: mysterious_daze Fandom
: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series
, Seasons Five and Two respectively.Characters
: Angel, Cordelia, Spike, and the Scooby Gang.Pairing
: Primarily Xander/Anya and Willow/Tara, although there are hints of other pairings.Rating
: Language, femslash, m/m slash, and het. Relentless navel-gazing and opining of past events. Spoilers for The Body
: Please ask first. Please do not screencap this story, save it to hard drives, exchange with others, or translate into other languages without written consent.Feedback
: Con-crit is always welcome; flames are ridiculed and put on display.Disclaimer
: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, lyrics, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Snippets of dialogue may be incorporated from the original canonical episode(s) and belong to their respective authors/creators. The original characters and plot are the property of the author(s). The author(s) is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended, nor should any be inferred. No profit is being made.Summary
: When Angel and Cordelia return to Sunnydale for the funeral of Joyce Summers, they and the Scoobies gather at the home of the Slayer for a night of drinking and party games, which soon spin dangerously out of control.* * * * *
She felt him the moment he stepped into the graveyard but she wasn’t ready to turn and look, because that would mean turning away from her mother’s grave, and that was a tacit acceptance of Joyce’s death, something Buffy didn’t feel would ever be possible.
She was thankful the others had already left. It was just too painful; it was too painful to listen to their earnest words of cold comfort, to see the emptiness in their eyes.
Surprisingly, Anya had proven the most difficult. She was nice.
That’s what Anya had said when they went to identify the body, and it was all Buffy could do in that moment not just to throw herself on the floor and sob until she herself was dead, because those words somehow meant more than anything.
Buffy was suddenly struck by how innocent Anya truly was, despite her wantonness, despite living over a thousand years as a demon. She wondered if Anya had ever before experienced the death of someone she loved.
Of course, Anya had also caused many deaths. Well, if truth be told, her worshipers had caused many deaths; she had just been the instrument. Buffy wondered about that now; if Anya had regrets, if she was as haunted as Angel.
She wondered about Anya’s life before she was a demon, as she never spoke of it. She knew vengeance demons were recruited and not born; D’Hoffryn, after all, had tried to get his hooks into Willow. Now, Buffy was intently curious about Anya’s first mortal life: her parents, her family, her friends. Did she have a lover? Had she children?
It was hard for Willow, Buffy knew, to lose Joyce, to lose the presence of one who loved you as a mother should, when the witch’s own parents couldn’t be bothered expressing even the faintest interest in the life of their only child. Sure, they spent awkward holiday moments together and the Rosenbergs faithfully signed Willow’s tuition check every semester, but they might as well have been strangers.
For the first time, Buffy was struck by how similar Willow’s upbringing must have been to that of Cordelia. Perhaps that was one of the reasons the two had never gotten along.
As much as she wanted to help Dawn through this, part of her resented her younger sister’s presence; the girl was, after all, not truly her sister. Despite whatever feelings the Slayer had for her, and Buffy truly believed that love to be real and not manufactured by those stupid monks, it bothered
her to watch Dawn grieving for Joyce as her mother. She knew it was unfair, she knew her resentment should have made her feel guilty, but it didn’t and she couldn’t yet allow herself to be worried by that.
She knew Xander understood. If anyone had been Joyce’s other child, it had been him, and he respected Buffy and her pain too much to intrude upon it; so he would suffer alone in silence as he always did. It was in these moments that she was so thankful to have him in her life, that she realized how supremely stupid and deficient she was for not being able to love him the way he had once hoped. He was ideally suited to her, she knew; she had always known.
She had been attracted to him, more than she had ever been willing to admit, even to herself; in fact, she still was. She knew if she gave in, however, that she would eventually drive him away, as she had done with Riley, and she knew if he ever left her, she would die. Xander meant more to her than any lover ever could, perhaps even Angel. She wondered if the vampire had known it, too.
But as she felt Angel’s arms wrap around her waist, all she could think of was that she was now officially an orphan. Her father hadn’t even returned her phone calls. She wondered if it was weird that she didn’t care.
She had Giles; in five years, he had been more of a father to her than her own had ever been. It was he who would help her through this, whether she wanted him to or not.
Her mother was dead. She was supposed to take care of Dawn now. Be an adult.
“Thank you for coming,” she whispered to Angel.
He murmured something she didn’t quite catch, but supposed was rather irrelevant anyway. She placed her hands over his, but all she wanted was to be held by her mother.* * * * *
Angel drove her back to her house. It wasn’t a home, not anymore.
She could hear people inside, could smell the food. She didn’t want to deal with it right now, but she knew she had to, for Dawn.
So she would be welcoming. She would smile and nod where appropriate. She would force herself to accept hugs and sympathetic words. Because it was the right thing to do, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was all about doing the right thing.
Inhaling deeply and squaring her shoulders, she shook off Angel’s proffered arm and walked with purpose up the steps and across the threshold, not bothering to close the door behind her. She turned her head to the right and saw Tara and Willow laying out a buffet on the dining room table. She gave a small smile, of which only Tara took notice, and who returned it.
Buffy heard someone rummaging around in the kitchen and presumed it was Giles. She looked to her left and saw Spike sitting in the recliner, Dawn in his lap, both staring blankly at nothing. She didn’t like it, but just couldn’t bring herself from ordering Spike out of the house. She felt rather than saw Angel stiffen behind her and prayed there wouldn’t be a scene.
On the couch sat Xander and Anya. Between them sat Cordelia Chase.
Buffy was surprised but also absurdly grateful, because she knew Cordelia had loved Joyce, too. She knew the girl wouldn’t offer false words, useless platitudes, or unwanted gestures. Not because Cordelia didn't care, but because she wasn't fake. Buffy supposed living in Los Angeles must have been exhausting for Cordelia.
Anya was sobbing into Cordelia’s shoulder, and the Seer was actually comforting the ex-demon, smoothing circles on her back and whispering whatever the appropriate words were. Xander sat there, staring off at nothing, just as Dawn was.
Cordelia looked up and saw Buffy and offered her trademark smile, which the Slayer happily returned, an abnormal slice of normality which was so welcomed in that moment. They would probably never be friends, but they were allies and they loved the same people; there were friends in the world who didn’t even have that in common.* * * * *
After everyone had spent an hour not talking and picking at their food, Dawn stood up and announced she was going home with Giles. Buffy had planned for the girl to spend the night with her friend and neighbor, Janice, but Dawn nixed that idea.
“She’s just going to nag me into opening up and telling her how I feel and all that bullshit,” she complained, completely unconcerned with what the others might have thought of her use of invective. “I’m safer with Giles, and he understands that I just want to be alone.”
Buffy nodded in understanding and told her sister to call if anything came up or if she wanted to come home. Dawn stalked upstairs to pack an overnight bag, muttering under her breath, something which suspiciously sounded like “Yeah, right.”
The Slayer sighed. “I don’t know what to do for her.”
“Why should you do anything?,” Cordelia prompted.
“Cordy...,” Angel weakly protested.
“Shut it, vampire,” the Seer barked. “Maybe Buffy needs some breathing room, did you ever think about that? Let Dawn cope however she needs to and let Buffy have a night off.”
“Thanks, Cordelia,” the floored Slayer responded.
Cordelia turned to stare at the woman, who withered slightly under the intense gaze. “Look, Buffy, I’m not going to waste my time or yours by pretending to understand what you’re going through or how you feel. I’m not going to insult you with squishy words of comfort or patting your hand or telling you everything will be all right, because we both know it won’t be. The truth is, this sucks, and it always will.”
Buffy heaved a sigh of relief and shot the girl a grateful glance.
“So what do you suggest, Cordelia?,” an almost prissy Angel queried.
The Seer shrugged. “I’m tired of feelings and memories and hugs. I say we get drunk.”
“Works for me,” everyone else replied.
“Oh, thank God,” Angel murmured.* * * * *
After Dawn and Giles pulled out of the driveway, Buffy hovered by the door, waiting for the Watcher’s car to reach the end of the street.
“They’re gone!,” she cheerfully announced.
“Praise Jesus!,” Cordelia trilled. “Buffy, you know I love Dawn like she was my own fake-sister, but she was really
beginning to annoy the hell out of me.”
“Cordelia!,” Willow hissed.
“Screw that, Will,” Buffy countered. “I know Dawn’s going through hell, but I am, too. I just need a break. I just need a night before I have to deal with the real world again.”
The witch nodded.
Cordelia withdrew a bottle of Grey Goose from her tote, one she had long ago pilfered from Doyle’s stash, and held it out to the redhead as a peace offering. “Vodka?”
The girl’s eyes sparkled happily. “Cordy! I never knew.”
The Seer shrugged. “I blame Giles. If he had let us start drinking when we were fifteen, you and I would be friends by now.”* * * * *
“We need snacks,” Xander declared, finally snapping out of his fog. “Most of us didn’t eat much of anything, and I don’t like to drink the hard stuff on an empty stomach.”
“Why the hell not?,” Spike challenged.
The boy rolled his eyes. “I don’t want to pass out and wake up tomorrow not being able to move. I just want to hang out, talk about unimportant stuff, and feel pleasantly blissed.”
“All right, then, whelp,” the vampire happily agreed, “what’s your contribution?”
Xander reached into his blazer’s pocket and withdrew a flask. “Bailey’s for your blood?”
Spike’s mouth dropped open and his eyes glazed.
“Xander,” Angel began, “I take back every mean thing I ever said or thought about you.”
“Fine, but since I’m providing the booze, I’m gonna keep thinking rude things about you,” he replied, tossing the flask at his former kind-of nemesis.
“That’s fair,” Angel nodded, catching the vial in one hand.
“Any wine, Buff?,” Willow questioned. “That’s what Tara prefers.”
The Slayer nodded. “In the hutch in the dining room. Mom...Mom liked wine, too. There’s a nice selection.”
Tara went off in search, knowing more about vintages than her lover.
Buffy sighed wistfully. “I could really go for some...”
“Tequila?,” Anya finished, fishing a bottle from her purse.
“You’re a goddess.”
“Well, not technically and not anymore,” she almost sheepishly replied. “Although I still get fan mail.”
“Really?,” asked an interested Spike, eyebrow familiarly cocked.
She nodded. “There are still those faithful out there, who seek my services for eviscerations, decapitations, and castrations. Their letters are so touching and heartfelt.” She wiped away an errant tear. “I like helping people.”
“You’re a good person.”
“I know.”* * * * *
After they had all poured their drinks, they sat around in the living room. Willow and Tara took the couch. Spike sat next to Tara, earning a piercing glare from Willow, although the vampire wasn’t even slightly fazed. Cordelia squeezed in next to Willow, and when the redhead turned her head, the Seer raised an eyebrow, awaiting comment. When there wasn’t any offered, she smiled triumphantly. Angel and Buffy took the matching chairs at either end of the sofa, unintentionally now finding themselves staring at the other. Anya and Xander took the chairs opposite the sofa, holding hands.
Xander was the first to raise his glass. “To Joyce.”
Everyone took up the toast and swallowed their shot or their wine, before immediately refilling their glasses.* * * * *
After an hour of drinking and sharing their best memories of Joyce, the group now felt themselves in the midst of a rather uncomfortable and oppressive silence.
“Well,” Spike drawled, “that was fun.”
“I say we keep it going,” Anya offered. “Ideas?”
“I think we should play a game,” Cordelia smirked.
“Right,” Xander agreed, “as long as it’s one Cordy doesn’t suggest.” He refused to meet her eyes.
“What does that mean?,” she demanded.
“It means I know you. You always want to play Truth or Dare, and I will never
play that with you again.”
Cordelia grinned like a lioness.
“What are we missing here, Xan?,” Tara asked.
He shuddered in response. “Just trust me when I say you don’t want to know.”
“Okay, then, no Truth or Dare,” Buffy declared.
Cordelia crossed her arms and pouted spectacularly, looking to Angel for support. The vampire, however, merely held up his hands in surrender. He and Xander might not agree on much, but where Cordelia was concerned, he would happily follow the boy’s lead. The Seer released a much put-upon sigh.
“How about we play I Never?,” Tara suggested.
“What’s that?,” Anya frowned.
“Well, there’s a lot of drinking involved....”
“I’m in,” everyone replied.