Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (tv), Angel (tv)
Characters: Cordelia/Willow
Summary/Teaser: After Buffy S6, Willow stayed in Sunnydale. After Angel S4, Cordelia woke up. This takes place late in the summer following those seasons. (The request got my brain on a track wherein Buffy S6 and Angel S4 happened at the same time, even though they didn't. So apparently this is rather more AU than I'd intended.)
Warnings: AU, girl kissage
Spoilers: Buffy S6, Angel S4
Notes: Written for seraphcelene for the 2005 Buffyverse Femslash Ficathon. The request: Cordelia/Willow, post S6 Willow and post S4 Cordelia (This is going to be a very AU pairing), nothing syrupy sweet, please.
Word Count: 1536

Standard Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and co. own the characters, I’m just playing with them. I do, however, own this story, so don’t steal it. Archive it anywhere; just ask first.

Feedback is always appreciated. Make me blush with praise or rip apart the story with criticism, or both.


I Saw You Be Strong
by Elizabeth Scripturient

“Something’s coming.”

Willow gaped.

“Something big. And okay, so I sound like a giant nutjob -- either that or like Giles, and truth be told I’m not sure which one is worse, but -- can I come in, by the way?”

“Oh yeah, um sure.” Willow gestured weakly into the living room. “Make yourself at home,” she said softly.

Cordelia glided through the doorway, and Willow felt a momentary stab of fear that she was really a demon or something. It was a bright sunny day, though, so unless there was a second Gem of Amara floating around somewhere, Cordelia wasn’t a vampire at least.

Cordelia flopped into an armchair. “So, I spent last year trapped in some Higher Dimension, while some crazy bitch walked my body -- ” she held up one hand in warning. “No comment.

So anyway, I couldn’t actually do anything while I was stuck up there, but i got to see a lot.” She smiled. “Which was damn frustrating at the time, but I’m back now -- don’t ask how ‘cause I sure don’t know.”

“And you’re back... here? Weren’t you helping Angel fight evil in L.A.? Shouldn’t you be there?” -- a thought struck her -- “Something didn’t happen, did it?”

“No, nothing happened. I mean, lots has happened of course, but nothing like that. Angel still walks the undead streets, as do the rest of them.

Thing is, the big thing that’s coming? It’s here. L.A.’s a big scary place, but Sunnydale’s still the Hellmouth.”

“We should get Giles, go into Research Mode.”

“Yes. Definitely. Could I get some food, first? The bus ride from L.A. to here is obscenely long, and I haven’t had anything decent to eat since breakfast.”

“Um, yeah. There’s bread and cold cuts and stuff in the kitchen.” Willow followed Cordelia into the kitchen.

The front door slammed open. “Hey, Willow! Would you believe it? A sewage pipe exploded underneath the DoubleMeat, so they’ll be closed for at least 3 days while they get it repaired. Which, admittedly, means I’m out 3 days worth of a paycheck, but three days of not smelling like fast food is more than enough compensation to my mind.” She walked into the kitchen and stopped short. “Cordelia?” She turned to Willow. “Why is Cordelia in my kitchen?”

Cordelia looked up from the sandwich she was making. “Way to go, talking about me like I’m not here. I’m glad to see your post-high school experience has increased your maturity.”

“Thanks, Cordelia. ‘Cause eating other people’s food and then insulting them is so mature.”

“I did, um, tell her to help herself,” Willow said hesitantly.

“Because I’ve been on a bus all day, coming all the way from L.A., just to tell you you’ve got Hellmouth trouble. What was I thinking? You’ve got really good blueberry jam, though.”

“Uh, thanks. Giles brought it back last time he went to England.”

“So he’s still around? Good. We’re gonna need some serious research.”

*****

Giles was doing his best to glean every possible bit of useful information from the visions Cordelia had had, and she was visibly wearying. “Aren’t Slayers supposed to have prophetic dreams? Why am I the only one getting cross-examined here? Hasn’t Buffy had any visions?”

Giles fixed Buffy with an intent gaze. She shrugged. “Nope. No visions.” He stared harder. “What, you think I’m lying?”

“Well, there was that time Angel came back and you didn’t tell us.”

Buffy glared at Xander. “You’re not helping. Plus, this is totally different. Cordelia claims some UberEvil is gonna come up from the Hellmouth and devour us all. It’s not a fate I’m particularly keen on myself, so don’t you think I’d be helping if I could?” Xander shut up.

Giles looked thoughtful. “From what Cordelia has told us, this threatening power is already here, underneath the Hellmouth. It’s possible that whatever it is has been preventing Buffy from sensing it.”

“Okay, so I can’t dream it. Can I still kill it?”

Giles sighed. “Buffy, we don’t even know what it is.”

“Too bad Spike seems to have vanished. The local demons probably know something, or maybe there are new players in town, anyway he might hear things.”

“Except that none of the demons so much as speak to him since he’s been batting for our side for the past two years,” said Xander.

“You didn’t know? He’s gotten himself a soul. It won’t help, of course.” Cordelia’s voice was unnaturally cold. “I mean really, have you been to L.A.? Humans evilling it up all over, and they can’t possibly all have sold their souls.” Her voice was lighter now, more familiar.

“How do you know these things?” Buffy asked.

“Were you not paying attention the first dozen times? The whole ascension, prisoner, look but don’t touch deal? I saw things while I was up there, and it was torture at the time because I couldn’t do anything about it, but then I came back, and I don’t even wanna know what kind of evil strings Angel pulled to make that happen, but I’m back, and what I saw was true, and you don’t have to believe me, but there’s no reason that everything else I saw would turn out to have been true and this not be.”

“Okay, fine, so you’re right. Look, it’s late. Why don’t we all go to bed and start over in the morning?”

Giles wiped his glasses. “That sounds reasonable.”

“Yes. Bed. Sounds good.” Xander steered Anya out the door before she could say anything inappropriate.

“Cordelia, you can sleep on the pull-out couch. I’ll get you some sheets.”

“Thanks, Will.”

“Ah, very good,” Giles said softly, relieved at not being volunteered to house Cordelia. “See you in the morning?” He squeezed Buffy’s shoulders gently.

“Yeah, thanks.”

Cordelia walked upstairs to wash up, and Buffy followed Willow to the linen closet. “She came back wrong.”

“You can’t know that.”

“Yes I can. It happened to me.”

“You can’t believe that, Buffy?”

“How can’t I?”

“Okay, fine, you came back wrong. You died and I brought you back and something went wrong. I thought we weren’t gonna talk about that anymore. And besides, it has nothing to do with Cordelia. Her situation’s totally different.”

“Fine, so she didn’t die -- exactly. She still came back different, wrong somehow. Tara would know--” she stopped herself. “Can’t you do some sort of a spell? Find out, make sure, something?”

Willow sighed. “Buffy, I’m really not sure I’m ready to be doing spells like that again.”

“I’m sorry, Will. I wasn’t thinking. I’m just worried is all. Promise you’ll be careful?”

“I promise.”

Buffy hugged her quickly and then headed up the stairs. Willow watched her and then went back to the linen closet and set about putting together the pull-out couch. After she’d finished, she started up the stairs, and almost ran into Cordelia.

“Oh, sorry, didn’t see you. Um, the couch is all pulled out and covered in sheets and everything. They’re cartoon character sheets, hope that doesn’t offend your sensibilities too much.”

Cordelia smiled warmly. “Nope, that’s fine. I’m just glad to have a soft bed. You don’t ever need sleep when you’re a Higher Power, but that means you miss out on terrific human experiences like soft beds and hot showers. That last one’ll have to wait for the morning, I guess. Falling asleep in the shower can’t be good for one’s health.”

Willow smiled. “You’re probably right. I’ll let you get some sleep then.” She moved closer to the edge of her side of the staircase, but Cordelia put out a hand.

“Stay with me a little while? It’s still so weird being back. I half expected to open my eyes and find myself back There.”

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

“Actually, no. But would you sit with me for a while?”

“Sure.”

They walked down the stairs and Willow sat nervously on the edge of the couch bed, worrying an edge of the comforter in her hands and staring intently at the patterns on the rug.

Cordelia leaned over and kissed her. Willow pulled away sharply. “Cordelia!”

“I’m sorry, that was too sudden.”

“Well I wasn’t exactly expecting it from you. You were relieved when Harmony turned out to be a vampire rather than a, how did you put it, big lesbo?”

“Hey, I apologized for that. Besides, that was years ago. People change, and grow.”

“Yeah, people change.” Willow’s voice sounded wistful.

“I know about Tara,” Cordelia said gently. “I watched you lose her. And I saw what happened after. I know that kind of pain. Back before the whole ascension thing, I had visions like prophetic Slayer dreams, only awake and complete with pain. Visions of people we could help. But there was one time, early on, when I had all the visions all at once. It hurt so bad.”

“I didn’t exactly handle it well when I got all connecty with the world’s population.”

“Yeah, but you survived.”

“So did you.”

They sat in silence.

“Look, I’m gonna be here for a while. I don’t want things to be awkward. I won’t push if you don’t want me to, but... I’d like to try.”

And Willow heard herself saying, “Okay.”


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