A.N: Two deaths in the family both unexpected and both very close to me has made it hard to write. I am slowly building up my desire and I wanted to get this out, I am in no way abandoning my stories but my headspace hasn't been great lately. Please pardon the wait.


-Willow Rosenberg-

She and Tara skidded to a halt outside of Cordelia and Buffy's shared room and exchanged a look before Tara placed hand on the door and dropped her head. Willow waited with baited breath as Tara touched the threads of magic that were pulsing in the house. After a long moment she let out a sigh as the rest of their family came stampeding into the hallway, crowding around the door.

Giles was red in the face as he ordered, "Break down the door!"

Tara's head snapped up as she moved to stand in front of the door fully after leveling an uncharacteristically harsh glare at Giles, "No. They're in the middle of the spell, it's been triggered and if we break Quinn's focus now, we'll be killing all of them. The backlash from the interruption will kill Rachel and Connor, fry Quinn's brain, and the rush of memories returning to Cordelia will make her head explode." She paused for a minute before adding, "Probably literally!"

Giles might have shoved her aside if he'd not chanced a glance at both Willow and Buffy who moved to flank Tara while Fred spoke, "I'm voting no on the exploding Cordy heads and dead teenagers."

Giles ignored the tiny Texan and ground out, "Buffy break the door down."

Willow puffed with pride and a little fury as Buffy stated flatly, "No."

The elder watcher turned to Faith only to be stalled by her quick, "Fuck no G."

Finally Giles turned on Kennedy and spoke firmly, "As head of the Watchers council I am ordering you to break down that door."

Kennedy stepped towards the door and then turned to stand just in front of Tara as she replied, "She's my girlfriend's ex… and I'd still rather listen to her right now."

Willow beamed at Tara before reaching out to squeeze Kennedy's shoulder while Giles spun to look at Spike.

The blond vampire cocked an eyebrow and leaned against the wall, "You know my answer Watcher man. I'm listening to the witch."

Giles let out a heavy sigh before asking Tara, "How long until we know whether or not the spell is successful?"

Tara turned to look at Willow for a moment and she made sure to offer Tara a smile which seemed to bolster Tara who replied, "Will and I will know the moment the spell ends… whether it is successful or not."

Buffy spoke up, "Meaning when that door opens, either Cordelia's safe and alive, and Rachel, Connor, and Quinn are grounded… after the parade, or…"

Quietly, Tara finished for her, "Connor, Rachel, and Quinn will be dead, and Cordelia will probably still be dying, yes."

Buffy drooped a little before perking up, "But you've been yoda-ing Quinn so she's like gotta be super witch by now right?"

Tara dipped her head, "She's very powerful, and she has a lot of control."

Giles interjected, "For a novice. She is nowhere near ready for this sort of spell, and you should all prepare yourself to open that door to four corpses." He turned on his heel and marched down the hall.

The group stared after him as Kennedy drawled, "It is like he wants them to be dead."

Spike fished a cigarette out of his pocket, "Well, he hates to be wrong doesn't he?" He lit the cigarette and earned a glare from Buffy.

"Outside." She jerked a thumb towards the stairs as he pouted.

He took a big drag, "It's still light out."

Buffy didn't blink, "We have a porch. Use it."

He blew the smoke out in her face as she growled, "I am telling Cordelia you were smoking in the house the second she wakes up."

He smirked at her as he slouched backwards down the hall, "I'm not the one who's whipped Buffy."

Faith shoved him as he passed her, "Keep telling yourself that Spike." She snagged the cigarette from his mouth, took a drag, and then grabbed his coat to lead him down the hall.

Willow blinked after them before asking, "Are they sleeping together?"

Dawn snorted, "No, they both still think they want Cordy."

Tara smiled her lopsided smile that still sent flutters careening like bats through Willow's stomach as she replied, "They both do still want Cordy Dawnie."

Buffy's face morphed into a heavy scowl as she stared after Faith and Spike before turning to stare balefully at her shared room. She moved to stand next to the door and slid down to sit in front of the door.

Angel moved to sit next to her after a long look at the door as well.

Willow tugged Tara's hand as she grabbed a hold of Kennedy's as well and began leading the two women down the hallway back downstairs.

She missed the bemused expressions on their faces as she kept a tight hold on both their hands all the way down.


He leaned his head back against the door and closed his eyes, willing himself to believe that Cordelia would be fine, Connor would be fine, his two friends would be fine. He let out an unnecessary breath and tried relax his tightly coiled body.

Next to him Buffy shifted, "When did you realize you were in love with her?"

Angel didn't open his eyes, but a small smile pulled at his lips, "The first time I realized it was… We'd been preparing for an apocalypse and Cordelia put fake flowers down in the training room because she thought they'd cheer me up, bring some bloom into my darkness. And actually, Fred told me. Kyrumption…"

He felt rather than saw Buffy's stare, "Ky-what now?"

Angel felt a real smile across his face, "When two great warriors meet on the field of battle and recognize their mutual fate. Which I guess meant that we saw something in each other. I just know that Darla showed up a couple hours later, carrying my child and all I cared about was the fact that Cordy was mad at me."

Buffy let out a short laugh, "You should see Faith and Spike fall over themselves when she's mad. It's like two really dangerous puppies, dangerous, dumb puppies."

Angel smirked as he pictured Spike heeling like a dog before continuing, "She also mentioned moira."

Buffy blinked at him, "Who's Moira?"

Angel folded his hands over his drawn up knees and replied, "The gut physical attraction between two larger than life souls. Fred was insistent that there was something there, I disagreed." He was quiet for a moment before muttering, "Teach me to argue with a genius." He closed his eyes again, "It was gradual, my finally figuring it out, that I was in love with her, but I think I'd loved her for a long time without knowing exactly what to call it."

Buffy hummed next to him, "Everyone, Faith, Xander, and Willow at least, they keep saying she's changed, that she's different from high school Cordy, but she hasn't, not really. I think she was always in there, this Cordy, the one that is so easy to love. Willow and I used to wonder what the hell Xander saw in her, besides the obvious, but if she let him in even a little back then? I get it." She was quiet for a second before growling out, "I keep wanting to punch him, retroactively."

Angel's eyebrow shot up, "Why?"

Buffy shrugged, "She was in love with him."

Angel tensed again, "Was she?"

He felt Buffy nod, "She told me during homecoming that she loved him, and if Willow's timeline for when she and Xander started their… thing is right, then Cordy was figuring out she loved Xander while he was making out with Will which just… I didn't really care back then, I sided with Willow and Xander, but Cordy got her heart broken, like really broken, and he never even knew how much he'd actually hurt her."

Angel let out a sigh, "And now I want to punch him, thanks for that." He shook his head, "She let that go a long time ago Buffy, Xander and Willow, Sunnydale."

Buffy leaned her head against his shoulder, "I know." She let out a chuckle, "You should know Cordelia's adopted Rachel."

Angel opened his eyes to glance at her, "Has she? I knew she and Connor were close but have she and Cordy gotten closer?"

Buffy nodded firmly, "I think Rachel needed a mom, and Cordelia is a great one."

They were quiet for a long time, listening in on the room, hoping for some clue as to what was going on with the kids and Cordelia.

After the long bout of silence Angel spoke "Not that you need it Buffy, but if you… have feelings for Cordelia, you have my blessing." He squeezed her knee, "Don't miss your chance with her, not like I did."

Buffy scoffed, "You're right, I don't need you blessing." Her voice softened as she asked, "I know how I feel Angel, but I mean…"

He replied quietly, "You're easy to love Buffy."

-Cordelia Chase-

She knew she was meant to be a jibbering wreck as she moved through the fire of the hell dimensions that Tara had spent so long in but frankly put, she wasn't going to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing her lose it. She'd fallen unconscious completely after fighting like hell to stay awake for what seemed like hours, and now that she couldn't hear Angel or feel Buffy, she knew it was nearing the end. She huffed as she eyed the room around her before standing and striding to the door across from her. She had a feeling that if she stayed put she'd succumb to death quicker and she wasn't about to go out without one hell of a fight. She opened the door and was met with a wall of flames and the sounds of creeptastic chanting.

She ground down her teeth and looked back at the room she'd been in for what seemed like forever, the room filled with the corpses of her dead friends. Buffy, Willow, and Dawn were the most apparent, and the only thing that let her distinguish from her own nightmares and Tara's was the lack of Angel and her family from L.A. Any true nightmare of hers would have included a dead Connor and Rachel just to ramp up the horror. Of course, these memories of hell were from before Tara had known her, known them.

She shot one last look back at the room and stared at Buffy's dead and broken body, her eyes wide and staring, hazy gray with death and gave a shudder. She turned back to the doorway full of flames with a scowl; yeah, she'd take the room full of flames over a room with a dead Buffy any day of the week.

She marched through the flames and scoffed as they licked at her skin, sparking a phantom pain that barely touched the level of her vision pain on the best day. So far, hell was more annoying than anything else. She frowned after a minute; of course she wasn't actually experiencing it fresh, rather she was lost in an endless stream of fractured memories that belonged to Tara, who actually had been in hell.

She really needed to have a discussion with Buffy about some payback for that. If she survived, which she would damn it.

Once she was past the thick wall of flames she paused to examine her clothes and hair and nodded in satisfaction when she discovered both were still intact. Once she was done with her moment of admittedly pointless vanity she glanced around the room and stalled. A room full of robed figures stood chanting over a figure, a figure that was immediately recognizable to Cordelia.

Tara lay prone on a stone slab, naked and staring blankly up at the blackness above her as the robed figures chanted in a dead language that Cordelia didn't recognize.

This was a memory. The utter brokenness of Tara made Cordelia pause in her quest to leave this room as well. If this had been anything but a memory, Cordelia would have already started raining down fire and brimstone on the robed freaks chanting over her friend.

She made to stride past the ring of chanting figures and the shade of Tara when a quiet broken voice stopped her, "Help me…"

Cordelia turned to look back and made eye contact with Tara's blue ones. The witch looked so helpless and broken that Cordelia's whole being stiffened. Her fists curled before she could stop herself as she sprang into action. She had no weapon and she was almost sure that her powers would be useless in this land of memories but that wouldn't stop her from beating every one of these robed bastards to death.

She lunged forward and in a move she'd seen both from Buffy and Angel she caught the first figure's head in her hands and twisted until the shade's neck snapped like a twig. The figures responded as they would have in life, turning to attack her and giving her something tangible to vent her spite on.

She delivered a vicious punch to the nose of one, sending his nasal bone into his brain as he crumpled before kicking another in the kidney and then bashing his head into the face of another. She spun, kicked, punched and quite frankly over the course of less than three minutes became more violent than she'd ever been before until none of the robed figures were left standing. She stood in a ring of dead shades as she breathed heavily, feeling stronger than she had before the exertion before bending down to wrench the outer robe off of one of the shades. She didn't spare a glance for the shade as she made her way to Tara's shade and draped the robe over her and sat her up.

She brushed a strand of dirty blonde hair back as she whispered, "I've got you Tara."

As the Tara shade let out a sigh the room began to dissolve into nothingness until she was standing in another room.

This time the shades looked human, and would have been less creepy than the robed chanting freaks if it wasn't for the fact that the older man and his younger counterpart weren't looming over the cowering form of another shade of Tara. This one was younger and her face bore the evidence of her abuse at the hands of the two men Cordelia assumed were her father and brother.

She let out a low hiss, "Right…" before lashing out at the oldest of the pair. She could fight these nightmares, and she'd be damned if she was going to die in the process. She'd beat back every single one until there were none left. She'd rescue Tara, Willow, and whoever else a million times if it meant getting the crap out of this endless stream of hell.

-Rachel Berry-

They'd ended up in the memories, of that much Rachel was sure, but she wasn't quite sure what needed to be done to help Cordelia.

They'd moved through rooms of dead bodies and Rachel had to stamp down her nausea at the sight of some of her friends twisted and defiled bodies. After moving to a room where there was nothing more than a huddled figure Rachel stopped.

"What are we supposed to do?"

Quinn and Connor turned to look at her before sharing a look and then shrugging more than a little helplessly as Quinn spoke, "I'm not sure; the spell just said it would let us filter out the foreign memories, banish them from Cordelia's mind… I'm not sure how we're supposed to do that though."

Rachel let out a heavy sigh before spinning around, trying to gain some clue as to what they were meant to do before coming to an abrupt halt as she focused on the figure in the room, "Tara?"

Quinn and Connor spun to look at the huddled figure even as Rachel hurried to Tara's side. The woman who she'd come to admire for her quiet strength was shaking and crying quietly.

Rachel reached out a hand and smoothed it gently over Tara's hair as she spoke, "Tara?"

The witch looked up with sightless eyes, huddling further into the corner, "Please… leave me alone, no more…"

Rachel blinked back tears as Tara shrank from her before she whispered, "You're safe Tara, this is… this is just memory. Close your eyes, your safe, this isn't real… you're safe with Willow."

Tara's face smoothed as she whimpered hopefully, "Willow?"

Rachel chanced a hand on Tara's cheek, "You're safe Tara, and this isn't real."

The older woman relaxed as she breathed a sigh and closed her eyes as she started to vanish. Rachel shot up from her crouch and reached out to Quinn and Connor, grasping their hands.

Quinn spoke over a sudden roar of noise, "Something is changing!"

Connor nodded to her left, "I think we're changing memories! I think we have to banish them!"

As the empty room and Tara vanished they materialized in another room, with a horrific sight waiting for them. Another Tara was hung in the center of this room, being torn apart by three demons. Rachel's skin erupted in goose bumps as Tara's shrieks of pain registered.

Connor let loose a dark snarl from next to her as he shot forward, "Hell with this!"

Rachel had to agree as she leapt at one of the demons that had a hold of Tara's foot. She landed on the demon's back and wrapped her arms around its neck and squeezed as hard as she could, hoping to rip the damn thing's head off.

From behind her Quinn gave a shout, "No magic in here!"

Rachel spared a barked order, "Stay back Quinn!"

She managed to wrench the head off the demon's shoulders and dropped into a crouch as it fell before turning her attention on the demon advancing on Quinn. Before she could get to them the demon drew back a hand and smashed it across Quinn's face.

The corporeal bodies of the three teens jerked as a trio of identical bruises blossomed across their faces.

Rachel let out shriek as an explosion of pain rocketed through her face, beyond her Connor yelled as well as he grabbed at the side of his face.

Rachel launched herself at the demon the moment she could, wrestling it away from Quinn. She heard rather than saw Connor finish off his demon before he was next to her, grabbing the arm of the demon and yanking in one direction while she yanked in another. It was fitting that between the two of them they managed to tear the thing apart.

Quinn moved past them and hurried to the still dangling form of Tara, "Help me get her down!" Connor and Rachel hurried to her side as they stared up at the older witch.

Connor shook his head before springing up to grasp at one of the ropes that held Tara. He dangled, looking enough like a monkey to draw a smile from Rachel. He struggled with the knot that bound Tara's wrist.

After a minute he announced, "Grab her legs, this knot is about to give."

Rachel and Quinn moved as one to brace Tara's legs, making sure that when the knot loosened completely she didn't drop and yank her arm out of her socket. Connor moved on to the other knot and before long Tara's weight rested completely on Rachel and Quinn. Connor dropped down and between the three of them they lowered Tara's broken body to the floor. Quinn was clearly ready to start crying as she stared at her mentor's broken form.

The room began to dissolve again as Rachel barked, "Connor we have to protect Quinn, if she gets hurt we get hurt, and I have a feeling if she dies, we die."

Connor reached down and grabbed Quinn's arm, drawing up to his side "Stay close Quinn, and let Rach and I do the fighting."

Rachel offered Quinn a smile as the blonde held her hands up, "No arguments here."

Hour after hour passed, slowly, as bruises and wounds began appearing on the bodies and faces of the three teens who swayed over the prone body of the seer. Each discoloration that appeared on the form of the blonde witch was mirrored in the next second on the forms of the destroyer and the young slayer.

As each wound appeared though, the seer's breaths grew more even, her heartbeat more steady, as memory after was purged from her head.

September 16, 2011

-Cordelia Chase-

She dropped another demon's body as yet another memory dissolved. She was pleased with how well she was holding up considering the sheer amount a demon ass she'd been forced to kick. She had to admit that the ones she had relished the most were the ones of Tara's family, she'd punched Tara's father's face in more than once and considering each scene she'd walked in on? It would never get old.

The worst of the memories were the perversion of real memories. Scenes with Willow and her dark magic, of Buffy's death, and of Dawn's, they were the ones that took it out of her. She'd seen Buffy die enough in these memories to last several lifetimes.

She considered room around her this time, trying to find what she had to fight this time. Something felt different though as hope flared in her chest unbidden.

A moment of silence passed as and then the lone figure in the room began chanting in another dead language that Cordelia had never bothered to learn. She took a threatening step towards the single figured but was stalled by a shout from behind her.


Cordelia whirled and came face to face with Connor, Rachel, and Quinn. All three of them looked worse for the wear but they were standing and Rachel had a sunny smile on her face as she rocked on her heels while Connor looked ready to faint in relief.

Her son lunged and caught her in firm hug before stepping back and clearing his throat, "We found you."

Cordelia offered him a gentle smile and cupped his cheek, "Yes you did…" A moment went by and then she frowned, "Wait a minute… how did you find me? You…" She counted the kids again and then her eyes narrowed as she growled, "Did you use the spell that required anchors?!"

All three kids shrank a little and she had her answer, "Have you lost your minds?! You could have been killed! Did you think for one moment that I would want my kids dead to save my own life? How could I possibly want that?!"

Connor seemed to gain some strength as he snapped back, "I learned to do suicidal things to save people I love from you! You were dying!"

Cordelia stepped in to his face and hissed, "I appreciate the thought Connor, but you are all grounded when we get out of here…" She rolled her eyes, "And after… I don't know I'll up your allowance or something."

Quinn opened her mouth to speak only for Cordelia cut her off, "And don't think for one moment that I can't ground you Quinn." Quinn wilted as the three teens eyed her, waiting for her to give them an order.

She spun around before focusing on the robed figure, "I think that us finding each other means that this is the last memory. So…"

Connor cracked his knuckles, "So let's break this guy in half and go home."

Cordelia waved a hand, "Be my guest kid."

As Connor approached the figure the words he was chanting morphed into English, "One called by destiny…"

Cordelia called out, "Connor freeze!" Her son paused, his fist raised to smash into the figure.

The figure continued, "One born of evil… One of tainted magic…" The figure turned and lowered his hood revealing a very familiar face.

All four of them breathed out, "Giles?"

The Englishman took a step towards them and spoke, "Three deaths to unmake the light…" A small, dark smile curled across his lips, "Though soldiers of the dark beware the willing sacrifice." He looked directly at Cordelia and sneered, "I should have murdered you in your coma."

Cordelia barked, "Now Connor."

Her son shot forward and smashed his fist into the face of the shade. There was a wet crunching sound and then the Giles shade crumpled to the floor with a loud groan. Connor brought his foot up and then stomped down on the shade's neck.

As the crunch echoed through the dark room the memory began to fade.

Cordelia shot up in bed with a startled gasp as she breathed deeply. A trio of groans came from around the bed as she eyed the three teens that had taken it upon themselves to rescue her. They had all seen much better days, with their bruised and broken bodies. All three of them bore identical injuries no doubt mirroring the injuries Quinn had sustained while walking through the memories.

She spoke softly as they focused on her, "What do you all remember?"

Rachel spoke softly, "Giles…"

Quinn nodded as she cradled her ribs, "Is he…?"

Cordelia shook her head, "I don't know, and until I do… all of you keep your mouths shut, am I clear?"

All three nodded obediently as Quinn spoke up, "It would explain why he was so set against us using the spell."

Connor scowled even he touched a finger to his split lip, "It was like he wanted you to die, maybe because he knew that you'd find him in Tara's memories."

Cordelia swung her legs over the side of the bed as she spoke, "I don't want to assume anything, as far as I know, he said no to the spell because it was an almost fool proof way to get yourselves killed. He was doing his job as a watcher when he said no. I rejected the spell for the same reason."

Rachel's jaw dropped, "You had already found that spell?"

Cordelia nodded as she stood on wobbly legs, "A couple of weeks ago, yeah. Tara wasn't an option, neither was Willow, and I came to the same conclusion all of you did, that it would have to be the three of you who would have to perform the spell. I wasn't willing to risk all of you." She rolled her eyes, "Not that I'm not grateful to be alive, but it was stupid, and reckless and any other negative descriptor I can think of to do that spell with so little preparation and against the order of Giles. Evil or not, possessed or not, he wasn't wrong, and being a watcher means voicing the unpopular opinion."

Connor replied mutinously, "It was either do the spell or let you die Mom."

She cupped his cheek and ordered firmly, "Next time, if the choice is my life or all of yours, you let me die."

Now all three teens were eying her mutinously.

She pointed at the wardrobe blocking the door, "Move that please. I'd like to let Buffy and Angel know that I'm not dead."

Connor pouted balefully, "I think I have broken ribs…"

Cordelia arched an eyebrow, "Not to sound ungrateful but so? You did the spell, you move the barricade."

Connor and Rachel heaved twin sighs and then muscled the wardrobe out of the way. She felt a little bad that they were both wincing and panting once it was moved but she figured they'd at least learn this way, pain was an excellent teacher if nothing else.

She turned to Quinn and reached out a hand to brush against the girl's cheek, "Are you okay? The super twins have an accelerated healing factor… you don't."

Quinn shrugged and then winced as she cradled her ribs, "I'll be okay, school is going to be a bitch, and I'm not sure how I'm going to explain this to my mom…"

Cordelia nodded thoughtfully, "Do you need to go to the hospital?"

Quinn shook her head firmly, "No…" She cocked her head, "We do have painkillers right?"

Cordelia hummed as the wardrobe was moved, "We do. My medicine cabinet should have some good ones."

Quinn smiled gratefully as Cordelia took a deep breath and then exited the room.

Behind her Connor grumbled, "Why am I so hungry?"

Cordelia glanced back at him, "Probably because you've missed dinner," She glanced out the window over the stairs, "And breakfast judging by the light outside."

Behind Connor Rachel spoke up, "We didn't eat much at lunch either Connor."

The three teens spoke quietly to each other, already over their near death insanity and discussing lunch while Cordelia hesitated at the top of the stairs. She knew who she needed to see, she knew she wanted to see Angel, but need? That… She dipped her head, these next few moments might change things, and she wasn't sure she was ready for that.

After a long moment she squared her shoulders and stamped down the scoff that wanted to bubble up in her throat. She was Cordelia Chase damn it, she'd do as she damn well pleased.

She moved down the stairs as she brushed back her still damp hair. She knew she must look like crap warmed over but she hoped that being alive would trump being a little disheveled. She caught sight of herself in the hallway mirror and frowned, okay, a lot disheveled.

She entered the living room and paused in the doorway, surveying the miserable adults and teens that now littered her living room. Buffy was curled in Tara's arms and the slight redness around her eyes belied the fact that she may have been crying earlier. The idea of Buffy crying made Cordelia's chest ache as she cleared her throat.

"Why so depressed? Clearly no one died." She stepped forward to allow the three teens into the room as heads snapped up to look at them.

Brittany and Blaine moved first, barreling past her to catch Rachel, Quinn, and Connor in hugs as Dawn scrambled across the room a second later and charged into the teenaged group hug.

Cordelia for her part stepped forward as Buffy stood smoothly. The slayer's eyes were locked on her and there was an intense sort of focus on her face. Before Cordelia could reach Buffy Angel stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.

He smiled down at her, "Welcome back Cordy…"

She offered him a beaming smile as his words seemed to spur the rest of the adults into action as Spike and then Faith slammed into her in a tight three way hug even as she tried to catch Buffy's eye again. The slayer offered her a small smile before tipping her head towards the kitchen and ghosting away as Cordelia accepted a hug from a tearful Tara.

Cordelia held the older blonde witch as she sniffled into her shoulder and Willow mouthed, 'Thank you' just behind Tara even as she clutched at Kennedy's hand.

Giles nodded at her and Cordelia stared at his face, trying to get a hint of whether he was Giles at all before Fred pushed past him and inserted herself between Cordelia and Tara. Cordelia held the tiny Texan as her eyes once again sought out the door Buffy had exited from.

-Buffy Summers-

She waited. She wasn't a patient person by nature but in this case she didn't particularly want an audience.

She dipped her head as she let out a breath that she hadn't realized she was holding as she reminded herself again that Cordelia was alive, that Connor, Rachel, and Quinn had survived their rebellious heroics and Cordelia was safe. For now at least, until the next time she did something extraordinarily brave and stupid. Buffy's chin hit her chest as she narrowed her eyes, she really hoped there wouldn't be a next time.

The longer the spell had taken to finish the more tense Willow and Tara had gotten. In the hour before Cordelia had strolled through the living room entry Tara's eyes had welled up and she'd fled the room for a good ten minutes while Willow chased after her and Kennedy chased after both of them.

Buffy would never tell anyone but she'd begun to grieve for Cordelia and the three teens in that instant. She'd known on an intellectual level that the longer the spell took the more likely it would be that the four would die once what the spell was was explained in greater detail by Wesley, but on an emotional level Buffy had stubbornly refused to believe that Cordelia was going to die, and certainly she'd refused to accept that Connor, Rachel, and Quinn might join her.

Tara's tears had caused a very real fear to rise up in Buffy, so much so that when the blonde had returned and lowered herself to sit next to Buffy, the blonde slayer made herself a promise. If, by some miracle Cordelia survived, she'd take Angel's advice.

After nearly thirty minutes of waiting alone in the kitchen the swinging doors opened and Cordelia stepped through them.

Buffy remained quiet as Cordelia took a step towards her. She searched Cordelia's face and found… something there as her patience snapped a second later.

She surged forward and caught Cordelia's hands in hers and she rocked up on the balls of her feet and pressed her lips to Cordelia. The Seer flailed for one horrible moment and Buffy was sure that Cordelia was going to shove her away and tear into her high school style and then… then Cordelia melted.

Her arms jerked from Buffy's hold and then one was looping around her waist and the other tangled in her hair as the taller woman pulled her closer. Buffy wouldn't say her heart soared, or that she saw rainbows, but as she sank further into Cordelia's arms, as the seer she'd fallen for held her, and kissed her, she felt safe in a way that she'd never felt before. Not with anyone. The care with which Cordelia pressed her against the counter, the passion she poured into their kiss ignited something in Buffy as Cordelia took charge of the kiss Buffy had started. For a woman so strong, so larger than life, Cordelia was achingly gentle as she trailed a hand over Buffy's cheek.

Buffy might have been embarrassed by the tiny moan that leaked from her if Cordelia hadn't echoed it a second later.

As Buffy's hands itched to wander from their tame, respectable position at Cordelia's waist she pulled away slowly and muttered, "Hi…"

Cordelia leaned back for just a moment before pressing her forehead to Buffy's and breathing, "Hi…"

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