Thanks to katemonkey for some last minute betaing.
It is way past the sympathetic chat stage.
I'm famous for not being Miss Sensitivity, but even I sometimes get a clue.
Having your suddenly and unattractively black-eyed and black-haired housemate chasing you on the roof of a Monster Truck and trying to obliterate you off the road is kind of an obvious cue. Friendship such as it was is dead, and mayhem moved right into the empty room.
Me, I'd toss her Tucker's campy little brother in a heartbeat, just like I felt like applauding when she tore up the obnoxious Warren. I guess I'd even throw her Jonathan, though I'd feel bad about it, because, hey!, he saved my neck, sort of. But Buffy has the Mission, and helps the totally hopeless because it's part of the superheroine job description, and I respect that, really I do.
Even when it's going to get me killed.
Because now Willow's moved past Guy Who Killed Her Girlfriend, on to Guys who Used To Hang With Guy, it'll be time for Girl Who Used to Make Her Life and Living Hell and Oh Yes! Seriously Thought About Bonking Girlfriend. Once you've flayed someone alive with maximum mojo, sense of proportion doesn't really enter into it.
Buffy she'd kill because she's in the way; me she'd kill for reasons. And reasons I guess I respect.
In a walking a painful mile in her hideous Birkenstocks sort of way.
I so envy Buffy round about now, because hello! quick death kind of a plus point here.
I hate the sense of helpless. And I'm not going to put up with it. Once I figure a way to get ten more miles an hour out of the police car we'd stolen, or a cunning plan to make Willow steer her truck into a ravine, or have the man from the Acme company turn up with the giant witch- stopping rubber hammer.
Getting away because Willow simply runs out of juice really doesn't reassure me.
Because Big Bads always refuel and come back for a second pass, even when you've known them since they were five.
Ten minutes of hanging out in the magic shop with Jonathan and Andrew and Anya waiting for the next bit of bad news, and I'm ready to do some skinning myself. Starting with Vengeance Girl, who was always annoying and is now annoying with super powers, always a bad combination.
She has this thing like being capable of going veiny, changing history and setting fire to people is this exclusive club she's got into and we haven't, so nyah to us. I mean, outside of daydreams I just don't talk about, as if!
And the name-dropping. Genghis this and Vlad that and a million demons I am so glad not to have encountered.
What kind of name is D'Hoffryn anyway? He has blue skin and horns and somehow thinks he's French too? Doesn't surprise me at all, now I think of it, because somehow being a soulless demon does not render you immune to self-deception.
Oh, and it has to be Anyanka now. Because that's her special demon name. Oh sure, right on, whatever.
I never got her and Wesley, especially when Wesley had the option of cute soldier boys. Even his vampire, though annoying, was not as annoying as her. Her vampire too, I guess, and Buffy's. What is it about Spike? He's, I mean, OK, everyone's vampire who is not actually a dyke, except for Dawn, maybe. Because that would actually be wrong.
One thing about the video feed was, we finally got to know that yes! Anya was just as annoying when making little squeaky orgasm noises. Which is half too much information and half ha! I knew it!
Then Willow and Buffy and Dawn arrive, not through the door. Which looks pretty bad for our favourite jail-break boys, except somehow they are holding her off for a few moments and I do a whole 'let's run for it, Dawn' thing and of course they tag along and somehow Willow isn't coming after.
And then the boys think I'm in charge of their escape which is so far from being the case.
'No,' I say. 'You do a famous supervillain escape master plan and do it somewhere else. This one here is the girls only mistressplan which consists of running in the opposite direction from whichever one you choose. Because Willow can do many things, but as far as I know, she can't kill people in two places at once. Yet.'
Tucker's brother starts waggling a sword menacingly at me, so scary! so macho! so persuasive!, and Jonathan who clearly sees himself as Errol Flynn's shorter brother knocks it out of his hand and bows and says 'as you will, milady.'
Which is so sweet and cute that I say 'honestly, you can run in the same direction as us, if you really want to, but it is not going to do you very much good.'
And we all start jogging again, which at least means I might die a few ounces thinner, and after a bit we run out of town to be running through and end up in a graveyard. Which, of course, you are always prone to do when leaving Sunnydale by anything other than sea or main roads.
And also means straightforward running gets replaced by jogging in zig-zag lines to avoid tripping over gravestones, flower-pots, used stakes and so on. The further reaches of cemeteries are always, I find, full of Buffy's old junk - she works so hard, poor dear, so hard she is too tired to clear up after herself.
So we keep going and on into open country and then Buffy turns up and throws Dawn to the ground and I flatten because that always seems like a good idea and a big fire-ball goes whoosh! and creates a crater into which the Summers family falls. Around this time, the boys take a hint and skedaddle, which is such a relief not to have to be nice or try and save them any more.
I shout into the crater and Buffy shouts back - and the boys have left their swords and so I drop them down, handle first, because Buffy might need them and I surely do not.
Then Anya shows, looking anguished.
' Willow's going to destroy the world,' she shouts down into the hole.
Noises of swordplay are coming up from under the ground, so I guessed that meant Buffy had problems of her own.
'Tell me about it,' I say to Anya.
'She's uncovered the big Satanic temple on the bluff and using the demon goddess as a receptacle for dark energy.'
I do so despise magic technobabble, but I get the idea.
'Well,' I say, 'someone is going to have to stop her.'
'Don't look at me,' Anya says. 'Willow really doesn't like me, and she just left Wesley more or less for dead - he tried to be gallant, poor silly boy. Whom I hate, of course, for sleeping with Spike and jilting me.'
' The world ending - doesn't that sort of get in the way of the vengeance business?'
'We will regroup in the demon dimension of Aroshm'ha,' she said. 'There are worlds in need of our services elsewhere.'
She says this in the bored rote tone of someone who has just got an edict from senior management in some very large company.
'Whatever,' I say, with an awful sense that I am about to do something incredibly stupid.
' So,' I say, ' I suppose that means it's up to me. Anya, will you teleport me up to the temple?'
I have no idea what I am going to do once I get there, except die horribly, but obviously years of hanging around with Buffy have entirely corroded my good sense.
'I can't take you there,' says Anya. 'Being a vengeance demon has all sorts of rules, and one of them is against being a supernatural taxi service.'
'Hmm,' I say. 'OK. Here's the deal. As a scorned woman, I wish that you teleport me up to the temple.'
'When, precisely,' Anya says, 'did you get to be a scorned woman? I mean, this time. We dealt with the whole Xander issue, and that worked out badly. You don't get a second go on that one.'
I have no memory of this, but it seems logical, so I take her word for it.
'Ah,' I say, ' I am a scorned woman because I have spent the last fifteen years trying to get Willow to notice my undying and deep love for her.'
'You've always been utterly horrid to her,' Anya says. 'Everyone knows that.'
I cross my fingers behind my back.
'It was all the sort of meanness I go in for when I cannot get what I want. You saw how I treated Xander after we broke up.'
'Well, yes,' Anya says.
'It's the same deal. I am horribly mean to people I think are rejecting me so that they will at least notice I care.'
'I have to warn you,' Anya says,' that no-one lies to vengeance demons.'
Yadda-yadda, I think to myself, what are they going to do to me for breaking that rule? Destroy the world and cause me to die in horrible pain.
' I wish that you teleport me to the side of Willow Rosenberg', I say.
And Anya says 'Done'. She has a very annoying way of saying that, which seems familiar even if I don't remember her saying it before.
Willow is standing casting bolts of energy at a particularly unappealing idol on top of a piece of bad art deco architecture - why do the forces of evil have such terrible taste, I find myself asking? I had thought that Glory's collection of de Lempicka knockoffs was about as bad as this could get, but here's a new low. In beige sandstone.
'Hi Willow,' I say. Which is kind of feeble, but is just to get her attention. We can't say brilliant cutting things absolutely every moment.
With luck she will take several minutes to eviscerate me, which might buy someone some time to come up with a plan.
'Cordelia' she says in a Menace 1.01 voice. And throws a bolt which is clearly intended to miss me by at least six inches.
'Oh, please', I say. 'I'm supposed to be scared by that.'
'You should be', she says.
'Willow,' I say,' I've known you since the first day of kindergarten. When you were the girl who ate the yellow crayon. And, I have to say this, you looked very silly standing there crying boo- hoo! with yellow smeared all the way round your droopy mouth. But you look even sillier now, with veins all over your face. You've always been one of the no-moisturiser crowd, and see where it's got you.'
That one was closer. I think I got her attention.
'Goth was so last year sweetie, and it never even suited your evil vampire version. I give you fashion advice, out of the goodness of my heart, and it never seems to penetrate at all.'
This time I had to duck.
'Black eyes,' I go on. 'The hair sort of works, but the eyes are a big mistake. I've always thought your eyes were the best feature.'
'You're trying to distract me.' Willow says. 'I'm trying to destroy the world and you stand there yammering about clothes and hair to try and distract me.'
'Well, duh,' I say.
'All my life' she says, ' all my life you've made my life a misery. Bitching and bullying and sleeping with my boyfriend and trying to sleep with my girlfriend. And don't deny that, I saw how you looked at Tara sometimes.'
'Ah,' I said, because sometimes low blows are the good ones. 'But did you see how Tara sometimes looked at me?'
'I hate you, Cordelia Chase' Willow says, and she really isn't throwing bolts at the temple any more, which means I have her full attention, which is scary and what I planned and not less scary for that.
I am really not as brave as Buffy.
'I think,' she says, ' that, since we have a few minutes,before I have to get on with destroying the world, and ending its pain, I will show you exactly what you have done to my life. And teach you what you taught me about pain.'
She starts making mystic passes, which always look silly, even when they aren't.
'Fair enough, ' I say. 'Hit me with it. I want to feel your pain. And why not look at mine?'
'Pain?' she almost shouts. 'You don't know about pain. Don't you understand? I lost Tara.'
'And I lost Joyce,' I say. ' And so did you and so did Buffy and so did Dawn. You aren't the only one who lost Tara - we all did. And yes, I was a little in love with her, but not in a way that meant I stood a chance.'
She looks at me with what would have been obviously even greater anger, except that little hints of green and hazel keep glimmering through the blackness of her eyes.
And suddenly I am glad I once dated Xander, because I can say 'Oh Vulcan Mind Meld' and understand what is happening to me. Well, actually to us, because Willow and I are totally inside each other's heads.
It is all so embarrassing watching myself be really mean at Harmony's seventh birthday party - ice cream cone in Willow's face - and Larry's barbecue party - special sauce smeared down the back of Willow's dungarees - and oh god! the first day of Buffy in Sunnydale - me mocking her for that pinafore and what did I think I was wearing at the time?
I would like to say that I learn a valuable lesson from Willow's pain, because actually much of what gets concentrated into the long long minute we are in each other's heads is stickiness down the neck and acute social snubbing and kicked shins. But mostly, it is embarrassing, because could I have been more obvious? Attention-seeking much.
I realize how cheesy I have been most of my life.
And how Willow never ever really hated me. Because she is trying to get my attention all her life. What did I think the We Hate Cordelia society was all about?
And I see her watching my boobs grow and my legs get long and my hair get thick and my lips moist and me slut around town and swan around with the sheep and then be with Joyce and get all sophisticated and maturely snarky instead of just cheaply bitchy. So much more appealing, she thinks sometimes late at night when she thinks no-one knows.
And I see her see me watch her get cuter and cuter with that droopy mouth that so needs kissing and those small perfect breasts that you want to take home and look after because they're so little and that red hair and those wonderful terrible clothes and the sometimes scary magic and the bravery and the love for Tara and Oz and never for me, because I don't deserve it.
And none of what is in my head is quite how I remember ever remembering it before, but it's not like I ever sat down and thought about it. Willow and I hate each other, everyone knows that.
Except apparently us.
And suddenly we're out of each other's heads and shaking our heads like dogs out of a pond and dreamers suddenly awake.
And I ignore the veins and the scary eyes and the leering demon queen and the lightning in the sky. and I pull her over to me and I kiss her, very hard, on that droopy mouth.
And the black eyes and the veins and the hair go away. And it's ordinary Willow looking up at me.
'Cordy', she says. And it's all breathy.
'Willow,' I say. And it is embarrassingly sentimental.
And in another part of my mind, because there is a bit of me that always watches what is going on even in the true moments of my life, I hear Anya say ' No-one lies to vengeance demons' and remember that magic is tricks.
I totally love Willow, and I always have, and it is exactly how it was with Joyce. Some monk probably made it up two years ago, and that doesn't matter one little bit. Because my love for Willow is real and true and eternal and saved the world, even if it didn't exist until five minutes ago. And how complexly embarrasing is that?
Electricity or magic or lust is crawling all over my skin and it feels like I am floating and quite possibly I am because I saw Willow do that with Tara. The temple is sinking into the ground like a crude metaphor and the demon goddess is looking so disappointed with petulant lines round her beak mouth and sharp teeth - well screw her, because I've got Willow, and right now I am kissing her, and sometime soon I will be taking her into my bed and running hands all over her, only carefully because she might break. And I will have that sweet mouth pecking at me like humming-birds and looking into eyes that show no pain or hatred any more.
And what our friends are going to say about this, when everyone knows how we feel about each other? And how will we deal with dead Warren and quite unwell Wesley?
The bit of me that asks inconvenient questions really needs to shut up round about now. Because this is what they call a moment of truth.
Even if it's not. True, that is.
I sort of want to do a trailer for a season seven with Willow and Cordy as a couple.
Cordy snarks at the coven.
Cordy calls Kennedy Faith-lite until Willow says 'Actually she reminds me of you quite a lot too' and Cordy says 'I was trying to stop you noticing her good points' and they let Kennedy into their bed, but mock her mercilessly.
Cordy and the First Evil. 'First Evil. Hmm, I see. You hang around from before the dawn of time, and never actually succeed in doing anything. First loser, more like'.
And Cordy getting slayer strength when she really wasn't expecting to be called and is really really embarrassed.
It's never going to happen, I'm pretty sure of that.
Any more than the crossover post-Chosen fic when the school bus turns up with a dead baby slayer at Fisher and Diaz. Which I see as Nate/Xander, Brenda/Faith and Claire/Dawn...
No, no, no. Because I have the movie book to do a final edit on, and the teen movie book to start, and the memoirs to write and a novel to get on with.
So this may not actually be my farewell to writing fic for a bit, but feels kind of like it, which is another reason why I procrastinated so long.