Author's Note: I'm thrilled and stunned that this story has found an audience! Thanks to everyone who reviewed, alerted, and favorited. I've gotten so many more hits than I ever anticipated. Wow!

This chapter is all Cordelia and Angel, though Kurt and some of the Glee kids are mentioned. I did this for two reasons: first, for the people who are unfamiliar with the Buffyverse, I wanted you to get some sense of who Angel and Cordelia are, as well as their history; second, for those who already know the them, I wanted to give you some idea of how I approach their characterization. As Angel and Cordelia contemplate their own friends, think about how their descriptions parallel some of the Glee Club members. So this chapter is mostly background but is still important to the overall story. Please enjoy!

Angel was giving Cordelia a wide berth. Well, as much as he could, considering he was sitting two inches to her right in the most uncomfortable seat he had ever had the misfortune of experiencing. He was fairly certain that the designer of said seat had done his own century-long stint in hell, because this was torture. Christ, he hated flying. It was just so unnatural.

To say that she was prickly was a vast understatement. He had realized too late that he should have consulted her prior to making arrangements to getting them to Ohio. She was pissed because he had made the decision for her. Nothing infuriated her more than a loss of control. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate the gesture; she did, and he knew it, though she hadn't thanked him and he knew she never would. That was okay. It just wasn't their relationship.

He still didn't know exactly what that relationship was. When prompted, they declared each other friends, but they both understood it went far deeper than that, though both were hesitant to qualify it. She was his best friend, the only person to hold that title in over three hundred years. He'd had acquaintances, friends, lovers, and family, but he'd never had a best friend. It was utterly bizarre, a little scary, and a lot enthralling.

She was the most frustrating creature he had ever encountered. She was abrasive, acerbic, sarcastic, vicious, obnoxious, and at times utterly contemptible. She was, at almost twenty years old, the very definition of a bitch. As evil as Darla had been, she had never even come close to being as miserable as Cordelia Chase. It was as remarkable as it was frightening.

She was also the most caring, loving, and loyal soul he had ever met. She hid those traits away in her heart, which was far bigger than anyone would ever know, and then covered it with ice. Over that, she placed a thin veneer of superficiality. And over that she placed…an even thinner veneer.

But she was brave. She was so brave it had taken him completely by surprise. In Sunnydale, he had glimpsed that bravery only once or twice. It just wasn't something she touted like she did the latest Coach bag or pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or the cruel rejoinders for which she had been famous. But when the chips were down, whether it was the end of the world or someone she cared for was threatened, it was always Cordelia Chase upon whom one would place their bets. Her title of Queen wasn't misplaced; it had been won, and not for the reasons many assumed.

She didn't give her heart away freely; it had to be earned. Only three people had ever held the key: Kurt Hummel, Xander Harris, and Angel himself. Kurt was family, the only family she had ever given a damn about and the only one who had returned her love and devotion with equal measure.

Xander had almost ruined her. Their relationship had blindsided everyone and had been dismissed simply as teenage hormones run amok, but most people were idiots.

Buffy and Willow had been jealous, albeit for different reasons. Buffy had friend-zoned Xander from the moment she had met him, but whenever he expressed an interest in a girl, her horns came out to play. Xander was her safety guy, the one who would stop at nothing to protect her, who would and had fought to Death to keep her, and he always won. Buffy loved him deeply, perhaps more than she did anyone other than her mother, and was terrified of losing him, especially to another girl. She exercised Slayer prerogative and squatting rights when it came to Xander, but Cordelia had simply laughed in her face. Cordelia had been the only who had never been impressed or enthralled by the power of the Slayer and she was intimidated by no one. As far as Cordelia was concerned, at the end of the day Buffy was nothing more than a teenage girl and thus firmly under her heel. Buffy had disparaged Cordelia to Xander at every possible turn, but in the end she realized it was fruitless.

Willow had been in love with Xander since both were in diapers, but he had never returned her feelings. He had been aware of them and had tried to ignore them, not wanting to lose their friendship, but that had only made Willow's obsession with him grow. When he had begun dating Cordelia, Willow had barely been able to conceal her wrath and sometimes it had gotten the better of her. Cordelia hadn't cared. It wasn't her fault that Xander didn't love Willow, and she wasn't about to step aside simply because Willow thought she should.

Perhaps Cordelia's greatest gift was her honesty, and it often made her anathema to other people. She never lied and never deceived; such concepts were foreign to her. She lived her life according to her own set of standards, which were surprisingly high and rigorous. Lying was beneath her. She was painfully blunt because she saw no point in being otherwise. As she had once explained to Giles, tact is just not saying true stuff; I'll pass. When Buffy had gained the temporary ability to read minds, it was only Cordelia's thoughts that matched their words exactly. As far as Cordelia was concerned, the truth trumped everything, and those who couldn't deal with it were weak, pathetic, and should not be coddled.

She was ruthless in her appraisals. Angel hesitated to call them judgments, for she really didn't judge people as much as she did assess them. She would look at a person, listen to them speak, and then launch into a detailed explanation about what was wrong with them and how they should go about correcting those deficits. For her, it was like public outreach or community service. What was most annoying was that she always right. Her insight was uncanny and unerring, and therefore thoroughly unsettling.

She said what she wanted, did she wanted, apologized for none of it, and cared not one whit about what anyone thought of her. She loathed denial and people who wallowed in it. She saw the truth in everything. She lived the truth and forced other people to confront their own. She was more her own person than anyone Angel had ever known. That was why even people who hated her nevertheless absolutely respected her.

But it had isolated her. She had risen above the hierarchy of high school and ruled the squalling masses with an iron fist. Her reign had been unchallenged, mostly because she had gleaned the weaknesses of those around her and had no compunction about exploiting them. She'd had ladies-in-waiting and loyal subjects and unhappy serfs who plotted coups against her, but no friends. She was constantly surrounded by people yet she was always alone.

Until Xander.

Xander and Cordelia were alike in many ways, some so glaring that it blinded people to their similarities. Cordelia's gift was searing honesty; Xander's was emotional intimacy. Where she read thoughts, he read feelings. Hidden fears, deepest insecurities, crippling self-doubt; none were safe from him. One look into his huge doe eyes and he knew your soul.

Xander Harris could be your greatest asset or your worst nightmare, your best friend or your most dangerous enemy.

Angel had no love for Xander and it was entirely mutual. Xander hated him for taking Buffy from him, even though he knew Buffy had never loved him in a romantic sense. Angel's hatred for Xander was far more deep-seated. He hated Xander because he feared him.

Xander Harris was an excellent actor and had a mask for every occasion. He would hide behind a donned air of buffoonery or a dark quip or a corny joke, but his eyes took in everything. Every person, every situation, every emotion, every possibility; he saw them all, catalogued them, and then studied them. He saw patterns while others struggled to find pieces. He didn't have Buffy's superpowers or Giles' encyclopedic knowledge or Willow's vast intellect and magic. Xander was the Normal, the everyman, and that was what made him terrifying.

Xander was simple in the most complicated way. For him, there was right and wrong, black and white, and nothing could make him see the shades of gray others insisted he must take into consideration. He was utterly inflexible and completely self-righteous. He was only redeemed by his unparalleled ability to love. He loved passionately, without regret and without restraint. He made no apologies for his feelings and didn't care if people agreed with him; he was more than happy to be the lone voice of dissent. He scoffed at logic and reason where those he loved were concerned. If he had one function in this life, it was to protect the people he loved at whatever cost – to himself, to others, and to the world – and those who got in his way had to be neutralized.

Angel was one such casualty. Xander had taken one look at him and saw him for what he was: a vampire, a demon; and therefore a threat. He didn't care that Angel had a soul. As far as Xander was concerned, a soul was not a harbinger of good intentions. Angel had found it difficult to argue with that theory, and he suspected Giles had agreed with Xander, though he had never voiced his opinion. Of course, Giles usually hesitated to support Xander, even though the boy was, like Cordelia, usually right. The bottom line was that Xander had understood a profound truth which Buffy, Willow, and Giles had ignored: Angelus was not Angel's curse; it was Angelus who had been cursed with Angel, with a soul. The soul was merely a cage for a monster waiting to be unleashed.

He knew about Xander's lie to Buffy regarding Willow, the one which had given Buffy the extra incentive to kill him. Even after spending a century in hell to atone for his sins, Angel couldn't bring himself to blame Xander. Angelus had stalked Joyce and Willow; he had killed and fed upon students, kids who Xander, Willow, and Cordelia had known their whole lives; he had tortured Giles; he had brutally murdered Jenny Calendar; and he was indirectly responsible for the death of Kendra Young, a Slayer who had been Called into service in part because he had failed to protect Buffy. These were people whom Xander had loved, albeit in different degrees, and he had held Angel responsible. Angel held himself responsible, so how could he blame Xander for taking action where so many others had failed? Had Xander not lied, the world would have been sucked into a hell dimension and they all would have died.

Cordelia was the only person who had ever gotten the better of Xander, who could best him in single-mindedness and determination. She had done so often and with ease. If children could have arch-nemeses, they had fulfilled those roles for each other. They could read one another like no other could read them and nothing was sacred. Their verbal sparring matches were legendary and more brutal than some of the most famed battles in history. It was obscenely beautiful to watch them work one another over. Xander had many more losses than victories, but when he struck, it was hard and true and it was with everything he had inside him. No one could antagonize Cordelia the way Xander could, and no one had ever gotten under her skin the way he had.

Angel and Giles had figured it was only a matter of time. Xander and Cordelia would either kill one another or fall deeply in love, and they simply had too much respect for each other to resort to physical violence. Words were their weapons of choice, and those words caused more destruction than fists ever could. When they were outed as a couple, the fallout had been enormous. Buffy and Willow knew they were no match for Cordelia to fight for Xander and thus sought to attack her through Xander, who battled valiantly against them, his own best friends. It had been difficult to witness Xander verbally decimate Buffy and Willow, but he had, and he had won. In the end, they had no legs to stand on. Buffy was dating a vampire and Willow a werewolf; the fact that Xander was dating a bitch should have been the least of their worries.

Their love for each other was like a supernova constantly on the verge of explosion. Maybe it wasn't meant to last, but it had been the purest, most truthful love of their strange little cabal because it was based in friendship. Somehow along the way, to the ignorance or denial of their audience, Xander and Cordelia had become best friends. They understood each other on a profound level, in ways which no one else ever could or would come to know them.

Cordelia had never before had a best friend, for there was none among her peers she could trust not to stab her in the back. Buffy and Willow were nominally Xander's best friends, but his real best friend had been Jesse McNally and, after his murder, Xander had never been the same. His friendship with Willow continued but it fragmented. Willow's pain had caused her to refuse to speak of Jesse, inadvertently abandoning Xander in a morass of seething fury and profound loss. Buffy's presence had helped both to mitigate and exacerbate the implosion that was slowly approaching.

The only other person who mourned Jesse, in her own quiet and private way, was Cordelia. She hadn't liked him, he had been all but her stalker, but he had been a sweet, harmless boy who she had known her entire life. He hadn't deserved to die at Darla's hand. He hadn't deserved to have been turned. And Xander sure as hell hadn't deserved to stake the demon who wore his best friend's face to save the life of a girl he had loathed at the time. But he had done it. Xander had saved Cordelia at the expense of his dearest friend, and that was when she knew that, long before anyone would ever come close to realizing it, Xander Harris was a hero.

Xander and Cordelia had continued to dance their macabre ballet around each other after Jesse's death. They still argued for the sake of it and to win, but the arguments became, for them, foreplay or simply fun. They came to enjoy and appreciate each other in totally new and exciting ways. Their mutual loathing turned to mutual admiration, then lust, and finally, deep love. Cordelia had never loved anyone the way she had Xander, the way she continued to love him, though she denied it, and that was why his betrayal of her with Willow had almost destroyed her.

The physical wounds were bad enough, the scars she still hid beneath her fabulous wardrobe, but the emotional ones, the spiritual ones, she continued to nurse in private, locking them away deep inside her mind where they were safe from the scorn of others. She had dumped Xander, dusted off her Queen C tiara and returned to making everyone's life hell, but to those who had known her, who had come to know Cordy and not just Queen C, the devastation still haunted her eyes. Angel suspected it always would. Cordelia could no more get over Xander than Angel himself could move past Buffy.

As much as he disliked Xander, as much as he missed Buffy, as grateful as he was to have Cordelia now at his side, Angel mourned for the loss of Xander and Cordelia's relationship. He didn't know why he did. Maybe it was because Cordelia could not yet bring herself to do it, or perhaps it was because he had never seen Xander or Cordelia as happy as when they were together. Maybe it was because their relationship had been just as noble, just as epic, and just as tragic as his own with Buffy, but different because it wasn't circumstances keeping Xander and Cordelia apart, but lack of trust. Trust was much more difficult to regain than it was to grant.

He sometimes wondered why it was that Angelus had never gone after Xander or Cordelia directly. Indeed, he had all but ignored them. When he had questioned Angelus, the demon had not deigned to answer, instead choosing to recede from consciousness for several weeks. Though grateful for the respite, Angel was puzzled by the lack of response. It was only later that he recognized it for what it was: fear. The demon feared both Xander and Cordelia, and he especially feared what Xander and Cordelia could accomplish together.

The only other person who knew about Xander's lie to Buffy was Cordelia. When Angel had confronted her last year, she had easily admitted she knew Xander had lied, approved of his action, and would tell him to do it again. Angel had accused her of lying to protect Xander and she laughed hysterically. A lie was the denial of a truth, she had explained, an attempt to pervert it. She had never denied anything; if she had been directly asked about what Xander had done, she would have told the truth, just as she had when Angel asked her. Her protection of Xander was calculated but ultimately incidental, for she knew neither Buffy nor Willow would question each other or Xander about the events of that day. She knew them far better than they knew themselves.

Angel had felt incredibly stupid at being outmaneuvered by an eighteen year old human female. Still, he gave thanks every morning and every night to whatever powers had brought her to him in Los Angeles. He gave thanks that she had bullied her way into his life, into his home, and into his heart. And he gave thanks that if Angelus ever again became an issue, Cordelia would not rest until she had put him down for good. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but because she knew it's what he would want her to do.

Jesus, he loved her. He would kill anyone or anything that dared to bring her harm, and that included bringing harm to those she loved.

So, yes, he would kill for Kurt Hummel.

"Are you still upset with me?" he quietly asked.

She turned to him with furious eyes, blinked slowly, and softened. Slightly.

She snorted. "For what? Wanting to protect my cousin? Bitch, please."

He quirked his lips in a wry smile and waited. He knew not to rush her; she would speak only when she was ready.

"I just don't understand," she said flatly. "I don't understand why it bothers people, why they care. Kurt is gay. It's not his fault and it wasn't his choice. Who would choose that? Who would choose to place themselves on the margins of society, to condemn themselves to constant ridicule and torment? It makes no sense, which is why I'm infuriated that people who could otherwise be argued to possess intelligence hate him so much."

She bowed her head. "They hate him, Angel. They despise him. And for what? Because he likes guys instead of girls?" She shook her head. "I like dogs instead of cats. I'd rather live with Kurt than a cat."

Angel swallowed a snicker. This wasn't the time.

"He just wants to live his life. He just wants to find a nice boy and create a family for himself. And I don't give a shit what some angry sky god or some book written thousands of years ago thinks about that." She gripped the armrests so tightly, her knuckles turned white. "Who is he hurting? The only one being hurt is him! How does his being gay ultimately affect anyone other than him?"

He hesitated, and then decided to dive in. "It doesn't. And you're right, it makes no sense. I remember a few years back when Giles said something that stuck with me: ignorance is curable, but stupidity is forever. These people, the ones who hate Kurt, they're not ignorant, Cordy; they're stupid. You could present them with all the literature you wanted, scientific studies which prove that homosexuality occurs in nature in species other than humans, you could map the genome and find a chromosome responsible for sexuality and they wouldn't care."

She grunted and crossed her arms defensively over her chest.

"I don't understand their motivations and I won't pretend to," he continued. "I don't know if it's fear or cowardice or their own shame. It's completely irrational and pathetic. Being gay isn't unnatural; it's not a sin. It's not a punishment for some imagined wrongdoing. It's not a judgment of your presumably lacking character. It's not because of an absent father or an overbearing mother. It's no different than eye color or skin color or hair texture. To humiliate someone who is gay, to prey upon them and to incite fear for one's life, to assault them or attempt to change them simply so that you might find them more palatable; these are the actions of terrorists."

He was growing angrier by the second, his rage simmering like a twisting knot in his gut, all but demanding release.

Cordelia placed her hand on his arm and he immediately felt a sense of calm wash over him.

"You've given this a lot of thought," she murmured.

He closed his eyes and slowly exhaled an unneeded breath. "Little has changed in four hundred years, Cordelia. People still seek to dominate others, to rule over those they deem weak or inferior. They succumb to a mob mentality and declare their motivations and intentions as pure, blessed by whatever god or moral authority that is currently popular. They say they're acting in the best interest of humanity or it's for the children or some other catchphrase that makes a good sound bite. In the end, they're just bullies and nothing more."

She nodded slowly. "Are you gay?"

He startled. "What?"

"Gay. As in, are you?" She elbowed him. "Tragic love saga with Buffy aside, are you into guys?" She raised a brow. "You can tell me, you know. I wouldn't judge you. You're already my best friend. A gay best friend could only up my rep even more. If such a thing were possible, and I'm not sure it is." She eyed him. "But if you're gay, why don't you dress better?"

He chortled and shook his head. "You're unbelievable."

She beamed. "I know."

He fell silent for a moment. "I…Liam had a brother."

She stilled. He almost never spoke of his family, his mortal family. She knew that after Darla had turned him and he became Angelus, he had slaughtered his family, but she didn't know why. That was one particular sore spot at which she never poked.

"Patrick loved other men," he whispered. He stared straight ahead, though she knew his eyes were unseeing. "He was fifteen when he fell in love with Sean. Patrick was not like me. He was slight and fair, with blond hair and blue eyes. He looked like Kathy."

"Your sister?" she gently asked.

He nodded. "He was a good boy. He did all his chores, including mine when I was too drunk to do them. He minded our parents and doted on Kathy. He was very intelligent. Father forced him out of school to help with the farm and Patrick went along with it, though he never got over it. He went to church every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation; he was a good Catholic who truly believed. Everyone loved him; he was the model child and the perfect son. But he was gay."

Her heart caught in her throat. She didn't like where this was going.

"One day, our father found him with Sean in the stables. He beat Patrick to death."

She stifled her gasp and swallowed heavily, her grip on his arm tightening.

"He was never spoken of again. There was no service, no funeral. Father told the townspeople that he had run away, probably to Dublin. Father buried him under the compost heap like the trash he thought Patrick was. I don't know what happened to Sean; he just disappeared, but I don't think my father was responsible."

She closed her eyes.

"Mother simply pretended he had never existed, as though she had never borne him. How does a mother deny her own child?" He shook his head. "I never forgave her for that. In fact, I think I hated her more than I did my father." He paused. "Kathy was so young. She didn't even remember him. So I was left to mourn alone, in silence and in fear."

He rolled his neck. "Drinking turned into an occupation rather than a hobby. I drowned myself to distance the memories, but the ale only made it worse. And when I got older, I drowned myself in whores and women of questionable virtue. And, yes, some boys as well. I still don't know if the boys were because I desired them or because of some ghoulish need to feel closer to my brother."

She said nothing.

"It's difficult to explain, but though I have Liam's memories, his feelings, they're not mine. They're echoes of someone else, of another life. I remember with vivid clarity everything he experienced, but I'm not him. Liam was, I believe, bisexual, though he never acknowledged it for whatever reason.

"Angelus, like all demons, is omnisexual. Demons don't care about gender; they don't even care about species. Angelus fornicated with thousands of men and women. He raped hundreds more and enjoyed every moment of it. When he returned, he slept with both Spike and Drusilla, as well as numerous minions, demons, and human victims. Those memories are extremely difficult to live with."

That was a box better left unopened, she decided. "And you?"

"Me?" he asked. "It's not something I've ever really considered. Buffy is the only person I've been with in that way in over a century. She was the only one I ever wanted. I have been attracted to other women, and a few men as well, but until Buffy, I was never interested in doing anything about it. I'm more asexual than not."

She raised a brow. "Really?" she drawled.

He flashed a grin at her. "Are you asking me on a date, Cordy?"

She scoffed. "Get serious, vampire. I just thought the way you and Xander always circled each other like lions in the Coliseum, you might have wanted to bend him over the nearest sarcophagus and have at it until you both had spent all your rage."

He gaped at her before abruptly standing and stomping off to the lavatory, the one for which he had no use, absurdly grateful that vampires couldn't blush.

She sighed, leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, satisfied.

Always being right never got boring.

An hour and several tiny bottles of vodka later, Angel returned to his seat.

Cordelia couldn't be bothered even to acknowledge him, yet he sensed she was smirking. Bratty Seer.

"I'm concerned about the visions," he said.

She paused in her reading and carefully marked her page before putting her book down and turning to him. "I didn't really think about that," she confessed. "Crap."

"It'll be okay," he insisted.

"We don't know that," she said. "I mean, my visions have always been localized to Los Angeles, but remember when Doyle had that vision about trouble in Sunnydale?" She sighed. "And what if I get a vision about someone who needs help in Los Angeles while we're in," she grimaced, "Ohio?"

"It could happen," he allowed. "There's really nothing we can do about it, other than alert Wesley and Gunn. If they can't take care of it, well, we can't be everywhere, Cordy. I have to believe that the Powers send you visions for a reason. I don't see the point of sending you one about someone we can't help."

She nodded slowly. She could understand his logic, but it really didn't make her feel any better. She hadn't thought this through well at all.

He laid his hand over hers. "We'll do the best we can. If it's something really bad, I suppose we could contact Buffy and they could handle it. They're not that far from L.A."

She frowned, but nodded. "True."

"How much does Kurt know about…what we do?"

She raised a brow. "Everything."

His eyes widened. "Really?"

She shrugged. "I didn't see the point in hiding it, not to mention that Kurt would know if I tried."

Okay, that made him nervous. "He would?"

She grinned. "If you think I'm bad, wait until you meet him. His bullshit meter is phenomenal."

Angel groaned. "Crap."

She rolled her eyes. "Let me bottom line this for you. Kurt is a good person. He's extremely intelligent and he's very understanding. He's sensitive to people who are…different. He has no problem with you, although you can expect him to make dire threats about what he'll do to you if anything happens to me." She held up a hand. "Other than his father, I'm all he has. He feels the need to protect me, but he's not going to do or say anything to make you feel uncomfortable. Other than the threats."

Angel frowned. He could understand that, even appreciate it.

"Not to mention Cleveland is a nascent Hellmouth," she added. "It probably won't amount to anything, not while Sunnydale is operational; and while it's far from Lima, I'd never forgive myself if something happened to him that I could have prevented. So I made him aware that the things that go bump in the night actually knock pretty damn hard."

"So he's…prepared?"

She nodded. "I taught him the first rule of Slaying: don't die. He knows that if he stumbles across a vampire or a demon, he's to run and not engage them in any way. He carries holy water mixed with pepper spray in an atomizer and he knows to go for the eyes. He has a stake, though I don't really know how much he could do with it. Every little bit helps, right?"

He nodded absently. "And he knows about the visions?"

She snorted. "He knew before I told him. I don't know how, but he knew. After I told him that Doyle had died, he just assumed the visions had passed to me."


She looked thoughtful. "He's very intuitive. I don't mean that he's psychic or anything, but he gets hunches, you know what I mean? He's kind of like Xander that way."

Great. Another Xander.

She blew a raspberry. "He's not Xander. If anything, he's kind of like a combination of me and maybe Wesley. If he were involved, he'd be, like, a research master, only he wouldn't be so invested in the books that he's oblivious to the real world."

"Has he told anyone else?"

She shook her head. "He said they wouldn't believe him, and he's probably right. Hell, how many people has Buffy saved and they have no memory of her doing so? Sure, it might be a wonky Hellmouth thing, but it's like they don't really want to know Big Scary Evil exists, you know?"

He nodded. "Tell me about his friends."

She paused. "I know their names and I've seen their pictures, but sometimes I wonder just how close they are to him. He's bullied pretty badly, Angel, but he doesn't confide in his friends about it. Sometimes I think he's just being a martyr, or maybe he doesn't want to upset them, but the abuse is so blatant that I don't see how they could miss it. Not that they're not bullied too, but nowhere near the extent that he is. It makes me wonder just how good of friends they really are."

"When you were talking to him earlier, I heard you mention Mercedes and Tina?"

She nodded. "Mercedes Jones is probably his best friend. She's black and has a hell of singing voice. From what I understand, she's one of the few blacks in Lima. I'm sure there's racism, because there always is, but I don't know if she gets the kind of flak that Kurt does, probably because there are laws in place to protect her. She's sassy and spunky, but from what Kurt's told me – and this is my own interpretation, okay? He would never malign her – she's a huge gossip and often lacks a backbone."

He cocked his head. "So she talks a big game, but doesn't back it up?"

She shrugged. "She's seventeen."

"Is that an excuse? You and Buffy and the others were fifteen when all this started."

She snorted. "We were fighting demons for our lives, not the average run-of-the-mill asshole who needs to hurt others to make themselves feel superior."

He declined to comment on that. "And Tina?"

"Do you know what a Goth is?"

"I've been to clubs!" he protested defensively.

She rolled her eyes again. "Tina is a Goth, but I don't know how much of that lifestyle she inhabits. She sports the wardrobe, though. The idiot principal is so clueless, he actually believes that Tina is a vampire, and she's done nothing to discourage that."

He pressed his lips tightly together so he wouldn't burst out laughing.

Cordelia nodded. "So you can imagine what that school is like with such a dingbat in charge. He makes Snyder look like MENSA material."

He grimaced. That was pretty appalling. "Any other friends?"

She shrugged a shoulder. "He's closest to the kids in his glee club, but I don't know if they're necessarily his friends. More like kids who hang out together so they have a place to belong. I know he's close to another girl named Brittany. She's a cheerleader and, from how Kurt has described her, she sounds a lot like Harmony, only nice. He's incredibly protective of her."

Angel frowned. "Okay, don't take this the wrong way or anything, but does he have any friends that are guys?"

She took a deep breath and released it slowly. "Not really. Apparently he's been told by more than one guy on more than one occasion that he shouldn't hang around them, lest they catch the gay."

He shifted to the side and stared at her. "You're not serious."

She nodded, looking depressed. "Totally serious. Even the other guys in the glee club shy away from him, as if he's Patient Zero and waiting to infect them with show tunes and fabulosity."

He curled a lip. "Jesus. These are teenagers, not toddlers. That kind of stupidity is in a class by itself."

She shrugged. "Well, I guess it's fair to say that Kurt doesn't have too much in common with most other guys. When he tries to fit in, no matter how well he does, they push him away even further."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, okay, like last year, he joined the football team. Uncle Burt is really into football and Kurt was looking for something that he could do to make him feel closer to his dad."

Angel nodded.

"He was the kicker. He always sends the ball right through the goalposts. He won them their only game of the season and they resented him for it, like he was trying to show them up or something. They isolated him even more, telling him just how much they couldn't stand having him around, so he quit."

He snorted. "That's moronic. He wins them their only game and they force him out?"

She shrugged again. "Most of the guys are convinced that because he's gay, he's some kind of predator. The ones who don't bully him don't come within five feet of him."

Angel was silent for a long moment. "Why don't we just bring him back to L.A. with us? Screw that cow town. The kid is talented, you said he's smart, so why don't we enroll him in one of the performing arts high schools in L.A.? He could live with you and Dennis, or I can give him one of the rooms in the hotel."

Her eyes shined for a moment before she sagged. "I'd love that," she said quietly. "I'd really love that, but I don't think he'd agree to it. He's too stubborn to leave. He'd see it as letting them win. And he adores his father."

"He needs to learn how to pick and choose his battles," Angel countered. "His dad can only do so much and the school isn't interested in helping him. It sounds like his friends are hit-or-miss. What's he accomplishing by staying where he's not wanted or appreciated?"

"Hey, I agree with you, but I'd have to present this to him in the right way and at the right time or he'd just dismiss it. So let me get a feel for the situation, see how bad it really is, outside of this closeted stalker he has. If I don't think we can fix things for him so that he's relatively safe, we'll take him regardless."

He eyed her warily. "You really think you can make that much of a difference?"

She glared at him. "Are you new? I'm Cordelia Chase!"

They arrived at Dayton International Airport shortly after two in the morning, due to the time difference. Cordelia was not amused by jet lag and proceeded to bitch up a storm about everything that crossed her path, including the quality and intelligence of the airline personnel, the design of the airport, the food court options, the length of time it took to retrieve their baggage, and the choice of rental cars available. She then launched into a scathing lecture about how the people present in the airport were obviously incompetent, as they clearly had no idea how to dress themselves.

Angel listened and knew better than to interrupt as she ranted throughout the two hour drive to Lima. Her complaints included the lackluster sights, the overabundance of fast food chains, the pathetic offerings of the malls they sped past, the obnoxious plethora of country music stations on the radio, and the entire state of Ohio.

Just as it looked as though she was beginning to wind down, she pulled out her cell phone, dialed Gunn, and repeated verbatim her Top Ten Lists of Reasons Never to Visit Ohio. Gunn let her get it out of her system, snickering all the while, which only made her even more furious, before he began yelling back about how much he hated being left behind; that they should have found him and told him in person what they were doing, rather than just leaving a message; that he wanted to help too, because his sister Alonna had been Kurt's age when he had lost her; that gay people were awesome and loved him, because a lot of gay guys had hit on him, which just proved that everyone wanted a piece of his sexy ass; and that he really wanted a chance to pound on some human fuckwits for a change, because demons were getting boring.

She held the phone before her mouth and screamed at him that he was a total loser who didn't have the balls to yell at her face-to-face because he knew she would level him; that he was an arrogant dickhole; that he was lucky she allowed Angel to keep him on the payroll; that she could handle her family just fine; that gay men only wanted him because they believed the urban myth about black men and big dicks, to which she was sure he was an exception; and that if he kept calling her Malibu Barbie, as soon as she returned to Los Angeles she was going to rip his sac off like a paper towel.

He capitulated easily, apologized, told her how gorgeous she was, that he hoped Kurt would be okay, and that he was on standby if she should need him for anything.

She brightened, cooing at him that he was her best friend, second to Angel of course, and that she loved him and missed him already, and she was sorry that she hadn't been able to say goodbye in person, but Angel had sprung this on her because he still didn't understand that she controlled the planet and he was just her doyenne. But that was okay; he'd learn his place soon enough.

As Angel hit the Lima city limits, Cordelia and Gunn, who was now on speakerphone, giggled and tittered about how souled vampires were whiny and clingy and needy bastards who couldn't dress and had blood breath. Angel rolled his eyes and growled a lot, which only made them laugh that much harder.

Finally pulling into the hotel parking lot, Cordelia took the opportunity to screech that it should have been condemned before taking its picture and emailing it to Gunn, who opened it and promptly began calling Angel a cheapskate and demanding to know why he was forcing Barbie to stay in a place that was probably on the CDC's Most Wanted List.

Angel shook his head, rolled his eyes, got out of the car, and began hauling their luggage into the hotel. After being greeted by the clerk, who began the process of checking him in, Cordelia stormed inside and the clerk's tongue all but fell out of his mouth.

Cordelia's eyes flared with indignation as she began bellowing about sick hick perverts and what she would do with his carcass after she had hallowed it out and sold his organs on the black market to Russians affiliated with the mob. She then demanded the name of the hotel manager so she could report him for sexual harassment and scary acne before grabbing his cell phone out of his shirt pocket, scrolling through the directory, and calling his mother to inform her about the way he treated women.

Angel heaved a dramatic sigh and began carting their bags to the elevator, leaving Cordelia to get the key cards from the now-sobbing clerk. As she approached, she advised Gunn that she had to hang up, but she loved him and would talk to him soon and that he needed to get laid before she returned, because it was fairly obvious he was sexually frustrated. He began sputtering denials and issuing threats, but she cut him off by asking him to please kiss Wesley for her when he next saw him, to which Gunn replied that would never happen under any circumstances and who the hell did she think she was anyway?

She replied that she was the boss of him, the boss of Angel, the boss of everyone, Queen of the Known Universe, and he shouldn't bother her with such trifling questions, especially ones to which he already had answers. She then blew him a kiss and hung up.

As the elevator doors closed, she looked up at Angel and glared.

"What the hell is wrong with people?"

End Notes: Remember, this is a Kurt/Santana/Sam story, and you will see them in the next chapter. They're not yet together, and I'm not too sure how quickly I want that to happen. I'll be abusing Glee Season Two canon, as well as altering the timeline to make some elements fit the story even though I'll be ignoring others.

There will be some Kurt/Angel interaction, but it won't be romantic. I always thought Angel's relationship with a fifteen-year-old Buffy was a little gross. Not to mention that I don't believe Kurt would go for a vampire. But Kurt could definitely use a friend. Some people have asked if Kurt and/or the other Glee kids will have superpowers, magic, etc. I'm not sure yet. It's something I'm thinking about, though. If you have opinions one way or the other, tell me in your reviews!