Just thought I would say hi

Author: Nodakskip <nodakskip[at]aol.com>

Content: C/X friendship C/A implied

Summary: While she is stuck with the PTBs Cordy gets a visit from an old friend.

Disclaimer: Contains some Buffy/Angel Spoilers.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

"No! Cordelia please try to pay attention."

The dark haired seven year old looked ashamed. "I'm sorry mommy."

"Dear, remember its mother. Mommy is a word normal children use. Are you a normal child?"

"No mother. I'm a Chase."

"That's better dear. Now listen to your teacher."'

Mrs. Chase turned back to her friend Rene Kendall, and sighed. "I swear it's this town's school system. I still can't believe we have to send our daughters to public school."

Across the room a much older and blonder Cordelia Chase stood watching as her younger self tried to do the dance exercise again. She watched sadly as her, and the blond next to her tried to make their mothers proud of them.

<Hard to believe that Harmony gets turned into a vampire.> she thought as she watched them. Her thoughts were interrupted by a voice behind her, a voice she had not heard in almost two years. "Man, I knew your mother was a bit controlling, but I'm surprised you didn't go nuts by age ten."

Her eyes went wide in shock as she spun around to see Xander Harris leaning against the wall. "What? Xander? I wasn't thinking of you."

He smiled at her. "Nice to see you too, Cordy."

She shook her head. "No. I don't need another thing to brood over." She shut her eyes, and took a deep breath, when she opened them again she was surprised. He was still there. "What's going on? Whistler if that's you I'm so going to kick your ass! You have no right to impersonate him."

"So I shouldn't have stopped in to say hi to see how your doing, oh great Queen C?"

She got confused. "Queen C? No one has called me that since the last time I saw..."

"Me. It's really me Cor."

"No it isn't! Last time I checked Xander Harris could not just drop in on a higher plane of existence."

"And the last time I checked Cordelia Chase didn't have blond highlights in her hair. She used to make fun of Buffy for coloring her hair. But from what I understand that isn't really your hair is it?" He spread his arms out wide. "Take a good look at me Cor."

She squinted at him for a few seconds before shock showed on her face, then a huge grin. A half second later she launched herself into his arms. "You're real!" she said as hugged him.

He hugged her back. "Like I said, it's good to see you again."

When they broke the hug she looked at him. "How? You couldn't have even known where I was. Let alone get here."

"Well I might have known a little if someone could return an email or two. Last time I talked to you for more then a few minutes was when you became half demon."

"Well..." she stopped. "Let's go some where better then this." As he watched the surrounding changed. Now him and Cordelia were sitting on a large blanket under the shade of a tree on a summer day. "Much better." She said.

"Show off." He grinned at her.

"Don't even start Xander." She told him as she playfully punched his arm. "Now how are you here?"

"Well we have been working hard trying to defeat the super vamp that the First brought back..."

"Super vamp? First what?"

"Ok, the super vamp is what we have been calling the vampire that Giles says is one of the first vampires. The Master would have had a hard time with this guy. And the First is the First Evil. Remember when I told you what happened to Angel during Christmas?"

"All those visions of Angelus victims that tried to get him to kill himself?"

He nods. "Yeah. The First Evil is everywhere I guess. Giles thinks that it is evil. Everything evil from mass murder to cheating on a test is its way of saying hi. It's been killing off everyone, most slayers in waiting, plus the Watchers are all toast. The Council is a smoking crater in the ground."

Cordelia nearly jumped out of her skin. "Wesley!?"

Looking down he told her. "We don't know. Contact with LA has been something we haven't had much luck with. I did talk to that Gunn guy last week, but he didn't like when I asked for Wesley."

She looked almost panicked. "Xander when you go back I need you to go to Angel and tell him..."

He sadly held up his hands. "Sorry no can do. I wont even remember this when I wake up."

"Wake up?!"

"Cor, it's really me here, but only in ghost form you could say. I fell asleep after we got back, and next thing I know I have a demon who says his name is 'Skip' talking to me. He said you needed to talk to someone, and that when I wake up I wouldn't remember any of this so it didn't effect the master plan the Powers seem to have. He said the memories will be there, but I won't be able to get at them for awhile." He softens a bit. "Now tell me what has got you so upset."

She started to tear up. "Xander, I would never have taken this damn higher being offer if I knew this was going to happen."

"What has happened Cor?"

"There is a reason I'm only here in my well, in my soul form. My body is gone!"

"What?! Cordy, your dead?"

"No! Not dead yet. But they got tired of me watching Angel and the others, so they gave me a mission to another realm. One where I couldn't bring my body along. I had to put it in a kind of storage."

"You put your body in storage? Why would you agree to that?"

"I didn't have a choice. This place is nothing like I thought it would be. I came to help people, to become someone. But they don't let me do anything. They let people die all the time because it helps out their plan! Its not some master plan like we thought, Xander they are just winging it mostly."

He moved over, and put his arm around her. As she leaned into him he asked. "Where is your body now then?"

"It's back on earth. Back in LA."

That got him concerned. "But Cor, if you...if your soul isn't in your body then wouldn't they think your dead? They might have buried you!"

She laughed bitterly. "No, it's fine. I was told what was happening."

"Can't you see it? You know use your vision thing?"

"They won't let me! Its goes against their plan. That tiny part of a demon they put in me isn't so tiny after all. It has my body down there, and I have no clue what the hell its doing to my family! All I get to do is relive moments of my life over, and over again!"

He held her tight. "Could you do some thing to me to make sure I remember when I wake up?"

She looked up sadly. "No. If Skip told you that you wouldn't then you won't. I don't have near his power yet."

"There has to be something I can do. Someway I can..." she put her finger to his lips. "No Xander, there is nothing you can do. I will think of something." Her voice grew cold. "You can be sure of that."

"Cordy I promised you all those years ago that I would do anything I could if you needed me. I can't just do nothing."

"I remember that promise. It meant a lot to me then and now."

A few feet away the grass turned into a street. Around an old blue car was eighteen year olds Xander Harris, and Cordelia Chase. Their older selves listened to them.

"This is it, isn't it Xander?" she asked as he put her last bag in the trunk. "For now Cor. Only for a little while." He told her. She frowned. "It could be years till I'm back, if at all. A lot can happen in that amount of time." She looked down. "People can drift apart..."

He took her chin in his hand, and raised her eyes to meet his. "Cor, yeah we could drift apart for awhile. Maybe far apart. But I want you to know something. When ever you need me, just call. Whether it's to hear a friendly voice, or when you need me to be there..." she started to cry. "...or when you need a date for the Academy Awards to get your first Oscar. I mean it. Next week, or twenty years from now. Just call."

She wipes her face. "I don't know if I'm strong enough to do this. You, Buffy, even Willow were always the strong ones. I mean leaving home? I don't know if I can do this." "Yes you can Cor, and you know it. Underneath that bitchy exterior is a strong, decent young woman, take it from me I know. If you were strong enough to forgive me, and ask what you did two nights ago...then you can easily handle this."

She leans against the car. "I was so nervous when I asked you that. I just didn't want to have it happen at some party. You know how they say it's like for girls like me out there. We're a dime a dozen." "I know you Cor. I know you would rather beat the crap out of those slime-balls then do it to get a part."

She looked into his eyes. "I'm glad it was with you. Someone I loved." She wiped a tear off of his cheek. "You're my best friend. The first one to ever look underneath the mask I had for sixteen years. And Xander, thank you."

"For what?"

"It was special that it was with you, but you went all out for me a suite, candles, everything was perfect, thank you. I felt like a queen."

"You're welcome Cor. And just for the record you are a Queen. You're my Queen C, and you always will be." They pressed their temples together as they held each other as they cried. Finally she looked up at him. "I have to go, before the traffic gets too bad."

He kept gazing into her eyes. "I know. You'll call me when you get to your cousins house right? Collect if you have to, but I want to know you made it ok." She nods weakly as she grabs him in a tight hug.

As they break apart he hands her the car keys. "You'll be fine. You have more strength in that body then you know." She started for the door handle when she turned back. "Xander?"


"Could you kiss me? One last time?"

With out a word he moved in, and took her back into his arms. They kissed with the passion they always had, but this time it had something else. Love.

A few minutes later as she started the car he called to her. "Cordy." She looked through the open window at him. "You're wrong. Your not a dime a dozen." She could hardly whisper. "Goodbye." Then she was off. She looked in the rear view mirror to see him watching her go.

When she was a few streets down she pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall. She put the car in park, and just started to cry.

Older Cordelia couldn't keep the tears in as she cried watching her younger self. She looked at Xander who was crying with her. He looked down speaking softly. "And now you have a new best friend who might be more."

She turned to him quickly. "Xander, no. It's not like that. What Angel and I have is just different then what we had. I'm not trying to replace you."

"It's ok Cor. Like I said back then. We're going to drift apart. It's the way the world works, but I know I will always have a place here." He points to her heart.

She takes his hand in hers. "You know you always will Xander, no matter what happens. But there is something else your not telling me isn't there?"

He smiles a tiny smile. "I could almost never hide anything from you could I?"

"No. Now talk mister."

He looked up at the sky and said. "I have been thinking that after this thing with the First is over in Sunnydale that I might leave."

She couldn't believe he just said that. "But Xander, you can't just leave you're needed there."

"At one time I thought that was true, I thought I was making a difference in people's lives. But what have I accomplished? What will people in a hundred years think of Xander Harris? All I will have is a footnote in some book that says I was one of many sidekicks to a slayer. Is that all I am? Cor, we have been attacked by the bad guys a few times now at Buffys house, and my big thing is to repair the damn windows. I heard a few of the slayers in waiting talking one night. Damn it Cor, they thought the only reason I was there was because they thought I was doing it with Buffy!"

"Xander you've done a lot! Who got Angel to go after Buffy on prom night? Who came up with the way to stop the Judge, who stopped the zombies from blowing up the school? And who stopped evil Willow from destroying the planet?!" she yelled at him.

"That's just it Cor. Every single thing I ever did gets recorded as another victory for the slayer. The great Buffy. I was talking to Wesley once back in senior year, you want to know what he asked me? Cor, he asked if I was present when Buffy got the idea to use the rocket launcher to take out the Judge. Apparently a few back in England were proud of her that she could come up with such an innovative way to kill him."

"You can't be serious."

He continued. "Guess what? All the journals that Giles sent over to be transcribed into the official Watcher records, they were are all rewritten. We are all known as her friends, and that's it! The slayers in waiting from England had barely heard of us. Hell they didn't even know about Faith!" He tries to calm down. "I need to find out what I was put on earth to do Cor. I can't believe it's just to become a forgotten sidekick."

"Now you listen to me Xander." She said firmly. "I don't care what those now blown up idiots in England thought. You have mattered! You changed a lot of lives." She looks into his eyes. "You changed mine. I wouldn't be the kind of person I am now if it wasn't for you."

He shakes his head. "No offense Cor, you know I love you, but look at what my great change in your life has cost you! You're stuck in a higher plane while your body is being controlled by a damn demon. Yeah I really helped you out!"

She looks at him for a few seconds before she calmly smacks him upside the back of his head. "Cor! I might be dreaming this, but it still hurts here."



"You didn't do this to me Xander. I made the choice to come up here. I thought I was going to be able to help people. And I will as soon as I get back to my body again. I am not going to see you blame your self for my..." she stopped suddenly.


"You're fading!" she yelled at him.

"What?" he asked before he looked down, and he gave a little yell. His body was starting to fade out. "I must be waking up." She quickly went and hugged him. "Take care of yourself Xander. And if you do remember this I want you to come to LA if you leave Sunnydale."

"I'll try to remember Cor! Good luck getting..." and he was gone. Leaving her all alone in the grass covered field.


"Xander, wake up."

He rolled over. "What?"

Willow tossed a clean towel on him. "We're done with the shower now."

As he sat up he got a confused look on his face. "What is it?" Willow asked.

He frowned. "I feel like I am forgetting something important."

"Like what?"

Shrugging he got up. "Don't know. But it will come to me. It's probably just some paper work I have to finish at the site today. It's nothing."

"Ok, just hurry up. We need your car today."

"Yes mother." He said a tad sarcastically as he went into the bathroom, and locked the door. As he tossed his wallet and watch onto the counter he frowned. "I know I am forgetting something."

He climbed into the shower, and as he was complaining about the extreme lack of hot water, he didn't notice his wallet had fallen off the counter to the floor. Its tiny section of pictures covered in plastic became visible, and the first picture in it was of him and Cordelia in their graduation gowns.


Skip looked up as she came near. "Did you have a nice chat with your friend?"

"Yes." She said as she wiped the last tears away. "Thank you."

He bowed. "You seemed to need someone to talk to."

"Yeah, I think I did."

"Good. You wouldn't believe what your friends in LA are doing."

Her head whips around. "What did you say?"

He shrugs. "They are trying to get info on the Beast."

"What the hell is the Beast?"

"An unstoppable killing machine. You know. Same old, same old. Seems that your old body has convinced them that the Beast, and Angelus have a history. So they want to bring back old Angelus for a talk."

"Are they nuts?!" she exploded.

He held up his hands. "Calm down, it's not my idea. It's your body telling them that." He got up from the table. "But they should be able to put his soul back into his body after words. Seems his body will be soulless for awhile." He threw up his hands. "Oh well. What's a demon to do? Now if you'll excuse me they are showing a few scenes from the Matrix sequel at a comic convention in New York. So can you hold down the fort for awhile?" he doesn't wait for her to respond. "Great. Maybe you should catch up on your reading. I got a new book in that you might find interesting."

As he disappears, she moves over to the table. On it are dozens of old brown books. She notices a bright yellow one under the pile sticking out a bit. She pulls it out and checks the cover. "You have got to be kidding me!"

In bright white letters the title was Soul Transference for Dummies.

She sat down, and started to read as fast as she could.

Chapter 2

Sunnydale, California. Summer, 2003

The front door of 1630 Revello Drive opened, to admit the two women. "B, are you sure you want me in this?" Faith asked in some apprehension.

Buffy nodded. "As much as I hate to admit it, Faith, we're gonna need your help. I mean, I haven't forgotten everything's that happened between us, but I can set it aside for now."

"Well, there is that pesky 'escaped felon' thing I have going..."

Buffy shook her head. "That's where Giles comes in. Even if the Council is gone, a lot of their contacts here and overseas are still around. He said you're going to be staying awhile, if you want."

The reformed Slayer grinned. "Cool. After all that crap over the last two months, not to mention old Angelus back in LA..."

"Please, don't remind me about the stupidity of that move on their part," Buffy said, as she sat on the sofa. "At least the soulless bastard killed that Beast thing..."

"Seriously, B. Hunting him was wicked tough. I dunno how you did it back then!"

"Well, I had a lot of help. If I was on my own, I would have probably gone nuts..." the blonde woman stopped and saw Faith looking at her. "Uh, sorry..."

Faith waved it off. "Don't sweat it, B. That's one of the things Angelus mentioned, ya know, your help. I mean he totally hated Willow because of the curse thing, but you wanna know who he was really pissed off at? Xander."

"What? Why him?"

Faith shrugged. "He could never scare the X-man, girl friend. Get this - when you had some flu or another during junior year, and everyone else was in shock, Xander was the one to get Angelus off of you in that graveyard."

Buffy looked inward and muttered, "I kind of vaguely recall that. Well, that and puking a lot."

Faith smiled. "And I guess that was some kind of chat Angelus and Xander had at the hospital later, huh?"

Buffy thought for a moment. "I think Giles said something about that, when I got better..." She looked around to make sure no one was around to hear her, "Faith, what do you think of Xander's idea about the memorial?"

Faith smirked. "Oh, I'm thinkin' Boy Toy hit one brilliant idea right on the head. Some of those girls' entire families were knocked off. There was what, nearly a hundred Potentials that got iced before the hi-jinks even started here. We lost what? Sixteen? Plus, it'll make the remaining Potentials want him more if we do it."

Leaning back as she remembered, the former rogue chuckled, "Did you see how those girls looked at him, when he did that big 'some of us might not be coming back' speech? That one Navy brat chick fricking saluted him! And I think that Molly gal wanted to do him, right then and there..."

Buffy grinned back. "Well, she did 'volunteer' to stay at his apartment to help with the overcrowding here."

Faith leaned in close, "Speaking of Xander...does he seem kinda out of it lately to you?"

Buffy nodded in agreement. "Yeah, something's bothering him. The others can't see it, but Willow and I sure can. At least, he's still not saying he's forgetting something anymore..."

Faith rolled her eyes. "I know! We're fighting the big evil here, and he keeps saying he's forgetting something. After the first few days, I almost dope-smacked him to shut him up already..."

The two Slayers then stopped talking, when Molly and Rona came downstairs arguing.

"He is!"

"No he's not."

"Yes he is! He did save my life, you know."

Buffy stopped them. "What's up?"

Rona shook her head. "She's trying to get me to admit that old White Boy is hot."

Molly frowned. "He is!" she whined.

Faith joined in, she turned to Rona, "Hey, girl's got s point; don't count him out too quickly. Hell, he's not all bad in bed..."

Buffy glared at her. "Faith!"

Molly was almost speechless. "You mean - you and him?"

Faith grinned. "It was a few years ago, but hey - if not stamina, he did have talent."

"Who had talent?"

They turned to see Xander come in from the kitchen, with Kennedy and Willow.

"Is something going on here?" the young man asked, when he noticed Molly severely blushing.

Nobody answered, and Xander just sighed.

Absently, the former Zeppo started scratching around one of his eyes, but stopped when he saw Willow staring at him again.

He sighed. Ever since Willow had magically restored the eye that had been jabbed out by that damned former preacher-turned-minion Caleb, his eye socket had started up an occasional itching; as if his body was trying to reject something which was foreign, that did not belong.

Willow had sworn to him that it would pass, or that it was just psychosomatic, or blah blah blah. Personally, with his luck regarding magic, Xander wouldn't have been surprised if his redheaded best friend had given him a demon eye or something...

Suddenly, Faith went over and grabbed his ass, causing the man to jump a bit. "Nothing to worry about, Boy Toy. We were just dishing the dirt on your firm ass!"

She saw Buffy's glare at her and shrugged, "What? I've been in a women's prison for a few years now, what did you expect?"

Xander gulped. "Well, Faith, as much as it would be fun to..."

All the women noticed Xander then trail off, and look towards the sofa. "Who the hell are you?" he asked to apparently empty air.

Buffy looked with the rest. "Ah, Xand? Who are you talking to?"

"What, you don't see the pimp wanna-be sitting there?"

The six women looked again, but still saw no one. "Xand-man, who the heck..." Faith started to say.

But Xander was more interested in the new guy. "Wait up - I know you, don't I? I've seen you before..."

The man got up, and walked over to him. "That's right, boyo," he said in a slight Irish accent.

"We never met in real life. But I saw your picture a few times at Cordy's place, and the old shot of you giving Cordy a piggyback ride with the redhead here in the background," he nodded towards Willow. "She had it on her desk..."

"Doyle?" Xander guessed. "Oh, yeah now I remember; you were in a video she sent me."

Doyle smiled. "Ah, right, the big commercial about rats."

Buffy shook Xander. "Xander! Who are you talking to?"

"Why can't the girls see or hear ya?" Then he stared at Willow. "Wills, no more screwing around - did you give me a demon eye here? Is that why only I can see him?"

Shrugging, Doyle told him, "No, it's nothing like that. I'm guessing they're not meant to see me, so they can't."

Xander turned to Willow again, "Okay, ix-nay the demon eye thing. Now, Will? Any freaky First things you can feel right now?"

Faith got alarmed. "Xand, the First Evil is dormant again. We beat it, you know that..."

Doyle laughed at that comment. "You beat the First? You beat the embodiment of all evil? Man, someone's got a high opinion of herself..."

"No need to be all sarcastic here, Doyle. 'Cause that's kinda my job in this town," Xander told him in an annoyed voice.

"Who's Doyle?" Molly asked, confused.

The half-demon got serious, as he and Xander locked eyes. "Kid, you know that feeling that you've had for months now? The one where you've forgotten something?"


"Well, let's say you just happen to remember it. Like say, now..."

The women watched as Xander's eyes snapped shut, and he didn't move for a full minute.

"Xander!" Faith yelled. Then she turned to Willow, "Red, can you mind-talk him or something?"

Willow shook her head. "No, I...I'm getting feedback of some kind, and I - we mustn't interfere..."

They all jumped back when Xander's eyes shot open, with a look of shock on his face. "Cordy!! Oh man, we have got to get her out of there!"

"Relax, pal. She is out of there. She said she'd find a way, and she did," Doyle quickly told him.

"Xander, what's going on? Where's Cordelia?" Willow asked, trying to calm him down.

"Kid, you might wanna sit down or grab ahold of something..."

Xander turned back to Doyle. "Why..." was all he got out, before the vision started. The former class clown then grabbed his head in pain, as he fell to the floor screaming.

Buffy, Faith, Willow, and Kennedy tried to hold him still, "Xander! What's happening?!" more than one female shouted.

He couldn't hear them. He was seeing events fly past his mind's eye, in rapid succession.

Cordelia having sex with an 18-year-old kid, who kind of resembled Angel.

A ninja guy, working some mojo over Angel in a cage.

Cordelia, trying to stab Willow with a knife.

Angelus killing a big rock demon.

Cordelia ordering Angelus around.

Cordelia telling the kid to attack some black guy, and Wesley.

Angel getting his soul back, with Cordy's along for the ride.

Cordelia giving birth, with some guys in robes around her.

Wesley reading from an old book, with Cordelia and the kid in cages, and Angel lying motionless on a table.

The vision then ended, as quickly as it started.

Xander got up and leaned against the wall, as Doyle whispered to him, "About two migraine strength Advil should help with that. Trust me, I got lots of practice to see what worked. But now - I think you have work to do, don't you?" And then he vanished.

Buffy spun him around. "Xander! What the HELL is going on?" But then the senior Slayer stepped back, as she saw the frantic look in his eyes.

"It won't work! Dear God, it won't work! If they do the transfer, her soul is gonna..." Xander trailed off, as he ran for the basement.

The others followed him and watched, as he threw the tarp off some old supplies from the Magic Box. He grabbed a medium-sized box of herbs and flipped it over, dumping the contents onto the floor.

Kennedy tried to stop him. "Hey! Some of that stuff we might need!"

Willow grabbed her arm. "Xander? Please, tell us what's going on."

He stopped from throwing seemingly random supplies into the box, to look at her. "Will, where's the Orb you used in LA?"

"In my room, but why would you..." she started confused.

Xander just ordered her, "Go get it!!"

When she didn't move, his voice changed to almost pleading. "Willow, please trust me on this. You owe me for last year, so I'm asking you - I'm begging you - trust me. Go get it!" They all watched, as the formerly evil girl ran up the stairs.

After throwing two more items into the box, he ran up the stairs with it. Willow met him by the front door, "Here ya go, Xander. Now, can ya please tell me what's up?"

The former Zeppo took it and grabbed parts of a nearby newspaper, and then wrapped it up securely before putting it in the box. He then turned to Faith, "You did fill up the gas tank of my car last night, right?"

Faith nodded. "Yeah - but listen stud, what's going..."

"No time. I have to do this...hell, I promised her..."

Buffy grabbed his arm. "Promised who? Cordelia? Xander, what did you promise her? And when?"

He shook her off. "Questions later. I gotta go, before the guys in LA make a huge-ass mistake!"

He ran out and jumped into his waiting car. Tossing the box onto the passenger seat, then gunning it out of the driveway. And leaving six very confused young women behind.


Two hours and fifteen minutes later, Xander Harris pulled up to a large apartment complex. He ran forward holding the box, but found the security door firmly locked. He pushed the only button without a name by it, hoping that a certain someone was still around.

"Hello?" he spoke into the tiny speaker. "Dennis? I know you're still in there! Look, I'm Xander Harris, I'm an old friend of Cordy's. I need to talk to you right now, it's important. She's in danger!"

After a few seconds the door opened, with a loud buzzing noise. He just ran for the elevator, as quick as he could.


"Connor! Please, you have to stop them! They're possessed or something, or else they've gone totally evil! They want to kill our baby!"

Cordelia's pleading made Connor struggle harder with the chains that were holding him in that small cell in the middle of the lobby of the Hyperion Hotel, but to no avail. "I'm warning you! Stop this now!" he yelled at the others, who were setting up for the ritual.

Gunn came close. "Dude, will ya wise up already? She's not Cordy, it's some demon in her body. She's been manipulating you, us, this whole thing, the entire time!"

Connor spat on him. "That's not true! She's pure! My father made it all up because she loves me, and he can't stand that!"

Wesley placed the book on the table where the unconscious Angel lay, the strain of two souls being too much even for his vampiric body to handle. "This will all be over soon, Connor..."

Then he looked to the Cordelia-shaped figure in the other small cell, "I must admit...I don't know what's the matter with me, that I didn't see any of the signs. Old war injuries, perhaps - but still, I should have known it wasn't really you all along."

She became frantic. "Wesley, it is me damn it! Angel is using you!"

"That's right!" Connor yelled. "He can't stand it that I got there first! That I was Cordelia's first lover, instead of him!"

The sound of laughter filled the lobby, as everyone turned to the entrance. And there stood a very amused Xander Harris.

"You were Cordy's first? Hate to break it to ya kid, but actually that was me."

Cordelia turned to Connor, "He's lying! I've never seen him before in my life..."

Wes shook his head at that untruth. But Xander ignored the looks of Wesley, Gunn, Fred, and Lorne as he moved in front of the cell holding her. "Yeah, you've never met me - true enough. Cordy only got the demon put in her, after she moved out here. But I knew her before then. I was her boyfriend before then..."

He turned to Connor. "And bottom line is, I was her first time, Sorry kid, but she was just using you to make this second demon miracle child. Which, by the way, you've hidden safely - haven't you? Or does your boss have it? Either way, sure was a quick pregnancy - wasn't it?"

Connor went into a blind rage. "You're lying! She, she would never touch an incompetent liar like you!"

Xander just laughed him off, "Oh, hey, just for the record, we did a lot more than just touch, pal. Look, the demon was playing you, that's all there is to it. So snap out of it already!" With that, Xander turned back to the others.

"Who the hell are you supposed to be?" Gunn asked defensively, putting himself between Xander and Fred.

"The name's Xander Harris, from Sunnydale." He turned back to Cordelia, "You know, the town where the body you stole grew up in?"

"Xander, for heaven's sake - what are you doing here? This is not a good time for idle chat! I mean, we have to perform this ritual now, before the strain on Angel's body causes us to lose both their souls!" Wesley said in a no-nonsense way, one that surprised Xander.

But the visitor kept his eyes locked onto the Cordelia thing's ones. "Well, Wes old pal, that's kinda why I'm here. I know this is just Cordy's body, because that guy Skip let me talk to her a little under two months ago while she was still up there with those Powers That sit on their Be-hinds..."

Gunn started in recollection, as the young man from the Hellmouth leaned in close to the bars of the cell. "As evil plans go, lady, my opinion? It really sucked. You stranded one of my closest friends in another dimension so you could bring an evil baby into the world, and mess with Dead-boy junior here?"

"Two months?" Fred suddenly cried. "And you're just telling us now?!"

"Hey, I didn't remember it till a few hours ago. A dead friend of Cordy's unlocked it for me."

Wesley looked suspicious. "Who was this friend, if I may ask?"

Xander looked straight at Wesley. "His name's Doyle. And the guy even gave me a nice painful vision thing, that told me something pretty interesting."

"And what was that?" Gunn asked him, still not believing.

Returning his gaze to Cordelia, Xander told them, "Seems that this ritual that you were about to do, has one huge flaw in it."

"And that is?" Wes asked, not noticing the Cordelia-shaped figure starting to tense up.

"For the magic trick that you have to work, the body has to be willingly given up by one soul for another. If you had tried to transfer Cordy's soul back to her soulless body like this...it wouldn't have worked, and the soul would be stuck in limbo with no way out."

He looked right into the demon's eyes, his voice dripping with hate. "And you knew that!"

Cordelia's face showed a tiny break of the helpless act for only a second, but it was enough for Wesley to see. "My God, you played us again! I must be going senile...what were you planning to do? Pretend to be her, and then kill us all in our sleep?"

The female demon shook her head, backing away as far as she could. "You're insane!"

Lorne groaned. "Oh, way to go team. We nearly sent the princess somewhere worse than Pylea?"

"Damn it!" Gunn growled. "Now what? Hey, I know - anyone got a spare soul handy?" he asked sarcastically.

"As a matter of fact..." Xander pulled out the Orb from his bag. It was no longer clear; it had a glowing swirling white stream of energy in it. A soul.

Cordelia's face went from terror to pure hate, in less than an instant. "No! You wouldn't! You - oh, damn you all! I will not lose, my spawn will destroy you - and the rivers of the earth will run red with blood! You will never-"

"What's going on?" was all Connor could get out, before Xander raised the Orb and muttered a few words. The energy flashed out with a mind of its own, and enveloped Cordelia's body.

"NO!!" she screamed, before she fell to the ground when the glow faded.

Wesley grabbed Xander's arm, spinning him around. "Where the hell did you get a soul from?!"

"Good question, passioncake. 'Cause I don't think they sell 'em at the local Sears," Lorne quipped.

Before Xander could answer, Cordelia's body spoke. "Whoa!"

She sat up. "I have boobs!" she then started to feel herself.

"Hey, cut that out!" Xander yelled.

The body stood up. "Take it easy, man. 'Cause hey, I have seen her naked before. I did live with her for a few years..."

"Who-?" Gunn asked.

But Wesley got it. "Dennis," he said, somewhat surprised. "The one person who would have known, that she wasn't really Cordelia."

"You see as well as observe, young grasshopper," Xander grinned in a perfect imitation of Kwai Chang Caine. "Now, will ya do that soul transfer thing already?"

"Right. Just let me light the candles..."

As Wes was finishing the preparations, Xander spoke to Dennis as he was turning around. "Now Dennis, remember at what point you have to vacate her body..." but he stopped when he saw Cordelia looking down her own shirt. "Hey, hey, Dennis!"

The ghost-controlled body jumped. "Sorry. Couldn't help myself..."

Five minutes later, everyone watched as the new glow around Cordelia faded. "Cordelia, is that you?" Wesley asked.

Without opening her eyes she spoke, "Wes? Is Angel okay?"

Her eyes then bolted open when she heard Xander say, "Dead-boy should be comin' around in a minute, Cor."

She stared at him in shock. "Xander! What are you doing here?"

He shrugged. "Well, you did tell me to stop by LA to visit you. True, this isn't as good as a grass-covered field; but it's still nice, don't you think?"

Her eyes went wide. "You remember?! Xander, I'd hug you but I'm kind of chained up at the moment..."

When no one moved, she repeated herself, "I said, I'm all chained up! Are you people like, deficient? Do I have to send out a memo or what?"

Her demanding voice caused Xander to laugh. "Yep, that's the old Cordy we all know and love."

She rolled her eyes at him. "Very funny, Harris. Now get me out of here!"

A few minutes later, an unchained Cordy was hugging Xander. The also-freed Connor just ran away, pushing past Fred out of the hotel. "So you remembered just now and came to help?" the former Queen C asked.

"Ah, not exactly. I kinda got my brain nearly fried by a vision..."

Her jaw dropped. "YOU had a vision?"

"Yep, which reminds me...do you have migraine-strength Advil around here? I could use a few..."

Cordelia frowned, "How did you know that's what I used to take for it?"

"Doyle," he said simply.


Xander threw up his hands, as he saw the look on her face. "Hey, all I know is my eye started itching, Faith grabbed my ass, and then I see a guy dressed way worse than I ever did suddenly in the room. A guy who started to talk to me, when Buffy and the others couldn't see him. He gave me the vision, and I knew I had to haul ass here to stop Wes here from playing into the demon's hands."

"What do you mean?"

Wesley spoke up, "It, uh, seems that the ritual we had could only work, if another soul gave up the body to you."

"But there was no other soul," Cordy said, confused.

"Oh, I brought one with me," her ex shrugged.


Xander looked around the lobby. "Dennis?"

On cue, the lights in the lobby flashed on and off in a pattern Cordelia knew. "That's how he would say hi to me when I would get home," she said in awe. "Dennis, are you really here?"

The lights flashed again, making her break out in a smile. "Thanks for your help, Dennis."

The lights flickered again. "Okay, Dennis, we get it!" Gunn said, annoyed. The lights then snapped on and stayed on.

Cordy turned to Wesley. "So, if Doyle hadn't gotten through and Xander hadn't come here with Dennis...what would have happened?"

"You remember those Ghost Roads we once used, that time in high school?" Xander asked her, making her turn around.

She shrugged. "Yeah, kind of hard to forget when you almost died on me like that, but..."

Wesley looked down. "Your soul would have been lost in that limbo. Possibly forever."

Pure shock came over the woman, as the implications of what almost happened registered on her brain. Xander caught her as her legs gave out, "Cordy!"

She just looked at him with tears in her eyes, and grabbed him in a tight hug. "Thank you, Xander!"

He just held Cordelia tight. "I said I'd be there when you needed me, Cor."

Lorne, who was watching the former couple hug, spoke up, "Just to clear up any doubts, kitten, think you could sing a bit?"

Xander looked confused. "Sing? How's that gonna help?"

"It's okay, Xander. It's his thing, it's what he does. You sing for him, and he can tell some of your future." Cordy turned to Lorne. "You sure you want me to, though? Angel said the last time I did that, you got your brain sucked out..."

"That was your evil demon, sweetikins; you never scared the crap out of me like she or it ever did..."

Cordy frowned. "I don't know that many songs, I don't know what I should..." she stopped, as the young woman looked at her ex-boyfriend. Then she smiled, and started to sing; and Xander recognized the song immediately.

He's a tramp But I love him Breaks a new heart Ev'ry day

He's a tramp They adore him And I only hope He'll stay that way

He's a tramp He's a scoundrel He's a rounder He's a cad

He's a tramp But I love him Yes, and even I Have got it pretty bad

"That's enough, honey. It's definitely you," Lorne told her. "And by the way, that was a lot better than how you sounded with 'The Greatest Love Of All'..."

Cordy looked at Xander with a grin. "It should, I practiced it for over a month and a half! And it's the only song I ever sang in the shower. Isn't that right, Dennis?" The lights flickered again.

"I've heard that before, at least I think I have..." Gunn mused.

Fred nudged him. "It's from 'Lady and the Tramp'. Why did you practice it so much, Cordy?"

Xander answered for her. "Actually, she kinda sang it to me for Valentine's Day, during our senior year."

Cordy nodded. "I swear, I was almost shaking beforehand I was that nervous! I thought for sure, I would screw it up. But I had to do something to make up for the year before..."

"What happened the year before?" Fred asked.

"I dumped him because my popular friends didn't like him," the former princess hit Xander lightly on the arm. "Then the big lug tried to do a love spell on me to win me back! Which, true to form, totally backfired before we got back together..."

Xander frowned, and looked down. "Yeah, then I had to go and screw it up by..."

Cordy grabbed his chin, and lifted his head up. "Xander...no. Remember, we agreed to only remember the good times."

He sighed, "It's kinda hard Cor, when you're the king of romantic screw-ups like I am..."

She stopped him. "Am I going to have to smack you over the head again, or what?"

Xander quickly shook his head. "Good," she told him.

"Cordy..." Xander began. "Uh, Angel remembers everything Angelus did....and you're body wasn't really Ms. Nice Girl. So, do you...?"

She nodded, before she looked to Wesley with her head down. "I remember some of it. Wesley...I'm so sorry."

The ex-Watcher looked down for a minute, before he said, "It wasn't you. No more than Angel was Angelus..."

A groan called their attention over to the table, as Angel was getting up. "Cordy!" he looked around frantically.

She was at his side in less than a second. "I'm here, Angel. I'm okay, and I'm back..."

He gazed up to her with great relief. "Thank God it worked..." Then the vamp said, "Xander?"

"Hey, Angel," the young man said, a little uneasy.

Hearing about the closeness of Angel and Cordelia through emails was one thing, but to see it up close and personal unnerved the guy a bit. But Xander was determined to not let it show, "You okay there, Dead-boy?"

Angel looked to Cordelia, confused. "How long was I out?"

She put her hand on his, "Only a few minutes longer than me. But - Connor took off, and Angel... I have no idea where they took the baby..."

Xander looked at her, with a pained expression on his face. "I'm sorry, Cor. But you won't find him - not now. It'll be, uh, years before you see him again."

She turned to him. "How do you-?"

Xander just took the two Advil Lorne had gotten for him. "Vision thing, like I said. Which reminds me, I gotta apologize for ever saying your visions were an easy gig."

Angel just looked more confused. "He had a vision?"

Cordy pulled him to the office. "Come on. I'll explain it to you, plus we need to get some fresh blood into you already..."

The office door closed behind them for a second, only to pop open again as Cordy stuck her head out. "Xander! Don't you go anywhere! You hear me?" Then she disappeared again.

Fred got confused. "Why would she need to talk to him alone, in there, by themselves?"

Xander just stared at the closed door. "My money says they're not just talking. And she doesn't want me to see it. Doesn't want to subject me to it."

"So they wanna make out a little," Gunn shrugged. "Why would that be a problem?"

Xander shrugged back. "Because of what she and I once had, along with my...feelings concerning Angel."

"Wait a second," Fred called out, as she went to rummage in the bottom drawer of Cordelia's desk. After a few seconds, she pulled out a small frame. It had three pictures in it.

Angel, Cordelia, and Doyle in the old Angel Investigations office.

The Scooby Gang at Giles' condo, after Graduation.

And Xander carrying a laughing Cordelia on his back.

She gave the frame to Gunn, who compared the pictures of Xander with the man in front of him. "I knew I had seen you before!"

Fred then cast a look at the door. "Oh, but it's sweet that they're getting together, finally. It's about time..."

Xander sighed and just whispered to himself, "Yeah, shame it won't work out though."

"What?!" Gunn looked up at him.

Xander swore inside his head, he didn't think he'd spoken loud enough for anyone to hear him.

"Xander, I must say I think your childhood jealousy of Angel should stop! You should just be happy for them," Wesley told him, a little annoyed.

Xander laughed bitterly. "Oh man, Wes, but you obviously have no idea what's going on. Look, if the guy was human and he makes her happy...then hell, I'd help her pick out the damn wedding dress! But bottom line is that unless Angel's soul gets permanently anchored, or whatever...then it won't work out. And don't tell me that the same thought hasn't occurred to you."

More bitter laughter, as Wes glanced down for a moment. Xander said, "Falling in love with someone like Angel can only go so far - I know, from bad personal experience. Eventually it'll just end in tears and heartache and a messy breakup like it did with Buffy, or else Angelus'll come out to play again. Huh, now that the First stuff is over, maybe I can get Willow and that coven in England to work on the soul curse for them..."

He looked at the Fang Gang. "But I'm not holding my breath about good news, anytime soon."

Fred just stared at him. "So, what are you saying? That they should just give up on each other?! We should just go in there and break them up, after they've been apart for almost a year?"

Xander shook his head, and spoke with a certainty that surprised the others. "Hell, NO! Let 'em be together, they both need it. Later, the heartbreak thing will come and you guys are gonna have your work cut out for you. But for now, they have each other. And I need all of you to make sure that when the inevitable happens, they don't stop being together as friends - like what happened back in '99 with Buffy. 'Cause that would kill Cordy."

"Wait, so now y'all want them together?" Gunn couldn't figure this guy out

"To quote Lorien from Babylon 5..." Xander gazed back to the door. "It is a human concept that love lasts forever. It is the greatest gift that mankind has ever received, that the belief that love is eternal. One must embrace it while you can."


Half an hour later Angel and Cordelia, the latter somewhat flushed and breathless, came out to see Xander, Gunn, and Wesley taking the cells apart.

They overheard Xander asking, "Shouldn't you guys keep at least one of these things up? That Connor kid, I'm thinking he's a little screwed up in the head at the moment. And if he's anything like his old man, the guy's not going to just shrug all this off - we might be talking some tough love here..."

"We'll handle Connor," Angel said roughly, as he and Cordelia came over.

He then looked at Xander with a raised eyebrow. "Cordy says you might be sticking around, since that thing with the First is done now?"

Cordelia was behind Angel, so she couldn't see his face as he spoke; but Xander could. And the vampire's expression said clearly that he definitely didn't want Xander anywhere near his woman.

Half-amused and half-pissed, Xander shook his head. "No, Dead-boy. For now, I'm headed off to parts unknown, 'cause I'm just so sick of it all. I need to be somewhere I can rest, and slaying demons here would be no vacation. I dunno, maybe I'll finish my road trip; at least this time, I'll know not to get stuck at any male strip clubs..."

"But..." Fred began. "That Watcher's Council thing is all gone now. They need to rebuild, so won't you be needed there?"

Xander snorted, as his eye started itching again. "For what? Researching demons? Willow has all Giles' old books stored on 27 DVD-RW discs back home. Plus, Travers finally did something right by having copies of all the Watchers' libraries hidden away. I'd just be a paper-pusher...dead weight," he shrugged.

Cordy frowned again. "Xander, you're not dead weight."

Xander shook his head slowly. "Cordy, a lot of the surviving Potentials are sticking around in Sunnydale. Giles has all the codes to every bank account the Watchers ever had; hell, he could buy half of LA right now, so he can take care of that side of things. Plus, a lot of the old Watchers' kids are coming in, and with the Hellmouth completely dormant..."

He trailed off, as he looked at her. "I'm not needed, neither there or here. Look, I'm not saying goodbye forever, I just need to...find myself again. I mean that seemed to work out for a good friend of mine, when she left home a few years back."

The young woman smiled, before looking him in the eyes. "Well, you will keep in touch won't you?"

He returned her look. "As long as you don't do any more ascending anytime soon."

"Oh, I can guarantee ya that that won't happen."

"You know, Cor...I don't mean to get all mushy here, but I'm pretty proud of you."

Angel looked at Cordy confused, and got even more confused when he saw her eyes water a bit. Xander continued, "I told you I saw a strong woman under all your layers, and it's nice to know you finally see her too. No more just saying, 'I'm strong because I'm Cordelia Chase'."

Cordy moved towards her ex, and grabbed him into a hug. "Thanks, Xand. But you know I mean it, when I say you're welcome to stay here..."

The young man shook his head. "It's temping, Cor, but it would be no different than just staying in Sunnydale. Plus, if I stuck around here, our situations would be a little reversed than they were, way back when."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, for a while when we started going out, you just came to the meetings as my girlfriend. It took you a bit to grow on everyone, like I knew you would. But here? Your buds would only tolerate me being around, because I was a friend of yours..."

The man laughed, "I mean, Wes still thinks I'm that idiot kid from high school! And despite the new look and attitude, I think he's still that limey ass with the giant stick up his butt. And as for Angel..."

He looked to the vampire. "Well, one of these days him and me are going to have to just beat the crap out of each other, to get it all out of our systems."

Xander took Cordy's hands in his. "This is your home, not mine. And you need some time alone with your family now. You've been gone awhile."

Glancing over to Angel again, Xander asked, "Hey Angel, if it's not too much bother - you mind if I bunk in one of the empty rooms here tonight, and head out in the morning?"

Angel nodded. "Least I could do..."

Before Xander could say thank you, the front doors opened. In walked several people in US Navy uniforms, and one teenage girl. The lead man, who Xander could tell was an admiral, spoke up. "Is one of you Xander Harris?"

"That's me," Xander said at once, as he walked right up to the girl and gave her a hug - with her returning it wholeheartedly.

Gunn looked to Wesley. "This guy sure likes to hug, don't he?"

Xander nodded to the girl. "Amber. I thought you were headed home, for awhile?"

She nodded back. "I was, but after I told my parents and my grandparents what happened...they had to see it for themselves. And my grandfather wanted to meet you."

The Admiral stepped forward. "That would be me..." He offered his hand to Xander, who shook it. "Admiral Bill Noyce, US Navy."

Xander started to say, "I know that it must have seemed a shock to you that your granddaughter is a potential vampire Slayer, and that we had to kick a little demon ass together, but..."

Noyce interrupted him. "Son, I've been walking the earth long enough to know about demons and vampires that go bump in the night out there. We called Ms. Summers and she said you were here, and since you were the main person I wanted to talk to..."

Xander's eyebrow shot up. "Me? What for? I was just a foot solider. Buffy and Faith are the Slayers around here..."

"Well, after what my granddaughter said about you, and doing a background check on you...I just had to meet you."

Xander looked worried. "Background check?"

Noyce nodded. "Quite an interesting record you have, Mr. Harris. Suspected member of a vigilante group, leader of an army of students at your graduation against a giant snake, you broke into the Initiative twice with Ms. Summers - the second time, to stop the ADAM prototype from killing the entire staff..."

He went on, "And impersonating a military officer, to gain entrance to the Sunnydale army base along with a Ms. Cordelia Chase, pretending to want to make out in the armory - but stealing an anti-tank rocket launcher."

He looked over to Cordelia. "Am I correct in assuming you were the girl who got all 'hot and bothered' by looking at the big guns?"

Cordy looked nervous, but only nodded.

Amber looked at Cordy in awe. She pointed to her while looking to Xander, "That's the Cordelia Chase?"


Amber went over and shook Cordelia's hand. "It's an honor to finally meet you!"

Cordy, along with the rest of the LA people, looked confused. "Thanks, I think. But how do you know me?"

"Every Potential knows about you," Amber told her. "Xander used you as the basis of the speech he gave, after Buffy's pep talk didn't really calm down some of the girls one time."

Cordelia and Angel looked at Xander, who squirmed a bit under their gaze and his eye started itching like crazy. "And just what did he say about me?" the woman demanded.

"Well, you shoulda seen some of those girls. A bunch of 'em were just rich snobs, and others were totally freaking out. He said that a lot of us wouldn't be coming back from the fight, but that we had to do it. A few panicked and wanted to make a run for it. But then he told us about you. A rich snobby bitch, who cared only for herself. You joined in on the fight, only when your outfit didn't get messed up..."

Amber then smiled, "But little by little you stood up to the demons and vampires, and made a difference. And how now you were a major part of a group of demon fighters, here in LA. He used you as the example that their fighting could make a difference, in the fight against the First. And it did! Boy, did it ever..."

She looked over to Xander with a grin. "Did you see how Julie just laid into those things? Never held a sword before, my ass!"

Cordy grinned. "Xander Harris made a big speech about me, and I missed it?"

"Uh, I only spoke the truth, Cor..."

Amber smiled again. "Oh, I'm sure Andrew taped it, what with the big video thing he had going on. Last I heard, he wants to sell the footage to the Discovery channel."

Xander chuckled at that thought.

Noyce spoke again. "Mr. Harris..."

"Oh please, everyone just calls me Xander."

"Very well, Xander. I was wondering if you've ever thought of joining the service? Specifically, the Navy."

"You mean go through the Academy?" he asked in confusion.

Noyce shook his head. "Only in a way. Permit to explain - I'm the head of the SeaQuest project."

Xander's eyes nearly bugged out of his head. "The SeaQuest!? The largest ship ever built?"

"Well, it's not even halfway finished right now. But we've become painfully aware that her systems are so new, that most of the line officers we have wouldn't be able to work 'em. That's why we're training her crew hands-on, as she gets built. And I need a good tactical weapons officer."

"For the E-plasma torpedoes?" Xander asked, still in awe.

"Yes, and the eventual upgrade with the lasers. If you accept - after the ship is completed, you'd be given the rank of lieutenant, junior grade. And the post as senior weapons chief; of course, there'll be a separate officer for the missiles with the nuclear warheads, but they would all be launched from your station. You think you might be interested in my offer?"

Xander thought for about three seconds. "Weapons officer on the biggest ship ever conceived? Hell, yes!"

Noyce grinned. "Well then, how about we go get a bite to eat with my granddaughter and we can iron out the details?"

But as they were headed out, Xander turned back. "Cor?"


"Breakfast tomorrow?"

She grinned back at him. "What, you thought I was just gonna let you skip town with a nothing but a little talk like this, mister?"

He grinned as well. "I wouldn't dream of leaving without the big breakfast, like we used to have."

After Xander and the others had left, Gunn came up to her. "So, Cordy?" he asked with a grin. "You and him used to have big breakfast together a lot, huh? What could you have been doing so much that you'd..."

She cut him off, "When we'd spend all night researching or demon fighting! Nothing bad as you're trying to make it sound." The former brunette then stopped and thought for a moment. "But ya know, he did give one heck of a full body massage."

Angel looked at her, with his mouth open in slight shock. "He used to give you a full body..."

"Oh, yeah," Cordelia answered with a big grin.

"You let him-? But wait, you said you two didn't...get together, till just before you left town?"

Cordy just smacked him on the arm. "I had to give his hands something to do! And besides, who do you think paid for all his lessons on it?" she asked with a smirk, as the woman walked away.

Gunn shook his head. "Yep, she's back to her old self. But I wouldn't worry about it, Angel - c'mon, man, it's in the past. The guy said so himself..." He stopped, when Cordelia came back into the lobby.

"Cordy, what is it?" Fred asked, after seeing her face.

Cordy had a ticked-off look on her face. "Was I hearing things, or did Xander say Faith actually grabbed his ass?! Man, I just knew that skank couldn't keep her mitts off of him!"


Chapter 3

Los Angeles, California.
13 months later

The garden of the Hyperion Hotel was full. Several old faces and some relatively new to LA were all milling around the barbecue, with hot dogs and cheeseburgers.

Fred, Angel, Julie, Vi, and Cordelia were sitting in one group."So he's okay? I mean, did he look okay?" Angel was questioning Julie, the 18-year-old potential Slayer.

"Yes, he was okay," Julie said, annoyed. "Connor's fine. Relax, the guy is better than fine with Rona! And even if he wasn't with her, there are over 26 Slayers-in-training there. I don't think he's going anywhere..."

Cordelia rolled her eyes at Angel's questioning. But the truth was that ever since they had learned that Connor had shown up in Sunnydale to fight demons, they had all breathed a big sigh of relief.

Five months of not knowing what had happened to the prodigal son, and then they'd gotten a call from Willow. Angel had wanted to haul ass over there at once of course, but Cordelia had convinced him that if they did that, Connor would just run again. And from what they'd heard the kid was in a nice, normal relationship with Rona, one of the Potentials.

<So much has changed in the last year or so,> the now-brunette again woman thought with a mental sigh.

Angel Investigations had gotten back to normal - well, as normal as it ever got, and even gained six new people from Sunnydale. Most notably, Andrew and Molly.

Andrew because he wanted to help make up for his past, and look good to Dawn. And Molly...well, she was a little weird, any way you sliced it. <I swear, that woman has a picture of Xander in her underwear drawer!>

Cordy was pulled out of her thoughts, by Andrew's yelling from the entrance to the hotel. "Hey, you guys should come here and see this!"

Everyone came into the lobby, to see the TV on the cart by the counter. Andrew had it on CNN, and "Breaking News" was flashing on the screen.

"What's going on?" Gunn asked.

"Quiet," Angel told him, as Andrew turned it up.

The anchorman's voice filled the lobby. "We have just learned that two more attack submarines have arrived at the site of the confrontation, at the Livingston trench in the North Atlantic. That brings the total to eight, now at this standoff."

"This is not good, kids," Lorne said. "I think I need a drink. Nope, I know that I need one; our Lady of the Divine Seabreeze is definitely calling my name here."

The same thought was more-or-less going through everyone's mind. Another standoff was happening; ever since the technology had been developed to colonize the ocean, it had become a free-for-all among countless people to claim to pieces of the sea floor.

The worst areas were the undersea mining and drilling zones. There had been many standoffs with various submarines; so far they would all point at each other and try to look scary, and then go home.

But the most subs in any one such standoff had been five. That was bad, but now there were eight!

"World War Three, here we come," Fred said quietly.

A reporter on board a Canadian sub cut in to the anchorman's report, "We have something happening here!"

"What's going on, Mark?" the anchor asked worried.

"We're receiving very large sonar reading from inside the trench. Something huge is rising from it," the reporter told them.

Then suddenly, "It's the SeaQuest!"

As those words came through the TV, nobody present saw the large smirk that came over Cordelia's face.


USS SeaQuest DSV - Main Bridge

"Tactical on viewer," Captain Marilyn Stark ordered. "And open all tube doors, Mr. Harris."

"Aye, sir," came the reply as Lieutenant j.g. Alexander Harris worked his controls under the red emergency lights.

The captain turned to Sonar. "Mr. Ortiz, full targeting sweeps. Feed the data to Weapons. Let's wake them up here!"

"Aye, Captain," the young Cuban man said as he went to work.

Moments later, Xander spoke up as his screens lit up, "Multiple targets acquired, Captain. I read eight shooter subs in the area around us; attempting to distinguish who's who out there..."

"Negative," came the Captain's crisp reply. "Lock on target for all subs."

Xander looked at her, as his 'demon eye' suddenly started itching; and over the last year, the young man had learnt to recognize that as being a sign of upcoming disaster. <Uh-oh,> he thought to himself,<We're now talking danger, Will Robinson!> "Uh, Captain? We have allied ships out there!"

She gave him a cold look. "Carry out my orders, Lieutenant."

Xander nodded slowly as he shared a quick look with Commander Ford, the boat's first officer. "Aye sir, locking on all targets. Tubes are loaded and flooded."

Ford came up behind Stark, "Captain, I suggest we wait for clear orders from NorPac Command before..."

Stark spun angrily to face him. "Clear orders!? Commander, aren't you tired of this game!?" she waves her hand towards the main screen full of 3-D subs. "They aim at us, and we aim at them. And the whole world holds its breath! Look at this boat! We have the firepower to end this cat and mouse game, once and for all! "

She was oblivious to the shocked looks of her crew as she continued, "Mr. Harris. Ready firing sequence."

At Xander's hesitation, Stark moved over to him, "Mr. Harris!"

Xander was saved when O'Neill at communications called out, "Captain! I'm getting our orders from NorPac Command; they're saying... do not fire! The other subs are receiving the same order, sir."

Everyone looked relieved; well, until Stark growled angrily, "They have to learn that the only way to secure peace is with strength!"

She started pressing buttons on the weapons console, as Xander watched his C.O. in utter shock. "Captain!?"

Within moments, the computer voiced spoke. "Full torpedo spread armed."

Captain Stark flipped open the red plastic cover over the main launch switch. Her hand was intercepted seconds from hitting it, by both Xander's and Commander Ford's wrists. She looked at them both with fury, and was about to speak...

"Captain Stark," Ford started. "Under Article 20, Section 8 of NorPac regulations, I am hereby relieving you of command..."


San Francisco, California: Apartment of Xander Harris.
One month later

The newly promoted full Lieutenant Xander Harris was talking on his cordless phone. "That's great, Katie! But now, I'm going to have to call you sir!"

He listened to the woman on the other end, "Well, yeah, but I think you can handle being around Ben again. Wait...so Pearl is for sure where the new home port will be?"

After a few more minutes, Xander hung up the phone. "Three more days, and it's off to Hawaii for a crap-load of refits. Can't wait," he said to himself sarcastically, as the man looked at the new uniform hanging on his bedroom door. Next to it was a black jacket with a large symbol, along with the letters U.E.O. on it.

Xander then looked up, surprised, when he heard knocking on his front door. He gave the clock a quick glance, <Three a.m.? Who could that be at three o'clock in the morning?> he wondered.

The UEO officer opened the door, and was shocked at who he saw.

Standing in front of him was Cordelia Chase. And she was a total mess.

Cordy looked as bad as Xander had ever seen her. Her hair was all over the place, her makeup was smeared, and she looked like she had been crying a lot. But the newly-minted Lieutenant Harris had no time to comment on her appearance, before she fell into his arms and started crying.

Twenty minutes later, Xander came out of the kitchen with two mugs. He handed one to Cordelia, who was on the couch with her knees pulled up to her chest. She just smiled at him slightly, as she took the mug and sipped the hot chocolate.

"You remembered I like those little colored marshmallows," the former cheerleader sniffed, as she wiped her nose.

"Yeah, you bet," Xander told her as he sat down next to her. His eye wasn't itching, so this was a good sign. "So, you ready now to tell me what happened?"

She looked at him in silence for a few minutes. He could see the pain in her eyes...

"I didn't know where else to go," Cordy said finally, as she kept looking at her cocoa. "I couldn't talk about this to any of my friends in LA, and it's been too long for the other people in Sunnydale. I just knew to come here, to come to you."

She looked up. "You know Angel and I have gotten more than a bit serious lately, right?"

"Yeah. I've read your emails," Xander shrugged.

"Well..." Cordy started, then stopped to grab a Kleenex. "We had amassive fight with a newly-discovered group of the Scourge today. Angel got hurt..." she started to cry. "God, I lost Doyle to those bastards and now Angel almost dies too?!"

Xander set his mug on the coffee table, and moved over to her. He wrapped his arm around her, trying to help... "What exactly happened,Cor?"

She leaned into him, and buried her head in his shoulder. "Angel and I got back to the hotel...we were so happy that we'd all made it out alive. We were making out in his room, when..."

"When what?" Xander's eyes then went wide, "Oh my God - did you, uh-"

Cordy got angry. "Hey, I can control myself! Because I'm not Buffy!" she yelled, almost sarcastically to herself. "We got carried away,I'll admit that. Before I knew what was happening, I had my top and bra off and he was almost naked. I was lying on top of him, when..." the woman started to cry again.

Xander just held her, already guessing what she was going to say.

"We were doing some very R-rated stuff, then I just got this flash of junior year. The night Buffy was sick, remember that? And Angelus jumped on top of me...I swear, it was as if I saw his fangs all over again in my mind! Jesus, I almost let Angelus loose, Xander - I almost gave him a happy!" she broke down once more.

"Cor? He was definitely still Angel, when you left?" Xander tried to ask delicately.

"Oh yeah. I think he realized it, right when I did. God, I just grabbed my clothes and ran out. And that was hours ago," she told him sadly.

The former class clown ran his hand up and down her arm, as he let go of her. "Cor, we should call your friends and tell them you're okay -they'll be worried..."

"NO!" she yelled. "Please, Xander," Cordelia begged him. "I can't. At least, not right now. If Angel knows I'm here, he'll come to see me. To talk to me about what happened. And I can't deal with that right now..."

"Okay," Xander gave in. "Look, I'll call Tim on the SeaQuest. He's on the night shift tonight, reworking some systems. He can send out an untraceable call to LA, just to tell them you're alright. Or else you know that I'm going to be getting a call within the hour, from Willow; and I don't want to lie to my friend."

"They won't know who it is?" she asked him hopefully.

"Nope, no chance. No way for any caller ID or a voice to be recognized. Look, I'll even tell Tim exactly what to say," Xander told the woman, as he watched her yawn. "Hey, you're tired. Why don't you take my bed and get some sleep? I'm sure I have an old shirt or something you can use."


Los Angeles, California. The Hyperion Hotel.

Fred answered the phone. "Cordelia?!" she asked quickly.

Her face fell at the sound of the male voice, "Uh, no. But I'm a friend. And Cordelia is fine."

Those words caused her to get serious. "Who is this? Where is she?!" The others looked sharply over to her.

"Hey, don't yell at me! Look, lady, I gotta get back to work - so spare me the hysterics. Cordelia's fine - and that's all I'm supposed to say. She doesn't want her friends to be worried, so I was asked to call you people. She'll be calling you herself in a day or so. Goodbye." And the line went dead.

Fred checked the caller ID window, but it showed nothing. So the brunette woman did the only thing she could do; she got out her cell phone. "Angel? We have news..."


One of many San Francisco Denny's.
The next morning.

"So, she was going to open fire on everyone?! She was nuts enough to fire on her own allies, and start World War Three?!"

Xander looked nervously around the restaurant. It was fairly empty this time of morning, and he thanked his God for that. "Cor!" he hissed. "Keep it down, will you? They don't want it public knowledge that Stark went off the deep end, a bit."

Her face scrunched up. "Sorry. It's just that - well, all the crap we've gone through over the past eight years, and she nearly blows it all to hell for no reason?! So what happened to her?"

Xander took a bite out of his scrambled eggs. "She stayed on board for a bit. The brass recommended some anger management counseling at the very least, but she just took off one night when we were in dock."

"Great," Cordelia muttered. "Another weirdo out there somewhere."

"Well, she always was kinda high-strung. A lot of the younger crewmen was scared shitless of her."

A smile showed itself on Cordy's face. "And you weren't?"

Xander shook his head. "Hey, I lived through Buffy's little power trips over the years, remember? Compared to that, Stark was nothing. And besides, if I could survive being the bag carrier during your many shopping sprees back when we were dating, I can handle almost anything."

Cordelia laughed as she reached over the table, and playfully smacked his arm. "Hey! I had to endure your comic book conventions as well!"

"Sure," Xander shook his head. "The ones that were in big cities near large malls, as I recall."

"But at least I went to them!" Cordelia pointed out, as she took a bite out of her omelet. "Oh, oh! Do you remember that guy who wanted me to pose for that comic character?"

"The X-men one shot?" Xander asked.

"Yep. I can't believe it, but Andrew went to this shop in LA and found a poster of the character of me! And I still don't know you talked me into letting him take a few pics of me to draw from."

"Sure, Cor. You really complained that millions of teenage boys would see you as a pin-up girl."

A quick giggle. "You know me too well, dorkhead. But hey, can you believe they want my character in a new comic series they're going to do? I met with the lawyer types, and they're going to pay me for using my likeness. And I get every issue free! Andrew is like so jealous that I'm an X-man now."

They both laughed. "Well, you'll have to tell me when I can get my first copy for you to autograph." Xander smiled at her.

She looked nostalgic. "An autograph. God, I haven't done one of those since I did that lame horror movie."

"Hey, at least your name was in the credits!"

"Yeah, but being listed as Bimbo number two didn't help the old career much, other than an offer to pose for Playboy," she told him with a scowl.

Xander almost choked on his food. "You got an offer to pose for Playboy?!"

"Please, you think I would ever stoop to Baywatch tactics? Yeah, I don't think so," Cordy told her ex matter-of-factly.

"Maybe you should," the former Zeppo shrugged. "I can see it now. Cordelia Chase. Demon Hunter. Just you naked, a bearskin rug, a roaring fire, and a broadsword..."

"Oh, in your dreams pal!" she laughed.

"Actually, I think I did have that dream back in high school," Xander mused to himself, briefly shaking his head.

Cordelia blushed slightly. "You didn't!"

"Cor? I was going out with not only the head cheerleader, but also the hottest girl Sunnydale High ever produced. It would be more weird if I hadn't had dreams like that!" he said with another shake of the head.

That caused her to blush even more. "Since when did you become such a smooth talker, Mr. Harris?"

He shrugged. "It has been a while, Ms. Chase. But I had to grow up one day, we all did eventually."

"Yeah," she said sadly. "But I've come to the conclusion that growing up sucks, Xander. There's so much pain..."

He reached over and took her hand. "It's okay, Cordy. You have to take the good with the bad. If you didn't, it wouldn't make the good parts worth it."

She met his eyes with hers. "I know. It just hurts too damn much..."


From the Diary of Cordelia Chase.

I got back to LA last night, after I saw Xander off onto the SeaQuest in Hawaii. Yeesh, but that ship is freaking big! Wish I could have gotten a look inside her. But it was so good to talk to him again, it had been too damn long. And you know what? I realized he's my best friend. If Xander can have two best friends with Buffy and Willow, as of now so do I with Xander and Angel.

He did give me one thing, though; a vidlink. It's like this tiny videophone thing. It's only a ten-inch screen, but it's really cool. He says we can talk and send video letters to each other, and the satellites can find it wherever it is on the planet.

Now, onto the bad stuff. I had a long talk with Angel; I still love the guy, but one of us has to be the adult here. It won't work. And I swear the waterworks were in full gear, when I told him that. He didn't deal well, it's like he had a severe case of "Buffy-face" when he realized it was over.

In the back of my mind I think I always knew that it would come to this, but Lord knows I've been alone for so long. And I do NOT count Connor on my list of boyfriends.

And now that I brought up that particular subject, I'm going to be seeing a lot of him. I'm moving back to Sunnydale; well, only for a little while. Just enough to let things calm down a bit between Angel and me. Giles says I can help out at the Sunnydale Watchers branch that they built on the outskirts of town. I mean, I even get an office!


Office of Cordelia Chase
Council of the new Watchers - Sunnydale Office.

Cordy had watched Xander's video letter several times, before she'd saved it to her external hard drive on her desk. Now, she was staring out at the dark night sky from the fifth floor office.

<That bitch!> the young woman thought, as she watched the rainstorm going on outside the windows.

<Stark actually killed dozens of innocent people, just so she could bait the SeaQuest into some damn trap?! Xander could have been killed! Well, I don't think I want to know how Stark disabled a boat like that, but at least Xander likes his new captain.>


From the Diary of Cordelia Chase.

I think poor old Giles is going to have a heart attack, as Dweeb Boy and his shipmates found something. And when they stumble onto something, boy do they really stumble onto something! Like, some part of the Great Library of Alexandria. It's been all over the news, on every channel, in every country.

They're saying that what they find in there could change everyone's views of world history, or whatever. But onto the really good stuff; it seems that they found a room that has a crap-load of demonology books and scrolls. Xander talked to Noyce, and none of it will be released since some of the spells there might be able to nuke the world or something equally bad.

Giles, Wesley, Willow, and a bunch of Watchers are heading to a hanger at Pearl Harbor to study them. From what I've heard, if just some of the stuff they found ever fell into the wrong hands...well, let's just say it would not be of the good. Giles talked to Xander, and some books that have been thought lost for centuries are just sitting on shelves waiting to be translated.


UEO SeaQuest - Bridge
04:37 hours ship time.

"It wasn't a dream!" Captain Nathan Bridger told the scientist next to him. All of the crew looked at him, with a stare that said maybe the Captain had hit his head a little too hard this time.

All but one, that is.

"So, there were two people? One that wants help and one that doesn't?" Lieutenant Xander Harris asked. "Huh, sounds like a classic haunting case to me."

Commander Ford looked at him. "Don't tell me you believe in ghosts, Harris?"

Xander nodded his head. "Believe in them, and even seen 'em a few times. One actually tried to get a very good friend of mine to kill herself."

Everyone looked at him in incredulity.

"You mind explaining that?" Captain Bridger asked.

Xander sighed. "This friend of mine got a very nice apartment in LA, a few years ago. Turns out she got it so cheap, because of all the deaths that had happened in it."

"Deaths?" Lucas Wolenczak asked.

"Oh, yeah. See, when the apartment building was first built way back when, the people who lived there was this mother and her twenty-something son. The mom was a complete wacko, and didn't like her kid moving out to get married. So she tied up the guy, and then walled him up alive in her apartment so that he wouldn't leave her," Xander told the boy as he watched everyone stop and stare at him.

"Are you serious?!" Krieg asked him.

Xander looked at him. "Why would I lie about something like that? Especially now?"

"There's more, isn't there?" Bridger asked, getting into the story.

"'Fraid so," Xander responded. "The mom dropped dead of a heart attack 30 seconds afterwards, and her soul didn't go to Heaven as you might expect. Well, after that, any time a single woman would rent the apartment? The ghost of the mother would think she was the girl trying to marry her son. So she talked to them, like all the time. Whispered to them while they slept. She got at least three that I know of, to commit suicide. Usually, by hanging themselves."

The former Scooby member saw the sick look on Doctor Westphalen's face as he continued, "My friend moved in, and right away she heard things. One day she was at her office when she gets a phone call from another friend, saying he was at her apartment. She goes over, but turns out it was just the mom's ghost tricking her. The other friend found out and ran over to find my friend crying, and about to hang herself from the rafters. He got her down, and there was this big fight after Momma Ghost got a little pissed she didn't kill herself."

"If this is all true..." Ford said, still not really believing. "...don't tell me she still lives there?"

"Oh, she did for a few years. See, the ghost of the son came back and kicked the crap out of dear old mommy. After that, Dennis - that's the son's name - became a ghost roommate of hers. They got along great. Except that he would watch TV very late at night, sometimes."

"You have got to be screwing with us," Krieg said to his friend.

Xander shrugged. "Come to LA next leave with me, and see for yourself. Dennis likes to show off."

Before Krieg could say anything, Lieutenant Ortiz called out, "Captain! I'm getting a big echo, really big."

"On screen, Mr. Ortiz," Bridger ordered with one last glance at Xander.

The main screen showed sonar sweeps over the area under SeaQuest. A long shape took form on the top of the screen.

"WSKRS view," Bridger ordered.

The screen changed to a view from one of the ocean probes or WSKRS that traveled outside the ship. The camera came slowly up on the object.

"Holy-" Xander exclaimed, as he saw what it was. "A cruise ship! It looks like Titanic-era style."

The WSKRS went around the rear of the upright, and in perfect condition ship. The white letters of the name were still visible enough to be read.

"Oh my God!" Chief Manilow Crocker exclaimed. "It's the George!"


UEO SeaQuest - Wardroom
05:30 hours ship time

Bridger hit the control, and an X appeared far way from another X on a map on the screen. "The George went down a full 600 miles from there! There is no way a group of life boats could have traveled that far in two days!"

"I don't know how to explain it, Cap," Crocker told him. "It's probably why no one ever found her. No one thought to look this far out."

"There was a woman," Bridger stated firmly, as he remembered his visit from the two ghosts on his quarter's hologram program.

"I'm afraid not, Captain. Everyone survived but the Captain and the Chief Engineer."

"There was a woman!" Bridger said again.

"Ah, Captain, if I may?" Lieutenant Krieg asked, as he reached past Xander to grab the screen controls. "I found some archive footage in the disc encyclopedia. Not much, just this home movie made by the ship's owner."

A black and white film started on the screen. It showed the RMS King George setting sail, on its maiden voyage.

After a while, the screen showed the George's captain and its chief engineer talking with a very attractive young Englishwoman. She seemed to be getting along great with the engineer, even they could tell without any sound to back it up. Krieg paused the screen, when the intercom buzzed.

"Yes?" Bridger spoke.

Lieutenant Commander Hitchcock's voice came through, very excited. "Captain, you have got to see the images the HR probe is sending back!"

"We're on our way Commander," Bridger said as he got up. Almost as one, most of the people left the room and head for the Maglev to the Bridge. Doctor Westphalen stayed back with Bridger though, looking at the paused screen. "I think she's the nanny."

"Why wouldn't she have been on the manifest?" Bridger asked.

Westphalen mused, "He's the owner of the ship. Maybe it was a last-minute decision to bring her, and she was left off the manifest."

Bridger started to turn towards the door, when Westphalen gasped. He turned to see...

On the screen the still-paused image of the old film changed. The image of the George's captain, whose head was facing away from the camera, moved. Nothing else in the picture did. Only his head. It turned around and stared at an angle, as if watching the SeaQuest's captain and the doctor.

After several seconds of staring at the screen, Bridger reached and shut off the film. The U.E.O. logo replaced it, as it always did.

"Come on," Bridger told her, as he led Westphalen out of the room.


UEO SeaQuest - Bridge
05:45 ship time

"Put it on both screens, Commander," Bridger ordered.

The main screen changed to show what Lieutenant Commander Hitchcock was seeing, from the HR probe she was controlling outside the wreck of the RMS King George underneath them.

An image of the first smoke stack appeared. "The stacks are sealed."

Crocker spoke up, "Those are Hardboard Covers. It was an innovation of the George. They were supposed to retract, once they were at sea..."

"Well, they're closed here," Hitchcock said with a grin. "Which means the engine room might not be flooded. The George is most likely full of air pockets. Then there's this..." she moved to show what else she found on the starboard side of the ship.

"A light coming from this porthole."

Everyone looked shocked at the main screen. A porthole had a light shining out of it.

"Not possible," Ford stated.

"And not a dream," Bridger said to the people who'd accused him earlier of dreaming about the ghosts in his quarters.

"This is incredible," Hitchcock whispered.

"It's more incredible than you think, Commander. That ship has been down here for almost a hundred years. That ship is haunted," Crocker said like a true old-time sailor.

Xander saw the look in Bridger's eyes. "You want to try and board her, don't you sir?"

Bridger smirked at him. "Well, they wanted us here for a reason. We might as well see what it is. You coming, Lieutenant?"

"You think I'd miss this? Sir, I'm coming."


LA warehouse
2:18 am pacific time

Angel dusted the last vamp, as soon as Molly shoved it over to him. "Is that all of them?"

"Yeah. All fifteen of them," Molly told him, panting.

"Where's Cordelia?" the ensouled vampire asked.

Gunn looked around, but saw no trace of her. "She was here a few minutes ago."


"Geez, Angel, you don't have to yell!" came Cordelia's voice from another room.

They all turned to see Cordelia with a twelve-year-old blond-haired girl, holding her hand. And as soon as the little girl saw Angel, she screamed and hid behind Cordy.

The others looked confused, before Cordy groaned. "Angel. Your 'grr' face?"

Angel quickly morphed his face back to its human appearance, as Cordelia turned and kneeled down to face the terrified girl. "It's okay, honey. He won't hurt you, he's a good guy. He's not like the others."

Angel stepped forward slightly, but backed off when the girl whimpered. "I'm sorry I scared you. My name's Angel. I'm a vampire, but, uh, I don't hurt people. I won't hurt you."

"It's okay, I trust him," Cordy told the girl. "I promise he won't hurt you."

The girl nodded, very nervously. Angel shot Cordelia a look, but she just mouthed 'later' to him.


UEO SeaQuest - Lieutenant Alexander Harris's Quarters

Xander glanced at the picture on his second monitor. It showed Cordelia with a young twelve-year-old girl. Cassidy. Cordelia had her arms wrapped protectively around the girl, who almost had a smile on her lips.

"You two seem to be getting along pretty well, Cor."

His friend in LA sighed, as she nodded on the screen. "It's just that she's had such a screwed-up life, Xander, and she's only twelve and a half! Her parents die when she was two, leaving her an orphan. Then the orphanage is attacked, and some of her friends get killed by vampires while she watched! My heart just goes out to her."

"Mine does too, Cordy. But are you sure you're ready for a big step like this? I mean you haven't told her yet, right? Don't want to get her hopes up if it doesn't work out?" he asked her.

"Trust me, Xander, I've thought about this for a week now. I want to do it. Everyone here's agreed to help out - they all love her. And don't worry, I already had a very long talk with Giles about it. He wanted to be sure that I was able to handle this," she replied.

"But you know what this is gonna mean, Cordy," Xander said with a sigh. "No more - or a helluva lot less - demon fighting for you. She doesn't need to have another person taken away from her, if some vamp or demon got lucky."

"I know, Xander, but I think me and her both need this right now. After what happened with Connor, when he was a baby..." the woman trailed off.

"I know that it wasn't easy for you to lose the baby boy that you thought of as your own son, Cor. But I know you'll make a good mom for Cassidy, Cordelia Chase," Xander told her simply.

She smiled a thousand watt smile at him. "Thanks, Xander. That means a lot."

"I speak only the truth, Cor." the UEO officer grinned back. "You'll make a heckuva mom...well, now that you've mellowed out a bit. Because during junior high, I used to freak when Jesse would talk about you and him having kids together."

"He talked about me and him having kids?!" Cordelia asked, shocked. "But we were barely even 15 years old! And I hardly knew him!"

Xander shrugged. "What can I say? He had a crush. You've seen from first-hand experience how much a crush can mess up a guy," the man who had once loved Buffy Summers said, as he looked down.

"Xander," Cordelia said firmly. "Remember only the good times. I'm going to have to smack you upside the head, next time I see you."

He laughed. "Always good to have something to look forward to."


Aboard the Carnival Cruise ship 'Sea Dream'.
In the A deck Ballroom. Four and a half weeks later.

Cordelia Chase was pissed.

No. To say that she was just pissed, would be an understatement of massive proportions.

The thing was, that Giles had arranged for the new Council to fund a small cruise trip for her, Cassidy, Dawn, Molly, and Fred. To give Cassidy a taste of something fun.

And everything had been going fine, until they'd wandered into a bad action movie.

<Pirates. Goddamn pirates.>

Cordy couldn't believe it. She had laughed when Xander had told her last year, that nowadays any idiot and his mother with the money to buy a sub had started robbing cruise ships.

But it wasn't funny now that a crap-load of people were being crammed into the ballroom, while the ship was being ransacked. Molly had heard the radio operator talking to the ship's captain; he thought they'd gotten an SOS out.

Still, there were no ships on the horizon, in any direction.

<Goddamned pirates!>


Commander Jonathon Ford, along with the rest of his boarding party, pressed his body along the wall of the engine room of the Sea Dream. They had picked up the ship's SOS an hour ago; a US Navy ship was on the way, but it was Ford and his party's job to take them out before they spotted the Navy ship. Or the bad guys would take hostages, and a bloodbath might erupt.

The other team had already taken control of the enemy sub. Darwin the dolphin had swum right up to it, and taken out their bulky transmitter.

Well, in the enemy's defense, not many pirate sub sonar operators considered dolphins a threat. That had allowed Lieutenant Harris and his group to board and subdue the vessel.

Now, all Ford had to do was take out ten more pirates.

A sound caused him to look back down the corridor from where they had come from. Before the pirate even saw them, four stun shots had hit him in the upper chest.

One down, nine to go.


Cordelia looked towards her adopted daughter, but Cassidy was holding up better then she'd thought she would.

Still, this was another traumatic experience to give her little girl even more damn nightmares. Cordy was about to throw down with the pirate leader, who was living up to his job by doing the normal leering at all the women in the room...

But suddenly, the large patio doors on both sides of the room burst open, green fire shooting out in quick and rapid secession. Within moments, the eight pirates were on the ground or getting the snot beat out of them by the passengers.

"Everyone, calm down! I'm Commander Jonathon Ford, UEO Navy. Is everyone alright?" the lead man said, as the group came fully into the room.

<Ford? Hey, isn't that...>

But Cordelia's thoughts were cut off when one of the men shouted, "Commander! I'm only counting eight bodies here!"

<Damn it!> Ford swore in his head. "All right, fan out and find the last..."

He was cut off by the sound of a pulse rifle powering up. And by the sound, the UEO officer knew it was not set on stun.

Everyone turned to see the last pirate, a man who couldn't be over 25, who had taken a hostage. Molly.

"Lower your weapons now!" he called out as he pressed the rifle to her head.

"Okay, take it easy," Ford told him, as he slowly set his pulse gun on the deck. The other UEO people followed his lead.

"I want out of here now!" the man yelled. "Me and her are going to board my sub, and leave. And you're not going to try to stop us."

Ford shook his head. "I can't let that happen."

"You'll do it, or she dies!" he yelled frantically.

"I can't let you leave this ship..."

Molly, potential Slayer that she was, had gotten tired of playing the helpless girl in distress. So she elbowed the man in the stomach, and shot up her fist and nailed in him in the face. While he was distracted by the pain, she dived out of the way.

As soon as she was clear, a shot came out from a stairway door. It hit him, and the pirate went down fast. Everyone looked over and saw another figure in a black SeaQuest jump suit. Lieutenant Xander Harris.


Five minutes later Ford was talking to Xander next to the stage at the rear of the ballroom, when the LA group came over.

"Ahem!" Cordelia said, causing everyone to look at her.

Ford was confused. "Can I help you, Ms.-?"

But she wasn't listening. She went right to Xander, and smacked him upside the head.

The two SeaQuest security men raised their weapons instantly, and pointed them straight at Cordelia. But Xander waved them off, "It's okay! Stand down," So they slowly lowered their guns.

"I did owe you that one, Xander Harris!" Cordelia said simply, before she drew him into a hug.

"I guess you did at that, Cor," the UEO officer replied, as he returned the hug.

The seer looked at him after a few seconds. "Tell me something. Why do we always seem to meet after some traumatic event? It's getting annoying! I'm starting to feel like the wife that has to be saved all the time, in the Die Hard movies."

This caused a laugh between them. But before he could respond, Molly came and pulled Xander into a tight hug. "You saved my life, Xander. Again! Thanks," she said in her British accent, as she kissed him on the check.

Ford saw Cordelia roll her eyes at Molly's actions, but limited himself to making a mental note to ask Xander about it later.

Xander then felt a tug on his arm, as he looked down and saw Cassidy. She stood just above his waist, "Are you really Xander Harris?" the girl asked him.

"Uh, yes I am," he responded slowly.

The girl looked him in the eyes. "Cordelia, she says you're still hot."

A horrified look crossed Cordy's face at hearing that. But she turned a deep shade of red as Xander told Cassidy, "Well, I think she's still pretty hot herself. But don't tell her, okay? Don't want her to get a big ego now, do we?"

Cassidy nodded, as Ford and the two security guards laughed at that. Cordelia just glared daggers at Xander.

Ortiz came over at that moment to Ford and Xander. "The SeaQuest is coming in a minute on the port side. The captain wants to know if there are any people that need medical attention?"

Ford led Ortiz to a few people who were injured. And as soon as they were gone, Xander leaned down to Cassidy. "Hey, you wanna see something cool?"

The girl nodded quickly, so Xander lead her out to the portside railing. "Okay, now, just watch the water," he told her, as Cordelia and the other women came out to join them.

"What am I watching for?" the girl asked, confused.

Xander was scanning the water, when he suddenly pointed. "There!"

They all looked, just in time to see a huge arrowhead-shaped bow surge out of the water.

"COOL!" Cassidy cried, as the rest of the SeaQuest came out of the water a few feet and then came crashing back down, creating a very large splash.

After the ship came to rest on the surface with the upper half sticking out, Cassidy turned and asked, "Can they do that again?!"

Xander laughed, as Dawn looked at the ship. "How long is that thing?"

"Over a thousand feet long," he told her.

"She's a cool ship," Cassidy said, as she watched the SeaQuest.

"Actually, she's a he," Xander corrected her.

"I thought ships were girls?" the twelve-year-old asked in confusion.

"Normally, they are. But our Chief Engineer says that she thinks the SeaQuest is a he."

Her eyes went wide. "Your engineer is a girl?!" she asked, surprised.

"Yep. Her name's Katie," Xander told her.

"Could I be like her one day?" the child asked him.

Xander looked down at her. "You can be anything you want to be, kiddo. Anything."

For her part, Cordelia was enjoying the dialogue between Cassidy and Xander. She'd been worried for a time, that they wouldn't get along. But Xander obviously still had the big kid from high school within him...

Ford came over a few minutes later. "Xander?"

"Yes, sir?" he turned.

"This ship is going to return to port in a few hours..."

Ford stopped talking, when a cry came from Cassidy and she buried her face into Cordelia's side. Xander shot her a confused look.

"She's been really looking forward to this trip," Cordy told him with a shrug.

Xander thought for a few moments, then turned to Commander Ford. "Sir. I need to talk to you for a minute?"

The women watched them walk over a ways down the deck. Ford seemed surprised by what Xander was saying, and quickly stared back at them with a sympathetic look. Then he took out a device that they guessed was a communicator. Both military officers talked into it for a few minutes, before they came back to the group.

Xander had a smile on his face. "It's just you five on this trip, right?" he asked Cordelia.

"Yes..." she told him, not sure what he was getting at.

"Well," Xander said. "The SeaQuest was in the area following a pod of killer whales and we're going back to doing that, then we have a stopover in San Francisco for a supply run. I'm just wondering if you ladies would want to come with us for two days?"

Everyone looked at him, stunned.

Cassidy looked at him. "We can go on that?!" she asked, as she pointed to the SeaQuest.

Xander nodded. "We don't have a video arcade or shuffle board, but I'm sure we have a few things that you could do instead."

The blonde girl got really excited, as she looked up to Cordy. "Can we, Cordelia? Can we, please?"

Cordelia, Fred, Dawn and Molly looked at each other and they all slowly nodded. "Sure."

"Yes!" the girl yelled, as Xander and Ford laughed.


SeaQuest shuttle MR-4

Xander sat with the others in the passenger area of the shuttle; and Cassidy sat with Cordelia, next to him. The young girl's eyes were on the small screen that showed the shuttle heading towards the circular opening on the massive submarine.

After they docked, Xander led them up a ladder and into a large greeting area. When they all came up the docking ladder, they saw an older man with gray hair and a young teenage boy around sixteen.

"Welcome aboard SeaQuest," the man said, as he shook Cordelia's hand. "I'm Captain Nathan Bridger. And this..." he pointed to the teenager. "...is Lucas Wolenczak."

Cassidy blushed as she saw the teenage boy, causing Cordelia to smile. <Oh no. Her first crush.>

Fred grinned. "Wow, the real Lucas Wolenczak."

Dawn turned to her. "You know of him?"

Fred nodded, in her sometimes-geeky way. She smiled, "I read your paper on molecular bonding when you were at Stanford."

This causes Lucas to smile. "Really?"

Xander was laughing at the start of the flirtation. "Ah, Lucas?"

The teenager looked to Xander after a few moments. "Yeah, Xander?"

"I was thinking maybe we could introduce Cassidy to Darwin. I'm sure she'd love him, and I'm guessing Fred would too."

"Ah, right, Darwin," the kid said, already seeing how he could impress Fred more. "This way, then."

After a short ride in the Maglev, the car stopped and they heard a computer voice say, "Sea Deck. Thank you for riding Maglev."

As they came into the large room, Cordelia noticed something. "How come the people here are wearing blue jumpsuits, and not black like yours?" she asked Xander.

"Well, this is the science section," he told her, as an older woman in a white lab coat came up to them. "And this is Doctor Kristin Westphalen. Our head scientist and chief physician."

"Welcome to SeaQuest, everyone," the woman said as she shook Cordelia's hand, who she guessed was the leader of the group.

"Thanks for having us," Cordy told her simply.

Lucas and Xander took Cassidy by the hand, and moved her to the edge of the large moon pool. Cordelia and the other LA women watched, as he pulled out a large yellow device off of the wall and turned it on. "Darwin. Come to sea deck."

In under a minute, Cassidy yelled in joy as the bottlenose dolphin swam in from a side tube. Lucas guided her hand, as she petted Darwin.

"I think you should say hi to him," he told the girl. "Just say hi, and tell him your name."

She looked uncertain but said, "Hi, my name is Cassidy."

What happened next made the LA people jump in shock. A computerized male voice came through the nearby speakers, "Cassidy Darwin's friend?"

Cassidy looked at Cordelia, slightly panicked. So Cordy glared at Xander.

"Show them, Lucas," the young man told the teenager.

"This..." he held up the device, "...is a Vocorder I. It allows us to talk to Darwin." Lucas moved the device near Cassidy, "I think he asked you something."

The girl leaned in to it and said, "Can I be your friend?"

The speakers spoke, "Yes! Darwin like more friends."

Xander leaned down next to her. "Say, Cassidy, are you a good swimmer?"

The girl nodded quickly.

"Well, I'm betting we have a wet suit in your size around here. Maybe you should ask Darwin if he'd like to go swimming with you?"

The girl grinned widely, but as Xander stood up he saw Cordelia's questioning glance. 'It's okay,' he mouthed to her.

Dr. Westphalen came up, and took Cassidy's hand. "Let's go see if we have a suit in your size, alright? I'm betting we do."


Quarters of Lt. Xander Harris
24:15 hours ship time

Xander lay down on his bunk, after sending the message to Angel about the girls' spending the trip on the SeaQuest.

Actually, he was still surprised that Bridger had allowed it. But after he'd heard what Cassidy had been through - including the vampires - he had gotten a few words from Noyce, and allowed the visit.

Cassidy had spent the day swimming, with Darwin and Lucas. Then Bridger had let her sit in the captain's chair, when she'd tried to sneak onto the bridge during Xander's shift. But now his C.O. had ordered him to take time off to be with his friends, for the rest of their short stay, in order to get the vessel running smoothly again.

The former Zeppo was about to get changed for bed, when he heard a pounding at his hatchway. He knew it had to be one of his friends from LA, since the SeaQuest people knew how to knock on the metal hatch without pounding.

So, he got up and moved over and opened the hatch.

Cordelia was standing there, with a bottle of something and two glasses.

"I hope they won't mind that I raided the galley," she told him with a smirk, as the brunette woman came in and he closed the hatch after her.

"Oh, I think they'll get over it," Xander said, then looked at the bottle. "Ah, Cor? We don't have any alcohol in the ship's stores," he told her suspiciously.

"Fine, you got me," the young woman said, as she turned the label to show him. Grape juice. "I was going to send it to you after we got back to LA, since you don't drink. But now, I'm thinking we can drink it together."

He held the glasses as she removed the cap, and then poured the juice. "Anything in particular we're drinking to?" he asked.

"Well, first I wanna say that I'm glad you and Cassidy are getting along so well," Cordelia told him, as she sat on the bunk.

He looked at her, surprised. "You were worried that we wouldn't?"

She frowned. "She's very picky about people. She's still just warming up to Angel. But of course, you being on a super-cool submarine didn't hurt," Cordy laughed.

Then a smirk showed up on her face, as he sat on the bunk next to her. "What?" Xander asked.

"Well, I've thought about something for a while now. And something happened today, that kinda clinched it for me."

"Oh? And what was that?" Xander asked as he took a sip of his drink.

Cordelia took his glass from him, and set both glasses down on the nearby nightstand. Then she looked him right in the eyes, as she took his hands in hers. "Xander, the truth is - after I saw the way Molly was still drooling over you today, I've decided to stake my claim already."

Slightly surprised, Xander looked at her. "Huh? Your claim?"

"Hell, yes!" Cordelia said, as she reached up and caressed his face. "I let my claim on you slip ever since we graduated high school, but what the hell - I'm ready to try again." She looked a little nervous. "That is, if you are?"

"Oh, for crying out loud! You knew what I was going to say before you even came in here, Cor!" Xander said, as he lightly grabbed her chin and pulled her lips to his.

As they parted the kiss, he laughed, "I guess this means I'll have to get re-used to being hit over the back of the head a lot, doesn't it?"

Cordelia pushed him down on the bed. "Oh, shut up! You know you liked it."

He looked up at her, with a fake scared look. "So I guess you're not exactly going to be gentle with me, huh?"

"Not in this lifetime, pal!" Cordy told Xander sternly, as she straddled him and began to pull down the zipper on his jumpsuit.