Title: Something Wiccan This Way Comes Back
Email: by: Theo
Pairing: You really need to ask?
Rating: PG-13, or maybe a little higher.
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize, so there.
Symbols: " " indicate speech, ( ) indicate thoughts, indicate mental telepathy, and / indicate telephone voice.
Summary: YAHF, but one leading to a rather different BtVS season 2 as far as Xander and Cordelia are concerned.
Ethan's Costume Shop, Sunnydale, California
October 29th, 1997
"I can NOT believe I actually got roped into this!" Cybil Chase, younger sister of the one and only 'Queen C' growled as she looked through the higher end costume rack.
Cordelia rolled her eyes at her sibling's complaints. (I can't believe I used to be just like her!) the older teenager thought, not appreciating the irony. "Nothing you can do about it," the high school junior then told the freshman. "Now pick a costume already, so we can go!"
"Why, got a hot date for a party or something?" Little Sis asked, annoyed, as she looked over a cave-girl costume.
"No," Cordelia replied a bit too quickly. "I just don't like to have to drive you around all the time."
"Hey, don't blame me if Carlos had to drive Mom and Dad around in LA for the week!" the younger Chase girl said to that. "Why don't you look around, maybe you'll find something? Well, if it's not the latest in hooker wear-"
"I've already got my costume for tonight, you little brat. Now hurry up before I just leave you here!" Cordelia replied before she left to look over the racks of fake jewelry over by the counter. She spent a good ten minutes looking through the bin before she stopped dead in her tracks. "Oh my God..."
The cheerleader lifted up a necklace that looked real, very real. "White gold?" Cordelia asked, surprised. She looked over the end of the necklace that held a small diamond and a pearl. "This has GOT to be worth six, seven hundred easy!"
The price tag said only 55 cents, so the girl grabbed a few fake necklaces and took them all to the counter with the real one mixed in. (This is definitely my lucky day!)
"Will this be all for you, miss?" the English guy behind the counter asked as he put them into a bag.
"Yeah," Cordelia told him quickly, putting on a haughty air. "I, uh, just needed some costume jewelry to add to my outfit."
"Well, so glad I had what you needed," Ethan Rayne said with a smile.
"Right, thanks," Cordelia said as she went back over to her sister. "Damn it, Cybil, will you hurry up? Look, I'm going to get a soda from the store next door. When I get back, I'm leaving with or without you!"
"Fine, Bossy the bitch," her sister muttered, not looking up as she held up a Lakers Girl uniform to her body.
October 31st, 1997
Things had gotten rather hairy rather fast.
Ethan, who was a chaos worshipper, had invoked the ultimate 'be careful what you wish for' curse on the patrons of his shop. Namely, whosoever had bought a costume had become whatever they'd dressed up as. Hardly sporting of him, perhaps, but then these ignorant colonials needed to learn the their lesson about such things. Or at least, so he believed in his warped British mind anyway.
That was why tonight, Cybil Chase had ended up a basketball cheerleader, and Cordelia had become possessed by the ghost of the jewelry's previous owner.
The woman called Prue Halliwell.
"What the hell is going on here?" Prue demanded, as she used her power of telekinesis to blast aside Jo-Jo the Dog-Face boy. She noticed the semi-gibbering young cheerleader alongside, and grabbed hold of her hand. "It's gonna be okay, all right? I won't let anything harm you. Do you know where we are?"
The dark-haired girl just shook her head, calming down a little. "Last thing I remember, I was cheering at the Lakers-Timberwolves game at Inglewood along with the rest of the team. How the hell did I get here?"
"I wish I knew," Prue replied. "I'm Prue Halliwell."
"Pleased to meet you," said the Charmed One. "I suggest we find shelter somewhere."
"Right..." Susan started to say. "Uh, how come you're dressed like that?"
"Dressed like..." Prue looked down at her cat outfit. "What is this, Halloween?"
Susan looked around, and then she screamed. "Demon!" the young woman then pointed.
Prue looked around, and with a flick of her hand sent the whatever-it-was flying away at 40 mph. Susan asked in wonder, "How did you do that?"
Prue saw no reason to hide it under these circumstances. "I'm a witch."
Susan's eyes went wide. "Coooool."
The Halliwell woman quickly went about finding a safe place for her companion, and then started calling for her whitelighter, Leo Wyatt. But unfortunately, he didn't show up for some reason. "Damn it..." Prue cursed, as she started looked for a working phone to call San Francisco.
But then all of a sudden, she saw a rampaging mob of demons heading down the street. Too many even for her to take on single-handed.
At that moment Prue felt a masculine hand grab her arm and drag her away. Too surprised to say anything, she just let the Soldier Guy yank her along to a two-storey house and then slam the door shut behind them.
A Goth type, a redhead seemed relieved to see them. "Cordelia!"
(Who?) "All right, what's going on?" Prue demanded.
"Okay, my name is Willow. Your name is Cordelia, you're not a cat, you're in high school, and we're your friends. Well, sort of," the red-haired girl replied.
Prue just looked at her, not amused. "Very funny, sure. Now what the heck is going on here? One moment I was at the manor fighting Shax, and then I was suddenly in front of that big...whatever it was. Look, the entire town is going nuts out there! Do you have any ideas why the hell there are demons all over the place?"
Willow Rosenberg just gaped as she realized the situation. "Uh, who are you exactly?"
"My name is Prue Halliwell," the brunette woman replied testily.
The Soldier Guy, who had once been the boy known as Alexander Harris, cocked his head towards Willow. "Hey, I thought you said we were all possessed by our costumes or something? 'Cause she sure as hell ain't acting like a cat!"
"Well, yeah, I mean you and Buffy..." Willow broke off. "Buffy?"
Prue looked around, and spied a woman dressed in an 18th century gown. "Are you Buffy?"
"Certainly not! My name is Elizabeth Warren. LADY Elizabeth Warren," the brunette noblewoman sniffed.
(Well, if that's not setting women's lib back a couple of centuries, I don't know what would! Hang on...) "Warren? Would you perchance happen to have a cousin named Charlotte in the colonies?" Prue tried to sound as non-hostile and 'Pride and Prejudice' as possible.
"Why yes, I do," Lady Elizabeth said in surprise. "How did you know?"
"Well, it seems we're family, or at least distantly related. The Halliwells are part of your lineage, we share a common ancestor - Melinda Warren, maybe you've heard of her?" Prue asked carefully.
Elizabeth instantly paled. She had indeed heard of that woman, a blonde witch who had been burned at the stake nearly three generations ago. But only a simpleton would dare claim kinship to someone like that! "I, uh, don't recall the name. But if we are related, then I take it you're here to help?"
"Look, I hate to break up this little family reunion...and I can't believe I'm actually saying that! But we have to decide what to do next," Willow declared.
"Well, surely some strong men will come and protect us?" Lady Elizabeth asked hopefully.
Soldier Guy rolled his eyes while Prue said carefully, "I'd prefer not to rely on that. After all, the Lord helps those who help themselves."
"What do you suggest we do then?" Lady Elizabeth asked.
"Well, we need the big brains to figure this out. Look, you guys stay here while I get some help. If something tries to get in, just fight it off," Willow said, before the ghost walked out of the house through a wall.
Prue's eyes went wide. (A ghost? Huh, reminds me of the time Piper met that guy Mark, just before my birthday...)
Soldier Guy just walked around the room, noting all the possible points of entry. He started barricading the door, and told Prue to go check out the sound of a disturbance upstairs. The witch didn't care for the commanding tone of voice, but conceded that he was right in sending her to investigate. On account of Lady Helpless wasn't going to be of much use on something like that.
Prue eventually came back to find a new arrival in the Summers home, talking with the soldier and the Warren woman. A tall, dark-haired... (Hang on, he's not breathing!)
Angel had just made a comment regarding Buffy's hair, when he felt himself being hoisted up into the air and slammed against the wall. The ensouled vampire then saw Cordelia Chase in a cat outfit glaring at him. "What are you?"
"Cordelia? It's me, Angel!" the thing said in confusion. "And how did you just do that?"
Instantly reminded of what the redhead, Willow, had called her, Prue began to get a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. "My name is Prue Halliwell. And you're not human. What are you?"
"Uh..." Angel didn't know quite know how to explain it.
Prue got tired of waiting and decided to do a spell to learn for herself. "All concealed, now revealed, give me the truth to speed my way and not let the innocent have to pay."
A white light seemed to start swirling and revolving around Angel, highlighting his aura and joining his mind to Prue's.
All that she suddenly felt instantly revolted the witch. Ms. Halliwell understood that Angel was a vampire; she felt the fury of the caged Angelus as well as the anguish of Liam's soul. She also could feel how the curse wasn't permanent, that the human soul could be torn loose and the beast unleashed once again...
And then she felt something else. Looking deep within herself, Prue suddenly knew this wasn't her body. She also felt the essence of Cordelia Chase, who had been constantly screaming for the intruder to get out ever since Prue's soul had been torn away from Heaven and taken up residence inside this corporeal vessel, thanks to the enspelled necklace.
(Oh dear God. I'm dead?)
Well, duh! Cordelia's inner voice finally calmed down, after being able to communicate with her temporary housemate. And it's about damn time you realized it, too. Now GET OUT OF MY BODY!
(How?) Prue thought back in annoyance.
I don't know. You're the super-witch Charmed One, so think of something! Cordelia demanded.
(You know about that?) Prue wondered.
I know everything. Including what you just now found out about Angel. And, ewww! To think I actually hit on a vampire two nights ago! Cordelia sounded disgusted.
Prue searched through Cordelia's memories, and recognized the possessed Xander Harris in her mind. (Why would you do that, when you already have a boyfriend?)
HEY! Cordelia snapped. Just because the dweeb saved my life from that fire a few weeks back and we've been making out in the school utility closet ever since, that does NOT make him my boyfriend!
(Riiiight. Whatever you say,) Prue felt amused. (You know, you guys remind me of myself and Andy back in the day. Then he left me after high school, and I didn't see him again for years. You're telling me that you wouldn't care if something like that eventually happened to you too?)
None of your business, Queen C's voice was nonetheless sounding uncertain. And hey, just outta interest? If you're dead, how come you don't remember Heaven or dying?
(I don't know. Look, I have to end the spell now, the others are obviously getting completely freaked. And I'll try my best to figure all this out as soon as I can, okay?)
(Oh, and by the way, since he's not your boyfriend? You won't mind if I hit on the soldier boy, I take it. After all, that's one fine-looking body he's got there...)
DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH HIM! Cordelia's howl was instantly furious. Yeah, Rambo may be a hottie and all, but Xander's still in there the same way I am! You so much as even kiss him, and I'll...
(You'll what?) Prue asked in amusement. (And you can relax, I was only kidding.)
Lady, you have one WARPED sense of humor!
Prue didn't reply, she just ended the spell and Angel fell to the ground. Out cold.
The Soldier Guy was aiming his M-16 at her. "Okay, what the hell was that?" he demanded.
Prue gestured, and the weapon flew into her hands. The army officer was astonished. "How the-?"
"Witchcraft! You're a WITCH!" Lady Elizabeth hollered. "Burn her! Burn her!"
"Sorry, but not going to happen. Look, yeah, I'm a witch, but I'm a good witch. And he's a vampire," Prue gestured to Angel.
"Really?" the noblewoman asked timidly, not sure if she believed a word of it but deciding to give a relative the benefit of the doubt for now. "Such creatures really exist?"
"Oh yeah," Prue replied. "Cross my heart, and hope to lose my powers."
The soldier didn't know what the hell was going on anymore. Not that he'd really had a clue ever since he'd encountered the redheaded working girl ghost and the uptight nutsack tonight, but this was really going beyond the pale. (I give up. Somebody just shoot me now!)
All of a sudden, there was a disturbance in the kitchen. Prue went to check it out after giving Soldier Guy his gun back, and asking him to check upstairs. The Halliwell witch then soon came back from the kitchen, dusting herself off.
"What happened?" Lady Elizabeth asked.
"Nothing you need to worry about," the Charmed One replied, as the soldier rejoined the two women. "But I swear, I really do need a change of clothing..."
Hadley Street, Sunnydale, California
A while later
The spell was over, Willow and Giles having done the research and Ripper having beat up his old 'friend' to end it all. And both Xander and Cordelia were now hurrying along to go find Cybil. "You think she'll be okay?" Cordy sounded really worried.
"I'm pretty sure," Xander tried to be honest. "You left her somewhere safe, right?"
"I didn't, Prue did," the cheerleader riposted. "And Xander, I swear, it feels so damn weird! I remember her life, as if I'd lived it all myself. How she felt about her father, that son of a bitch Roger, Andy, her sisters, everything. And the things Prue could do! Hmm, I wonder if there's any chance I kept the powers she had..."
"Well, speaking for myself, it felt damn creepy," Harris said with a headshake. "It's like I was there, but I couldn't get out. And Colonel Baker only understood two things: one, that he just wanted to get back to where things actually made sense, even if that meant a jungle firefight with the Viet-cong. And two, that he really wanted to kiss Prue Halliwell! A lot. No, actually, if I'm gonna be honest he definitely wanted to score with her!"
"So why didn't he even try to get to first base?" Cordelia was curious, as they rushed along.
"Scary witch who almost killed Deadboy? Cordy, Baker wasn't a moron. I mean, he didn't survive the Tet Offensive by being stupid!" Xander replied at once.
Cordelia didn't get a chance to reply to that as they suddenly stopped dead in their tracks. On instinct Xander shoved his secret girlfriend behind him as the white and blue lights came out of nowhere in front of them.
Cordy grabbed his arm when the young man whipped out a stake. "No, Xander! It's Leo and my sisters!"
"Your sisters?" Xander demanded in confusion. As far as he knew she had only the one, and that little girl was still missing in action. "How the-?"
"We wouldn't mind an answer to that as well," the shortest brunette arrival said as she stepped forward.
"Piper?" Cordelia said, surprised. "You grew your hair out..."
"Yes I did," Piper said to her. "But you see, YOU are not my dead older sister. Leo says your name's Cordelia Chase, so I would appreciate it if you didn't talk as if you were her!"
"Oh! So sorry if my new multiple personality disorder is irking you!" Cordelia growled. "Like I asked for any of this!"
Phoebe came over at that moment. "Oh my God. Piper, that's the necklace Prue got from that what's-his-name boyfriend of hers, before Grams died! You remember, the one she nearly eloped with?"
"You're right," Piper said to her younger sister after briefly staring at Cordy's chest.
"Wait up," Paige asked, a strange look on her face. "Prue was going to be married? But I thought she was with that Andy guy?"
"She-" Piper started but was cut off by Cordelia.
"Robert and me didn't work out, he went back to Paris and then Roger came into the picture. And I...I mean, Prue and Andy didn't meet again till later when we first got our powers back."
Leo shared a look with Piper, "She's right."
"Look, I'm sure this is more than little weird for everyone here," Xander said. "But right now, priorities? We have a little sister to find."
"Good point," Leo replied. "This is the Hellmouth after all."
"Which we seem to have never even heard of. Why?" Piper snapped at her husband.
"Piper, this isn't like you. When did you become so...bitchy?" Cordelia asked her, surprised.
Piper instantly stood nose to nose with the cheerleader. "Like I said before, you are not Prue, so for the last time - don't talk to me as if you're her! But to answer your question...I've been through a lot in the last few years, plus I just lost my big sister a few months ago. I think I can be excused for being a little..."
"Catty?" Cordelia gestured innocently, her Halloween costume speaking for itself.
"Why, you-!" Piper growled before she was pushed aside by Xander.
"Look, hate to break up the pissing contest...or whatever it is girls call it. But we have bigger things to deal with?" Xander asked hopelessly.
"Fine," Piper said as she backed up. "Leo, take Paige and this guy to find who they're looking for. Phoebe and I will take Ms. Chase back to her house."
"Hey, lady, I..." Xander started but stopped by Cordelia.
"It's okay, Xander," she told him while looking at Piper. "Leo can orb you and this Paige girl out if it's a trap. And both her and Phoebe knew Prue too well not to see if I slip up."
"Not bad," Phoebe said with a smile.
All of a sudden the air shimmered, and a tall, dark-haired male form materialized. His eyes looked around as if in search for something, and instantly Phoebe threw herself into his arms. "Cole!"
Cordelia's eyes went ice-cold at the memories. "Hello, Cole. Or would you prefer Belthazor?"
Xander stared at the new arrival. "Who?"
The half-breed demon ignored the male human, cocking his head at the barely-veiled animosity. "Do I know you?" he asked, taking in the female brunette's teenage face as Phoebe let go.
"No. But her name's Cordelia, and apparently she just got possessed by Prue tonight," Piper rolled her eyes.
Instantly, Cole moved back. "Really?"
"Oh, yeah. And believe you me, I know everything Prue did about you. And we're talking all the intimate little details, including what she learned while cursed as an empath." The freezing tone of voice possibly would have made even the Source think twice about a smart comment.
"In that case, uh, I won't hang around. Demon bounty hunters on my trail and all that! Just wanted to make sure Phoebe was okay. I'll see you guys back in San Francisco..." Cole then shimmered out.
Xander stared at where Cole had been. "Neat trick!"
Phoebe just glared at Cordelia. "Did you have to be so rude?"
"Did you have to pick a demon as your boyfriend? And one who originally wanted to kill all three of you guys, at that?" Cordelia fired right back at her.
Piper sighed at the almost-nostalgia. "Oh God, here we go again. Okay, okay, you two, break it up! Now let's get this show on the road!"
Chase Mansion Kitchen, Sunnydale, California
Thirty minutes later
Leo, Paige and Xander orbed in to find two very surprised witches.
"Whoa!" Xander said after he reformed. "That is one weird funky way to travel." Then he smiled, "Any chance you could show me how to do it?"
"What's wrong?" Leo ignored Xander, focusing on seeing Piper's face.
"The chaos spell. Or whatever's responsible? Bottom line, Miss Chase here still has Prue's powers thanks to what's happened," Piper told him simply, looking somewhat upset.
"What?" Paige demanded. "How is that possible? I thought..."
"That since you reformed the Charmed Ones after Prue died, you got her powers?" Cordelia asked, having learned who Paige was by this point.
"Ah...yeah, sorta," Paige replied, somewhat sheepishly.
"From what they've told me," Cordelia told the young woman. "You got found, called or whatever after I...that is, Prue died. And by the way, it feels so good to know that you can be so easily replaced that way! However your power is different than mine, at least I think it is. The prophecy about the third sister's abilities kinda differentiates between us. You can call things to you, I can just move them around like I always could."
"Will you stop doing that?" Piper demanded. "For the last time, quit talking as if you're Prue!"
"I can't help it," Cordelia told her in annoyance. "I remember everything like I lived it myself, so cut me some slack here, okay?"
"Can we get back to the powers thing?" Xander asked.
"Fine!" Cordelia snapped as she waved her hand and a glass vase full of roses flew off the counter and smashed into the wall. "Now what about my little sister?"
Xander was too stunned to reply, so Leo answered the question. "Cybil's fine. She's at her friend Janice's house...and they're both busy repressing everything."
"Thank God," Cordelia said, relieved. "Now, what are we going to do about this?"
"We do a spell to take away the memories and your powers, of course," Piper replied.
"Do we have to?" Phoebe asked. "I mean - Piper, I know she's not Prue, but she sort of is too at the same time. We even argue the same way Prue and I did - in a weird, funky sort of way!"
"Doesn't matter. I want the real Prue back," Piper said to that, looking more upset than ever. "Not some fake-"
"Hey! You said it yourself, you're not my sister. So just to make myself clear? Piper, you are not doing any spells or magic on me without my permission!" Cordelia said, upset. Before Piper got mad and waved her hand.
"Oh, shut up!" The now oldest Halliwell demanded as she expected both her targets to freeze.
However to Piper's surprise, only Xander froze in his tracks.
"You bitch! You unfreeze him, right now!" Cordelia raged. "This is so not like that time with Natalie! You can't just go around freezing people because you're pissed! Or the personal gain thing will totally bite your ass!"
"Ah, why didn't she freeze?" Paige asked as Piper glared at Cordelia.
"Good question..." Leo looked up then back down. "The Elders are calling me."
"Well, fine. Maybe they can straighten this out," Piper sighed, as she unfroze Xander who instantly looked lost for a moment. "We'll take them back to the Manor till we figure this big mess out."
"Now wait just a sec..." Cordelia was cut off as they all orbed out.
The realm of the whitelighter Elders
A short while later
"Ah, Leo. Welcome," the Elder named Cecil said as the whitelighter orbed in to the higher realm. "How are those two teenagers from Sunnydale doing?"
The guardian angel slash handyman shrugged. "Okay, I guess. Xander wasn't exactly happy when he found out he was magically frozen, and suddenly in a city 150 miles away from home. As for Cordelia...she's taking it all amazingly well, surprisingly enough."
"We are fortunate in that this happened to people who are aware of the world of magic," Cecil told him as they walked over to a seating area. "And that the Charmed Ones found out about this before the demon world did."
"I know. I have to admit, it was lucky for our side that Cole was in the area," Leo replied as he sat down. "But to get back on topic, you should know that Piper wants to erase their memories of all this-"
"No," the Elder said to that at once.
"May I ask why? After all, the Cleaners do that all the time to mortals, don't they?" Leo replied. "How is this any different? Whether they're aware of the supernatural or not?"
"There has been much discussion about this amongst all the Elders," Cecil told him. "And we have thoroughly investigated these two mortals, Leo. In essence their recent adventure has given us an unexpected opportunity to have a fully-fledged witch stationed on the Hellmouth. All the witches we have previously sent could not handle the evil there, after a time. But since Cordelia was born on the Hellmouth, it is believed she can withstand the pervasive corrupting influence of the place better than a non-native could."
"I - I have to admit, I'm a little confused," Leo confessed. "Because we all know the hard way that mortals can't handle witch powers. After all, that doctor who got infected by the Charmed Ones' blood..."
"Went mad," Cecil said, stopping him. "Yes, none of us have forgotten. But we learned something when it was found Cordelia kept Prue's power, which should enable her to cope with the magical energy influx."
"Which is?" Leo prompted.
The Elder waved his hand, and a floating image of a brunette Irish woman materialized in the heavenly realm. "This is one of Ms. Chase's distant relatives, an ancestor who was a natural-born witch in 17th century Galway. While the power did not pass on down through the maternal line, the ability to handle it did."
"So Cordelia can wield magic safely," Leo said, finally understanding. "Very well. But what about the memories of Prue's life?"
"Prudence Halliwell grew into a strong witch worthy of being a Charmed One," Cecil replied. "We believe that a simple spell allowing the girl to separate those memories from her own ones, will let Ms. Chase be able to draw on Prue's experience and wisdom to aid her."
"I see. Well, Piper isn't going to like this one bit, I can tell you that right now," Leo sighed. "She still hasn't gotten over the loss of her sister."
"Well, on that matter," Cecil replied. "You can tell her we have permission."
"From who?" Leo asked, surprised. "The only person that could give permission for her to keep and use Prue's memories would be..."
Leo stood and spun at the sound of the familiar female voice, one that he'd thought he wouldn't be hearing again for a very long time. "Prue!"
The murdered woman nodded to him. "It's real good to see you again, Leo," she told him honestly. "I'd hug you, but I haven't figured out how to stay solid long enough yet. Mom always said I was a slow learner on things like that when I was young."
"You've been talking to your mother?" Leo wanted to know.
"Well, we're both dead," Prue shrugged. "I just wish I could have been there when Mom and Grams told you guys about Paige!"
"And the only reason I'm allowed to see or talk to you now is because...I'm dead too," Leo understood.
"That's correct, Leo," Cecil told him. "Humans need time to mourn and move on; and they can't do that if Prue can visit them at any time. Patricia only showed herself in ghost form recently, many years after her mortal death, in accordance with that rule."
Leo looked back to Prue. "Well, I'll tell her the situation. And hopefully, Piper won't argue with what you want."
"There is also another matter we must discuss before you return to Earth," Cecil told Leo.
"What's that?" the whitelighter asked, as Prue vanished.
"Sit down. This will take quite a while to explain."
Halliwell Manor Attic, San Francisco, California
Some time later...
Leo cringed at the loudness of his wife's shriek. "You TALKED to Prue?" Piper almost yelled.
"Yes," he told her simply.
The Charmed One looked at him, amazed. "And the thought of having her come down here to see us didn't even occur to you?"
"Piper, please. I can't break that rule," the whitelighter said very quickly and firmly.
"Ah, Leo?" Phoebe said. "We've already broken tons of rules. What difference does one more make now?"
The man looked at her, seeing the hope in her eyes and sighed. "Phoebe, it's not that simple. Because this isn't an Elder rule. We're talking about one of the basic tenets of the universe." He looked to both of them and sat on the old desk by the wall. "Look, life and death isn't random, and you guys have learned by now how the afterlife exists. You've seen the ghosts of your relatives that have passed on-"
"Leo, for heaven's sake, we know all this!" Piper interrupted him, trying to not to sound like a teen in a snit from not getting what she wanted. "But this is Prue we're talking about. She's our sister, not to mention a Charmed One!"
"I know that, Piper," Leo told her. "But you guys have had the rules bent on this before...and the HIGHER powers that you haven't met yet won't allow it again."
"We have?" Piper asked. "When?"
"When your grandmother showed herself to you after the first anniversary of you getting your powers," he replied. "You guys are the Charmed Ones, and it was necessary to make sure you stayed on the right path."
"So they let Grams say hi to us?" Phoebe asked.
"Yeah," Leo said simply.
"But what about that girl that was killed by her cat turned demon?" Piper asked as she sat next to Leo. "Why could we summon her so soon after her death?"
"Grief," the guy told her simply. "You didn't know her, or had even heard of her till after her death. But with Prue, you have to grieve and move on."
"That sucks. And hey, I would have liked to meet her," Paige said with a sigh as she sat on the arm of the couch.
"You might someday," Leo told her.
"Really?" the youngest sister asked, surprised.
Leo thought for a moment before he looked up at the ceiling in the move the girls were well familiar with, he was consulting with the Elders. "Okay," he told them. "Several years after your mother's death...Penny was able to summon her. In this very room, as a matter of fact."
"What?" Piper demanded as she stood up. "You're saying that when we were growing up, Grams had our mother's ghost just one floor up from us?"
"Several times," the whitelighter admitted. "But it wasn't...immediately after her death. Don't you think your mother would have come and shown herself to you then if she could?"
"This is too much," Phoebe said, holding her head.
"Look, bottom line, Prue isn't alone," Leo said to them. "Your mother, grandmother, all your relatives, even Andy's with her. She's happy, in her own way."
"Andy's with her?" Piper asked, as she stopped dead at that one.
"He is," Leo told her.
"Years?" Piper replied, hating the thought of having to wait that long to see her older sister again. Her husband just nodded.
"Okay then," Paige said to everyone, trying to focus. "What exactly did Prue say for you to tell us?"
"That she loves you all," Leo answered. "And that she wants Cordelia to keep her powers and memories, if that's her choice."
Halliwell Manor Sitting Room
The same time
Cordelia winced at the yell Piper made from the attic. "Gee," she said sarcastically. "Sounds as if Piper doesn't like something she's just learned, don't ya think?" The teen picked up a framed photo from the coffee table. "Oh yeah, I remember when Grams took this."
Xander looked over her shoulder of the picture of three sisters on the front steps of the home they were now in. "That's Prue?" he asked pointing to one.
"Yep, that's her," Cordelia told him. They stood in silence for a few moments before Cordelia did something that surprised the Harris boy. She set the picture down and quickly wrapped her arms around the young man's neck, pulling him into a deep kiss.
Xander, being a guy, of course instantly went with it. Their make-out session lasted quite a while. And when they finally came up for air, he looked at her curiously. "Not that I'm complaining...'cause believe me, I'm so not! But what was that for?"
With her arms still around him, the young woman smiled. "I now have something a girl my age normally doesn't have."
"And that would be?"
"Hindsight," she told him. "Xander, Prue and her high school sweetheart Andy went their separate ways after graduation, and when Prue lost him for the second time a few years ago..." Cordelia stopped as the memories of that cop flying through the air and crashing to the floor appeared in her mind's eye. "I swear, my life sucks."
"Why's that, Cordy?" Harris asked, surprised.
"Lemme the count the ways, dweeb," she told him firmly but with a hint of a smile. "Despite appearances my closest friends since kindergarten hate me, and wouldn't hesitate to stab me in the back to take over as queen of the school. I have no doubts that when we graduate and all go off to college, I won't ever hear from them again. Most of the time my dad treats me more like a fancy sports car than a daughter." Cordy sighed, "If the client has a teenage son, then I just HAVE to meet him. And my mother looks at me with contempt whenever she starts drinking, just because I'm young and she's old."
She then looked into Xander's eyes. "Just about all my boyfriends have been more interested in my chest than my brains, y'know. When you saved me from that fire...I'll admit it, you were the hot bad boy for a while. I mean, sure you risk your life nightly to save people and never get anything for it. And at first, it was all like the end of that 'Speed' movie between us..."
Xander's eyebrows went up at that, as Cordelia kept going. "You were just a thrill to make out with then. But over the last few weeks it grew to be more than that for me, even though I never thought I'd ever admit it. I hated it when I'd be out with some rich dummy at the country club, and all I'd be thinking of is what you were doing!"
"Re...really?" Xander replied, stunned to hear this.
"Really," Cordelia told him. "In fact, that's not the only time I've thought about you," she said with a dirty grin that caused his eyes to widen when the young man figured out what she meant by that. "God help me. But I've think I've fallen for you, Xander Harris. Completely."
When Xander just kept looking at her, shocked and silent, she grinned. "Hello? This is the point where you talk."
"I..." he tried. "I'm sorry, Cordy. I just never thought you'd admit to even liking me, what with the way we fight so much!"
"You think I would skip class so often to make out with a guy I didn't like?" she asked him archly.
Xander tried to think of something intelligent to say. But all he could come up with was, "Guess not. Cordy, I've never actually had a girlfriend before...so, uh, I don't exactly know what to do or say. At least, not without somehow screwing it up completely."
"That's okay," Cordy told him. "You'll figure it out somehow, you've already made a good start. I mean Xander, every other guy at our school would be spreading it all over campus that he was making out with me. But you haven't told anyone...not even your best friend!"
Xander nodded and shrugged. "Well, to be honest I knew Willow wouldn't take it well. That is, if she and Buffy even believed me. And as for telling other people...well, hey, no delusions here. I know just how quick that would destroy your reputation."
"So you kept silent," Ms. Chase mused. "That's the second time you saved me, huh?"
Harris looked down. "If we're gonna be honest, Cor, I'm not...if we ever...I can't give you the kind of life you're used to. I don't even know if one day, I'll end up just like my dad..."
"Oh, you won't!" the teenage female told him seriously. "Because I'm not going to let you drink. Ever."
"O...kay?" Xander replied slowly.
"So you're the 'wrong side of the tracks' kind of guy," she told him. "And most people will think that you're just trying to get your hands on my money-"
"Well, your dad is the fiftieth richest man in the country or thereabouts," Xander pointed out.
"And yet, you've never once asked me for anything," Cordelia pointed out right back to him. "Xander? I want to give us a shot, and to hell with what everyone else thinks."
Xander looked amazed at her, this was the girl who up until now had valued what people thought of her first and foremost after all. "You just came up with all this tonight?"
She shrugged. "Like I said, hindsight. I have the memories of a thirty-year-old witch in my head now. That's how I know just how trivial high school life really is, when you get to that age."
Xander took her hand and led Cordelia back to one of the couches. "I have to admit, I'm still not understanding this entire thing," he said to the girl. "I mean, just because you had an old necklace of this Prue woman, you became her? I mean I bought a full army uniform from that Ethan guy, and you'd think it'd take more than just a castoff piece of jewelry..."
"It was sold by accident."
The teens looked over to see the current Charmed Ones and Leo come into the room. Piper silently motioned the two teens to stay seated, as they took the other couch.
"I must have put it in Prue's discard pile by mistake when we went through her stuff," Phoebe informed her. "Though how a chaos mage got ahold of it, I don't have a clue."
"It's most likely that he had no idea who the previous owner was," Leo said. "I mean, from what I've found out about this guy, Rayne would have otherwise used it against us somehow."
"So what's the verdict?" Cordelia asked the three people she could swear she knew very well. "You guys going to do the magical whammy on us, or not?"
"As much as I don't like it, no," Piper said shortly, glancing at Paige. "I've been overruled."
Leo looked uncomfortable. "There's, uh, something else you need to be told about. With regard to your family, I mean. Something that's allowing you to keep Prue's powers, and maybe change how you view another person you know."
Second Floor Study, Chase Mansion, Sunnydale
November 1st, 1997
"Excuse me, Miss Cordelia?"
Cordelia looked up to see the family butler, who'd thankfully had last night off, in the room. "Yes, David?"
"There's a Miss Willow Rosenberg here to see you."
Cordelia took a deep breath and closed her English book. "Thank you, David, let her in."
"Very good, miss," the man said as he left the room, and Cordelia saw a very upset redhead standing there at the doorway.
"Hi, Willow," Cordelia said somewhat nervously. "Uh, I take it Xander's talked to you? About...me, I mean."
Her visitor didn't answer as the Jewish girl closed the door behind her. She then stared at the cheerleader for a few moments. "I have only one question to ask you. Why?"
"Why what?" Cordelia asked.
"Why Xander?" Ms. Rosenberg demanded fiercely. "You could have any guy in the entire school, just about. But out of the blue, the boy you've been fighting with ever since we were in kindergarten - is somehow the one for you now?"
"Yeah. It, it kinda came as a shock to me too," Cordy admitted. "Most of the time I just date a guy because he's hot and rich. But Xander, after he saved me from burning to death that night...I kind of felt like a girl in one of those action movies, y'know? I mean, it started as just making out...and it grew from there into something else."
Willow didn't show any emotion as she listened, before saying simply, "So how long are you going to string him along, then?"
"Excuse me?" Cordelia demanded hotly. "String him along?"
"Oh, come on Cordelia! I mean, 'it grew into something else'?" Willow said firmly, with a backbone she never would have had under different circumstances. "I've known you practically all your life. I know your pattern; you date a guy, get bored with him and then dump him. Sometimes in less than a week! Does the name Devon MacLeish ring any bells?"
Cordy didn't want to get into an argument here, since she'd promised Xander that she wouldn't fight with his best bud if she could possibly avoid it. "Willow, I know I haven't got the best record as a serious girlfriend. But Xander and I-"
"Don't," Willow said darkly. "Do not talk about him and you like that. He's not supposed to be your boyfriend!"
"He's not?" Cordelia asked. "Well, that's odd, I didn't know he was already spoken for. After all, Buffy's with...Angel." She spoke the vampire's name with distaste.
Willow missed the subtle nuances with regard to that guy though. "Not Buffy you bimbo, ME!"
"You?" the brunette asked with some amusement. "You like Xander?"
"Yes," the girl replied. "And if there's any justice in this world, YOU don't end up getting him! You, Cordelia Chase, the girl who made our lives hell ever since we were six years old?" Willow gestured around the Chase residence. "I remember the last time I came here, along with the rest of the class. It was your tenth birthday. And you humiliated me in front of everybody! Why else do you think Jesse moped all day and Xander threw all your presents into the pool out of revenge?"
Cordelia looked down for a minute, deciding to ignore that last part. "Look, I'm not going to try to sugarcoat the past, that's pointless. All I'll say is that there's always been a social pecking order around here, and you weren't one of the cool crowd...so everyone can and will kick you when you can't defend yourself. It's that simple."
"That's it?" Willow demanded, amazed. "You hurt me for almost as long as I can remember, and that's your apology?"
"No," Cordelia replied. "I'm not giving you one, it's just the reason. Willow, I've always had an image to maintain...and putting down the geeks was part of it, like it or not."
"I don't believe what I'm hearing," Willow said hopelessly as she ran her hands through her hair. "Okay, answer me this...Xander doesn't go along with your precious image, we both know that. So why do you want to be seen with him in public now?"
"Simple," Cordelia replied. "Some very wise advice from a woman I bumped into recently. You sorta met her last night."
"That Prue Halliwell person?" Willow demanded, her brilliant mind making the connection at once. "You're taking advice from a fictional made-up character now? Cordy, are you nuts?"
"No, Willow. See, she was real..." Cordelia told her. "And she died just a few months ago. I got a necklace of hers that got bought by that Ethan guy. And I learned from Prue's memories that in the end life in high school doesn't matter much, in the grand scheme of things. So I figure, why not give the one boy that I actually like a chance?"
"I don't...how can something like this happen?" Willow asked, briefly looking up. "You just flash your cleavage at Xander after he saves your life-"
"Hey!" Cordelia yelled in annoyance.
But Willow kept going. "Then you decide that he's worthy of the great Cordelia Chase?"
"No matter how bad a person you think I am," Cordelia said firmly. "I do have the right to try to be happy. And so far, Xander's the only guy to even come close to making me happy. It's not like he's not dating me for my money, or even my looks."
"But you haven't been dating him!" the redhead said heatedly. "You've only been making out with him in a freaking utility closet!" The girl finally just growled, "You don't get him, he's mine!"
"Okay, I get it," Cordelia said with incredible patience. "You like him. In the more than friends way. But have you ever told him that?"
Willow looked upset at that question. "I am not making this up, Cordelia, ask Buffy if you don't believe me! I've always liked Xander..."
"Buffy?" Cordelia asked. "What does she have to do with this?" The cheerleader then looked at the other girl in disbelief. "Wait up, you mean to tell me you told Buffy that you wanted him... but you never told Xander that? Is that why Buffy went for a corpse instead of him? Because you warned her off?"
"No! And not that it's any of your business, but Buffy knows how deeply I feel for Xander," Willow told her.
"Yeah, but have you ever told him that?" Cordelia asked for the second time. "Have you ever told the big dummy how you really feel about him?"
The memory of Buffy and Xander talking in the library when the Inca Mummy Girl had been around briefly surfaced in the redhead's thoughts. "No..." Willow finally admitted. "But we, we almost kissed that one time, the night Buffy came back to town-"
"And that was his big hint that you're the one for him?" Cordy asked. "Willow, do you even understand guys at all? Xander sees you like a sister. And from what I've heard, a distant one at that these days."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Willow tried to disregard the bitter feeling with respect to the 'sister' wisecrack.
Cordelia wondered if she should continue, but finally decided it would be better if she said it and not Xander. "You think I haven't noticed? Please. Ever since Buffy came to town...you've been hanging with her way more than Xander."
"That is SO not true!" Willow said, outraged.
"Oh, come on!" Cordelia scoffed. "Admit it, she's everything you ever wanted in a best friend. And nowadays your head is so far up Buffy's ass, it's not even funny. My God, Willow, you're even telling her it's okay to be in love with that freak vampire? Like all this is some sort of fairy tale which ends happily ever after? Then you accuse Xander of being jealous when he speaks up about it."
"Who the hell do you think you are to talk to me-"
"Look, Willow," Cordelia said as she stood up. "It's not my fault you never told Xander how you feel about him. But that's the way the world works, you snooze you lose. Whether you or Buffy like it or not, Xander and I are going to try our best to make this work."
"Like you guys really have a snowball's chance in Hell," Willow said darkly. "You know what, Cordy? I think I will tell him that I'm in love with him, and then he'll dump you in a second!"
Cordelia laughed. "You think Xander is going to drop everything just because you want him to? He wouldn't be with me if he wanted to be with you, or even Buffy anymore for that matter. Oh yeah, last night? When the spell ended and Buffy finally woke up, the first and only thing she had eyes for was Angel. We both saw it, and I'll bet you my bottom Prada Xander's given up on her completely by now!"
She ushered Willow to the door. "Now if you want to go declare your love for him...go ahead, and best of luck. When we all get together tonight in the library, you can let me know how it went."
Phoebe's Bedroom, Halliwell Manor, San Francisco
"You did what?" Phoebe demanded into her cell phone.
/Well, it felt like the right thing to say when I said it/ was Cordelia Chase's answer. /Phoebes, did I just make the biggest mistake of my life/
The current Charmed One paused at this girl calling her by her old nickname. "Maybe..." she replied cautiously. "But if he does have feelings for this Willow girl, then wouldn't it be better to find out now? I mean, before you get in too deep with him?"
/No/ Cordelia growled. /...it's just that, much as I hate to admit it, Willow has a point. In the movies it's not the girl like me who gets the guy. I'm the one that gets dunked into the pool, or gets ditched at the prom/
"Who gives a crap about movies?" Phoebe demanded of her. "This is real life."
/It is/ Cordelia asked scornfully. /Yeah. I'm talking to the sister of a mega-witch who possessed me and let me keep her powers, about a guy who saved me from getting my head cut off and becoming the Bride of Frankenstein/
Phoebe leaned back on her bed as she conceded that point. Neither of their lives were what you could call normal anymore. "Has he ever given this Willow girl any...y'know, looks? Encouragement?"
/Not that I've ever seen/ Cordelia replied. /She claims that they almost kissed once, though./
"Like that means anything," Phoebe snorted.
/I know/ Cordelia replied. /Matt Rikes from eighth grade/
"He almost kissed me!" Phoebe repeated her old childhood defense defiantly.
/I remember/ Cordelia replied with a laugh.
"That is going to get SO annoying," Phoebe determined with a smile.
Halliwell Manor Sitting Room
Twenty minutes later
"Everything sound good?" Paige asked as her older sister came down the stairs.
Phoebe nodded. "Yeah, she's already on her way to their library."
"A library," Paige replied with a grin. "Is it in Hogwarts?"
"I don't think it's a magical high school," Phoebe said to that. "That would be too weird."
"Well, actually...it's not at all weird," Leo said awkwardly.
Phoebe looked at him in surprise. "No...no way. There's a magical high school? How come we didn't get to go?"
"Your powers were bound after you were born, remember?" Leo said.
"How's...Cordelia?" Piper asked from her seat. By this point she had started to get over her issues regarding the Chase girl thanks to Leo's prodding, the whitelighter knowing exactly which buttons to push.
"Okay, I guess," was Phoebe's answer. "She's just worried about another girl about to declare her undying love to her boyfriend."
"From what we saw last night, she shouldn't worry," Leo said. "Should she?"
Piper rolled her eyes. "He's a guy, honey. With them, nothing is ever 100 percent."
"Hey!" Leo said, amused. "Like women are that easy to understand."
"Three to one, dear. Quit while you're behind," Piper gave him a smile.
As Phoebe sat next to Paige she said, "You know, I have to say - talking to Cordelia, it really felt like I was almost talking to Prue..." When she saw Leo grin, she paused. "That's why Prue agreed to this?"
"What?" Piper asked.
"Talking to her made me feel like I was talking to Prue," Phoebe told her. "That's why Prue let her keep the memories, because in a way...she is Prue."
Leo nodded. "In a way."
"Leave it to Prue to find a loophole to help us however she can," Phoebe grinned.
Sunnydale High School parking lot, Sunnydale, California
"Hey," Cordelia said lightly as she got out of her car.
"Hey," Xander replied as he walked up to her.
A pause passed between them before she asked, "I take it Willow talked to you?"
"Yeah, yeah, that she did," Xander said with visible sadness.
"So what did you tell her?" Cordelia asked nervously.
Sunnydale High Library, Sunnydale, California
A few minutes later
Buffy looked up to see Xander and Cordelia come in hand in hand. "Okay, now this is just not natural," she mumbled to herself, having learned the score from a very upset Willow.
For the life of her, the blonde Slayer didn't know how the hell she was going to talk Xander out of this. (Talking a guy out of dating the richest girl in school, with a face and body like that...oh yeah, like that'll be easy!)
"Ah, y-yes," Giles said the two came in. "Save for Willow, who I hear will not be joining us tonight...we're all here."
"Angel's not here, is he?" Cordelia asked. "Hey! You're not hiding back there, are you vampire?" she demanded to the stacks.
Buffy's trouble with the dating thing stopped when she heard the not-so-nice way Cordelia mentioned Angel. "No, he's not," she replied. "And what's with the mean streak?"
"We've learned some things about good old Liam," Xander told her sarcastically. "But first, we better start explaining what happened last night."
"Liam?" Buffy wanted to know.
"That's uh, Angel's human name, before he was turned. But please, go on," Giles said as he sat on the edge of the table.
"Xander, I want to talk to you-" Buffy started to say.
"No. Hear me out first, Buff," Harris interrupted firmly, much to her surprise.
Twenty-five minutes later, Cordelia and Xander finished their tale. Giles had become more and more interested as it had progressed, "Cordelia? You're saying you have the powers of a Charmed One now?"
"So what? I mean, how's that any different from what you or Willow or Ms. Calendar can do?" Buffy asked.
"Buffy, there are two kinds of witches," Giles replied patiently in his best teacher's voice. "The self-taught practitioners, such as myself or even Ethan. But natural-born witches are maybe one in every ten thousand people. They can do magic and make up spells...on the fly, as you would say. Also, they have a natural magic power that they can use for self-defense."
"So why haven't we seen one around here before?" Buffy wanted to know. "You'd think they'd come here, what with the whole Hellmouth vibe..."
"No," Giles said at once. "Natural-born witches have something of the supernatural in them, so the power of the Hellmouth would have a worse effect on that kind of people than it has on the local demon populace. Namely, corrupting and destroying their morality."
"Which is why the Elders want me," Cordelia said with a shrug. "Since I've lived here and always had this girl's magic inside of me in a way, I can handle the ooky Hellmouth thing better than anyone else."
"So what?" Buffy wondered. "You just take over for me?"
"Issues, much? We'd work together," Cordelia told her bluntly, as Buffy frowned.
"This is all quite amazing, I must say," Giles said, removing his glasses. "The Council hadn't had a natural witch working-"
"And they still don't," Cordelia told him quickly. "Giles, they made it real clear. Help protect the Hellmouth and its people...not let the Council take charge. As if I'm gonna take orders from a bunch of old geezers all the way over there in England!"
"I take it the Elders still recall that incident during 1243?" Rupert sighed.
"You got it, G-man," Xander said.
"1243?" Buffy asked in confusion.
Xander looked over to her. "Bad calls, power plays, and just general badness all around."
"I suppose it was too much to hope for," Giles sighed again.
"And now that that's done with," Cordelia said, "it's time to call him in."
Before Buffy could even ask, Cordy turned her head toward the roof and yelled, "Leo!"
The vampire Slayer jumped back instinctively as a man orbed into the room. "Who the hell-?"
"He's a friend, Buff," Xander told her quickly as he stopped the Chosen One from stepping forward with her stake.
"Ah, hi," Leo Wyatt said to the group. "I take it you're Mr. Giles?"
"Why, uh, yes, yes," Giles said as he shook Leo's hand. "An actual whitelighter, remarkable..."
"So you're Cordelia's lighter guy?" Buffy asked, still not liking the way he'd orbed in.
"No, actually..." Leo told her. "Hers is yet to be determined. I'm kind of busy with my other charges." The man held out his hand, and a large old leather bound book appeared in his hands. "They wanted me to give you this."
"My own Book of Shadows?" Cordelia asked, amazed. "Wow!"
Giles looked over her shoulder as the girl flipped through the tome. "My word, this is one of the most compressed versions of demonology I've seen in years..."
"Well, your books mostly cover mentions of demons or people's diaries," the dead man replied. "This is a copy of the Charmed Ones' Book of Shadows. While it doesn't have everything the original does, it should work out great for you people around here."
"So all we need is this book?" Buffy asked, as she looked at a demon drawing on a page. "Cool, no more big research parties!"
"'Fraid not, Buffy," Cordelia told her. "I'm the only one who has the power to use these vanquishing spells. If Willow or whoever used them...it would just leave a big stain on the carpet."
"Well, that's just stupid," Buffy said to that. "Why can't anyone else use this sorta mojo? I mean Willow's a witch! Kinda..."
"She's not a natural-born," Leo told her patiently. "This way, we make sure the spells are not misused. After all, we don't need any more warlocks running around."
"Male witches?" Giles asked.
Leo shook his head. "Natural-born witches who get corrupted by evil. They kill and steal other witch powers."
The group talked for more than an hour before Leo left, and Giles went into his private office to record the evening's events in his diaries. Buffy stopped Xander and Cordelia as they were about to leave the library though, "Hey...just wondering, but what was with all the bad vibes regarding Angel earlier?"
Xander and Cordelia shared a look before the male teen spoke, "Go on, I'll tell her. Meet you at the car in a few minutes." Without a word Cordelia left.
"Xander?" Buffy demanded. "Come on, spill!"
Harris leaned against the rail of the steps. "Buffy, what do you know about Angel's human life?"
"Well..." Buffy said, not understanding. "He was human, then Darla turned him."
"Yeah, obviously, but what else?"
Buffy Summers opened her mouth, and suddenly realized there wasn't much more she could add to that. Her boyfriend wasn't exactly big with the sharing, when it came to that department. Then it hit her, "He didn't like the noblewomen back then, he thought they were simpering morons. He always wanted a girl like me?"
"I'll bet," Xander grimaced. "Okay, look, when the Elders searched to find the woman in Cordy's past that had magical abilities, they found out something else."
"Well, what could be so huge?" Buffy wanted to know.
"Angel's name was originally Liam O'Ro-" Xander said.
"Xander, I've read Giles's Watcher Diary," the Slayer cut him off impatiently. "Ya wanna cut to the chase here?"
"Fine. Long story short," Xander summed up. "Liam was no saint, one night he got drunk and raped Cordelia's ancestor."
"That is SO not funny, Xander!" Buffy said seriously, not believing him for a moment. "Angel wouldn't do that!"
"Well, Liam did," Xander said firmly. "So Deadboy is Cordy's ten times removed great-grandfather, or whatever."
"You're wrong," Buffy said angrily. "Angel is not that kind of guy!"
Xander shrugged. "Doesn't matter if you believe it or not, it's the truth."
"No it's not!" Buffy yelled, causing Giles to come out of the office. "What's going on out here?" the Watcher asked.
Harris quickly shook his head. "Buffy just needs to leave Fantasy Land, and deal with reality."
The blond Slayer fixed him with a malign glare. "If this is your way to try to split us up, Xander, it's not gonna work! Because I love Angel, I'm not interested in you like that!"
Buffy was instantly sorry she'd gone there, when Xander's face went utterly emotionless. "Yeah, I'd have to say your little lap dance in the Bronze two months ago made that pretty clear."
Giles made a small noise and backed away, returning to his office unnoticed by the two teenagers. "Look, Xander, I'm sorry I brought that up-" the girl began to apologize.
"I'm not. Look, Buffy, let's get something straight: Angel's our friend, but I don't like him or trust him. Never have, never will. Because at the end of the day, he's a vampire."
Buffy made a strangled noise in her throat. "But he has a soul, he's a good guy now-"
"I'm not arguing with you about that, all I'm saying is - I don't see what you see, when you look at the guy. You see the soul of the handsome man you love. Me? I see a walking corpse, lusting after a 16-year-old girl. I see the trail of bodies Deadboy left behind him, over 100 years ago-"
"That wasn't Angel!" The Slayer had the hopeless feeling she was just talking to herself.
"Technically, I suppose you're right. But don't kid yourself Buffy, Angelus is still in there - just below the surface. I can see that, even if you can't. Every time you kiss Angel, every time he touches you...the Scourge of Europe is right there, experiencing it all as well. You think about that, the next time you see your undead honey...and ask him if he's ever raped anyone before he met you."
Buffy never got the chance to reply as Xander turned around and left, the boy suspecting that his words had fallen upon deaf ears - as usual. A few moments later, Giles came out of his office again; and Buffy stared at her Watcher with a sudden look of dread on her face.
Angel's apartment, Sunnydale, California
Not long before midnight
"Hey," Angel said warmly as he saw who was at his door.
"Hey," Buffy said back, slightly subdued. "Angel, I need to ask you something."
"Anything," the ensouled vamp replied as Buffy came in and sat on his bed.
"Back when you were human," Buffy began. "Does the name Rebecca Riley mean anything to you?"
Angel's face froze. "Uh, that's a name I haven't heard in a very long time..."
"So you DID know her?" Buffy demanded, shocked.
"Well, back in Galway during the 1750's, she was a daughter of one of the local sea captains...I think," Angel said. "It's been so long though, I'm not sure anymore. In fact, I don't even recall what she looked like. Why? Did her name come up in some Watcher Diary?"
"No," Buffy said with pain.
For the next week or so, things were relatively quiet in Sunnydale. The normal vampires and demons kept Buffy busy. The Slayer, hurt and distracted by the knowledge that her beloved Angel recalled the entire story Xander had told her, was easy pickings for when the boy called Billy Fordham came to town...
Especially after the meeting where Angel had been told his soul wasn't permanently attached, and he had decided to distance himself from his girlfriend and the others just to be safe.
Still, that had all worked out okay in the end. And afterwards Buffy had wanted the newly witched Cordelia to help out. But Giles made sure that Cordy would get in some training time with her new powers, before the cheerleader joined the nightly patrols.
Or at least as many as her busy social calendar could allow, anyway.
Halliwell Manor, San Francisco, California
November 8th, 1997
"God, am I glad today's over with!" Paige Matthews said as the group returned home.
"Tell me about it," Piper said as she hung up her coat. "These are the days I hate. I had a lot of stuff to do today besides vanquish that guy's sorry ass."
"Hey," Phoebe chimed in. "At least you didn't get green slime all over a new pair of shoes!"
"Can you still take them back?" Paige asked.
"And tell the sales manager what?" Phoebe asked. "A slime demon threw up on my shoes before we vanquished him?"
Paige shrugged. "Guess not."
Piper leaned against her husband. "Well, I for one just want to go to...hey!" she yelled as she almost lost her balance when Leo orbed out. "How many times have I told you not to do that?" she called into the air.
"Sorry," Leo said a few minutes later when he reappeared with a frantic Cordelia.
"Hey, Cor..." Phoebe got out before her friend bolted towards the kitchen. "Demon?"
"Demon," the whitelighter confirmed as the others chased after the girl.
They found Cordelia going through the small vials of potions and ingredients. "What do you need?" Piper asked, back to full business mode.
Cordelia scanned through the vial labels as she spoke. "The Collectors vanquishing potion."
"Collectors are in Sunnydale?" Leo asked, instantly worried.
"No," Cordelia said as she grabbed the tiny vial she needed. "But according to my Book, this will take care of Eyghon. I just don't have all the ingredients myself yet."
"Eyghon?" Paige asked. "Never heard of him."
"He's a sleepwalker demon, a noncorporeal one that can pass through into the dead or unconscious," Leo filled her in. "And once he's possessed someone - the host doesn't last long."
"Who's the host?" Piper asked her semi-sister.
"In our life," Cordelia said angrily, channeling Prue, "Who do you think?"
Abandoned Main Street store, Sunnydale, California
A few moments later
"Get off me, vampire!" Eyghon roared using Xander's voice. His now heavily deformed face showing anger, the demon quickly slammed Angel against the wall - with a dirty trick he had picked up from Xander's memories of Colonel Baker. "This is the best plan you could come up with?" Eyghon then demanded of the Slayer.
"Ah, no," Buffy said, confused since she'd just gotten off the tattoo table that Ethan had strapped her to.
"Witches!" Eyghon yelled as Cordelia, Leo, and the Charmed Ones orbed into the store. "You cannot stop me!"
"Oh, shut up!" Piper demanded. "Why do they always have to boast like that, every damn time?"
"Don't care," Cordelia said very pissed. "Now get the HELL out of my boyfriend!"
"Why should I?" the demon sneered, using Xander's memories of one of the Exorcist movies. "I like it here."
"Well, tough shit!" Cordelia growled, as she threw the small bottle down at Xander's feet.
"No!" Eyghon yelled in pain, as the rest of the Scooby Gang busted into the store.
Willow covered her eyes, as a fireball erupted where the demon-possessed Xander was standing. She screamed in fear, but was shocked when she opened her eyes to see her male friend fall to the ground with not a scratch on him. "Xander!"
Willow and Cordelia both reached the fallen boy at the same time. And both glared daggers at the other. "I've got him," the cheerleader said quickly.
"You nearly blew him up!" Willow scoffed.
"The potion doesn't hurt an innocent, dummy, just the demons!" Cordelia told her crossly as she placed Xander's head in her lap.
Willow looked up to Giles after a moment. "I guess my plan didn't work?"
"No," Angel said as he came over. "It was worth a try though."
"You wanted that demon to go into you?" Jenny Calendar asked him in disbelief.
Angel nodded. "Willow figured since I'm already dead..."
"Your vampire demon would have killed it when the sleepwalker tried to possess you. It might have worked," Leo told him. "If Eyghon hadn't had Xander's memories of what you are, that is."
"So he's going to be okay, right?" Buffy asked as she looked down at her friend.
"Xander should be fine," the guardian angel told her. He looked around, but Ethan was gone. "He marked you?"
Buffy rubbed the back of her neck. "Yeah, guess Ethan thought the tattoo would make that bogus demon wanna kill me instead of him." She sighed. "Mom is going to kill me when she sees this!"
"I can..." Leo started to say.
But Cordelia cut him off. "I've got it, Leo." Cordy looked up at Buffy's new tattoo, "Let the object of affection become but a dream, as I cause this seen to be unseen."
"Whoa," Buffy looked amazed as the tattoo vanished from her body, and she rubbed the unblemished skin in amazement. "Cool."
"You have been studying," Phoebe said to Cordelia with a grin.
Cordy just flashed her a similar grin of thanks, and ignoring Willow's and Giles's protests hauled Xander away to her car after saying her goodbyes to everyone. "I'm taking him home. And if the apocalypse comes, just beep me already!"
The Chase Manor, Sunnydale, California
Later that night
Xander stirred back to the waking world slowly. He pushed his head deeper into the soft pillows, frowning momentarily as it entered his fuzzy thoughts that this was obviously not his bed. No way would Anthony and Jessica Harris ever spring for pillows like these, not even for themselves.
Before the darkness claimed him again, Xander heard something. Very low volume classical music. Popping an eye open Harris could see a dimly lit bedroom, and a very large bedroom at that.
(What the hell!) the guy thought as he bolted upright. (Where am I? And why am I only wearing my boxers?)
Xander looked around and noticed a few things, like that the bedroom was almost the size of the living room of his parents' home. Next he saw the very large makeup table with vanity mirror, the large open walk-in closet, and most startling was the framed picture of him and Cordelia.
(Hey, that's from when she got that new camera last week,) Xander thought as he recalled Cordelia picking up a few of Prue's interests. (I'm in Cordelia's bedroom?) Getting out of the large four-post bed, he looked over to the other side of the room to where the music was coming from.
The young man found Cordelia brushing her hair in the bathroom. That wasn't what surprised him though, it was the fact that she was wearing only a red slip of a nightgown. One that truly didn't cover much of her very beautiful anatomy. In fact, it covered far less than the PJs Cordelia normally wore, but then this was a special occasion.
Cordelia jumped as she saw him. "Oh! Sorry, did the music wake you up?" she asked. "I tried to keep it low as possible."
"Ah, no," Xander replied as he tried to keep his brown eyes fixed on her hazel ones, and not stray to her very generous cleavage or very long legs. "Kind of woke up on my own...in just my boxers."
Cordelia tried to hide a blush at seeing Xander gesturing at himself, wearing nothing but his underwear. "Well, I can explain-" she said.
Xander interrupted, "Please, PLEASE tell me that I didn't...Buffy and Willow didn't finally convince me to go on that stupid male bonding thing with Giles and Angel, did they? You remember that crazy stuff Wills heard about online, with us guys dancing around a campfire in nothing but our underwear and howling at the moon?"
Cordelia looked like she was daydreaming for a second, and intensely enjoying it, before the cheerleader pulled herself back to reality. "No, it's just your clothes got slime on them."
"Never thought I'd say this, but thank God for that," Xander ruminated, before he focused. "Okay, I gotta ask, did you...look...when you took my clothes off?"
"No," Cordelia said at once, but Xander could instantly tell from the weak nature of the denial that this was a lie.
(Eh, never mind. She might have seen it before anyway, during that one time last month in the closet...) "Right. Well, not that I'm upset about this, because believe me waking up in your girlfriend's bedroom is not something a guy should be upset about! But if it wasn't what I was afraid it might be, then what the hell happened? Last thing I remember was fighting that zombie guy, who started to turn into a big gooey mess. How did I get from there to waking up almost naked in your bed?"
Cordy turned off the CD player before she replied, "That demon, Eyghon? It possessed you, and uh, you kinda went on a rampage. But minor! And hey, I was able to use a vanquishing spell on it to get it out of you."
Xander looked sick. "Rampage? Did I-"
Cordelia rushed to reassure him, "It's okay, you didn't kill anyone or anything like that while you were possessed!"
"I really was possessed again?" (Damn - but what is that, the third time?) Xander shook his head before he looked up quickly. "Ah...I didn't try to, ah...rape anybody, did I?"
"No," the young woman quickly told him. "You just tried to kill Giles, plus that Ethan guy, and you also kinda beat on Angel a little."
"I beat on Angel," Xander focused on that last part, suddenly looking a lot happier. "A lot?"
"No, not much. And y'know, you really ought to do something about that; you let that vampire provoke you far too easily!" Cordelia told him as she left the bathroom.
Xander Harris was 17 years old, and the sad fact was that even looking at linoleum made him think about sex. Thus the hormone-filled youth watched in absolute fascination Cordy's hardly-covered rear end, as she walked back into the bedroom. "Ah..."
"Oh," the Chase girl said with a grin as she looked back at him. "I can see you like what you're seeing, huh?"
Xander quickly grabbed a pillow and covered himself, as he entered the bedroom too. "Uh...my pants?"
Now it was Cordelia's turn to briefly get lost in her hormones. "Xander, trust me. Cybil's been taken care of, my mother's asleep from the Rohypnol and my dad's not home - he's 'working'," she said somewhat sarcastically. "So you don't have to put your pants on."
Looking at her grin Xander replied slowly, "Well, obviously, I have no reply to that."
Cordelia kept her grin as she went up and locked her bedroom door. When she turned back she said, "Actually, what with everything that took place today I thought you would sleep through most of the night..."
"Uh-huh. So then you dressed up like that, why?" Harris shot back, not buying that one.
"Okay, so it's not what I normally sleep in," Cordelia admitted. "But if you were going to wake up in bed with me for the first time..."
"Oh, I see! Well, honey, the outfit works. Trust me, it does," Xander quickly told her.
"Oh, I know it does," Ms. Chase said as she sauntered over and pulled away the pillow Xander was using to cover the bulge in his boxers. Disregarding his momentary annoyance Cordy pressed her body against the young man's tightly, as she passionately kissed him. When they broke the kiss, she grinned again. "My, Little Xander is really happy right now, isn't he? Definitely raring to go. So tell me Xander, you think you're up to the challenge of...handling me?"
As Cordelia started to gently push him towards the bed Xander quickly said, "Cor, I-I haven't exactly been...up with another person before," he admitted.
As she pushed her boyfriend onto the bed Cordelia replied, "Don't worry, honey, I'll hold your hand..." she said with a dirty gin, "...amongst other things, till you learn the ropes."
It took a second for Cordelia's words to reach Xander's somewhat befuddled mind. By that time he was flat on his back, and she was straddling his waist. "You mean, you've..."
"Twice, not including the guys from Prue's memories," Cordelia admitted to him as she gave Harris a long kiss. "When we went to Tuscany last summer, and I complained about being beachless for a month and a half? Daddy thought he was punishing me by keeping me in the hotel. But oh, they had such wonder full room service..." she said that last phrase almost like a phone sex operator. "And before you mention it, I'm on the pill and the condoms are in the night stand. Now, I want you to do something for me."
"What?" Xander asked, looking up at her in wide-eyed wonder - as Cordy's red negligee went flying towards the cupboard.
"Stop talking for the rest of the night," Ms. Chase ordered the male teen, as she kissed him again and he felt her hands moving to pull down his boxers.
(If this is a dream...note to self. DO NOT WAKE UP!) Harris thought ecstatically, as his right hand desperately searched for protection and then the young couple finally began having sex.
Weatherly Park, Sunnydale, California
November 11th, 1997
Xander stood up as his two most important girls started glaring at each other. He had recovered from being possessed by this point, at least mostly, even if there were still traces of Eyghon's taint within him that needed to be expunged. "Oh yeah, this'll be fun," Harris said to himself.
"What's she doing here?" Willow demanded as they came up to the picnic area.
"Well, I asked her here, like I did you," Xander informed her. "Will, Cordy, please take a seat."
Both girls did as he requested, but Harris noticed that they put as much space between them as was humanly possible. "Okay..." Xander started. "Here goes. Look, you two gals both mean a heckuva lot to me...and thing is, I don't want to be forced to choose between you. So I want all the fighting to stop. Right here, right now. Okay?"
"You want me to play nice with her?" Willow demanded. "After all the hell she's put us through?"
"Quit living in the past for once, will you?" Cordelia said rudely. "Like I told you before, it's done. Let's just move on!"
"You hear that?" Willow demanded of Xander. "She doesn't even care that she said all those nasty things to us over the years! Like we're just supposed forgive and forget?"
"Willow, I know it's not going to be easy-" Xander tried to be diplomatic.
"Easy?" Willow yelled as she got up. "The truth is what you two have going is sick and wrong, and it goes against all known laws of God and man!" She looked to Harris. "Xander, you need help. Seriously!"
"Damn it," Xander sighed as he looked down at the table and Cordelia watched the red-haired girl storming away. "That went well."
Cordelia shrugged. "She'll get over it. Just give her time."
"Well, hopefully it'll be before we hit fifty - or graduate high school," Xander said as he held his head in his hands.
The realm of the whitelighter Elders
November 13th, 1997
Cecil walked over to the small group of Elders by the stairs. "Have you finished reviewing my idea?"
"Yes," Margaret, a senior Elder told him. "And as you no doubt suspected, it has generated a great deal of controversy and debate amongst us all."
"Still," the one called Amelia said. "We have been forced to agree with you. It would arouse too much suspicion amongst the mortals to have an older person constantly showing up."
"A compromise has been reached," Margaret pointed out. "He will not have the full powers, but he will have what will be needed to aid his witch."
"Understandable," Cecil agreed. "Very well. If we are all in agreement then, let it be done."
Abandoned Church, Sunnydale, California
Later that day
Things on the Hellmouth had taken another weird turn lately. The current Master vampire named Spike had put into place a plan to restore his sire Drusilla back to full strength, by sacrificing Angel. The Order of Taraka had been called into the fray on the side of the devils, but the good guys had similarly had an ace come their way.
Kendra the vampire Slayer, activated after Buffy had drowned six months ago.
Both Slayers had fought as hard as they could, and emerged victorious in their battle against Spike and his minions. Though one of the Order of Taraka had gotten off a parting shot, before she'd run for it.
"Can we get her to the hospital?" Buffy asked worriedly, as Giles put pressure on Kendra's wound.
"Dere's no time, I tink," Kendra painfully wheezed at her sister Slayer in that exotic Caribbean accent. "Tell my Watcher-"
"No. You're going to tell him yourself," Buffy told her firmly.
"Buffy," Giles said hopelessly, his hands bloody as he looked to his charge. The man shook his head, "There's nothing we can-"
"God damn it!" Cordelia growled. "Leo!"
"Something must be going on," Xander said from his knees next to Kendra. "He'd have come if he could."
"I know that!" Cordelia snapped at him in anger. Harris just ignored it. "When are they going to give me my own-"
"What the heck?" Xander yelled suddenly.
"What in the hell?"
"Why are my hands glowing?" Xander demanded to everyone.
Hoping for the best, Cordelia grabbed his wrists and held them over Kendra's bullet wound. "Heal her!" she ordered him.
"What!" Xander demanded. "How the hell...ow!" Xander yelled as the glow increased.
"It works based on love. So think happy thoughts!" Cordelia yelled, remembering what had happened when Piper and Leo had switched powers once.
The young man watched amazed as the Jamaican Slayer's wound started to heal itself. In a moment, even the girl's clothes had gone back to normal as if nothing had ever happened.
"You did it, Xander!" Cordelia said as she hugged him. Willow and Buffy just stared at their friend in disbelief, amazed and briefly wondering if he was possessed again.
At that moment, Leo orbed in. When he saw Kendra being helped up by Giles, he looked to the young man in question. "Hello, Xander. I take it you've already discovered your new calling?"
"My what now?" Xander asked, still confused as his hands went back to normal.
"Well, it's not official of course, but I think it's safe to at least unofficially welcome you into the ranks of the whitelighter corps."