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.
Love and Loyalties, part 9.
Disclaimers and warnings are listed in part 1 and still apply.
Buffy and Willow settled again on the smaller end of the couch that faced the television and left Xander to his work. At the end of the next week’s previews, Willow shut off the television and tossed aside the remote. She scooted closer to Buffy and turned to face her. Willow placed her arm on the couch back and started stroking Buffy’s neck and shoulder to get her full attention. “I want to know,” Willow smiled to take most of the demand out of her voice.
Buffy smiled back quizzically. “Okay. Know what?”
“Fantasies. Naughty bedtime thoughts of me. When and what,” Willow spilled. Her voice held a mix of excitement and trepidation. Her nails ran down the back of Buffy’s neck.
Buffy’s smile faltered. When she noticed Willow’s answering frown and felt her begin to pull away, she placed a steadying hand on Willow’s thigh and leaned forward to kiss her quickly. “Sorry, you just surprised me.” Buffy sat back. She tilted her head into the comfort and attention of Willow’s fingers stroking her skin. Her own hand began to rub over Willow’s thigh. “It’s… wow. It’s a little complicated.”
“Complicated how?” Willow settled into the touch, the connection. Reassured, she tried to stay calm and open.
“Well, for one thing, I kept thinking I shouldn’t be having these thoughts about my best friend. So, it was a little confusing,” Buffy admitted.
“Oh,” Willow’s smile lit her whole face. “I can understand that.”
Buffy laughed. “I guess you can.” She sobered. “Okay, remember, I guess it was second year of high school, when we were in my room and you were in that sexy outfit all unsure in front of the mirror. And I kept trying to talk you into it. And you ended up putting that ghost costume on over it.”
“I remember that ghost costume ended up not covering that much in the end,” Willow cut in.
“And I ended up right. But not my point.” Buffy ducked her head when she felt Willow’s nails again on the back of her neck. She looked up again. “I kept thinking about that time in my room. How good you looked. I wanted to bring out the sexy and confident Willow and make you believe in her. In the daytime, I encouraged her so she could be with someone like Oz. At night, there was a fantasy where Xander never showed up, we never left my room and I showed you how amazing I thought you were. Are.”
“Really?” Willow whispered. She tried to grin conspiringly, but the wonder in her eyes belayed the effect.
“Yes, really.” Buffy could now easily confess. “But keep in mind it was all very confusing. Plus, it’s not like I knew what I was supposed to do, so the imagining didn’t really go beyond kissing. Well, some nights there was some beyond kissing. Then it got too very confusing. That’s because we met your vampire self.”
“You do have a thing for vampires,” Willow shook her head and laughed.
Buffy slapped the thigh she had been stroking. “Not like that. And I’ll remind you, vampire you then didn’t like me.”
“True,” Willow easily conceded. “The vampire I later became had a completely different take on you.”
Buffy kissed Willow hard, deep and long. She pulled back and looked Willow in the eyes. “No shit.”
Willow laughed. “So what was it then? The leather outfit? I already told Xander that’s not making a comeback.”
Buffy impulsively pulled Willow’s shirt up and over her head, tossing it aside. She cupped Willow’s bare breast in her hand and stroked a thumb over the nipple. “This is nicer. I’m still enjoying the lack of clothing trend we got going.”
“You too,” Willow insisted and she started to help Buffy out of her shirt.
Buffy stripped out of her shirt and bra. She resettled close beside Willow and resumed running her fingers over Willow’s chest, cupping her breasts and stroking her nipples. The play was easy now in contrast to the fumbling, halting fantasies she was recalling and relaying. “It wasn’t seeing you as a vampire and it wasn’t the leather. Though that did look really good. It was that I knew so much of the personality stayed with the vampire. So seeing those parts of you… It made it all the more confusing. The kinda gay part. I was already thinking things I thought I shouldn’t. And then, I found out that maybe they could happen.” Buffy saw Willow sharp look of interest and continued quickly. “You were with Oz and I was with Angel and I was still in the mental place of you’re not supposed to think this about your best friend. And so were you.”
Willow held off any ‘why didn’t we, we could haves’, defeated for the moment. “That sucks,” was all she could come up with at the moment.
“If we had gotten together then and later suffered all that we ended up going through and all that happened, we would have never survived it. Our friendship would have never survived it,” Buffy reasoned. “We wouldn’t be here now.”
“Maybe,” Willow hedged not quite ready to agree to that so easily without more careful thought. “It still sucks.”
“Okay.” Buffy caressed Willow’s breast and bent forward for another kiss. Willow dug her nails into the back of Buffy’s neck, pulling her into the kiss and keeping her there. Their tongues slid across blunt teeth and slowly played back and forth. Willow’s nails lightly raked across Buffy’s shoulders and back. Buffy’s fingers traced randomly across Willow’s collarbone and chest. Buffy ended the kiss with a short, light peck on Willow’s lips. “This doesn’t suck.”
“No, it doesn’t.” Willow grinned and let Buffy resettle back beside her. “Besides, wishing for something different is what brought an early vampire Willow into our world in the first place.” Willow stroked Buffy’s hair back behind her ear. “So, just late night naughty thoughts of kissing your best friend then? That’s okay if that’s it,” she quickly added to reassure.
“That’s not it,” Buffy teased. “There’s one, from college. I guess, because of Tara and my roommate and best friend actually being gay now. Only it started before that…” Buffy puzzled for a moment trying to remember. “It started after that asshole Parker and that night of really bad beer. I can safely confess that I kept a fantasy of I and my roomie having sex in the dorm room. Pretty wild sex, too.” Buffy smiled. “Very uninhibited. I might have felt plenty guilty in the day, but I kept going back to that one at night.”
“Wow.” It was all Willow could think to say. One hand was still playing across the skin at the back of Buffy’s neck. She brought the other up to stroke up, down and around Buffy’s chest. Willow marveled how they had come from secret night time thoughts to open physical expression, even wanton permission.
“Your turn,” Buffy informed Willow. She started stroking Willow’s thigh. She bent forward, licked and nipped the closest nipple then sat back up, an impish grin on her face.
Willow tweaked Buffy’s nipple in retaliation, then slowly began. “Okay, well. It’s a lot like you said. Naughty thoughts about my best friend that I didn’t think I was supposed to have.”
“You have to be more specific than that,” Buffy insisted.
“I know.” Willow squirmed a little. “Watching you slay got me worked up, okay?”
“Really?” Buffy was surprised.
“Yeah,” Willow quickly moved on. “But also, just hanging out with you. Watching movies together or whatever. There was a lot of thoughts of kissing back then. And I’d think them at night.”
“There had to be more than that,” Buffy accused. “Come on, Will. You had to have had an actual fantasy. College? Roomies? Spill.”
Willow smiled at a memory. She couldn’t help herself. Buffy noticed and the hand on Willow’s thigh got more insistent, promised more if she would open her legs. Willow dropped the hand that was stroking Buffy’s chest to Buffy’s hip and held on. “Okay. We’re alone in the room at night. You’re worked up from slaying or… something. I’m trying to get you to relax and go to sleep. You lay down on your bed and I’m sitting beside you. You suddenly pull me down on top of you and kiss me. Hard. Your hands hold me there, move up under my shirt.”
“Wait,” Buffy stopped Willow and pulled back a little. She stilled her hand and looked Willow in the eyes. “I remember this. This is… this is my fantasy. Willow, did this really happen?”
Willow hung her head for a moment and then looked back into Buffy’s eyes. “Yes.”
“When?” Buffy’s voice was now the hard clear tone of a slayer wanting answers.
“When you drank that beer that devolved you into Neanderthal Buffy,” Willow continued to confess.
“Did I hurt you?” Buffy’s voice and manner turned soft and concerned in an instant.
Willow smiled self depreciatively at Buffy’s evident change. “No. No, you didn’t hurt me Buffy. And you didn’t make me do anything against my will.” Willow closed her eyes for a moment. “I should have stopped you. I could have. Xander did when you came to him all spell Buffy. I should have stopped it, but I couldn’t. I wanted it. And we all know when I want something I just do it no matter who it hurts.”
“Willow,” Buffy cut her off and cupped Willow’s chin gently in her hand. “Did I start it? Did I want it?”
“Well yeah, but,” Willow answered before being cut off again.
“I’m sure I did,” Buffy reasoned, admitted, remembered. “You just heard me tell you I’d thought about it for years.” She looked at Willow’s face carefully. “Willow, do you feel guilty? Now I mean, not then.”
“No,” Willow shook her head. “But I don’t want you to be mad at me. I didn’t think you remembered it. Even subconsciously.”
“Wild abandoned sex like that?” Buffy grinned mischievously and started running her fingers over Willow’s thighs again. “I’m glad I didn’t forget.”
Willow opened her legs and started running her nails along the back of Buffy’s neck again. “That night did start some actual fantasies. Of the didn’t really happen kind I mean.”
“So tell me,” Buffy suggested as she undid Willow’s pants and lowered the zipper. She continued to run her fingers over Willow thighs, down to her knees and then back up along the inside seam only to veer off and start again on the other side.
“Tease,” Willow accused. She cupped one of Buffy’s breasts and stroked the nipple with her thumb. Then she leaned forward and circled the nipple with her tongue. Sitting back up, she smiled and continued. “Remember when I said watching you slay was a turn on?” She waited until Buffy gave a nod in reply. “That night, I was able to keep some control, to hold my own. And watching the Slayer, I started thinking about that. You coming to me, just after slaying. Even just after a kill. That wild part of you.”
“And you control it?” Buffy kept the question fairly neutral. ‘It’ instead of ‘her’ or closer still, ‘me’. She was turned on. From the whole conversation, from the fact that Willow was her Sire, or even just from the idea of a younger Willow playing control games with her, with the Slayer. She didn’t dare sort it out, couldn’t deny maybe all of it was true and would only admit now to the general overall fact.
“Sort of. Yeah. At least hold my own,” Willow dug her nails into the back of Buffy’s neck and kissed her hard and quick.
“Fuck,” Buffy gave in, but not without a fight. She pinned Willow back against the couch seat and kissed her deep. Her tongue dove inside as her hand pressed between Willow’s legs.
Willow accepted the kiss, encouraged it. She lifted her hips and pulled at her pants and underwear, trying to slip them down past her hips and get Buffy to release her hand so she could strip them off. The clothes were finally removed and she started on Buffy’s, quickly unbuttoning and lowering the zipper so fast and with such force she wondered for a moment if she didn’t already destroy her new clothes. Buffy kicked off the clothes and they tumbled together sideways on the end of the couch. Buffy smiled triumphantly from up top until she saw the smirk on Willow’s lips. Willow tangled her fingers in Buffy’s hair and guided her purposely down to the waiting lips between her legs. Buffy laughed then kissed Willow’s inner thigh. She settled onto her knees and bent forward. Buffy licked Willow gently at first, slowly; up, down, stroking her clit only to move lower and circle her entrance, then again back up. Willow relaxed back into the sudden and surprising calm caresses and slow build. She surrendered to Buffy’s attentions and intentions, reveled in the fingers sliding along her thighs and the playful nips and kisses that peppered the tongue strokes.
Willow’s passive submission didn’t last. As the pleasure wound its way from her center up her spine and the tension coiled tight, her fingers twisted in Buffy’s hair and pressed into her shoulders. Willow’s tightened grip urged Buffy to focus; guided and directed her. Willow looked down at the image: Buffy kneeling and bent over between her legs, her hand holding a fist full of Buffy’s hair, and she exploded right past the edge. The tension released and shook every muscle, the pleasure flooded every nerve.
Buffy waited for Willow to relax and the fingers tangled in her hair to slip back out and Willow’s arms to slide back down to rest beside her on the couch. She rested her head on Willow’s stomach and smiled. “That one’s gonna take a while to recover from, isn’t it?” Buffy playfully asked, a pleased hint in her voice.
Xander had stopped working on the new room a while ago. He looked on from his perch on the ladder he had retrieved from downstairs, the ceiling long forgotten.
* * *
Jenny and Giles returned home. There was still the need to talk about what happened that hung over the day. Giles found the decanter of scotch and poured himself a glass, anticipating and preparing for the coming discussion. Jenny watched him as he eventually settled on the sofa, drink in hand and decanter nearby. She remembered the doctor’s business card she’d been given the other night and wished she could get just a little stoned right now. Jenny settled for finding a bottle of red wine in the kitchen and pouring herself a glass. She left the bottle on the kitchen counter and joined Giles on the sofa. They left the lights low. Tried to smile and face each other openly.
“What do you want to know?” Jenny suggested as a start.
Giles set the drink aside. He laughed a little at the question, at himself. “Everything,” he simply stated. “But I believe I know as much as you do.”
Jenny leaned back and rested her arm on the back of the sofa. “Are you going to tell Faith that Cordelia’s alive?”
The question surprised Giles. Shocked that he hadn’t even considered it, he wondered for a moment why he so readily cut himself off from the new formation of the Council and Slayers and why he was so reticent to give them any information. Even Faith. “I don’t think I am. It will just bring more questions. And I can’t supply any answers. Faith is in her own struggle right now. And losing. I don’t want to add a mystery on to that.”
“What do you mean?” Jenny gently prompted. Giles had been silent on news from Cleveland. To be fair, she rarely pushed for any information. She didn’t know these people at all and often it only served as a reminder of how much time had passed in his life while she was gone, of what had happened.
Giles took a sip of his drink. “Faith is the oldest slayer there and she was naturally called. In many ways, she is the leader. But there are young Watchers, one in particular, who wish to reform a strong Council. With so many slayers, he sees an opportunity to form and command an army. What has played out in the last weeks is that the slayers have won the fight to make joining the cause a choice. The result being that those who stayed want to fight, want to be formed into a fighting force. I’m afraid Faith might have won the battle only to lose the war.”
“Is that really a bad thing?” Jenny brought up a counter argument. “I mean, they are on a hellmouth. A group of slayers fighting together is better than just one. And organized around the world someday doesn’t sound so bad.”
Giles sighed and looked up at the ceiling, defeated. “Condensed absolute power and authority. Corruption.” He looked back at Jenny and shook his head. “Sorry, I have an ingrained distrust of all of it now. Faith is still holding on, though her sway has been weakened some. When Buffy, Willow and Xander left. When I left, it was come to be seen as a sign that it was the new guard’s turn.” Giles shrugged. “Maybe it is. Still, I’m glad Faith is there. I feel somewhat secure they can turn to her and she can help direct them. I trust her. And if you knew my history with Faith, you’d understand the irony of that statement.”
Jenny bowed her head for a long moment then suddenly reached over and picked up the forgotten glass of wine. She drained half the glass before setting it back on the coffee table. “I never should have taken you away.”
“No,” Giles jumped in. He reached over and gently placed a hand on Jenny’s knee. “I was done and mentally pulling away long before you came to me. Years before, when I’m brutally honest with myself. But certainly by then. The guilt and pain, the mystery of their disappearance… My mind was here even if my body didn’t know where to go. I’m grateful you found me. And though they didn’t know the circumstances, they were happy for me to escape.”
“They…” Jenny puzzled. “Faith and… Dawn. Where does Dawn fit into this?”
Giles smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. “Thankfully, off to the side. College will be beginning in the fall and she’s taken a head start with some summer courses. She’s worked with Faith and corralled the departing Sunnydale slayers to hijack away from the forming Council the project and effort of finding all the newly called slayers.” Giles relayed the news with a great amount of pride. “They’ll reach out to them, educate, and give them choices. One of which is apparently a growing community and support system for those who don’t wish to join the Council or its army.”
“So, the world’s fine then,” Jenny reasoned.
Giles laughed. Truly laughed. “Oh God, Jenny. This world…” He shook his head, unable to continue.
Jenny scooted closer to him and cradled herself in his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder. “This world seems to keep turning.” She kissed his cheek. “Thank you for that, by the way.”
“I wished I knew what to do now,” Giles confessed. “I can’t help you. I need to help you.”
“I know,” Jenny assured him. “You do. I’m safe and I’m loved. And I don’t think I’d even be sane without you here. I have no idea what they pulled me back to do or how to do it. I know I’m bound and I know now that connection is active. What I don’t know…” Jenny took a breath and closed her eyes. “What I’m afraid to ask is how that affects us. We have each other, but I’m bound to them and don’t tell me that doesn’t affect us.”
Giles held her tight and kissed the top of her head. “It doesn’t change my feelings for you,” he quietly asserted. “Yes, you being pulled toward them; it terrifies me. More, that it happened in secret.”
Jenny sat up so she could look Giles in the eyes. “That wasn’t planned or intentional.” She shook her head to emphasize the point. “I think I was just overwhelmed with the suddenness of it all. Confused. I can’t promise that I won’t go to them again. We both know it will happen. And I probably will end up there at times when I never meant to, so I can’t say I’ll tell you before it happens. I can promise you I won’t keep it a secret. I’ll tell you. Everything.”
Giles wrapped her in his arms and pressed her into a deep and long hug. He released her and looked into her eyes; noticed they were slightly moist with tears. “And I’ll beg permission now to go a little crazy at times.” He smiled and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “All we can do is stay honest. And it’s all I’ll ask.”
“Thank you.” Jenny threw herself back into his arms and into another hug. She kissed him, slowly. Waited for him to return the affection before deepening the caress of her lips. She tasted the scotch on his breath and wondered absently and absurdly with the relief of the moment if she was developing a taste for it, if she should try it. Jenny chased the thought away and pulled back. “Thank you for understanding.”
“I’m still not sure I do,” Giles confessed.
“I’m not sure I do either, but…” Jenny took a deep breath. Honesty. It’s all he asks. “I needed the permission and acceptance. I need the connection.”
“I thought, maybe…” Giles held onto her, his grip tightening on her hips. “Some part of me knew that.”
“I need you,” Jenny asserted. “I wasn’t lying before. I wouldn’t be sane. I love you.”
Giles smiled. “And I love you.” The tension drained and Jenny sat back down beside him. Giles took the opportunity to knock back a good amount of the scotch in his glass. He was surprised but compliant when Jenny reached for the glass and took a sip. He smiled as she shook her head quickly as a sign of distaste and handed the glass back. “I take it you’ll be sticking with the wine, then?”
“I thought since I’ve got so used to it on your breath..” Jenny smiled. Another idea and recent research came to mind. “Would you be terribly disappointed in me if I saw a man about legal permission to smoke pot?”
Giles’ glass stopped halfway to his lips. “Is there such a thing? And this is something you would want?”
“In this state, there is.” Jenny settled in closer to Giles again. “I’m beginning to love this crazy state. And I think I might. That night, it really helped. Drinking doesn’t. It just makes me… It’s just different. And there’s so much of the world that still really hurts. I just…”
Giles halted the explanation by taking Jenny’s hands in his own. “It’s okay. I’m for whatever helps. And it’s not like I’ve ever been against pot,” he gently reminded her and chuckled.
“That’s right, Pink Floyd groupie,” Jenny teased.
“Oh dear Lord.” Giles settled back with Jenny in his arms. Not much of anything was figured out, but all of it was worked out for now. It was enough.
* * *
Buffy bounded down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. It was still light out. Xander had one of his goof-brained ideas they were playing along with. Cordelia wasn’t back yet. She probably would be soon. At the bottom of the stairs and shielded around a corner, Buffy called out across the small entrance lobby for the delivery guy to come in. The man opened the door and entered, letting the door swing shut behind him. Buffy rounded the corner but stayed where she could duck into the stairwell quickly if necessary. She was surprised. She had expected, just assumed, that a delivery driver would be young; college age at most. This man looked in his thirties. The logo cap was the only trace of official uniform. Cowboy boots, jeans, western shirt peeking out from a denim jacket: Buffy wasn’t sure what to think. She couldn’t wait to see what Xander would do.
“You ordered a large Thai Satay Chicken, extra cheese? It’s $20.35,” the guy rattled off in rote boredom.
“Yeah, hi,” Buffy started with a big smile and eased a little further out into the room. “It turns out a friend ran off with my purse today. Willow is upstairs finding hers now. Come on up, and we’ll pay you.” She backed up slowly to the waiting elevator, silently encouraging and demanding a decision. He followed her into the small box and the door shut. She leaned against the back wall, remained open to his gaze, distracted him with her smile. She watched as some internal instinct warned him something wasn’t right and he tensed. Confusion played across his face. He tried to smile in return but it looked a little uncertain. She could hear his heartbeat speed up. He couldn’t place this uneasiness. He was larger, stronger. He was scared. Finally the elevator stopped and the door opened. He quickly exited into the larger space, his boots faintly clicking as he marched out, not thinking where he was going, only thinking of leaving where he had been. Buffy chuckled and followed him out.
The delivery man first saw Willow walking toward him and breathed a sigh of relief. Then he felt someone behind him. He turned around and saw Xander. He turned again when he heard Buffy’s voice close by. “Let’s put this down on the table,” Buffy suggested and gently took the pizza box out of his now shaking hands.
The guy nodded, swallowed and took a deep breath. Nothing had happened. It was just three kids ordering some pizza. Still, he just wanted to get this done and get the hell out of there. “It’s $20.35.” He looked at the woman who met him downstairs and she just smiled. He turned to the other woman. She made no move to pay him. She didn’t move at all. She just smiled. He didn’t even want to turn around and look at the guy. The guy wearing an eye patch. He tried to stay calm, to figure this out. “Look, if this is a sex thing, I’m flattered, but…”
“It’s not a sex thing,” Xander quietly intoned from close behind. When the man quickly spun around and faced him, Xander grabbed his shoulders and caught him. Xander also smiled. His ridged forehead, yellow eye and long fangs slipping over his lower lip menaced the effect into nightmare proportions.
“Fuck!” the man shouted. His voice sounded panicked, but it hadn’t translated into actions yet. He stood there ridged in Xander’s grasp. Only when he felt a sharp pain in his neck did he try to back away. He couldn’t. He couldn’t break free. He pushed. He stomped down as hard as he could with the heel of his boots. He tried to scream again, but already it was hard to catch his breath. He got lightheaded, weak, cold. He felt himself drop limp into the thing’s arms; panic and fear replacing strength. ‘Don’t rest here, it isn’t safe,’ his mind begged him uselessly. ‘I’m going to die.’
Xander dropped the dead pizza delivery man on the floor. He licked his lips clean and relaxed his features back to their human form. He looked over to Willow and Buffy, an even bigger grin on his face.
Buffy shook her head and motioned to the body on the floor. “Feel better now?”
“Yep,” Xander readily admitted. “Though he did step on my foot pretty hard.” He limped past the body to where Willow and Buffy had watched the show.
“Poor baby,” Buffy teased then gave him a quick kiss on the lips. She licked her own lips when she tasted the faint traces fresh blood.
“Well, now I’m hungry,” Willow complained.
“We can order Chinese,” Xander suggested. He bounced up and down a little, marveling that his foot already felt much better.
“No, we can’t.” Willow stepped up to Xander and wrapped her arms around him. She gave him a big hug, kissed his chest and stepped back. “You know we can’t do this again, right? The cops here aren’t stupid. We can’t lead them right to our door. I don’t even know what we’re gonna do with him.”
Xander shrugged. “I’ll get rid of the body.”
“The car…” Willow kept on. “There’s a record of him coming here.” She took Xander’s hands in her own and smiled at him. “I’m not saying that wasn’t fun to watch. I’m just saying you know we can’t do that again, right? If there’s a string of missing delivery people and they all have this address, even cops are going to notice.”
“She has a point,” Buffy weighed in. “Mean time, I’ll just call in an hour and complain we never got our pizza.”
The discussion stopped when they heard the elevator called down. They turned and waited as a group for the expected occupant. When the elevator returned and the door opened, Cordelia stepped out. She stopped short and stared at the body on the floor, then quickly at the three vampires standing a few yards in front of her. She could make a run for it. The thought leapt to her mind. Where would she go? She knew what they were. Cordelia took a deep breath and readied herself for whatever came next.
“We got you pizza,” Xander cheerfully announced. He motioned past the body to the table.
Cordelia glanced over at the white box sitting on the empty table. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I was feeling hungry, myself.” Xander was having fun. He could hear her heartbeat, still a little faster than normal. But the shock had worn off. He could tell she was calming down. “I was wondering…” he suddenly thought of an immediate solution to one of their current problems. “We need to dump his car somewhere. And it still being daylight and all…”
“No!” That snapped Cordelia out of the final vestiges of shock. She ignored the body on the floor, didn’t think about whether they might still be hungry or not. Instead there flared a sudden clarity of personal lines and it burned all else from her mind for the moment. She stormed over to the kitchen area; near the table and put something substantial between herself and the dead body. “I won’t clean your house, I won’t do your laundry and I won’t clean up after your kills. I’m sure you can find a way to clean your own messes.”
“Cordy,” Buffy started, not sure herself what she was going to say, only reacting to hearing such a denial.
“Seriously,” Cordelia stopped her by raising her hand. “I know you’re gonna kill. I just…” Cordelia took a deep breath. “I can help you live. I can’t help you kill. I don’t care about him. I don’t care about this world. But if I cross that line, I’m really lost.”
Willow chuckled softly. There was a time for all of them that a dead guy on the floor and not caring about the world would have meant they were lost already. Still, she understood the impulse in times of immediate aftermath, trying to find where to redraw the lines. “So Xander just gets rid of the car later,” Willow reasoned. It seemed reasonable. She was trying hard to ignore the heartbeat and the hunger and to remember that Cordelia belonged there. And if she belonged there, she had to be allowed to set some limits. As long as they were reasonable. “Cordy?”
“Yeah?” Cordelia had glanced down at the body. She focused back onto Willow.
“Our car?” Willow switched to something that had been nagging her for a few weeks. “You would help us get rid of our car, though, right?”
“What’s wrong with our car?” Buffy jumped in.
“Well, technically, it’s stolen,” Willow pointed out. “It’s registered in California under none of our names. I was thinking, now that we’re here, we should just get rid of it and buy our own. And if Cordy will help, we can even get rid of any trace that may have followed us up.”
“What do you mean?” Xander urged her along. He could tell she had been thinking about it. They needed to be caught up.
“Well, Cordy can drive somewhere farther. Say, dump the car back in Oregon and just fly back up.” Willow thought out loud.
“What do think?” Buffy turned to Cordelia.
Buffy didn’t look threatening, she didn’t sound threatening. Cordelia considered the question, the request. She didn’t know where the car came from originally, but that was so far from here and now she realized it didn’t matter. “Yeah, I can do that. Can we make it so my fingerprints aren’t all over the evidence?”
Willow laughed. “I think I can whip something up.”
“Can you at least toss the ads just inside the door? The ones they always make pizza delivery drivers put on their cars?” Buffy pressed. “We don’t need everyone remembering they saw his car hanging around here for a long time.”
Cordelia remembered Buffy’s tone of voice for what it was: an order. And it made sense. Trouble for them would only also be trouble for her. “Yeah. No problem,” she quickly compromised.
Willow motioned at the dead man. “What are we gonna do about him?”
Xander stepped forward and smiled. “It’s time to try out that big ol’ furnace this place came with.”
“Xander,” Buffy voice held a warning tone. “You’re not gonna stink up the whole place are you?”
“No,” Xander reassured everyone. “I fixed it so no-one will smell or ever find a thing.”
Willow looked across the space to the curtained window. “I’m still hungry. When’s the sun gonna set?”
“You know what?” Cordelia started back to the elevator. “It’s probably best I go grocery shopping now. I’ll just borrow the stolen car and maybe see you guys in the morning.”
* * *