When Willow, Oz and Xander are out of town, Buffy and Cordelia bond -- a little TOO closely!
I screamed to myself in frustration as I walked towards the Bronze's front door. How could that thoughtless moron go out of town for the weekend? Now, no boyfriend, Aura and Harmony won't speak to me, Buffy's out Slaying and even Willow and her freaky furry boyfriend were out of town for the night.
So why I am I showing up at the Bronze alone? Force of habit, and of course I am one of Sunnydale's trendsetters. How would everyone else know how to dress if I didn't show them how?
What, me in a rut?
Anyway, I paid the fee and walked in. Aura and Harmony made a big production of ignoring me. They're still sheep, and I'm thinking of developing a taste for mutton. I was about to hit the dance floor when I saw Buffy sitting at a table near the stage. I was going to walk over when I saw something else: Angel. He was talking to the band, showing them some kind of sheets of paper. Buffy knew full well he was there, but this IS her social life. It's not like she can afford to start a big fight and get thrown out. After a few minutes he walked off,grinned evilly at Buffy,and headed towards the entrance. He didn't seem to see me. This fell firmly under the heading of "Good thing." Once he reached the door he turned and stood there as the band began playing.
"I . . I was standing . . . you were there . . ."
I didn't recognize the song . . . but Buffy obviously did. Tears began to form in her eyes, then she got a majorly pissed look and stalked off towards the door. Angel flicked his fingers, and five other vampires moved in front of her. I was suddenly very glad that Angel hadn't seen me. I strained to listen.
"No, you don't. Sit down and listen to the rest of the song, or the boys here start a real big bloodbath. You can't take them all down, alone, not when I'm also here. So sit,and we'll go in peace."
Buffy tensed, but collapsed into a chair like a puppet whose strings had been cut. The song went on.
"I told you If we could fly 'cause we all have wings And some of us don't know why . . .
Buffy was dancing the edge of sanity alright. I'd never seen her so close to snapping. I listened, really listened, to the song, and it sounded a lot like what I knew of Buffy and Angel's relationship. It could've even been a song they liked, or thought of as "theirs." And now Angel was torturing her with it. It was so . . . so . . .rrghhh! I stomped my feet in frustration.
The song ended and Buffy broke for the ladies' room as the vampires dispersed. I got up to follow her, but before I got there I felt a cold hand on my shoulder. I spun out of Angel's grasp.
"Well," he said cheerily, "A witness."
"Get BACK, Angel," I said, pissed.
"You don't frighten me, Cordelia," he said. "Xander, Willow, Giles, they might try to do something about this. But you?" If he was trying to piss me off, he was doing a REALLY good job. I wasn't happy to see Buffy this upset, either.
I said angrily, "DON'T do that again, Angel."
"Or what?" He laughed. "What are you going to do, Cordelia? Shop me to death?" He walked off, vastly amused. Much as I hated when people laughed at me, I realized Buffy needed me more. I walked to the ladies' room.
Muffled sobbing came from the second stall. I knocked on the door and she said, "Someone's in here."
"I know, Buffy," I said. "I saw everything. Wanna talk?"
The sobbing stopped and she slowly opened the stall door. "Cordy?" She swore. "Damn! I was hoping no one else had seen that."
"I'll pretend I didn't, if you'd like."
She smiled. "No, Cordy. Actually, it'd be nice to tell this to someone. But you have to promise. You can't tell Giles, you can't tell Xander, you can't tell Willow. Got it?"
"The night Angel lost his soul? I didn't tell you how. We -- made love. That made him happy, and that one moment of happiness made him lose his soul. That night, as we drifted off to sleep, he got up and played some music. Including this song, which just seemed -- so perfect, you know? It's INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart." Well, ever since he -- he turned, any night he finds me alone in the Bronze he has the band play this song. If I try to stop it, he threatens the customers. It's getting so I -- I don't want to come in here any more! And that's exactly what he wants."
"Euhhhh!" This was so unfair! "Anything I can do?"
"No, Cordy, but thanks for listening. You've been really sensitive tonight." She blinked. "Say, are you possessed or something?" She grinned weakly, and I ignored the insult. She started wiping off her tears, and I walked over to give my face a quick once-over.
Harmony walked in the room and saw Buffy upset and me looking in the mirror. She sneered, "Aww, what's the matter, Buff? The weight of your no life come crashing down on you?"
Buffy said tiredly, "Knock it off, Harmony," but the comeback was lame and they both knew it.
She turned to me. "Done your charity work for the night, Cordelia? Then come on out and join the fun. Leave losergirl in here."
I turned, grabbed Harmony, and threw her up against the wall. "Loser?" I said. "Loser? We've had this conversation before, but apparently it didn't sink through that wading pool you call your brain. You don't know WHO Buffy Summers is, you don't know the problems she has, and you don't know the pain she's suffered. Back the HELL off, muttongirl!"
Aura and other former members of my entourage had entered without me seeing and saw the last part of my threat, but I was too mad to care. I let Harmony go. She backed off and said to them, "Look, girls. Another soul lost. She must have caught one of Buffy's psychoviruses. Let's get out now before we're also overcome by these sudden urges to throw our EX-friends into walls!" They left, and Buffy burst out laughing. Then she came over and hugged me.
"Thanks, Cordy. I needed that." She was still giggling.
"Want me to drive you home?"
"Naah. Got some Slayage to do. But you could take me to the cemetery."
Bonding moment . . . wow. As we walked out I could see that even though Buffy was smiling she was still upset underneath. I looked at the stage. This WASN'T over.
But what WAS I going to do? Shop him to death?
I sat in the Bronze alone. Sure, it was a risk, but I wasn't going to let my ex spoil my fun.
Sure. What fun? Xander's in LA visiting a cousin and Willow and Oz are out of town getting "smoochies" after Dingoes Ate My Babies' gig. I never thought I'd be so desperately hoping to see Cordelia.
Wow, what a change a year makes, huh? Last year at this time I wouldn't even have thought Cordy qualified as a human being; now, she was - - a friend? Well, sort of -- she was dating Xander, and they both seemed to be happy, and -- DAMN! Angel, on stage, talking to the band.
Demons to diamonds he's getting them to play "the" song. I won't crack in public. He's not going to get the satisfaction. Then he walked off the stage and grinned sexually at me. Two months ago I would have melted at that grin; now I did my best to freeze.
There's no thaw. There's no thaw.
Then the band started playing. It was the song alright.
"I . . . I was standing . . . you were there . . ."
I'm the Slayer, dammit. I don't have to put up with a vampire torturing me, even if he is an ex-boyfriend. I got up and walked towards the door. Angel got in front of me, and gestured to several other vampires that had been in the Bronze. The club was as close to neutral territory as the vamps could get from me; as long as they didn't feed, they were safe. Inside.
"Out of my way," I said angrily.
"No, you don't," he told me too sweetly. "Sit down and listen to the rest of the song, or the boys here start a real big bloodbath. You can't take them all down, alone, not when I'm also here. So sit, and we'll go in peace."
My muscles tensed, but I flopped down into a chair. I might have actually been able to take them all on, but it wasn't worth the effort or the other patrons' lives. The song continued.
"I told you If we could fly 'cause we all have wings And some of us don't know why . . .
I wasn't going to cry in front of him. When the song was over, though, and I saw the bloodboys dispersing, I ran for the ladies' room and wept in one of the stalls. I'd done it. I hadn't cried in front of him.
A few minutes later someone knocked on the stall door. There's no one else in the restroom and they knock on my stall. "Someone's in her," I called out.
"I know, Buffy," the voice said. Cordelia! Damn. "I saw everything. Wanna talk?" God, I needed to tell someone -- and Xander and Willow would go off half-cocked to kill Angel while Giles, well, let's just say he's not the ideal person to make emotional confessions to. I could trust Cordy not to run off and do something stupid, and she does have a heart -- and, anyway, she's here.
"Cordy?" I said, reaching up and unlatching the door. "Damn! I was hoping no one had seen that."
"I'll pretend I didn't, if you'd like." Who was this masked woman? She looked like Cordelia, only . . . sensitive.And she was offering me a way out -- which I didn't really want. I gave a quick smile and said "No, Cordy. Actually, it'd be nice to tell this to someone. But you have to promise. You can't tell Giles, you can't tell Xander, you can't tell Willow. Got it?" There. That should cover me. Even Cordy wasn't dense enough to tell my mother.
So I told her about the night Angel and I made love. The curse took a while to -- to -- cut out his Angelness, so he'd played a tape of romantic butintelligent music. One of the songs was the one he was torturing me with tonight.
I had that song on CD. Accent "had." The first time I heard it after, I choked up, ripped the CD from the player and smashed it into a million pieces. Literally. Dust.
I was done; Cordy said, "Euhhhh! Anything I can do?"
"No, Cordy, but thanks for listening. You've been really sensitive tonight." I paused, then blurted out, "Say, are you possessed or something?" Nice going, Summers. Cordy shows some sensitivity and you insult her. I sniffled.
Harmony walked in the room and glared at me. She'd taken over the role of Queen Bitch of Sunnydale now that Cordelia'd discovered the joys of acting like a human being. "Aww, what's the matter, Buff? The weight of your no life come crashing down on you?"
"Knock it off, Harmony," I told her, in no mood for witty banter.
She turned to Cordelia. "Done your charity work for the night, Cordelia? Then come on out and join the fun. Leave losergirl in here." I was set to ignore Harmony's feeble insults, but if I thought I'd been shocked by Cordy's behavior so far, that was nothing compared to what came next.
She grabbed Harmony and threw her up against the wall. Much like I'd done to her way back when.
"Loser?" Cordy shouted. "Loser? We've had this conversation before, but apparently it didn't sink through that wading pool you call your brain. You don't know WHO Buffy Summers is, you don't know the problems she has, and you don't know the pain she's suffered. Back the HELL off, muttongirl!"
Wow! Go, Cordy! I guess I've been a bigger influence on her than I thought. Now, should I be happy or scared? I suddenly realized that I hadn't thought about the song in at least a minute. Thanks, Cordy.
I spun to the door and saw Aura and some other of Cordelia's fake friends. She dropped Harmony, who caught her breath and backed away with a look of fear in her eyes.
Harmony told the newcomers, "Look, girls. Another soul lost. She must have caught one of Buffy's psychoviruses. Let's get out now before we're also overcome by these sudden urges to throw our EX-friends into walls!" They left, looking nervously behind them.
I couldn't control it any more. I started laughing a lot harder than necessary. Then I walked over and hugged my friend -- my FRIEND, Cordelia? Whoa. Twilight Zone moment.
"Thanks, Cordy. I needed that," I giggled.
"Want me to drive you home?"
"Naah. Got some Slayage to do. But you could take me to the cemetery."
We walked out together. I saw Cordelia stop and give the stage a really dirty look, which I shared. It was good to have someone to share this with.
She drove me to the cemetery and I got out amd waved goodbye. She surprised me again by reaching into the back and pulling out a cross and a squirt-bottle and following me out of the car.
"I'm not leaving you alone yet," she said. "You're still upset. You think Xander'd forgive me if I let you get killed because you were thinking about Angel and his petty revenge? He'd dump me in a cold minute. So right now I watch your back. RIGHT NOW!" She squirted the waterbottle over my shoulder and I heard a scream. I whirled. A pair of vampires. How'd I miss them?
I knew how. I punched the one Cordy's water bottle had splashed and grabbed a stake. The other one moved towards Cordy, but I had my hands full with the burn victim. She kicked my legs out from under me and leapt on top of me, fangs bared. Cordelia screamed and I rolled over and staked the vamp. Twice. Twice, before she was ashes. Twice? I was slowing down. I threw myself to my feet . . . and Cordelia was standing there, panting, covered with ashes.
"You killed him?" She showed me the pointy end of her cross. "I screamed, he thought I was wigging out, he left himself open, poof, no more vampire. And as for you, exhausted much? You left yourself way open for her to jump you. That song got to you more than you thought, didn't it?"
"No." It bothered me, but it wasn't upsetting me badly enough that a rookie should've gotten the drop on me. And what happened to my radar? I should've seen them coming. I reached into the bag for the crossbow and aimed for a gravestone fifty feet away. One dead center, one glancer and three dead misses. It wasn't my best weapon, but I wasn't that bad. I walked over to Cordelia and tried to pick her up one-handed. She didn't move.
I strained and strained, and finally did it. It shouldn't have been a strain. Something was majorly wrong. My Slaying powers were on the fritz.
"What's wrong?" Cordelia asked.
"Beats me. We need to ask the expert." From off in the distance I heard
"Never Tear us Apart" again, from a cassette player. I started crying again
and stumbled into the car. "Go, Cordelia! I choked out. "Library!" As we
drove off I couldn't take it any more. I cried all the way to the high
Excuse me? First two vampires sneak up on Buffy and then I Slay one? Someone page Rod Serling, please, we have SO stepped into the Twilight Zone . .
"I screamed, he thought I was wigging out, he left himself open, poof, no more vampire. And as for you, exhausted much? You left yourself way open for her to jump you. That song got to you more than you thought, didn't it?" It must have. Buffy hasn't been this distracted since Angel went bad.
"Angel . . ." I thought dreamily, then shook myself. Where had THAT strong emotion come from? I'd just thought he was a total babe, Buffy'd loved him. I guess I was just starting to feel a little sympathy.
I was brought out of my zone-out by the sound of a crossbow bolt clattering against a gravestone. Two out of five. I didn't pay too much attention to Buffy's moves -- MAJOR understatement -- but this shook her. Then suddenly she walked over and grabbed me at arm's length under my left shoulder and picked me up.
Eventually. Whoa, check that: EVENTUALLY. Buffy's Superwoman, she should've been able to toss me across the graveyard. I mean, once she jumped onto a second-floor balcony of a club -- wait a minute. I wasn't there!
"What's wrong?" I asked
"Beats me. We need to ask the expert." That'd be Giles. Talk about no social life! Not that he has time --
The same song that was playing at the Bronze echoed from a far corner of the cemetery. Again? I thought. I was going to KILL that slimebag. I looked for the source of the music when Buffy started crying and acting all flustered. She stumbled into the passenger door and cried out,"Go, Cordelia! Library!"
She tried to pull herself together all the way to Sunnydale High. This was way more than being upset over a song. It had to be some kind of spell, or curse, or something.
We got to the library. Giles was sitting at a table reading a notepad of some sort.
"Giles," Buffy and I said together, which was really weird, because she and I are usually in sync about nothing.
Giles said, "Buffy, you've been crying. Is everything alright?"
"Giles, think a minute," I said. "Does Buffy just go off and cry for no good reason? Of COURSE everything isn't alright. Buffy. Show him what you showed me."
"She's in no condition to show me anything, Cordelia. Come here, Buffy. Sit down and tell me what this is about." So Buffy explained the situation, leaving out nothing, but glossing over the part where she and Angel made love. I'd say Giles had heard that before and wasn't wildly enthusiastic about hearing it again.
Like I'd be, you know?
She finished with, "So what's causing this? Some kind of spell or curse thingie, right?"
"That seems obvious. But if it's draining your Slaying abilities it would have to be sending them somewhere. They wouldn't just disappear. I-In fact, that's impossible."
He walked over and unlocked the rare books cage, bringing a large book back out. Embossed on the cover was the word "ALMAGEST." "This concerns a group of very powerful spells. There are a number of transference spells in here. Give me a moment."
We waited. Buffy pulled a hairbrush out of her big bag o'Slaying and nervously brushed her hair. I paced the room, worried, irritated, and frustrated. Then I started worrying about why I was so worried, irritated, and frustrated. It shouldn't be bothering me this much. I'm Cordelia Chase, dammit! Once the Slayer and Watcher take over, my work is pretty much done. I should be worrying about my hair, or my skin, or my clothes. Why wasn't I?
Guess I really did bond with Buffy back there.
Giles slammed the book shut. "My hunch was right. The spell affecting you, Buffy, is a simple but powerful transference spell. In this case, triggered by sound. As it leaches your powers away, it gives them to a nearby candidate for Slaying. This serves two purposes. It weakens you and it confuses a potential future Slayer, whom the vampires may be able to track down and identify."
"Why did it have to be THAT song?" Buffy asked.
"It didn't have to be THAT song, Buffy. It could as easily have been a Brahms Concerto, a Cole Porter tune -- or, for that matter, a laugh track. The sound is the important part here. Angel no doubt picked that song because he felt it would distract you until it was too late. And if it wasn't for Cordelia, it may very well have been." He turned to me. "Thank you, Cordelia."
"So, how do we reverse this?"
"I don't know." Then a vampire broke into the library carrying a radio playing, you guessed it, "Never Tear Us Apart". Buffy jumped back. Rrrghh! This was getting to be too much. I jumped up, grabbed my cross-stake, and charged him.
"Sorry," I sneered, "Visiting hours are over. Come back tomorrow morning." The vampire leaped at me and I dodged easily. He looked at me like he didn't know who I was. Maybe he was new in town. "Oh, that's right. You can't. Well then, guess I'll just kill you now." Within seconds he was ashes. I turned.
Buffy and Giles were staring at me like I'd sprouted an extra head. "What?" I asked. "All I did was Slay . . . a . . .vampire. Oh God!" I flopped down onto the floor.
Giles said, "Dear Lord, no." Buffy looked puzzled. "Let's just put it this way. If what I now suspect to be true IS true, then it is definitive proof that God has a malicious and twisted sense of humor. Come here, Cordelia." I walked over, puzzled. "Pick Buffy up the way she did you."
"Just do it." Giles, the walking Nike ad? I reached over, grabbed Buffy under her right arm with one hand, strained and . . .
Lifted her off the floor. Hold on.
"Working out much?" Buffy snapped, then pulled out her crossbow. She handed it to me and pointed towards a globe at the far end of the library. I squeezed off five shots. I hit the globe with two and missed with three, which was amazing. I hadn't thought I even knew how to load one of these things.
Giles said, "Well, it appears we know who Buffy's powers are being drained into."
Buffy looked up in amazement. "Cordelia? Cordelia a potential Slayer? Excuse me, what alternate universe have I just stepped into?"
Giles paused. "It gets worse. You also seem to be sharing personalities. Witness the one-liners Cordelia used, and your somewhat -- snappish and emotional attitude. It must be your proximity to one another that you are beginning to share personality traits, and I suspect memories as well. If this continues, soon, neither of you will be able to function. Pardon me a moment." He reopened the ALMAGEST and started reading.
I sat down across from Buffy and idly picked up the notepad Giles had been scribbling on. It was called "Spell of Soul Restoration" and seemed to be about bringing a soul back to an undead . . . being . . .