Vampire Stories, story 4
BtVS / Buffy/Willow/Xander
Summery: Cordelia? There are many questions that arise. Some truths are revealed. And everyone has choices to make.
Well, here we are seven years later and these vampire stories finally continue. Strange... in the series, it's just the next day.
Don’t Sue Me- I did not create nor do I own the characters or their premise. Joss Whedon did and does. This is just Fan Fiction. All the fun and none of the profit. As for any original characters, please don’t use without my permission. And distribution: not without my explicit consent. Feel free to ask though.
Timeline/Pairings- Takes place post ‘Chosen’. The series centers around Buffy/Willow/Xander. ‘Pairings’ vary. Also now, Giles/Jenny.
Warnings (The Good Stuff)- This story is meant for Adults. The series is meant for Adults. Please notice the title of the series. Darker themes are explored without many apologies. The erotic is the beat, not the solo. If you like your good guys purely good, skip this story. If you’re underage, enjoy those secret bedtime fantasies. If this is illegal to read where you are, all you probably have are fantasies. You might want to start making some choices. I am not responsible for your actions. I’m in enough trouble just being responsible for my own.
Summery- Vampire Stories: story 4. Cordelia? There are many questions that arise. Some truths are revealed. And everyone has choices to make.
One Last Thing- Let’s just pretend the ending of Angel happened shortly after the ending of Buffy, please. Thank you. If we sync the endings there’s just a confluence, convergence and eruption of battles won at great loss, free will, and undercurrent of betrayal of faith that it just works and I can’t resist wanting to play with it. Also, I started writing this story in 2005. Due to a sudden health problem, I couldn’t continue until now. These stories are still in my head and I will find a way to get them out. If only for myself. To any dear reader who started the series then- please forgive me. Thank you for reading again. I hope you enjoy it.
Love and Loyalties
By Crys Loch
Willow slipped quietly out of the bedroom and down the stairs. It was still daylight, maybe late afternoon. She couldn't just rest the day away. Her mind was preoccupied with the fact that Cordelia Chase was just down below. Their little escape was proving to be not as clandestine as she had hoped. She had to understand what was going on. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she found Cordelia at the kitchen table writing in a notebook. Willow silently crossed the room.
Willow stopped beside Cordelia at the table and watched as Cordelia suddenly looked up, startled. Willow grew more amused as Cordelia's reaction was to roll her eyes and relax. "Did I startle you?" Willow asked with a knowing smirk.
Cordelia shrugged her shoulders. "No big. I got used to it."
Willow smiled and nodded her head. She walked around the island counter and started to make some coffee. "Are you hungry? We don't actually have anything in the way of food here."
Cordelia set the pen down and closed up the notebook. "I might be. I haven't really thought about it yet. I guess if I'm staying here, I should go get some groceries." Cordelia stayed on edge, not quite letting herself relax into the seemingly casual conversation. She had managed a little sleep on the sofa, mostly due to sheer exhaustion. Since then, she had been in a state of suspension, waiting for what might happen when these three once friends awoke. She looked up into the loft room. Xander and Buffy appeared to still be sleeping. And here Willow was mildly discussing a lack of food offerings for human guests. Cordelia had filled the waiting time with the idea of getting some of the more recent events down on paper in an effort to clear her mind and make some sense of it all, before... Well, before whatever happens next would happen.
Willow turned toward Cordelia and leaned against the counter, waiting for the coffee to finish. She recognized the notebook as being one from her desk. "Cordy, where'd you get that book?"
Cordelia cast a quick glance down at the pilfered object in question. Her reply was rushed as she turned toward Willow. "I found it on the desk. I'm sorry. I hope you don't mind. It's just, it was empty. And I don't have anything yet. And this waiting was killing me, so I wanted to use the time to try and make some sense of everything." She forced herself to stop and just wait for the reaction.
Willow simply nodded her head. The book had been empty. All the notebooks piled on the desk were empty. That one slipped off to another use didn't seem that big a deal. She knew Cordelia would be snooping a little. She was surprised she would take up journaling. Unless... Willow waved off the uncertain panic on Cordelia's face. "That's fine. I haven't started research yet. All the books are empty. Who is that book for?" Willow was a little relieved when confusion was clearly Cordelia's first reaction to the question.
"Me." Cordelia assured her. "Just me. So much has happened and I don't know what's about to happen and I just wanted to get some of these thoughts down."
Willow nodded her head and poured herself some coffee. She relished the warmth of the mug against her hands. Willow glided out of the kitchen and returned to the table. She stopped just behind Cordelia and peered over her shoulder at the notebook, curiously trying to glimpse through the cover. Her lips tightened as Cordelia's hands moved to rest protectively over the cover.
"I never knew you were the type to keep a diary," Willow kept the casual conversation tone to her voice.
"I wasn't," Cordelia replied a bit too hastily. She willed herself to take a calming breath and tried to relax. The impending whatever was about to begin and she reminded herself of her plan to not fight it. The coffee called to her but she was still unwilling to leave the notebook in Willow's grasp. Then she realized that if Willow wanted it, there was nothing she could do about it anyway. Cordelia let her hands drift off the cover and rest on the table. "Back in high school, my rule was to maintain deniability at all times. My crowd? You never leave blackmail material lying around."
"And now?" Willow gently asked. She placed her hand on Cordelia's shoulder and started to lightly stroke her fingers across Cordelia's shoulder and back, occasionally drifting along her neck.
Cordelia didn't hear the question. "What... what are you doing?" The gesture startled her more than Willow's sudden appearance behind her earlier. Willow's fingers were deceptively warm thanks to the cup of hot coffee and though not overtly sexual, the contact was more intimate than any they had ever shared before.
Willow smiled as Cordelia's muscles jumped then attempted to relax under her touch. She could hear Cordelia's pulse and breaths. She stilled her hand on Cordelia's shoulder, only letting her thumb continue stroking. "I'm trying to remember that we're friends." When Cordelia turned in her seat to look at her, a question filling her features, Willow relented more and crossed over to the chair beside Cordelia and sat down. Not willing to break total contact just yet, she took Cordelia's hand in her own and let them rest on the table. Cordelia's questioning face only deepened, so she tried to explain. "When vampires look at people, we don't feel anything. Well, that's not true. We feel hunger a lot. But what I mean is that we don't feel any connection with them. Even with each other. Buffy, Xander and I ... when we just look at each other, there's not much of anything. The connection is weak. But when we touch each other, it's back. We can remember our time together and feel it. So when I touch you, I remember."
Cordelia smiled despite the now receding spike of nervousness. "I hate to put a damper on your attempt to see me as something other than breakfast, but I'm no longer like the person you remember from back then."
Willow laughed: a sudden honest response. "Cordy, who is nowadays?"
Cordelia started to laugh herself. Her hand tightened briefly around Willow's. She took a deep breath as she calmed down and gave in to her desire for coffee. Easily slipping her hand from Willow's, she rose and crossed over to the kitchen, willingly leaving the notebook behind.
Willow stared again at the cover; the notebook so easily within reach. Her hand remained placid on the table. Instead, she pulled her eyes away and up to the loft.
Cordelia turned towards the table with her mug raised to her lips. She was surprised to find Willow wasn't pages into the journal yet. Instead, she followed Willow's glance up to the loft. "You know, and given all the freaky things that happened to us, especially recently, I'm about to say something relatively monumental: I never expected in a million years to see what obviously you three do now. I mean, in my snarkier moments in high school I was prepared to imply it, sure. But I never thought it would happen for real."
Willow's eyes fell back to Cordelia's. "And what is it exactly that we three do now?"
Cordelia fought to control her reaction to sputter and carefully swallowed her coffee. "You know..." Glancing up and seeing only an expectant blank look from Willow, she was forced to continue. "The three of you... only one bedroom. You can't make me believe there's three bunks up there, so that means only one bed. You're obviously sleeping together. The three of you. Lovers."
"Obviously." Willow kept the blank look, waiting.
"Aren't you?" Cordelia felt off balance, again, and averting her eyes, continued to drink her coffee.
"Yes." Willow readily supplied.
Cordelia's head snapped up. "Well, if you knew what I was saying and you knew it was true, why did you..."
"I just wanted to make you say it out loud." Willow cut in and finally broke the blank look with a grin.
"You're evil." Cordelia complained into another sip of coffee.
Willow softly laughed. "Well, yeah."
Cordelia smiled a little. "You know what I mean. Again." She felt she had given Willow quite enough time for indiscretion and returned to her seat at the table and the notebook.
Willow let the conversation thread end. She wasn't about to defend or explain what they were to each other now. "So, you know what happened to us. What happened to you?"
"I only know the ending of the Sunnydale side," Cordelia clarified. "You saw a little of what happened to me."
"I jumped in briefly in the middle," Willow reminded her. "I don't know how it got to that point or much of what happened after."
Cordelia stared into Willow's eyes. "Really? So you just dropped into L.A., no questions asked, major mojo in hand, kicked my ass, then went back as if nothing happened?"
"Well, things were a little crazy at home and there wasn't time to worry about why or how. As it was I had to sneak down there so Buffy wouldn't know." Willow caught and held Cordelia's eyes with her own. "Buffy doesn't know," she stressed. "So I barely had time to kick your ass and come back home."
Cordelia remembered that terrible time for a moment, the flashes and bits she could anyway. Small blessings: that these memories were just broken shards technically by another's hand. They cut just the same, though. "How could you know it was me? At the time, no-one knew I had anything to do with it."
Willow shrugged and smiled. "I didn't," she easily admitted. "Not then. Didn't care at the time who. As I said, no time to worry about that. Angel came up to Sunnydale just before our last battle with an amulet for Buffy. While he was there, he discreetly thanked me and gave me an update. That wasn't. Much of one that is. He's not one for details. Don't worry, I won't hold it against you. I'm the last one who should be judging people."
"Yeah, when did you become so scary powerful, anyway?" Cordelia was suddenly reminded that Willow was a force before she became a vampire.
"Long story," Willow hedged. "But we were actually going to share yours."
"Equally long." Cordelia hoped she could put this off as she drained the last of the coffee in her cup.
Willow got up and took both their cups to the kitchen for refills. "It's daylight out. I'm not going anywhere."
"Well," Cordelia relented, "I guess you could say it started when the Powers That Be sent me a guide and offered me a choice..."
* * *
Buffy stirred awake and stretched. Feeling only one other body next to her, she forced her eyes open and lifted up slightly to look through the window and down below. "Willow's downstairs," Buffy heard Xander's mumbled confirmation behind her.
"Do you think she's figured out why Cordelia's here?" Buffy asked the still seemingly asleep lump as she turned to face him.
"I don't know." Xander opened his eye and smiled at the sight of the woman that lay in his bed, now. He'll never get over it or used to it, he guessed. Buffy. Hair slightly messed, relaxed, content, a slight smile arching her lips and softening the hard warrior look he had grown so used to into something he could only reference from his dreams, not his memories. "I wouldn't bet against her. Doesn't matter yet anyway."
"You were pretty hostile last night." Buffy started to stroke his messy longer hair into some semblance of order. "Are you still angry?"
"No, I wasn't angry. Just..." Xander still wasn't sure what he thought about Cordelia's sudden appearance into their lives.
"Just, what?" Buffy finished with his hair and shifted closer, trailing her hand down his chest and her foot along his leg.
"My Ex makes a sudden entrance into the home I share with not one but my two current lovers... I'm allowed to be worried." Xander started stroking Buffy's back and thigh, pulling and urging her closer.
Buffy smirked. "Actually, the two lovers in question are the ones allowed to worry and snark. You, I believe, are supposed to gloat." Buffy spread her body over Xander's and looked him in the eye. "I shouldn't be worried, should I?"
Xander briefly considered the absurdity of bluffing or teasing in this moment. Instead, the truth fell from his lips. "No."
"Didn't think so." Buffy arched up and back, sliding his cock inside her. Her head fell forward and she moaned. Immediately, Xander's hands caught her hips and thrusting once further into her, he rolled them both over. Xander braced himself over Buffy and started a bruising hard rhythm, forcing Buffy to arch and buck in return.
* * *
"Wait. Just wait a minute." Willow cut into Cordelia's story, raising her hand in surrender and disbelief. "I know you've only just begun but hold up. You're saying you gave up fame and wealth so you could pick up some demon part and keep having these terrible visions. For Angel."
"And innocent people. Helping, playing a role in saving people. More important than fame as it turns out." Cordelia was quick to defend herself.
"No. You sacrificed everything you ever wanted." Willow was quick to counter, staring into Cordelia's eyes. "There's only one reason someone does something like that." Willow reached over and clasped Cordelia's hand. "You were in love with Angel."
Cordelia pulled her hand from Willow's grasp. "You sacrificed your dreams for the greater good, staying in Sunnydale instead of going off to some big college."
Willow smiled knowingly. "Wait for it..."
Cordelia's eyes opened a little wider in understanding and she sat back defeated in her chair. "You were in love with Buffy even then."
"Love's the only thing it could be, Cordy. Sacrificing yourself, sacrificing each other. It's always because of love." Willow tried again to start a connection. She reached forward for Cordelia's hand.
Cordelia clasped Willow's hand willingly and rested them on the table, remembering the explanation for the incessant contact. "Buffy doesn't know," she stressed.
"So it was returned?" Willow tried to keep the surprise out of her voice.
"It couldn't be returned. Curse, remember?" Cordelia couldn't believe she was confessing this, admitting this. But wasn't that what the sudden attempt at journal writing was about?
"But it was reciprocated? Otherwise, he wouldn't be worried about the curse. Angel loved you, too..." Willow trailed off into her own thoughts.
"He was a Champion, and I... It was complicated, and denied, and..." Cordelia took a big breath and slowly let it out. "Yes."
* * *
"God, Buffy, this feels so right." Xander paused for a moment, deep inside her, shuddering as he lay draped over her body. Whispered the confession in her ear.
"I know," Buffy whispered in return, her nails digging into his back, her thighs tightening around his hips, the slight arch of her back begging him to continue.
"You don't know! Can't..." Xander was caught, his gaze lost in the desire evident in Buffy's eyes. "If you could only know," he barely whispered.
"Know what, Xander?" Buffy smiled. He looked so young just now. Just for a moment. She forgave his stillness, enjoying the feeling and fullness of him resting inside her and reached up to stroke his hair. "Know what?"
Xander's confession was intense and suggestive in Buffy's ear. "It feels so right because I’ve imagined it so many times before." Xander arched back up over Buffy and began thrusting into her again. "It’s like it’s been happening all along."
Buffy's smile widened. "You've had fantasies. So... what? You're fucking a high school girl right now?" she teased him a little.
"No!" Xander glanced up and realized Buffy wasn't actually upset. He bent forward and kissed her hard, biting her bottom lip and sucking the blood. "It's just... It's like it was meant to be."
"Or at least for you, like it's always been." Buffy couldn't help but tease some more.
"Very funny." He was glad she wasn't mad. Life, or rather unlife was so open between them now. It wasn't just the physical he wanted to explore. He wanted to know their minds. Plus, there was the danger: the gunpowder of the past and the spark of their connection every time they connected like this, every time his memories collided with this present reality. It caused flash rages sometimes. He wanted to finally get to the truth of some of those memories.
"What about with Willow?" Buffy gave in to the increasing rhythm, moving with Xander, glad that the playful morning sex had started up again. But the fantasy thread was too intriguing to just drop. Besides, it was a conversation that went well with morning sex. "Does sex with Willow feel so right?"
Xander laughed a little when he realized the conversation would be continuing. "Yes. Yes, it feels right. You know what's really right? When I watch the both of you."
The only warning Xander had was the mischievous glint in Buffy's eyes. She suddenly rolled them both over and straddled him above, never breaking the stride of their movements. "And did any of these fantasies have me here?"
"Of course." Xander rested his hands on her hips and let her have all the control. "But you see now why you wouldn't know?"
Buffy smiled knowingly down at Xander and leaned in close. "Xander, I never said I never fantasized about you." She pulled back up at his shocked and goofy look. "Or Willow."
* * *
"Cordy," Willow felt the need at this point in the story to bang her head down on the table, but resisted the urge. "You were a Power That Be?"
"No," Cordelia corrected, "not really, not technically."
"But you ascended," Willow tried to clarify.
"Yeah," Cordelia confirmed.
"And that didn't set off any warning bells?" Willow tried to keep the lilt of snark from her voice. She did.
"You know, new you sounds a lot like old me." Cordelia observed. She wasn't up to being too offended. She was too hurt, too tired. And Willow was right. She was played. They all were. That was the point of the story.
"Sorry." Willow couldn't feel it, didn't mean she couldn't remember to say it.
"Don't be." Cordelia waved it off. "Honesty. I remember I used to value it. Not from others, but still..." Cordelia grinned as high school memories played absurdly past the present. "I think it's one of the reasons I came here. No Games. No Goals. No Lies. I know if nothing else, you guys will at least be honest."
"Yeah, well, Cordy, in all honesty, I don't know what we'll be." Willow was suddenly reminded of the larger situation this morning. "This has been interesting, talking to you. Hearing the heartbeat and all. It's kinda cool and has been a while. And yeah, I keep connecting, so it's funny how we were getting to be friends, how we could'ah been friends. But the others... And, really, are you sure you want to be around any part of this?"
Willow glanced up to the loft windows and Cordelia turned to look as well. They could see Buffy from mid waist and up, a controlled up and down rhythm swaying her breasts. Her hair was messy and raked back from her face with her fingers. She was smiling and occasionally saying something, eyes focused on the someone below her. Willow and Cordelia watched for a long moment before lowering their gaze back to each other and their conversation.
Cordelia forestalled any further comments from Willow. "I know. Just, let me finish my story and maybe you'll start to understand."
* * *
Buffy's confession pulled Xander to the edge. Buffy increased her rhythm, tightened her muscles. She leaned down close and breathed deep his scent, a proprietary growl vibrated deep with approval. Morphing, Buffy sliced one of her fangs down the side of his neck and lapped the blood, licking her way to his ear. "Bite me, Xander. Feed from your Sire a little. I want you."
* * *
"You had sex with him!" Willow exclaimed.
"Oh goody, girl talk." Buffy descended the last stair and crossed the room to the kitchen area. "And coffee." Helping herself to a cup of coffee and facing the suddenly silent Willow and Cordelia, Buffy donned a cheap smile and directed her question to Cordelia. "Had sex with who?"
"Not Angel," Cordelia was quick to assure. Buffy's arrival into the middle of the story complicated things.
"Of course not," Buffy quipped and seated herself at the table. She noticed the continued silence. "I'm interrupting."
Willow glanced at Cordelia and was surprised to see what looked like anger on her face. She realized Angel was going to come up sooner rather than later. Cordelia was grieving. Buffy couldn't. Willow stepped in before sooner became now. "It's just that it's been a long and complicated story. Um, hard to catch someone up." Willow looked up at the loft and noticed Xander wasn't up yet. "Is Xander still sleeping?"
Buffy smiled and pointed to the puncture marks on her neck. "Yeah, he's out for a while yet. We maybe got a little carried away."
Willow glanced again at Cordelia. "Buffy, how drained and hungry are you?"
Buffy simply laughed. "Don't worry. He didn't take that much. I can hold on till we go out."
Cordelia easily caught the gist of what they were talking about. "I have to tell ya, the sudden urge I have to hold both your hands is deeply disturbing."
Buffy cocked an eyebrow and smirked at Willow. "Have you two been holding hands? Aww, that's cute."
"Jealous?" Willow jokingly countered, smiling. "Can you hear her heartbeat? Strange, wild, huh?"
"Yeah." Buffy admitted. She cocked her head, closed her eyes and listened for a moment. "Odd to hear it in our home." She unconsciously licked her lips.
"That's it!" Cordelia reached across the table with both hands. Her left hand grasped Willow's and her right hand took hold of Buffy's. She breathed deeply and held them tightly. "If you are both done scaring me."
Buffy turned her hand over so she could properly hold Cordelia's hand in her own and started to run her thumb over the back of Cordelia's hand. "Warm." At Cordelia's startled look, she smiled reassuringly. "We're done. Besides, I need more coffee." Buffy shook the empty mug for emphasis. As she rose from her seat and started towards the coffee pot, she added, "plus I still want to know who you slept with."
Willow squeezed Cordelia's hand in reassurance. "It won't make sense, Buffy."
Buffy faced them again as before from behind the kitchen counter. Drinking her coffee, she considered the situation. "I know you started without me. I trust you. You can't cliff note me in? Or you want me out?"
Willow was quick to protest. "Buffy, no. It's just..."
"Sit down, Buffy." Cordelia interrupted. She got up from the table to get more coffee herself, passing Buffy on the way. "Should I just start the story over again, Willow?"
"Buffy," Willow deferred.
"Cliff notes got me this far in life," Buffy assured everyone. She smiled and made a continue gesture to Willow. When Cordelia sat down at the table again, Buffy took Cordelia's hand in her own. "We haven't always been friends. We haven't really been enemies. But one thing I've always been is the Slayer. And strange as it may sound: still am, still there, still me. So Cordy, just like Willow, I need to understand why you're here."
"And Xander?" Cordelia nodded toward the loft. "Shouldn't we wake Xander so he can hear the explanation as well?" Cordelia yanked her hand back and stood up. She started to pace. She almost started to cry, but quickly wiped the tears with the palms of her hands and willed no more to come. "I don't even really understand it myself yet. But I lost everyone I loved. I lost everything I had. I was used up and left for dead. And was brought back if I promised to do one last thing." Cordelia stopped pacing and looked straight into Buffy's eyes. "And I swear, I only did it to save him."
"Angel," Buffy needlessly confirmed.
"Yes." Cordelia continued her pacing. "You're all I have left. You guys are the only ones who could possibly understand. If you need more back story than that, then I'll tell the tale. But I can only tell it once. So if Xander needs to hear this..."
"Xander didn't seem that curious. Or interested at all." Buffy supplied. "I'm not sure what he thinks yet." Buffy and Willow exchanged looks. A fact that didn't go unnoticed by Cordelia.
"Cordy, there's not just us. There's a whole bunch of little slayers." Buffy felt she should give Cordelia the best option, even if it meant erasing her mind a little.
"No!" That got Cordelia to stop her pacing for a moment. The moment gone, the movement continued on. "They work, say they work, try to work for the Powers That Be. That's who did this to me." She stopped again and simply leaned against the island counter, letting it hold her up. "I don't want to fight. I don't want the fight. It's done. I'm done. I don't care anymore. Both sides are evil."
"Okay..." Buffy looked at Willow. "That's funny; Willow keeps insisting we're not. My world keeps getting screwier all the time."
"Willow, please, just start the cliff notes." Cordelia was losing her nerve, losing hope, was too tired to have much energy and didn't come with any faith left, so mostly she just wanted to get this over with.
"All the bits?" Willow knew the Angel parts were volatile but relevant. In Cordelia's weakened state, she would probably agree to let them come out now. They would come out. Soon, in her grief hazed condition.
"Yes, anything, everything." Cordelia launched herself from her perch against the island counter to start the comfort of pacing again, this time harder. Her hands covered her face, hiding her reactions and with any luck preventing any tears.
"Well, you could say that The Powers That Be literally played chess with Angel, Cordy and everyone. Manipulated them as if they were pawns to get what they wanted." Willow started by way of introduction.
"Wait, didn't we have that discussion once?" Buffy cut in. "You said there was no-one playing chess in the sky. That the Powers weren't Gods, didn't betray us, couldn't stop this from happening."
"Buffy," Willow attempted to clarify; knowing more of Cordelia's story and also remembering the earlier conversation Buffy was referencing, "but there are those that believe they are gods, yes? We fought two of them. And from what I heard so far of Cordy's story, yes, even the ones that say they are on the side of good can betray us."
A snort from Cordelia's direction brought Willow's and Buffy's attention to the still pacing young woman. "Ain't that the truth."
Willow smiled and took Buffy's hand in her own. "Let me catch you up real quick then we can both hear the rest of the story, okay?"
* * *
Cordelia ended the story seated at the table, her arms crossed protectively over her chest not much caring if they saw her as anything but breakfast anymore. She didn’t even have any tears left. It all came out eventually, cliff notes be damned.
Buffy leaned back in her chair. “So we unleash ultimate evil personified into the world; you guys unleash ultimate good; and it turns out there isn’t much of a difference?”
Cordelia stared blankly at the opposite wall, letting the out of focus slide show of memories filter through her thoughts. “There’s a slight difference. I was left kinda aware of everything going on. The connection to Jasmine I guess. There was peace, love and harmony. It was strange, watching L.A. get along with each other. But if you didn’t fall in line…” Cordelia returned her focus to Buffy’s apparent indifference. “We all lost our faith after that. I at least came back to help Angel find his faith in himself. Then you know the rest. Final battles fought. The doors slammed shut. And we live happily ever after.”
Buffy shrugged. “I am pretty happy, Cordy. And relieved as hell to be done with it.”
“I know,” Cordelia emphasized, empathized. She let her arms uncross to rest on her lap. She truly relaxed, finally, letting her head lay back and stared unseeing at the ceiling as the clarity of mind she had been searching for settled and formed: the tempest inside dying. “That’s why I chose to come here. When they showed me how everything stood now, they probably believed that I would go running to the new slayers with the information they gave me about you. It might have been their intent. But I mean it, I’m done. I just want to start my life over. But it’s not like I can just pretend that none of this exists or that everything that’s happened, didn’t.” Cordelia lowered her head and smiled a little. “I don’t want to be a vampire. And I guess I don’t want to be dead. I just want a second chance at a life after. I thought you guys might understand,” Cordelia trailed off and waited.
“Okay,” Buffy stated into the ensuing silence.
“Okay?” Willow hinted for further explanation. She suspected, after hearing the story, the previous night’s decision remained unchanged. At least, to her mind it had. Still, she preferred to hear the reasoning out loud.
“Cordelia can stay,” Buffy briefly elaborated and reaffirmed the position she had held last night. Seeing the continue hand gesture Willow was giving her, she gave in. “She could have ran to the slayers and told them all about us, but she didn’t. We wouldn’t have ever known if she had. She tried to get out of the life once and it just sucked her back in. And might have again if she didn’t run here. If we deserve a happily ever after, than so does she.”
“I agree,” Xander joined in. Everyone turned or looked up to find him sitting on the bottom step in the far corner of the room. He rose and approached the kitchen table.
“You agree?” Buffy voice held the tone of surprise.
“How long have you been sitting there?” Willow questioned at the same time.
Xander stood between Buffy and Willow and watched Cordelia. “Since good was evil,” Xander confessed. “My life was turned inside out but there’s one thing to be said for it: I’m free. And for that, I guess I’m grateful. Cordy chose freedom. I guess we should let her see where it takes her.”
“Okay,” Willow repeated.
“That’s it?” Cordelia leaned forward and rested her arms on the table. “Just like that?”
“Isn’t that what you wanted?” Willow suggested.
“Yes, but…” Cordelia exhaled with relief. The struggle, it would seem, was finally over. “I’m surprised, I guess. And… not sure what to do now.”
“You’ll stay with us,” Xander stated.
Willow glanced up to the loft. Buffy and Cordelia each noticed where Willow’s eyes went and what Xander might be inferring.
“No!” Buffy and Cordelia exclaimed at the same time.
Xander laughed. “That was Willow’s dirty mind, not mine. Like Buffy suggested last night, I’ll just build a bedroom and bathroom underneath the loft.”
“Probably a good idea,” Buffy smirked.
“Thank you,” Cordelia offered. “It feels cliché and inadequate, but thank you…” Cordelia shook her head slightly in wonder. This felt like kindness. A feeling unfamiliar, foreign, and unexpected. A feeling she couldn’t recall the last time was present in her life.
“The sun’s set,” Willow noticed. “We all need to eat. Even Cordelia I imagine. We don’t even have microwave popcorn here.”
“Also probably a good idea. The heartbeat’s beginning to drive me crazy,” Buffy teased.
“After you, ladies,” Xander presented the door with a sweeping gesture. Second chances, freedom and a night just begun.
* * *