The Good, The Bad, and Cordelia
“I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale!”
And everything changed…
Cordelia groaned and stirred. She opened her eyes. The High School library. Definitely of the good; she’d been out in the street when Vampire Xander had grabbed her and slammed her face first to the ground, so she must have been rescued. She was lying on a table, and she scrambled up.
Giles emerged from the stacks and rushed over to her. “Hey! Hey!” he exclaimed, trying to restrain her from rising too fast and causing herself to pass out again.
“Giles!” Cordelia gasped out. “It’s all my fault! I wasn’t – I made this stupid wish.”
“Come on,” Giles urged, “please lie –”
“No!” Cordelia interrupted. “You have to get Buffy. Buffy changes it. It wasn’t like this. It was better. I mean, the clothes alone… but people were happy. Mostly. And… wait!” Cordelia slid from the table and stood up. “Why are you here and she’s not? I mean, you were her Watcher.”
“How do you know I was a Watcher?” Giles asked. “I’ve never…”
There was a sound outside as if something had fallen. Giles pushed his glasses into place and looked around.
“What?” Cordelia said.
“I thought I heard something,” Giles replied. He moved away from Cordelia, entered the book cage, and pulled a cross and a stake from the weapons cabinet. “Now, I want you to start again and explain everything very carefully.”
The cage door was suddenly slammed shut. Willow turned the key in the lock, withdrew it, and held it up teasingly. “You’re in a big cage,” she said.
Behind her Giles saw Xander holding Cordelia pinned tightly, his hand over her mouth. “Not too bright, book guy,” Xander said.
Giles slammed the cross against the wire of the cage and Willow recoiled. She growled angrily.
“So, you’re a Watcher, huh?” Xander grinned. “Watch this.” He released Cordelia’s mouth, opened his jaws, and lowered his fangs towards the slender neck. Suddenly he jerked back and released her. His hands went to his chest and his eyes opened very wide. “What the –” he began, and then exploded into dust.
Cordelia turned to see her rescuer. A familiar figure stood on the far side of the library, crossbow raised. A man of medium height, slim and wiry, hair dyed platinum blond, in a knee length leather coat. “Spike!” she exclaimed.
Willow wailed in anguish. Her game face came forth by reflex and she sprang to the attack. Spike met her rush with a butt stroke from the crossbow that smashed Willow to the ground. She dropped the key and it skittered across the floor towards the cage. Spike followed up by kicking her in the ribs and then in the face. Willow gave way under the impacts, rolled, and brought her arm across hard to sweep Spike’s legs out from under him. Even as he was falling he pulled a stake from inside his coat and landed atop Willow stake first. Her fleeting expression of triumph vanished as she disintegrated.
Spike leapt lightly to his feet. Cordelia was picking the key up from the floor; she froze as she met Spike’s gaze.
“Go on, love, let the librarian bloke out,” Spike urged. He slung the crossbow over his shoulder, sat down on the table, took out a packet of cigarettes and lit one.
Cordelia unlocked the door and Giles stepped out. “There’s no smoking in here, actually,” he reproached Cordelia’s rescuer.
“That right?” Spike responded. “Think you can stretch a point seeing as how I’ve just saved this lovely lady’s life, mate. Maybe yours too. Dunno what that psycho bitch would have done afterwards. Wouldn’t have put it past her to set this place on fire with you locked in there.”
“I certainly owe you a great debt,” Giles acknowledged. “Very well. But do please be careful with the ash.” Spike nodded. Giles held out his hand. “Rupert Giles,” he introduced himself. “And you are?”
Cordelia stared in stunned amazement as Spike shook the proffered hand. “Bizarro world,” she muttered, shaking her head.
“Name’s Spike,” the blond man said. “Also known as William the Bloody.”
“Ah, that name seems somehow familiar,” Giles said hesitantly. The grip had seemed to lack a certain warmth during the handshake.
“Well, duh!” Cordelia exclaimed. “What happened to Super Knowledge Guy in this world? William the Bloody not ringing a bell? The Slayer of Slayers.”
“Heard of me, then, love?” Spike said, raising an eyebrow. He blew out a long stream of smoke. “Yeah, that’s me. Done two of them, I have. Not that I like to brag – oh, who am I kidding? I love to brag.”
“You – you’re a vampire,” Giles stammered, backing away.
“Give the bloke a cigar,” Spike grinned.
Cordelia smacked her forehead. “Now he catches on. But Spike obviously doesn’t want us dead or we’d be having big problems in the breathing and heart-beating departments by now, so, no need to panic. Thanks for saving my life, Spike.”
“It’s a pleasure.” Spike smiled at her briefly, but then frowned. “How come you seem to know me? Think I might have seen you around a time or two but we’ve never spoken.”
“You do seem to be acting rather oddly, Miss Chase,” Giles added, eyeing Spike nervously and sidling gradually towards the weapons chest.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Hello, Earth to Giles. We have more important things to worry about than my behavior, okay? There’s something very wrong with this world and we have to fix it. For that we need Buffy Summers.”
“That’s the Slayer, right?” asked Spike.
“Umm, how do you know about Buffy Summers?” Giles took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Okay, okay.” Cordelia spread her hands. “I guess we need to have a big explanation session before you’ll listen to me, and I have to say I’d like to know why Spike saved my life. Suppose we all sit down?”
“Umm, should I make tea?” Giles suggested.
“Wouldn’t mind a cuppa, got to admit.” Spike looked around for somewhere to extinguish his cigarette. “Brew up, mate, and then we’ll talk.”
Once they were settled at the table, with cups of tea to hand, Cordelia took a deep breath.
“Okay,” she began. “Long story, so I’ll just do the Cliff Notes version. Buffy Summers, Slayer, Chosen One, moved to Sunnydale, killed the Master, saved Willow and Xander. Spike here blew into town, came up with a plan to kill the Slayer, which totally didn’t work; but somehow it got me together with Xander, even though he was a total loser. Then Spike kidnapped Willow and Xander and locked them in the factory. Me and Oz found them, and went to rescue them, only we walked in on them kissing. I got upset, ran up this flight of rickety stairs, fell through them and got impaled on a rebar. I dumped Xander. Only, by going with him I’d lost all my cool points. I was totally humiliated in front of everybody who mattered. Harmony had taken my place as queen of the class.”
Cordelia scowled and shook her head, fuming at the memory of the betrayal, and only stopped herself from veering off into a diatribe about Harmony and the Cordettes by pausing for a moment and taking a sip of tea.
“And?” Giles prompted.
“Well,” Cordelia resumed, “I worked out that if it wasn’t for Buffy I’d never have gotten involved with Xander. This new girl in class got me talking and I said that I wished that Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale. Suddenly she was all scary, and vein-y, and she said ‘Done!’ and everything was different. No cars for students, everybody in totally boring clothes, the shops close at sunset, and Xander and Willow are – were – vampires. And that’s where you came in.”
“Fascinating. Astounding.” Giles put a finger to his glasses and adjusted their position on his nose. “The presence of the Slayer made a big difference in your world, then?”
“Yeah, it did. Without her? Your world sucks,” Cordelia replied, shaking her head. “We need to get her here to fix things.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Giles assured her. He turned to Spike. “Now, your turn. What was the motive behind your rescuing of Miss Chase? I’m afraid I refuse to believe that it was a purely unselfish act.”
“I’m after your help,” Spike admitted. “Killing those two was a bonus; I’d been after the chance to do it for a while. Mainly I want an alliance. Got someone to rescue, and I want some vengeance. Can’t do it on my own.”
“Someone to rescue? Drusilla?” Cordelia asked.
Spike shook his head slowly. His air of cool amusement evaporated and was replaced by an expression of deep sadness. “Drusilla’s dead,” he told her. “The Master had her executed. Swore I’d see the old bastard in Hell for that. Maybe with help from the White Hats I can manage it. No, the one I want to rescue is Angelus; or Angel as he calls himself these days.”
“Angel needs rescuing?” Cordelia asked. At that point there was an interruption as Larry and Oz entered the library, weapons at the ready. They lowered them as they saw the group sitting peacefully having tea.
“They hit us right outside,” Larry told Giles, looking suspiciously at Spike. “Nancy’s dead.”
“Oh. Oh dear.” Giles sighed deeply. “They’re dead too, now, which I suppose is some consolation.”
“They’re dead? Xander and Willow?” Oz sought clarification.
“Yes, the Master’s most feared enforcers have themselves now been slain,” Giles elaborated. “This is Spike. He killed them and saved Cordelia.”
“Excellent!” Larry said approvingly. Oz gave Spike a brief smile.
“Ah, Spike is actually a vampire,” Giles went on. “He is offering an alliance,” he added hastily, as Larry and Oz raised their weapons again, “and I am inclined to accept his offer. He was just about to give us some further details. It appears he seeks vengeance against the Master.”
“Yeah. Old prune-face had my girl put to death.” Spike’s word choice was flippant, but his tone was deadly serious. He lit up another cigarette and ignored Giles’ pained expression. “See, when we came here last year Dru wasn’t well and we were looking for a cure…”
He went on to relate his experiences in Sunnydale. They had hung about on the fringes of the Master’s court while they searched for the cure for Drusilla’s weakness. Eventually they had discovered that it needed a ritual and the blood of Drusilla’s sire; Angel. He was being held captive by the Master, and Spike and Drusilla had been granted access. Completing the cure had been fairly simple. Afterwards, however, Drusilla had wanted Angel released. Spike had been revolted by the treatment his old mentor was receiving at the hands of the Master’s new favorites and had been happy to back up his Dark Princess. When requests and entreaties had been refused Drusilla had turned to direct action, and had attempted to spring Angel while Spike caused a diversion with a bar-room brawl. It hadn’t worked. Drusilla had been caught in the act by Willow, Xander, Jesse, and the Master’s lieutenant Luke. She’d managed to kill Luke before being brought down, and a death sentence was imposed and quickly carried out.
“I made out I hadn’t known about it,” Spike concluded. “Wasn’t anything I could do. I just had to watch as they cut off her head, force myself to do nothing, and then wait my chance. Caught Jesse alone a couple of months later, killed the bastard, and now I’ve done Xander and Willow. But there’s still the Master to see to. And Angel to get out of that cage.”
“Angel,” Giles said thoughtfully. “I think I remember him. Fairly tall, dark hair? Very strong and fast but, alas, not quite strong and fast enough?”
“That’s right,” Cordelia and Spike confirmed simultaneously.
“He helped us when we tried to stop the Master rising. I hadn’t realized that he was a vampire. Why did he help us?”
“He has a soul,” Cordelia informed him.
Spike stared at her. “Sodding hell, you certainly know a lot,” he remarked. “Yeah, old Angelus ate the wrong gypsy girl back in 1898 and her clan got their own back by cursing him with a soul. Feels all full of guilt, whatever that is, broods, mopes, fights the good fight. But he’s still family. Last time I bumped into him he saved me from being stuck in a submarine at the bottom of the Atlantic. Okay, he kicked me out ten miles from shore, bugger of a swim that was, but the ritual that cured Dru wasn’t any picnic for him so I’ve paid him back for that. Not gonna leave him to the Master any longer than I can help.”
Giles removed his glasses and sucked at the end of one of the arms. “This goes against all my training and instincts, but I am willing to accept an alliance of expedience. Unfortunately even allied we don’t make up a very formidable force to go up against the Master.”
“That’s why we need Buffy,” Cordelia reminded him. “Get her.” She looked sternly at Spike. “And no trying to kill her, okay?”
“Long as she doesn’t try to kill me, I’ll keep my end of the bargain,” Spike assured her.
“Very well,” Giles said, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Cordelia hesitated with her hand on the car door. ‘Don’t accept rides from strange men’, and they didn’t come much stranger or more dangerous than Spike. Then again, the thought of walking home through the lethal streets of this version of Sunnydale filled her with dread. She came to the conclusion that Spike was probably the safer option – and how weird was that? – and climbed into the DeSoto.
“So, love, how well do I know you in that other Sunnydale?” Spike asked. He tilted his head to the side and looked at her admiringly.
“Definitely not like that, so stop with the leering,” Cordelia admonished him. “Mostly you kept getting me trapped in closets with the wrong people. Not a whole lot of fun.”
“Oh, I dunno, I can think of about forty thousand things worse than being trapped in a closet with you,” Spike said, and started the engine. “Like, for instance, being given the keys for a Ferrari Testarossa. Or –”
“What it was like for the other person in the closet wasn’t exactly the point I was making,” Cordelia interrupted him. She couldn’t help smiling at the flattery, however, and looked him over appraisingly. Their meetings in the other Sunnydale had usually involved screaming and running and frantic grabbing for crosses and stakes, and it hadn’t previously occurred to her that Spike was pretty damn hot. Those blue eyes, those razor cheekbones, that accent, that attitude; he had a lot going for him. Although, lack of body temperature was a big downer, and there was that whole blood drinking killer thing to bear in mind. If they did get trapped in a closet together he’d probably eat her. He’d be eating her now rather than giving her a ride home, she reminded herself, if it wasn’t for the alliance between Spike and the White Hats.
The flirting, however, couldn’t just be attributed to the desire for an alliance. And yeah, there was definite flirting. All the way back to her house. If he hadn’t been a vampire, she admitted to herself, there would have been making out in the car. She’d been pleased back at school when John Lee had asked her to the Winter Brunch, but that had just been because he had status; something she’d been missing out on while she’d been with Xander. Spike was in an entirely different league. Only, hello, vampire.
Still, Cordelia reached home uneaten. She let her parents’ admonitions about being out alone after dark roll over her unheeded. Alone in her bedroom, however, she allowed the Queen C armor to slip and suddenly she was crying. Crying for Xander, for Willow, and for the people who should have been occupying all the empty desks in the classroom. And, being Cordy, she cried because in this reality she wasn’t allowed a car.
“Cordelia. Thank you for coming,” Giles greeted her as she walked into the library. Larry and Oz were already there, busily carving stakes.
“Well of course I came.” Cordelia tossed her head. “You really don’t know me at all in this reality, do you?”
“Gotta say, you coming into school on a free day is something I never thought I’d see,” Oz said.
“Get used to it. Where I come from I’ve fought at your side for more than a year. It’s Larry who’s the odd one out as far as I’m concerned,” Cordelia replied.
“I’ve been a White Hat nearly from the start,” Larry said in an aggrieved tone. “How come I wasn’t one in your world?”
“Hey, don’t blame me,” Cordelia said. “Maybe because you didn’t get along with Xander, and our group formed around Buffy and Willow.” A thought struck her. “Oz, are you a werewolf?”
“Werewolf?” Oz echoed, eyes wide. “Why would I be a werewolf?”
“Little hint. Don’t let your cousin Jordy bite you, okay?”
“Ah.” Oz nodded his head slowly. “That would explain a lot.”
“So, anyway,” Cordelia said, turning to Giles. “Did you get hold of Buffy?”
“I left a message with her Watcher,” he told her. “He didn’t know where she was, actually, but he will tell her when she next checks in. Unfortunately he doesn’t know when that’s going to be.”
Cordelia’s forehead creased. “He doesn’t know where she is? What kind of Watcher is he? You always knew where she was. Well, except for that time when she ran off to Los Angeles to work as a waitress after she sent her boyfriend to Hell.”
“Uh, are we quite sure we want this chick to come here?” Larry wondered.
“Trust me on this. We want her. Things will totally be better with Buffy here,” Cordelia assured him.
“I’m not sure if we can wait, unfortunately,” Giles said. “The Master has something big happening tonight. I believe it will draw his forces away from the Bronze, and may give us a chance to rescue this Angel that we should not pass up.”
Cordelia nodded. “That will bring us up to two vampires, one Watcher, and three Scoobies. Yeah, I agree, we should totally go for it.”
Giles frowned. “Scoobies?”
“It’s what we called ourselves. From Scooby-Doo, you know?” Cordelia smiled. “White Hats sounds better. Classier. But then, Xander Harris was never classy.” Her smile faltered briefly and she sought to change the subject. “Wonder why the Master hasn’t opened the Hellmouth? We were sure he’d do it as soon as he got free.”
“I must confess I have no explanation,” Giles said. “He appears to be waiting for something.”
“It’s probably something to do with the Mayor,” Cordelia suggested. She saw blank looks on the others’ faces. “What, you don’t know that the Mayor is evil? Complete with his own big evil plans?”
Giles took off his glasses and began to polish the lenses. “Ah. That must be why attempts to summon aid from outside the town have failed so dismally. The local authorities must be in league with the vampires.”
“So we get rid of the Master and then we have to fight the Mayor?” Larry put down the stake he’d been whittling. “You can’t fight City Hall.”
“Of course we can,” Cordelia said confidently. “If we get Buffy, that is.”
“Hmm.” Giles replaced his glasses. “I wonder just how far we can trust Spike?”
“Well, in my reality he did team up with Buffy to save the world that one time,” Cordelia informed him.
“That is a promising sign,” Giles smiled. “From the Master?”
Cordelia grimaced. “Uh, no. Actually, it was from Angel.”