gone, Dr. Wakefield stepped around the front desk, coming to a stop in front of Giles. “I’m Dr. Anton Wakefield, and you are?” He greeted, holding out his hand.
Meeting his eyes, Giles took the doctor’s outstretched hand into his. “I’m Rupert Giles. The librarian at the high school.” Gesturing to the teenagers behind them. “This is Buffy and Xander, friends of the student I’m looking for.”
“You’re searching for Cordelia Chase, right?”
“She was here?,” Buffy asked, coming to stand by Giles. “You saw her?” Buffy had never been fond of Cordelia, but she was the first one who had really tried to be-friend her, until she almost mistook her as a vampire at the Bronze. That squashed any potential there. Now that Cordelia was a slayer, Buffy felt something stirring within her about Cordelia. Like a sisterhood of sorts.
“I helped her.” He confirmed.
This was amazing, Giles though with elation. He had not slept at all last night, as he had been worried sick about Cordelia. Instead he had stayed up, leafing through the diaries of previous watchers, trying to find a clue about any slayer that had been called the way she had. Even Buffy’s first watcher, Merrick, had caught up with her right when she had been called. The council was late in finding his slayer for training, but they had found her. With Cordelia, nothing he could find in the diaries or texts could explain why she was called in such a manner.
“I found her in my office,” Dr. Wakefield continued as they walked to a more quieter side of the entrance. “She had broken in through my window- she actually tore it off the shingles, I later found. Now, I’ve know Cordelia since she was a little girl and I know how her parents are with her.” Shaking his brown haired head in amazement. “Her nanny or housekeeper brought her in for her illnesses and immunizations. I’ve maybe only seen her parents twice.”
This didn’t sound uncommon to Xander. He couldn’t even recall one time were Mr. or Mrs. Chase had come to any school function. Parent-Teacher night usually consisted of just the teacher and Cordelia.
“So,” the good doctor resumed. “That’s why I’m telling you all this. It’s nice to see someone concerned about that girl, besides my medical staff.” Dr. Wakefield considered himself a second father to Cordelia. There never appeared to be any concern reflected by her own father. “I found her in my office, bruised and bloodied. She had lacerations- almost like claw marks- on her upper right arm, and deeper cuts on the side of her abdomen. Luckily, it was only tissue damage, but whatever got at her, was only an inch away from causing severe damage.”
Giles’ throat began to constrict, as he contemplated what that meant. She had dove from the rooftop of the school with such injuries, trying to flee.
“I stitched her up, and placed her on an antibiotic with a pain killer. Believe me, I wanted to call the police, but she begged and pleaded, stating there was nothing they could do.” And he had complied, seeing in her wounded eyes that whatever had happened to her, was beyond anyone’s control. “I do hope you find her. She didn’t tell me anything about where she was going. I assumed it would be home.”
“Thank you, so much, Dr. Wakefield.” Giles was able to tell that that was all the doctor knew about Cordelia. “I’m sorry to keep you from your patients.”
“It’s no problem,” he stated, shaking Giles’ hand again. “This was regarding one of my patients. You will contact me if you hear anything?”
“Absolutely.” He was refreshed to see that someone in this godforsaken town, cared about that girl.
Waiting until the doctor walked away, Buffy grabbed onto Giles arm. “What do you think?”
“Angel was right,” Giles confirmed. “She’s going on instincts. She’s running. The only thing is- where is she running to.” Gesturing to Xander, Giles led them out of the clinic. Hopefully, Angel’s got some news.
They had been going around in circles now. He’d ask her about Cordelia, she would compliment on one of her Munakata Shiko wood prints. “He was an excellent artist. You should see his homage to Mount Fuji. He really put his soul into it.” Angel might find it annoying, but Meredith Chase was having a gay old time!
“Mrs. Chase,” he was struggling so hard not to yell. “Please forgive me for being rude, as you can’t forgive yourself, but we need to find Cordelia. She’s in danger.”
“Oh, I highly doubt that,” Alexander Chase interjected, his cold eyes bearing into Angel’s. “My daughter is quite capable of taking care of herself. I assure you.” Willow could see where Cordelia got her cold exterior from, along with her model perfect height. Her father was the most unfeeling man she had ever know. “You may think we don’t care for our daughter,” he continued, seeming to read Willow’s thoughts. “But we do.”
“Prove it,” Angel countered, leaning forward in the Chases’ black velvet chair. “Tell me where she is.”
“We don’t know where she is,” said Meredith as she rose from her seat, “That’s the beauty of it.” Meredith went over to the bar to pour herself another glass of chardonnay. “Are you sure you don’t want anything, Angel? I have red wine.” This did not go over Angel’s head.
“You know what I am?”
“A vampire. Yes.”
This was getting too weird, Willow thought in a panic. Mrs. Chase had been making cracks about the color red and souls ever since she and her husband had come down to the parlor. Now it was confirmed that the Chases knew that Angel was a vampire, but how?
Angel’s face took on a dangerous look as he glared at Mrs. Chase. “Tell me what you know. And don’t lie.” He had no idea how Cordelia had been able to survive and function with people like this as her parents. His might have been overbearing, but at least they were there.
“Fine,” she agreed, coming to sit back next to her husband. “I hope you can stomach the tale. We’ve had to live with it most of our lives.” Her countenance had finally taken on a somber one. Gone was the teasing, cold woman. “My husband and I, have been terrible parents to our daughter. For what we did not give her in love, we made up for by giving her credit cards. This was not something we wanted to do, but it was necessary.”
“How was it necessary to ignore your only child?” Willow asked. She couldn’t help the harsh tone she said it with. She did not like these people at all.
“Patience,” Mrs. Chase replied. “Let me finish. Then you can pass judgment. Our daughter is special and she is meant for astonishing things.” Her face was beaming again, this time with parental pride. “Her future goes beyond us. We were forced, you see, to distance ourselves from her. To deny her the love she deserved, so that we could bear letting her go when the time came. Not only that, but it also assured us that when her time came, she could leave- and not have to worry about leaving the people she loved behind. We know our daughter does not love us, Angel. It was destined to be so.”
This was insane! Parents deliberately trying to force their daughter not care or love them, so if she did leave, she wouldn’t look back!? “You’re crazy.”
“Are we?” Mr. Chase cocked his head to the side in amusement. “So is a vampire with a soul, but you’re here!” Point one for the cold father.
“I was seventeen when I heard of the prophecy for my daughter,” Meredith continued, “And I was in a rage! How could I be expected to turn my heart away from my child? And it was supposed to be for the better?!”
“What prophecy?,” Angel whispered.
“The one about the strongest vampire slayer ever to live. The one about Cordelia. Tell me, Angel- was it Buffy who killed the Master or was it my daughter?” Alexander Chase smiled in fatherly pride, because he already knew the answer. Had know ever since she was born.
She had forgotten how beautiful it was here. There was something so clean and pure about Japan. Back home in Sunnydale, there seemed to be an ever present darkness that seeped out to all that lived there. She hoped, since she had killed a part of that darkness, that some light would shine through again.
“Where to, Miss?” Asked a middle-aged cab driver in Japanese. Cordelia had just left the baggage area of the airport, an had gone out to find a cab.
Replying with a flawless Japanese accent, Cordelia replied. “The outskirts of Yoshino Village.” She wasn’t at all surprised by the shock in his expression. Most people in Japan did not go there, let alone American outsiders. “It is my grandfather-san’s village. Will you take me there?”
Swiftly nodding his head, he hurried out to grab her luggage. Such a delicate beauty like her should have an army of bags, but she only had one large suitcase and a small carry on. “You are Jun Yoshino’s granddaughter?” He asked in amazement.
“Actually, great-granddaughter, but he prefers to be called grandfather.” Cordelia smiled at the man. He seemed humble to meet her, which was not altogether unusual. Jun Yoshino was a famed samurai and friend of the people of Japan. “Shall we go now?”