Part 5: Help!

A still subdued Cordelia showed Giles the phone in the kitchen and then went upstairs with Joyce to freshen up. Luz was long gone to her apartment over the garage, but she’d left a generous platter of cold cuts, crackers and chips out on the table. Larry grabbed a plate and loaded up with a little of everything. Nancy picked out the lowest-fat items. Oz stuck to rabbit food.

Larry could tell that the phone call was not going well, he recognize the tone that meant that Giles was struggling not to lose it.

“...yes, I understand, but it's imperative that I see her. Here. Well, when will you...? You are her watcher, I would think she'd at least check in to... Yes. I'm aware there
is a great deal of demonic activity in Cleveland. It happens, you know, that Sunnydale is on a Hellmouth... it is so!” His hand tightened around that freaky pendant he’d taken off of Cordelia, until the knuckles turned white. “Just give her the message, if you ever see her again.”

Giles hung up, frustrated. “Tosser,” he grumbled.

“What’s that mean in American?” Larry asked curious.

“A waster,” Giles told him.

“Like Dorothy Parker’s canary.” Giles stared at Oz in surprise.

Nancy flicked her boyfriend on the arm. “Stop showing off.”


“Who was on the phone?” Merrick jumped, startled by her voice. Damn her, sneaking up on him. He turned to see her smirking at him knowingly.

“Some lunatic Watcher in California; he claims he’s on a Hellmouth.”

“There’s a Hellmouth in California?” She perched on the edge of his desk, deliberately smacking her gum; she knew how much he hated the disgusting habit.

“It’s of no consequence. You have more than enough to do on this Hellmouth.”

“Yeah, been kinda slow though, since I took out that DelaColter chick and her merry band of Satanists. Just vamps and demons. I’m bored.” She yawned theatrically.

“Your duty lies here. Speaking of which – did, you clean out those Perpsen demons?”

Buffy leaned down and came up with a brown paper sack; it was damp at the bottom and made an ugly wet sound when she dropped it on the blotter in front of him.

“There you go.”

“What on earth is this?”

“Scalps. Ten little and two big. Didn’t want you to think I was slacking.”

He glared at her, but didn’t bother to try and reprimand her. She was the longest-surviving active Slayer in Council history and he should have been proud to be her Watcher. Unfortunately, he had come to believe that the Watcher/Slayer relationship was not intended to last for such long periods. His Slayer had grown from a willing servant of good to a vicious unforgiving harridan.

“It’s late, guess I better get to bed. Night, Merrick.”


I will not be envious. I will not hate the Chases for having a huge house and so many more beautiful things than me. I will not wonder why they get luxurious exile on a tropical isle when they’re caught while the rest of us get to stay on the Hellmouth. Joyce silently repeated her mantra as Cordelia led her upstairs and into her bedroom-suite. She tried not to dwell on the fact that it was bigger than several apartments she’d lived in. Cordelia distractedly directed her to the bathroom. The very large bathroom, complete with Jacuzzi and bidet.

Her frazzled image stared tiredly back at her, the glamour lights around the huge mirrors didn’t seem to help much. Her clothes were ripped and dirty and she could feel the bruising on her side where it felt like Xander had cracked a rib. She needed a nice long bath and about 20 hours sleep. God, it had only been a few hours, less than a day since she’d lain down with a headache and everything changed.

She ran water into the basin. The sound made her thirsty. She rinsed out the cup sitting on the counter and filled it with cool, clear, water. It tasted better than she remembered water ever tasting. It was wonderful.

Downstairs Giles was making a call to Cleveland, hopefully talking to Buffy or her Watcher. He’d told her he wouldn’t mention his informant’s identity. She wondered how Buffy would take it when she found out. She’d seen Buffy that morning, at breakfast. But for this Buffy’s mother had been dead for more than two years. Two years she knew nothing about. Two years that must have changed her daughter. She might be a total stranger now.

And Dawn, her tiny girl. Where was she? Giles hadn’t mentioned her. Did she even exist yet? Would Dawn Summers ever exist? She couldn’t imagine the monks sending her here, now.

She splashed her face and scrubbed away the grime. Scrubbed hardest at the point where she’d felt his cold lips touch her. She shuddered at the thought of Xander, sweet, steady, utterly loyal boy transformed into that leather-clad creep. And Willow, her face still childish despite the makeup and the dominatrix gear.

She brushed her hair, borrowing a plain band to hold it back. The woman she sees in the mirror still looks like hell, but from a slightly higher circle.

Oh God Maybe she’d made the wrong choice. Maybe she should have thanked Anya nicely for the offer and gone back into the light; simply accepted that all she got was thirty-nine years. That she was never going to see either of her daughters fully grown, or married, or mothers in their turn.

The hell. Death was not better.

Her clothes were hopeless. She went back out into the room and didn’t see Cordelia, then she noticed an open door to one side. She found Cordelia inside the walk-in closet, staring unhappily at her clothes.

“I need to get out of these. Have you got anything I can wear?” Joyce asked.

“Huh?” She looked her over critically. “Well, you’re a little bigger than my mother but I’m sure I can find something for you to wear.”


“Sure.” Her attention had returned to the clothes. “I don’t believe this. I mean, really!”

“What’s wrong?”

“Look at this! I mean, O.K., bright colors attract vamps but this looks like a nun’s wardrobe!”

Joyce had to agree. Everything seemed to be in neutral colors, not even any blacks or dark blues to break the tedium. “I don’t suppose she – you had much choice.”

“Yeah. I guess. The whole school is like in permanent mourning. And that good old Sunny-denial is all gone. Everybody knows about vampires now. Including bizzaro-world me I guess.” Cordelia wandered out of the closet and sat down on the edge of her bed. “How does that work anyway? I mean, what happened to the other color-challenged Cordelia? Did she take my place in the real world or did I just disappear?”

“I think you’re the one and only Cordelia in both realities. You didn’t disappear, because I remember you leaving town after graduation and Xander mentioned that you were working with Angel in LA. But I really don’t know. Maybe we can find out, later.”

“I really screwed up, didn’t I?” she said in a tiny voice.

Joyce was reminded that despite her mature body and normally confident manner, Cordelia was only, what? 16? 17? She was just a kid. Who had destroyed the world. Joyce patted her shoulder.

“It’s not your fault. We all wish for things, I know I do, you didn’t know what would happen.”

Cordelia looked unconvinced. “I’ll go get you some clothes,” she said in a dull tone and left the room.


The fist-sized stone smashed through the window and glass exploded inwards. Willow clapped.

“Oooh. Always wanted to do that. Like in Bringing up Baby.”

“Supposed to use a pebble I think,” Xander pointed out.

She shrugged.

She watched as the drapes opened and frightened faces filled the window. The white-hats, plus two. Her fangs itched at the sight of Cordelia. The Master had let her finish off his dinner, but that had barely taken the edge off. She’d had Cordelia, smelled her blood. She wanted her, but that wasn’t why they were here. The Master wanted the Summers woman dead. Everything else had to take a back seat to that. But once their mission was accomplished...Cordelia had to come out sometime.

“What do you want?” the Watcher shouted.

“We just want to talk with your new friend.”

“Talk away.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t like having to shout. It’s kinda private. Why don’t you send her out and me and her can talk.”


“Aw, c’mon. Don’t make this difficult. Just send her out, and we’ll let the rest of you go.”

“No!” Giles’ voice would do for Moses in the remake.

Xander sighed. “You guys just don’t know when to give, do you? You don’t even know her. Not like we want to kill someone you like.”

“Yeah. We promise to make it quick.” Xander cut his eyes at her. “Not helping here, Willow,” he muttered.

“We’d never give up any human being to you!” Giles thundered. He was definitely getting into the role.

Xander gave up.

“Well, if that’s your last word on the subject. Come on Wills, we’re not going to hang around where we’re not wanted.” The humans watched as the two vampires stalked dramatically into the shadows.

They’d left the car parked where the curve of the drive hid it from the house.

“Awww. It’s cute, they’re so brave.”

“And stupid.”

“Good thing we brought some persuaders.” Xander grinned and opened the trunk. The acrid smell of gasoline hung heavy over the milk crate filled with a dozen bottles with rag stoppers.

“A few of these ought to change their minds.” Willow grabbed a bottle and turned back toward the house.

The pipe hit her square in the face, smashing her nose flat, driving the bone back into her brain. She dropped like a sack of sand and the Molotov cocktail smashed on the pavement beside her, gasoline mixing with sluggish blood. Xander heard and turned so the pipe only grazed the back of his skull instead of caving it in. He staggered but still wanted to fight. Spike moved lazily out of the way of his punch and rapped him again with the pipe, breaking the arm the boy raised in defense, and then bringing it down on his forehead with a satisfying crunch. Xander fell and lay twitching on the ground.

Now that was fun. Inside the house he could hear the soft murmur of worried human voices. They’d be wondering where their visitors had gotten to. The Watcher certainly wasn’t fool enough to think they’d give up so easily.

He dragged the fledgling back to the car and hoisted him into the trunk. Dumped his girlfriend on top and then slammed the hood shut. Keys were in the ignition. He backed out carefully, before flooring it down to the street. He stopped to play a salute on the horn before peeling out.

A few miles outside of town he sank the car in a quarry. Stood there a few minutes but nothing but a few air bubbles emerged from the black water. They’d be alright as long as they didn’t try to get out during daylight. And if they did, oh well. He turned and headed back to town. Time for a drink.


“It sounds like they left,” Larry didn’t sound convinced.

“Wanna go outside and check?” Nancy said. No one bothered to answer her. “That’s what I thought. I guess we’re all staying here tonight.” She checked her watch. “Hey! It’s almost time for Dawson’s! Come on!” She grabbed Oz’s arm and hauled him off in the direction of the entertainment room.

“Hey!” Cordelia went in pursuit. “My house my pick! I’m watching Ally McBeal, you want to watch that WB crap, you use the 30 inch in the solarium!”

Giles and Joyce looked at each other and almost smiled.

Posted 12 July 2003

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