Disclaimer: I don't own BTVS nor am I George Lucas
Author's Note: Still wanting a Beta.
The next day before class Cordelia pulled Aura into an empty classroom, “Okay, so why did you put Harm up to that?”
Aura didn’t pretend not to know what she meant, “I’m impressed. You figured that out the day after she made the call? Do you have friends in the IRS? Maybe your father does? That would make sense but I had him pegged as one of those overconfident ‘only the peons pay taxes’ types.” She frowned and concentrated, “I’m glad you brought me here alone. I’d rather not deal with the slayer and the watcher just yet.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Cordelia said.
Aura smiled, “When you didn’t show up for the party Friday night I knew the spell had caught you and apparently left you confident enough in whatever powers you got to confront me alone. I would call that very foolish if you had seen my costume.” She gestured and the door closed and locked itself. “Of course even if you had you aren’t likely to recognize a Sith Lord much less a Sith Lady. Everyone just thought I was just using the holiday as an excuse for showing off my body.” She grinned, “It might even be why I picked that costume. Sith Ladies like to show a lot of skin you know, rampant male hormones make mind control so much easier and make other women tend to underestimate you as just eye candy until you make a move.”
“Oh shit,” Cordelia said. “You got taken over.”
“Not quite,” Aura said with an evil smirk. “I merged with her. I still have all my memories I just have all of hers as well. I shall take over this backwards planet starting with Sunnydale. There are a lot of … shall we say unique resources here. Between those and the money I can make from selling future tech I’ll be both governor and a billionaire in ten to fifteen years. After that though it’ll get a bit tricky and I have to be sure to lay the proper foundations now so no doubts are raised when I become a tycoon later. Step one requires me to be in charge of the largest most popular clique in school and becoming an A student. I’m going to need some of these people and it will look less suspicious if they come to me while I’m on top of the local pecking order. You were in the way of that.”
Cordelia had pulled her wand out but was unsurprised to find it flying from her hand, “Sounds like you’re more her than you to me. So why the IRS call? Why not just shoot me or whatever?”
“I was hoping to keep you alive,” Aura said. “We have been friends and I was hoping you might even join me later on.” She shrugged, “But you found out and confronted me and those mind shields of yours mean I can’t take chances on being able to control you so I’m sorry but you’re going to die here.”
“You think nobody will notice if I get strangled or beaten to death?” Cordelia asked. She was stalling for time hoping one of the gang would come through the door.
Aura actually laughed, “Oh because it’s you suddenly people will notice? I am sure the people will just put it down to you sticking a barbecue fork into an outlet or something equally stupid like a freak lightning strike through the window.” She lifted her hands and suddenly they were crackling with electricity, “Say goodbye now.”
Then there was a gunshot and Aura’s head exploded all over the room, Cordelia, and a now visible Xander. “Goodbye,” he said.
“Oh yuck,” Cordelia said. Before Halloween she’d be adding to the mess by vomiting but then again before Halloween Xander would never have done that. She paused, or would he? Well anyway he was certainly a lot colder now if equally determined to protect his friends. She took her wand back as he handed it to her and shortly after all the gore and other evidence disappeared.
“Wow,” Xander said. “Good job, you can’t even smell anything now.”
Cordelia grimaced, “Not that I’m ungrateful or anything because you’ve saved my ass again from a pretty nasty death but wasn’t there anything else you could do? I mean she used to be a friend back before that bloody Englishman decided to have fun with people’s lives.”
Xander shook his head, “No. I was trying but the best my powers could manage was to stay hidden. I couldn’t reach her mind anymore than she could reach mine or yours. That left only brute force and anyone who can call force lightning is too dangerous to just handcuff and turn over to the police. Or even the Watcher’s Council.” He shook his head, “I’m sorry but once she tried to take your life she forfeited her own.”
He was wondering if he should hug her then the bell rang for first period and they both left for separate classes. By lunch people were gossiping about Aura missing classes but although Xander listened carefully, both to words and thoughts, nobody seemed to have heard the gunshot and his name was not mentioned in any connection to her. As he sat down next to Cordelia he told her that very quietly.
“Good,” she said and waved off questions from Buffy and Willow. “I’ll tell you after school. Did you manage to save any of my money Willow?”
Willow nodded, “Yeah, I’ll meet you in the library after school? We can talk about everything then.”
Cordelia nodded, “Deal.”
After class they all met in the library. Xander spoke first, "So G-Man, any news?"
"There is indeed a supernatural effect at work but nothing so simple as a spell," Giles said. "From the start of the town all buildings constructed even partly with city funds, including this one, have been built in such a way and with materials added that allow them to channel part of the energy leaking from the hellmouth towards what we have been calling 'The Sunnydale Effect'. To dispel the effect you'd have to destroy more than half the town. Ergo, I am sorry to say that the effect is permanent. Anything too odd is going to be ignored, especially anything demonic."
"Wow," Buffy said. "Freaky much?"
Willow said, "So Xander what were you whispering to Cordy at lunch? I mean if it isn't too personal because I don't want you to have to share romantic type whispers although you can if you want to, I mean we're best friends you can tell me anything. I just thought it was something, you know, non-personal that might have to do with that gun shot we heard this morning." She took a breath then asked, "Why doesn't anyone stop me babbling anymore?"
"Because we can all understand you now," Buffy said. "So we don't need to stop you, although I will if you'd like that?"
"Can I ask you to stop me with a kiss?" Willow asked.
Buffy blushed, "No."
"Then I'm good," Willow finished.
Xander smirked at the exchange then sobered as he and Cordelia told them about what happened with Aura that morning. Buffy and Willow hugged Cordelia. "We're sorry about your friend," Buffy said. "If he wasn't already dead I'd kick Ethan's ass for this."
"Thank you," Cordelia said.
"I've got better news," Willow said. "I've moved one of your dad's hidden accounts to a Cayman islands account under your name, backdated it a decade and paid off the taxes on your new money with another hidden fund of his earmarked for divorcing your mother to marry his secretary as well."
She handed Cordelia a piece of paper, "This has your account number and the phone number for your account manager. They are sending the checks and whatnot in your name to Xander's house so your dad won't get suspicious. Since it's been in your name a decade as far as records are concerned and the taxes are paid it shouldn't be touched when the IRS get him."
"Thank you Willow!" Cordelia shouted. "That's perfect. I'll happily do my part once guru Harris here clears me for it."
"You're doing well," Xander said. "If you keep working on it every day then you'll be done on a week or two max."
"Anything else?" Giles asked.
"I haven't seen Angel in a couple of days," Buffy said.
"I'll check on him tonight," Giles promised. "If he is in any trouble I'll let you know straight away."
"Thanks Giles," Buffy said. "That's everything I guess. Time to go home and do some homework before I go on patrol." They all broke up after that. Willow went home with Buffy to study and Cordelia drove Xander home for another mental training session before heading home herself.