Title: If The Play Ran a Little Different
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: Cordy was ready to strangle him. "What, Wes? Spit it out. What do Greek demigods have to do with me?" 2000 words.
Spoilers: Close-canon AU for the Angel episode, "Birthday"; general PJO spoilers
Notes: 24 Days of Ficmas 2011, Day 18: for amusewithaview. Prompt: "Cordelia was the daughter of Apollo and now... a camp counselor." (Or, at least, a possible root for that; mostly Joss-verse.)
They were on their way back from dealing with the no-eyed, three-mouthed demon on Oak Street that a seriously immature teenager had accidentally called up in place of her delinquent father, when another demon appeared right in front of Cordy, blocking the sidewalk.
She lifted her sword again, planting her feet and bracing for attack. "Angel?" she called to the guys, who were still headed for the truck. "It looks like there's another one!"
The new demon was at least mostly man-shaped, though its skin was a steely shade of grey and it had bony armoring over its chest and curved horn-type things jutting out around its head. Its eyes were all bloodshot, and it was smiling at her like it was trying to get her to trust it, holding its palms out and open.
Like hell she was going to buy that, not without one of the others clearing it. It didn't seem to notice her alarm, though- or if it did, it went right on pretending nothing was wrong.
"Hey," it said, cheerfully. "How's it going?"
"Whoa, whoa. Who are you?" she replied, then glanced around it to see what was taking the others so long. "Angel! Do you know this guy?"
"No," the vampire's voice carried to her. He nodded reassuringly at her over its shoulder, his own weapon poised for attack, and Cordy nodded back in relief. "Care to identify yourself?"
The demon whipped its head around in surprise, staring gape mouthed at her boss and at Wes and Gunn flanking him, before turning back to Cordy. "They can see me?" it said, appalled, lifting its hands higher and edging sideways into the street so it could look at all four of them at once. "This is all wrong. This isn't the astral plane. What are you doing here?"
"The astral plane?" Wes raised an eyebrow at it. "Were you trying to send a message to the resident of 171 Oak Street? Because if you were, I'm afraid you're a touch late."
The demon glanced at him again, taking another step back. "No, no. I was just here for Cordelia Chase. And your friend there does look a lot like her. But I must have mixed the files up, so I'll just be..."
He was here for her? What the hell for?
"Wait!" she objected, shifting one hand from her sword grip to hold it up in a halting gesture. Angel shot her a glare at that, but she steadfastly ignored him; they were four on one, and if someone had sent her a message on her birthday, she kind of wanted to know what it was. "I am Cordelia Chase. Why were you looking for me?"
It recoiled, scanning her again with a searching gaze. "But you can't be," it said, frowning. "The Powers sent me here to guide you; you're supposed to be in a coma, having an out of body experience. I know you're the one with the visions in this reality; I'm supposed to offer you a deal to stop them from killing you."
Cordy's eyes widened, and she tightened her grip on her sword again, edging over toward the guys. "Are you serious? They're supposed to be killing me, and the Powers knew about it? What kind of booby prize is that? Wait- does that mean that Doyle-" She bit her lip, painful possibilities clouding her thoughts. Did it mean she'd have lost him even if the Scourge hadn't come to L.A.?
"No," Wes said slowly, lowering his own blade as if he'd suddenly taken leave of his senses. "I don't believe that's what he means. I've done a bit of research into the provenance of the visions since Angel noted that they seemed to pain you less than Doyle; and the records show that every pure human who bore them died within a year of receiving them. I always thought that seemed- curious, but I assumed the Powers had intervened in your case."
Cordy snorted as she deciphered that. "Some intervention. I could've traded a little of the full surround-sound smell-o-vision for a little more of a headache, you know? Just turn down the volume a little, and I'd feel a lot less like I'm walking around in a cloud of demon stink half the time. Oh, wait," she shot a smirk over at Angel, "I guess I would anyway. So talk." She jabbed the point of the sword toward the demon again, demanding its attention. "If the Powers thought I should be dying, then what the hell is going on?"
"You think I know?" it snorted, then took a step toward her to grab the sword and push it away from its face. She jerked at the movement, though, stumbling and bringing the outside of her hand in contact with its palm. It gasped, backing away again and clutching its curled-in fingers close as though she'd burnt them.
"Keep your hands off me!" she spluttered, edging further toward the guys, who shared equally baffled glances with her.
The demon stared at her a moment longer, hand pressed against its armored chest, as its personable expression faded into something hard and grim. "The Greeks are going to hear about this," it said, disgustedly. "Your life was supposed to be Jasmine's, not Apollo's."
And on that particularly cryptic note, it shimmered into a black shadow, then faded away, leaving only a slightly scorched spot on the asphalt.
"Apollo's?" Gunn frowned through the space where it had been. "Jasmine's? Either of those names mean anything to y'all? 'Cause that didn't sound particularly friendly."
"My life is mine, not anyone else's, thank you very much," Cordy said nervously, finally letting her weapon droop point-first to the sidewalk again. "Please tell me he wasn't really a messenger for the Powers."
'Cause if he was... well. She knew those superhuman maintain-the-balance types weren't all that familiar with the concept of fairness. Witness the train wreck that was each and every champion she'd ever come across, not to mention the bookish types whose jobs were to support them. But she'd thought they at least cared about free will! The only thing Cordy had ever taken from them was the visions... and even those, she hadn't formally signed on the dotted line for.
"We'll ask Lorne when we get back to the hotel; he's got connections, he should be able to tell us," Angel frowned. He took the sword from her, tossing it into the truck, then put a hand on her shoulder, ushering her toward the cab. "And if he doesn't know, I'm sure Wes..."
His voice trailed off, though, as Wes turned a pale face to them, as pale as though he'd seen a ghost. Or turned into one. "Apollo... that does make a certain degree of sense, unfortunately," the former Watcher said. "The heritage would have been disguised in Sunnydale; I doubt they would risk sending satyrs to the Hellmouth, and by the time you were strong enough to attract attention the Slayer was already there to mitigate the danger."
"Wes, you're talking nonsense," Cordy frowned at him. "Whose attention? What danger?"
"Satyrs?" Gunn said, at almost the same time. "You mean those horny things with the furry legs that like to... Hey, don't look at me like that; dudes like to prank." He shuddered. "Let's just say, vampires weren't the only things we met before I joined you guys."
Cordelia raised her eyebrows at him, but didn't comment; she didn't think she wanted to know the details. The suggestiveness seemed to have cut through whatever fog had stalled Wes' brain, though, and he shook himself a little.
"Demigods," he said. "The Council doesn't know much about them, as they generally keep to themselves and the Greeks have their own Oracles. It's generally not worth the trouble to risk drawing their attention. I should've considered..."
He looked so apologetic, Cordy was ready to strangle him. "What, Wes? Spit it out. What do Greek demigods- which I guess is where Apollo comes in- have to do with me?"
Angel cleared his throat and dropped his hand from her shoulder as though it had burned him. "I think he's saying you are one," he said, his tone oddly awed. "That you're one of Apollo's... daughters. Which would make the vision thing kind of ironic..."
His voice trailed off again- though Cordy's desire to hit him faded into the background as she remembered a couple of things that had puzzled her at the time. First, Daddy Dearest's insistence that she wasn't his responsibility, just before he and her mother had taken their money and run. Then, what her mother had whispered the day she'd turned eighteen: that she was so proud of Cordy for turning out normal 'after all,' and that she was going to tear up the Camp Half-Blood brochure 'he' had given her. She'd never explained any further, and Cordy had been too distracted by Xander and the other Slayerettes to press her mother on the issue.
It looked as though that had been a mistake. Unfortunately, she probably wouldn't have any better luck trying to press her mother now; her parents were still out of the country last she'd checked, and they hadn't even bothered to call her on her previous birthday.
"Well," she said, half-laughing, trying to make light of it. "Only half human. I guess that makes sense. I'll have to tell Xander his streak is unbroken after all."
Gunn's reached out and squeezed her arm. "Hey. Dude was a demon. He might just have been trying to throw you off. "
"And even if, you know," Angel said. "You wouldn't be half demon. It would make you... I mean, you'd be..."
"I think the word he's searching for is divine," Wes said, dryly. "But then, we always knew that, didn't we?"
"That would ring a little more true if you weren't all staring at me like I'm dying," Cordy replied tartly, glancing between the three of them. Or as though she was suddenly above them, or something; she might be kind of jealous of Buffy's place on Angel's pedestal, but that didn't mean she wanted to stand on it herself. Hell with that. He'd run off and leave her behind over her dead body.
"Never mind," she sighed. "Let's just get out of here; I've still got presents to open."
And on that cue- of course- the next vision struck her without warning.
It was a strange one, though; there wasn't any danger in sight. She was standing next to a pine tree, looking down into a valley. It seemed like any other valley at first glance, with a farmhouse, strawberry fields, and a pond... but then it shimmered, as though viewed through a heat haze, and she saw more. There were also a pavilion, a horseshoe-shaped double row of cabins, what looked like a climbing wall pouring with lava, and several acres covered in trees, rocks, streams, and dozens of kids running around in bright orange tee shirts. A camp.
The camp, she suddenly knew. And she was there, too: maybe a couple of years older, wearing one of the shirts, greeting a man with a horse's backside. A centaur! She'd never even seen one of those in Sunnydale. Other-She was smiling at him; she could hear herself asking how many half-siblings she'd have to mentor this summer, and she had what looked like a bow, a real bow-and-arrow bow, slung over her shoulder.
He was smiling, too. And... was that Buffy's little sister, walking by with some boy?
"...Cordy? Cordy?" Angel asked worriedly, pulling her back to the present.
She shook her head. "Happy birthday to me," she murmured, abruptly feeling a little less worried. Then she reached for the door handle.
Camp Half-Blood would still be there in the morning. In the meantime, she was only going to turn twenty-one once, and she was going to enjoy it, screw anything hell and the Powers threw at her.