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The Bitch Factor

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Summary: After Cordelia returns from Pylea, her life changes drastically when her mutant powers appear.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > X-Men > Cordelia-CenterednodakskipFR1517,5421224,3038 Apr 048 Apr 04No
Title: The Bitch Factor
Authors: Nodakskip
Rating: PG-13
Setting: AU set after the end of Angel season 2 and Buffy season 5. Contains an X-Men crossover.
AN: This was going to be part 2 of a new X-men/Buffy/Angel cross that I don't think will pan out so I thought I would post this to see if anyone likes it.
Summary: After Cordelia returns from Pylea, her life changes drastically when her mutant powers appear.

****
Hyperion Hotel
Los Angeles, California
May, 2001

Cordelia Chase was completely and utterly bored.

She was alone in the lobby of the abandoned hotel that was the home of Angel Investigations, as she sat Indian style on the check-in counter, her back against the wall. Her eyes half-closed, as she waited for the Advil to kick in.

The sad fact was that she had nothing else to do. No one had called Angel Investigations in days. But then, that was no surprise to her...

Most people here in Tinsel Town still believed that demons and vampires were the stuff of bedtime stories for little kids, or crappy B-movies.

The same B-movies that her agent had once tried to book her into. Cordy found it amusing that she’d fought against creatures that would give ordinary people nightmares, and even in high school had done so many nights a week. But still, movie producers wanted her to be the dumb, big-breasted female who gets killed in their action flicks...

Cordelia’s favorite so far was the part that would have had her play a stripper, with a full nude dance number, before she was killed by the evil monster of the movie.

The woman sighed. Her movie career was a joke, and what was even worse was the fact that a very annoying and barely-fashionable bottle-blond staying in the hotel for a while now knew it too.

Buffy Summers was here in LA. She had been seriously hurt in a battle with some hellgod – whatever that really was – named Glory. The Fang Gang had come back from the hell dimension that was known as Pylea – and there had been Buffy, Faith and their Watcher Rupert Giles, sitting in the lobby waiting for them.

The senior Slayer, in her wisdom, had decided to stay and recuperate here in LA – with a certain dark-haired vampire constantly hovering over her. And in Cordy’s opinion, acting way too much like Buffy’s pussy-whipped slave...

The former Vision Girl wished that Giles could have stayed around for a while too, so she could have someone to talk to – he was one of the few people she had missed from the old hometown. But he’d had to get the Council-freed Faith back to the Hellmouth, to help keep Sunnydale from exploding without the presence of a Slayer.

Cordy suddenly remembered her adventures in that demon dimension. Princess and monarch of Pylea? What a joke. From the first day back, she had thought it had all gone to hell when she got sucked into that portal. But it was that night not long ago as she sat in her now one-occupant apartment, when Phantom Dennis had
finally gone into the light, that she had understood...

It was never that great here in LA, either.

The thing with Angel Investigations – it had started out, seriously, as just a job to pay the rent till her big break. But it had just snowballed from there.

(Angel saved my life. And Doyle...) Cordy didn’t know now what she’d really felt for the shy half-demon. That was what people went on dates to find out – and what the hell, she’d known him for only a few months. But she’d never gotten the chance to really explore her feelings, after that damn light bomb.

Then along had come the psycho cop Kate, Wesley, the demon babies, Faith, Gunn, the human and vampire versions of that Darla bitch, and then finally Pylea.

Cordelia still had many nightmares of that hell dimension. She wanted to talk to someone about it, but everyone was too busy dealing with the other two women in the hotel.

Buffy, and the new member of the ‘team’ – Winifred “Fred” Burkle.

Cordelia still couldn’t understand it. Fred had somehow gotten her visions? Not that she really wanted the head-splitting things. But those visions were pretty much all that she’d had to help fight the good fight – to make a difference. To be someone important.

(Because let’s face it,) she thought to herself, (Not many people considered regular old Cordelia Chase worth anything, otherwise.)

Angel? He’d just gotten into a state of familiarity with her and Doyle. That fact was obvious, when he’d so easily cut her out of his life after he went all stupid to take out Darla and Drusilla. The former of which, he’d admitted to Buffy and she’d overheard, he’d ended up sleeping with instead.

Doyle? He’d probably just seen what most men saw in her. The hot chick.

Not that she thought Doyle was entirely that shallow, he really might have loved her – but Cordy had gotten that kind of look from guys all her life. And that had only increased ten-fold, when she’d moved to LA.

Wesley? They argued all the time, and that miserable excuse for a kiss in high school was best left forgotten. And he was too busy with Buffy and Fred now, anyway.

No, there was only one person she felt she could talk to about what she was feeling, about what had happened to her in that hell of a demon dimension. She looked at the clock. (I might be able to catch him before he goes to bed,) the former cheerleader thought to herself, as she climbed down off the counter.

Cordelia was then ashamed to admit it that she had to look in her address book, to find the guy’s phone number. (Guess it’s been way too damn long...)

She had just dialed the last digit, when the one-time May Queen heard a click and then a computer voice tell her, “The number you have dialed is no longer in service. Please check the number before trying again.”

Surprised, Cordelia held the book up to the LCD screen on the phone. The numbers matched, so she tried again, and got the same message. Now confused, the blond-streaked brunette woman decided to go to the one person who would know his new number.

As she turned down the hall, Cordy saw the door to Angel’s personal room was open. She was about to announce her presence to the two supposed mortal enemies, when she heard Buffy talking.

The Slayer said in a scornful voice, “So why does she still hang around, anyway?”

Cordelia froze, put herself against the wall outside the door and listened.

Angel shook his head in amusement. “Cordelia’s a member of the team, Buffy.”

“Oh, please! And her role is what, exactly? She doesn’t do anything Angel, she just answers the damn phones,” the blond said dismissively from the bed. “Right now, I’ll bet you a bag of plasma she’s sitting down there reading Cosmo or something, waiting to say that stupid catch phrase...”

“Buffy, no one really has a defined job in this line of work. For the past two years, Cordelia’s had the visions...”

“But she doesn’t anymore. That Fred girl gets 'em now, right? I saw her get one yesterday. And what’s all this crap I heard from Willow about Cordy’s visions hurting her? Come on, Angel, Fred didn’t show any signs of having headaches at all! If you ask me, Cordy was probably faking it the whole time.”

“Buffy-!”

Cordelia Chase’s jaw nearly hit the floor, as she listened to Buffy belittle her time with the gut-wrenching visions. (That little 'ho...)

But the oddest thing to her, was that now she just didn’t give a crap about the diatribe. Cordy was tired of having to defend herself to Buffy, Willow, and sometimes even Gunn and his crew. She knew in her heart what was the truth, and Buffy could go screw herself for all she cared.

“Look, Buffy...” Angel began again, before the blond Slayer cut him off again.

“Angel, all I’m saying is now that she doesn’t have those visions anymore, maybe you should consider cutting her loose.”

“What? You can’t seriously be telling me to fire Cordelia?” the very surprised vampire asked.

“Why not?” the blond responded. “It’s what we tried to do with Xander, for almost a year. Look, bottom line, we both know normal people in this fight get killed – sooner, rather than later. Cordelia should go off and find some hotshot producer or something, and have that normal rich lifestyle that she always wanted. You’ll be better off without her – and if you wanna know the truth, I still don’t see what Xander ever saw in her in the first place, way back when.”

“Buffy, that was uncalled for...”

Cordelia didn’t hear the rest of Angel’s angry reply to the blond bitch. Her own anger was still building, as she turned and stalked off. The woman stopped at the front desk only long enough to grab one of the two company cell phones, and her purse.

Her mind was so clouded with the rising fury, that Cordy didn’t even hear the lobby lights shake and shatter as she left the building.

****

She stopped her jeep at the Plummer Park entrance. Back in Sunnydale, Ms. Chase would have never gone to a park after dark. But here in LA, there were a few well-lit and “safe” parks that were open well into the night.

She picked a bench off by itself, and opened the cell phone’s memory. She scrolled down to find the number she knew would be in it. Buffy’s mom’s house. Angel had told her it was for calling in reinforcements if they ever needed them, but the former seer knew better as to why Angel had the number programmed in.

Two rings passed, then...

“Hello?”

“Dawn?” the daughter of a tax cheat asked, as she leaned back into the bench.

“Cordy? Oh my God, hi!” came the excited squeak.

The teenager smiled, as Dawn was another of the very few in Sunnydale Cordelia had ever cared for. “Hi yourself, Dawnie. And yeah, it’s me. Look, I’m sorry to call so late...”

“Oh, hey, that’s okay Cordy. Mom and me are very used to late night phone calls around here.”

“Well, this won’t take long. Uh, I just need to get Xander’s new phone number. I tried the one I had from the old days, but all I got was some damn machine that says it’s been disconnected. I’ll admit it’s been way too long since I...” she then stopped, when she heard the tiny gasp on the other end of the phone. “Dawn? What’s wrong?”

It was a few seconds before Cordelia heard the young girl sniff, then answer. “Uh, Xander’s – he, he’s gone, Cordy.”

Cordy’s eyes went wide. “GONE!? Dawn, what the hell do you mean he’s gone!? Gone is *so* not a good word to use for people in Sunnydale!”

The woman’s mind was working overtime. (NO, no, no, no, no please no...)

“There was a fight with some vamps, and then this car came out of nowhere,” Dawn finally said. “Anya pushed me out of the way, and she...”

“Dawn, what happened?!”

“Anya died! She died, because I shouldn’t have been there!” the young teen girl cried.

“What about Xander, Dawn?”

To some, the fact that Cordelia didn’t care that Anya had died would only reinforce their belief that she was a bitch – one who only cared about things that mattered to her. But at that moment, all Cordy gave a damn about was that Xander was all right. She was more worried about what the ex-demon’s death had done to him, rather than the actual death itself.

“He left town after the funeral,” Dawn’s voice was small.

“What?!” Cordelia yelled into the phone. “When did this happen? It couldn’t have been that long ago...”

“It was back in the middle of October, last year. You didn’t know?” the young girl asked in amazement.

“No, I didn’t know!” Cordelia yelled. “How the hell did I miss out on knowing this?! Why hasn’t Buffy said anything!?”

“She hasn’t said anything?” Dawn’s voice came back surprised, through the tiny cell phone speaker. “That’s weird – I, I asked her to ask you if you knew where he went...”

A wide range of emotions were racing through Cordelia at the moment. Her voice came out very low. “Dawn? You have no idea where he went off to, at all?”

“No. I’m sorry, Cordy,” Cordelia could hear the 14-year-old girl crying. “If I hadn’t been there, Anya wouldn’t have died, and Xander would still be here. He must hate me....”

“Dawn Summers, you stop that right this instant!” Cordelia commanded through the phone. “Because you know damn well Xander doesn’t hate or blame you for what happened! I may not have been there for the last few years, but I know for sure-” She paused to collect herself. “Dawn, I’m going to go now, but please
email me if you find anything about where Xander went, okay? Willow has my email address.”

“Okay, Cordy. I miss you.”

“I miss you too, kiddo. Take care. Bye,” Cordy said, as she hit the end call button.

The woman buried her head into her hands. A few tears came down as she screamed in her head, (WHY!!? Why does this crap always seem to happen to me and him!? And if Buffy hasn’t even bothered to try to find him by now, then how the hell am I going to get them to help me look for him?)

“That’s an excellent question.”

Cordelia raised her head to look at who was speaking to her. She saw a very good-looking 30-ish blond woman, about her height. She wore all an all-white casual ensemble, with a long white coat. Just by looking at her, Cordelia could easily tell that she came from money, and lots of it.

“Uh, I didn’t say anything...”

“Yes you did, child. You asked why bad things always seem to happen to you and your friend,” the woman responded, looking down at her with a somewhat haughty air.

Cordy got up slowly. “But I didn’t say anything, and don’t call me child!”

“There’s no need to become overly defensive, Cordelia,” the woman said calmly.

“Okay, that’s it!” the former seer growled. “I’m out of here, lady!”

“Fine, then,” the woman sounded annoyed. “I guess we have to do this the hard way...”

“Do what the har....”

Cordelia didn’t finish the sentence, before her eyes rolled back and she fell to the grass. Unconscious.

Three men came out in matching dark suits. The woman grabbed Cordy’s keys off the ground, and tossed them to one of the men. She then snapped out majestically, “Follow us in her jeep. And you two, watch where you grab her – I’m not paying you to feel her up!”

The two men holding Cordelia nodded quickly. “Yes, Ms. Frost...”

****

Frost Enterprises
Los Angeles office building
57th floor, executive office of Emma Frost

Emma watched the young woman sleeping on her leather couch. Because recently, she had reviewed a lot of history on this girl.

Frost knew Cordy had grown up in Sunnydale, a town called the Hellmouth in some circles. Grown up in privilege and with the comforts of money all throughout her teenage years, until her parents had tried to scam the IRS – and then took off, leaving their daughter all by herself with only two thousand bucks to her name.
The Chase girl had been lucky one of her older friends had had a two-bedroom apartment she could share...

Cordelia also had run with the vampire Slayer’s group for a few years. Some of Emma’s acquaintances had believed that the Slayer herself was in fact a mutant, but anyone with half a brain knew the supernatural when they saw it.

So Emma believed this would be an easy sell, in her own somewhat prejudiced way.

She sat back in her chair, crossed her legs and used her powers to wake the girl up.

“Um...what?” Cordelia asked, as she groggily sat up. “Where the hell am I?”

“You’re in my private office, child,” Emma answered.

“Okay...so, how about why I can’t move?”

“You can move if you wish, Cordelia,” Emma said, as she took a sip of the wine she had next to her. “You just can’t get up and walk out. Look, we need to have a chat.”

“Well, since I’m stuck here,” Cordelia said belligerently, trying to mask her fear. “You might as well tell me who you are.”

“You might know of me. My name is Emma Frost.”

Cordelia looked up quickly, then around the office. “*The* Emma Frost? As in Frost Enterprises? The youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company? The same Emma Frost that bought my father’s remaining assets, after all that crap with the IRS?!”

“Yes, child,” Emma smiled, then with no tact whatsoever added, “And to be honest, I couldn’t believe the mess that Mr. Chase left that company behind in. It took me about a year to get it all sorted out. But now, the firm – it’s become very profitable for me.”

“Well, I’m so happy for you, really,” Cordelia said sarcastically. “Now, can you undo whatever the hell you’re doing to me, so I can leave?”

“Just out of interest, if you leave – what exactly do you have to go back to?” Emma asked her. “Answering the phone for the vampire with a soul, who’s had you stay behind on most of your cases ever since you returned to this dimension?”

“You’ve been watching me,” Cordelia stated simply.

“Well, not me personally. I have people to do that for me,” was the honest answer.

“Are you going to tell me why?” Cordy asked, as her fear was replaced with sudden anger.

“Simple really, child. I wanted to see if you would be able to handle what I’m about to tell you.”

“Will you *please* stop calling me a child!?!” Cordy yelled. Emma just sighed, and trying to adjust her attitude nodded her head. “Thank you,” Cordelia then said. “Now, what did you have to tell me?”

“I’ll make it simple, Cordelia. You’re a mutant.”

“No I’m not,” Cordelia said, somewhat taken aback.

“Yes you are,” Emma repeated.

“No I’m not,” Cordelia repeated. “And I *know* I’m not.”

An amused smile appeared on Emma’s face. “And you believe that, why?”

“Easy,” Cordelia said with a look of satisfaction. “I did a report on mutants during my last year of high school. And every source I consulted, said that mutant kids usually come from parents of the same variety. Plus, they manifest their abilities during the onset of puberty. And these,” she pointed to her magnificently-sized breasts, “these say I’m very much past puberty.”

The other woman barely kept herself from smirking. “Yes, they do say that quite clearly. But the thing is, you’re just a late bloomer.”

“Well, Ms. Frost...”

“Emma please, dear.”

“Well, Emma,” Cordelia grinned as she again looked down at her chest, “You can ask any of the boys I went out with, during junior high. I was *not* a late bloomer, and the size of my first bra can attest to that.”

Emma sighed. “Putting that aside just for the moment, the truth is that while most mutations appear in the young, they can also happen well into adulthood. And a person can have no family history of genetic mutation, and still become a mutant.” She leaned forward a little. “Now, can you honestly tell me there is not one time in your life, that you suspected there might have been something...different about you?”

Cordelia looked a little nervous. “I grew up on a Hellmouth, lady, nothing was ever “normal” in that town.”

“What exactly happened when you were camping that one time?” Emma asked suddenly.

Cordy’s jaw dropped. “How did you...?”

“It’s my gift,” Emma told her. “If you haven’t guessed already, I’m a mutant too. I can read people’s thoughts, and work their mind like a violin if I so choose. When I asked the question, you flashed back in your mind to a camping trip with a boy...ah, an old boyfriend?”

Cordelia sighed, as she realized she wasn’t going anywhere till she spilled her guts. “Fine, when we were 18 years old I went off with Xander Harris for his cross-country road trip – part of the way – after graduation. I...I’d just washed my hair in the river, and I was walking along a small cliff that was the trail to our campsite...”

“And?” Emma prompted.

“I fell,” Cordy shook her head. “I was a good distance above the water, and I tripped over the side. I was about to scream, when I just stopped. I was just floating there. And I freaked out, okay? I screamed for Xander, and tried to make it to the cliff edge. When I reached for the edge, I slowly floated over to the cliff, and grabbed hold. When Xander got there, he found me hanging on tight to the edge and pulled me up.”

“You didn’t tell him what happened?”

“What?” Cordy looked at her. ”Tell him that I’d floated about in midair? I knew what would happen, if I did that.”

“And if you’d care to enlighten me?”

She rolled her eyes. “He woulda gotten all worried about me, and instantly taken me back to Giles to find out what the hell was going on. And I would have been stuck in that hellpit town, for God only knows how long...”

“And what else?” Emma pressed.

“Will you get out of my mind?!” Cordelia demanded. “Fine, I didn’t want him to worry, okay? I knew that when we split up a few days after that, that he would be all concerned about me...”

“So, you found out you could fly. Have you ever attempted to recreate the experience?”

“Oh sure, I’ll just jump off a twenty storey building to test whether I really am Supergirl!” was the sarcastic response.

“Something else happened that day too, didn’t it?” Emma then asked with a smirk.

“God damn it, lady! That’s none of your business!” Cordelia growled.

Emma looked very amused. “From your memory of him, he seems rather...well-equipped. The way he comforted you...why didn’t you take advantage of your situation?”

“I just didn’t want it to go any further than making out. It simply didn’t feel right at the time,” Cordelia said, very annoyed.

“Trust me on this, Cordelia,” Emma said with a sad look. “Ninety-five percent of the men that walk this planet just take up space, one way or another. Two percent are uninterested saints, and another two percent are pure child-molesting evil. When a woman finds a male specimen amongst the remaining few that she can actually stand to be with, she shouldn’t let opportunity pass her by.”

“It would have just made things more complicated, after we went our separate ways. And we both knew that.”

“But you want to find him now?”

“Of course I do! His girlfriend dies, and he just leaves town? I have to make sure he’s alright.”

“And,” Emma added slowly, “Maybe be with him? I can tell you didn’t really care all that much for the girlfriend.”

Cordelia seethed for a few moments. “Why are you doing this? Why do you care?”

“I’m trying to find out all I can about you,” came the calm answer.

“Again I ask. Why?” Cordelia repeated her question.

Emma just shrugged. “I like to get to know my students.”

“Student?” came the shrill yell. “What the hell are you talking about?!”

“All in good time. Now, why didn’t you like Anya Jenkins?” Emma asked again.

Cordelia let out a huff, as she leaned back into the couch. “Well, for one thing, she used to be a demon! Which in itself isn’t the bad point for me it woulda been a few years ago, granted, but she maimed and killed people for over a thousand years – okay, cheating men, but whatever – and I never once heard her regret any of it after she became human. And call me a pessimist but Xander Harris can be an idiot at times, and I didn’t want her to hurt him...”

The former schoolgirl sighed. “If she’d ended up hurting him, it would have basically been my fault, since I summoned her in the first place! Somehow I called out to her when I was hurting, on account of the stupid ass cheated on me – I was just in pain, and I did... some things I now regret. So, okay, I didn’t want to stick around to see what she would have eventually done to him!”

Emma just raised an eyebrow, at the level of emotion the girl was starting to show. “Well then, why do you want to talk to him now, about what happened in that demon dimension?”

Cordelia wiped away a tear that came down. “Did you pull that bit of info from my mind?”

“Yes. But care to tell me what’s happened that has your emotions ready to give you a nervous breakdown?” Emma asked with genuine concern.

“No, I don’t.”

“I can tell even without my gift that it’s eating you up inside,” Emma prodded.

“If you’re that damn curious, just take it from inside my head already!” Cordy exploded.

“I’d rather hear it from you direct.”

Cordelia swallowed hard. “You really want to know what it was like for me in that hell dimension?!”

Emma just nodded.

“Like the name says, it was a goddamn hell dimension. It was just horrible.” Cordelia wrapped her arms tightly around herself. “Humans there were treated as slaves...no, slaves would have been a step up.” A few new tears fell. “God, I don’t know why I’m telling you this...”

“Maybe because I’m the first person who’s bothering to listen?”

Cordelia took a few deep breaths, and a few moments to think about what she wanted to say. “Look, I read about slavery in school. The Civil War and all that stuff, the Nazi slave labor camps...but in Pylea, humans were treated like animals.”

Emma spoke up, “I’ve seen some men treat others that way. I never understood myself how....”

“NO! You don’t get it!” Cordelia yelled. “I was treated like an animal! Literally!” she took a second to calm down before continuing. “When I first arrived there, this demon with a hellhound-type dog captured me. It was like he was hunting people! I got my arms and legs tied to a pole, and carried to some marketplace!”

Emma’s face paled. “Marketplace?”

“I was sold just for a few coins,” Cordelia told her. “Human beings were like farm animals to those damned demons! And trust me when I say that there was no local branch of PETA anywhere in sight...”

Emma was growing more uneasy. This was not even close to what she thought had happened. She just listened as Cordelia continued, “Okay, for two days after that I was used as a workhorse. I pulled a damn plough through the fields! There were a few other human slaves and we all had these silver collars, you know – the kind that blows your head off if you mess with them?”

Cordy closed her eyes, as she spoke the next part. “On the second night in the barn, I overheard two of the demons. What they were planning to do to me. When I say we were farm animals there, I mean it. They talked about how they were going to...” she started to cry.

Emma moved to her side on the couch. “What were they going to do, Cordelia?”

“They were going to BRAND ME!!” Cordelia looked up, and saw the utterly shocked look in Emma’s eyes. “I saw the table they were going to use,” she said, as she wiped more tears as they fell. “I was going to be stripped naked and strapped onto that damn table, and they were going to brand me only God knows where!”

Emma took the crying girl in her arms. She had wanted to leave a buffer zone between them, but she couldn’t now. “And then,” the former seer continued. “I tried to talk to some of the other...animals. Cows, the Pyleans called them,” She looks Emma in the eyes, “But they couldn’t talk...they had scars on their necks, all in the same place. I figured that...that...”

“That their vocal cords had been severed,” Emma whispered.

Cordelia nodded through her tears. “If I hadn’t gotten that vision when I did...”

“Vision?” Emma asked gently.

Another nod. “Yeah. I had a vision of some demon villager being attacked by another demon – a Drokken beast, it was called – right in front of every one of those damn things! It scared the crap out of them. They had this fairytale that they would know the princess of their land, when she had a vision. And I had one.”

“So, they turned you from a farm animal into a princess?”

“Oh, no. First I had to face their demon priests,” the crying girl told her.

“Who?”

“The priests,” Cordelia repeated. “The Covenant of Trombli, or whatever, they ran everything there. And they didn’t want to have a human as their ruler, so they tried to do ‘tests’ on me. And my God, those tests are an entirely different set of nightmares! But a day later, I was sitting on the throne in some outfit that’s only worn by women in porn flicks...”

Cordelia continued to rant, “And then, my friends showed up to rescue me. I don’t know why...maybe it was the way I grew up, but I didn’t break down in pure joy at seeing them. I knew I was being watched every second by the demons, and I wasn’t going to show them any sign of weakness. Very few people have ever seen me vulnerable, you know.”

“I know the feeling all too well, dear,” Emma told her softly.

“I just played it off as my quirky self. And they didn’t even act like it was that big a deal! It was like, ‘Oh, Cordy’s fine, now what?’”

“They thought you had been in a captive in a hell dimension, and everything was just fine?” Emma asked, shocked. “It *was* a hell dimension, right?”

“Yeah. And the only good thing there was a hero called the Groosalugg,” Cordelia said, agreeing with her.

“Groosalugg?”

“Oh yeah, that guy was tall, strong and so damn handsome! We got kinda...close. But looking back on it now, it was more a cute-puppy sort of affection, than real love.”

“I see,” Emma nodded. “What else happened?”

“Well, there was this whole thing Angel went through, because the normal vampire rules here didn’t apply there. But getting back on-topic, I thought they would figure it out that it was definitely not a good time, when they met Fred – a girl that was sucked into the place five years ago, and who was *so* messed up in the head. I swear, I don’t know why the Powers gave her the visions when we got back...”

“I might know of a reason, actually.”

“You do?!” Cordelia looked at her skeptically.

Emma cleared her thought and said slowly, “I believe the manifestation of your mutant abilities was interfering with you receiving them. So, in order to keep the vampire under their guidance, that’s why whoever’s in charge up there passed the visions onto this Fred person.”

Cordelia didn’t understand. “But I thought you said the flying thing was my mutation?”

“Yes,” the blond woman replied. “But I believe you may also have a secondary mutation. Which is very rare, but not unprecedented.”

“What does that mean?”

“The group I’m associated with has a machine that can detect new mutants. That’s how we knew about you. The visions gave you terrible headaches, yes?”

“You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie, lady...”

“And even now that you no longer receive these visions, you still get slightly mild headaches. Correct?’ Emma pressed.

“Yeah. And you think you know why?” Cordelia asked her, her mind working overtime.

“Indeed I do,” Emma replied. “You see, your brain is slightly different than a human brain because of your mutation. It’s that extra bit, the X-factor in your genes I think that kept your abilities dormant until now...”

When she saw the confusion on the other woman’s face, Ms. Frost continued, “According to Cerebro, the machine that finds mutants, you have an extremely high emerging telepathic ability. One day you could surpass even me, with the right training. You could even have some telekinesis...”

Emma shook her head, “But what’s important is that I think you would have evolved into your mutant powers a lot sooner, if you hadn’t been endowed with the visions. The headaches could have been your mutant genes trying to reject the damn things, when they hit you. And the small headaches nowadays are most likely the parts of your brain – with the mutation – waking back up.”

“But, but Doyle also got headaches from the visions. What, was he some kind of mutant too?”

“Doyle?” Emma asked, then her face cleared. “Oh, you mean the half-demon Irishman, who once worked with you?”

At Cordelia’s nod, Emma shrugged. “His headaches could have been just because he was half-human. Then again, maybe not. I can’t give you any answer for sure, not with him being gone now...”

“What do you want from me?” Cordelia asked, downcast.

“As I said Cordelia, you might match me in power someday,” Emma told her. “And you should know that when my powers first emerged, I didn’t have anyone to help me through it. My parents sent me to an asylum, and after I escaped from there I lived on the streets. I became...a very antisocial person. I took on students; not to help them, but to turn them into weapons...” she looked Cordelia right in the eyes.

Ms. Frost sighed, “My first group of students all got killed, because of some insane ideas that I had. And I...I still blame myself for that. Look, I can’t say that it’s going to be easy, but I want to at least give you some hope back. Hope that I never had, at your age.”

Cordelia continued looking right into her eyes. “Okay, just for the sake of argument – I’d like to know, would this teaching be done here?”

Emma looked around her office, and gestured. “You mean here? No. The best place for you would be at Xavier’s academy in Westchester, New York.”

“New...New York,” Cordelia whispered. “Uh, I don’t know if I can...just up and leave...”

“Look, Cordelia,” Emma said with conviction. “As I said, the fact is your life won’t be easy from now on, even if we’d never had this conversation. But I believe I can help you, and the blunt truth is nowadays you’re just wasting your time here in LA.”

“I know that,” Cordy admitted truthfully, the conversation between Angel and Buffy suddenly echoing in her ears. “But I can make a difference here. No matter how small, I can help save some people.”

“You can do that in New York just as well,” Emma told her. “Not right away, of course, but the X-Men do a lot of good.”

“The X-Men?” Cordelia said, surprised. “I’ve heard of them, I think. But to leave my friends, my apartment...”

“You don’t have to worry about your apartment.”

“I don’t? Why not?”

Emma went over to her desk, and picked up a folder. “Because I just bought the building this morning. Whatever you decide in this room today, you won’t ever have to worry about making enough to cover the rent again...” She leaned on the edge of the desk, “Cordelia, all I’m asking is for you to come and see what we can offer you back home. If you don’t like it, you can always come back here.”

Cordelia thought it over few minutes. “I still want to find Xander though,” she finally stated. “He’s out there all alone, after all...”

“How about I make a deal with you?” Emma asked her.

“What kind of deal?”

“You come out to New York, and see if it’s the place for you. If it is, I’ll have your stuff packed up and brought to your house there...”

“My house there?” Cordelia interrupted her.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll find some place somewhere, I mean being an employee of Frost Enterprises should help with your cash flow problem,” Emma said simply.

“You’re going to hire me?” Cordelia asked, surprised. “As what?”

“As whatever you want to be, Cordelia.”

“And what about Xander?”

“Simple,” Emma told the younger woman. “Frost Enterprises has its own security and investigative department. Every big firm that’s around these days does. I’ll make finding Mr. Harris a top priority – and when my people track him down, you’ll instantly know. If he wants, he can even come and stay with you,” Emma sat down next to the girl again. “What do you say?”

Cordelia just sighed. “What do I have to lose, I guess?”

Emma smiled. “I was hoping you would agree to it, oh and Cordelia?”

“Yeah?”

“If it helps, I have the power to take away the memories of your time in Pylea,” Emma told her. “I can just wipe them out completely, if you want.”

“No.”

“May I ask why?” Emma asked, confused. “I mean, why would you want to keep them?”

“I’ve got my reasons...”

****

Hyperion Hotel
Angel’s personal suite
Two Days Later

Gunn knocked on the open door. “Yo, Angel?”

“Yeah, Gunn?” Angel said at once, as he got up from the end of the bed Buffy had been resting in as she healed.

“Hey, man. Look, what’s up with Cordy?”

“Nothing’s up with her, as far as I know,” Angel responded in surprise. “Isn’t she downstairs?”

“Nah, no way,” Gunn said with a shrug. “And all her stuff is gone from her desk.”

Angel looked up sharply. “What?!” he demanded, sharing a stunned look with Buffy.

Gunn gave him an envelope, with his name on it. “This was all that was on her desk. Her pictures and her laptop were all gone. Like they was never even there...”

Angel quickly tore open the letter, wondering what the hell was going on. And as the vampire started to read aloud, he suddenly had a horrible feeling of dread...

****

Frost Enterprises Lear Jet
Currently over Colorado

Emma flipped through the stack of papers on the small table. Running a major multinational company took too much time and personal effort. (I need to hire more staff, damn it...)

Setting down the pen, she turned her gaze to the sleeping girl on the couch at the rear of the plane. Emma wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but part of her was scared to death about what was about to happen. She didn’t know if she could do this again...

(Still, the girl needs a teacher,) she thought to herself with certainty.

Cordelia was very much like her, in more ways than either of them would ever admit. The child had been keeping the bitchy side of her personality to herself for two years. Emma figured that was possibly why she wanted to find her old boyfriend. He was the only one that hadn’t tried to use her to better his own status when they’d been together, when she hadn’t exactly been all that likeable a person.

Emma could understand. Not many could keep pace with her, either. The guy known as Sean was the only one who’d ever come close. She’d counted him as one of her very few true friends. Even if the way things between them had ended last year at the school hadn’t been particularly good, she still thought she could count on him.

“He’s your Xander, huh?” Cordelia had asked her during dinner, on the second day before they had taken off.

(I guess. Lord knows I screwed up with the Hellions. But even with the way the school ended M, Paige, and the others seemed to be doing good,) Emma thought. (I *will* do right by this girl. No matter what Jean is likely to say...)

They had both learned that Cordelia Chase did have strong, emerging mental powers. One long session had already proven that, very quickly. Oddly, Emma believed that the group Cordelia had been with would not have even considered mutation as a reason for her new abilities, if she had stayed in LA...

The Fang Gang, as she laughingly called them in private, would have just assumed it was demonic in nature. It amazed her how people could miss the obvious so often. Just because you work every day with the occult, that doesn’t mean everything in life is based on it.

Cordelia had also quickly followed her new teacher’s advice, about how to present herself. While Ms. Chase had frowned at some of the more adventurous outfits Emma had chosen for her, they had picked out a vast new wardrobe for the girl. First impressions are the most important, and the former princess knew that – had known it, ever since she was a child.

“Even if the men and some of the boys will be your possible teammates and friends, they have to see you as no one to be trifled with, from the moment you arrive. You’ll have to project the air of a tough bitch, no matter how distasteful it may be. You were given that body, and you must use it to your full advantage,” Emma had lectured.

“I know all that already,” Cordelia had instantly replied. “I’ve been wrapping men around my little finger ever since I was fourteen. Hell, I can almost do it in my sleep! And as for the outfits, I know that too. How do you think I kept Xander in line for so long?” she had asked with a smirk.

Emma had answered with a matching smirk, “Yes, but Cordelia – consider this. You enjoyed dressing up for him, the two of you gave and received pleasure from it. Now, you may have to deal with people whom you will hate to the very depths of your soul. But you must still press on, regardless. Any advantage, no matter how
small, is still an advantage.”

The former LA woman had looked at her. “Will anyone know I’m looking for Xander?”

“No,” Emma had shaken her head. “We’d best keep that our little secret for now.”

A sad look had come over Cordelia’s face. “When we find him, I don’t want to have to hide him being around me. I have no idea where him and me stand in the ‘more than friends’ category anymore, but I hid him from everyone once before. I won’t do that again.”

“Of course not, dear,” Emma had reassured her. “That sort of thing won’t be a problem at the academy; as I recall, a number of students have significant others there. You and he can have whatever relationship the two of you want; be it friends, lovers, girlfriend and boyfriend or whatever. Assuming he decides to stay, or even join you, of course...”

Cordelia had then looked at herself in the mirror. She was clad in very expensive clothes, and looked a thousand times better than Queen C ever had in Sunnydale. She sent a cruel smile to the mirror, “Watch out, world. Cordelia Chase, mega-bitch, is back!”

Emma had hardly been able to contain the satisfaction at those words. Yes, Cordelia Chase would do very well as her student.

A bit of slight air turbulence shook Emma out of her thoughts from the day before. After that trip to the best shops in LA, it had been a small matter of masking their presence in the office of Angel Investigations to pick up her things and leave the letter. Emma had never tried to telepathically mask her presence to a vampire and a Slayer before. The other three humans had been easy, of course. But no one even looked their way, as they came and went.

Another noise caused the former White Queen to look back to the sleeping Cordelia. The girl was tossing and turning in her sleep. Her hands were up as if trying to block something, that wasn’t there.

Curious after the girl’s telling of her nightmares, Emma peeked into her mind. She saw a Cordelia with shorter hair, dressed in rags, and covered in mud. She was also failing to fight off a large demon with a whip...

Emma made a quick decision, and used her powers to terminate the dream. Cordelia quickly relaxed as the nightmare abruptly ended, and a new dream took its place. Cordy was now lying naked on a canopy bed in the middle of an open field of flowers. And holding her in his arms, was one Alexander Harris...

The older woman nodded in satisfaction as she heard the girl purr quietly in her sleep, then she went back to the huge stack of papers. (Yes, no doubt about it. I really need to hire more paper pushers...)

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Bitch Factor" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 8 Apr 04.

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