Riding Shotgun

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

Disclaimer: I own nothing. That's all Joss. And Mutant Enemy, WB, UPN, Fox, Sandollar etc. etc. ad infinitum.

Pairing: None really

Rating: PG-13

Feedback: I'd love to hear what you think.

Authors' notes: " " indicates speech. * * indicates emphasis. This one was an idea that I don't know if it really works or not but at least it's not as off the wall as my "Football" fic.

Setting: Takes place during Angel season 5, just after 'You're Welcome'.

Chapter 1

Within Cabin B4, on a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
January, 2004

The Slayer named Vi listened on the phone, as the girls called Julie and Marissa were changing into their bathing suits. Her expression seemed to be one of annoyance, as she listened to the person on the other end of the line.

"No, Willow, you're not understanding me," the French girl said suddenly into the phone. "It's *not* sea sickness. The doc checked him out, and you don't just go from as bad as he was to being normal, in less than twenty minutes! He was fine on the trip to Africa, so why would he be this bad on the trip back?"

"No, I don't think it's a spell," the redhead then said a few moments later in annoyance. She turned to the two girls near her, and made an opening and closing gesture with her fingers while mouthing the word 'yap, yap, yap' over and over - causing both girls to laugh.

"Yes, Willow, we'll have all the tests done when we get to New York City, but we already know beforehand that they'll just say it's some sort of unknown virus!" Vi sighed again. "Yes, I'm sure..."

When Vi looked to the other two for help, Marissa grabbed the phone. "Sorry, Willow, but Violet's got to go. We'll make sure Xander is tucked in nice and tight. In fact..." she looked over to the other girl. "I'm sure Julie would just *love* to help him feel all better. But we all have to go now, bye!" the girl said, before she slammed down the receiver.

"My God, doesn't that girl ever shut up?!" Vi asked rhetorically. "Well, at least I didn't have to listen to Kennedy trying to give me orders again..." She looked to her sister Slayers. "Xander already turned in, right? So let's hit the pool already!"

"Well..." Marissa said. "Julie, you sure you don't want to tuck him in?"

"For God's sake!" Julie screamed out. "I say the guy is cute just *once*, and you never shut up about it!" She then turned and left the cabin.

The two remaining girls looked to each other in amusement. "She *so* wants him!" Marissa commented.

"Forget it," Vi shrugged. "First one to the pool gets to flirt with the blond lifeguard!"

The redhead took off, with the brunette hot on her heels.


Within Cabin A12, 14 hours later

Xander Harris shot up in his bed. Through the darkness in his cabin, the man could sense someone was there. "Vi?" he asked out loud, as the former carpenter took out the short dagger from under the pillow.

"Nope, sorry pal..." A voice that sounded like it came from an episode of 'The Sopranos' said in a broad accent. Its owner pulling back the curtains, and thus causing sunlight to flood into the room, then momentarily blinded Xander.

"Who the hell are you?" Harris asked, as he shaded his one working eye.

"Name's Whistler," the man said, as he sat in a chair near the bed. "You might have heard of me...hey, hey, hey! I'm not here for a fight, kid!"

The knife was pointed directly at his heart. "Damn right I've heard of you. Because you're the real reason Angelus isn't just a dusty old entry in the Watcher diaries, from over a hundred years ago! And if you're not here for me to finally carve you into little pieces for that, then what the hell are you here for?" Xander demanded, as he kept his tight grip on the dagger.

"Calm down, already! Look, I work for the Powers That Be," the balance demon told him. "And I can understand you being upset about that stuff during 1998, but you might also remember that I helped get that Summers chick ready to fight nasty old Angelus back then, when he wanted to end the world?"

Xander sneered, "Riiiight. That guy dressed like a pimp, trying to find some decent booze at Giles' place..."

When Whistler nodded, his companion frowned. "Alright, let's pretend - *just* for the sake of argument - that you're not one of the bad guys. The question remains, why should I give a crap about what you or the Powers That Be want? They don't exactly have a great track record with Angel and his people, you know. Hell, do I even have to bring up what state they left Cordelia in!?"

"Whoa, easy there kid!" the demon said hastily, as he got up and backed off, holding up his hands in surrender. Silently, Whistler cursed said track record that he had to fight against, in order to do his job here. "Like I told ya, I'm not here to fight-"

"Well then, why don't you go tell Angel what his next great mission is?" Xander asked, before he got a nasty smile on his face. "Oh no, wait, that's right - he finally jumped ship from you guys, didn't he? The scuttlebutt is he's working for the bad guys now, in LA?"

Whistler tried to give him a disapproving look, but Xander just kept going. "What? You want to attempt tossing that Champion garbage on *me*, now? Well, sorry, but no point in trying - asshole. You guys can't even keep track of your own super-beings!"

"Come on, gimme a break - I mean, nobody ever knew that that Jasmine chick was even planning all of that stuff!" Whistler said, agitated. "She was exiled eons ago, just for your information!" Then he sighed, "Look, kid, that thing with Cordelia is why I'm actually here."

Harris tried to keep a cool façade, but the prospect of good news for an old friend showed on his face. Then he frowned, "Not that I'm not glad that there could be good news for her, but why tell me? Angel's in charge of the Cordy situation. I heard the Council tried to have her body moved to England. And the vamp kind of vetoed that, rather strongly..."

"Doesn't matter. Either way, Rat Breath is out of the picture here."

"Rat Breath? No, never mind," Xander said roughly, as he got off the bed and grabbed a drink of water from the sink. "Bottom line. Can you wake Cordy up? And if so, what's your price?"

Whistler let out a big breath of air before he replied, "Sorry, kiddo. But I'm afraid her body is far too damaged even for us to heal it; like that Skip guy sorta promised, her brain is mush..." The demon had to quickly duck, as Xander's glass sailed where his head had just been.

He then watched the fragments slide to the floor. "Holy crap, kid!" Whistler exclaimed loudly. "Will ya just calm down!?"

"Why the hell should I?!" Xander yelled, as he held the dagger up again. "One of your people screwed Cordy over, in more ways than one! Granted I hadn't talked to her in about a year," he admitted. "But she was still a friend of mine! And I will *not* let you and yours just wash your hands of what happened to her!"

"There isn't any handwashing going on here, kid!" Whistler said, getting upset. This was *not* going how he'd planned. Not at all. "Please - just hear me out, before you go all psycho on me!?"

"I suggest you talk real fast," Xander said menacingly.

"Okay, okay..." Whistler sighed, as he walked over to the area of the cabin with the couch. Xander took the chair across from him. "Look, everybody up there is wishin' they'd known about Jasmine...like years before..."

He decided to just say it. "The bigwigs screwed up, and restitution has to be made. That's where I come in; the whole balance thing is sorta my thing. So the Powers offered Cordelia a deal, the best we could do under the circumstances. And she took it."

"How can she accept any deal from you, if she hasn't woken up?" Xander demanded.

Whistler just looked at him for a few moments. "First things first. Do you wanna help your ex-girlfriend or not?"

Xander frowned. "Sure, but what-"

"Then I'm thinkin' I'll let *her* explain that last part."

"What? Look, mister, you better start making some sense-" Xander began, but stopped as he watched Whistler take out a glass orb the size of a billiard ball from his jacket pocket. "Hey, is that what I think it is?"

White mist came out of the orb, and headed straight to Xander. "No!" he yelled to Whistler, coming forward with the dagger. "What are you doing? STOP, OR I'LL KILL YOU!!"

But before the human could reach the messenger, the mist hit him. Then Xander lost consciousness, as the mist was sucked into him.


Two hours later

Xander woke up on the floor of his cabin, alone. "Oh, man...what the hell hit me?"

//Oh, puh-lease, don't worry about that,// a voice sounded. //You're fine.//

"What?" Harris said, as he stood up quickly looking for the Powers' demon. "Whistler? Where are you, you fashion-impaired bastard!?"

//Sheesh! Will you calm down and shut up so I can explain, you dweeb?//

"What?" He spun around, looking over the entire room. "Cordy?"

//Yeah, I'm here, Xander.//

"Uh, I can't see you," Harris kept looking in vain. "Are you a ghost? Invisible Girl? What?"

//Ah, no, Xander. Look, I don't think you're going to like this at all, but I'm currently...inside you.//

"What the hell are you-"

//Alexander Lavelle Harris! Shut up and let me talk!// the greatly agitated female voice screamed at him.

"Wait, wait, wait. That white mist?" Xander asked quietly, as he sat at the end of the bed.

//Yeah, that white mist,// Cordelia's voice paused for a moment. //I'm sorry, Xander. I don't know the proper etiquette for sharing a body, but then I didn't have much time to pick and choose.//

"Pick and choose?" Xander asked, not liking this at all. Oh, he liked that he could talk to his old friend, but for her soul to be inside *his* body? Who the hell coulda come up with that lame idea?

//It's not a lame idea, you wuss! Look, bottom line, that's what all the days of you heaving your guts out was about. You were chosen for this, as you were the only one both suitable and available. But the Powers had to change your body a little. They had to...evolve you enough to be able to handle all this.//

Harris put his head in his hands. "Oh, no, damn it! Never mind the fact that no one even asked me for my permission; but I don't want to be half-demon like you were, Cordy!"

//You're not half-anything, Harris!// Cordelia told him sharply. //You're just roughly a few hundred years more advanced, than any other Homo sap human. No super powers or anything, but you can let me ride shotgun for a little while.//

"A little while?" Xander asked, calming down and trying to understand this. "What, is *this* your afterlife?"

//God, no!// Cordelia exclaimed. //No offence, but that would totally suck. Just let me fill you in on the backstory. Let me get it all out, before you get to the questions part. Okay?//

"Fine," the one-eyed man said, as he fell back and lay on the bed. "Fire away."

//Well. You know all about me being a prisoner in my own body, while Jasmine did all kinds of nasty, evil, vile stuff to...// the former cheerleader trailed off, and Harris could tell she was not liking remembering any of those incidents. //But anyway - I, the real Cordelia Chase, ended up in a coma after Jasmine was done with me.//

Miss Chase's voice got hard for a moment. //And just for the record, she used me and then tossed me away like I was garbage, Xander!//

"I know. And I honestly don't think there's anything I can say that'll make it any better, Cordy," he told her honestly. "I wish there was, but there isn't."

//Thanks,// she said. //I can feel your concern for me right now, and y'know what? It's a really good feeling.// Xander's right eyebrow went up at that statement, in an unconscious yet perfect imitation of Mr. Spock from 'Star Trek'.

//Anyway, back to the story,// Cordy continued. //I was told that my body was a lost cause. There...there was nothing they could do for it.// She paused again, and Xander correctly guessed that this was the first time she'd spoken of this to anyone that was not a higher being.

//Apparently - they can't just give me a copy of my old body, either. Just like they can't give Angel his old body back, at least not deliberately. Being naturally born humans means our DNA blueprints are only on file in the *big* office upstairs, if you know what I mean. And once it's used, the PTBs have no control over it.//

Cordelia then gave her ex another little pause, to let him digest what she was telling him. //What they *can* give me, is a new body.//

"What?" Xander asked, getting fearful. "You mean like, reincarnation!? Baby Cordelia or something?"

//No! Not in the normal meaning of the word, anyway, in that the soul's previous earthly memory is wiped clean - tabula rasa. With this kinda deal, it would still be me, in every way that matters. I even get to pick out what it looks like! It's the best they could do. You won't have heard it yet, but call LA and you'll hear how I just used my old body's image one last time, to help Angel out.//

Xander made a vague mental note to do so. "Okay, but you're overloading me here Cor..." He had great trouble dealing with this concept. "You get to pick out what your new body will look like?"

//Well, sorta. See, I kind of already picked it out,// she told him.

"You did??"

//Oh yeah, and you'll just love it pal!//

An image quickly appeared in Xander's head. In his mind's eye, he saw a girl that had the same proportions and curves Cordelia's old body had. But on this one, her skin tone was a few shades lighter, and her hair was a light red color. Also, her face was an exact same match with how Xander remembered her. "I see you kept the smile."

//Of course, you doofus!// she said teasingly. //You always said you loved my smile.//

Harris didn't know how he knew it, but he did. "And?"

The woman's soul hesitated before answering. //All right, Angel loved it too.//

Before he could say anything else she continued, //Hey, you don't have to worry about me breaking Angel's curse, okay Xander? That was a big condition to this deal. As far as everyone else knows, Cordelia Chase is dead, gone and soon-to-be buried. You're the only one who knows any different.//

"Well, I'm touched Cor," Xander said with a smirk. "I know we stayed friends, but I never expected-"

//Hey! Now don't go all into your self-deprecating mode, Harris! God, I swear between Angel's brooding and your stupid antics, sometimes...// she said, annoyed.

"Okay, okay. No self-deprecating for me on this magical mystery tour," Xander said, giving in with a grin. "Now, before this all sinks in fully and I get a huge migraine from the implications of you getting a new custom-built body, that could pass for a long-lost twin sister of yours...I have a question."

Cordelia already knew what it was. //Why did I get my soul put into your body for temporary storage, when I already have the new body picked out?//

"Ah, yeah."

//That's easy,// she answered. //I'd have never lasted, in that Orb of Thesulah. See, if it was a baby body, it would already be ready for me right now. But they have to grow it to age 23, and that'll take a while.//

Xander could hear it in her voice. He closed his one remaining eye as he asked, "And how long will a while take, exactly?"


"Cordy, you know I love you," Xander said, eyes wide shut. "But *how long* are you going to be hitching a ride inside my body?"

//Long enough for me to get a fashion sense crammed into your skull?//

"Cordelia," Harris said it again slowly. "How. Long?"

Finally, she just came out and said it. //At least six months...maybe seven? All right, a year at the outside...//


//I swear I'll make it up to you,// the inner female voice said, its desperation obvious. //Somehow...//

Xander was suddenly angry again, over how no one had even bothered thinking about asking his opinion in doing all this. "Sure you will, Cordy. But give me one good reason not to ring up Willow or Giles, and have them go all Exorcist on your ass!"


"That tone of voice may have worked on The Zeppo back in high school, sweetheart, but it doesn't work on *me*. Not anymore. Capisce?"

Cordelia was silent inside Xander's skull. And he didn't know whether that was a good sign, or a bad one. "All right, all right," Harris sighed, giving in gracefully - as his former girlfriend *had* been through a lot. "You can stay, on one condition-"

//THANK YOU!// Cordelia exclaimed, as Xander had the weirdest feeling of being kissed inside his mind. //I swear, whatever you want!//

"One date with your new body."

Cordy was flabbergasted. //What?// Then she grew angry. //Harris, if you think I'm just gonna whore myself out that way-!//

Xander was amused, more than anything else. "Whoa, back up - who said anything about doing that, Queen C? I never said I wanted to sleep with you..."

The former seer was obviously confused. //You don't? Why not?! No, I mean - never mind! Uh, then what *do* you want?//

"I told you. One date with you when this is all over, wherever and whenever I want. Your treat, of course. And by the way, if I'm gonna be playing landlord for the next year or so, here are the house rules. One, you don't *ever* assume control of my body without my permission, understand?"


"Two, no one finds out you're inside my handsome self; not now, and for that matter not ever. I'd never hear the end of it, especially with the lousy jokes from Andrew!"

//No problem.//

Xander couldn't help it; he smiled. "Finally, three; if I'm on a date with some girl and we end up having sex after dinner and the movie, then you don't give me any problems - by getting in touch with your inner lesbian, or whatever..."

Cordelia just let out a horrified mental scream, causing Xander to break out laughing.

//You big jerk!// Cordelia raged. //Here I am being all vulnerable, and your making lame jokes?//

"You know me Cor." He told her honestly. "It's my way of dealing with these kinds of things. Besides has my concerned feelings changed at all that you can feel?"

//No. You're still very worried about me.// She said after a few moments. //But Xander a tiny request.//

"What's that?" he asked while he moved to clean up the broken glass. //Let me take control for awhile in New York. They gave me a crap load of money and I will get you fitted with the *best* wardrobe that any Watcher has ever seen! Any thing will be better then what's in your closet now!//

"Hey!" he said offended. "Cordy, I like my clothes."

//I know, that's the problem.// She said deeply annoyed. //And you know a tan wouldn't kill you either.//

The End