Chapter Seven--Cordelia's Soul
Sunnydale High School Library, 8:04 p.m.
"That's it?" Buffy asked warily as Willow slumped back tiredly in her chair. Xander glanced down at her, his expression softening. "I guess, Oz?" He sent a quick look his way and then turned back to Buffy.
Oz looked at Xander and Buffy, standing close together, and nodded. "Yeah, that's what she did for Angel."
"And it worked for Angel," Giles commented, "so it should work for Cordelia. At least, uh, here's hoping that it does."
"Why wouldn't it?" Xander asked, his attention now focused fully on the librarian.
"Well, uh, Angel had been cursed by the gypsies, Cordelia was not. But still, it should work, I just want you all to be aware that it could possibly not happen as we are hoping. But don't fret, Xander, it will most likely work," he paused and glanced at Willow, "most likely, indeed."
"Well, how do we know?"
"Yeah," Xander seconded Buffy's question, "how do we know if it works?"
Giles looked about at the four young faces staring intently at him. "Well, I, uh -- Buffy?"
"What happened with Angel, that is, when his soul was restored?"
Buffy looked down, her hand reaching out for Xander's without thought. "He just changed. And he was confused, he didn't remember anything. I don't know, because I was with him. I don't know what will happen with Cordy."
"Well," Willow spoke up for the first time since casting the spell, "maybe she'll just show up here . . . or home, or at Xander's."
"Yes, maybe. That does seem the most logical course of action," Giles muttered. "Hmm, well, I guess we'll find out shortly enough."
Xander ran his free hand over his face and looked at Giles, "and until then?"
The Bronze, 8:04 p.m.
The loud music was rushing by her, a moment ago it had been wondrous, soothing, a part of her blood -- now, it was just a whirling cacophony. She closed her eyes, but she could still feel the beat of music like pulsating lights boring into her. The crowd around her was moving, jostling and she could smell their sweat, their blood and she wanted to taste some, she needed some right now.
She needed -- "Spike?" she called out softly. "Spike?" she tried again and then a ripping pain went through her body and she doubled over. "Oh, God," she cried as the taste of Xander's blood seemed to fill her mouth in memory and then the couple in the park -- she had, oh my God, I'm a . . . she couldn't think, she couldn't speak.
The music, the sounds faded around her and she began stumbling, rushing for the door, for open air, for peace and oblivion. Once outside, she leaned heavily against the wall and took deep, cleansing breaths -- and then she realized, she had no breath. It was merely an action without reason for her now. And she began to laugh.
Wildly, crazily, her hysterical laughter spiraling above her, carried by the wind. And then her laughter became great, gulping sobs. Oh, God, she thought. Oh, God. I want my mother. I want my father. I want, oh God, this is all Buffy's fault. Xander. Xander, she wept.
"I want my daddy," she whimpered and fell to the ground, curling into a ball against the dark wall. People passed her, but she paid no mind as she cried over and over and over, "I want my daddy. I want my mommy. I want my mommy. I want my mommy. God, help me. Help me."
Sunnydale High School Library, 10:27 p.m.
It was all she could think of to say. On the walk here -- the long walk where all she had time to do was think -- she had thought of many opening lines, most of them revolving around the mess that Buffy Summers had made of her life, but when she saw them -- Buffy, Willow, Oz, Giles and Xander . . . Xander -- she could utter only the simple truth as she knew it. She was dead.
"I'm dead," she repeated and the group unfroze.
"My God, Cordelia!" cried Giles as he and the others, but for Buffy and Xander, rushed towards her. They hung back, eyes wide, mouths slightly agape and they were holding hands. Cordelia noticed that . . . Buffy was clinging to Xander's hand. And her rage broke free.
"You bitch!" she yelled and pushed through the circle Giles, Willow and Oz had made. "This is all your fault! Buffy Summers, I wish you had never come here. I hate you! I hate your boyfriend. I hate you. I'm a vampire!" It was the first time she had said it -- she hadn't even thought it prior to this moment. "I'm a vampire," she cried again, "and it's all your fault," she broke down, her voice falling to sobs and she was on the floor, unable to speak once more.
Giles stepped to her, falling on the floor beside her. "Cordelia," he said softly and she turned to him slightly, seeking a comfort she hadn't realized she needed. He enveloped her in his arms and she clung to him like a small child.
"Oh God, Oh God," she mumbled into his shirt. "I'm a vampire, I'm a vampire."
"Ssh, I know. You poor girl," he whispered into her hair. "I know."
Buffy looked up at Xander, "go to her."
He shook his head, "I can't," and he walked away. He headed towards the door, but Willow stopped him with her hand on his arm. "Xander, you can't just leave."
"She's a vampire. Okay, she has a soul, but she's still a vampire. I can't deal right now, it's too soon."
"Xander?" Cordelia's voice came out slightly muffled, but it was audible. He froze.
"Xander?" she cried again.
Giles looked up over her head and stared at Xander's stiff back. "Xander," he said and the young man turned around, meeting his gaze. "I know," and in the librarian's eyes, there was understanding and sorrow, and there was also strength. "Come here."
Xander shut his eyes briefly and then with a heavy sigh walked over to where Giles sat cradling Cordelia in his arms. He knelt down next to them and reached out a tentative hand, lightly brushing against her shoulder. She stiffened slightly and then turned away from Giles', her eyes meeting Xander.
"Do you hate me?" she whispered softly.
He smiled sweetly, "no," he offered. "I stopped hating you a long time ago, Cordy." "But I'm a vampire."
"I know, but that's not your fault and it's not Buffy's fault and --"
"-- she was holding your hand," she interrupted.
"What?" he murmured softly.
"Buffy was holding your hand, why?" She moved out of Giles arms and knelt before Xander, her eyes searching his. "Why?" she repeated.
"Ssh, that doesn't matter. She's just scared about everything. We all are and we're grateful that the spell worked."
"The spell?" she glanced over at Willow, who smiled reassuringly, "you did that for me?" "Of course," Willow responded.
"But you don't like me. Nobody likes me. I mean, you guys don't. I don't know why you put up with me, or," she paused, her brow wrinkling in consideration, "why I put up with you."
"Cordelia, just because we have our differences doesn't mean we don't like you."
"Yeah," Oz put in.
"Of course we'd try and help any way we could." Willow continued. "And you have your soul back now. Yes, you are a vampire, but that doesn't mean you're bad. You can be like Angel --"
"-- yeah," Buffy spoke to Cordelia for the first time, "Angel can help you through rough spots." She smiled, tears in her eyes, "I'm so sorry. I wish I had gotten there sooner, I would have saved you. God, Cordy, I'm so sorry."
"What happened," she kept her gaze on Xander. "How are you okay? You were there, too."
"It's a long story, Cordy," he began.
"Yes, yes," Giles added. "We have much more important things to do. Like, well, you'll have to get your things from your home."
"My parents!" she cried.
"Yes, uh, Cordelia, they believe that you are missing and must go on believing that. As you said," he paused and looked away, "you are dead. This is fact. You are dead and you can not see your parents again, unless you think they would understand . . ."
"No," she whispered. "No. And I can't see any of my other friends, can I?"
Giles looked back at her, his voice soft, "no, Cordelia."
Cordelia pulled herself up. "I -- I can't deal with this all right now." She stood up, I'm, oh, God," she cried, "I'm so hungry. And I can smell all of your blood and I need --" she broke off, crying again.
"Cordy, let me call Angel. He can help you."
Cordy nodded as Buffy headed to the phone. Just then the library doors swung open.
"Angel!" Willow said in surprise. Buffy halted in her dialing, her face going pale. She fought to swallow the revulsion that came over her at the sight of him. Xander stood up and moved away from Cordelia, standing protectively beside Buffy. She turned to him with a soft smile, saying quietly, "I'm okay." He nodded, but did not move.
She turned to Angel, "I was just going to call you."
"I'm sorry, I'm late, I was held up." He looked away from Buffy, the pain evident in his eyes and turned to Cordelia, who was crying quietly to herself. "Are you okay?"
She looked over at him and he knew immediately what she was feeling. "We have to go!" He remarked to the room in general.
"Yes," Cordelia mumbled, moving towards him. Angel reached out and grasped her hand. She fell against him, obviously weak and dependent upon him. Angel headed back to the door, saying over his shoulder. "We'll talk later, but I need to take care of her now."
"Yes, uh, yes," Giles called after them as the doors swung wildly behind their quick exit. He turned to Buffy and Xander. "Buffy, are you all right?"
She nodded and leaned slightly in Xander's direction.
"Xander, how about you?"
"I don't know. This is all so strange. I think it's gonna take us all some time to get used to this situation."
"Yes, I agree. Perhaps, it's time to call it a night."
Willow and Oz nodded, "yeah," they said in unison and the group laughed lightly, then the laughter died away and Willow spoke, "that's a good idea. Buffy, Xander, I'll see you tomorrow. Giles, bye." She reached out and took Oz's hand; the two waved as the three remaining murmured their good-byes.
"I still have to patrol, things were kind of hairy last night," Buffy commented to Giles. "Oh, I see," he hesitated slightly, "would you like some company?"
Before she could speak, Xander shook his head, "no, it's okay. I'll be with her."
"Well, then, I'll see you two, tomorrow."
"Yeah, see ya tomorrow," Buffy said softly and then headed to the door. She paused and looked back at Xander who was still standing in the same spot. "Xander?" she called softly. He looked up at her and smiled, "I just keep hearing her say 'I'm dead,' and it's so real now." Giles spoke softly behind him. "Yes, it's real now and we will all deal with it.