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Ripper - Season 1

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The breeze rustled the curtains but she could have stopped it if she wanted to.  She was in control.  She was connected to the elements; the earth, the air.  The Powers that Be.  She could stop it all if she wanted to, the rush of water through the unfamiliar house.  But where was it coming from?  And why was she unaffected by it?  She should be soaked to the bone by it, like the other figures around her, some familiar, some not.  Like the others, she should be being pushed back by the swell of water gushing through the large window.  So, why wasn't she?

And why wasn't she?

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She turned to look around; the other woman turned too, mirroring her movements. The same but different - both dark hair; different lengths, same movements, different inflections.  Clearly neither of them expected to see the other.  This was a new occurrence. 

Suddenly the other woman looked away, looked towards the ceiling as if knowing it was about to cave in.  She braced herself against the swell that was inevitable.  And it was inevitable but as it hit her, something else took hold of her.  A hand reached out to the shorter haired woman and held her hand tight.  She look up into the face of the man who held tightly onto the hand of her almost doppelganger.

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 The young brunette woman's eyes flew open.  He sister rushed to her side.  "What is it?  What did you see?"

She sat up on the grass, her breathing relaxing.  "I saw something.  Someone.  She's powerful."  She wiped the sweat from her forehead as her older sister tended to her, stroking the long dark hair that grazed the grass. "She saw me."

"Saw you?  Actually saw you?"  Her sister stopped quickly.  She took her chin in her hand and turned it to her, a little too roughly for most people but the younger of the two was used to this.  This was an act of concern: her sister knew the toll these visions could take on her.

The dark haired woman nodded, looking off into the distance.  "I'm fine.  But she's connected to him."  Her sister followed her gaze to the man walking towards them.

 

Chapter Text

Oh, and you're welcome.

He turned his back on her and she knew this was her time.  Cordelia walked peacefully out of Angel's office and into the light.  She had always thought that the 'walking into the light' thing was a steaming pile of s-  But apparently it was all true and she walked into it, for the second time, hoping that this experience would be a lot better than the last time.

Inhale.  And exhale.  And Cordelia opened her eyes.

It was a lot harder than she had anticipated.  Her eyes fluttered open slowly trying to acclimatise to the light in her eyes.  Sunlight.  Cordelia sat up quickly, squinting as the world started to take shape around her.  The blue sky and sun that seeped through the conveniently placed space in the trees that surrounded her.  The ground beneath her was brown, twiggy and mulchy.  This was nothing like the last time.  She didn't expect this afterlife to be so woodland-y.  She eased herself up off the ground and dusted off her clothes.  The clothes, she noted, that she had been wearing when she was with Angel.  Her hair didn't seem to have changed since she left Angel either.  This must be what the AfterLife is like… But things were off, she thought as she began to walk around, slowly at first, stretching her limbs, then getting used to it. 

First, shouldn't she be dressed in white?  Last time, it was all white, all the time.  The Powers That Be weren't doing anything else; they could have added a pop of colour here and there. 

Second, why was her body aching? Isn't the afterlife supposed to be calm and peaceful?

She finally came to a clearing.

And third…  why was the afterlife taking the shape of something smaller than a town?*

Frowning, Cordelia broke into a jog, stiffness be damned.  She passed a few houses, thinking better than to knock on someone's door, until she reached what she deemed to be the middle of the town and looked around for somewhere inviting.

The Adventure Bookshop.  The Little Tea Room.  Travelling … "…pub?"  I'm not in America anymore, that's for sure.  Deciding the bar to be her best bet, Cordelia walked briskly over to it and pushed open the door.

The smell that hit her when she opened the door was not what she expected.  Bars she had frequented in LA had one distinct smell: alcohol.  And sometimes urine, she conceded.   This place smelled… nicer.  Warmer, cosier.  The smell of fresh cooking wafting out to her.  She stepped inside and looked around.  It was quiet.  Two groups of two or three, one man at the bar, and the landlady.

Unsure of her next more, she sat down at a table to think.

"Oi." Her head shot up.  "You better be ordering something?"

Cordelia stood up and walked up to the counter, pushing her hands into her pockets, hoping for money.  She pulled out $5 cash and placed it on the counter.  "Coffee. " 

The landlady held up the American money.  "You're in England now, sweetheart, this isn't good here."

"I'll get it for the lady," the man at the bar offered, shooting Cordelia a smile.  The landlady slid a cup of coffee over the counter, with the dollars. 

Cordelia stuffed the money back into her pockets, took the coffee and returned to her seat.  Her mind was racing.  She was pretty sure this wasn't the afterlife.  She brought the coffee up to her lips and, as she was about to take a sip, noticed her hand was shaking.  I'm not scared.  I'm Cordelia Chase.  Cheerleader, Princess, Warrior, Higher Being… I'm not scared.

She jumped when she realised that the man from the counter was sitting across from her, sliding a glass of water over to her.  "You look like you could use this more than the coffee.  You seem jumpy enough."

"Maybe, but I'm not stupid enough to accept a drink from a stranger."

"So, you're American?"  She nodded.  "Welcome to Westbury.  Been here long?  Only, you don't seem too prepared for British culture."  The landlady was looking at her too.

"This was sort of a last minute trip."  Suddenly the lies came flowing. "I have friends in the area and I wanted to surprise them."

"So you hopped on a plane, no bags, no money, nothing?" The landlady raised a suspicious eyebrow.  Cordelia smiled. 

The man sitting across from her chuckled.  "I'm Colin.  Colin Broderick."

"Cordelia Chase."

The landlady  leaned over the counter, her elbows resting on the surface.  "Careful, he's a regular Casanova."

Cordelia straightened up.  "Thing is I'm not sure where exactly I'm headed.  Could you guys tell me where I can find the Pryces?"  The two locals looked blankly at her.  "The Wyndam-Pryces?"  Again, she was given blank stares and head shakes.  She sighed and buried her head in her hands.  The panic that had been subsiding was starting to rise again.  She was alone and confused.  The last time this had happened to her was the first time she had been sent back but back then she couldn't remember anything.  And she hadn't been entirely alone.  Suddenly, she looked back up.  "The Giles-Es…"

"Aye, Rupert Giles?"

"Yes!"  The rest of the patrons of the pub looked at her as she squealed: she couldn't remember a time she had ever felt happy hearing that name. 

The landlady nodded.  "He lives up on the estate."

Colin stood up.  "I'm heading up there now actually to discuss some business.  I can give you a lift if you'd like."

"Yes.  Thank you, that would be… incredible!"  Cordelia took a sip of her water and  followed Colin out.  As Cordelia sat into the car, the fear and panic subsided, and she could begin to appreciate the beautiful scenery as they drove.

"So, how does a man like Rupert Giles meet a beautiful woman like Cordelia Chase?"

Cordelia laughed.  Casanova, indeed.  "We met when Giles moved to America.   He worked at my High School.  When I left, my - colleagues - and I would ask Giles for advice.  He was always there for us.  Even when he didn't want to be." A lifetime ago…   Cordelia looked out the window and frowned.  The village had disappeared, the fields, the horizon.  All she could see were trees and a winding road and she was beginning to regret accepting a lift from a stranger.  "Where are we?"

"Heading to the Giles' estate."

"The Giles' esta- … the Giles' estate!?"  Cordelia looked from her driver to the large house that was coming into view, her jaw dropped.  "Holy. Sh-"

Colin pulled into the drive way.  Cordelia jumped out of the car before it had fully stopped.  She wasn't sure if it was because she was this close to answers or this close to a  house so big, she couldn't wait to see Giles.  She bounded up the steps of the veranda to the front door and knocked.

Colin came up behind her.  "You won't find him in there."

He walked over to a waist high stone wall that had steps leading to a large back yard and pointed.  She followed him over and looked out.  She couldn't help but laugh.  There, riding towards the house was the most majestic horse she'd ever seen, and on it's back was Giles.  She looked down at him and waved, smiling.  He stopped the horse, dismounted and slowly made his way up the garden.  He reached the steps and, to Cordelia's amazement, took the set of 7 in two bounds.  She beamed at him.  "Surprise." 

"Cordelia..."  She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him, overcome with happiness and relief.  She pulled away quickly as the awkward hug remained unreturned.   "Cordelia."

"Don't look too happy to see me."

She looked at him but he simply returned her gaze, a gaze filled with shock. "Cordelia."

"I think you've been hit on the head too many times."  She softened her smile, but the look he was giving her was unsettling.

He continued to stare.  "It's not possible."

"It's a… very long story." She began shifting her eyes from Giles to Colin and back. 

"Cordelia," he repeated.  Something was wrong.  He had gone rigid, his face drained of colour.

Colin, sensing the tension, stepped forward.  "I found her in the pub.  She looked very lost."

Cordelia and Giles never dropped their eyes.  "Giles, what's-" He placed a hand on her shoulder but quickly pulled away again, bringing his hand up to his mouth. This was a look very familiar to her.  "You look like you've seen a ghost."

He took her by the elbow and turned her to the house.  "Colin, we're going to have to discuss the accounts later.  Can you make sure Mabel is put in and seen to, please?  Excuse us."   He shut the door behind them, allowing Cordelia one final look at Colin waving before the door shut.

"Hey, can you stop doing that and tell me what's going on?"  He led her down a hall and into a study. "Giles, stop that."  She pulled herself free.  "What is the matter with you?  God."

He grabbed her by both shoulder and looked at her hard.  "Cordelia.  What are you doing here?"

She shook her head.  "I don't know.  I just… ended up here."

He let go of her.  "What do you remember?"

Cordelia sat down in an oversized chair.  "I got possessed, impregnated, put into a coma.  The Powers that Be woke me up to help Angel with something and they told me that if I did this they'd put me on a different path.  I thought they meant: Rest in Peace.  I left his office and I ended up in the woods."  She turned her hands over in her lap.  "I thought maybe they wanted me to help Wesley but…"

Giles swallowed hard.  "Wes… He's not from these parts."

"Giles, I know I'm probably the last person you expected to see but- Something's wrong.  I can feel it.  I know that this isn't the afterlife, that became pretty clear after a while but I don't know what I'm doing here.  Please, you have to help me.  I know we didn't always get along before but I've changed a lot since the last time we saw each other."

Giles ran his finger along a clock on the mantelpiece, his back to Cordelia.  "It's been a while." He flicked off the dust on his index finger with his thumb.

Cordelia smiled.  "What like, 5 years?" Giles looked sadly at her.  "Giles.  What is going on?"

She wasn't the child he once knew in Sunnydale.  Being honest, he had never really known her as a child.  She was more mature than the rest of the gang in some ways but also more selfish, more entitled.  But he'd heard the stories, from Willow, from Angel, from Wesley.

No, she wasn't the Cordelia Chase he had known. 

Giles sat on the coffee table in front of her.  "Cordelia, you did indeed help Angel, and impart on him a vision. And you said goodbye to him and the others.  You helped him a great deal.  But after you left, Angel received a telephone call from the hospital."  He still shivered at the recollection of Wesley on the telephone to Willow,  the cold he felt seeing Willow tense, asking if she'd woken up at all, if she'd been peaceful.  "They said you'd died without waking." 

Cordelia nodded.  "I know. The Powers woke me, they made me corporeal so I could help Angel. When I left I was supposed to ascend or whatever but now I'm back here."

"Cordelia, this happened over a year ago.  You've been dead for 17 months.

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Chapter Text

Cordelia had a vague recollection of Giles asking her if she wanted tea, nodding and then following Giles down a hallway into a kitchen.  She sat at the counter in silence.  Neither spoke until Giles placed a cup of tan coloured tea in front of her.  "So,  I was buried?"

"Angel and the others gave you a very fitting send off.  Willow and Xander were there.  I would have b--"

Cordelia shot him a bland stare, a look he had been expecting.  "Really?  I think we both know that's not true."

Giles cleared his throat, not admitting that she was right.  "I was here with Dawn and Buffy was in Italy."

She looked up at him from her tea, her shoulders hunched.  "Did he do it?  Angel?  Did he do what he was supposed to do."

Giles nodded. "They attacked the senior partners.  It had repercussions.  On all sides."

Cordelia let a sad smile creep onto her lips. "My guy did," she whispered into her cup.  He did it but she wished she could have been with him.  She blinked away tears that were welling up for the past. "So where is everyone?  Xander, Willow, Buffy?  Why aren't they here with you?"

"Willow's in Tibet for a few weeks, studying an ancient form of Magicks.  Buffy's still in Italy and Xander is in London.  He's been working as a tactical expert for the Watcher's Council and Slayer Organization.  Since Buffy activated all the Slayers, we've needed everyone on board that we could get.  Dawn's in London too, studying.  They both come down here as much as they can.  And I travel up to the council for Watcher's business, so I get to see them a lot.  I probably see Anya and Andrew the most.  They're in London too but they have more free time than Xander and Dawn so they come down more often. " He too a sip of tea.  "Cordelia.  I know you have a lot of questions and I promise, I will answer then all but  I think the most important thing at the moment is why you're here - why you were sent back.  There's part of a coven in the area.  I work closely with them.  They helped Willow after her problems with magic.   One of them:  she's a seer, of sorts.  She's like you.  She's connected to the Powers.  She may be able to find out why you were sent back."

"How?"

"I'm not sure how she would go about it.  I never cared for their methods.  But she's powerful.  And if I trust anyone to find this out, it's her."

"When would we leave?"

"Now, if you like.  It's a short walk from here.  Just back onto the main road and down a little.  You wouldn't have passed it on the way here."

Cordelia nodded. "Fine."  She stood up, wiped her hands on the midriff of her shirt and headed out the door.  Giles stared after her, concerned.  "Are you coming?"

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"Geez, you weren't kidding when you said they lived nearby."  They'd been walking in silence for less than 5 minutes, Cordelia, picking flowers here and there, pulling off the petals, not calling Giles out on the glances he kept sneaking at her.

"Yes, they, um, they like to be close to the estate."

Cordelia looked at the little cottage.  "Does the whole coven live here?  Like isn't a coven… more than one?"

"There's 15 in this particular one, but not all are in Westbury."  Giles knocked on the door.  "This house is inhabited by two, uh… sisters."

The door swung open and a young blonde woman met them.  "Wh-"  She looked from Giles to Cordelia, her lips shifting from a scowl to an amused smile.  "Vin," she called into the other room, a smile creeping onto her lips.  "Ripper's brought a girl.  She's young."  She turned and walked into the house.

Cordelia raised an eyebrow and tried to stop a smirk forming on her lips.  Giles rolled his eyes and gestured Cordelia to follow the woman into the house.  As she did, she took in the other woman's appearance: a multicoloured sort of 1920's style turban hat sat on her head worn with a buttercup yellow chifon dress and slip and black boots.  The look on anyone else would have looked outrageous but whether it was luck or confidence, this woman pulled it off and Cordelia was impressed.  She couldn't be much older than Cordelia.  She led them into a room off the kitchen, where another woman, about the same age was sitting, less extravagantly dressed.

She theatrically dropped onto the couch beside her dark haired sister.  "Look, Vin, isn't she pretty?" The brunette looked up from her book.

Cordelia gasped.   

The other woman, Vin, stood up. "You!"

Giles looked from one to the other.  "What's going on?"

Cordelia pointed.  "You were in my vision."

"No, you were in mine."

"What vision?" Giles frowned. 

"Before I woke up here.  I completely forgot.  You were there."  She looked at Giles.  "And you.  And there was a flood and…"  She paused, then sighed.  "I don't remember. But it was strange. I was in control of myself - that's never happened in one of my visions before."

"Maybe because it wasn't your visi-"

"It doesn't matter whose damned vision it was," Giles interjected exasperated.   "You being in each other's visionsit's unprecedented but it makes  it very clear that you are supposed to be here.  Cordelia,  this is Lavinia - Vin - and Sophrinia - Sophie - Fairweather.  They're… my aunts."

Cordelia cocked an eyebrow.  "Aunts, but they're-"

"Magic, darling. It works wonders for the skin." Sophie was sitting up straight now, no longer languishing in teasing Giles.  "And great aunts, Ripper, we have double seniority over you."

"Hi," Cordelia raised a hand, "as much as I would love to hear all the embarrassing stories about little Giles, can we focus on me please?  I'm supposed to be dead."

"You're that Cordelia?"

Cordelia looked at Giles.  "You've been talking about me?"  Her smile fell when she realised how serious everyone in the room looked.  She turned back to his aunts.  "Giles said you could help me.  You can find out why I'm back."

"No."  Sophie stood up and walked over to the liquor cabinet, all eyes following her.  She tilted her head back, drinking something in one go.  Then she turned back to the room and spoke to Giles.  "Are you really so selfish that you would ask her to go through all that?  All to satisfy your own knowledge? That's incredibly advanced magic that you're asking her to do."

"Willow did something a lot more invasive once and everyone came out unharmed."

"Then wait for Willow.  Willow's more powerful than both of us combined and she turned evil."

"And you helped restore her to who she was.  See the beauty of magic, not the pain in it. Willow might have power but Vin has strength.  She can do this."

"Do what exactly?" Cordelia asked.

"Take you on a journey." Vin gestured for everyone to sit down, taking Cordelia's hand and guiding her to the sofa next to her.  Sophie did so reluctantly, placing herself in the seat between Vin and Giles.  "It's sort of an out of body experience.  I'd take you to another plane, to see your visions."  She looked at Giles.  "I suppose it's almost like the Slayer's Vision Quest."  Giles nodded.  "It's more dangerous. Because your body and your soul will be in two different planes, if you die in your vision, you die.  You can't come back.  Either of us.  If two go in, two come out and no matter how much the Powers might want to bring us back, not even they are powerful enough . We'd both be dead.  It's a great risk."

Cordelia looked at no one as she agreed.  "Let's do it."  The stunned silence radiated the room.  "What?  Did everyone expect me to say no?"

Vin nodded.  "Yes," Sophie said.

"Pretty much,"  Giles agreed.

Vin looked at Cordelia and tilted her head down, as though sharing a secret.  "I had an argument to sway you're decision."

"I have been hopped around more times than I would have liked and the last time - that was supposed to be the LAST time - wasn't.  I ended back here.  I want to know what I'm doing here.  What I'm fighting.  What I am."

Vin looked confused.   "You're Cordelia Chase.  The Warrior.  The Higher Being."

Cordelia looked fondly at the girl who reminded her of Fred and her heart ached for her friends.  "The last time I came back, I came back with no memory of who I was or why I was here.  And when I got my memories back, my body had been hijacked by a higher bitch who would have ended the world.  I don't want to take any chances that I could hurt any one else that I care about."

Vin took Cordelia's hand in her own.  "But that wasn't-"

"Really me.  Yeah, heard that before.  But I'm still living with that guilt.  I want to be sure I'm not a timebomb."

"This isn't wholly invasive," Sophie said,  "but if you're not sure you can handle this, say now because if anything happens to my sister I will kill you."

"I grew up on the Hellmouth and I've faced a lot of crap in the last 8 years.  I could floor you if I wanted to but I'd hate to waste my energy.  There is nothing you can say that will change my mind."

"We'll put a timer on it."  Everyone looked at Giles.  "Half an hour, in and out.  At least you stand a chance of finding out what's happening and if you do run into anything, you'll be pulled back after 30 minutes.  Ultimately, it's your decision."

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Cordelia took a deep breath, deeper than she had ever taken before, the country air soothing her.  She missed Angel.  She wanted to see him.  Not just because she loved him.  She had and she always would.  And she missed Wesley,  how much he had become her confidante and how easy it had all been before she became half demon.  The headaches were awful but their jobs were clear. 

She looked over as Fred laughed at Angel and Gunn playing video games.  "The initiative you've shown, training with Angel  -" She turned to Wesley, who was helping her with the refreshments.  "-I'm proud of you."

Everything seemed to go to hell from there.  Darla showing up, pregnant…  Things were never be the same after that.

Cordelia turned, the presence stirring her.  She smiled at Giles.  "Tell me again."

Giles came up to her and leaned against the fence that she was standing by.  "You and Vin and will sit in a circle.  Sophie and I will recite a spell, which will take you out of this plane and into another.  You'll be corporeal, you'll be able to die but with the time limit, hopefully you'll have enough time to find out what you need to know and not meet anything."  He frowned.  "Cordelia, if you do meet anything in there…   Vin's not the strongest fighter.  She's more of a healer."

"I'll look after her.  Will it be the vision I had before?" she asked as they walked back to the cottage.

"It's hard to say.  It could be something old with cryptic messages about the future.  It could be something entirely new."  He pushed open the door and let her pass before him.

In the living room, Vin and Sophie were standing over a bowl of something.  Cordelia felt heady as they walked into the room.  "What is that?"

"Just a few herbs and flower to put you in the trance," Sophie answered.

"Wait till we light the candle, it gets more intense," Vin added ,  beaming.

"You've both done this before right?"

"No," Vin answered, "this is entirely new."

Cordelia looked back at Giles.  "I've done something very similar to this dozens of times, you'll be fine."

"Was one of those dozens the time you summoned that demon who killed all those people?"

Sophie smiled.  "Cordelia, I think I'm beginning to like you.  Out of curiousity: What can you do? What are your powers?"

"Why?"

"You won't have them on this plane. Just curious."  Sophie handed Giles a piece of chalk and the two began drawing a circle on the floor.

"I made traffic stop once."

Vin nodded.  "Anything else?"

"Light?  Before I ascended the only real power I had was that I could create light.  And heat."

"We're ready," Sophie said, as Giles walked over to her, book in hand, crouching beside her. 

Vin took Cordelia's hand and  walked her into the circle.  "You sit here." Cordelia mimicked the witch as she sat cross-legged on the floor, the seers facing each other, hand in hand and a bowl between them.

Sophie clicked her fingers.  The candle in the middle of the bowl lit.  "Good luck."

"We need to look into the flame, block everything else out," Vin hurriedly explained to Cordelia. Cordelia nodded and did so.  Vin was right:  once the candle had been lit, the smells that had been already so intoxicating became amplified.

Giles and Sophie looked at one another, and began to recite:

Ex hoc usque ad media hora

 

Et mitte ibi te non habes potestatem

 

Miserunt ita ut possunt videre,

 

Quid est, quod necesse est esse   *

 

Cordelia waited but nothing seemed to happen.  She looked up from the flame and gasped when she saw Vin, sitting where she had been gazing at the flame, but also laying flat on the floor.  Cordelia jumped up and saw herself mirroring Vin's seemingly lifeless body.  The room had darkened and there was no sign of Giles and Sophie.

 "They're not of this plane."  Cordelia look at Vin.  Who was beginning to stand.  "We have half an hour."

 "Where do we start?"

 Vin pointed at the door.  "Let's start with walking."

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"I wonder how they're doing."

Giles shrugged though she couldn't see him.  "It's only been ten minutes." 

"I know how long its been, Rupert.  I've heard the seconds ticking by incessantly.  Horologium incendere.  What?"  Giles shrugged his shoulders, knowing berating her for using magic so casually would do nothing. "It was getting on my last nerve."  Giles walked over to the liqour cabinet and poured two glasses of whiskey, both neat, probably the one thing he and Sophie had in common.  He sat beside her, handing her the glass.   "Cheers."  She touched her glass off his and took a sip.  " I know why I need a drink but you… I was under the impression you never really cared for Cordelia."

"She's not the girl I used to know.  Besides I've fa-"  He looked deep into this glass and took a deep breath, burying what feelings were ready to rear their heads.  He sipped his drink.  " I've let down too many people in the past."

Sophie's features softened.  "Your only responsibility was to the Slayer.  Those kids should never have been a part of that.  You stuck with them through so much that you didn't have to. And Cordelia survived without you for long enough.  You tried to help her.  It wasn't your fault she was being used."

"And what about Fred?  Wesley?"

Sophie frowned, for the first time since he returned to England, truly seeing her nephew.  "You failed no one.  Buffy, Faith, they've survived this long under your tutelage.  No other Watcher can say that.  When are you going to stop taking responsibility for other people's mistakes."

Giles shook his head and looked at her. "When are you?"

Together, they finished their drinks.

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"We're getting nowhere."  Cordelia said.  She had not worn the right shoes for a day of walking.

"All we need to do is keep out of any huge danger for the next 20 minutes - "

"And find out why we were in each other's visions?"

"Exactly."  Vin smiled.  "Easy as pie."  Vin frowned and rubbed her stomach.  "I just realised I'm starving."

"So, Giles seemed thrilled to have me back."

"He's just surprised."

"No need to sugar coat it.  I was never his favourite."

"Cordelia." Vin grabbed her elbow and spun her around.  "He grieved for you.  When he heard you'd died, this… change came over him."  Cordelia looked unconvinced.  "It's true.  I've known him his whole life and after he heard about you this… reservation came over him.  He took a lot hits in a short time.  It's a lot of the reason why he turned his back on Angel.  He thought it would be better."

Cordelia frowned, no longer looking at Vin.  "When you say grieved, do you mean like that?"  Cordelia pointed to a bench, where a layered Giles was sitting, small crosses in front of him.

Vin pushed open a gate and led Cordelia over to the two crosses that sat before him.  One bore the name Tara MacClay - "Lover, Friend, Sister.  Selfless"; the second  one read Cordelia Roseline Chase - "Cheerleader, Princess, Warrior".

"He created this when Willow was here.  He thought it would be therapeutic for her.  I think…  I think you were for him."

Cordelia felt a pain in her heart.  She walked up and sat beside him.   "Giles, I---"  She felt the tears building up in her eyes.  For the first time, Cordelia was lost for words.  So instead, she placed her hand around his and looked out at her name on the grave.  Something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye.  "Vin…"  She strained to see. "What-  What is that?"  She could just make out an outline of something."

"Cordy." Vin had moved off towards a warehouse where noise was coming from. Banging and shouts.  "Is that-?"

"Giles!?" 

They both took off at a sprint.  When they reached the warehouse, they found some Thing pummeling Giles.  Sophie was lying on the ground, bleeding.  Unexpectedly, Giles and the demon both looked right at the girls.  "Can they see us?" Vin asked,  The demon, done with Giles, dropped his bloodied, almost lifeless body on the ground.

"Uh, yeah, looks like.  Get Sophie out of here, I'll look after Giles."  The orders flew out before she had come up with a stable plan and she was running at the demon before she could stop herself.  Vin ran to Sophie first to check on her.  The demon threw the first punch, but Cordelia ducked and landed a kick to what she assumed was it's face.  It had no effect:  the demon grabbed Cordelia by the leg, and twisted her around, sending her face first onto the ground.  The demon suddenly lurched forward, and Cordelia saw Giles standing behind it with a steel pole in his hand, the other arm holding his torso.  The demon, again unfazed, swung out an arm, flinging Giles into the wall, shaking the building, dropping several of the wooden beams.   Cordelia caught sight of one of the beams and smiled.  Giles, you sly fox.  

The demon was still distracted by Giles so Cordelia took her chance.  The distraction didn't last long, though, and it quickly turned back to Cordelia.  She ran as fast as she could to the nearest beam, spun it in her hand, like a baton, so the jagged end was pointing behind her and jerked it backwards.  She heard the sound of it piercing the flesh, and soon smelled the rotting flesh.  Giles began reciting something, but it was becoming faint, and he was fading slowly; the entire warehouse was: demon, Giles and Sophie.

"Vin, what's going on?"  Vin just shrugged, clinging onto her sister.

______________________________________________________________________________

Cordelia turned around.  "There's something you need to see."  The woman put her hand to Cordelia's forehead, a white light emitted from between them.  "There are many paths to who you were meant to be."  Cordelia saw her friends, not just Angel and Lorne and Gunn but Buffy and Xander and Willow and Giles.  All fighting to make the world a better place.  She saw Giles, sitting in a big library, nothing like the high school one.  She saw herself, a teenager, sitting with Giles in the school library, searching.

"He won't be able to fight the rest of the fight without you.  He'll need your drive, your spirit, your strength."

You can fight or you can rest.  The choice is your.  And yours alone."  The woman smiled kindly at Cordelia.

Cordelia opened her eyes.  "The hell with resting, I want to fight."

__________________________________________________________________________

"How long more?"

"I don't know. You incinerated the clock."

"And you don't wear a watch?" 

Giles lifted the sleeve of his shirt and glanced at his watch.  "They have just under 7 minutes."

Sophie reached forward and filled their glasses with their third helping of whiskey.  "Have you told the others that she's back?"

"No.  We talked for a little while and then came here."

"What does she know about what's happened since she… 'died'?  'Ascended'?"

Giles took a sip of his drink.  "I told her that Angel attacked the senior partners at Wolfram and Hart and where Buffy, Xander, Willow and Dawn are now.  We'll talk more after they get back."

Sophie looked at him incredulously.  "Ripper!  She has a right to--"

"I know.  It just wasn't the right time.  I'll tell her when we get back to the--"

Something changed within the room.  Suddenly, simultaneously, Cordelia and Vin sat up, breathing heavily.  Sophie rushed into the circle, kneeling by her sister.  Giles stood just outside the circle.  "What happened?"  He reached out an arm to Cordelia and helped her up. "The spell shouldn't have finished for another 4, 5 minutes unless…" She looked up at Giles.  "Someone got it wrong?"

" I think - I think we know what we're supposed to do." Vin rested her head on Sophie's shoulder.  "All of us."

"What's that?" Sophie asked, stroking her little sister's cheek.

"Oh, you know, save the world, yadda yadda yadda.  Y'know Vin, I'm pretty hungry too." 

Vin stood up smiling and pulled up Sophie, her arm wrapping around her sister.  "Help each other, protect each other.  Be… family."

"Are you feeling alright?"  Sophie asked, checking Vin's forehead.

"I'm serious. We're supposed to help Cordelia, Cordelia's supposed to help Giles.  You and Giles are supposed to bury the hatchet.  It all makes sense now."

Cordelia frowned.  "You got all that from the vision?"

"You didn't?"

"I got the helping Giles part."

Sophie suddenly brightened and smirked.  "What better way to help each other than to be close?  At all times?"

Giles smiled fondly at his two aunts.  "Not a hope in hell."

"Ripper..."

Vin looked from one to the other.  "We need to be able to contact Cordelia at all times.  It's easier if we're on the estate.  We don't know what powers she has or how advanced her powers will be."

Cordelia nodded.  "I could use the extra guidance."

Giles shook his head, beaten "Fine.  But one wrong step and you're gone."

Even if it was just her mission to make Giles life miserable, Cordelia knew she was going to like it here.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Do you think we can?" Sophie asked.  "Bury the hatchet?"

"We'll probably have to find out what the hatchet was in the first place."

"Do you think you and Cordelia will work it out?"

Giles stopped walking.  "For heaven's sake Soph, I'll tell her when we get back to the house."

"If she doesn't find out before."

"Are you threatening to tell her?"

"No."  Sophie, pointed down the road, where Vin and Cordelia were not far behind them.  "But look where she's stopped."  Giles looked at them and realised too late what was on the other side of the gate. 

"Cordelia!"

But she was already pushing in the gate.  "Oh, don't worry,"  she called back.  "I know about the memorial, you big softie.  I just need to check something."

As she disappeared into the grove, Giles sprinted after her.

It jarred her, seeing her name on a gravestone.  But what was more unsettling was seeing the two names that had been in her vision. 

She read the names and collapsed in front of the graves of Winifred Burkle and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.

 

Chapter Text

"You should have told her sooner."

"Yes, Sophie, thank you. When you're ready to bring something new to the conversation, please do. Until then, shut up." They were all seated in the study of Giles' house, surrounding Cordelia. There was a silence that everyone wished would break but none wanted to break it.

Cordelia finally did with a sniff. "How did it… did they-?"

"A demon possessed Fred. And Wesley died when they took on the Senior Partners."

Cordelia looked at him, the first time since they left the cottage. "Helping Angel? With the vision I gave him?"

"This isn't your fault. Blaming yourself is not going to help anyone. Believe me."

Cordelia wiped the corner of her eye. "Is there anything else I should know?"

"Charles Gunn got turned into a vampire and Angel and Spike are took him to Africa to get him ensouled," Sophie offered. "We don't know if they succeeded."

Cordelia bit her lip. "So the only survivors of the vision that I gave Angel are two vampires and a demon." She looked at everyone, waiting for an answer to her non-question. Her eyes eventually came back to rest on Giles face. "Wes…" No matter what her throat remained dry. "How could they do that? The Powers. How could the give me half a vision? How could they let me send my family into certain death?"

Giles took Cordelia's hand in his. "Cordelia, they walked into battle, to certain death, willingly. Angel asked each and every one of them if they wanted to back out and none of them did." Giles smiled. "Even in Sunnydale, Wesley fought for the good of the world. You both did. You both may have felt fear, but you never ran away because of it." He stood up, dropping her hand and walked over to a desk. "After Wesley died, his father approached me at the Council. He, uh, found some old volumes of Wesley's that Angel had sent back." He opened a drawer. "Roger had no use for them but thought the Council might. While I was going through the texts I found this." He returned to Cordelia, opened up his hand and dropped the small item into hers.

Cordelia smiled, tears forming in her eyes again. "His pocket watch." Giles nodded.

"He was very proud of that. Forgot to wind it half the time but..." He trailed off his admittance.

She nodded. "It was his Grandfathers. He told me once in Sunnydale. When he was little he used to be so fascinated by it, his Grandfather said that once he became a member of the Watcher's Council, he could have it. Everytime he saw this, he fought harder to be a Watcher."

"It didn’t feel right, giving this back to his father. He took such pride in this watch, it should go to someone who really cared for him. Someone he really cared for."

Cordelia wiped her jaw line. "I really miss him."

Giles cleared his throat. Other people crying always made him uncomfortable. "I know you do. And I know this might not seem like much but you can still fight for him. Don't let his death be in vain." Cordelia nodded and wiped away the last of her tears.

Chapter Text

"You should have told her sooner."

"Yes, Sophie, thank you.  When you're ready to bring something new to the conversation, please do. Until then, shut up."  They were all seated in the study of Giles' house, surrounding Cordelia.  There was a silence that everyone wished would break but none wanted to break it. 

Cordelia finally did with a sniff.  "How did it… did they-?"

"A demon possessed Fred.  And Wesley died when they took on the Senior Partners."

Cordelia looked at him, the first time since they left the cottage.  "Helping Angel?  With the vision I gave him?"

"This isn't your fault.  Blaming yourself is not going to help anyone. Believe me."

Cordelia wiped the corner of her eye.  "Is there anything else I should know?"

"Charles Gunn got turned into a vampire and Angel and Spike are took him to Africa to get him ensouled," Sophie offered.  "We don't know if they succeeded."

Cordelia bit her lip.  "So the only survivors of the vision that I gave Angel are two vampires and a demon."  She looked at everyone, waiting for an answer to her non-question.  Her eyes eventually came back to rest on Giles face.  "Wes…"  No matter what her throat remained dry.  "How could they do that?  The Powers.  How could the give me half a vision?  How could they let me send my family into certain death?"

Giles took Cordelia's hand in his.  "Cordelia, they walked into battle, to certain death, willingly.  Angel asked each and every one of them if they wanted to back out and none of them did."  Giles smiled.  "Even in Sunnydale,  Wesley fought for the good of the world.  You both did.  You both may have felt fear, but you never ran away because of it."  He stood up, dropping her hand and walked over to a desk.  "After Wesley died, his father approached me at the Council.  He, uh, found some old volumes of Wesley's that Angel had sent back."  He opened a drawer.  "Roger had no use for them but thought the Council might.  While I was going through the texts I found this."  He returned to Cordelia, opened up his hand and dropped the small item into hers.

Cordelia smiled, tears forming in her eyes again.  "His pocket watch."  Giles nodded.

"He was very proud of that.  Forgot to wind it half the time but..."  He trailed off his admittance.

She nodded.  "It was his Grandfathers.  He told me once in Sunnydale.  When he was little he used to be so fascinated by it, his Grandfather said that once he became a member of the Watcher's Council, he could have it.  Everytime he saw this, he fought harder to be a Watcher."

"It didn’t feel right, giving this back to his father.  He took such pride in this watch, it should go to someone who really cared for him.  Someone he really cared for."

Cordelia wiped her jaw line. "I really miss him." 

Giles cleared his throat.  Other people crying always made him uncomfortable. "I know you do. And I know this might not seem like much but you can still fight for him.  Don't let his death be in vain."  Cordelia nodded and wiped away the last of her tears.

 

Chapter Text

"This is yours." Giles stood aside in the open door and showed Cordelia her bedroom. She stepped into the room and looked around. The four poster bed opposite the door looked so lush she was considering forgetting about the shower and just curling up there, though she wasn't tired. To the left, the large windows had long, heavy, red velvet curtains tied back and offered a 'splendid' views of the fields that Giles owned, both having sills that could be used as window seats, and a large wardrobe and vanity table placed between the two. The right side of the room housed a desk and chair and a small curved opening that had been refurbished as a wardrobe. Cordelia walked across the wooden floor and dropped the fashion catalogues that Vin had given her onto the bed and sat beside them. Giles walked into the room from another one across the hall, carrying a t-shirt and sweatpants, which he placed on the bed.

"It's not the biggest room, Sophie laid claim to that one years ago and no one can break whatever spell she put on it."

"It's great." Cordelia pointed to the closed door on the right of the room. "What's in there?"

"Ah." He pushed away from the desk and opened the door. "Bathroom. It's shared, but you have the only private entrance." He walked to the other door in the bathroom and opened it, revealing the hall that they had just been in, then over to the shower, turning a lever.  "Shower on." He turned it again. "Off." He reached inside and turned an identical one. "Temperature." Then, reached down and pointed at the taps. "Bath, hot and cold." He straightened up, smiling, a little proud of his tour.

Cordelia leaned against the door jamb. "Shampoo? Conditioner? Body wash?" He walked over to the bathroom mirror and opened it.  "Well, you've thought of everything."

"Any other questions?" he asked, following her out to the bedroom.

Cordelia sat on the bed again, Giles leaned against the desk. "They're your Great aunts… how?"

"They'd been playing with magic for years before either myself or my father were born. They'd summoned a demon who could grant them eternal youth; in exchange, they were to become his minions. Vin did a little fancy footwork with her wits and they managed to dodge the contract. The demon was furious and, had my grandmother not shown up when she did, they'd probably have been eviscerated."

"Wow. So they got eternal youth free of charge. That's… kinda cool. I'm not saying they were right," she added, when Giles shot her an unimpressed look, "just: well done them."

Giles nodded. "They've always been a little lax when it comes to the repercussions of magic but they've gotten better. They helped to rehabilitate Willow after she abused her magic." He stood straight and stretched. "You should get some sleep." He pointed at the clothes on the bed. "Those will have to do for tonight until we can get you some clothes tomorrow."

"Where're we going tomorrow?"

 "Ah, I'm going up to London to the Council. I have some work that needs doing." Giles awkwardly grasped for the best way to approach the next topic. "I'll most likely be seeing Xander."

 Cordelia nodded. She looked him straight in the eye. "I'm not ready. Xander, Willow, Buffy. Angel. Fred that isn't Fred." He watched as she picked at something on her hand. "I just need some time."

 He avoided her gaze. "I won't say a word. And I'll try to dissuade them from coming down here for a while." He pushed himself away from the desk. "Try and get some sleep. If you need anything I'm right across the hall."

 ~~

 Giles sat at the desk in his room, trying to focus on the reports from the Council on the Slayers. 1800 in all, though not including what Dawn had coined the 'Potential' Slayers. Potential not in the sense that they had been using before: girls who could have been called as Slayer had Faith been killed. Rather, girls who showed an aptitude for fighting but it being unclear whether they were truly Slayers or just really good fighters.

 He read the report from Wood in Cleveland, who, though not having found any new slayers, reported that Faith had dispatched a rather hateful vampire crime lord, Faith's statement of the event attached. Threw aside one folder and picked up another. The words Dawn Summers, WIT were scrawled on a label across the top and underneath Giles' own name was written. Giles flipped open the cover and looked at the smiling photo of Dawn before turning the pages to a blank page further back where he began writing up the details of their last session. Half an hour into the write up, a knock came at the door.

 "Come in."

 He didn't look up as the door opened and footsteps padded up to him.

 "What's the Slayer's Organisation?" Cordelia asked, walking over to his bed and sitting up close to the headboard, tucking her knees up under her chin.

 "Hm?"

 "You mentioned it yesterday."

 Giles looked at the clock on his bed-side table, reading 1.27, then glanced over his shoulder at her. "I thought you were getting some sleep."

 "I've been dead for 17 months, I don't need sleep. What's the Slayer's Organisation?"

 He explained distractedly, busy trying to get Dawn's report done, as well as his own reports on other Watcher's reports, all to be finished for tomorrow. A convoluted system, but necessary since many of the Watcher's in the field had never been officially trained, like Wood.

 "It's the main branch of the re-established Watcher's Council. After The First had it blown up, there were very few of us left, about 50, including those in other international offices. A few weeks after we defeated the first, I contacted the Council and we were all flown back. Since Willow had activated all the Potential Slayers, we were vastly outnumbered, and it was no longer one slayer, one watcher. So we needed a new system. Better than the old one. Where the Slayer's had more agency. The Council consists of the surviving Watchers as the senior members. The Slayer's Organisation consists of newer Watchers and the Slayers. These Watcher's consist of people who have an aptitude in fighting and discipline and teaching, people we could give a few quick lessons to and send them out into the world with squads of Slayers. Xander being one of them: his military knowledge and his years helping Buffy allowed me to get him qualified straight away, as well as Robin Wood - his mother was a slayer- and Buffy and Faith. There's also our research department - ancient relics, texts, artifacts. It's more or less just rebuilding our library and a team who can translate any texts that need translating. There's a medical center. Buffy and Faith do a good deal of running the entire operation and the original members of the council are essentially pencil pushers." Giles smiled wryly.

"It must kill you not to be fighting."

"Oh, no, I still go out to the field. When I can." Giles stood up and took off his glasses, tossing them on the table. And rubbed his eyes. It had been a very long day.  He reached for his cup of coffee, taking it with him as he stood and began pacing around the room. He glanced at Cordelia. She was staring into space on his bed.

"So," she pointed to him, "senior watcher overseeing everything, the Slayer's Organization is Buffy, Faith and a bunch of untrained watchers looking after a squads of girls and Xander is a part of this?" Giles nodded. "What's the Watcher's Organization?"

"Watcher's in Training. Dawn's a part of it and she's excelling."

 Too busy pacing, he didn't notice Cordelia shift. "And Ancient Relics is a department that is pretty much what we used to do in the library when there was a Big Bad?"

"Well, that's a very simplistic view of it but, um, yes."

Cordelia smiled. She gestured at the table. "And what's all this?"

Giles sighed. "Our foibles."

"English."

He wanted to correct her but stopped himself. "The system is somewhat better than the older one but it's still new. There are still hiccups. It can be messy. Buffy doesn't believe much in paperwork and I'm beginning to think she's right. Too many Slayers, with too few Watchers and even more paperwork."

"What can I do to help?"

He looked at her surprised. "What?"

"I'm here. I'm not doing anything. What can I do?" It took him a moment to fully understand what she was talking about. "I used to help Wesley all the time with research and stuff. What can I do? And besides - " She pointed to her head. "- visions."

"Um." He wanted to argue with her, tell her to get some rest. The one thing he didn't need right now was Cordelia Chase disrupting the system. But he couldn't. It wasn't that she looked sad and even a little pathetic in the over-sized clothes. It was the energy in her eyes. He looked at the desk then reached and pulled up a sheet of paper and a few books. "I wouldn't mind getting some sleep before tomorrow but um-"

"Gimme." Cordelia held out her open hands.

"One of our Watcher's in Russia found a few victims with this carved into them." He handed her the sheet of paper with what looked like a simple squiggly line on it. "I haven't been able to find any context for it but I have a few more texts to glance through."

She jumped off the bed and snatched the paper and books from him, beaming. He followed her out of the room with his eyes. "Good night," she called as she pulled the door closed. Giles stared at the door a moment longer, then turned his attention to the table before he finally decided that the clean-up could wait until the morning and that the train to London would be enough to finish up the final reports.

~~

Giles bounded down the steps from the front door to the lobby of the Council. Though he was in great shape to tackle all the stairs, he had to wonder at the decisions made by other members of the council about the location, as well as other subjects. Buffy called a lot of the shots. She wasn't afraid to delegate but when they were re-establishing the Organisation, she gave older members of the Council, like Quentin Travers and Roger Wyndham-Pryce, little movement on many things. What they did have a say in was the organisation of the Research departments. And the location and layout of Headquarters. Giles was immensely gleeful when he remember that Buffy had made them, essentially, glorified architects and interior designers. He had always found it amusing when Buffy butted heads with the Council. He would always root for her. And he hoped deep down she felt the same. She gave them senior member roles but Dawn had let on to him that it was just for show. "As long as you're in charge when Buffy's away," Dawn had said to him during training one day, "she can slay easy."

As he rounded the corner, he found Roger and Quentin sitting at a table. His stomach turned everytime he caught sight of the two men he close to despised. He composed himself before he walked up to them. He cleared his throat. "Gentlemen."

Roger barely looked at Giles, while Quentin looked up. "Rupert."

"Faith dealt with Doro. Robin's report is on your desk."

"And Russia?"

Giles reached into his pocket as his phone rang. "We're still working on it." He frowned as he pressed the answer button. "Hel-Hello?"

Cordelia was on the other line. "Hey. How's London? Did you get my things?"

Giles glanced at Roger and Quentin. "It's alright. Sophie's working on it." He turned his back on them. "Have you learnt anything?"

"Yeah, the symbol comes from Byzantine Empire-"

"What date?"

"Will you let me finish?" She sighed, exasperated. She began again and Giles could have sworn she was speaking slower than before and he would have bet she was doing it on purpose. "It comes from the Byzantine Empire in the 900s. It has the power to control demons that aren't necessarily on the bad side of the spectrum."

"Such as?"

"Such as our friendly ensouled vampires, to name an example. They can also control the likes of empaths, demons who are neither good nor bad. Higher Powers with demonic properties."

He thought he could hear her wincing. "It actually says that."

"No, but I'd rather not find out."

"You won't, not unless you go to Russia."

"His name's Kovos, if that's any help."

"Can you keep researching? You have free reign of the study."

"Gee, I'm honoured." He would need to have a word with her at some point about her use of sarcasm. "Oh, and one other thing. He feeds off of and can manipulate the cold."

"That explains the sudden rise in temperature in Russia. Thank you."

"Hey, you won't forget my clothes, will you?"

He rolled his eyes. "Sophie's working on it. Bye." He hit the disconnect button and turned to find Xander standing opposite him.

"Hey. Who was that?"

"Vin." Xander raised his eyebrows. "She had some information about this symbol that Kennedy and Sloane found in Moscow." And he relayed the information to his fellow Watchers.

Giles and Xander left soon after.

"Vin? You asked Vin for help with Watcher business?"

"She and Soph have been around for a while."

"Yeah but Lavinia and Sophronia? You don't think that's risky?"

"They're my blood, I trust them. I might not always like their methods but... they... uh... Have methods. Besides they more than proved themselves when it came to Willow."

Xander lifted his hands in surrender. "Alright, alright. It's just surprising. You've never let them help out before."

Giles conceded that he had perhaps gotten a bit defensive. "They've moved into the house."

"Whoa…"

Giles stopped walking and turned back to find Xander had stopped in his tracks. "I didn't expect you to be so stunned. They have as much claim on that house as I do."

"It was just… unexpected. I always thought that there was no real love lost between you guys."

Giles nodded. "I suppose. But it doesn't change who they are to me." They began walking again. "Anyway, what are you doing up here? Shouldn't you be downstairs?" Downstairs was where they housed all the tactical equipment and 'game room.'

"Dawn forgot some school books that I think she needs." Giles frowned. "She stayed with you again? What's wrong with her dorm?"

"You know how these places can get, college students can get really rowdy."

"And you know this from experience?"

"Funny."

Almost 10 years ago, Giles would never have thought that he would call Xander a colleague, let alone that he would respect the young man. Maybe it's the eyepatch. "You would tell me, if she was having any trouble?"

"She's still a teenager, Giles-"

"I'm not asking you for the good of the Council, I'm asking you for Dawn. Please."

Xander nodded and they continued to walk. "Any word from Buffy?"

"You'll probably hear from her before I do."

 ~~  

Cordelia touched the old clock on the mantle, brushing her fingers along the ornate detailing, her other hand in her pocket, her fingers tracing  the ornate pattern on the pocket watch resting there. 

She felt strange.  Not like any of the other times she was sent back.  She felt like she was getting used to everything again and not just her body.  This time felt different.  This time she really felt like herself.

She glanced over at the desk laden with ancient tomes open and unopened; books that had been slammed down in frustration; a stack of books so daunting that she decided to leave them as a last resort.  There wasn't anything overly interesting in any of them; more of the same things said in different ways.  Some factually; some flowery. Basically, she didn't have anything new to tell Giles.  Lavinia had spent the morning needling her about her 'adventures', what it was like being a higher power.  She picked up quickly on the topics Cordelia had wanted to sidestep.  Cordelia in turn asked Vin if there was anything else Giles hadn't told her about.  She didn't want details, not right now, she had enough to process, but she wanted to be prepared.  Vin repeated to her what Giles had told her yesterday, a quick run down of what everyone was up to.  After lunch, Vin left Cordelia to research mode and went to get  some of their stuff from the cottage. 

Cordelia was alone, roaming the halls of the house.  The house that was deceptively big on the outside.  The common rooms were big:  the kitchen was spacious but Cordelia imagined it got hectic fast. To the left was a pantry/ utility room/ door to back garden; to the right was a decent sized dining room which opened onto to a sun room.  There were doors both in the sun room and the kitchen leading in the living room slash library slash TV and play room; the biggest room in the house from what she could tell.  One side was dedicated to research mode.  Bookshelves were lining most of the outer facing walls, but one side of the room had sofas, desks, chairs, stacks of notepads, lamps; all your demon hunting, researching needs.  The rest of the room had a clear mark of the American Youth invasion.  There was a large TV placed to the side of the fireplace, on top of a medium sized bookshelf housing what looked like DVDs, the funiture was too comfy looking to be Giles' doing, especially the L-Shaped sofa.

Across the hall was a more sedate looking study.  Giles', she guessed, for when the invasion began.  The second floor, or first, as Vin corrected her, had 6 bedrooms ranging from medium to large.  Giles, Dawn, Andrew and Anya had their rooms here: Xander decided to redecorate the Attic to house three roomS: one for him, one for Buffy and one for Willow and Tara.  Faith had a room too, but she had only occupied it twice since they came to England, Vin said.  And now, three more rooms were occupied.  This place was going to be busy if ever everyone decided to come home at once.  Cordelia swallowed the thought down.  She wasn't ready for that.  Not yet. 

So she found herself back in the living room, distracting herself from all the explanations that people were going to be looking for from her. 

When she pulled her attention away from the clock, the world around her had changed.       

The air around her felt cold; colder than she had ever felt in her life.  Something in the air warned her:  this wasn't a natural chill.  Cold was supposed to pierce the skin outside in, not the other way around.  She felt her blood literally freezing inside her.   A light flickered in the window of a small house before her, getting darker and darker.  Instinctively, she ran towards it.  She slowed as she reached the house and cautiously walked inside, towards the room with the fire.  As she walked in, the light went out but the natural light from outside cast a blue glow around the room.  By the fireplace stood a woman with long dark hair, holding a dagger, staring at Cordelia.

Past Cordelia. 

Cordelia was about to turn to face what the woman was staring at.  The woman's eyes were wide with fear and she opened her mouth to say something.  Her voice was cut off by icicles protruding from her body.  From the outside in.  Through her stomach, mouth, eyes, chest, heart, throat.  Cordelia screamed and turned to face burning red eyes.

It took Cordelia a few seconds to realize that she had been screaming outside of the vision and was kneeling on the floor.  Vin was kneeling beside her rubbing her back.  She gasped for breath as the noise subsided.  Once she got her breath back, she got the her feet and stumbled to the door connecting to the kitchen,

"Maybe you should lie down."  Vin reached out a reassuring hand but Cordelia batted it away. 

"I'm fine.  I need to call Giles."

~~

It wasn't that Dawn was a bad fighter.  She was very good indeed.  She just needed more proper training.  Watching Buffy fight is one thing but learning all about the techniques and timing was another thing entirely.

Giles easily backed away as Dawn swung her right arm at him and, anticipating her next move, raised his arm to block her strike, then whipping the side of his wooden sword against her hand, quickly.  She dropped her sword.  

"Ok, I'm done."  She tenderly rubbed here his weapon had hit her. 

He had long ago given up apologising for her injuries but he did hold back more in training.  It was difficult finding that space between watcher and... Father figure?  Nowadays he felt more like a father figure to Dawn than Buffy.  "We can try it again if you'd like."

 "No." 

Giles studied her face for signs of defeat but there were none.  But Dawn's one word answers had always been a sign that something was bothering her.  "Do you want to talk about it?"  Dawn looked at him.  "College, training?  Anything?"  Dawn shook her head.  "Have you heard from Buffy?"

"She called.  She asked for you."  Giles looked at Dawn, an eyebrow raised.  "She did.  She just didn’t say whether or not she really cared."

"I know it's difficult for you.  Her not being here.  It's worrisome, I know, I understand.  But you're not alone.  I'm always at most a phone call away."

Dawn's face softened.  "I know.  Do you need  a hand with reports?" she asked as they left the training room and walked towards the connecting hallway to the offices. 

Giles smiled at her.  "Yes, alright."  Giles reached into his jacket pocket as the shrill ringtone from his phone went off.  Dawn watched him amused as he tried to maintain that he was not phased by fast moving technology.  "Hello."  Dawn tried to listen to the voice on the other end but it was muffled. 

"I... A vision."  She gasped.  "Kovos.  He's going to kill again."  She took a breath and described the demon in detail to him. 

"Where?"

"There wasn't an address."   He heard her take a  deep breath which ended more like a sob. 

"Alright.  Don't worry about it.  I'll call Kennedy and keep her informed."

"Giles.  It was gruesome.  I felt it.  He's feeding.  He's using them to get stronger and marking them for fun."

"Are you at the house?  Where's Vin?"

"She's here with me.  She's making me tea.  I'm fine.  I'll be fine.  Just keep them safe."

"I'll call Kennedy.  I'll be another hour and then I'll start for home.  You'll be alright."

"Is everything ok?" Dawn asked as Giles hung up the phone. 

"No.  Can you go to Quentin and tell him I've received a description of Kovos and I'm passing it on to Kennedy?"

Dawn nodded as she went. 

~~

Lavinia refused to let Cordelia lift a finger.  In fact she refused to let Cordelia do anything other than walk over to the couch and curl up with some blankets.  She returned with two hot cups of, not tea but hot chocolate.  She handed one to Cordelia and hugged the other one as she sat on the other end of the couch facing Cordelia.

Cordelia cocked an eyebrow at the surprising gesture of comfort.  "What, no tea? No mystical remedy?"

"Do you still have headaches when you have visions?"

"Dull ones, but I figured that's a small price to pay."

"Then your response to the vision wasn't pain, it was shock.  Sugar is good for shock."  Cordelia smiled, watching the witch play with her marshmallows as she waited for her own drink to cool down.  She felt tired but she didn't want to sleep.  Visions she could deal with but dreams not so much, if last night was anything to go by.  "Do you want to talk about it?"

Cordelia shrugged.  "Nothing to talk about.  I just need to get used to the visions again."

"You will.  We'll work on some meditative techniques.  You're not alone."  Vin reached over to slipped her hand into Cordelia's.  Cordelia looked down at it, unsure.  She hadn't had many girlfriends before... The only real one being Fred.  Cordelia pulled her hand away and swept it through her hair.

She was thankful for the sound of wheels crunching the gravel outside. 

Giles walked into the living room, followed closely by Sophie, whose arms were laden down with bags and bags of clothes.  Cordelia's eyes widened at the sight.  She quickly forgot about the vision and started fantasizing about trying on all the clothes.

"Are you alright?"  Giles pulled a seat up closer to the couch.

"Yeah.  Did you give your person a heads up?"

"Yes.  Xander's going to go to Russia with two other Slayers and hopefully they can put an end to this."

Cordelia turned her attention to the abundance of bags Sophie had carried in with her.  "Wow.  Sophie, thank you -"

"Oh, no, god no, those aren't all for you."  Sophie rummaged through the pile and picked out two medium-sized high-street shop bags and passed them to Cordelia, then picked up the other 7 or 8 bags and carried them out of the room.