Phoenix Chronicles

Dreams Of Another Life

Author: Nodakskip <nodakskip[at]>


Author's Notes: This is part seven of 'The Phoenix Chronicles'. Thanks to Theo for beta-reading. Also I am still in stages of writing this so the updates will be a bit apart.

Summary: Its nearly Christmas time. And while Xander and Cordelia settle into their new life together, she sees somethings she will wish she hadn't.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

December 16th 2004

Behold the City of Angels. LA - it's a place where people come to make their dreams come true.

But the funny thing is, there are many different kinds of dreams.

For example, the ones somewhat euphemistically known as living nightmares.

In a booth near the back of Lounge La Brea, Wilson Christopher nudged his friend Jason. "That's the guy I told you about," he said, as the person who had once dated Cordelia Chase for three weeks pointed towards a dark-haired man at the bar, who had two women seemingly eating out of the palm of his hand.

The two other men and their dates also looked over. "Oh, he's cute," Marci, Jason's date said. "What does he do?"

"Well, ladies, that in fact is Sergio. He's a big-shot photographer from New York..."

All four women sitting at the table perked up their ears, when they heard that. And then Wilson's date, Betty, said in disgust, "Just look at those two airheads he's with! My God, they're almost doing him right there!"

Wilson turned back to his male friends. All three nodded to him, and they stood up. "Will you please excuse us for a few minutes, ladies? We need to have a quick talk with Sergio. Our...boss wants us to see if he'll do a photo shoot with us. If he agrees, then we might need some extra models," Christopher told them with a grin.

As the men left, the women all glanced at each other with large, knowing smiles.


The woman called Karen laughed at his joke. "Oh, Sergio. You didn't?"

As the men approached, the other girl known as Lisa felt Sergio's arm. "Ooh, you just must work out! I bet you could bench-press me!"

He gave her a wink and said with an Italian accent, "Maybe later, we'll find out..." And before Lisa could reply, they heard a man clearing his throat behind them.

Sergio turned towards the four men. "In case you can't tell, me and my lovely companions here are enjoying ourselves. There are plenty of empty stools elsewhere!" He started to turn back to the women, "Now, if you'll excuse me..."

Wilson put his hand on his shoulder. "Sergio? You are him, right? The photographer?"

Instead of giving an answer, Sergio turned to his two dates. "Ah, you see what curse fame is ladies? I get all types of fans." He looked back to Wilson, "I'm sorry, my friend, but I don't happen to swing that way. I'm honored you like my work, but..."

Wilson cut him off, "Antonio told us that you might be interested in doing a shoot with us."

Sergio looked quickly at him. "Will you excuse me, ladies?" They started to pout. "Now, now, I could never leave such fine examples of womanly beauty alone for but a few minutes! But it is better to get business out of the way, while the night is still young."

He got up, but was stopped when Karen grabbed his arm and pulled him into a quick kiss. "Hurry back now."

"But of course, my dear..."

Moments later, Sergio and the other men were off standing by themselves. "You say you have a shoot to do? Thing is, I'm a very busy..."

"Cut the act," Jason demanded. "We all know you're almost broke. And that accent sucks."

Sergio instantly dropped the accent, and spoke with a southern California twang as he shrugged. "They don't seem to think so..." the young man told them, as he pointed back to the bar. "Now, what did you have in mind? Maybe Lady Luck will smile upon me tonight..."

"Looks to me like she already has," one of the guys said, as he looked over to the two women at the bar.

Sergio laughed. "Those two airheads? Please! This time a year ago, those two would be a waste of my time. It's too easy; they think I'm gonna do an entire photo spread with them! Of course, I won't be around tomorrow for them to find, so no skin off my nose..."

"Sounds like you don't care much for models," Wilson told him with a penetrating look.

"Should I? They're just cattle, pal. For every girl modeling, there are dozens getting off the buses from Hicksville USA - every single day! There are so many girls doing it nowadays, that nobody would miss those two. Easily replaceable, but tonight I'm kinda bored," Sergio told them with a bit of arrogance.

"Like we said, Antonio told us about you. No major jobs in the last ten months. And the bank coming after you? Can't be fun," Wilson said, looking Sergio over.

Jason went for the sales pitch, "What would you say if we could have you back on top, in less than 48 hours? With more than enough money to burn?"

Sergio laughed. "What? You have some magic beans? Maybe a wish-granting genie in your pocket?"

"You could say that," Wilson said as he moved up and whispered a few lines to Sergio.

When he was done, Sergio looked up in a pleasant surprise. "You're saying that all I have to do is drink some little vial of liquid, then take those two girls home, have a hell of a lot of fun with them tonight and a day or so later I get rich? You can't be serious!"

"Oh but we are," one of the other men spoke. "But the one thing you have to do, is make sure you don't take them to your apartment. Go back to one of their places."

"Why's that? 'Cause I do love my waterbed."

Wilson shook his head. "It would get messy in the morning; you know how chicks can get. But trust me, after tomorrow those two won't annoy you anymore."

Sergio looked giddy. "You guys in LA sure know your stuff! But there is just one thing left I have to do, before I drink anything."

"Oh, and what's that?" Wilson asked, still grinning.

"Just this!" Sergio's face took on a very dark look of pure hate, and the guys backed up when his right hand started to glow blue.

In less than a heartbeat his fist connected, and Wilson Christopher found himself airborne. His body impacted upon the far wall, shattering the large mirrors mounted on it.

Jason and his two friends looked in utter horror, at what happened to their leader. They then looked around dumbly, as everyone in the bar - the bartender, the young couple on the other side of the bar, and even the two bimbos Sergio was with - all pulled out guns.

The two women moved quickly and covered the three men. "Don't move!" they shouted.

"Keep them here," Sergio ordered, before he went to check on Wilson's point of impact with the wall.

"How is he?" he asked the young blonde, who was checking him over.

Amy Madison looked up at him. "He's out cold. Damn it, Xander, you shattered his collarbone!"

Captain Alexander Harris, U.S. Air Force, cursed under his breath. "I meant to take his head clean off. Can you fix this and wake him up?"

Amy nodded. "Just give me a minute." She turned to her 'date', "Vince, gimme my purse, I need some stuff..."


"All right, you bitch! What the hell is going on?!" Jason demanded from the dark-haired girl holding a gun on him.

She just looked at him, with pure and utter hatred. "You really are one stupid asshole, aren't you?" she raised her gun to pistol-whip him. But Lt. Rebecca Gerald grabbed her arm, "We don't beat prisoners!"

Melissa Estrich looked at her shocked. "You can't be serious. We should put these assholes on the Prometheus, and launch them out an airlock into the sun or something!"

Jason laughed, "You better listen to her, bitch. She knows her place, at least! And I'd start to worry, if I were you. We're gonna sue you, for all you're worth..."

Melissa concentrated for a second, and everyone watched as a full glass pitcher of beer on the bar flew at Jason's head. He barely ducked out of the way, as it flew by. The guy quickly stood, and with a frown started up the spiel again.

"How did you...?" the man stopped, when the pitcher came to a full stop in mid-air and few back to him. It floated above him for a second, before dumping its entire contents onto his head. Then it flew up a foot, and then fell back down onto his head, hard.

As he hit the floor unconscious, Melissa shrugged off Rebecca's glare. "What? I didn't touch him..."

She then waved her gun at the other two men. "Did I touch him?" she asked with a bit of venom in her voice.

The two men quickly shook their heads. "There, you see? I never touched him," Melissa said with a bit of pride and self-satisfaction.


"What's going on here?" Betty asked timidly, as she watched the blonde girl stand after somehow making parts of Wilson's body glow.

Xander looked at the four women, who were cowering together in the middle of the curved booth. "Take it easy, we're the good guys..."

Amy moved next to him, and the women got even more scared as her eyes went pitch black as she seemed to look them over. The women suddenly felt like she was looking into their very souls...

After her eyes went back to their normal color, she nodded to the man they knew only as Sergio. "They're all clean. None of them have been infected."

"Infected with what?" Marci asked, as she hid behind another girl.

"Oh, nothing much," Xander Harris told them. "Just that Wilson and his buddies were going to sacrifice you four, to their new demon master. They would have impregnated all of you, and then walked away before the demon babies burst out through your stomachs tomorrow."


Xander ignored them, when he heard Wilson moaning. He called to the other end of the bar, "Hey, bring those three down here!"

Five minutes later an angry Wilson Christopher, his two other friends and a just-waking-up Jason were thrown violently into a booth with quite a few weapons pointed at them.

Wilson looked around. "Who the hell are you? And what did you do with our dates?!"

"You mean the models you came here with? They're safe, and far away from you," Xander responded. "Right now, they're being taken home. And they'll wake up tomorrow at Betty's apartment, with no memory whatsoever of anything after you guys met them here tonight."

"I don't know what you're talking about! Look, we've done nothing wrong! Now let us go, and maybe we won't sue your entire department!" Wilson yelled at Xander.

"Our department?" Melissa asked, confused.

"Idiot thinks we're cops," Xander laughed. "Sorry to disappoint, pal! Just think of us as...a higher authority. But Jason, there's an old friend of yours that I want you to see again." He pulled out a small radio, "Bring her in."

Seconds later, a young, blonde-haired woman walked into the bar. She walked right over to them. As soon as Jason saw her, he swore. "Shit..."

Xander grinned. "Oh, you remember Mary here? I know she remembers you, don't you Mary?"

The woman nodded, right before she punched Jason in the face. Jason tried to grab her, but Melissa held him in place. Xander chuckled. "That's not bad, Mary, but you could have also done it like this..." he swung his fist and nailed Wilson right in the mouth.

"See?" Xander asked her. "I had to have at least knocked loose a tooth, maybe two!"

He turned to Jason. "Now Jason, Mary has had a lot happen to her over the last year, hasn't she? I mean, she wakes up one morning and finds her sister - who went out with you the night before - nine months pregnant..."

Wilson had a sudden horrible feeling of upcoming doom, as Xander kept talking to Jason. "And she couldn't get ahold of you, seems your phone had been disconnected. But then her sister disappears that same day. And since the story of a woman becoming nine months pregnant overnight is just too impossible to believe...well, who in their right minds would believe that Mary was sane anymore? Got put in a hospital and on heavy medication," Xander shook his head.

"Damn shame, if you ask me. And I also learn that you filed a restraining order, because if I remember your statement right...she was a crack whore and a hooker. That was your explanation, wasn't it?"

Xander laughed at Jason's panicked look. "You don't look so good, Jason. Don't ya just hate it, when the past comes back to bite you in the ass?"

He moved to face Wilson; and the leader of the 'Four Horsemen' got right in his face. "But with you and me, asshole, it's very personal!" He held up a picture. "You recognize her, Wilson?"

The man in question quickly shook his head, causing Xander to frown. "No? Not ringing any bells? I mean, you had sex with her and impregnated her with that demon spawn that woulda killed her, just so you could get rich. But then, I guess you do that a lot..."

Xander spoke softly to him, "You know, if Cordelia had lost her virginity to you when you tried to do that to her...well, let's just say that people would lose count of the number of stab wounds that would've ended up on your body!" Wilson's face went white, before he instantly fainted.

Xander stood up, annoyed. "He fainted at that?! I didn't even get to the part with the piranhas yet!"


Approximately 35 minutes later, Xander shook his head as he watched the van carrying Wilson and his friends speed off to the airport - before he turned to the older man, next to him. "I have to tell ya, Giles - I was so ready to kill him with that first punch, it's not even funny..."

Giles nodded. "I know, Xander. Myself, I only wish there were a way to remove Angel's soul safely, just for a few hours. I do remember how skilled Angelus was with torture..."

"Well, don't sweat it. I mean, I remember the inventive ways the Council..." he saw Giles' look, "Sorry, the ways Travers had. I'm sure Wilson and his buddies will crack, long before I almost did."

"Don't worry," Giles' eyes had a gleam to them, and Xander could almost see his inner Ripper coming out. "We, we will get the name of every woman they hurt. And they won't be bothering anyone else, ever again."

"Cool. Hey, ya know what? I never did learn about the Watchers' prison system..."

"Well, let's just say that our jails are filled with more than just humans, and Wilson will get a very fun cellmate," Giles grinned.

"Oh?" Xander inquired

"Oh, yes. He will almost certainly wish that we had just let you deal with him."

"Good," Xander said with a dark look. "And what about Mary?"

"She has a first class ticket waiting for her at the airport. Emma believes that she will make a fine addition to the Watchers..." Giles checked his watch. "I must be off, to-to that meeting with your General Andrews. And I believe you and your team have a demon to kill?"

Xander nodded. "Gavin is bringing in the liquid nitrogen now. We figured if it worked before a few years ago, it will again now. Plus, April's hacking into all those assholes' bank accounts, and donating it all anonymously to various Rape and Abuse Crisis Centers around the country."


December 17th 2004

The Dark Viper club was utterly packed.

It was enjoying its brief stint as one of the hottest clubs in Hollywood, the scene where anybody who was somebody hung out. And at that moment the new cast of the soon-to-be hit movie and TV series, The Lost Girls, were coming back up to the third level after a bit of dancing.

The lone male of the group, Rider Strong, was feeling a bit down. He saw the second woman almost come up and talk to him...before his co-stars pulled him back to their table. "Man, I am never gonna get a girl this way..."

"Why do you say that?" the series' main star, Cerina Vincent, asked as they all sat back down. She looked to her two other co-stars, Cordelia Chase and, Courtney Peldon.

Rider just looked at her. "Do you see who I'm sitting here with? You three have been hit on at least three times each in the last hour, but me...they get scared off! No offense, ladies, but sitting with three beautiful young women doesn't send out a big 'I'm available' sign here!"

Cordelia laughed. "My fiancé would so totally agree with you."

"Oh, and why's that?"

"Well, when we were in high school he always hung around with me and two other girls. There were these like rumors amongst the female population, that he had to be gay! But when we started to go out - that killed most of 'em. And the funny thing is, that it was one of the girls who was gay, or turned gay! I'm not sure on that part..."

Rider put his head on the table, "So, they could be thinking I'm gay...oh, that's so much better!"

Courtney silently swore as she said, "Cordelia, it looks like your admirer is coming back to try again..."

Cordelia let out a groan, as the male model pulled up a chair next to her. He then sat down at the table, while putting his arm over Cordelia's shoulder. Leaning in he whispered into her ear, what he was sure would get her interested in him.

After all, it always worked - in his humble opinion.

Or at least it used to always work, as he found out when a very angry Cordelia Chase grabbed him by his designer shirt collar and lifted him up from his chair. Her eyes met his, and the guy was shocked by the amount of venom in the woman's gaze.

"Listen up, bozo! Every girl likes to know that she still has it enough to get asked out, once in a while..." Cordy held up her right hand, showing the silver ring. "But this, for the second time, says that I'm taken. And just for the record..." she then pulled him really close.

"Only one man is allowed to touch me in the way you just whispered about...AND YOU ARE NOT HIM! Now why don't you go back to your idiot friends over there, before I get even more pissed off!"

And after the young woman released him, the guy scampered away back to his table as fast as he could. Cordelia sat back down and looked to her new friends, as if nothing had happened. Then she noticed their surprised faces, "What?"

"Uh, Cordelia, you know it's just my character that has the big crush on you, right?" Rider asked her jokingly.

"Rider, I know. And please, you guys can call me Cordy. See, the attitude? After all the guys that came into the detective agency...I had to be very tough, or else they kept annoying me."

Cerina leaned in. "Okay then Cordy, then let's get some dirt. We've heard about this fiancé of yours, but we've never heard his name."

Cordy looked up from her drink in surprise. "I never told you his name?"


"Oh, well, his name's Xander Harris. And we grew up together, known each other since kindergarten. Of course, we totally didn't get along, till high school..."

Cerina pressed, "Oh, and what happened in high school?"

Cordelia grinned. She had quickly found out after she'd met her, that Cerina liked a good dishing session.

"Well, we argued all the time. See, we were at opposite ends of the spectrum. I was the rich popular cheerleader, and he was the class clown! We always fought with each other, basically because he was the only one who could keep up with me when we argued. And after a day with the sheep, it was kinda fun to just throw down and argue with someone who actually had a brain!"

"Sheep?" Courtney asked in confusion.

A shrug. "Being the popular girl, sometimes makes your friends agree with everything you say. I swear, I could have said the sky was bright pink or purple and they would have agreed with me - no questions asked."

She smiled, remembering. "One day, we went to our friend Buffy's house to find her. No one was home, we searched the basement...and we, uh, got locked in. We were in there for a long time, and being bitter enemies we just had to start arguing. Well, I can hardly remember what I said to him - or him to me - but we REALLY got in each other's faces. Next thing I know, we were making out like there was no tomorrow."

Rider shook his head. "I don't think I've ever had any luck getting the girl, by arguing with her nonstop. I've gotten slugged a few times, though..."

"So, how did making out with your mortal enemy feel?" Cerina pressed again, ignoring that.

Cordy grinned. "Of course I would never tell him, but it felt really good! The next day we met in an empty classroom at school, and started to fight about who jumped who. A few minutes of arguing later, we were right back at it! I tell you, while I was growing up with him I never thought that Xander Harris would be a good kisser. Hell, the words Xander and kisser didn't ever go together in my mind till then. We..."

Her story was cut off by the sound of a loud scream, coming from the lower level dance floor.


The dancers stopped, as a body fell off the stage. Three vampires came from the rear entrance to join the lead vampire on the podium, Harmony Kendall.


They were all at the railing, as they looked down. "Are they filming a movie here or what? Uh, don't they close the place down, when they do a location shoot?" Rider asked.

"You have got to kidding me. Harmony!?"

Everyone looked to Cordelia, as she shook her head muttering, "I told her to get outta town and stay out, but nooo. The bimbo patrol is back!"

"You know her?!" Courtney asked in amazement.

"She used to be one of my 'sheep'!"

Rider looked down at the stage. "Small world, huh?"

"Right now I wish it could be bigger," Cordy grunted, as she started for the stairs.

A strong hand grabbed her, and she turned to find herself in the grips of a security guard for the club. "Best to stay up here, miss. The police are on their way," he told her.

"Thanks, but I can take care of myself..." the former seer started to say, when Rider yelled, "What the hell!?"

Cordelia ran back to the railing, looking down. "What? What happened?"

Cerina was dumbstruck. "One of those people just flew through the air, and disintegrated!"

"Huh, someone actually dusted one of the vamps?"

All three of her co-stars looked at her. "Vamps?!"

Cordelia ignored their looks, as she looked back down in time to see a man fighting with one of the undead. He was moving as fast as the vampire, and using a pool cue as a weapon. All she could see was his backside...

And what she saw caused her to grin. "Oh, I'd recognize that butt anywhere!"


Xander dodged the vamp's attack easily. He almost felt sorry for the average vampire that he fought these days, but then he remembered how sorry the average bloodsucker would have felt for him before he got his powers.

The young man swung the pool cue around, nailing the vamp in the head with the thick end. He swung it around fast to hit him from the other side, but the vamp caught the cue in mid-flight. He held the end with one hand and smashed the middle of the cue with the other, breaking it in two.

It treated Xander to a toothy grin as he dropped his part, and lunged for him. But he stopped, when he saw the human return his smile.

"Thanks man, it wasn't sharp enough," the leader of the 'Four Horsemen' told the vamp, before he rammed the cue half he was holding into its heart.

And as the vamp turned to dust, Xander grabbed the other half of the cue and threw it at the charging vampire, with a bit of his power behind it.

That soulless demon had only a split second to see the cue coming, and then lost it as it impaled him, half coming out the other side. He snarled, "Oh, fu..." before he disintegrated.

Xander moved right for the stage, and saw that the female vampire had jumped down and grabbed a hostage. All the remaining people on the dance floor were giving them a very wide berth.

"Don't come any closer, whoever you are," the blonde vampiress called to him as she squeezed her hostage's neck a little harder.

<Wait a sec. I know that voice!> Xander moved into the normal light, and out from the colored flashing spotlights. "Harmony, is that you?"

The female vampire looked over, as she dragged her hostage closer. "Xander Harris?! Since when are you back in the U.S.? Last I heard, you went to England..."

Xander took a casual stance and shrugged. Hoping he could get closer to her as they talked, he said simply, "Yeah, well, people I was working for tried to kill me, so I had to leave. Oh, I did get to know the new Slayer though."

Harmony rolled her eyes. "Oh, God, another one!? Jeez, what is that? Four that you've known? No offence, but I'm going to have to kill her, you know..."

"Oh, I know. You're a vampire, she's the Slayer. Goes with the job. So, I guess we ain't doing another bitch-slap hair-pulling fight to settle this, huh?"

The former cheerleader shook her head. "With this many people watching? Please! I do have a rep to maintain..."

"You do?" he asked, surprised.

"Well, there's this really old vampire that runs most of lower LA, and it's a girl," the blonde complained.

"Ah," Xander said in understanding. "So you can't sleep your way to the top with her like you did with the football team way back when, huh?"

"No," Harmony answered, annoyed. "She expects me to earn my place! Since when do I have to do that?! I was sired on the Hellmouth, for God's sake; you think that would be worth something? But, nooo..."

At that moment, her hostage spoke up. "Um, excuse me, but if you guys are just going to chit-chat, ya think you could maybe let me go?"

Both Xander and Harmony then looked at who it was she had grabbed. "Andy Dick!?" they both said at the same time.

Andy just weakly waved his hand, "Ah, yep, that's me."

Harmony looked disgusted. "Oh, great! Normally you want to grab a hostage that they don't want to see die..."

Xander shook his head. "Oh, come on Harm! He was okay on 'News Radio'."

"No he wasn't! I mean, my God - did you see the episode when he got the Dilbert obsession?"

Xander sadly nodded. "I hate to say it, Andy, but she does have a point with that one."

"Hey!" Andy yelled. "I did have my own show on MTV!"

That made Harmony groan. "And bringing up that crap-fest is supposed to save your life here?"

Xander moved up while she was distracted, taking out a tiny bottle of holy water from his jacket. "Well, Harm, that one episode where he did a rip-off of that one fear show from MTV - that was kind of good."

"True," the vampire shrugged. "But do you really think that this idiot wrote it?"

This caused Andy to yell again, "Hey! For your information, I do have a part in a new movie coming out."

Harmony looked back at him, giving Xander his chance. "Again, do you think that helps you in any wa...." She then screamed, as the water splashed her face.

Xander grabbed Andy's arm, and yanked him away. Harmony just looked at her former classmate, "What the hell did you do that for?!"

"Sorry, Harm. But I'm one of the good guys, it's kinda part of the job." He moved towards the blonde bloodsucker, but she grabbed a girl and threw her into him, causing them both to go to the floor. And when he got up, Harmony was nowhere to be seen.

"Damn it!" Xander said to himself. "At least, no one saw me let Harmony get away..."

He then groaned, when the man heard a sharp voice from behind him. "Why did you let her go?!"

Captain Harris turned to see Cordelia Chase walking towards him. "Ah, Cordy, so this is the club you and your friends were going to? Anyone hurt?"

The woman waved him off, "Don't try to change the subject, doofus! You let Harmony get away!"

He thought frantically, "Ah...I actually wanted to let you be the one to stake her, now that she's in LA?"

Cordelia glared at him for a few moments, making his squirm. "That's bull, and you know it!"

Her face then changed to a grin, "But it'll do for now." Cordelia grabbed his arm and pulled him to her, moving in for a long kiss. When they broke apart she asked, "So, do you have a little time to stick around?"

He nodded. "Good. My friends want to meet you," the future TV star commented.

As Xander followed her to the stairs, Cordy leaned in and whispered, "There's a male model up there, in a blue shirt. When we go by, just give him a good pissed-off death glare."


"Just do it. I wanna see if he wets his pants..."

Chapter 2

The Hyperion Hotel

"Okay, now who's this?"

Connor looked at the homemade flashcard, studying it. "Mrs. Claus?"

"No, it's Frosty the Snow Man," Kristen sighed.

"I'm sorry. I guess I still don't get everything that you mentioned about this Santa Claus demon..." Connor started to say.

"Hey! Santa Claus is not a demon, buddy!" Tom told him quickly.

The son of two vampires shrugged in confusion. "You're telling me that a human his size flies around on a sleigh being pulled by deer, and can travel across the entire planet in one night? With no one seeing him? He has to be a demon!"

Kristen sighed again, as she handed Tom the flashcards. "I'm tapped. So, you try for a while, I need a break here..."

A few minutes later, Kristen was walking down the hallway with Julie towards the hotel's kitchen.

"Give it up, Kristen. You're never gonna teach him all this stuff by the time you have to be at your parents' place," Julie told her with a laugh.

"Yeah, well, I have to try. You know how my sisters are gonna demand that he watch the Snoopy Christmas special with them! And if he doesn't even know the basics, my parents might get suspicious."

"Okay," Julie said, giving up. "But you honestly think they'll get any idea of where he really came from?"

"Well, no, but I don't want them thinking Connor believes how many things he's killed today is polite conversation, either! And you know how my dad is with the guys I bring home..." She leaned against the wall, "I'm telling you, though, it will be nice to relax in a little in Vermont. I haven't been home in far too long. Aren't you excited to be going back for a visit?"

Julie sighed. "Yeah...just for a visit."

"You sound really excited about it," Kristen said sarcastically. "Are you still having problems?"

Her friend nodded. "Yeah, it's just getting to be too much. I'm feeling overwhelmed, I swear - I don't know you handle it! I mean you're the Slayer, and you still have time for the schoolwork crap. But then, you've always been good at that stuff."

"Well, I am only going to college part-time at the moment. Maybe that's what you should do..." Kristen trailed off, as she realized something. "Oh my God! 'Just for a visit', my ass! You're thinking of staying there, and not coming back to LA!"

Julie looked down. "Well, yeah. Look, Kristen, I wouldn't mind going part-time like you; but I don't know if I could pay for the dorm and other stuff. You know my parents can't afford to send me to school forever! I mean my waitress job here sucks, my dorm roommate is a total weirdo, and most of the classes that I want to take are full already!"

"But you can't stay in Vermont!" Kristen pleaded. "I need my friends here!"

"Hey, I want to stay too - but let's face it, there aren't exactly many places that'll hire me so I can support myself! I mean, I'm not certified and I am not going to keep waiting tables for the rest of my life..."


December 18th 2004
Xander and Cordelia's new residence

The very large third floor main bedroom of the Chase mansion was the only room that was fully furnished, as yet. And the incredibly large four-post bed was the only thing that was still the same, as the day they'd first moved in.

The room was big enough to have several pieces of furniture in it, but still have a large enough area to move around in. Plus the view of the city a few miles away from the large patio, was normally breathtaking. But the thick curtains were closed tonight. And the only light in the room was from the dozens of large candles all placed in strategic positions.

Cordelia had been planning for this night, as soon as she'd found out she would have it off. It was the last working night before her Christmas break, which was a welcome relief; as the shooting schedule of her show had had quite a few night shoots, and it was wearing her out.

Between her work, Xander's work, and the babies...she and Xander had hardly had more than five minutes together, as of late. And last night at the club was the first time in ages they had seen each other for more than two hours! So, Cordy was going to make sure that this night went off with out a hitch.

The girls were at the hotel, being watched over by Gunn and Fred. And even Angel was getting into the baby spirit again; which was tough, granted, after what had happened with Connor way back when...

It had taken the former cheerleader two days, to come up with something to make this night special for her and her man. And it still shocked her to the core, that she'd gotten the idea from a 'Star Trek' movie, of all things.

Xander had left "Generations" in the VCR; by coincidence Cordy had arrived home early that day, and gotten bored out of her mind after Erica and Kelsey had finally fallen asleep. So she'd watched it. And the woman had thought in amazement as the closing credits rolled, <That's how they actually killed Captain Kirk? After all that crap for 30 years, he just falls off a bridge!?>

But the idea came about, during the scene with the commissioning ceremony for the Enterprise-B. And it didn't take long for Cordelia to find a good bottle of wine for the ceremony.

After Xander had showered off the demon guts when he came home from work that night, she'd taken his jacket off of him, and then blindfolded the guy. Cordy had then led him up the wide staircase, and into the candle-lit room; and when she'd let him remove the blindfold, Xander had seen the plastic tarp on the floor near the brick fireplace, and the two bottles of wine.

And of course the framed "Janitor Closet" sign leaning on the mantel, that he had salvaged from the old Sunnydale High campus.

Cordelia had then explained to him that one bottle was for them, and the other was for him to christen the room. So she gave him the second bottle, and the young man smashed it against the fireplace.

The glass and the liquid fell safely onto the plastic. To their friends and houseguests, the room would be the master bedroom; but to them, it would be called something else in private.

The Janitor Closet.

For this particular couple, just having a piece of their passion-filled teenage years that would be with them as they grew old and grey was very comforting, to both. Although they didn't relish having to explain the meaning of the words to their daughters, if they ever asked about it...

Xander got over his sentimental feelings quickly, when Cordelia went into the large bathroom to put on something special she had bought the other day. And he lost the ability to form full sentences, when the female TV star came out and explained just what she wanted to do for that night...


Three and a half hours later found Xander and Cordelia very exhausted, in their bed. Both of them were naked, save for the leather collar that the young woman had put around her neck; and the little heart-shaped metal tag with her name on it was cold against his chest, as Cordy laid her head against his.

"How do you come up with these things, Cor?" Xander asked with a grin.

The brunette girl took a second to answer, as she enjoyed the feeling of his hand going through her hair. "Oh, I've been doing some research. You'd be surprised the ideas you can find online, these days."

"Online?" the U.S. Air Force officer asked.

Cordy nodded, "I have plenty of time to kill in my trailer during the set preparations, so with the new laptop I bought I sometimes surf the 'Net."

Xander moved a strand of dark hair from his betrothed's face. "But how can you get an Internet connection from your trailer?"

"Oh, Willow showed me how to hack into the studio's connection. And according to her, it's a very fast connection." She frowned, as he started to chuckle. "What's so funny, my love?"

"It just occurred to me that I'm laying here - buck naked, and all sweaty, mind you - with Cordelia Chase. And I'm actually talking about computers! Do you know how many guys we went to school with would kill me, right now?"

Xander was surprised, when her expression darkened a bit. "Yeah, I do..." Cordelia looked away.

"I'm sorry, Cordy. Bad memories?"

"Yeah, a few..." she sighed. "Practically all of the loser jocks I dated in school before you were just jerks, and I put up with them because I just had to be popular. But if I could, I'd go back in time and really beat the shit out of Jason Thomlinson."

"Wait, Thomlinson? That asshole senior who was the school quarterback, during our freshman year?" he asked her.

Cordelia snuggled closer to her lover. "Yeah, during tryouts for the freshman cheerleader squad, he told the senior cheerleader captain that he wanted to - and I quote...he wanted to 'try us freshmen out'."

She shuddered at the memory, but relaxed as Xander hugged her even closer to him. "He thought it was his damn right to use us as his playthings!" The former cheerleader then looked back up at the guy next to her, "And Xander, that bitch of a captain almost let him do it!"

"Cor, he didn't try to..." the former Zeppo began to ask.

"Trust me, Xander; he couldn't do anything, after my metal-tipped designer Boracchis nailed him right in the crotch!" She smiled at the memory.

Xander winced in involuntary sympathetic pain. "Sorry I made you think about that now, hon," he sighed heavily. "Man, do I know how to kill the mood or what? Idiot Jed, king of romantic screwups here..."

He was cut off, by Cordy putting her hand over his mouth. "Xander...honey. You know how I don't like it, when you talk about yourself like that..."

The guy nodded, and she removed her hand. "Sorry Cor, old habits are hard to break. And you know that's why I wanted a very quick wedding, and all..."

The owner of the mansion sighed. "Xander, I know you want to do it as quickly as possible, so you that you don't get cold feet or anything - like what happened in Sunnydale. But I am not getting married in some quickie Vegas ceremony! You'll do fine, when the day comes. I have total faith in you, okay?"

He nodded simply, as the young man tried to dismiss painful past memories. Cordelia suddenly giggled then straddled his chest, leaning in so that her face was again close to his. "Enough of this depressing talk. Let's the change the subject..."

Xander grinned back. "Fine with me. What do you want to talk about?"

Cordelia hesitated, as Xander put his arms around her and she lay down fully on top of him. The military officer noticed the woman quickly closing her mouth and said, "You can ask me anything, Cor. It's part of the whole 'till-death-do-us-part' thing, remember?"

Cordy hesitated again. "Actually, that's exactly what I've been wondering about."


"We haven't talked about it, and I wasn't gonna say anything, but - but Xander, death did do us part. I lost you, and at the time I-I thought it would be permanent. I guess what I'm asking is...what was it like for you? What was...Heaven like?"

There was a silence, and Cordelia was afraid she had pushed her beloved too far. But then Xander started talking, almost to himself.

"I don't know if Buffy's ever told you about her experience, but I gotta admit - she had it nailed, right on the head! And I can really understand now what she must have felt like, after Willow, Tara, Anya and me pulled her out of there..."

A sigh. "It was pure bliss, Cordy. Your demon Yoda Skip, he once said there's a reason why no one ever comes back from Paradise - and now I know it, first-hand. Sweetheart..." he hesitated, as the dark-haired woman nodded at him to finally let it out. "I, I hate to admit it - but if God hadn't told me to go...I don't know if I'd have had the strength to leave, to come back to you."

He then looked into her eyes, "And if you'd been there with me...there is no way I'd have ever left willingly. They would have had to drag me out, kicking and screaming..."

Cordelia was quiet for a while, as they stared at each other. Then she said, "I'm sorry..."

He cut her off at once. "No, Cordelia, don't be. It's okay, I'm not sorry they sent me back! Because I don't want to be anywhere but here, with you and the kids. And hell," Xander recovered his trademark grin as he leaned forward to make out with her, "you can't do this in Heaven!"

A short while later, Cordelia giggled again and pulled away. "Okay, hold it mister! I've been waiting for this night for over a week; I've had to go without playing with you, for what seemed like forever..." She got a mischievous grin, "It's been dark out, for a while now. I can grab the leash, and you could take me for a walk around the garden outside!"

Xander looked at her for a moment, to see if she was serious. "You know Cor, I might just do that - but first, I want to ask you something."

"And what's that, my love?"

"Well - I have come to accept the monster I've created in you by suggesting the whole role playing thing, back in the summer of '99! But I've noticed most of your ideas lately have you taking the more...submissive roles. It just kind of surprises me, is all."

She leaned in, kissing him again. "I trust you. And don't worry; my next little idea definitely switches things around."


"Yeah, I found those old pictures of your time at that club in Oxnard."

"Really? Hmm, so you want a little show?"

"Well, you might have to do a little research first."

"What kind of research?" he asked, getting worried.

"Actually - Fred, Willow, and I are taking you to the Chippendales club, so you can get some pointers," Cordy smiled at him.

Xander swallowed nervously. " want me go to a male strip club with you?" He shook his head, "Nooo. No-no-no, Cordy, I love you, but no way - I had to wash dishes in one of those places for over a month! Not counting my one night on stage...and you know, I still get nightmares about those two 80-year-old women waving that g-string in my face!" he shuddered in terror.

Cordelia smiled a very sweet smile at him, the kind that made the guy ultra-nervous. "Xander, when are you ever going to learn that I know how to make you do whatever the hell I want you to do?" she asked in a sultry voice.

"And just how are you going to do that?" he asked, worried.

"Oh, I have my ways..." the woman grinned before her body disappeared under the covers, and Mr. Harris learned quickly what her ways were.


Two hours later found them back in the bed, but this time dressed in half a set of pajamas - Xander the pants, and Cordy the shirt. Cordelia snuggled into her fiancés arms as she slept, and then she trembled a little when the dream began.


Cordelia's Dream

There are two kinds of dreams, for most people. There are the ones where you can control what happens, and others where you're just along for the ride. And this was one of the latter.

Cordelia Chase found herself in her old apartment, the one she'd had when she'd first moved to LA. She was sitting cross-legged on her bed, a pile of letters and printed emails lying on the covers next to her. They were the correspondence that she had read and reread several times now.

Because they were letters from one Xander Harris.

From his last letter, Cordelia knew that the guy was back in Sunnydale. And just yesterday, he had helped Buffy fight some bimbo vampire named Wednesday or something like that.

The former bitchy queen of Sunnydale High tried to hold back the jealousy she'd felt, when she thought of him giving Buffy a pep talk at the Bronze. <Some Slayer she is nowadays, if she can't even beat one lousy vampire!> Then she quickly took a few deep breaths.

<Calm down, Cor,> the new arrival in LA told herself. <Now's not the time for that, and besides - I might have to get along with her again, soon...>

A loud ding pulled her out of her thoughts. <Third time's the charm...> Cordy then mentally laughed at herself, <Like you don't know what it's going to say!>

She turned on the light of the bathroom, and picked up the plastic strip lying on the sink's edge. Its color was what she knew it would be. Blue. The brunette teenager then tossed it next to the small pile of other tests on the counter.

She went back out and sat on the bed, her mind swimming with the thoughts of what her next move should be. <I can't believe this! I'm pregnant with Xander Harris's baby!? Okay...deep breaths, Cor...Cor? Oh my God! I'm even calling myself by that nickname he has for me now!>

Cordelia fell back, so she was lying down on the bed. <Okay, let's examine the options. Abortion? Forget it! Adoption? No way. Going back to the damn Hellmouth? Oh, for...what am I supposed to do? Just show up and say...'Hi, Xander. I know I told you I wanted to be just friends now, but you see I've been missing you a lot. And it's more than just missing a friend. And then wouldn't you know it, I started to throw up non-stop. Plus, I'm very late. So I guess that means you're going to be a Daddy...'?>

She snorted. <I already know he's going to like faint straightaway, the wuss...> The girl reached over to grab the picture by the letters.

Her picture of Xander, standing next to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Cordelia looked at his face, and tried not to smile. "You think we can get through this, Dweeb Boy?"


The Chase Mansion

She was awoken by a noise. Still half asleep, Cordy lifted her head slightly. But it was enough for Xander to see... "Sorry, Cor. Didn't mean to wake you..."

She squinted in the low morning light, to see him dressed in U.S. Air Force fatigues and coming out of the bathroom. "What time is it?"

"A little after seven," Xander told her, as he sat down on the bed to put on his boots.

Cordelia moved up and wrapped her arms around him from behind, while resting her head on his shoulder. "I sure wish you didn't have to go into work today..."

He turned halfway, and took her in a small hug. "I know, but it's only for a bit. Then we'll both be on Christmas vacation." He placed a kiss on her forehead. "Now go back to sleep, Ms. Chase. After last night, you do need your rest..."

"Slave driver," the young woman joked as she lay back down. Xander just tucked her back in, and gave her a kiss goodbye. "See you at the hotel later. Night, Cor."

"Bye baby," she whispered, before drifting off back to sleep.


The Hyperion Hotel. Later that afternoon

"So, it felt real? Well, a lot of dreams are like that Cordelia," Wesley told her, as they sipped some herbal tea from their mugs.

"Yeah," Fred told them. "When I was a little girl, I felt for sure that I owned a pony in one of them. I was so mad, when I woke up and realized it was just a dream."

Cordy shook her head. "No, guys, you don't understand. It didn't just feel real, I got the impression that it was real." At their questioning glances, she groaned. "Hey, I did have visions for quite a few years. I think I can tell the difference between what's real and what's not!"

Wes set his mug down. "Okay, then, let's go over it all fully. First off - what were you doing, before you fell asleep?"

"Well, I...I mean, Xander and me, we..." the woman blushed.

"I see," Wesley said in understanding, trying not to look at anyone. "Well, uh, then let's move on to what the dream was about."

"Right, "Cordy began. "Okay. Well, I was back at that roach-infested craphole of an apartment that I was living in, when I first moved to LA. My hair was a bit longer back then, and I could feel the ponytail against my back. I was on my bed, looking over the letters."

"Letters?" Fred asked.

"Yeah, the letters I'd gotten from Xander when he was on his road trip after Graduation."

"Please continue," Wesley told her, intrigued.

"Well, I remember being pissed off at Buffy for something or another; and then I heard an egg timer go off. I went into the bathroom, and picked up the..." she trailed off.

"Picked up the what?"

"The - the home pregnancy test. And it had this blue line, down the middle. I just tossed it next to two others, that were on the counter! Then I went back out to the bed, and looked at a picture of Xander. I started to think of how I was missing him, and wondering how he was gonna react when I showed up at his doorstep, pregnant and all. Then I woke up, when I heard Xander getting ready for work."

Fred leaned in. "Were you thinking of Erica and Kelsey, when you were with Xander last night?"

Cordy nodded. "Yeah, when we were out in the garden last night enjoying, uh...the night air. I was thinking of how lucky I was to have had kids with him. You, um, you think that could be it?"

"Maybe not."

The two women looked at Wesley. "Why do you say that?" asked the former refugee from Pylea.

The Watcher took another sip from his tea, before answering. "Well, I'm just remembering what you said happened, the last time you went to the realm of the Powers That Be. When that Metatron chap gave you your memories back. You did say that you remembered some things you couldn't remember before, yes?"

"Yeah, like the night of the Harvest," Cordy shrugged.

"What was the Harvest?" Fred asked her in confusion.

"Oh, that was when Buffy first moved to Sunnydale. I guess you could call it the first ever Scooby mission! The big boss guy of the bloodsuckers back then, with the way- unimaginative name of 'The Master', he was stuck in this abandoned church under the town; and some sort of force field or something was holding him in..."

Cordelia leaned forward, "So he sent this big steroid pumper-looking vamp to feed on the people at the Bronze. I was told later that every time he fed, that the Master got power from the killing, enough to try to get loose. I was brought up next to be killed, when Xander and the others broke in and fought them off," the former seer told the physicist.

"But I didn't remember it afterwards. I thought it was some kind of gang fight or something! Giles told me the next year that my brain couldn't handle the concept of vampires then, so it just forgot what it couldn't understand."

"And you said the same was true with your memories regarding Dawn?" Wes asked.

She nodded. "Yeah. Like, I remember one time Xander and I wanted to go see that movie 'Armageddon', but we ended up watching Dawn for Mrs. Summers instead. But now I can remember how we actually went to the movie, since Dawn wasn't really there. Hell, I even remember how Xander got jealous when I said Ben Affleck looked hot! It took two hours of making out in my bedroom, to get him to forget that I ever said that."

"I'll consult my books to see what I can come up with," Wesley sighed at the excess information. "But I think what happened to you up there, might be a very rare event. So finding any information on your, um, experience, might be hard to accomplish. You will tell me, if it happens again?" he looked at her.

"Of course, Wes," Cordy glanced down at her watch. "Damn. It's time for my little session with Alex! It still unnerves me that I have to be taught by a teenager." She moved to leave, but turned back. "Guys, how about we keep all this just between ourselves for now, okay?"

The other two both nodded their heads.



Michael moved back to join the others at the couch, his body language indicating that he was troubled by something.

"What's wrong, Michael?" Maria asked him, after seeing his face.

He just looked back towards Gunn, who by the weapons cabinet. "That guy - is definitely getting on my nerves. He just keeps looking at me! It's like he never saw an alien before."

"Well, he hasn't," Liz said with a shrug.

"But that Willow chick, she said they fought some space demon a few years ago. Something about it attacking crazy people?" Michael told her.

"And you believed her?" Kyle asked, surprised.

Michael nodded. "Hey, after she went all black-eyed on me and made me float ten feet off the ground? I was ready to believe whatever the hell she said."

They looked up, as Max came back into the lobby from the pool area. "How's Isabel doing?" Liz asked, right away.

The alien lowered his voice, so only the gang could hear his words. "Not good. She wants to get Alex to come home with us to Roswell for Christmas, but he'd have to stay in our parents' house and not go anywhere. I mean heck, he's dead to everyone there! Not to mention her feelings for him..."

Michael nodded grimly. "Yeah, even I can tell she still wants the guy. Having her first real boyfriend come back from the dead, and being married to a guy in Boston...and oh crap, he's going to be there in Roswell - isn't he?"


They all turned, when they heard the basement door open up. Out came Alex Whitman, and a sweat-soaked Cordelia. He came over to his friends, while she went for a cold water bottle from the fridge under the counter.

"My God, Alex," Maria exclaimed. "What the hell were you two doing down there? She looks like she just ran the Boston Marathon, twice!"

"It took a lot of her concentration just to do the little stuff," Alex told them, as he plopped down on the couch.

"Little stuff?" Max inquired.

"Yeah, I just had her practicing teleporting to various sides of the room, without the huge ritual she had to use the last time she did it."

"She can actually teleport?" Maria sat up, stunned.

"Oh, yeah," Alex told her with a shrug. "Someday, she'll be able to do it like without thinking. But up until now, it's all been reflex moves. Taking some anger out of that Connor guy, teleporting to find Xander, even stopping all those inter-dimensional bugs that infested this place..."

"Inter...what bugs!?" Kyle demanded.

"Yep, this place was swarming with 'em a few years ago."

"What did these bugs do?" Max asked, not sure he wanted to know the answer.

Alex shrugged. "Nothing big, really."

"Well, thank God," Maria said in relief.

"They only took over your body slowly like a parasite, and drank all your bodily fluids till there was nothing left. One guy actually collapsed into dust."

"Like what we saw a vampire does?"

Alex shook his head. "Nope. More like what happens, if you drop a hard chunk of baking flour from a fifth-storey window."

"OH MY GOD!" Maria cried out, looking like she might be sick.

"Alex, knock it off," Max ordered.

"What's going on?" Isabel then asked, as she came in from the pool area.


Cordelia grinned, as she heard Alex messing with his friends. <God, Xander and him are going to get along great. And speaking of Dweeb Boy, he's half an hour late!>

"Hey Fred," Cordy called out, leaning over the counter. "Has Xander called?"

Fred shook her head. "No, he..." they both looked when Xander came through the lobby doors. "...he's here."

Cordelia went right over to her intended, and kissed him. And it took her a long moment to realize, that he was not returning the kiss. She looked up to see a stunned look on her fiancés face, and so moved him over to the round couch. "Baby, what's wrong?"

Xander just stared off into the void as he answered, "Everyone wants they're pushing through funding for three more now, since it's out in the open..."

By now, everyone in the lobby was listening. "What are you talking about, Xander?" Cordelia asked again.

He turned to look at her. "The X-303...the Prometheus."

That piqued Max's interest. "They're making more of those spaceships? The one that's a replacement for the space shuttle fleet?"

Xander looked at him, still slightly stunned. It was obvious that he was just repeating a cover story, when he next spoke, "Yeah...replacing the shuttle, that's what they're other reason at all..."

Cordy grabbed his head, and turned it back towards her. "Xander, what is freaking you out so much? The fact that they're building more of those things?"

He shook his head, "No, no, that was always the plan. But...they've got names picked out for them now. The X-305 is the, uh, 'Columbia'. The X-306, that's the 'Francis R. Scobee'."

"Who?" Gunn asked.

"The mission commander of the shuttle 'Challenger'," Alex answered him.

"Wait a minute, Xander," Wes said. "The Prometheus from TV, that was the X-303. And you named the 305 and 306. What's the 304's name going to be?"

Without a word, Xander turned and opened the briefcase he had with him. The fact that he didn't normally carry one, instantly tipped Cordy off that something was going on. The woman then watched as he handed her a framed pencil-and-ink drawing of a Prometheus-class ship.

She saw the ID number on the bottom as the X-304, but what made her gasp was the same thing that had surprised Xander.

"Cordy, what is it?" Fred asked coming over.

Cordelia handed her the framed drawing of the ship. "It's the X-304...the 'Alexander Harris'," she said, stunned.

"What!?" Max yelled, as he grabbed the drawing.

Xander just kept looking at Cordelia. "There's actually gonna be a fricking starship named after me!?"

Chapter 3

Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Max Evans just looked at Xander in shock. "Who are you, and why do you have a spaceship like that named after you!?"

Alex came right up to them, "Cool it, Max. It's nothing you have to worry about. He just did what I hope I'd ever have had the guts to do, if I was in his place."

Michael joined in, "Nothing we have to worry about!? Oh man, these ships are to fight the Skins, aren't they? They're coming - that's why you built that first one, isn't it?"

Xander was starting to come out of his shock. "Um, yeah, that's it. We found out about those Skins from Alex a little while ago, so we just tossed a ship together out of some spare parts we found at a NASA garage sale!" he waved off their concerns, getting annoyed. "Besides, the Skins wouldn't stand a chance. We're still under the Treaty..."

"Uh, what treaty?" Isabel asked.

Xander looked up, seeing most eyes on him. The man cursed himself when he realized he'd said too much, "Oh...I, I meant how I just watched the History channel about the Versailles Treaty, that ended World War One. Really riveting stuff. Wasn't it just fascinating, Cordy?"

She saw the pleading in his eyes. "Oh, yeah, sure. I just know how you love all that old black and white war stuff. It was great, we should send away for a tape of it..."

"Uh-huh..." Max groaned. He was about to press the issue, when he saw the stern look on Alex's face. "Yeah, that damn History channel is so addictive, isn't it Michael?"

"Sure. I couldn't count how many times I was late for school because of it," Michael responded, rolling his eyes.

Xander shook his head. He couldn't believe he'd let that slip, but his mind was losing track of who knew what these days. Finally, he grabbed his new briefcase and stood. "Cor, could I see you in the office, alone?" He saw the aliens and their human friends looking at him. "Just boring old family things, ya know - personal stuff..."

"Sure, Xander," Cordy said, as he led her to the office and then closed the door behind them. Moments later, they watched as he closed the blinds to the office window as well.

That was the moment Connor, Kristen, Julie, and Tom came down carrying Erica and Kelsey.

They looked at the upset faces of the group of teenagers around the couches. "What'd we miss?"


"Okay, Xander. What the hell was all that about?" Cordelia asked him, as she took a drink from her water bottle.

He tried to ignore the question. "You know Cor, the covered-in-sweat look really makes you glow. It's kind of sexy."

She arched an eyebrow at him. "You're not trying to change the subject - are you now, you pervert?"

Xander covered his heart with his hands. "Me? Never. Sheesh, can't a man compliment his fiancé without getting grilled?" he asked innocently.

Cordelia just kept glaring at him, till he broke. "Oh, all right! You know I hate it when you do that..."

She flashed him a triumphant smile at her victory. "Good. Now talk."

"There's not much I can tell ya. And this is just between us, understand?"

"Of course, honey."

Xander sat on the edge of the desk. "Well, let's just say that if ET ever did want to phone home, then he'd have to look through one hugeass phone book to do it! It's a big galaxy out there, Cor. And it'd be stupid for us to think that we're the only planet that life sprang up on! And that's all I can say without doing massive time in a Federal prison, because if it's all the same to you I would like to be around to see our daughters grow up."

Cordy gave up, when she knew he wouldn't say anymore. "Okay, then why the briefcase? I know you don't have it just for the framed picture!"

"Oh, I almost forgot about that!" he said, quickly opening the case and fishing out a green file folder. "Here," the military officer told her, as he handed it to her.

"What's this?" the young woman asked, as she opened it. Then she looked up as she read the top page, her head shooting up sharply. "My medical records?!"

"Your new ones, anyway," Xander shrugged.

"New? But I haven't gone to a doctor in..." Cordelia stopped, as she looked the pages over. "Xander? There's about eight and a half months of hospital visits here, that I never went to!"

"Yeah. Figured it might be suspicious if you had a record of giving birth, but no doctor visits before that. To everyone else, you were pregnant for 9 months. And we also took a few things out, and kind of covered them up."

"Like what?"

"Well, your doctors thought you were kind of weird, what with a massive seizure in the middle of a street fair your first year out here? Plus, when your brain activity started to go nearly flat-line because of the visions! But don't worry. We still have all your full records at the base, if anything should happen."

Cordy frowned. "Why would you want to cover them up?"

"Cor, you said it yourself. You had divine intervention about getting your part on that show! When you become famous, do you really want Entertainment Tonight doing a cover story on your weird seizure - where a doctor swears she saw a huge flash of light coming from your hospital room?" he asked her.

She moved to her beloved, and gave him a deep kiss. "Guess not. Thank you, baby."

"Well, hey, that's kinda what we future husbands do..." Xander told her, as he looked at his now-wet shirt from her sweat.

Cordy looked at him playfully. "And I thought you liked me all sweaty..."

"I do, Cor, I do! But only when I help you get that way."

She wrapped her arms around his neck, moving in close again. "Well, if you play your cards right mister, tonight you might be able to do just that."

"Damn it, Cordy," the former Zeppo told her between kisses. "I'm starting to think that sooner or later, that I won't be able to keep up with you!"

They were interrupted by a knock on the door. "Xander? Cordelia? Are you both decent in there?" they heard Kristen ask through the door, with a bit of amusement in her voice.

Xander looked annoyed. "She already knows us too well."

Cordy stole one more quick kiss. "Yeah, and I blame you for that, mister!" she told him before she playfully smacked his arm. "Come on in, Kristen."

Kristen came in by herself. "Ah, there was something I wanted to talk to you two about."

Cordy interrupted her. "Well, talk to him for now. 'Cause I have got to take a shower, stat! As much as the dorkhead here likes me all sweaty, I need to stop smelling like a locker room." And with that, the former seer was out of the room.

Xander watched her go with a smile, before turning back to Kristen. "What did you want to talk to me about?" he asked, as he closed the door.

"Well, Xand, I was thinking..." but she stopped when the man held up his hand.

"Sorry, it's just I don't think I'll get another chance to do this..." he told her, as he went into the briefcase and pulled out a tan folder. Xander then moved to the file cabinets, and opened the C-D drawer.

The young Slayer watched, as he put the large folder back into its obvious place. "What's in there?"

"Oh, nothing. But let's keep it between us for now, okay?"

She nodded.

"Great, so what's on your mind?"


Room 236, Hyperion Hotel

Cordelia leaned her head under the showerhead, letting the shampoo rinse slowly out. Her mind was busy concentrating on how to ask Xander if it was okay to accept the offer she, Cerina, and Courtney had gotten a few days ago.

Well, maybe 'ask' was the wrong term, as the young woman was going to do it anyway; but she still wanted Xander's blessing.

Cordy leaned her body into the jet of hot water, as she thought about it. And that was when the vision of another life started...


"No way in hell, Xander! You're not going down there!" Cordelia yelled at him from the large couch in their third-storey apartment. "I'm due almost any day now, and you want to go play commando in some demon-infested underground lair?!"

Xander took her hand, as he kneeled down to be at eye level with her. "Cor, I gotta do this. They need me for the spell, I'm the heart guy. Buffy's the body, Giles is the mind, and Willow's the soul. I have to be there. Just like I was Key Guy last year, I guess I'm... Heart Guy this year."

She looked him in the eyes. "Xander Harris, you're an idiot. No, you're a lame idiot! But apart from that, you are the heart guy; you're my heart. And I don't want to see you get killed!"

Cordy then looked up at Tara, who was leaning on the kitchen counter. "Don't tell me you're actually letting Willow do this!?"

The blonde Wicca nodded slowly. "I, I...yes. It's what they do. You know, Scooby stuff."

Realizing she would get no help from her friend, Cordelia turned back to Xander. "For Pete's sake - most of your information about all this comes from Spike...Spike, Xander! He already sold you guys out to that ADAM thing, plus Buffy's GI Joke Guy is now missing in action. How can you possibly..."

"Cordy," the father of her unborn kids said softly. "I don't want to argue with you on this, baby, I swear. But ADAM has gotta be stopped. He's getting ready to make more...things like himself. And we can't let that happen. I won't let it. They would tear through this town, like it was nothing..."

The young man got very serious. "You didn't see what he did to that little boy, Cor - but I did. Just the thought of them coming out of there as an army, and coming after everyone in town...coming after you? I will not let that happen."

Cordelia saw that she wasn't going to be able to talk him out of it, so she slowly lifted her very pregnant body off the couch till she was standing upright. "You better not get hurt down there," the young mother-to-be pulled him close for a kiss. "I want my Zeppo back in one piece, understand?"

Xander hugged her tight. "I'll be okay, Cor, and ya know what? I'll be back before you know it..." He leant down and talked to her huge belly, "Daddy will be back soon, okay, you two in there?" Then he stood up and told her, "I love you, Cor."

Queen C gave him her patented thousand-watt cheerleader smile. "I love you too, dorkhead..." Then with that, Xander was out the door.

And as soon as he left, Cordy moved to the patio outside with Tara in close pursuit. They got to the railing, just in time to see Xander's car leaving the parking lot.

"I...I'm sure they'll be all right, Cordelia," Tara stuttered, as she saw Cordy start to tear up. She faintly heard her mumble something, "What was that?"

The brunette looked to her blonde friend, with tears falling. "He didn't say it! He didn't say it!"

Tara guided her to a plastic deck chair. "Yes he did, Cordy. just told him you loved him back..." she said, a little confused.

"No!! I don't mean that, Tara," Cordy replied, as she sat down slowly.

"Then what did you mean?"

The Wicca was surprised, when Cordy looked at her with almost pure joy. "When we were fighting demons back in high school, he would always run off into the battle, just like now. And he would always tell me the same thing; it was either Buffy or Willow, but he would tell me that he couldn't let them go in there alone. For a long time, I thought he would fight to the death for them. But not for me, never for me. And now, he's saying he's doing this to protect me!"

Tara grinned at her friend's reaction. She watched her for a few minutes, before the young college girl suggested, "How about we go back inside, Cordy? That plastic chair can't be comfortable for you..."

"No," the brunette told her firmly. "I'm not moving from this spot, till I see the big dork's car pull back into the driveway."

Tara then saw where the brunette was looking, and noticed a yellow school bus come to a stop. Out came two very young children; a boy and a girl, brother and sister most likely, and the women watched as they were greeted by their father at the bus stop.

Cordelia watched, as the man picked up the little girl in his arms and took the boy's hand as they walked back to the house. "He's coming back, Tara, he has to..." she whispered.


Cordelia Chase snapped out of her trance-like state. She then jumped back, when she realized the hot water had long since turned cold.

The woman opened the shower door, and grabbed the towel. With it wrapped firmly around her body, she walked into the room were her clothes lay on a chair.

But she ignored them and moved to the bed, sitting down trying to make sense of the vision she'd just had. <What the hell is going on!? I thought British Accent Supermojo Guy said I wasn't getting them anymore! Are the old Powers trying to mess with me?>

As Cordy sat there, she knew only one fact with absolute certainty. What she had seen, and done, and felt in that vision - it was all real.

<But I never met Tara in real life!> Angel and Wes had, but she'd never gotten the chance to do so...

Glancing at the alarm clock by the bed, Cordelia discovered she was running late for the picnic and would have to hurry or Xander might suspect something. She didn't like keeping secrets like this from him, it went completely against the agreement they had made when they got back together. But something inside her mind told her to keep silent.


The roof of the Hyperion Hotel

The Harris/Chase family was taking advantage of the unusually warm weather, for this time of year. With a large blanket and a big umbrella shading them from the sun, the four people were having a picnic.

Erica Harris was lying in the playpen, fast asleep, while her sister Kelsey was being held by her mother. Who in turn was laying her head in Xander's lap. And as Cordy ate another grape that Xander had just fed her, she looked down towards the baby girl in her arms...

"You see this, Kelsey? It's called male management. You've got to train them well, to get them to pamper you! And I have your daddy trained very well, don't I?" She lifted the child up, so she could rub her nose into the baby's tummy. "Yes, I do. Yes, I do!" she said in a baby-talk voice.

"Isn't it a little early for that, Cor? You keep going at this pace, and by the time they hit seven they'll be giving me pouty faces to get whatever they want," Xander shrugged.

Cordy flashed a huge grin up at him. "Well, of course they will, dummy! I'll train them real well. They'll have you totally wrapped around their little fingers, by then."

"Well. Then I guess I'll have to use the last defence a father has, against a daughter's pouting."

"And what is that, pray tell?"

"I'd tell them to go ask their mother. For everything."

She rolled her eyes at him. "Oh please, you will be so whipped as a father."

"Hey!" Xander said hotly. "I am not whipped. Not by you, and I will not be whipped by them either!"

"That's nice, honey. And Xander?"


"Grape," she said simply.

"Oh, right. Sorry." His hand reached out, grabbing one from the Tupperware bowl and plopping it in to her waiting mouth.

As she chewed, Cordy grinned. "Oh no, Xander. You're not whipped at all."

His face fell, as he looked at the baby in her arms. "Baby, Daddy's a real pushover - isn't he?" The little girl gave him a tiny laugh at that moment.

Cordy laughed too, as she saw Xander sigh and shake his head. She didn't bother to tell him that she was tickling the child's foot at the time, to cause Kelsey to laugh. "We'll go easy on Daddy, won't we Kelsey?" the young woman said again in baby-talk mode.

Xander got serious for a moment. "Hey, Cor, is everything okay?"

She looked at him. "What do you mean?"

" seemed a little out of it when you came up here. Anything going on?"

Cordelia quickly shook her head. "No, nothing major is going on. I...just had a weird dream last night."

Xander slowly moved his hand through her hair. "About what?"

Unfortunately for him, the one-time dreaded prosecutor of the ugly and unfashionable knew exactly what to say to stop his curiosity. "It was about clowns. Lots of them. They kept running around the circus ring..."

"Whoa! Okay! Clowns, evil. Next topic..." He then saw her grin. "What?"

"Oh, nothing," Cordelia answered innocently.

Xander groaned. "You're planning to have clowns at the girls' first birthday party, aren't you?"


Shaking his head, Captain Harris told her, "You're a cruel, cruel woman, you know that?"

"Why, Xander! You know I would never be cruel to you..." Then in a sultry voice she whispered, "That is, unless you want me to be."

The young man quickly covered Kelsey's ears with his hands. "Hey! No mommy and daddy sex talk in front of the girls!" After a moment he added, "But you know, we did have great make-up smoochies after we were cruel to each other..."

She nodded in agreement. Then, "Grape."

He dropped another into her mouth.

"You know, Xander, there is one thing I wanted to talk to you about."


"Well, it's something I'm thinking of doing, but I wanted your blessing beforehand," she told him carefully.

His interest piqued, Xander asked, "What is it?"

Cordelia repositioned Kelsey in her arms, before she spoke. "Well...they want us to do some promo work, like interviews and stuff. For the show."

"Why would you need my okay to do some interview?" he asked, confused.

"Well, for the magazine they have pictures along with the interviews."

"So? Oh, what magazine? TV Guide? People?"


"Then what?"


Xander' eyebrows shot up. "As in hold-your-boobs-in-the-picture Maxim?"

Cordelia shook her head, "Nothing that revealing. But they want all three of us from the show, to do a layout for the February issue."

"February? Wait up - they'd have to do the photo shoot fairly soon then, wouldn't they?" He then looked at her closely. "You've already agreed to it, haven't you? You're just asking me to inflate my ego a bit, aren't you?"

"Maybe," the young mother of two said playfully.

Xander couldn't help a grin. "When's the shoot? And do you know what kind of theme they want to do?"

"It's on the 22nd. And they're going for three sexy secret agents in leather, last I heard. But don't worry, I won't be in anything worse than my princess costume. And I plan on wearing the ring in them," Cordy said with a shrug. "Cerina has done shoots twice with these guys, and she says they turn out great."

Xander eyed his betrothed for a second. "Will I at least get an autographed copy, Ms. Chase? As a collector's item, of course."

"My God, you are so transparent Xander Harris!!" she laughed at him. "Don't worry; we're going to be on the cover as well. And Cerina says they let you have a poster-sized copy of it, if you make the cover. And yes, I will autograph it for you!"

Xander smiled. "Good! I can frame it, and put in our new office at home. As...your first magazine cover."

Laughing at him more, Cordy whispered, "Or so when you have people in the office, you can point to it and tell 'em that's your wife."

"I would never do anything like that!" he protested.

"Sure you wouldn't..." the former seer said, before she reached up and pulled his head down for a kiss.

"Well, okay then..." Xander said playfully, giving her his blessing.

"Thanks, honey."

He just laughed a bit, for a while longer.



"Grape!" she commanded in her most imperious voice.

Chapter 4

Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Hours later, all of the gang had gathered together. Cordelia, Angel, Wesley, Lorne, Fred, and Gunn watched as Xander, Connor and Kristen put on their jackets. Then Cordelia grabbed her intended around the waist and pulled him to her; and giving him a quick kiss, she began to say, "See you tonight, sweetheart. And remember..."

He cut her off with a roll of his eyes, "I know, Cor. Only the basement. Don't touch any of the other rooms. You have a professional coming in after the holidays, to decorate the place."

Cordy gave him a patented Queen C smile. "See, I do have you trained! That was so easy," she giggled.

The young man shook his head, "Not really. Some of it is still kinda left over from high school..."

Then Xander leaned into the large playpen their daughters were in, playing with brightly covered items hanging from a mobile. He tickled them both fondly for a minute, before waving goodbye and the three were out the door.


As Xander, Kristen and Connor walked towards the car, his cell phone rang. "Hello?" the military officer said, after hitting the 'Send' button.

"Hey there, cutie," came the soft, female voice on the other end.

Then came the annoyed voice of Amy Madison, "Will you knock it off!? Xander, I swear this hologram is really getting on my nerves!"

As they pulled away from the curb, Xander hit the speaker button on the cell phone so he could talk and drive. "Don't worry, Amy, she grows on you. You got everything you need?"

"Yeah, keys and supplies. You sure this Dennis guy won't go all 'Poltergeist' on me?" came her slightly worried voice.

"Don't worry," Xander told her with a smile. "I told him what was going on, and showed him your picture. Only thing I'm wondering, if he was able to keep this a secret from Cordy..."

"Okay, then. I'll, uh, drop the orb off at the mansion in a few hours, after I do the spell. Then I'm off to South Dakota, to see my dad."

"Thanks. It's a shame you can't come to the party to see the old gang, ya know?"

The new operative for the U.S. Air Force laughed on the other end of the line. "Trust me, Xander; I'm not exactly on Buffy's list of favorite people. Not after what happened with Dawn, when I was de-ratted a few years ago. Man, though, I just wish I could see their faces when you tell them I'm working with you! At least I get a semi-cute guy as my team leader; but being called DC2 as a team, that's just totally stupid..."

"I thought Vince had a name picked out for your team?"

"Oh yeah, sure he has. He wants us to be called the Tornadoes! I guess it was his high school football team's name or something; I just thank God it wasn't the Razorbacks here..."

Xander winced. "Yikes. That name doesn't sound like it'll strike fear in anybody, does it?"

Amy sighed. "Well, I'm thinking I can change his mind."

"Amy - don't rough him up too much, he's got a thing going that, ah...might surprise you," Xander told her slowly.

"Such as?"

"Well, um, just don't challenge him to a sword-fight anytime soon. Wouldn't want you to lose your head or anything..."


As she watched her fiancé and the others leave, Cordelia moved and sat up on the counter. She decided to sit Indian-style, and then leant against the wall leading to the office; "I had another vision," she commented vaguely.

"So soon?" Wes asked.

Cordelia nodded, as Angel looked confused. "But I thought you're not supposed to get them anymore?" the vampire asked.

Wesley looked at Cordelia, who simply nodded her head. The Watcher then described what she'd told him and Fred about her dream, along with the part where he thought they came from.

"Wait up," Gunn said at once. "So this dream, or vision, or whatever the hell it was - it happened in the other timeline? The first one, where y'all moved back to your old hometown?"

"Yeah. And I'm guessing so did the one I had a few hours ago, in the shower."

"Ah, yes? What happened in this one?" Wes asked, getting interested.

Cordelia told them all about her latest vision slash dream. Ten minutes later, she could see the wheels spinning in Wesley's head as he thought about it. "So, Wes, any ideas about what the hell's going on? You figured out any way to stop this, already?" she asked quietly.

Wesley thought for a moment. "Well, not yet. And, um, the only thing I can think of is that in both episodes, you were doing the same thing."

"And that was what?" she asked him in total confusion.

"Basically, you were worried about Xander. About what his reaction would be to you being pregnant, and then fearing for his life."

"Well, I'd say his reaction to the pretty pregnancy was positive," Lorne spoke up. "And call me Kolchak Jr. here, but you two seemed very close in the second one."

"Maybe..." Angel began, but stopped.

"Maybe what?" Cordy asked him.

Angel looked a little nervous about saying what was on his mind. "Well, as Wes said a few minutes ago, you can remember stuff better now. Maybe your subconscious is worrying about you and Xander?'s your mind's way of telling yourself to slow down a bit. I mean, uh, you are moving a lot faster with him than you ever did with the Groosalugg. You and Xander are already living together..."

Cordelia shook her head. "Well...all right, I admit with Groo it was different. It was...mostly physical."

Angel looked at her. "And it's not with Xander? Cordy, no offense, but lately you two have been all over each other..."

"We are not all over each other!" Cordy stated firmly, but then sighed. "Okay, so we're a little...frisky. But it's more than just sex, you guys! We're a family now. Xander, and me, and the girls! It's what it was meant to be, and finally been brought about. Like in the first timeline..."

"Cordy," Angel sighed. "This isn't the first timeline now, you know that. We're in what, the third one? That's what that mystery girl told Xander, right? You've grown up a hell of a lot since you moved out here; and maybe...just've, you've outgrown Xander."

The former seer looked at the souled vampire, very surprised. "Angel? What exactly are you saying to me?"

"All I'm saying is the old Powers That Be used you, and took over your life with the visions. So how do we know that this Metatron guy isn't doing the exact same thing? We all heard him; everyone's destines are totally screwed up. You shouldn't marry Xander, just because he told you to..."

Cordelia sat up straight, and gave him a Look. "Angel? He didn't tell me to marry Xander. I decided to do that later, out of my own free will! I was thinking about it, even before we left for Vegas - and then after we had a talk there, I made up my mind to do it. I proposed to him."

The woman sighed as she continued, "And let me tell you Angel, Xander has grown up a lot as well. He's a hell of a lot more mature now, than he ever was before. He doesn't even hide behind his lame jokes as much as he used to."

"Yeah, but what about his failed wedding?" Angel persisted in pursuing the topic of conversation.

Cordy shook her head, dismissing that. "It was never meant to be. Anymore than me and Groo..."

And yet, still Angel kept playing Devil's advocate. "So what? We've stopped dozens of prophecies and legends from coming to pass, and that alone should prove that just because something is supposed to happen - that doesn't mean it's set in stone. Xander shouldn't get a Get Out of Jail Free card on that, just because it wasn't meant to be! I mean, can you see yourself married to him in ten years? Twenty? I saw what happened to you the last time; I just don't want to see you get hurt again."

"Angel..." Cordy began, trying to control her emotions. "Lemme put it like this. I saw myself married to Xander at some point in my life, during junior year and part of senior year in high school. In fact, I might still have my old notebooks that have I heart Xander written all over them. The idea of us getting married, therefore, isn't the shocker that it appears to be for you!"

Her tone then got deadly serious, "And just for the record here? Don't you ever again bring up his crappy past with regards to me and Anya! The past is the past, and he's still carrying around too much guilt about that. And I've been doing my best to help him get over it, already..."

Cordelia held up her hand to silence his rebuttal, "You don't see the look in his eyes, when we talk about what happened in high school. Angel, you of all people should know what a lot of guilt can do to a man! And if you don't believe me, ask Lorne here. He read it in him."

Everyone looked at the empath demon as he slowly nodded, then Cordy continued, "And let me also mention that there is no way in hell I'm gonna let him be consumed by that guilt anymore. He is not going to fall apart here, not on my watch! I can tell you that..."

She closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall, before stating, "When he was...when I thought Xander was gone forever...I honestly thought I was going to lose my mind. I would have done anything - almost literally anything - to get him back! And since now, by a miracle, that he's back...we are going to do nothing but make up for lost time here."

Cordy groaned, "And he's not the only one who feels guilt about what happened in high school, let me add! I have some major issues about stuff that I screwed up as well."

"Like what?" Angel asked, surprised.

The brunette looked at the man who had saved her life countless times, "Angel, you might not wanna hear this..."

"Tell me," he said simply.

A sigh. "For one thing, I kept telling him that I was ashamed of making out with him. He'd want to go out on dates instead of just making out in the closet, and you know what I told him? I just looked at him in shock, and asked why the hell I would want to be seen with him in public! I treated him like crap, I ordered him around nonstop..."

Cordelia stopped, as she thought about it. "Come to think of it, though, I think he sometimes liked being ordered around by me."

Another sigh. "Plus, when our little secret came out, what did I do? I yelled at him! I thought he went around bragging. Then the biggest screwup I ever made was when I dumped him that Valentine's Day! I still have the memory of his face as he walked away, totally etched in my mind. I dumped him, just because of what some airheads thought of him!? Angel, I went home right after that and cried my damn eyes out. And then when he wanted the necklace that he'd given me back, that really hurt. But it hurt more with what he said, when he asked me to hand it over."

"What did he say, Cordy?" Fred asked in genuine interest.

She looked at her friends, with her eyes watering. "He said that he didn't want to add to the Cordelia Chase castoff collection! He thought he meant nothing more to me than those asshole jocks I dated. The fact that I made him think that..." Cordy choked up.

After a few seconds she started again, "And after I caught Xander with Willow that day, I wondered that if I'd told him that I loved him then, instead of caring what Harmony and the others thought...that maybe he wouldn't ever have gone anywhere near her. It's damn unlikely, I know, but still possible! And even today I still don't know the answer to that question, and sure as Hell is burning beneath us I'm too damn scared to ask him."

The conversation stopped when the lobby doors opened, and allowed Buffy and Willow to enter. Both were looking tired, and had backpacks. Then the two women quickly threw the carryalls down onto the round couch, and moved over to the crowd of people.

Willow saw the look that passed between the LA crowd and asked, "Are we interrupting something?"

"No," Cordelia quickly stated to the two new arrivals. "Just boring business stuff. How's the old home town?"

Buffy sighed, "Good, nearly all of the demon nests are cleared out. God, I wish we could have had the army's help a few years ago! Most of 'em left by themselves, actually; with the Hellmouth the way it is now, I guess the lure of Sunnydale just isn't what it used to be."

"But it will still be a while before people are allowed back in, I take it?" Wesley asked.

"Yeah," the redhead answered. "The National Guard has begun moving out stuff from peoples' homes, that were damaged beyond repair. Guess they don't want complaints about demon looters in the papers..."

The Slayer let out a rush of breath. "Oh, almost forgot Cordy," Buffy looked to the brunette.


"I'm sorry, but the Chase family mansion back home was hit pretty bad. A Black Hawk 'chopper crashed onto the driveway, during the battle," the Slayer told her.

Cordelia's eyebrows shot up. "You're kidding me."

"Nope, and it seems like a group of vamps were using it even before that. They found a few bodies in the biggest bedroom on the second floor," Willow then told her.

Cordy jumped off the counter in surprise. "But that was my room!"

Willow nodded, "Yeah, guess you should be glad you moved out when you did."

As Cordy got a sick look on her face, Buffy remembered something else. "Oh, yeah, Spike sends his apologies - but he's having way too much fun in town being a demon expert, leading the Army around for now. So, he's going to miss your and Xander's Christmas party tomorrow," the blonde said.

Cordelia angled her head, as she cocked an eyebrow. "Well, then I guess it's good that Spike can't make it."

This caused Buffy to get very confused. "Why is him not be able to come a good thing?"

Cordelia's face became deadly serious. "Because he was never invited. Neither to the party, or into our home. Plus, if I can help it, he'll stay as far away from my daughters as possible."

Buffy looked at Willow, completely confused. "But why, Cordy? He's great with kids. He's looked after Dawn just fine, in the past..."

The taller woman got a nasty look. "Yeah, so he could get his shot at getting into your pants! Guess it worked too, huh?"

This severely angered the blonde Slayer. "What the hell is the matter with you, Cordelia!? Spike has a soul now..."

But Buffy was totally unprepared for Cordelia's comeback. "Well, whoopee! Sorry to burst your bubble, but that doesn't mean jack Buffy."

"What?!" the most successful Slayer spluttered out, as the others started to give the two women plenty of room. "How can you be so damn hypocritical? Your best friend is a vampire with a soul! But now that there's another one, Spike isn't good enough?!"

"Spike and Angel are two very different people, Buffy. Angel feels guilt over what Angelus did. But apparently, newly souled Spike could care less! I mean, does the name Nikki Wood mean anything here? Yeah, I heard about her..."

Buffy looked uncomfortable, remembering an 'incident' one time with Principal Wood. Cordelia went on though, "It's like, Spike has a great track record doesn't he? How many times did he sell you guys out? I mean, not counting the time he really tried to screw you all over with ADAM..."

"That's different, he..." Buffy tried to interrupt.

But Cordelia kept going. "My opinion? The only reason he joined up with you guys way back when, was because of the fact that the chip had defanged him. Bottom line is, he stayed there only to save his own ass! I mean, how much did Giles have to pay him to help out? Like that time he got turned into a demon? How much did Spike charge to help the man that some of us consider a second father? And who helped Dawn find out she was the damn Key? And do I really have to bring up what he did, before he left town for Africa?!"

Buffy stood her ground. "All of that was before he got his soul back, God damn it!"

The young mother groaned. "And again I say, so? The difference between Angel and Angelus is like night and day, Buffy. What's the difference between pre-souled Spike, and Soul Boy Mark II? Did he or did he not make all his normal death threats, when he was here last? Did you enjoy listening to his tales about the, and I quote, 'good old killing days'?"

Cordelia only stopped to take a breath. "He could kill dozens of people now, and only feel bad about it when you find out! Just so you know - if he ever, and I mean ever, loses that chip and becomes a danger to my friends or family...he'll end up hog-tied on the hotel's roof, as the sun comes up."

And the former cheerleader added as an afterthought, "What the hell, it was even basically his fault that I ever got impaled on that damn rebar in the first place!"

Buffy then got big laugh at her last statement. "No, Cordy, sorry to burst your bubble - but it was because of Xander that you got impaled! He was the one that cheated on you, Spike had nothing to do with that. Don't blame him for Xander's..."

Before anyone could stop her, or Buffy could finish her assertion - Cordelia closed the distance between them, grabbed her by the neck and pressed the Slayer up against the wall.

Buffy's eyes went wide, when she realized that she couldn't get out of the other woman's grip - along with the fact that Cordelia was slightly glowing with what was, by the look on her face, anger.

She glared at Willow, as the redhead came to try to separate them; then she leaned into Buffy, "Understand this, Slayer. I don't give a damn that just because you're sleeping with him, you feel that you have to twist the facts around to help him out or make him look better in your eyes. But the truth is I went into that factory, for one reason only. To find my boyfriend! The one that Spike had kidnapped! Spike was the one that had nailed Xander on the head a few times, nearly killing him or making him a cripple, just to scare Willow here!"

The enraged woman turned to the Wicca, who was trying to come up with something to say to calm Cordy down. "And Willow? What exactly were you doing, when Spike kidnapped you and Xander?"

"Ah, well, um, getting ready for a spell," the witch answered nervously.

"What type of spell? Exactly?!"

" to make me and Xander stop..."

Cordy turns her head to Buffy. "You hear that? They were trying to do a damn spell to stop...whatever it was they had between them! And I know Xander well enough to think that he most likely would have told me everything, after they'd done that spell. I could tell something was bothering him back then, but I was too caught up in other things to notice just how bad it was..."

Cordelia's eyes went so dark, they were almost black. "Xander still feels guilty about me getting impaled then, but I KNOW THE TRUTH. It was all Spike's fault that any of us were ever there that night! And I will not let you add onto Xander's guilt by accusing him of it again, ever. Are we clear on this!?"

Buffy could only nod her head in mute shock.

At her nod, Cordy released the Slayer and turned to one of her extended family, gesturing towards the twins. "Fred, can you take over for me here? I need to get some air..."

Fred was already moving towards the playpen. "Sure, Cordy."

With those words, Cordelia stormed out into the hotel's garden, leaving some very stunned people behind her.

Chapter 5

Los Angeles, California. Best Buy store

Gavin Booth had a collection basket in both hands, and they were filled with DVDs, X-box games and the various cords that would be needed for them all. He watched his C.O. looking over the list in his hand, and sighed.

"Okay, the last one that Cordy wanted is the IT movie," Xander told him.

"IT?" Gavin asked in confusion.

"Yeah. It's that Steven King flick. It freaked us both out, and we lived on a Hellmouth!"

A moment later, Connor and Kristen came back down the aisle. "Can't forget this one," Kristen said, as she dropped a movie into a basket.

Xander looked over. "Bridges of Madison County?"

Kristen nodded. "Hey, it was a good movie!"

Connor was looking at the aisle markers. "What are action-adventure movies?"

Both Xander and Gavin gave him horrified expressions, and looked at the now-nervous Kristen. "I thought you were going to have Tom explain 'guy' things to him?" Xander asked his former protéé

Kristen squirmed a little. "Well...I kinda forgot to ask him to. And Connor has gotten along fine in this world, without knowing about a lot of...things."

The black man looked at the miracle child. "Well, kid, action-adventure movies are where things tend to get blown up a lot - and if it's a cop movie, you'll also have a few people saying stuff like, 'I'm getting too old for this shit'. Plus, at least one under-dressed female sidekick," Gavin shrugged.

"Please, guys!" Kristen pleaded. "If he gets into that, then it won't be long till he starts to burp out the alphabet and wolf-whistle at girls walking down the street!"

Xander shook his head. "Sorry, Kristen. But it's part of the guy code. We have to rescue any lost men, from the evil clutches of having to watch the Bridges of Madison County." He turned to Gavin. "We could take him to Hooters..."

"NO!" Kristen yelled instantly.

As both the US Air Force operatives laughed, Xander remembered something. "Hey, we should get Armageddon. Cordy likes that one..." he said, as the man then reached over and grabbed it off the shelf.

This caused Connor to ask in alarm, "What? We have an Armageddon? Another one?"

Xander held up the DVD case. "Yep. We have an Armageddon, with previously deleted scenes and an Aerosmith music video."

This caused Connor's confused face to return, giving Xander a big laugh. Kristen tried to change the subject, "So Xander, did you talk to Cordy about Julie?"

"Yeah, I did," the former Zeppo told her, as he skimmed the new release section.

"And?" the Slayer prompted.

As Xander looked at the back of a DVD he replied, "She had no problem with it. April's doing the background check, even as we speak."

"Background check?!" Kristen exclaimed. "Why would you need to..."

Xander tried to calm her down. "Kristen? Name me anyone who would hire a live-in nanny these days, without doing a background check."


Hyperion Hotel Garden

Gunn found Cordy tossing pebbles into the fountain, in the middle of the garden. "Hey girl, you okay?"

She tossed another pebble into the water. "And here I figured it would be Buffy or Willow coming out, to see if I'm evil or something."

Gunn chuckled. "Well, Angel kinda put a stop to the 'is she possessed?' questions. He dragged Buffy into the office. And I think you scared the crap out of that Willow girl..."

This brought a big smile to Cordy's face.

Gunn said with a shrug, "Just so ya know, I'm giving up trying to figure out you guys' feelings. One minute you're all this big team, the next you're at each other's throats! Mind telling me what all the big fuss is about? I get that you want to protect Xander, but grabbing the chick and pinning her against the wall is kinda going a little overboard..."

Cordy giggled, as she sat next to her friend on the stone bench. "It goes back a long way."

Gunn shrugged, "I've got time."

"All right. Look, you remember what you called me once, when you first knew me?" she asked him.

"What, you mean the stick-figure Barbie crack?"

"Yeah. A lot of people made that mistake with me. Even the ones that were my friends. Hell, even my family thought I was just an airhead! So I pretty much played the part. Sometimes, even *I* thought I was a bimbo..."

The woman looked at him. "Do you know, I once had a conversation with the rest of the popular girls in high school about lipstick...that lasted for three hours?"


"Yeah," Cordelia agreed with him. "Gunn, thing is - there are moments in your life that people say change you forever. Kissing Xander in that basement, was that for me. Like someone said recently, both of us - we had to grow up fast in a few short years. But Buffy and Willow..."

"Yeah, what's with them?" Gunn asked. "When they first came here a couple of months ago, when that fake Skip said Xander was being brainwashed by the evil guys, those two chicks had this huge 'I told ya so' attitude. Then after his little resurrection, they acted like they were jealous of the guy or something. Now it's back to, "it's all Xander's fault"?"

"I don't know if I can fully explain it," the former Queen C told him with a sigh. "To Buffy and Willow, I think - I think that to them, Xander is just playing demon fighter. Like a kid, playing dress-up."

"What?!" Gunn asked, shocked. "But that makes no sense! Even last year when he was here helpin' us out with Wolfram & Hart - boy made plans, and kicked major ass. He took out a SWAT team of theirs that tried to kill Wes, for God's sake! And that was before he even got those funky powers. So why the hell would they think that?"

"First impressions are kinda hard to get rid of, I guess. And I hate to break it you, Gunn, but my money says they think that about me, too. Next time you talk with them, bring up a time when I fought vamps or demons...I'll bet they won't believe you, at first. Unless you also mention I ran screaming from the room..."

The woman stared at her friend, right in the eye. "As far as they're concerned, they're the only true fighters around here...well, apart from Angel and Spike of course. The rest of us are the...the groupies," Cordelia said slowly, shaking her head.

Gunn still wasn't a believer. "How the hell could they get such big egos? Okay, Slayer and a witch, but so what?"

That brought a tiny smile to Cordy's face. "Deep down, in my opinion Buffy Summers is an insecure glory hound. It's as simple as that. She was the basic model 'valley girl bimbo' here in LA, then the Slayer thing happened and she suddenly becomes important...over the years it went to her head, big-time."


The brunette nodded. "She used to always bitch about how she just wants a normal life, but I know Buffy gets off on having the world counting on her. One time we thought she'd lost her powers, around her 18th birthday? She was helpless. She hated it, and would have done almost anything to get them back..."

Gunn shrugged. "What about the other one?"

"Willow? She went from a shy nerd, to being a Wiccan. First few years though, she could only do a few tricks; you know, what it'd take to get her a spot on a David Copperfield special. But somehow, it made her and Buffy into the Wonder Twins. When Xander didn't get any super powers, he went from their best friend to their Jimmy Olsen."

The former gang leader couldn't help laughing, "Jimmy Olsen, huh?"

"Don't laugh, it happened! I know, because one time I called Xander on it...anyway, Buffy and Willow were the heroes and Xander was the sidekick who got snacks. They even hid things from him on occasion, sometimes they wouldn't tell him about the Scooby meetings and leave him out of stuff..."

Her voice mimicked Willow's, "But Xander, we just don't want to see you get hurt..."

All this was making less and less sense to Gunn. "He was there from the beginning and helped out the entire time, and they just pushed him aside to protect him? No way would that have happened in the Lost Boys. He'd have been one of our group leaders by then, no question. But how does that explain the "it's all his fault" stuff?"

"Oh, now that's easy," Cordelia cocked her head. "It has to do with the Big Lie."


"Angel lost his soul a few years ago. It couldn't have been helped; none of us knew about the happiness clause back then. And Buffy couldn't slay Angelus, since he had Angel's face."

"But Angel has always said if he turns bad we stake him. No if, ands, or buts, we just do it." Gunn said.

Cordelia nodded, but decided to ignore that. "Well, at the end of the school year Angelus was going to destroy the world. It came down to trusting that Willow, who'd just come out of a coma, could do the spell to re-ensoul him, and Buffy being able to fend off Angelus until then."

"What exactly happened?" Gunn asked. He'd never heard the entire story, and really wanted to know.

Cordy said in a monotone, "Xander didn't trust that it would work, so he didn't tell Buffy about the spell when he was sent out to do so. Whether it was the right thing to do or not, I don't know. And whether his real reason for doing it was saving the world or wanting Angel to pay for everything he'd done, that's also a pretty grey area..."

She sighed again. "The bottom line is right before Buffy was going to send Angelus to Hell to close the portal...the spell worked, and she had to send Angel to Hell instead. She and Willow think that Buffy could have prevented that, if she'd known the spell was going to be tried - but personally, I don't see how it would have gone down any differently."

The woman recounted the various details to her friend, "Buffy on the run accused of murder, Willow in a coma, Giles tortured, Kendra killed, Xander with a broken arm..."

"And you?"

Cordelia shook her head in disgust. "It was just another moment on the Hellmouth for me. Xander had just gotten his arm snapped, but still he was able to throw some vamp onto the one that was coming for yours truly. He yelled for me to run, and I did."

"You ran?" Gunn asked, not fully believing it.

"Oh yeah. I felt ashamed of myself, when I found them in the hospital later. I ran like a little girl! That was one of the reasons I came out here to LA, you know. I was always something. Someone's daughter, or someone's girlfriend. I wanted a chance to find out who Cordelia Chase really was. But still...going by myself to a huge city like LA, totally on my own? I'd toyed with the idea of asking Xander to come with me. But I knew he wouldn't have done it."

"What makes you so sure?" Gunn demanded. "The guy said he never stopped loving you..."

Her expression grew bitter. "I knew he wouldn't have come, because Buffy and Willow were staying in Sunnydale. He wouldn't leave them. When we were dating, I thought Xander was always running off to help them because he had the hots for them, or something. But a bit before Graduation, I had a chance to talk to a friend of my older sister. He was a psych major..."

She continued, "I told him how Xander had this big thing about protecting them, even when they shut him out and made him feel like crap. Right away, he asked if Xander's home life was abusive. I told him as much as I knew, at the time. See, Xander's dad wasn't the nicest man around, if you can even call him a man..."

Cordy stopped and looked at Gunn. "And you're never to repeat this to anyone, all right?"

Gunn agreed, "Of course."

"Well, he just said Xander was doing transference onto Buffy and Willow. He thought Xander was angry with himself, for not standing up to his father when he was younger; that he felt worthless. And by protecting those two that he was redeeming himself, even unconsciously."

The black man was puzzled. "I still don't get it."

She smirked, "It seems that Xander didn't think I needed protection. He thought I could take care of myself. I found out later when I was upstairs, getting the 'this was your life' spiel, that there was a little more to it than that. But lucky me, he now feels the guilt about both me and Anya."

Cordelia then looked a little hopeful, "That's why I'm so glad that Xander has this new team of his. And that Buffy and Willow are going back to Sunnydale, and then off to who knows where to fight evil. Xander will be away from them; he'll get the chance to be his own man, and not a Scooby or a sidekick. He was stuck in their shadow, for far too long."

Gunn patted her on the back. "From what I've seen, he's doing fine on his own. And he's got you to keep him in line now, if he gets a big ego."

"You really think so?"

"Hell, yeah. He's saved the day a few times now. With no Slayer or redhead, anywhere to be seen. He..." Gunn stopped, when his cell phone rang.

He checked the screen. "It's Rondell."

"Your friend who's leading your old gang?" she asked.

"Yeah," he told her, and answered the phone. "Rondell, man, what's up?" Gunn then jumped up, as he listened. "Say what?!" he shouted. "Yeah, sure man. I'm on my way..."

As he put his phone away, Cordy looked at him. "What? Did something bad happen?"

Gunn had a shell-shocked look on his face, as he shook his head. "I think your boy just got put on the Lost Boys' Christmas card list..."

"What?! Why?"

"Three military trucks just pulled up to our base. Full of MREs, medical supplies. Plus, a whole bunch of mattresses and clothes! Couple of Air Force people said that one Captain Harris thought my unit needed field requisitions," he told her. "Damn, you didn't know anything about this?"

She shook her stunned head. "No. He must have thought I couldn't keep it a secret, the big jerk..."

A few moments later they went back into the lobby, and noticed a new person present. Cordelia went right over to him, "Giles!" she exclaimed, as she hugged him.

"Ah, ah, it's good to see you again as well, Cordelia," Giles said with a smile, as they hugged.

Cordelia saw Buffy and Willow standing in surprise, watching them. "Well, I was on a bit of an emotional roller coaster when you were last here last time. Off in my own little world, or whatever..."

Giles shrugged. "You had a lot to deal with at the time, so think nothing of it." He looked around, "Now, where are my grandchildren?" the British man asked somewhat jokingly, as he picked up a Toys 'R Us bag. "I have to do the spoiling part now, y'know..."

She led him around the counter to the playpen with Lorne and Fred, babbling baby talk to the girls. And soon Giles was engrossed with the other two adults, playing with the babies.

Cordelia watched it all, with a huge smile plastered on her face. All was right in the world, she felt as she watched.

Well, that is until Buffy pulled her over to the corner with Willow. "What did he mean, by 'his grandchildren'?"

Cordelia sighed. <Great, Buffy's possessive now.> "It's real simple. Both Xander and I think of Giles as our real father. He raised us both, a lot more than our own biological parents did..."

She saw their looks and sighed, yet again. "Buffy, you had a mom who loved you and Dawn. And Willow, you got along okay with your parents, except maybe when your mom tried to burn you at the stake..."

The redhead looked away at that, but Cordelia kept going. "Xander and I didn't have that. He got abused, and I just got handed a Gold card and a pat on the head. It doesn't mean he won't be the same, for any children you two ever have - and hell, if you guys ever do have kids, they'll be more like cousins to the girls than friends..."

Gunn threw on his jacket and was headed out the door, when three people came in. Three people that caused Cordelia to visibly cringe.

Her blood family. Her parents and her sister.

Jules Chase looked at Gunn. "Excuse me, Is Cordelia Chase staying here?"

Gunn bristled at the looks he was getting from the three new arrivals. But he finally turned back, "Hey, Cordy!" he called. "You got company..." Then he felt the older woman's eyes on his back, as he left.

The three Chases made no friends with the black man that day.

Angel and the others watched, as Cordelia squared her shoulders and took a deep breath, then came out from around the counter. "Mom, Dad, and Cassandra as well. To what do I owe the honor of this visit?" she asked, with a touch of venom in her voice. "As if I didn't already know..."

Her parents and older sister ignored her tone. "Cordelia, dear!" her mother said, as she politely hugged her. "Your father and I have just gotten back from our stay in Paris..."

Cordelia shook her head, as she had no intention of playing this little charade. "Oh, is that what they're calling the prison in Stockton now?"

Jules Chase frowned. "Cordelia honey, please. We cleared up that little error years ago..."

"Error?" Cordelia asked, innocently. "So, all the stuff that the IRS yanked out of my room is in a truck outside?"

Cassandra tried to change the subject when she went up to Angel, "Why, hello there. You're one of Cordy's friends from Sunnydale, aren't you?" she asked seductively.

Angel just nodded, stone-faced as Cordelia looked at her sister in disgust. "Oh, of course you remember him! You asked him out, several times. I wonder what Roger would have to say about that?"

Cassandra Chase looked to her younger sister with mild surprise. "What's the matter with you? I'm just chatting with an old friend. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

"There is when he's an old friend of mine, not yours!"

"Cordelia, dear? There's no need for you two to fight over boys again like when you were teenagers," their mother said. "Now, I hear you've neglected to inform us of some new additions to the Chase family?"

Cordelia sighed; she looked across the counter to Giles and Wesley, and nodded. Moments later, they brought over Erica and Kelsey.

"Oh my, they're just the most precious little things! Aren't they, Cassandra?" Mrs. Chase asked her eldest, as she saw the two baby girls.

Mr. Chase took more notice of Wesley and Giles. "And who are these friends of yours, Cordelia?"

"Mom, Dad, Cassandra. Meet Wesley and Giles..." She threw a dig at her father in on a whim. "Grandpa Giles, actually."

Jules Chase looked between Wesley and Giles. Then he jumped to the wrong conclusion, "Wesley, is it?" he asked, extending his hand.

Wesley shook it with his free hand. "Yes?"

"I must say, Cordelia, this is much better than I could've hoped for," her mother said approvingly, looking Wesley over like a prize dog. "So, how long did it take for you to sweep my daughter off her feet?"

"Well, ah...." Wesley started to say, before throwing Cordelia a confused look.

"It's good to know her taste has improved, you know," Mrs. Chase deadpanned. "Cordelia had this ridiculous rebellious streak in her, during high school. She went out with some...rather undesirable elements."

"Oh, really?" was all Wes could think to say.

"Oh, yes. There was one boy, he was a little slow you see. I suppose he was nice enough, but the people he associated with - well, he simply had no future ahead of him..."

It was at this moment that Buffy and Willow took a step forward, ire on their faces.

Cassandra only noticed the sudden anger in her younger sister. "Now, now, Cordelia. It's all in the past; and everyone makes some bad choices, sometimes. I had the tennis instructor at the club," she winked at her sibling. "I'm sure he scratched an itch you had back in high school, but..."

"Ah, wait a second - what are these beautiful little girls' names?" Mr. Chase butted in. He didn't want to upset his youngest if he didn't have to, at least not at the moment.

"Oh, um, that's Kelsey," Giles said tilting his head towards the girl in Wesley's arms. "And this little one is Erica."

Cordelia watched with a great deal of satisfaction, at the shocked look that came over her mother and sister's faces.

"Kelsey and Erica?" her sister repeated, shocked. "That can't be right..." Cassandra looked in confusion towards her mother, but Mrs. Chase just shared the shocked look. "No, seriously, what are their names?"

"Those are their names. What's wrong with them?" Giles asked, perplexed.

"Well, ah, all the Chase women have a first name starting with C. It's been tradition since forever," Cassandra told him.

"That's right, and we can't change family tradition now," Mrs. Chase said disapprovingly, as she looked at the girls. "Well, we'll simply have to change their names..."

"WHAT!!?" everyone looked at Fred. "Who the hell are you to suggest that?!"

"I'm their grandmother," Mrs. Chase told her, with an air of superiority. "Now, Cordelia..." the woman stopped in confusion, as she could almost see the waves of utter rage coming off her youngest.

"Change my daughters' names!!?" Cordelia whispered, furious enough to kill somebody. "What the hell gives you the right to come in here, and demand anything?!"

Mr. Chase tried to calm his baby girl. "Now, Cordelia, don't get upset. But your mother's right, it's tradition..."

Cordelia snapped her head around. "Oh, shut up Daddy!"

Then she looked over to the others. "Giles, Wesley. Please take my kids back over to the play pen..." And without another word, both men turned and left with the baby girls.

Cordelia turned her rage back towards her parents. "You know what? I'm only surprised that it took you this long to come around! You don't give a damn about the girls or their names, do you? All you care about is that I finally got Uncle David's inheritance..."

She shrugged. "Maybe also that I got on a TV show, after a few years out here alone? Whatever. But did you think I wasn't expecting you three, one of these days? And wild guess here, you want to move into the mansion. Cassandra's husband getting sick of you guys mooching off of him?"

"Cordelia, that's enough! You will not talk to your mother like that..." Jules Chase admonished his daughter.

"Why the hell not?!" Cordelia yelled, completely pissed. "I'm the black sheep of the family, remember!? You disowned my ass, when I wouldn't be pawned off to that idiot you'd picked out for me..."

"Joshua was a decent young man," her mother told her sternly. "He was raised in a good family..."

"You mean a rich family, don't you?" Cordelia interrupted her, sarcastically. "Funny how you finally gave a damn about my love life, after you got caught cheating on your taxes for 12 years!"

Fred was surprised. "You mean, they wanted you to date a guy just because he was rich? I didn't think parents still did that anymore..."

"Oh, it was more than just dating," Cordelia told her friend. "The day after the IRS raided the house, I had them reintroducing me to some guy I'd met only once. Imagine my surprise, when I found my mother picking out my wedding dress!"

She turned back to Mrs. Chase, her voice dripping with scorn. "All so they could just stay in the right social circles..."

"He did love you, dear..." Mrs. Chase tried to tell her.

"Oh yeah, he loved me alright. He loved my body!" Cordelia shook her head. "You should have seen his face, when he saw me in my cheerleader outfit. Thanks all the same, but I'd rather have a man who loved me for my mind as well as what I look like! And not just so you can leech off of me..."

Mrs. Chase shook her head. "Show some respect, young lady!" she demanded. "We raised you; you're a Chase. So start acting like one!"

Cordelia's rage built up even more. "You raised me?!" she asked, her voice dripping with as much sarcasm as anyone had ever heard from her.

"Mother, you were way too busy always faking the latest trendy diseases, just to get money or sympathy. And Daddy? When you did remember I was alive, all you ever did was give me a pat on the head and one of your credit cards! I nearly died dozens of times in that damn town, and you were too busy jetting off to Tokyo to play golf to notice!"

She pointed towards her friends. "These people have been my family, a thousand times more than you three ever were! I can trust any of them with my life! With my children's lives!"

Everyone watched, stunned, as Cordelia ripped her parents a new one. Fred had always wondered why Cordelia never talked about her family. And now she knew...

The pissed-off former Vision Girl walked to Giles, who was now standing at the counter having giving Erica to Willow. "This is Rupert Giles," Cordy said, as she looked between him and her birth father.

"I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but he's been more of a parental influence on me than you and Mom ever were. I learned how to behave and act like an adult, from him!"

Giles looked at Cordelia, completely at a loss for words as she continued.

"The three of you have never once tried to get in touch with me, ever since I left Sunnydale. Not once. But now that I have money, well, hey, here you are! Giles here has sent me a birthday card every year, and whenever I needed some fatherly advice he was always there for me. He was never too busy not to listen to me, or offer whatever help he could. And I thank God that he'll be there to help shape my baby girls, into the women they'll one day become..."

Giles placed his hand over the one Cordelia had on his shoulder. "I-I-I don't know what to say, Cordelia..."

She just gave him the warmest smile the British man had ever seen from her, along with a kiss on the cheek.

Then Ms. Chase turned, and gave her parents a very cruel smile. "And just so you know, for the record? My daughters' names are not going to be changed for some stupid family tradition. I was never planning on ever continuing it, in the first place. And FYI, Wesley isn't their father. That honor belongs to my fiancé Xander Harris!"

Mr. Chase paled drastically. "Oh dear God, how could I have not seen it? He got you drunk and knocked you up, didn't he? I should have had that boy castrated..."

Buffy looked ready to tear him apart. Willow almost gave in to the temptation of flaying him alive. But all that saved Jules Chase from becoming a stain on the far wall, was Angel's vampire speed. Angel intercepted Cordelia, mere inches from her father...

The vampire struggled to hold his best friend, as he turned to look at the three Chase family members. All three of them had pure and utter shock on their faces. "I think you should leave now..."

They didn't move, and Angel saw a look of terror show up on their faces.

Wondering why, the ensouled vampire looked back towards Cordelia.

Her eyes were glowing, pure white...

He turned back to the Chases, went into his game face and growled, "Leave! NOW!"

In three seconds flat, they were out the door.

Giles came up behind her and took Cordelia in his arms, as she buried her head in his shoulders and cried.


The Chase Family Mansion

Xander stood at the main entrance, waving goodbye to the car containing Gavin, Connor and Kristen. By sheer chance, Cordelia's car drove in at the same time they were leaving and both cars honked at each other, as they passed in the circular driveway.

As Cordy pulled up in front of Xander, the others went onto the street and the large iron gate, with a stylized letter C on it, started to close.

"Get everything set up, honey?" Cordy kissed him, as he came over to help with the girls.

"Yeah, we got everything we wanted. The basement has all-new stuff, along with our office, but everything upstairs is all still where you left it," he told her.

The young woman flashed the guy an appreciative smile, as she hefted Erica into her arms and hit the car alarm button with her fingers. The car beeped, and its lights flashed once as they went into the mansion.

The couple went right up to the nursery they had set up. "You look like you had a rough day," Xander observed to Cordy, as he laid Kelsey down in the large crib.

"I've had better," his fiancé told him with a shrug, as she laid Erica down and covered them both up. Then Cordelia grabbed a tiny grey remote off the changing table, and hit a button.

In almost every room tiny red lights came on the sides of baby monitors, before she set the remote back down. "Can we just go straight to bed? God, I just want so much to get this day over with," she asked, as she leaned into him.

"Sure, Cordy, but there's just one tiny thing I want to show you first," Xander whispered, as he pulled the nursery door slightly closed. He felt her sigh against him and grinned, "Trust me, you'll love it..."

After a few moments, Cordelia found he had led her to an upstairs storeroom, on the front side of the mansion; one that was not being used for anything. "What's in there, Xander?" she asked, stifling a yawn.

"Just take a look," the US Air Force officer told her.

Cordy rolled her eyes a bit, and opened the door. The lights were on, and she could see what looked like a tiny office. A desk with a laptop computer, stereo, 27-inch TV, X-box, Playstation 2...

"Xander, what are we going to use this room for?" she asked in confusion.

"We aren't going to use it for anything, Cor. This is Dennis's room," the man grinned at her.

"Dennis? But Xander, he's trapped haunting that Silver Lake apartment..."

Cordy trailed off, after she heard the sounds of typing on the laptop's keyboard. Walking over, she read the screen. It said in big letters:

Cordelia, I like this place much better. It has a lot more space.

She smiled instantly. "Dennis, is that you?"

More typing was heard...

I'm right here. And now I have my own TV to watch wrestling.

A laugh escaped her lips, as Cordelia turned to Xander. "Now, it feels like home!!"


The Master Bedroom

Thirty minutes later found Xander and Cordy ready for bed. Cordelia had on a large white shirt with a large Tweety bird on the front, while Xander just wore a set of dark blue cotton pajamas.

Xander got in first, and lay down on his back. As expected, Cordelia crawled in and pushed up next to him. She laid her head on his chest; but then he had become used to being her pillow, whenever she'd had a bad day. "Do you want to talk about it, Cor?"

"Yeah, I guess. My, uh, parents and sister came around to the hotel after you left."

Understanding instantly, Xander grimaced. "Ah. That bad, huh?"

She looked up at him. "I don't know why, Xander. I mean I know they don't give a crap about anything, other than the money. But still...there was this tiny part of me, that thought maybe when they saw Kelsey and Erica's tiny little faces? Well, that Mom and Dad would just fall in love with them and want to be good grandparents, like Giles..."

He sighed. "I know, Cor. I had the same trouble with my mom; I mean, I thought she'd be happy for me. For us. But she just thought I was there to get help with the child support payments..."

Her eyebrow went up. "What child support payments?"

"She thought I got you knocked up, and then took off."

Another sad look crossed her face. "She wouldn't have been the first person to think that. Well, my dad thought you got me drunk first..."

The guy snorted in amusement. "Isn't it great to be loved, Cordy?" Xander asked his betrothed sarcastically. He was surprised though, by her looking intently into his eyes.

"Yes it is, Xander. Yes it is," she said before she kissed him. Then Cordelia laid her head back on his chest. "Goodnight, my love."

"Goodnight, Cor," Xander told her, as he kissed the top of her head. They were both fast asleep, minutes later.


Yet another vision.
Hammersmith Park. Sunnydale, California 2001

Cordelia looked up from the baby stroller to see the strawberry-blond woman, in that tiny red dress, sit next to her on the park bench. "Do I know you?" she asked curiously.

The woman grinned wickedly. "You bet you do, babe. You just don't remember it. And I have to say, the kids are a nice touch. I wouldn't have given you a second glance - but, you screwed up."

"Who are you? And what the hell are you talking about-?"

The woman laughed. "You see, I didn't even know about you. I knew about the witches, the brat sister, the vampire, even the idiot guy that's been hiding you. I had my little minions do their minion thing, and follow each and every one of them. I told them to find the new people, and the only new one was you! It was quite a shock when I learned that the dork had a hot chick staying with him..."

Realization hit Cordy in a flash. "Glory," she whispered in horror.

Glory grabbed her hand tightly. "That's right, baby. Now see, I did a little checking, and funny thing - it seems that Cordelia Chase left Sunnydale, to live the big life in the City of Angels. I ran into a couple of her old friends at the mall who just love to gossip, and do you know what I found out?"

Cordy shook her head fearfully, as she glanced at the two sleeping babies in the stroller.

"You see, the thing is..." Glory began. "I heard Cordelia Chase dumped that loser boy Harris, a long time ago. She said that she'd never return to this crap-fest of a town, but look! Here she is. Wild guess, honeybunch...the real Cordelia Chase is making porno films in LA right now, and my little Key is here hiding in plain sight..."

Glory turned her head suddenly; then she smiled, and forced Cordelia to look. The young woman's heart froze, when she saw Xander, Buffy, and Willow off in the distance, searching the park.

"Oh, it looks like they found me out! I guess I'm going to get it now, huh?" the mad hellgod asked grinning, as she squeezed down hard on Cordy's hand.

The young mother was about to scream in pain, as she felt her bones breaking. But Glory put her hand out over her mouth, "I wouldn't do that, if I were you. Call out to them, and the little tykes are dead before they even hear you scream..."

The hell-bitch looked down at their hands. "Oh, look. You're bleeding, how about I have a little taste?"

Glory took her other hand, wiped a little of Cordy's blood from her digits and tasted it. Suddenly, angry shock showed on her face. "Why, you little bitch! You're just a normal human!"

Cordy watched fearfully through her tears when Glory noticed something else, as she took another taste of the blood. "Damn, honey! You didn't tell me you're a pre-Immortal..."

She then reached out, placing her hand on Cordy's heart. The human screamed in agony, as she felt some sort of energy being ripped from her body...

People walking by watched, amazed, as a bright light flowed across Glory's arm and over her body, for several seconds. And after the light show was over, Glory stood over the passed-out Cordelia. "Thanks for the boost, hon..."

She then glanced in passing at the crushed hand. "Oh, that's going to take a long time to heal...well, now anyway."


The Chase Family Mansion, 2004


She was dimly aware of her name being called.

"Come on Cor, please, wake up!"

She snapped fully awake. She was shaking, and the brunette woman could feel the tears streaming down her face. But Xander's voice broke through her shock, "Cordelia! Are you okay!?"

She looked up to see her lover's very concerned face staring at her. "Xander!" she called between gasps of air.

"You're so pale..." the man in question motioned down with his head. It was only then that Cordelia noticed that her arms were wrapped around him so tightly, that it was almost to the point of cutting off his circulation.

She quickly let go. "I'm sorry!"

Xander just wrapped his arms around her. "Calm down, baby. It's okay. No harm done," he told her, as the former class clown stroked her right arm. "What happened? That must have been one hell of a nightmare. What was it about?"

"Nothing!" she said too quickly, before she could stop herself.

"Nothing?" Captain Harris looked into her eyes. "Cordy, what's going on? Talk to me, please."

The tears fell, as she touched his face. "It's something I have to deal with, Xander. Please, trust me on this."

"I do Cor, you know I do. But we're a team now. If something's wrong with you, then it's wrong with me too..."

He could see the pleading in her eyes. "Please Xander, please just lemme deal with it for now. I promise you, I will tell you everything soon; but I just have this feeling I have to do this on my own for now." She stroked his face. "Please, baby?"

Cordelia Chase could read the man well enough to know that he was disappointed that she didn't trust him, but in the last few days she'd just had this gut instinct to solve this on her lonesomeness. But she wasn't going to let Xander think he wasn't needed...

She slid up to be lying next to the guy on the pillows, and looked right in to his eyes. "Xander? Don't take this the wrong way. You're my lover, my friend, my happiness, my inspiration, and soon my husband. But I have to do this one on my own. Afterwards, I swear I'll tell you every tiny detail, okay? Please be alright with this, I'm practically begging you..."

Xander looked at her for a few moments, before he nodded. "All right, Cordy. I don't like it at all, but all right."

Relief flooded her. "Thank you," the brunette beauty told him, as she ran her fingers through his hair. "I'll tell you everything when I can, but for now..."


"Can you please just hold me?"

Without another word, Xander moved in and took her in his arms, and she leant as far into his embrace as she could. The faint sound of his heartbeat in his chest was the most soothing sound Cordelia had ever heard, as she tried to drift off back to sleep.

Chapter 6

December 20th 2004
Los Angeles, California.

The two of them sat in her car, in the mostly deserted parking lot. It was early enough that the strip mall's parking lot was fairly empty, setting the mood for the secret meeting.

Cordelia could hear the birds still chirping as she laid her head against the drivers' seat headrest, then she spoke to the man in the passenger seat. "Wesley, please for the love of God, tell me you have some good news for me?!"

But from the apologetic look on the man's face, she knew he didn't. "I'm sorry, Cordelia. Fred and I have looked everywhere we can think of. We even talked to the Council, but without being able to tell them for whom the memory spell is – we've, ah, come up against a impregnable wall, I'm afraid. The dreams, they may go away on their own..."

"Why do you think that?" she asked him.

"Well, the pervious visions, along with the one you had last night, all seemed to go forward in time. Soon, you should catch up to the present..."

The brunette woman shook her head. "No way, Wes. I'm not waiting around to find out if they just stop. Besides, what if they keep on going into the future?"

The British man nodded grimly. That thought had occurred to him too. "Yes, well. I'm afraid the only thing I can think of is for you to talk to Xander about this, since he's the only other person we know of that was – well, 'upstairs', as you like to call it-"

"NO!" Cordelia shouted, before he'd finished speaking. She looked a little sheepish, as she started to speak more softly.

"Wes, I have no clue why, but I have this like certainty that I have to keep it to myself. I want to tell him so bad, if only to have him hold my hand through this. But it's like the feeling I got whenever I had a vision, you know? I mean I didn't always see an address for us to head over to, but I somehow knew where to go..." She then thumped her head onto the steering wheel. "This sucks!"

Wesley nodded. "Yes, I do believe it does."

When Cordelia looked up at him again, he could see her eyes watering a bit. "Wesley, I hate this. I'm lying to my husband. He knows something's up, and..."

"Well, technically he isn't your husband yet."

The former cheerleader was dead serious. "Wes, in my mind he is. Saying the 'I do's' at the wedding is just a formality. But you want to know the worst part of the last vision was?"

The Englishman nodded, and she let out a sigh before continuing. "I know that that skanky hellgod is dead and gone. But after that vision...all I could think of was the thought that she could come after the girls, or Xander! I wasn't scared for myself at all. The only thing that calmed me down and let me sleep at all, was just hearing Xander's heart beat. I've gotten so used to being close to him and hearing his heart beat when I sleep, that I don't think I can go more than a night or two now without hearing it."

The newly-reinstated Watcher laid a hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her as best he could. And he was expecting her next question.

"Do you think...could we rework that spell that you guys used on me when I came back from the Powers the first time, to restore my memory?"

"No," Wes told her sternly. "That spell is very hard to do, let alone rework to suit our current needs. Lorne's friend who worked it last time is no longer living in LA, and if we did anything wrong – it, it could erase your memory back to when you were in the first grade or something."

He continued, "Now, I'm also wondering about something you mentioned about your most recent vision. You said that Glory didn't attempt to drain your sanity by grasping your head? That she did something near your heart? So, did she say anything about that, which you can remember?"

Cordelia thought for a moment. "Well, she seemed surprised and called me a pre-Immortal. Then she made with the blinding pain, and I woke up squeezing Xander hard enough to leave bruises." She was surprised to see the shocked look come over her friend's face. "Wes, I don't like that expression you're making. Nothing good has ever come after you put on that face!"

The Watcher just looked at her for a few moments, before shaking his head. "No, she – she must have been wrong. You can't be one of the eternals..."

"She looked pretty damn sure of herself in the vision, Wes. And I better not be an eternal or a pre-Immortal, whatever the hell they are! I have enough supernatural crap happening to me already, thank you very much!"

Wesley shook his head, almost talking to himself. "You? An Immortal?"

Cordy held her annoyed look for a while, but cracked after he kept looking at her. "Alright, why can't I be one of these Immortal people?"


The Chase Mansion – main living room.

Cordelia couldn't help but smile, as she looked at the sight that greeted her upon her return home. Xander, still in his pajamas and robe, was lying on the floor with the two girls – who were becoming less and less tiny, as time went on – on a large play mat. And they seemed to be having a grand old time.

Both girls were giggling, as their father took turns rubbing his face lightly into their stomachs. Just by the sight of them, Cordy knew Xander would be nothing like either of their own fathers. It might take her a bit to convince him of that, but she was sure she would succeed in the end.

The former seer took off her shoes in the main entrance, and quietly walked to them. Xander didn't notice her approach, or if he did he was making no sign of it. She lay down on the other side of the three members of her family, and sighed in contentment.

Xander cast a smile towards her, "And how is the lovely Ms. Chase this morning?"

She reached out and ran her hand over his arm, "A lot better, now that I'm back here with my family."

Her fiancé tickled Kelsey as he spoke again, "I got a call from General Martinson this morning, while you were out."

"That's your boss's boss, right?" the former May Queen asked as she played with Erica.

"Yeah," Xander responded. "He approved a request that I made the other day."

"And what's that?" Cordelia asked, as Erica tried to grab the stuffed animal in her hand.

"You know the X-304? My own little space ship that still freaks me out?"


"Well, they started working on it unofficially last year. They only just named it now. It's only about 45% done, and it should go faster now that they can work on it in the open and get money for it from the Appropriations Committee. So, uh, it should be ready to launch for its shakedown cruise in about 6 to 11 months. And I requested that you be the one to christen it when it's launched."

Cordelia looked at him sharply, albeit very surprised. "Xander, I would be so honored!" Sitting up, the woman smiled, then leaned over to give him a kiss.


Los Angeles, California. 12:13 pm

Lieutenant Vince D'Amata walked out of the small diner with one old girlfriend, Mary-Beth, and two old friends Kristy and Julie. "Now, that's what I call lunch!"

Mary-Beth shook her head at him. "You just went right back to junk food after we broke up, didn't you?"

"Oh, come on Mary-Beth," D'Amata grinned, "You know I can't go for long without a triple-decker bacon cheeseburger! Besides, it did have lettuce and a tomato slice on it..."

Rolling her eyes as she linked arms with him, the woman added, "Yeah, and you took those off just to add more barbecue sauce!"

Walking a bit behind the pair, the two girls had different reactions. "Oh my God!" Julie whispered. "She's walking arm in arm with him! Mary-Beth didn't say anything about putting the moves on him again..."

Kristy just laughed her perky laugh, as the redhead whispered back, "Hey, why not? Vince is one of only three serious boyfriends she's ever had. That Chris guy hasn't been heard from in years, and when's the last time we heard anything from Hammer?"

"True," Julie admitted. "Oh! If she keeps true to form, then she'll be laying her head on his shoulder right"

And that was just what Mary-Beth did. She smiled to herself as Vince acted like he didn't even notice, plus she tried to act like she didn't notice how more muscular his arms had gotten. "Vince, why don't you come with us to the lodge? I know my Mom and Dad would love to see you again..."

<Well, of course they would,> Julie thought. <On account of everyone hated Mary-Beth's last boyfriend! Wonder where that idiot Parker is nowadays, anyway?>

Vince gave Mary-Beth a questioning glance. "Both your parents are going to be there?"

"Yeah, along with Arnold and Mattie." At his glance, she added, "My step-brother and sister from my dad's new wife."

"New wife? Step-kids?" Vince said to himself. "Jesus, it has been a long time since we were together, hasn't it?" He looked at her, suddenly narrowing his eyes. "Wait a minute, is this the same lodge that we were at when you..."

Mary-Beth looked down. "Yeah, the same place that I found out they were getting a divorce." She relaxed a bit, as he put his arm around her. "I still remember the tiny rash you got from the glue..."

Vince shrugged. "Hey, I'd never glued a mustache onto my face before! There was no way I could have known..."

"Sure, Vince, and the big red letters on the tube didn't give you any hints..." She then shut up as the Immortal stopped very suddenly, and began looking around. Julie and Kristy – well into their own conversation – almost ran into them and caused an accident.

"Vince! What is it?" Mary-Beth asked, concerned.

But he didn't answer; the soldier was looking at the woman who'd just come out of the alley in front of them.

Mary-Beth could only look on, as Vince broke away from her and walked a few steps to the woman who appeared to her to be in her 30's. Mary-Beth was also shocked at the level of anger that came from her maybe-boyfriend, when he spoke, "Penelope..."

The woman flashed a grin. "Ah, dear Vince. I hear you're out of the planet-jumping business now? What's the matter, you lose your nerve after your time in that slave labor camp?"

The woman quickly smirked, as she heard the three female friends gasp behind them. "Oh, don't tell me – you didn't tell your friends here about your time with the SGC?"

"Vince, what in the hell is she talking about?"

He didn't look back. "Not now, not here, Mary-Beth."

"Ah yes, Mary-Beth Pepperton. Your old girlfriend from high school, right Vince?" Penelope asked, her eyes slitted as she examined the woman's expression. "Y'know, if I'd have had any idea you two still had some chemistry – I would have just taken her and sent you one of her fingers in the mail every other day, just to get your attention..."

Vince could almost feel the girls backing up in fear. The most dangerous thing that'd ever happened to them up until now, was when Kristy had gotten mugged once. "That's enough," the warrior seethed. "When and where?"

Penelope shrugged, as if she could care less. "I could just cut off your head right now, but I'll let you have some time to say goodbye to the stick-figure Barbie doll you used to call your girlfriend here." The female killer tossed a card to him. "Be there in 30 minutes, or I will come looking for the Three Stooges here."

With that, she turned and quickly got lost in the crowd on the sidewalk.

"Vincent D'Amata, what the hell is going on here!?"

The Immortal looked back to his friends. "There isn't time to explain everything, Mary-Beth. It'll take me a good twenty minutes to get there, so please listen and do something for me." He took out his wallet, and gave her a card from it. "There's an address on the back. Go there and tell Dina what's happening..."

"How? I don't know what's happening!"

The man sighed. "Just wait for me there, and with luck maybe I'll survive this."

"Survive what? And maybe!?" Mary-Beth yelled.

Vince ignored her and took off down the street, leaving the three women behind. "Damn it!" his ex yelled, as she lost sight of him in the crowd.


Hyperion Hotel – The Main Ballroom.


The sounds of the combat staffs hitting each other came in rapid succession, as the two Slayers moved over the mats that covered the floor.

Sitting on a bench, watching the training session, were Willow and Gunn. "She's pretty good," Willow observed as she watched.

"Yeah, she is." Gunn agreed. "Hey, ten bucks says Kristen takes the small fry down."

Willow looked at him in surprise. "What? You're kidding, right? Buffy has years of experience on her. There is no way she'll ever beat my best friend!"

"So it's a bet, then?"


Gunn shouted over, "Hey, Kristen!"

"What?!" the Slayer in question yelled back, as she blocked a blow from Buffy's staff.

"I've got money with the redhead here that says you can kick Blondie's ass, so quit playin' around!"

Both Slayers shook their heads at that, but for very different reasons.


"Guess he's going to lose some dinero today," Buffy told her sister Slayer.


"And why's that?" Kristen asked, as she ducked a heavy blow.


"Sorry Kristen, but I am the oldest living Slayer – and you're still a newbie."






"You don't have to take it personally! I've just had more practice at this sorta thing than you."


"Please, you're only doing the basics here. Kids in martial arts classes can do better!"



"Hey! I just don't fight with a staff as much."


"It's made of wood, you know..."


" could..."


"...come in handy..."


"...with the vampires!"



"If you can do better, Kris, then show me!"



Kristen instantly knocked Buffy back with a powerful blow. And instead of capitalizing on her momentary advantage, she backed up and snapped the long wooden staff over her knee.

"Hey, what-?" Buffy asked, surprised.

Spike's lover didn't have time to understand why Kristen had broken the staff, when suddenly the younger Slayer was on her again. Kristen was moving both pieces of the staff as clubs, attempting to hit Buffy at a lightning pace.

'Thwack' 'Thwack' 'Thwack' 'Thwack' 'Thwack'

The elder Slayer was frantically blocking and getting pushed back, as Kristen continued to attack her.

Then without warning, the younger Chosen One did a back flip over Buffy's head. Before she'd had time to react, Joyce's daughter quickly felt the impact of a solid kick from the still-airborne Kristen on her upper back...

The force of the impact threw the senior Slayer to the ground, causing her to hit her head on the staff she was holding as her body hit the mat. She used all of her strength to launch a blind backward kick in an attempt to make contact, but Kristen was no longer there.

Buffy had no time to ponder her opponent's movements, as she felt an elbow slam into her back very painfully. She was then forcefully rolled over, to find a sharp piece of broken wood placed at her neck.

"You give?" Kristen asked, slightly amused.

"I give," Buffy groaned out.

Willow looked at her friend, annoyed, as she handed over the ten dollars to the grinning Gunn. For her part, Buffy just plopped down on the bench as she rubbed her back.

"Oh, and Buffy?"

"Yeah?" the Sunnydale Slayer asked, as she reached for an ice pack.

"You were just kidding before, right? I mean you do know you're not the oldest Slayer on record, don't you?"

Both Buffy and Willow's heads shot up. "Yes she is!" Willow said with conviction.

Kristen just shook her head, as she grabbed her towel. "Girl called Thessily, in ancient Greece. Grew up a slave, then she was called as the Slayer – at 12 years old. She died at the age of 29, during 490 BC; killed by a poison arrow, after running 300 miles in 3 days. She bought it after helping ask the Spartans, who were werewolves, to assist the Athenians fight the Persians – who were vampires."

Buffy's mouth was hanging open. "How did you know-?"

Kristen smiled. "You haven't read the past Watchers Diaries much, haven't you? Well, okay, only reason I know is Xander told me about her one day, while we were on the run. He was missing Oz then, for some reason..."

Willow looked away, assaulted by past memories.


Dina Alexander paced the width of her large upscale Los Angeles penthouse, with an occasional look at the three women sitting on her couch. "I can't believe he would be so stupid! Penelope is way out of his league!" she shook her head.

Mary-Beth had had enough. "Okay, that's it! Quit bitching, and tell me what the hell is going on!"

Dina looked at the thin, perky, raven-haired girl in mild surprise, as Mary-Beth continued, "That crazy chick said she would have kidnapped me and cut off my fingers, just to get to Vince! Now I want to know who the hell that bitch is, who the hell you are, and why the hell anyone would want to hurt MY Vince!"

Despite the seriousness of what was happening, Dina could not help but laugh. "Vince was right about you. You're a lot more than you appear." Her tone got darker. "But make no mistake about it, little am I."

Mary-Beth was about to respond with equal venom, but an annoyed voice stopped her cold. "Cut it out already, you two!"

All four women turned to see a bloodied and worn Vince D'Amata leaning onto the doorway, holding two swords.

"Vince!" Mary-Beth yelled, as she ran and hugged him for dear life.

The others watched, as the two melted into each other's embrace like it was second nature. After a few moments though, she looked up to him. "Please, tell me what's going on," Mary-Beth was almost pleading.

"I will," the male Immortal told her gently. "But I have to do something first..." He moved away from her, and stood next to Dina. Vince extended one of the swords to her, and the woman took the sword with tears in her eyes.

Her fingers went over the engraved letters. D.A. Looking over to the three women she started talking, "I thought the odds were I'd never hold this again. He gave this to me as an anniversary present, you see..."

"Who? Vince?" Kristy asked in a small voice.

"No, not Vince. It was long before I met him. No...Sponge gave me this sword," Dina responded, without looking up.

"Sponge?" Julie asked in confusion.

"Simon was his real name, but I always called him Sponge. He never minded..." At their questioning looks, she shrugged. "It was what Budnick nicknamed him, way back at Camp Anawanna. We hung out together every summer, you see, ever since we were 12. Then he transferred to my high school, during sophomore year. We started going out, later that same year. Then I had my little...rebirth..."

"Rebirth?" Mary-Beth asked confused, from the small loveseat she and Vince had sat down in.

Dina looked with watery eyes at the couple. "Mary-Beth, I know what you're feeling right now. But Vince and I, our...condition makes it a huge strain on that kind of relationship. You have to be very committed to even try. I will always love Sponge for sticking it out with me...even though it got him killed in the end."

Vince took Mary-Beth's hand into his. "Mary-Beth," he looked over to the other couch. "Julie, Kristy...look, what I'm about to tell you – it'll go against everything you three believe is true, or even possible. But I swear I won't lie to you. And I need to know that I can trust you with this information. Up till now, Danny was the only one ever to know."

Julie and Kristy looked at each other, wondering what they had gotten themselves into. But Mary-Beth took Vince's chin in her hand, and made him look her in the eyes. "I'm not going anywhere, Vince. Tell us."

He took a deep breath then started to say, "Okay, it all started two months after graduation..."


The Chase Mansion

Cordelia came into the master bedroom, with something in her hand. "Lorne's here, Xander. He's downstairs with the girls."

Her fiancé nodded absently "What's that?" the guy asked, pointing to the item she carried.

Cordelia promptly unfolded a black T-shirt, and held it up to her torso. "You like it? Kristen got it for me. She said you were teasing her about sending Connor there..."

Xander Harris looked at her, very surprised. "You wear a Hooters T-shirt? Okay – somewhere, Satan is buying himself a pair of ice skates..."

"As if!" the former Queen C snorted. "Okay, maybe around the house, but not out on the town. I don't want to give guys anymore reason to stare at my chest – I've already got my man, thank you very much!"

The former heart of the Scooby gang returned her warm smile, but then his face grew serious. "Cordy?"

"Yes, my love?"

"About last night..."

Sudden fear grew in her.

"...I just want you to know that I'm here to talk, or if you need help with anything. Even if I have no clue why I'm doing it, all you gotta do is just ask – okay?"

A single tear escaped her eye, as Cordelia closed the distance between them and took him into a hug. "Thank you."

"Hey, it's cool," the military officer told his woman as he held her. "You'll tell me when you're ready, I know that."

"Xander, how did I ever become lucky enough to get you back?" she whispered.

"I don't know, but I'm damn glad you did."

"Me too," Cordy said as she gave him a small kiss.

After a few moments Xander went into the bathroom, and Cordelia moved over to the dresser. She picked up her palm pilot, and opened up the 'Things to Do' list. She peeked through the door to see Xander combing his hair, before she added number 15 to that list.

#15 Buy a Hooters Girl Uniform.

The former seer gave him a quick look again, as she shut the tiny computer off. Then she saw he had his shaving kit out, "Xander, hold on a minute!"

He looked back to her. "What?"

The younger Chase daughter grabbed the large metal bowl they had been going to use for popcorn the other night, and brought it into the bathroom. "Cordy?"

"Go sit on the bench, at the end of the bed," she told him. After a second, Xander shrugged then went and sat down. She joined him a few moments later with the bowl full of water, and his shaving kit. Cordelia quickly set the bowl down on the bench, as she got next to him.

"I saw my uncle's first wife do this with him one time when I was a kid, and I always wanted to give it a try," the brunette told him, as she started to lather his face with shaving cream.

"Huh. I've never had anyone shave me before," Xander said simply, with a funny expression. "Uh, you're not gonna have any high school flashbacks and slit my throat or anything, now, are you?"

"First time for everything," Cordy responded with a wink, as she dipped the razor in the water and proceeded to gently shave his right cheek.


Several hours later...

The long round driveway to the Chase home was filled with cars, when the black PT Cruiser pulled up. "Vince, I am just way totally shocked!" Mary-Beth said, as the four of them got out of the car.

At Vince's look, she shook her head at him. "Not that other thing, silly! I mean, since when do you know any rich people – besides me?"

"Yeah," Julie asked. "You've been holding out on us, dude!"

"No I haven't," D'Amata told them. "My boss lives here. His wife came from money, I guess, and plus she's gonna be on a TV show soon..."

Mary-Beth's head snapped back. "A TV show?"

"Oh!" Kristy squealed. "Is this a Hollywood party?"

"No, mostly just a few of their friends."

"What show is she going to be on?"

"I think Xander said it was called 'The Lost Girls'? Something like that," Vince shrugged.

"Oh my freaking God! You've gotta be kidding!" Julie exclaimed. "There are rumors all over the Internet about that show! Do you think the cast will take a picture with us!?"

Vince covered his face with his hand. "Please don't go all weird on my boss's fiancée."


"Cordelia Chase..."

Julie squealed, and almost made a Willow-esque sound of geeker joy; but Mary-Beth waved off his fears. "Oh, relax, you know us Vince. We are so well behaved..."

"Oh, sure you are Mary-Beth," the soldier responded with a fearful look.

Just before they reached the front door, Mary-Beth stopped. "Vince?" she whispered. "Does anyone here know of your Immortal thingy?"

"Some, but only a few. Just don't mention anything about it, okay?" the lieutenant said, as the man at the door let them in.


"Okay, so there we were – facing off against a pack of slime demons," Xander said to the small group around them. "Buffy's being Buffy and chopping away side by side with Angel, Willow's doing the ball of sunlight spell, Giles had gotten knocked out cold, and Cordelia..."

With an amused look towards her the young man continued, "Well, she was beating the shit out of a female vampire that had said she was gonna turn me."

"Like I'm going to let some undead fashion victim turn my guy into one of her minions?!" Cordy told the others.

"And, uh, it had nothing to do with her ripping your dress, Cordy?" Angel asked mockingly.

"Hey, that Valentino original cost me at least six hundred dollars!"

Everyone laughed; everyone but Mary-Beth. "She vandalized one of the master's originals? Man, I would have tortured her first myself!"

"Oh, and that's not the worst part!" Cordelia told her. "Her sword also tore into the matching purse I got! I had to buy a knockoff to replace it!"

"What a complete bitch!" Mary-Beth yelled.

Xander, Angel and Vince all groaned and at the same time, "There's two of her now!?"

Some time later Xander, Gavin, and Vince were talking, as they glanced up to the second floor railing that ran around the width of the main living room. Cordelia and Mary-Beth sat in two large chairs, deep into a heated conversation that the three men didn't even want to guess about.

"Any word from Melissa and Rebecca?" Gavin asked.

"No, not yet. So, Vince, you had the talk with your friends?" Xander asked, changing the subject.

"Yeah," Vince nodded. "I had to fight an old enemy. Had to tell them something. But I'm not going to tell Mary-Beth how close the fight really was."

"How bad?" Gavin wondered.

"Let's just say I owe my life to a stray cat, and leave it at that."

"Excuse me?"

The three men looked over, to see Gunn standing next to them. "Sorry to butt in here. But I need to talk to you guys."


"Yeah, I wanted to thank you for what you did recently for my people," the former gang leader said, as he extended his hand to Xander.

Xander shook it. "Trust me, I know how it feels to be nothing more than a group of kids fighting demons with no help. I'm just sorry I couldn't give you guys any weapons. But some higher-ups that don't know about the things that go bump in the night, see you guys as just a street gang."

Gunn shook his head. "I can't count how many times we've heard that. Most folks think we're drug dealers! But I was wondering if you guys could come and meet the Lost Boys tonight? Some of my old crew aren't exactly trusting of 'free gifts'."

"Sure, we can make a stop over after the party," Xander told him, as Gavin and Vince nodded in agreement.

They quickly stopped talking, when one of the older butlers that Cordy had hired for the night came over. "Sorry to bother you, sir, but there are a few gentlemen at the front gate who say they have a few items you wanted."

"Ah, good. Gavin, can you...?"

"On it, boss man!" his associate said, as the black guy and Vince headed for the door.

"Something up?" Gunn asked Xander.

"Two of Cordy's Christmas gifts have just arrived."

Twenty minutes later, Gavin gave Xander a thumbs-up from the open front door. Xander gave them a quick nod, picked up an empty wineglass and a fork and clanked them together. "Can I have your attention, please? And if my lovely fiancée would please step this way... "

Everyone stopped talking, and quickly came over; Cordelia moved to stand next to Xander. "Now, the thing is," he began. "Cordy and I have agreed to give each other one Christmas gift tonight. And I'd like to see if I can shock the old girl here..."

Cordelia lightly punched him in the arm. "I'm old, you loser geek!?" she exclaimed, causing a few chuckles among the group.

"My mistake, everyone," Xander said, fighting not to break down laughing. "I meant the young, vivacious, hot as hell mother of my children!"

"Better!" his fiancée beamed.

"Well, last month Cordelia told me that she wanted a new makeup and changing table for the bedroom, because the one she has doesn't compare to her old one from Sunnydale," Xander told them.

"Yeah, believe it or not I got it for 19 bucks at Wal-mart," Cordelia said annoyed, but then her eyes got big. "Did you get me one from Rodeo Drive?"

"Nope. I found a better one in Miami," Captain Harris told her.

"Miami?" Ms Chase wondered, as she saw Gavin and Vince (along with two other men) bring in a large covered item that was easy to tell what it was.

"Cordelia, if you please?" Xander said, as he motioned to the large tarp covering the table and mirror.

She eagerly pulled it off...and gasped. "Oh my God!" she turned back. "Xander Harris, is that what I think it is?"

"Yep, you guessed it Cordy. It's the same one you had in Sunnydale. Your grandmother's, that she had passed on to you before she died."

Tears came to her eyes. "But how? The IRS took everything!"

"Well, April loves a challenge and going through IRS auction records – that was a pretty big one..."

The dark-haired man was cut off, as she gave him a crushing hug. "Thank you, Xander!"

"Hey, it was nothing," he told her softly. "I remember how much losing it hurt you. And I know it's sorta against the rules, but I got one more gift to give you. We found something else in the records, at that same time."

"What?" Cordy asked, as she wiped some tears away.

Xander took something from Gavin, and dangled it in front of her eyes. "These look familiar?'

"Car keys?" the woman demanded. "I already have-"

"Yeah, I know," Xander interrupted. "But I also know of only one set of car keys that has a monogrammed QC on them. Do you know what keys I'm talking about, oh Queen C?"

Her eyes went wide again. "You mean-?"

"Yep, your old red Mustang. It's in the main garage. All it needs is a tune-up and some paint, and it'll be just like when you had it."

Cordelia took the keys, and after a quick glance at the table she drew him into a quick kiss. "Thank you, my love..." she whispered.

"Hey, you know I'd move heaven and earth for you! Or in this case, IRS computer records..."

Before the couple broke apart they shared a tiny look into each other's eyes, and then laughed as Kristy cooed, "Awww, that's so sweet..."

After she had finished laughing, Cordelia then dragged Xander over to the fireplace. Where Angel was now standing. It seems that he had hung something over the middle of the mantle, while everyone else was watching the two lovebirds.

It also had a cover over it, but with a rope to pull it off with.

Cordelia broke away from Xander, and moved over to take the rope from Angel. "Now it's my turn," she told everyone. "Okay, first off I have one thing to say for the record. And that is that I have accepted the fact that I, Cordelia Chase, am in love with a dork."

More light laugher erupted.

"But," she continued, "I do love him. With all my heart and soul. As the people that were in Sunnydale with us then will tell you, Xander was the only one I would have gone into a battle with the vamps and demons with. I mean, God knows I lost count of how many outfits got ruined! But no matter how upset I was, just one look from him, just one of his lopsided smiles...somehow made it all better."

Xander quietly took Giles' handkerchief, and wiped some of his tears away.

Ms. Chase continued, "During the summer between our junior and senior year, some events happened that...left our little group short of a vampire with a soul, and a Slayer. So the four of us took up the duty to slay the demons on the Hellmouth. Well, I shouldn't say four; I had to go off with my family on our little vacation. I never told you guys this, but I sorta felt that I'd let you down, when I left."

Willow and Xander look at each other in surprise, as Cordy kept going, "I, I felt like a coward when I ran from the library when Drusilla attacked. After that I resolved to stick it out and fight the good fight, but then a few weeks later I was on a plane out of the country."

The future TV star looked right at Xander. "I was supposed to be out on the beach having a good time and be flirting with the lifeguards, like my sister was. But I couldn't. My boyfriend was fighting for his life every damn night, and I wasn't there. I know you thought I was just keeping tabs on you, when I called you almost every night Xander. But I just had to know you were all right. Because I had so many nightmares that I would either come back to a funeral, or a grave..."

Xander and the other Scoobies were shocked at this, but Angel wasn't. She had told him all this years ago.

"Anyway, without getting too weepy here." Cordy said. "When we went out to patrol around then, we had radios since we had to rotate who was gonna play bait for the vamps. And we all had code names. Willow was the 'White Witch', Oz was the 'Wolf Man', Xander was 'Night Hawk' and me...I was 'Wonder Woman'. Now, I know we haven't thought of those nicknames for a really long time now. But something Xander showed me in Vegas, it gave me an idea."

"What was that, Cor?" Xander asked, confused.

"Well, my love. You remember you dragged me to that comic book signing?"

"Uh, yeah?"

"Well, there was that one guy was really good. So when we got back, I called his office. And I got him to do a little thing for us."

"Alex Ross?" Xander asked her. "Oh, man, wait, you didn't-?"

"Oh yes I did, Xander." Cordelia said, as she flashed him her trademark smile. She pulled on the rope and the cover fell away.

"Now, that is something else!" Vince said in admiration.

Hanging there was a large framed painting. It was a giant comic book cover. The top had a large 'Nighthawk and Wonder Woman' logo. A DC Comics logo was in the top left corner, along with a '1st amazing action packed issue' on the bottom.

With a light blue background, Xander Harris stood in a black and blue spandex outfit with an image of a hawk with its wings spread out on his chest, a black cape hanging off his shoulders. His arms where crossed across his chest, as he looked forward with a quirky smile on his lips.

Standing next to Nighthawk with her hand lovingly on his shoulder was Cordelia – in the full Wonder Woman outfit.

To say Xander had never envisioned her in the outfit back during that summer would be very wrong, and now she looked more stunning in it than he'd ever thought she could.

Red and white striped boots, the red, white and blue leotard with a gold eagle covering her chest. Twin silver armbands and a gold tiara with a red five-pointed star, and the glowing lasso hanging from her hip completed the look.

"Damn, Cor!" Xander exclaimed.

"Hey, I'd move heaven and earth for you too!" Cordy leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek, and then she added in a voice too low for anyone else but him to hear, "I've also got the full outfit upstairs, lasso and everything..."

Willow shifted the baby she had in her arm, as she watched her best friend with his fiancée. With the look he'd just given Cordelia, it was obvious what she must have whispered to him about. A twinge of her old crush for him came to the surface again, but right now Willow was more occupied with what she had talked to Buffy earlier about.

Cordelia's mouthing off at the blond Slayer, back at the hotel.

Now everyone had told the witch and Chosen One that Cordelia had really changed over the years. <Yeah,> Willow thought to herself. <She's gotten even nastier!>

Not that she wanted the twins to end up the product of a broken home, but Willow knew she had to be ready for the fallout when Xander and Cordelia eventually split up. It was just Xander's pattern...

The redhead had once told Tara Maclay that she'd viewed Xander as the best the male gender had to offer. And if even he would cheat or leave a girl at the altar, then why bother with the rest of the men out there?

Even Oz had cheated on her with the werewolf bitch, Veruca. Kristen's words earlier that day had just reinforced her private beliefs.

Guys were just not worth the trouble, and besides Tara had looked so damn hot in just her panties...


Hours later, the party had died down. Most had gone home or back to the hotel for the night. The twin girls had been put to bed, and Giles had retired to a guestroom with a request to "have that ghost of yours please keep the volume down".

Gavin, Gunn, Vince, and Xander were outside on the front walkway talking, as Kristy and Julie were waiting in the car for Mary-Beth.

The skinny brunette came out, still talking with Cordelia. "Now, I'm sure we can find one. You should get it engraved too!"

"Get what engraved?" Xander asked as both brunette women went for their respective men.

Cordelia pointed to the white baby monitor she had clipped on her belt, ever since they had laid the girls down for the night. "She thinks we can find a leather carrying case for it..."

Vince laughed, as he shook his head. "Trust me – if Mary-Beth says she can find one, she'll find one. You do not want to see this girl let loose at a mall."

"Oh, stop it!" Mary-Beth said half-jokingly, as she hit Vince's arm with the back of her hand. "Besides, we'll be out anyway looking at furniture."

At Xander's questioning glance Cordelia clarified, "She had some great ideas for a few of the rooms!"

Xander looked to Vince. "Should I be worried?"

D'Amata just nodded, causing Mary-Beth to hit him again, thus causing everyone to laugh a little. Then they all started to walk to the cars.

Xander pulled Cordelia back, "I just want to make sure you're okay before I go."

"I'm fine, Xander," she told him.

"You're sure?" he asked. "Just say the word, and I can have Gavin and Vince go by themselves. I could..."

She cut him off. "I'll be fine, my love." Then the brunette kissed him. "Now get going, before they leave with out you. Double-time, solider boy!"

"Well, I'm in the Air Force, but okay. Now, you know I have my cell with me?"

"Will you just go already? Sheesh!" Cordelia said laughingly, as she pushed him down the walkway.

"Okay, okay, I'm going, geez..."

Ms. Chase hit the switch to close the front gate, as the last car left the driveway. Closing the front door, the engaged woman then stopped at the foot of the stairs. Instead of going up to bed like she'd wanted to do, Cordy did a 90-degree turn and headed for the TV room with the big screen.

Flipping it on, she already knew she wouldn't find anything good on at this hour. But seeing as how she had visions when she was sleeping, the poor creature had no desire to go lay down in her bed. Especially if Xander wasn't laying there with her. <I mean, I can't go to bed yet when my favorite pillow is out doing a meet 'n greet with Gunn's people tonight now, can I?>

Her plan to stay up and wait for her intended went fine, for about an hour. She had just begun to watch a movie that had way too many good-looking people in it, and which she was guessing was going to turn into a soft-core porn flick – when Cordelia Chase fell asleep on the couch.

And of course her worst fears came true, as yet another vision of her life in the other timeline began.


Tuesday November 30th 1999

Sunnydale, California. Third floor apartment of Xander Harris and Cordelia Chase.

The first timeline

The 18-year-old Cordelia Chase woke up in the bed, slowly. She yawned as she looked at the red LCD clock on the nightstand; it was 9:23 pm, and she was alone

<Xander's probably still at Giles's place, dealing with whatever the hell is going on this time,> she thought to herself groggily, as her brain cleared away the effects of sleep.

Getting up from the bed, the naked teenager decided to look through the boxes of baby clothes and supplies that Joyce had given her and Xander recently. Personally, Ms. Chase thought it was way too soon to get that sorta stuff. <I'm not even showing yet...>

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the bathroom door opening.

Cordelia looked over towards the doorway, and saw the attractive guy she had met at the grocery store a few hours ago after she'd had a craving for Peanut M&M's.

He was buttoning up his open dress shirt as he came out of the bathroom, "You know, Cordelia honey, I'm not normally the kind of guy that has one-night stands like this. But in this case, I'm glad I did – because I swear to Mary, Jesus and Joseph, you know how to give a guy one hell of a workout..."


December 21st 2004. 3:15 am
The Chase Mansion

Cordelia's head shot up in pure terror, as she instantly came awake with a scream. <No!>

The woman fought to control her emotions, as her brain wrapped itself around what she'd just dreamed. <No, no...NO!> she thought angrily. <I didn't! I mean, I wouldn't ever have! It's's wrong. It has to be. I was pregnant with the girls by then, for God's sake!>

She hardly registered the lights turning on. Through her tears, Cordelia saw a bottle of aspirin and a glass of water float in mid-air and set down on the coffee table in front of her.

"It wasn't that kind of vision, Dennis..." Cordy was able to get out. <Xander must have told him to keep an eye on me,> she thought vaguely, before that thought itself caused her to cry harder.

"Xander! Oh God, Dennis! It can't be true, it just can't be!"

All the pain, both physically and mentally she had gone though after she had caught Xander with Willow so long ago, came back to her all at once. Along with the look of pure love Xander had given her, just mere hours ago at their party.

And the voice of the mystery man from the vision came back to haunt her. 'You know how to give a guy one hell of a workout'...

Her brain was rejecting the mere notion of it, and the thought of it was like a knife twisting in her heart. She could hardly even whisper it, for fear of saying it somehow made it true.

"God help me, I cheated on Xander..."

A fresh wave of red-hot tears came, even before she was finished saying the phrase that threatened to tear her sanity apart.


Chapter 7

December 21st, 2004. 3:20 am
The Hyperion Hotel

Angel put on his jacket, as he descended the staircase to the lobby. Everyone else had gone to bed a while ago, but the undead guy with a soul couldn't sleep – creature of the night thing, and all that – so he decided to do a quick sweep of the city.

He got halfway across the lobby, when he heard it.

A weird sound, that he had heard only a few times before. The MSN messenger on Fred's laptop computer. He went behind the counter, and turned the screen to face him.

Ghostboy: Is anyone there??

Science nerd032: This is Angel, who is this?

Ghostboy: You know any other ghosts??

Science nerd032: Dennis?

Ghostboy: Yes. Something weird's going on.

Science nerd032: What?

Ghostboy: Cordelia had a vision, and ran out screaming and crying!

Science nerd032: What?? What was the vision about?

Ghostboy: She just paused long enough to tell me to keep an eye on the babies, and put a baby monitor in Mr. Giles' room. I think she's still around, maybe outsi-

Science nerd032: WHAT WAS THE VISION ABOUT???

Ghostboy: Okay! It was something about Xander, and cheating.

Ghostboy: Angel?

Ghostboy: Angel, are you there??

Dennis tried for ten more minutes, before he gave up. Either Angel was just not answering, or he had left. The ghost then left its room and headed to the nursery, to watch over the two girls.


The Lost Boys Warehouse

"Not a bad setup you've got here," Vince said with a professional eye, as they finished the tour.

Gunn grinned to Rondell, "That flame thrower is new, though."

The large man next to him nodded. "Extra crispy vamps work just as well with us nowadays, man. It's taken out two of the bloods in the last three weeks! There isn't a vampire who can get past it..."

"I wouldn't say that," a voice said from the main entrance.

"Angel, that you?" Gunn asked, surprised, as he noticed several Lost Boys picking up weapons. "Don't think this is such a real great place for you to just drop by unannounced, bro..."

The vampire ignored the teenagers around him, as he waded through them. Not even bothering to pay them any attention, as he made it to the group. "Sorry, didn't have time to call..." He patted Xander on the shoulder. "I just need to have a private chat with Xander here."

"You do?" Xander asked with a surprised look.

"Yeah. I surely do," Darla's childe told him, as he dragged Xander outside into the cool night air.

Xander looked around, not liking Angel's sudden appearance. He turned around to look at the street for a moment, to make sure they were alone. And as he started to look back at the vampire...

That was when Angel's fist connected with his jaw, as the undead Champion exploded into action.


Outside the Chase family mansion

Cordelia sat on the grass in the dark, crying.

"No! Oh my God, it can't be true!" she yelled to herself. "I'm better than that! Aren't I? I wouldn't have done that!" the young woman wailed to herself, before she calmed down a little bit.

Cordy then just stared out at the city lights, miles away. "I couldn't have. I mean, me cheat on Xander?! This *has* to be some sort of sick joke!"

"Oh, it's no joke."

Cordelia jumped to her feet, and spun around. She was more annoyed than pissed. "Harmony??"

At seeing her friend's face, the blond got annoyed herself. "Well, it's great to see you again too..."

"Look," Cordelia said dismissively. "I'm kind of dealing with something right now. Why don't you head back to Sunnydale? Spike still has his annoying blonds' fetish going..."

"That's another thing I've been meaning to ask you," Harmony said hotly. "How the hell could you guys let *him* of all people do that sorta stuff to my corpse? I mean, ewww! At least I did it with Bobby Rogers first on my 17th birthday. And he had a pulse!" the blond shuddered.

Cordelia grabbed the stake she carried with her always. "Look, I told you to get lost! I've got enough on my mind right now, without having to deal with the bimbo patrol!"

Harmony just shook her head, amused. "You've got a nice setup here these days, Cordy. I mean, no more mind-splitting visions, a huge-ass house far enough away from the big city...well, granted, this area will be full of new residences in the next few years. And you'll have two little girls who you'll have to help steer clear of the mistakes we made in high school..."

In an instant, Cordelia's face lost its annoyed expression and changed to a determined look. "Don't you ever talk about my babies again. The things like you are never, and I mean never, going to come near them!"

"Hang on, girl friend. Just simmer down," the blond said, as she raised her hands. "Maybe I should change my clothes into something you might recognize?" She made a small wave of her hand, and her clothes changed both color and form. "There, that any better?"

Cordelia stared at her old 'friend'. "You have GOT to be kidding me!"

Harmony now wore a white robe, the same white robe Cordelia would find herself in when she was upstairs with the Powers That Be.


Outside The Lost Boys Warehouse

Xander propped himself up from the ground with his arms. After wiping the trickle of blood from his mouth, he gazed up at the man standing over him. "What the hell was that for? What's gotten into you?!"

Angel just growled at him, "I told you what I would do to you, if you ever hurt Cordelia again!" he said angrily, before the former Angelus kicked the human in the ribs with all his might.

Before Xander could recover, the vampire grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and pulled him up so they were face-to-face. "Now, here's what's going to happen, asshole," Angel told him as if talking to an insect. "I'm going to go find Cordelia and the girls, and take them to the hotel for tonight. You're going to collect all your stuff from the house…and by morning, you will be gone. Forever. And if I see you anywhere near them again – I will kill you, very slowly!"

Xander just stared at him in shock. "Who the hell do you think you are, telling me to do all that?!"

"Who am I?" Angel growled, pulling Xander closer. "I'm the guy doing his best not to rip your head off right now, you lousy bastard!"

The vampire sneered, "You just couldn't help yourself, could you Xander? You had what I would have killed for, and still you couldn't – my God. You had Cordy…a family, but still you couldn't resist, could you? I already know it wasn't Willow again. She doesn't play for that side anymore, and besides she learned her lesson as to what kind of man you really are already! So, was it that Melissa girl? When you were missing, she was *very* intent on finding you..."

"Angel?" Xander said simply "I'm wondering something."

"Yeah?" the vampire demanded, as he looked at the 'man' before him. "What's that?"

"I'm just wondering if that wall back there is built to withstand extreme stress."

Angel looked at him funny. "What the hell are you-?"

Xander's hands glowed an intense blue; and he lashed out, each grabbing a handful of the vampire's clothing. Before Angel could stop it, Xander used his enhanced strength to throw him over his head, into the wall behind them.

As the ensouled vampire hit and slowly fell to the ground in pain, Captain Harris looked down at him. "Now, is there any chance your brain is going to come back to planet Earth, and tell me what in God's name made you think I cheated on Cordelia!?"

The enraged undead responded only by aiming a kick at Xander's legs. The man jumped over the swipe, and commented, "Guess not..."

Then Angel, in full game face, got up and charged at him.


The 16-year-old girl called India Shetley watched the two men battle back and forth for a few seconds, from her second story window, before she ran to find the others.


Outside the Chase family mansion

"Okay, how did a vampire get to wear THAT?" Cordelia demanded.

Harmony shrugged. "Think about it. And it's not that hard to figure out, Cordy."

"Don't call me that, and answer the damn question!"

"Fine, already!" Harmony exclaimed in annoyance. "God, and I thought you were bossy when you were head cheerleader...I mean, really! I haven't seen you since 1999, and you instantly start with the yelling..."

Cordelia's annoyance was growing worse. "Unless you want this stake up your undead ass, start explaining right now!"

"It's simple, really," Cordelia's former second-in-command said. "I was – drafted." She held up her hand, "And before you say there is no way the new Powers would include a soulless vampire…well, I'm not soulless, and I'm no vampire."

"But that would make you…"

"Yeah! Harmony Kendall, the *real* Harmony Kendall. Your best friend since grade school, who died at Graduation? And then that demon took over my body! All these years, and you guys *still* haven't staked her? I swear, do you have any idea what it's like to sit up there, and watch someone with your face going around killing people?"

Cordelia could only stare at her old friend. "I don't believe this..."

"Hey, I didn't think this was how my life would end up either!" Harmony told her indignantly. "One minute I'm bad-mouthing you..." she stopped when she saw Cordy's face.

"Which is neither here nor there, anymore! But then stupid old Xander Harris comes over and drags me away, to tell me that that vampires are real and that the Mayor was going to eat us all at Graduation. I still remember that unofficial senior class meeting in the gym..."

Cordy just nodded, as the blond continued. "God, you could have heard a pin drop in that place. I don't know what shocked me more; all that evil monster and death talk, or you and your ex-boyfriend going on about battle plans like you were something from outta 'Saving Private Ryan'! And just between us girls here, I could tell how turned on you were when he started talking like – what did you guys call it? – oh, yeah, Key Guy or whatever..."

Any awe in Cordelia about talking to her dead friend like this had gone, after Xander had been brought up. "Tell me that last dream wasn't real, Harmony," she requested desperately. "Please. I could never have done that! Right?"

Her friend got a sympathetic look. "Oh, no, you did it alright. But then, that's the reason I'm here. Let's talk."

She waved her hand again, and suddenly Cordelia found herself elsewhere. She and Harmony were now sitting across from each other on the old couches in the student lounge, at the first Sunnydale High School.

"Place sure brings back memories, doesn't it?" Harmony asked her. Cordelia nodded, as she looked around at the students walking around. None of them seemed to be paying any attention to either of them.

The mother of the twins then saw several people that she knew were dead. "Hey, is this…?"

"Really the past?" Harmony finished her question. "Yes and no. We're not really here; I don't wanna get technical, but it's like taking a moment in time, and rebuilding it elsewhere. The way Jesse describes it is like when they rebuilt the Titanic, for the movie."

Cordelia only heard one word. "Jesse?! The guy who always had that stupid crush on me?"

"Yeah," Harmony told her. "He and I come here to talk, sometimes. But we're not here to talk about him. We're here to talk about you."

"Why?!" Cordelia demanded to know, with every fibre of her being. "Why would that version of me do that!?! She had everything I ever dreamed of! A guy she loved, who didn't just think of her as a hot prize to show off to his buddies. And with the twins on the way…for the love of God, why would I have done that?!"

Harmony just tilted her head to the left. Cordelia looked around, and she saw that the rest of the 'school' was gone. Xander's and her apartment in Sunnydale was in its place. The women got up, and walked into it.

Cordelia stood, looking around at the living room/kitchen with her eyes. Looking at the items in the room, while Harmony just leaned down and rested her arms on the countertop looking into the living room.

The brunette's eyebrow went up, when she saw herself walk from the bedroom, naked. As they watched herself look through a box, Cordelia asked Harmony, "Do I have to be naked for this?"

Harmony shrugged, "It's how it happened, and don't worry. I did have to shower alongside you for gym class, all those years we were in Sunnydale High! And I'm not Willow, so I'm not feeling anything that you might call...naughty."

Cordy sighed. "She can't see or hear us, right?"

A shake of the head. "Nope. You're getting the full 'this is your life' treatment."

"Great," Cordy responded sarcastically. "What? Not enough tears shed, the last time I got shown this sorta stuff?"

Harmony didn't answer, for at that moment they saw the door to the bathroom open, and out came the mystery guy she had seen in her dream/vision. The scene played out again, just as Cordy had seen it in her head, less than an hour ago...

The soon-to-be TV star felt sick as she watched the replay, even more so when her other self wrapped her arms around the unknown guy's neck and kissed him.

"No!" Cordy screamed. "This is not happening! Just…no! Enough!"

"Just watch already!" Harmony told her.

"No, I will *not* just watch this!" Cordelia raged at her. "You actually expect me to believe that I happily used the times Xander was fighting demons with Buffy, to screw around behind his back!?! This is not real!"

Harmony came over, and took the other woman's head in her hands. She twisted Cordelia back to face the other two people. "I said, watch!"

Without another word, the man grabbed his jacket and walked out the front door. As soon as he was gone, the naked Cordelia went back to searching the box of baby clothes when she suddenly stopped.

She blinked a few times, shaking her head as if to clear it. Then in wide-eyed terror, she spun to face the door.

The present Cordelia was shocked at the sudden change in her other self. She watched as the girl looked at herself, then began crying and whispering, "" over and over. The younger Cordy then ran into the bathroom, and moments later the two could hear the sounds of vomiting.

Blond and brunette reached the bathroom in time to see the naked girl throw up some more. Then she jumped into the shower, not even bothering to close the curtain and turned it on full blast. The girl had a look of utter revulsion and horror on her face, as the water mixed with her own tears. She started to scrub with the soap all over her body, almost frantically.

"I don't get this," Cordelia then told Harmony, at a loss for words. "She seemed to have enjoyed screwing that guy a few seconds ago, but now she's acting like it was horrible?"

Harmony snapped her fingers – and the bathroom suddenly became quiet and dark. The younger version of Ms. Chase was gone. Cordelia spun around, when she heard the front door open.

In walked Xander Harris, the young man of this timeline having a few rips in his shirt but otherwise looking fine. "Cordy?" he called out.

He also walked right past Cordelia and Harmony, as he didn't see them. Both women followed him to the bedroom; and the older Cordelia gasped at the same time the younger Xander did.

There on the bed sat the still-naked Cordelia, holding a pillow tightly against her. Her eyes were very red and puffy, and it was clear she had been crying for hours.

"Cordy!" Xander yelled in alarm at the sight, as he rushed to his girlfriend. "Cordelia, what is it?! What happened?!"

His voice seemed to shock the girl out of her trance; and she turned to look at him. As soon as her eyes saw him, they went wide as the 18-year-old jumped the guy. Wrapping her arms around him she started pleading hysterically, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

"Cordelia, what-?" Xander tried to say.

But the pregnant teenager kept going, "Please don't leave me! I don't know why I even did it! I'll be good, I promise it'll never happen again! I love you Xander, I love you so much! Please, please don't leave me!"

Harmony pulled the older Cordelia out into the living room. "Kind of weird, isn't it?"

"Just tell me what the hell all this is really about!" Cordelia told her. "If that bitch is really so horrified over cheating on him, then why did she even do it in the first place?"

"Ah, now that is the question! Okay. In your letters back and forth with Xander," Harmony said carefully, "do you remember what happened during Thanksgiving that year?"

"Yeah, Angel came back to fight off some Indian ghost, Buffy went nuts trying to make a turkey dinner, and that ghost gave Xander a whole bunch of diseases for a while. Am I forgetting anything?"

"Well," the blond said slowly, "thing is, with you here all that changed a bit. Angel still came back to town, and the ghost gave Xander all those diseases, but you were a lot more outspoken about the situation than that Anya girl ever was."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, when Xander wrote that Buffy was fixated on making that Thanksgiving dinner, he was kinda putting it mildly. Oh, I swear, she would have given Martha Stewart the creeps! And since Willow was dead set against killing or getting rid of the ghost..."

"What?" Cordelia interrupted, surprised. "But that thing murdered people, and gave her best friend syphilis or something!"

"I know," Harmony said with a shrug. "But she was more upset that the Chumash Indians had been decimated with disease, and all their land had been taken away, and stuff. She thought they didn't have the right to just destroy the ghost that way."

Anger built up in Cordelia. "You're telling me that that redheaded idiot sided with a killer ghost, who almost made Xander die? And that Buffy was too busy making stuffing to care!?" At Harmony's nod, Cordelia's eyes flashed white for a moment. "Oh, that's it! I think I know who I have to have a little chat with, as soon as I get back home..."

"Actually, you did that already," Harmony told her with a slight smile. "You ripped them both a new one, when you were here. Made Willow and Buffy very upset with you."

"Well, good!" Cordelia declared. "But what does that have to do with this?" she asked, as she pointed to the bedroom.

Harmony produced a letter from her robe, and handed it to her. "Recognize this?"

"It's a letter Xander wrote me," Cordy responded. "Oh yeah, Willow was all depressed after Oz left," she said absently, as she skimmed the old letter. "Spike and Buffy, getting married?!" It took the former Queen C a second to remember. "Oh, right, this is when Willow did that spell that backfired, when she wanted Oz to come back to her..."

"Right. Her 'my will be done' spell," the blond teenager told Cordelia. "Like it says in the letter, whatever Willow said to happen – happened. Mr. Giles went blind, Spike and Buffy did the preview of their big fling of a few years later, and Xander became a demon magnet. Notice the date in the letter for when all this happened, though?"

Cordelia looked and then read out, "Tuesday, November 30th, 1999."

"And now here Xander comes home with his clothes all ripped up…" Harmony prodded.

Cordelia walked over to a calendar she had seen on the fridge. The days crossed off were up to…Tuesday, November 30th.

Turning back to Harmony, Cordelia said slowly, "This happened today?"

"And Xander just got back from being chased by demons all day long," Harmony informed her. "He stayed away from here because, y'know, he didn't want to lead them back to you. The pregnant mother of his children."

The light began to dawn. "Oh, no. Are you telling me that Willow said...something, about me?"

Another snap of the fingers found Cordelia and Harmony standing in one of the three grocery stores in Sunnydale. Harmony pointed down the aisle and Cordelia saw herself, and the mystery man. The former cheerleader watched as he checked out her ass, before walking up to talk to her.

Then the former seer spun around at the sound of an angry voice.

Willow was there, not looking too good. Her eyes were bloodshot and her expression was a dark one, as she looked across the store to see Cordelia talking to the guy.

"Stupid brazen hussy!" Miss Rosenberg growled to herself. "Trying to make Xander think I don't care about him...and I bet the kid's not even his, she got herself knocked up by some casting agent and knew that Xander would take care of her..."

The older Cordelia just listened in shock. She'd known the other girl and herself hadn't exactly gotten along after the fluke incident, but the redhead was going way overboard about this! The Chase woman was about to try to smack her, when the witch said something else and her eyes briefly glowed blue partway into the sentence.

"She doesn't really love Xander. Hell, it wouldn't surprise me if she'll have sex with that guy in their own bed!"

With that, Willow walked away muttering to herself. Cordelia just stared at her in utter disbelief, "My God, Harmony, is it me – or is she just so…"

"You shouldn't be watching her," her mystical guide said softly. So Cordelia spun around to look at her past self and the man again.

And the brunette woman watched in utter shock, as a drastic change overtook the other Cordy. One second she was ignoring the guy, and then she started flirting with him.

"Oh God, no!" Cordelia exclaimed, as she watched her doppelgänger utilize the moves she'd used on the senior football jocks in high school. A minute later, the guy and her younger self walked out of the store together, his arm wrapped around her.

"You mean…because of…" Cordelia could not believe it. "Harmony, you mean to tell me that just because of some stupid words Willow said out of blind anger, I went and screwed that guy in mine and Xander's own bed!?"

When her dead friend nodded, the anger boiled up inside Cordelia. Her eyes flashed white, as she started to glow with a deadly aura around her. "That bitch!! I'm gonna rip her spine out, just for starters!!"

Harmony snapped them back to the student lounge. Only this time, there was only one couch and it was facing towards the rest of the student area. "Are you seeing the point of all this now?" the blond asked her friend.

"Point?" Cordelia demanded, still upset. "You mean, the point being about me teaching Willow what the word 'pain' *really* means?"

Harmony chuckled for a moment, before she shook her head. "No, how did it feel to know you'd cheated on someone you loved?"

Cordelia looked over to the former Cordette, the question breaking through her anger a little. "How do you *think* I felt?" she asked sarcastically.

"Devastated, if nothing else," Harmony said with a shrug. "But, thing is, you cheated on the guy in that universe because of a spell. Just think of how you would feel if you'd cheated on your own, with no magic stuff to conveniently blame. And how desperately you'd have wanted to change it, so that it had never happened..."

It took Cordy's brain no time at all to understand. "You mean like how Xander felt," she whispered hollowly.

"Right," the blond former cheerleader said, as she leaned into the corner of couch. "I know this was a pretty long-winded way of demonstrating the lesson, but..."

"Lesson?" Cordelia asked, surprised. "I don't understand. I already forgave Xander for cheating on me, a long time ago. He knows that, we had that talk in Vegas…"

Cordy jumped, when Lorne appeared standing in the middle of the students walking and talking in the lounge. The demon just looked at her, and repeated what he had said on the ship: "That guy is almost as guilt-ridden as Angel was, when I first met him."

Lorne vanished, and in his place the Cordelia from the other day appeared, from when she was yelling at Buffy. "Xander still feels guilty about me getting impaled then, but I KNOW THE TRUTH!"

Then Angel appeared. "So how do we know that this Metatron guy isn't doing the exact same thing? We all heard him; everyone's destines are totally screwed up. You shouldn't marry Xander, just because he told you to."

Angel vanished, and Harmony looked to Cordelia. "You now know Xander Harris better than anyone alive, Cordy. Even Willow! Do you honestly think that he would just work past all that stuff? He still blames himself for everything. When Anya was killed, when you got impaled, or when Buffy or Willow ever got injured. Because he wasn't there to help out. It's stupid, yeah, but that's him! He even blames himself for every bad thing that happened to you, ever since you moved to LA!"

Another Cordelia appeared. "And he's not the only one who feels guilt about what happened in high school, let me add! I have some major issues about stuff that I screwed up as well."

"Did you ever tell him about that stuff?" Harmony asked her.

"No, of course I didn't," Cordelia responded. "I knew he would just twist it around, to blame himself for all that too..."

"Exactly," Harmony told her. "He's always so busy trying to inspire confidence in others, that he totally forgoes it in himself. And something else: his new team hasn't had a big loss yet. Do you think he's going to take it lightly, when someone under his direct command dies?"

"What the hell else can I do?!" Cordelia asked desperately. "I want so much to help him get over it. I tell him every time he even *sounds* guilty that I don't blame him, or he shouldn't do that!"

A sigh. "It's just that when I was hurting, I...I said a lot of bad things to him after we broke up. You should know, Harm, you were there! Then Buffy and Willow basically acted like he was a burden to them for years. I don't know what else to say to erase all that!" Cordelia had a pleading look on her face.

"There is a way to help him, but we'll get to that in a moment," Harmony said. "There's, uh, one other matter we need to talk about first."

"What?!" Cordelia shrieked. "You have a way to help him, then you want to change the damn subject!?"

Harmony held up her hands. "Whoa there, girl. This has to be addressed as well. When's the last time you and Xander had a big yelling match?"

"What the hell does that have to do with this?!" Cordelia raged more.

"It has everything to do with this," Harmony said with a certainty that surprised Cordelia. "When's the last time you and him had a huge, dragged-out fight?"

Realizing she had to go along with this new topic, Cordelia responded, "A long time, I guess. I've tried to avoid them as much as I can."


Sighing again, the brunette girl ran her hand through her hair. "The last time I was upstairs, Metatron told me Xander and I had to grow up a bit. And I didn't think that getting into shouting matches would classify as growing up, you know?"

Harmony smiled. "With most couples on this planet, getting into that many fights would destroy a relationship. But oddly enough, it would help in yours."

"How the hell would constantly fighting *help* our relationship?" Cordelia demanded to know.

"During all the yelling, even back when you were just making out in a closet. Did Xander ever hit you? Or you him?" Harmony asked.

"What? God, no!" Cordelia answered in amazement. "The only time he ever hit me was when I was possessed back in 1997, he had to stop me from moving those demon eggs..."

"Do you think that for one second that he would ever hurt you with his fists, even if you guys really went at it?"

"NO!" Cordelia declared. "One thing I know for sure, is Xander would NEVER hit me like that. Ever. Nor would I hit him."

"Yeah, he never would," Harmony told her. "Whenever you guys would even talk about hitting each other in the fights you two had, you ended up making out. Crazy thing is, it's mutual foreplay for both of you."


Harmony ignored the interruption. "And I know the other reason for your not wanting to have fights with him, Cordelia. You don't want the girls to grow up seeing their parents arguing all the time. But trust me on this. They won't grow up like Xander did. His parents hated each other. In the end your kids will know you two are flirting more than anything, when you're fighting. I know it's hard to imagine that your family would be better off if you and your future husband yelled at each other a lot, but it's true."

Three people appeared before them, frozen in a moment in time. "Do you recognize them?" Harmony asked.

"Yeah – Xander's parents, and Xander when he was little," Cordelia said, as she marvelled at how cute her man had looked when he was a little kid.

The three started to move and act out a scene. Little Xander stayed behind his mother's legs while his father yelled at her, "You stupid bitch! When I say I want dinner on the table at six, I don't mean six thirty!"

Xander's mom just looked down, "I'm sorry, Tony! It won't happen again!"

They froze again and disappeared. Then Xander and Cordelia appeared on their bed at home. "I've noticed most of your ideas lately have you taking the more...submissive roles. It just kind of surprises me, is all."

"What's the point of all this?" Cordelia wanted to know. "You're comparing Xander's mom's lack of a spine, to my letting him have some control in our sex life??"

"Some control, Cordy?" Harmony asked her friend quietly. "You've gone out of your way to give your man almost full control, over what goes on in the bedroom! Just think about it from *his* point of view, for a minute..."

The blond continued, "Xander Harris grew up watching his mom give in to everything his dad did, she even defended the bastard when the big dork tried to stop him from hitting her! Bottom line – he was attracted to you, Buffy, Anya and Faith for one big reason."

"Which is what?"

"Power. Not like Buffy's power fetish for the last few years, but because he knew you guys would not allow him to become what he was afraid he would inevitably be."

"An abusive drunk like his father," Cordelia understood.

Harmony nodded. "The visions he got from that demon guy at his failed wedding to Anya Jenkins? They showed him that in the end, she would have let him become exactly that, and just go off and have affairs or whatever. And – in his last vision, he killed his wife during one of their fights! You know it would never get that bad with you, though. You have way too much confidence in yourself and him, to let that ever happen."

"So, lemme see if I understand all this," Cordelia mused, thinking it over. "You want me to yell at him and take full charge in bed, for a while?"

"Basically, yeah," Harmony told her with a shrug. "You need to balance your relationship again. How can he know you and him are okay, if you don't press the issues like normal in fights or sexually take charge sometimes? He's used to it that way, so you need to go back to normal..."

"Okay, whatever," Cordelia said with a huff. "I get it already!" Then she leaned back into the couch, "But I still can't believe that to save our relationship, I'm supposed to bitch at my fiancé and control him in bed..."

"Well, don't take *all* the control away, but come on. You can't tell me there wasn't a few times lately that you wanted to issue some...commands?" Harmony asked with a smirk.

Cordelia returned her smirk. "Well, there are a few outfits I *know* he would look great in! And there's this story I recently read on the Internet about a helpless convict, and a female prison guard…"

Both women burst out laughing.

After several minutes of tossing back and forth ideas, Cordelia asked. "Now, what did you have that could help Xander about the guilt thing?"

"Well," Harmony began. "It has to do with what the Powers changed you into."

"You mean, now that I'm half-demon?" Cordy asked with a frown.

"You were never half-demon, Cordy," the blond woman told her friend. "Think about your powers for a moment. Have they ever reminded you of anything demonically evil?"

"Well, no," Cordy responded. "But we don't know about all the types of demons that the old Powers knew about. And what do you mean, I was never half-demon?"

"Well, first, the term 'half' would be way off! More like 1/5th. Like, do you remember what you did when Connor tried to kill you that one time?"

"Of course," Cordy said in surprise. "I acted on instinct and..." she trailed off.

"And what?" Harmony prodded.

Cordelia whispered. "And I took away his anger. Lorne called it a soul colonic, or something – but I just glowed, and took away his damn anger!" The woman was shocked she had never thought of it that way before.

"Now, does that sound like a demon power to you?" Harmony asked her. "Taking away anger and hate? Most demons feed off those emotions in human beings, you should know. It's why vampires want their victims to be terrified, before they drain them..."

"But if I'm not – Harmony, what am I now?" Cordelia asked quietly.

Harmony smiled. "When you think of evil, you think of demons and monsters. But when you think of the forces of good, up in the higher realms…what's the only thing other than God that you think of?"

Cordelia's eyes went wide in shock. "You can't mean…"


Outside The Lost Boys Warehouse

"Angel, man, stop! Just back off for a second!" Gunn shouted as he grabbed his old comrade-in-arms.

The vampire shook his friend off. "Stay out of this, Gunn. Enough's enough, I'm gonna teach this guy not to mess with my people once and for all..." He moved back for Xander, when he noticed several of the Lost Boys members aiming their weapons at him.

"This has nothing to do with any of you. Go back inside!" Angel told them angrily.

"We don't take orders from no bloodsucker, and sure as hell we ain't part of your fan club – vampire," Rondell told him, as he stood with his own stake upraised. "Now, my man Gunn here tells us that you're a…" he forced down a laugh. "A champion. As in, one of the good guys. But from what I'm seeing, you're acting like one of the enemy..."

"HE'S the enemy here!" Angel pointed to Xander, his anger getting the better of his normally-impeccable judgment.

The former Zeppo just looked at Gavin and Vince near him, trying to understand why Angel had *really* suddenly gone postal like this.

"So says you. But this particular white man," Rondell said, pointing at Xander, "just helped me and mine out a lot, with food and supplies. And as I recall, all *you* ever do is order us to stay out of harm's way; like you're the pro, and we're just amateurs cramping your style..."

The black man smiled, and it was not a nice thing to witness. "Now, tell me – who do you *think* we're likely to side with? So walk away, nosferatu. While you still have the option."

Angel was about to respond – and given his fury, seriously screw up his karma – when a bright light appeared a few feet from the large group. Everyone stopped and started, as Cordelia Chase in a white robe walked out of the light.

While everyone else was stunned to see her appear like that, Cordelia had a very perturbed look on her face as she looked at both Xander and Angel.

"Hey, he started it!" Xander blurted out, before even *he* realized how childish that sounded.

Cordelia walked up to him and said, "Xander, shut up. I'll deal with you later..."

She turned to Angel. "I know the truth now, and what I really am. And I know you were just trying to protect me, but I don't need you to do that anymore. You know why, Angel? Because I can take care of myself..."

Cordelia then made a fist, and punched the surprised Angel so hard he sailed back into the wall. As the stunned vampire stared at his former seer, she told him, "Don't EVER do anything like this again, understand? Make sure you get the full facts *before* you get mad, and make an idiot out of yourself! On account of next time, I might not show up in time to stop Gunn's friends...look, I promise I'll call you tomorrow. And I hope we can finally put all crap this behind us..."

She then took Xander's hand, and without another word dragged his ass into the light and they disappeared. The former Irishman got up, and walked back to the others, unable to believe she'd done that...

"Damn impressive," Rondell whistled appreciatively.

Angel just stared at where the light had winked out, as his friend and her lover disappeared – and the 251-year-old vampire felt something inside him shatter. The man suddenly understood that if it ever came down to choosing between him or Xander like this – then Cordelia wouldn't even hesitate for a moment now, over what choice she would make. Angel felt like he had lost something precious forever...

Gunn looked at his vampiric friend. "What the hell was all that about? And what does she mean, she knows what she really is?"

"I can answer that."

Angel and Gunn spun on the voice. "Harmony!" the Champion growled, not having forgotten when the vampiress was last in LA.

The blond just rolled her eyes. "Oh no, I have to explain it all again!? What, I'm just gonna have to wear a freaking sign around my neck!?"

As Angel approached menacingly, she sighed. "Hey, look. If you *really* have so much pent-up aggression that you need to get rid of, I know where a certain blond vampire is that could use a good staking?"


The Chase Mansion

Cordelia and Xander closed the door to the nursery quietly. "Now Dennis," Cordelia whispered. "Xander and I have some things to work out – so keep an eye on them, okay?"

They watched, as the hall light flashed on and off twice. "Thanks," the mother of the twins whispered. She then took Xander's hand and pulled him down the long hall to their master bedroom, whereupon she closed and locked the door.

"Cordy?" Xander asked. "What's going on? Why did Angel think-"

"I'll tell you everything in the morning, my love," she told him. But as they were walking to the bed, Cordelia grabbed his hands from behind.

"Cordy! What are you-?"

Xander didn't have time to finish the question, before he heard the sound of handcuffs locking his hands behind his back. "What the hell?" he then asked, completely confused as she pulled him over to the bed.

"Like I said, my love. I'll explain everything in the morning. You can ask all your questions then..." Cordy told her betrothed, as she started to remove her robe and clothes. When she was completely nude, she got on the bed and said, "But for now, I have other things for your mouth to be doing. Parts of me have been feeling...neglected, for quite a while."

When the USAF officer just looked at her in surprise, "Do you have a problem with that?" Cordelia demanded, very sternly.

"Well, no, not really..." Xander said, becoming amused.

"Good boy!" Cordy said, before she pulled him onto the bed. "Now. Time for you to remind me just how good you are in the sack, Harris..."


December 21st, 2004. 12:43 pm
The Hyperion Hotel

"Man, but that was fun!" Gunn said with a smile, as the group came into the lobby.

Buffy was pleased with the results as well. "Yeah, there's nothing like taking out a huge vampire nest to get a Slayer in a good mood!"

"Oh, for sure," Willow agreed as she put away her weapons in the cabinet. "But, it was way weird that Harmony's ghost led us to it, wasn't it?"

"Hey, I'm not complaining!" Gunn told them. "Me and my crew have been trying to find that nest for months now, with no luck. Then in one day, one hundred vamps get dusted? Celebration time!"

"You guys come out all right?" Fred asked, as she and Lorne each came down the stairs holding a baby.

"We eliminated the entire nest," Wesley told her, as he allowed the baby girl in her arms to try and grab ahold of his finger.

"Fred?" Angel asked, concerned. "Why are the girls here?"

"Cordy dropped them off, she said she and Xander had some stuff to go over," the Texan told him with a shrug.

"So, this is it huh?" Willow sadly asked no one in general. "The big breakup? God, I really didn't think Xander would cheat on her this soon..."

Buffy agreed, "I swear, I love Xander, but he just can't seem to keep his…"

"Are you two completely insane?" Fred asked them suddenly, her eyes huge.

"What?" Buffy asked her, she and Willow being confused after the somewhat garbled explanation from Angel.

Fred just sighed and looked at the baby in her arms for a moment, before turning back to the Sunnydale women. "Cordy was here, and she explained everything to me. Uh, there was no cheating, but Willow? If I were you, I would steer clear of Cordelia for a bit. Like, weeks. Months. Even years would not be considered crazy talk..."

"Me?" Willow looked nonplussed. "What did I do?"


The Chase Mansion

Xander just looked at his fiancée sitting across from him in shock. "Whoa. You've had a busy few days then, huh?"

Cordelia took his hands in hers. "Yeah, I'm sorry I kept it all from you like that. just felt like the right thing to do at the time. And seeing myself with that guy, whoever the hell he was, it still makes my skin crawl..."

The woman shivered. "But I meant what I said the other night. You are everything to me. You, and the girls, are my life, and I know me and them are yours. No stupid fight is going to break us up, but we should set up a few ground rules."

"Yeah," Xander agreed, as he rubbed his thumb against her hand. "Because the truth is, there is no one else in the entire world I would rather fight with, than you. And I know you'll never try to demean me, or hate me like my parents..."

"And I know YOU will never treat me like a brain-dead valley bimbo, or a trophy wife. Xander, people used to say that we were the perfect example of opposites attracting. But we're more alike than we ever thought, and I know for the first time in my life where I belong in this world. Where I fit. Not as a spoiled rich princess, or a receptionist, or a Vision Girl, but as a soon-to-be wife and mother."

"And I know where I fit too," the military man told her. "Not as a Slayerette, or a Watcher, or a Xander-shaped friend, but as a husband and father."

They just sat there, looking at each other for a full minute before Cordelia said, "Now, the biggest ground rule of them all. No matter how heated our arguments may get? Our bedroom upstairs is neutral ground. We can fight all the way to up there and after we're down here having breakfast, but when we're in between those sheets and my head is resting on your chest at night…"

"Got it," the young man said at once. "The bedroom will always be safe territory. And the second ground rule?"


"We always make sure, especially when they're young, that the girls know that Mom and Dad are okay," he told her. "When they're teenagers, they'll understand that it's just how we are, but before they hit puberty…"

"Understood," the woman said, equally at once.

"And a small favor, Cordy?"

"Anything, Xander."

"Well," the former two-dollar costume king started to say. "When they have me firmly wrapped around their little fingers in a few years, and get away with nearly everything…promise you'll help me out sometimes?"

"You can count on it," the woman once known as the nastiest bitch in Sunnydale history replied. "But only sometimes, because they'll have *me* as their mother. And honey, I have to teach them how to control their men. It's like, a mother's duty to her daughters! But as much as they'll have you wrapped around their little fingers..." Cordy looked into Xander's eyes. "I know that they'll also love and do anything for their Daddy."

She reached over and wiped a tear from his eye. "Thanks, Cor," the head of the Four Horsemen stammered.

She just smiled warmly at him, "Anytime, my love."

For several minutes, the duo just sat there holding each other's hands and not wanting to break the moment. Eventually Cordelia asked him, "Well, are you ready?"

Xander's voice was small. "I'm kinda scared, y'know."

"Of what, baby?" she asked quickly. "I would never hurt you, doing this..."

"I know that," the guy told her. "But I'm afraid that if I don't have my guilt or…whatever, I might make the same mistake again – that I've made twice already."

"Xander, look at me," the girl told him softly.

And when he did Ms. Chase continued, "Alexander LaVelle Harris, I trust you completely. I *know* that you will never stray. Sure, you'll have thoughts about other girls, but so will I about other guys. A male model in a magazine, or a potential Slayer thinking you're cute...but it doesn't matter. 'Cause at the end of the day, Xander, I know that you'll never do that to me again." She cupped his cheek with her hand. "I trust you."

He drew out a deep breath. "Okay. Let's do it."

Cordelia removed her hand, and closed her eyes. Xander watched her for several seconds, as a bright white glow appeared all around her. It seemed to grow, as she stood up.

The son of two drunks took her offered hand to help him up, and the daughter of a tax cheat drew his body up to hers.

"You're so beautiful, Cor," Xander said in deep wonder.

"So are you," Cordelia responded. "Now, let me take it away my love, let me take it all away..."

Had anyone been watching them, the last sight before the light became blinding would have been her drawing him into a warm hug.


December 22nd, 2004. 7 pm
Maxim Magazine Photo Studios

Cerina and Courtney groaned, as they sat down in their chairs. "God, that was a long shoot!" Cerina commented.

"Yeah," Courtney, agreed as she took off her heels and rubbed her feet. "Oh, Cordy, what happened to your fiancé? I thought the guy would stick around all day to watch this stuff. Those interns did..."

"You're right," Cerina said, looking around. "I haven't seen Xander for about an hour and a half." She looked to Cordy. "What happened to him? And why are they getting ready to retouch you hair?"

Cordelia smiled at her friends. "I'm just taking advantage of this little opportunity. Xander's with makeup right now..."

"Makeup?" Courtney asked, surprised. "He's going to model?"

"Yep," Cordelia responded with a grin. "We figured, why not?"

At that moment, they heard one of the female photography interns whisper, "Holy crap!" The three actresses then turned, and saw Xander Harris walk in.

"I have to agree with her, Cordy," Cerina said slyly, as she looked Xander over. "Your boy does clean up damn fine..."

"I know," Cordy told them, as she watched him too. "Doesn't he?" she added with a girlish giggle.


January 7th, 2005. 9 am
Watchers Council Main Building.
Office of Rupert Giles

"Mail for you, sir."

Rupert Giles looked up from his translations, and took the large package from the young man. "Thank you, Philip."

"You're welcome, Mr. Giles," the twenty-year-old Watcher said, before he left to finish his rounds.

Buffy's mentor used his letter opener to cut back the packing tape, and opened the package. He found an 8x10'' framed photo.

The photo was of Xander Harris in a black monkey suit with his hair slicked back, holding a Walter PPK. Looking very James Bond-ish. In front of him, also holding a gun in a normal action movie pose, was Cordelia Chase...

She wore a pair of tight spandex pants that were green on the outside of the legs, but blue on the inside. She also had a skin-tight white T-shirt on that stopped at her midriff, and the shirt was ripped in very strategically pleasing places.

They both looked like they'd come straight off the big screen of an American action movie or something.

Giles read the inscription again as he hung it in his office, chuckling as he did so...

'To Grandpa Giles,

Love Xander and Cordelia-his little Angel.'


February 26th, 2005. 3:30 pm
Phoenix, Arizona

It was a somewhat average day, for the area at 68 degrees. Two teenagers in jeans and jackets were taking advantage of the good weather on this late Saturday afternoon. Like many teenage boys, they were busy checking out girls.

Not the girls around them, but three in a magazine they had just purchased.

"Oh man, where has she been all my life?!" the 17-year-old Benjamin Kayser said, as he looked over the pages.

His best friend Joshua Nash looked at the girl he was staring at. "Cerina Vincent. Huh, I think she was on Power Rangers..."

Ben looked up at him. "You watched Power Rangers?!"

His friend just pointed to the picture, "Look at her, man! Like you wouldn't watch it if she was on. And dude, you have to see this one movie – she walks around naked in it, the entire time!"

"You're kidding me, right?" Ben asked, grinning. "Well, we're renting that movie tonight! Hey, I recognize this Courtney Peldon chick too. She was on an episode of DS9..."

"Yeah," Josh said, "But check out the Cordelia Chase hottie. Damn..."

"I know what you mean, dude," Ben said. "Just look at her legs in this one..."

Both boys whistled. "Hey, check the interview," Josh told him. "See if she's been in anything else..."

"Okay," Ben said, as he skimmed the interview. Before he moaned in disappointment. "Oh, man! This sucks!"

"What? What?" Josh asked him.

"It says she's getting married to her high school sweetheart next month!"

"Yeah? Oh well, what does it matter? Like you ever had a chance with a woman like that, buddy boy," Josh teased him. "Anything else in there?"

Ben skimmed the rest of the interview. "Nope, just that she wants some guy she knows named Oz to write them, so they can send him his invite to the wedding."

"Maybe I can change my name to Oz," Josh joked badly.

"I don't think that'll…" Ben started, but cut himself off as he threw up his hands to cover his eyes.

"What-?" Josh asked, when he stupidly turned around to see.

Thus, both boys were blinded by the initial flash. But that didn't make any difference; and besides, neither of them would have wanted to see the mushroom cloud expand as it ripped through and destroyed the city of Phoenix, incinerating their bodies as the firestorm expanded mercilessly...


To be continued in the next story in the series.