Description: Giles talks to Cordelia during "The Prom."

Disclaimer: None of the characters appearing in this story belong to me, they belong to their owners/creators. I just wanted to sew up some loose ends.

Rating: PG, for themes and language.

Time Frame: "The Prom."

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (eilandesq@aol.com) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


EXCESS BAGGAGE


"Wesley, I need to speak to Cordelia for a moment. . .could you wait for her outside, please?"

The young Watcher looked annoyed, but complied, and Cordelia turned to Giles with a frown on her face, asking, "What's wrong?" The others had all left on the various missions to try to track down where Tucker Wells was keeping the hellhounds he had apparently raised, and Cordelia knew that Giles was rather concerned about the reaction that Buffy seemed to be having to the crisis. However, his expression seemed somewhat different now, and Cordelia's expression turned genuinely concerned as she pressed, "Come on, Giles. . .don't get all cryptic with me. . .what is it?"

Giles polished his glasses, then put them back on and replied, "Xander broke in rather abruptly with that explanation of what you were doing at April Fool's, Cordelia."

Cordelia squirmed inwardly, though Giles' expression and tone were mild, then retorted, "Well? Nobody ever said he was dumb. . .he was just there being Xander: annoying and first in line to get stomped by the latest Buffy-bait to hit town. . .was that it?"

Giles smiled softly, then met Cordelia's eyes and stated flatly, "Cordelia. . .I walk by April Fool's on most afternoons between three and four on my way to run errands in town. . .I'm surprised you haven't noticed me."

Cordelia blinked, and sank into a chair as she stared at him and stated flatly, "You knew." Giles nodded, and Cordelia glared at him and snapped, "Well, why didn't you say anything? Bet Buffy and some of the others would have loved to hear about the downfall of Cordelia the Bitch!"

Giles sat across from her, and Cordelia saw the look of kindness in his eyes that she had seen before, only directed at Buffy or Willow: she felt an irrational surge of comfort before shame reasserted itself and she looked down at the floor. The former Watcher replied softly, "Cordelia. . .you don't really think that they would feel that way, do you? Xander just now had the chance to reveal your secret in front of the whole room, and didn't, and I know the others certainly wouldn't have any more reason to delight in your misery than he would. . .particularly after some of the things you've said about him since your breakup."

Cordelia shrugged and responded, "Why should they care? All I am to them is Xander's rude ex-girlfriend. . .when we graduate and leave this place they'll never give me a second thought."

Giles looked at her for a moment, then replied, "You weren't Xander's ex-anything when you saved Jenny and Willow from that horde of vampires the Master's arising summoned to the school, Cordelia." Cordelia looked up, startled, as Giles continued quietly, "Xander wasn't there when you saved Buffy and myself from Lyle Gorch, or when you helped me with the spell to drive away the Hansel and Gretel demon, or when Buffy needed someone she trusted to drive her home when she hated me for participating in her Cruciamentum. . .and even at times when he was, you've helped us in ways that are too numerous to list, particularly with that irritating young prig of a Watcher waiting for you outside." Cordelia blinked as Giles concluded, "I'm sorry if I haven't made clear that I feel this way before. . .and I think that if the others were to honestly answer the same question, their answer would be much the same as mine. . .whatever happens, they will remember you."

"Wow. . .uh, thank you, Giles." Cordelia was rather taken aback by the sincerity in Giles' tone and moved by his words, but tried to keep her composure. . .she had an image to maintain. She took a deep breath, then managed to ask, "Was that all you wanted to say to me, Giles?"

Giles shook his head, then replied, "Cordelia. . .I know that you've felt a great amount of bitterness about the way in which your relationship with Xander ended, and considering the emotional and physical pain the situation caused you, it is understandable. However, I wanted to suggest to you that, particularly given the impending time of graduation and the fact that you may be leaving this place. . .it might be good for you to resolve those feelings, and make peace with Xander."

Cordelia snorted, "What are you saying. . .I should take him back and forget that he was running around behind my back? For someone you just indicated you had a lot of respect for, you must think I'm the world's biggest doormat!"

Giles blinked, then shook his head and replied, "No, Cordelia. . .I think your time together has passed, at least for the conceivable future. He stills cares about you, though, as I think he proved here today and has at times in the past, and none of us can say that we have not blundered rather seriously in the last three years in a way that has hurt the others substantially."

Cordelia nodded involuntarily, remembering her nasty comments to the others, her breaking up with Xander on Valentine's Day just to keep her popularity when she knew damned well she still cared for him, and the thoughtless way she had failed to let Buffy know about pictures being taken, keeping her from getting a shot in the yearbook, among others. She listened as Giles continued, "Cordelia. . .you are an extraordinarily beautiful and poised young woman with a good head on her shoulders, and I see a bright future for you even without a rich father looking over your shoulder." Cordelia smiled involuntarily at the compliment as Giles continued, "However, unless you are extraordinarily fortunate, your experience with Xander will not be your last heartbreak. . .relationships end, but friends as loyal as Xander are damned hard to find, and I urge you to fight for that friendship, just as hard as Xander would fight to save your life at need."

Cordelia was speechless. She stared at Giles for a moment, then nodded at him once noncommittally before she turned and walked out of the library. Giles watched her go, then went back to his work, hoping that she would come to the right choice.


* * * * *



Giles watched the dance quietly. "Wild Horses" was playing, and Giles could see Buffy and Angel dancing together as if the rest of the world didn't exist, and for the first time Giles was completely unambivalent about being glad Angel was back, soul intact. He glanced to the right, and that annoying twit Wesley was dancing with Cordelia, who was wearing an absolutely lovely dress. He smiled at a recent memory, then glanced over to where Willow and Oz were dancing. He thought of Jenny sadly, then smiled, and refilled his punch glass as the song died down and a new one began. He felt someone walk up behind him, and he turned to find Cordelia standing there. He smiled genuinely at her and greeted her, "Hello, Cordelia. . .you look lovely tonight."

Cordelia smiled and replied, "Yes, I do, don't I?" She looked at him with genuine amusement in her eyes and commented, "I thought that I wouldn't have this dress paid off. . .but apparently someone came by and paid off the balance on my dress. . .someone named Xander."

Giles raised an eyebrow in mock surprise and responded, "Really? How extraordinary. . .who would have ever thought that the heart of a romantic beat underneath that rumpled exterior?"

Cordelia's face fell for a moment, and she replied sadly, "I knew. . .I had just forgotten." Giles' face fell, and he was about to mutter an apology when Cordelia waved him off dismissively and commented brusquely, "Oh please, so over that now." Giles relaxed, and Cordelia continued with a wicked smile on her face, "Funny thing though. . .the salesgirl said that two hours after Xander paid off the dress, some-and I quote-'hot older English guy' came in and asked about paying off the remaining balance on the dress, only to leave without another word when he found out it had been paid off. . .you wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

Giles flushed crimson as he remembered the predatory look the salesgirl had given him before he had retreated from the store, and he replied, "Cordelia, there must be dozens of such men-oh, bother. . .you're not going to believe any explanation I arrive at here, are you?"

Cordelia pursed her lips, and shook her head as she responded, "Not a chance." She stepped up next to him and kissed him softly on the cheek, then whispered, "Thank you. . .for that, and for what you said to me yesterday." She took his hand, and began leading him to the dance floor, commenting, "I hope all of that fancy Watcher's education you got covered this."

Giles did not resist, and effortlessly took Cordelia into his arms for the slow dance, only pausing to comment, "Wesley will be very disappointed that he missed this dance with you."

Cordelia chuckled softly and replied, "He gets the other dances tonight. . .but this one is yours." She rested her head on his shoulder, and Giles glanced around the room, noting that Buffy, Angel, Xander, Willow, and Oz were all looking in his direction, and with approval. He sighed and concentrated on the dance. Soon, all of them would be fighting for their lives. . .but this night was for celebration, and appreciation of the good fortune that they had all shared in the midst of the bad.


As always, comments are welcomed and desired