Note: Even if he isn't seen in this chapter, we dedicate it to Robin Sachs, the actor who gave us the fun Ethan Rayne. May he rest in peace. http://robinsachs.com/
Cordelia looked at herself through the mirror in her new costume and had to admit she looked pretty damn hot. It fit her body in all the right places. Hearing an appreciative moan from behind her she spun to find Xander in his own costume. With her parents away on another of their damn trips she had brought Xander back to her home to try out their new outfits. It wouldn’t do to find out they didn’t fit the next day when they needed them. She could see Xander liked the way her outfit looked on her; he was leaning casually against the door running his eyes up and down her figure.
“Like the view, I take it?” she inquired with a smirk as she turned back to the mirror.
“You are a real life goddess Cor,” Xander stated, unable to tear his eyes away from his girlfriend. Tifa’s clothes fit her figure even better than he had imagined, already his imagination was trying to kick into overdrive. “You’ve always been beautiful, but in that outfit, you are stunning,” he added seriously.
Cordelia couldn’t help but to smile a little wider as she heard the honesty in Xander’s voice as he spoke. Her heart beat began to beat a little wilder as her imagination began to try and show her what interesting diversions they could get up to while no one else was in the house. She had to fight to stop herself from blushing at the images her mind projected to her. That wouldn’t help them at this moment in time especially if her parents ever found out they did it in their house, seen as they hated Xander. Her entire relationship with him was to them a form of rebellion, or more likely a way for her to force them to give her whatever it was she really wanted. They had no idea just how deeply she was beginning to suspect her feelings were evolving even if she couldn’t admit it to herself yet.
‘Was she in love with Xander?’ she asked herself once more.
It was a question she just couldn’t find an answer too. Was it due to the fact she was scared of the answer? Or just that she couldn’t believe just how much their relationship had changed, it was almost a year now since they had begun dating and she had to admit her relationship with Xander had changed her. Her integration with his friends had further changed her and she was no longer the self-indulgent rich girl she had once been. Learning the truth of the world and especially of Sunnydale had opened her eyes to how much of a selfish bitch she had been.
She had never wanted to be as self-absorbed as her parents and supposed friends were, thinking only of money, clothes and boys. She was different than them, she had brains. She intended to make something out of her life, instead of relying on marriage to some rich twit to make something out of her life. Listening to Harmony and the others go on and on about finding some rich stud to live of angered her so damn much these days. Why could they not use their own gifts to make a life out for themselves? Was it so difficult to even try to attempt such a thing? Maybe that was why she felt so disconnected from them the more time she spent with Xander and the others. She couldn’t deny how much she enjoyed being in a group that actually gave a damn about each other, instead of just pretending to care like Harmony and the others.
“Are you okay Cordy?” Xander’s concerned question brought her out of her thoughts and made her remember where she was.
“Yes I was just thinking about a few things,” Cordelia assured him as she moved away from the mirror and stepped into his personal space. “Stunning huh?” she inquired with a smile.
“Damn right,” Xander agreed before he leaned in and kissed her with as much passion as he could infuse into it.
Cordelia let out a moan of pleasure as she wrapped her arms around Xander, at the same time as he reached out and pulled her up against him. The kiss deepened as they both began to lose their senses and they began to get swept up in their emotions. A few minutes later Cordelia finally managed to pull away, but all she did was break the kiss. She remained in his arms and leaned her forehead against his. None of her previous boyfriends had ever made her feel as wanted or needed as Xander did. None of them had truly given a damn about how she felt, or even if their relationship had a future. They just enjoyed having her on their arms, a damn trophy to show off. Xander was the first to show her real love, a real sense of caring for her wellbeing. Would any of her previous boyfriends willingly jump through flames to rescue her? No, they would have run in terror at the prospect. That had only been the first of many times he had risked himself for her safety, each time he risked himself she fell for him a little harder.
‘Did she love him?’ she asked herself once more as she gazed into his open stare. The answer still didn’t come, but she felt right then in his arms that she was far closer to the answer than ever before. Finally she broke the embrace and moved to undress, pausing she indicated Xander should do the same in the bathroom. No she wasn’t ready to take that step with him, but maybe someday soon she would embrace him fully.
Xander gave her a soft smile and exited the room to head back to the bathroom. He would never push Cordelia into something she didn’t want. He loved her too much to ever willingly cause her pain, and forcing anyone into such a situation went against his very nature. He still had nightmares about the time he was possessed by the Hyena and it had tried to force itself on Buffy. No, he would never do such a thing willingly and especially not to Cordelia.
(Sunnydale High, Halloween night)
Xander quickly met up with Buffy and Willow as he entered the school, he had to admit Willow looked rather fetching in Selene’s leather Death Dealer outfit. He then shook his head quite disturbed to have thought such a thing. Willow was like his sister. He could never have such feelings for her, but he knew that wasn’t the case with Willow herself. She had feelings for him or at least once had feelings for him, but of late she seemed quite happy with Oz. He was relieved in fact that she now had a boyfriend to take her interest away from him. He thought they made a good couple anyway.
“So Xander, what do you think?” Buffy asked, breaking into his thoughts as she did a quick twirl in her 18th century dress.
“Don’t take this personally Buffy, but I don’t think that dress suits you,” Xander responded honestly. “The fact you got it to try and impress dead boy is,” he stopped and just shook his head. He had promised not to stick his noise into her relationship with Angel and he meant to keep it. Buffy glared at him a little, but relented when he didn’t continue whatever he was going to say.
Buffy knew Xander and Angel would never get on or ever be friends. There was just too much bad blood between them. And unless Angel somehow found a way to become human she doubted Xander would ever fully trust her lover, she snorted as she realized even then she doubted they would get on. She should just be thankful, that after that awful mess with the Glove of Myhnegon that Xander had promised not to get involved in her choices relationship wise again. They had finally come to an understanding, it had helped calm any tension between them and their friendship was now once again strong.
“On the other hand I have to say Willow really looks nice in that outfit of Selene’s. I think Oz is really going to like it if he has not seen you in it yet,” Xander added with a smirk and wink at Willow who blushed heavily.
“Do you really think so?” Willow asked, pleased with the compliment. She found it amusing that had it come three months ago, she would have been swooning and thinking that Xander had finally begun to see her as a woman. Now she had gotten over her crush and had fallen for Oz, her quite musician who just happened to be a Werewolf.
“Yes I do,” Xander shot back to which Buffy nodded in agreement. Even she had to admit the outfit looked good on Willow, her red hair fit well with the full black attire she was wearing.
“Good,” Willow whispered under her breath as they entered the main hallway which was full of kids, all waiting to be assigned to groups and then for that group to be given a guardian.
Oz appeared next to them as if by magic, dressed as Michael Corvin he looked completely different and it took Buffy a few seconds to realize it was him.
“Wow Oz, you look great,” Buffy greeted him with a smile as Oz lightly kissed Willow in greeting before turning to the others.
“Thanks,” was all he said with one of his trademark like smiles.
Xander looked around trying to see if Cordelia had already arrived, but so far he saw no sign of her. Harmony and Risha passed them and both paused to laugh and try and insult them. But they quickly switched from Buffy and the others to him in particular. He had promised Cordelia he wouldn’t intentionally annoy them even if they did start it and thus he stayed quite. Harmony didn’t seem to like that and began to get nastier and nastier with her insults. Willow was held back by Buffy and who did want the red head to get involved.
“HARMONY, shut your annoying trap,” an angry voice from behind them snapped, causing them all to turn to find Cordelia with her hands across her chest and glaring at the blond. “I’ve told you before to leave Xander alone and that who I date or spend time with is not your concern,” she continued as she stalked forward to stand side by side with Xander.
She hadn’t intended to get involved, but when Harmony had begun to get nasty with her insults, she hadn’t been able to control herself any longer. All she wanted to do was slap the blood bimbo silly for daring to insult Xander the way she was doing right now. She had gone too far and for once in her life Cordelia no longer cared about how the elite rich kids viewed her. Xander was hers and hers alone, she wouldn’t let this blond bitch insult him anymore. The feelings rising within her refused to be controlled she had to protect what was hers. Harmony looked so shell-shocked by Cordelia’s intense defense of Xander. Cordelia almost giggled. Buffy and Willow had no such control and did indeed laugh. Xander looked just as shocked by her actions, more and more of Cordelia’s group joined Harmony and Risha including Aura, Laura and Violet. Each one stared at their supposed leader in surprise. Cordelia however kept her gaze pinned on Harmony who she knew had always wanted to usurp her.
“You listen to me you blond bitch and I will only say this once,” Cordelia hissed at her in the most deadly tone she could muster. “Leave Xander alone or face me once and for all to see who really is ruler of this place. I can assure you it isn’t you and we both know it,” she growled out fighting the urge to smack her. “Now leave,” she commanded.
Harmony could hardly believe her ears as Cordelia challenged her openly not only in front of their friends, but also the group she considered nothing but idiots and a waste of space. That she was defending Xander Harris of all people made it even worse. She, like the other rich kids, especially those being a part of Cordelia’s close group of friends had believed she was using him. She didn’t for one second believe her capable of loving someone like Harris, but now she saw it all too clearly. Cordelia had actually fallen for the fool waste of trash. Her disbelief quickly turned to outright anger. Instead of doing the wise thing and backing off she decided now was the time to dethrone Cordelia and finally take her place as top dog.
“You listen to me Cordelia, I’m the ruler of this school now and nothing you say will change that. You’ve whored yourself out to this piece of trash,” Harmony spat back taking every bit of courage she had within her. “You don’t get to tell me what to do,” she vented.
Cordelia’s eyes narrowed as Harmony actually managed to try and make a stand, it was almost amusing to see her try and act like she wasn’t afraid. But she could see it within Harmony’s eyes, she was terrified. ‘Good,’ she thought viscously.
A slap sounded through the hall as Cordelia finally gave into the urge to strike the other girl. This caused even further shock to those watching. They all guessed it was a good thing Snyder wasn’t present in the hall yet. Harmony staggered backwards as her cheek burned from the force of the slap. She stared into the hate filled eyes of her former friend, they seemed to pin her in place and she found herself unable to move.
“You are a childish selfish bitch Harmony and you are not fit to be anything, but the god damn trophy girlfriend of some rich idiot you dream about,” Cordelia snapped back as her gaze hardened. “Now I suggest you run away, before I lose what restraint I have left and kick your ass all over this hall,” she warned her. “NOW,” she added raising her voice a little.
Harmony couldn’t handle the glare coming from Cordelia anymore or the fact that she had actually struck her, she turned and fled into the crowd doing her best not to cry. Cordelia watched her go with quite a bit of satisfaction, she turned her glare to the rest of her supposed friends who all began to back away from her before they turned and fled as well. She kept her eyes on them until they vanished into the crowd and she felt Xander’s hands wrap around her shoulders and pull her into a comforting hug. She relaxed fully against him and allowed the anger Harmony had stirred up to fade away.
“Thank you,” Xander whispered softly into her ear.
She turned her head to meet his rather expressive gaze and leaned up slightly so they could engage in a quick kiss, as they pulled apart she noted the look of honest shock Willow and Buffy still wore. Clearly both of them were still stunned she had actually defended Xander openly in front of her supposed friends, people she always went out of her way to keep on her side by acting as if they and Xander in particular didn’t mean anything to her in reality. Now she had shown where she really stood, she had done something that wouldn’t be forgotten and more than likely forgiven.
“You’re welcome,” Cordelia responded as she pulled away from Xander a little and just in time as Snyder appeared and began to state who was with which group. Inside she felt a resolution finally settle within her. ‘Did she love Xander?’ the answer was ‘yes, she did.’ Just looking into his eyes made her feel as if she was walking in the clouds, she felt connected to him on a level she had never felt before. And when this night was over she was going to make him very aware of how she truly felt, they would finally connect fully.
Willow still couldn’t believe Cordelia had basically just thrown away her social status and place with the elite for Xander, while it answered the question about whether or not Cordelia really cared for Xander or not. She just found it truly amazing that she had chosen Xander over her social standing. Harmony and the others wouldn’t forgive her for siding with Xander over them. Buffy too was stunned over what she had just seen, to her Cordelia had always been a selfish and spoiled bitch. She’d never been able to see what Xander saw in her, never been able to understand how the two of them had ever started a relationship in the first place.
But now she saw it, Cordelia had a steel core and she was protective of what was hers. She had been secretly warring with herself on what was more important to her, Xander or her social standing. Now she had made that choice and if she understood Cordelia at all then she wouldn’t take that choice back. Oz simply smiled, happy to see Cordelia had finally resolved her internal debate on where she stood with Xander. It had always been clear to him she was struggling to understand whether she loved Xander or not. Harmony, for once, had proved useful and helped Cordelia find that answer.
Snyder finally reached them and with a sneer at each of them told them which group of children they were assigned too. Xander gave Cordelia another quick kiss as soon as Snyder turned his back to them and then moved towards his group of kids. Each of them stared up at him and waited for him to speak. For a second or two he was stumped as he had little interaction with kids but he quickly recovered.
“Okay. On sleazing extra candy, tears are key,” Xander began as he moved up and down the line. “Tears will usually get you a double-bagger, you can also try the old “You missed me routine” but it’s risky so only go there for chocolate,” he added with a smile. “Understood?” he asked to which they all nodded with smiles or on two particular kids a smirk. “Then let’s go trick or treating,” he told them as he turned and led them out of the school shooting Cordelia a quick look as he passed her and her own group of kids.