Encounters, Close or Otherwise
summary: Cordelia gets a vision that sends her, Buffy, and Willow to Roswell, New Mexico??? Set season 5/2 of BtVS/AtS.
disclaiming echo: I own none of these characters. Buffy and the BtVS/AtS gang belong to Joss Whedon. Michael and the Roswell crowd belong to Jason Katims.
Cordelia ran Angel's car onto the curb as she pulled in front of Buffy's house. She scrambled out and ran for the house. Angel was gonna be pissed that she'd stolen it, but at this point she could give a rat's ass about what he thought. Undead bastard. She commenced banging on the door.
Joyce Summers threw it open. "Cordelia?"
"Ms. Summers, is... is Buffy here?" Cordelia was so nervous she sounded out of breath.
"No, she's patrolling with Willow, but come in." She ushered the former cheerleader inside.
Cordelia fidgeted. They didn't have a lot of time. She was tempted to just drive around looking for the slayer. Buffy's little sister came and sat next to her.
"Did you have a bad vision?"
"Dawn." Joyce warned.
Cordelia looked down at her. "They're all bad."
Just then the door opened and Buffy entered giggling with Willow giggling right behind her. Cordelia jumped to her feet.
"Cordelia!" Willow screeched. She ran and embraced the brunette.
"Cordelia? Is everything ok?"
"No, Buffy. Everything's very not ok."
Buffy's hair whipped all around her as she sped down the highway in Angel's car. The top was down, and the air was cool. Cordelia was asleep in the passenger seat. Willow was stretched out in the back. The three of them had left in the cover of night. They were taking turns driving, not stopping for anything. They had to get there soon. They hadn't told anyone where they'd gone. Not really. Sure they'd left a note, but it didn't say anything. Only not to worry, that they would be back. Cordelia had a vision. She came to Buffy because it needed strength to fight this, and Angel had deserted her. That had made Buffy a little angry. Willow had refused to let the two of them go alone. Out of state. In the deserts of New Mexico. It almost felt like a vacation. Almost.
Willow roused from sleep. "Want me to drive?
"If you want."
"Well, so you can get some sleep."
"Ok." Buffy pulled over.
"Oh God, Rupert. She's run off again!" Joyce was pacing.
"With Willow and Cordelia, Mom. I don't think that counts as running away."
The Summers living room was filled with Scoobies.
"Dawn's right, Joyce." Xander added. "This isn't like before. I mean, who'd wanna run away with Cordelia?"
Tara and Anya snickered.
"This isn't funny." Joyce snapped.
"Mom, it's not that serious. Cordelia needed help. Buffy's helping her, that's all. I mean, if you really worried, we could call Angel and tell him who has his car. I'm sure he'd track them down in no time. You know I wish he was here. I'd hit him. This is all his fault, you know. If he hadn't fired Cordelia, she wouldn't have come to Buffy for help. Yep. Wish Angel was right here. I'd belt him one. Right in his fang-filled mouth."
There was a banging at the door. Dawn's eyes widened.
"If that's him, I am really going to have a heart attack."
Giles went and to open the door.
"Might want to call an ambulance for Dawn. She's about to have heart failure."
Giles stepped into the living room with Angel right behind him holding a blanket that was still smoking. Dawn's mouth was just hanging open.
"What was that you were just saying about Angel's mouth, Dawn?"
She turned and glared at Xander.
They passed the sign entering the city limits. Willow was driving. She really liked Angel's car. She had a green wool cap crammed on her head and her sunglasses on. All three of them had on sun glasses.
"What time is it?" Buffy asked.
Cordelia looked at her watch. "Just after four."
"Me too. And I have to go to the bathroom." Willow added.
They were driving through the center of town.
"Oh there looks good." Cordelia pointed.
Willow pulled the convertible in front of the small cafe, and the three got out, stretching. They entered the place and looked around. Not very crowded for a Friday afternoon. Willow headed straight for the bathroom while Buffy and Cordelia crashed into a booth. They were unaware all eyes in the place were on them.
Cordelia pulled the scarf off of her head and shook out her hair. Then pushed her sunglasses on top of her head. Buffy took hers off and laid them on the table.
The waitress walked up to them. "Um, hi. Welcome to the Crashdown. Can I get you something to drink?"
"Diet Coke." Buffy and Cordelia said at the same time then laughed.
"Two diet Cokes. Anything else for now?"
"Oh, um, can you come back in a little bit? Our friend's in the bathroom. I don't know if she'll want caffeine or not."
"Sure." She smiled at the two of them.
The waitress walked off.
"This place is nice." Cordelia said looking around.
"I can't believe we drove all night to Roswell, New Mexico."
Liz went and leaned on the back counter. Michael stuck his head through.
"Where's Maria tonight?"
"I thought she told you."
"Told me what?"
Liz sighed. "The business trip?" Michael made his confused face at her. "With her mom? To Santa Fe?"
"Oh right. That. So who are they?"
"The two girls in the booth."
"I don't know."
"What are they doing here?"
Liz looked at him. "If I don't know who they are, Michael, chances are I don't know why they're here."
He made a face at her. "You're spending too much time with Maria's smartass cousin."
"Two girls that good looking just passing through Roswell."
"Three actually. Their friend was in the bathroom."
His eyes narrowed.
"You're paranoid, Michael. Not everyone who comes in here is after you. They're probably just passing through. You know, on a road trip."
They'd been sitting in the booth for over two hours. Their food was long past eaten. The three of them where hunched over, discussing courses of action. Patrons had been in and out. Every time their waitress came near the they got eerily silent. No one realized they were just waiting for the night. Then the door opened and Cordelia happened to look up at the person who came through.
"Hello, salty goodness."
"What?" Buffy looked up. "Whoa."
Then Willow looked. "I'm gay, but wow. I can admit that's very nice."
The guy walked straight towards the kitchen, and the cook appeared to talk to him. It was the first time Buffy had noticed the cook.
"Holy God." She pressed her fingers to her temples. "No, Buffy, you are here to stop the bad things, not obsess about what a totally hot hottie McHotass the cook at a greasy spoon is."
Cordelia and Willow howled with laughter.
"You take the cook. I'll have his friend." Cordelia giggled.
"I wonder if either one of them has a sister." Willow mused. Buffy and Cordelia looked at her. "I'm kidding. Hello, I love Tara."
Buffy sighed. "We can't be getting distracted."
"Buffy, it's not even dark. In my vision it was night time. I think we have the time for a healthy little droolfest."
Buffy laughed and looked back to where the two guys were. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she realized HE was looking right at her. He immediately noticed her looking back at him and looked away.
Max grinned when Michael averted his eyes from the blonde in the booth.
"What's that about?"
"The blonde girl?"
"What blonde girl, Maximillion?"
"The one you're pretending not to look at."
"You know, they been sittin' in that booth for over two hours. Whispering. It's making me nervous."
"You think they're...."
"I dunno. Liz said they get really quiet whenever she gets near them. If they were just passing through, don't you think they would have, I dunno, passed by now?"
Max looked over his shoulder at them. "I guess I'll go be friendly."
"Well, the only way to know what they're up to is to ask them."
"You do that, Max, but when their electro-ray alien eyes melt you into a gooey puddle, or you touch one of them and big, flaky patch of skin pulls off, don't say I didn't warn you."
Max rolled his eyes and walked over to the booth.
"Oh my god." Buffy said through her teeth. "One of them's coming over."
Cordelia turned and looked into the brownest puppy dog eyes she'd ever seen. He had a few little pieces of hair falling over his forehead, and his ears stuck out. But it was adorable. He had on a gray pullover and jeans with a black leather jacket over it. She could actually see the muscles in his chest through his shirt. His eyes were what was doing a number on her though. They were really intense. Cordelia felt like she was being looked through not at. She gathered her wits and flashed her Chase smile.
Max had walked to the table planning on being very suave. Suave left the building when the girl whose back was to him on his walk over looked up at him. Her hair was chin length and brown with several blonde streaks in it. Her eyes were a warm, inviting brown. She had on a pale pink sleeveless t shirt with a giant orange flower in the center of it and a pair of faded jeans. Her wrists were covered in all different sorts of bracelets, and there was an armband on her left arm. There was a black leather jacket draped over the back of the booth behind her. But that wasn't the best part. That came next. When she smiled. He was completely lost.
He was just staring at her. "Can we help you?" She arched her eyebrow for emphasis.
His mouth just dropped open.
"You wanna sit down? You don't look too good." Willow said.
Buffy looked at her. "Willow."
Cordelia was already scooting over. Max sat down next to her almost mechanically. He was just looking at Cordelia.
"Um, I'm Willow. This is Buffy, and, uh that's Cordelia."
"M-M-Max." His voice had sounded oddly childish to him.
"It's nice to meet you, Max." Cordelia smiled again. "Do you live in Roswell?"
Buffy and Willow exchanged a look. He was almost drooling.
Max didn't know what was wrong with him. He was supposed to be the unflappable leader. Well, his ass was flapping in the wind right now. He was so taken with the way Cordelia smiled that he couldn't even form sentences. This was not good.
"Hey, Max, you got a phone call in the back."
Michael. Thank God. "Uh, thanks." Max scrambled out of the booth and bumped into one of the tables in his haste to get to the phone.
Michael watched him and shook his head, wondering what in the hell had gotten into Max. He slid into the booth next to the brunette. When he looked up the blonde was right across from him with the most intense glare on her face.
Buffy stared. He was dirty, but in that good way. His white t shirt had various cooking stains on it and a hole near the collar. A blue bandana was tied over his head. It had traces of sweat along the edges. His legs were propped apart with the way he was slouched in the booth. He was leaned back with his hands folded on the table. Those hands. There were huge. The fingers long and knobby. There was a ring on each hand. Just a silver band. One thick one thin. He had a slight smirk on his face that reminded her of someone. The face was nowhere near the same, but the smirk held the same arrogance. He looked entirely too at ease.
"Make yourself comfortable." She snapped.
"I will, thanks."
Willow and Cordelia looked from one to the other.
"And you are?"
"What about it?"
"What are you a cheerleader?"
Cordelia snickered. Willow kicked her under the table.
Michael looked at the brunette. She was glaring at the little redhead.
"No. I'm no cheerleader."
"Anyways." Cordelia interrupted. "I'm Cordelia, and that's Willow."
"Cordelia and Willow? Does anyone where you come from have a normal name?"
All three of them glared at him.
"So where are you guys from?"
"That would be none of your business." Buffy snapped.
"Just passing through?"
"Also none of your business."
"Buffy, It's almost dark. Maybe we should go." Willow said quietly.
She stood up, and Michael wanted to swallow his tongue. She had on leather pants. Not that he'd never seen a pair leather pants, but he was pretty sure he'd never seen them quite like this. Red leather. What kind of a girl owned a pair of pants like that? The strange thing being they seemed like they'd belong on her and no one else. They were set off by the long sleeved black shirt she had on and her long wavy blonde hair. And although she was tiny, he got a great sense of power from her.
The redhead scooted out of the booth and as she got even with him, Michael got a strange sense of energy from her. She looked harmless enough, but he sensed that she wasn't. She was simple in her faded overalls and white t shirt with her clunky tennis shoes. Her red hair stuck out in several directions. It sort of reminded him of Maria's when he first met her, but wilder. She had what Isabel called a pixie face. Her eyes were big and green. He couldn't help but smile at her. While the blonde seemed to inflame him, the redhead seemed to put him at ease.
"Excuse me, bandana boy, but you have to move for me to leave."
He turned and looked at her. The brunette. Then scooted out of the booth. As she was getting up, in a totally out of character move for him, he held out a hand to her. Cordelia stared at it then placed her hand in his and rose to her feet.
Michael felt like someone had punched him. His head flooded with images. The three of them surrounded and fighting for their lives. Here. In the desert. With crossbows? And an ax? And had he really seen the redhead throw a fireball?
"You can let go of my hand any time now."
Michael dropped her hand and practically ran to the back.
The three stared after him.
"Are all the guys in this town so majorly weird?"
Max was leaning against the wall with his eyes closed and his arms folded across his chest. He looked like he was trying to calm down.
"Get your jeep. Come on."
Liz walked in. "Michael, are you planning on working tonight?" She noticed the tension. "What's going on?"
"Those girls are in trouble or they will be or-"
Max stood straight. "What?"
"I touched one of them, and I got this flash. They're in trouble. Skins, I think."
"Oh my God." Liz moved closer.
"They're skins?" Max paled.
"No. They were fighting them."
"What makes you so sure?"
"I know I saw a couple of them explode in to dust-like particles."
Max and Michael headed out the back door.
"Be careful." Liz called.
"Where are we going?"
"Cordelia, are you sure? We're really far from Angel's car now, and we seem to be quite in the middle of the desert."
"Will the both of you shut up?"
"How accurate is this vision gig?"
Cordelia froze. "Pretty damn accurate."
There was a group of vampires making their way out of a cave not ten feet from them.
"Slayer!" One of them hissed.
Buffy squinted in the dark. She recognized their leader and was instantly irritated. "Lyle Gorch? Oh why didn't I stake you when I had the chance?" She dropped her bag of slaying supplies next to her feet and raised her mini crossbow. "Let's dance."
"This time I'm gonna kill you slayers!" He huffed.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. "It had to be him."
"You're both gonna die!"
He howled in pain when Buffy's crossbow bolt hit him in the shoulder. He whipped out a gun and fired at her. It hit the ground near her foot.
"A gun?!" Buffy screamed. "That's cheating, you asshole!"
He roared and rushed her.
Max sped down the deserted highway.
"That's gotta be them." Michael pointed to the black convertible on the side of the road.
"Where are they?"
"Max!" Michael was pointing again.
Max saw a small ball of fire out the distance. "Hold on."
He swerved the car hard to the right and went plowing across the landscape.
Buffy looked up at the sound of the car. A jeep was crashing through the circle of vamps that had them surrounded. The next thing she saw was a body flying through the air and taking her to the ground, out of the way of the bullets that had been meant for her. She hit hard on her back and saw stars. Whoever it was smelled just like hamburgers. She knocked them off and jumped up just in time to see Cordelia get shot.
Buffy grabbed her ax out of her bag and started hacking her way over to the fallen seer.
Willow was practically snarling at Lyle Gorch for shooting Cordelia. A spinning ball of fire hovered an inch from her palm. "DEBITUM NATURAE!" She hurled it at the vampire. It hit his chest and he burst into flame, then ultimately into nothing but dust.
Max's jaw dropped. He ran to where Cordelia was on the ground.
He looked at her. Her eyes widened. He looked up. One of the things they were fighting was lunging at them.
"NO!" He held up his hand. A green wall of energy surrounded them.
Cordelia thought she was hallucinating. The vampire repelled off of it like he'd jumped into an actual wall.
Michael got to his feet and stared. She was fury. He'd never seen anyone swing an ax with as much ease as she did. Not just that though. All of her seemed to be fighting. She used her arms, her legs, even her head. And then suddenly his view was blocked. By something that wasn't human.
Buffy saw the vampire grab Michael by his throat and took of running. She ducked out of the way as a vampire jumped to tackle her. He sailed over her head, and she rolled across the ground grabbing a stake from her bag. She pushed herself to her feet and plunged deep into the back of the one that had Michael dangling a good six inches from the ground by his neck.
Michael was let go as the thing exploded to dust. He dropped to his feet and stumbled, but he stayed on them. When the air cleared, Buffy was standing before him. The corner of her mouth was bleeding and she was covered in dust and dirt, but that wasn't what had his attention. It was the wooden stake in her hand that had him. There was only one thing he knew of that exploded to dust when it got stabbed in the heart with a sharp piece of wood.
And that's when he saw more of them coming out of the cave behind Buffy.
"We have to get out of here! NOW!"
Max was struggling to get to his jeep with Cordelia in his arms. He tucked her into the back seat, and Willow jumped in next to her.
Michael grabbed Buffy's bag off the ground in one hand and her arm in the other, and ran for the jeep. He tossed the bag to Willow and climbed into the passenger seat, pulling Buffy in his lap.
They sped off.
"Hospital!" Willow screamed. Cordelia was bleeding everywhere.
"I know!" Buffy screamed back.
"No." Cordelia protested. "Questions. Too many questions."
"YOU MIGHT DIE!" Willow screamed at her.
Michael looked at Max. Max squealed the tires as he pulled off on to the shoulder of the road.
"What are you doing?!" Buffy screeched.
Max crawled in the back seat. He grabbed Cordelia's t shirt and ripped it up the center.
"Hey!" Buffy lunged for Max, but Michael grabbed her to hold her back.
"Angel cares. I know he cares. Tell him it's ok. I understand. Tell him I love him."
"Cordelia, shut up." Willow hissed. "Stop talking like you're gonna die."
Max gasped at the blood. There was a lot of it. He cupped the side of her face.
Her eyes fluttered.
"Cordelia, you have to look at me."
Her eyes fluttered and closed.
"LOOK AT ME!"
Her eyes snapped open. He place a hand over the wound. Cordelia gasped and arched into his hand. Max groaned. The things her mind was showing him. He almost couldn't take it. He pressed harder. Cordelia threw back her head and moaned. His head dropped to the curve of her neck. He was sweating hard. Then he collapsed on her.
"You're ok now." He whispered in her ear.
She could feel his breath on her neck. Cordelia's hand snaked up his back until rested on the back of his head.
"Cordelia?" Buffy was looking at her.
"No hospital. I'm fine."
Buffy looked at Michael. "What the hell is going on?"
"You tell me."
Michael maneuvered himself around Buffy into the driver's seat.
"I can walk, you know."
Michael ignored her. He looked at Buffy. "Keys are in my pocket. Can you get them?"
Buffy arched an eyebrow at him. His arms were full of Cordelia. Max was leaning on Buffy and Willow. Buffy and Michael just stared at each other.
Willow sighed. "Fine. Play the sexual tension game. The lesbian will do it."
She reached for his pocket and Buffy yanked her hand away. She took Max's arm from around her shoulders and propped her side of him against the wall. She stepped up the where Michael was standing and looked at him.
He was an idiot. The look in her eyes was melting him. He should have put Cordelia down and gotten the keys himself. She slipped her hand into his pocket with the palm towards him. He could feel the heat of her hand through the cotton there. She stopped for the briefest second and squeezed his upper thigh lightly through the thin material covering it. He broke an instant sweat and nearly dropped Cordelia.
Buffy pulled out the keys and unlocked the door. Then she helped Willow drag Max inside.
"The bedroom's this way." Michael called as he carried Cordelia away.
Willow and Buffy stumbled after him with Max. Michael laid Cordelia on the bed gently and turned to his dresser. He opened a drawer and pulled out a t shirt. Buffy and Willow rolled Max on to the bed next to Cordelia.
Michael held the shirt up to her. "Here."
Cordelia took it. "Thanks."
Buffy looked at Michael. "What is he?"
"He's not human. No human can do what he did."
"Well, you're not very human either."
Buffy stepped into his face. "I am so human."
They all looked at Max. Cordelia ran her hand across his cheek.
"Are you ok?"
He looked at her. "Just weak. Who are you?"
Cordelia looked at Buffy. "I think we owe them an explanation at least."
"Right." Buffy sighed. "But do we get one in return?"
Michael rubbed the ring of bruises that was already forming on his throat. "That'd be fair."
"Buffy, you should call home. Tell them we're ok." Willow said as she looked at Cordelia. "Now."
The phone rang. Giles jumped and went to answer it. Joyce beat him to it.
"Buffy?" She paused and took a deep breath. "Oh, Buffy, thank God.
She was about to say more when she heard the phone in the kitchen pick up.
"How dare you take off and leave your mother here."
Buffy pulled back and looked at the receiver. "Angel?"
"Angel." Willow sat up straight.
Michael looked at her. "Who's Angel?"
"He's a friend."
Michael looked at the way Buffy was gripping his phone and then looked back at Willow. He raised an eyebrow.
She sighed. "Ok, actually, he's the ex boyfriend."
"Ex? What's he doing hanging around then?"
"They're still friends. Sort of."
"That's his car we...... oh Goddess. Angel's car. We left it."
"Come on." He grabbed Max's keys.
"How dare you talk to me that way! You're the one who left Cordelia with so many choices, you hypocrite! Sunnydale is not gonna explode in the next two days! It's not like we're Thelma and Louise-ing it out here! We're trying to stop bad things!"
Buffy stopped and listened. Michael and Willow moved to the door. Buffy held up a hand to stop them.
"Look, Angel, I'm gonna do what I came here to do. Then I'll be back, and your ass better still be in Sunnydale when I get there because this conversation is SO not over."
She hung up the phone.
"Let's go get Mr. High and Mighty's car."
Michael just stared. Her nostrils were flaring.
"Let me just go tell Max."
Tara was reading quietly when Angel flopped down on the couch next to her. Joyce had gone up to her room. She had been pretty pissed at Angel when Buffy had hung up.
"What?" Tara looked up at him.
"A locator spell. Find one. I'll help you do it if you need to."
"I can't just sit here and wait. I'm not a waiter."
Tara giggled. "Not a waiter, huh? Well, you certainly don't look like one. You don't have an apron or a little notepad."
Angel smiled. He got it. "No." He looked at his all black ensemble with black leather jacket. "I suppose I don't."
"I'm on it." She got up off the couch. She tucked her book to her chest and headed for the stairs. She looked over her shoulder. "Y-y-you coming?"
Angel got up and followed her to Buffy's room.
Buffy sat in silence in the passenger side of the jeep. She was looking off into the landscape. Michael was griping the steering wheel trying not to look at her. Willow was behind them in Angel's convertible.
She looked at him. "So."
"Those things you were fighting, they were, um, they were...."
"WHAT?!" He swerved.
She grabbed the wheel and countered. "Pay attention or I drive."
"A... a... vampire?"
"I'm sorry I shouldn't have just blurted it out like that. Are you freaked?"
She raised an eyebrow at him.
"Ok, at first."
"How did you know we were out there? How did you know to follow us?"
"What? You think I missed you two busting in out of nowhere? You throwing me to the ground?"
"I saw it."
"When I touched Cordelia's hand. I got a flash."
"You had a vision."
"Max?" Cordelia was laying on her back staring at the ceiling in Michael's apartment.
"Yes?" He didn't like the way his voice shook, but he couldn't help it.
"What are you? A demon? A warlock?"
He rolled on his side. He still felt weak. "What?"
"You healed me. How?"
"I'm.... I'm.........uh, well...."
"Just say it. I can take it. I promise."
"I'm an alien."
She sat up and looked at him. "What?"
"I'm an alien."
"From what planet? You're not a Martian, are you?"
Max gaped. She had took that totally in stride. Then he thought for a minute. Had she asked him if he were a demon?
"I don't know what planet. It's not Mars, though. And since we're being honest, what are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"When I touched you, I saw things. Of you. Your past."
Cordelia sighed and looked away. "Just so you know, I am really about to trust you."
"I'm a seer."
"A seer. I get visions of people in trouble. I try to help them."
"She's a vampire slayer."
"Vampire slayer. She kills vampires. She's like Van Helsing with better toys, more skill, and a hell of a fashion sense."
"I'm afraid to ask about Willow."
"She's a witch."
"You said to tell Angel that you loved him. Who is he?"
"He was like my best friend and my brother rolled into one."
"We kind of had a fight."
"But you still care about him."
"Yeah. He's my life, you know?"
"He knows about your being a seer?"
"Of course. I was HIS seer, after all."
"Angel was a warrior for the light. I got the visions. He went and fought the baddies."
"Wow yourself. I can't believe I'm actually having a close encounter here."
Max grinned. It nearly took Cordelia's breath away.
"Are all aliens as hot as you?" Then she realized what she'd said. "I mean, um-"
He sat up and put a finger to her lips. Cordelia put her hand on his wrist and moved it away.
"Am I gonna get an electric shock or anything if I try to kiss you?"
Max was taken aback by that. She was completely blunt. She was also absolutely gorgeous and obviously attracted to him. "Try it and see."
She leaned over and pressed her lips to his. Her head filled with things. Of him. His life. His friends. His sister. His parents. Michael. Him running. Running so hard with a bloody hand print on his chest.
Cordelia pulled herself closer. Max wrapped his arms around her. She straddled his lap and pushed him back on the pillows.
Max sat up, taking Cordelia with him. "Isabel." He whispered.
"Who's Isabel?" Cordelia snapped.
They were very much entwined together, and visions of angry girlfriends started dancing in Cordelia's head.
"Oh." The Cordelia thought about what Willow had said at the Crashdown. One of them DID have a sister. She almost laughed. She heard a gasp behind her and looked over her shoulder. Max's arms were still wrapped around her.
She was beautiful. Honey blonde hair and classic features on a face that was slightly round with rosy cheeks. And she was dressed to perfection.
Cordelia twisted a little more, and Max groaned. She was suddenly incredibly nervous. She didn't know why, but suddenly it was very important for Isabel to like her. Cordelia stuck her hand out in Isabel's direction and plastered a grin on her face. "Hi, I'm Cordelia. You must be Isabel. Are you an alien too?"
Isabel arched an eyebrow and glared at Max.
The door opened and Buffy's voice filled the apartment.
"What about a spaceship? Do you have one?"
Isabel's eyes widened.
"Not exactly. So a vampire really can't come in unless they're invited?"
"Right. And even then Willow knows a spell to revoke invitation. Do you have antennae?"
Max, Cordelia and Isabel crept into the room just in time to see the look on Michael's face in regards to that question.
"Do you have all the same parts a human guy has?"
"Buffy!" Willow gasped.
Michael stepped into her face. "You ask a lot of questions." He paused and grinned. "Slayer."
"What in the hell is going on here?"
Everyone looked at Isabel.
"It's a long story." Michael said. Isabel folded her arms across her chest. "That we're going to tell apparently." He rolled his eyes. "Nazi."
"Hey!" Isabel was pointing at him with an 'I'm gonna kick your ass' look on her face.
Willow giggled. "Is she your sister?"
"No, she's mine." Max said.
Willow looked stunned. She'd been joking. "Oh."
"So go ahead." Isabel stated.
"Ok, guess I'll start." Buffy grinned. "Do you believe in vampires?"
Angel was sitting in the back seat with his arms crossed across his chest pouting. Tara turned to look at him.
"It was the only way."
He just glared at her.
"I didn't want you all burnt up."
"Give it up, ducks. He's in for the long haul on this brood."
Angel glared at the back of Spike's head. He didn't know what pissed him off more, Cordelia actually having the gall to steal his car or owing Spike. And something was poking him in the butt. Angel reached behind him and yanked out a pair of fuzzy pink handcuffs.
"Oh. My. GOD."
Tara turned around again. She immediately started laughing.
"What is it?" Spike asked.
Tara giggled. "Fluffy hot pink handcuffs."
Spike gripped the steering wheel. "Those are Harm's."
"But I bet you've worn them." Tara snickered.
"Shut the hell up."
Angel grinned and settled back in the seat.
The DeSoto sped down the highway towards New Mexico.
Michael opened his eyes. The sun was streaming in through one of the windows. Buffy was sitting in one of his chairs sharpening a stake. With his good knife.
"What are you doing?"
"What does it look like?"
"That's my knife."
"I kinda figured as much since I grabbed it from one of your drawers."
"Well put it back."
He rolled off the couch and stalked over to her. She set the knife and the stake down and stood.
"What is it with you?"
"You're this supernatural badass, so you have to act all aggressive and indestructible."
"What about you?"
"What about me?"
"You're an alien, so you have to act all dysfunctional and mysterious."
They glared. Buffy's nostrils were flaring. Michael was clenching his fists. What was it about her that infuriated him? He didn't know if he wanted to kiss her or punch her.
"I am not dysfunctional." He hissed.
"Are so. And I'm not indestructible."
"I didn't say you weren't indestructible. I said you ACTED like you were."
Buffy started to turn away. Michael grabbed her arm and spun her back into his chest. His hands went into her soft blonde hair, and his mouth crashed over hers. Buffy shoved him back. She stared at him in shock.
Michael was getting the feeling he was about to get his ass seriously kicked when she stepped to him and grabbed a handful of his shirt. She yanked him down and lurched up on her toes until their lips met again. Her other hand slipped behind his neck. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her off of her feet. She pulled her legs up and wrapped them around his waist. He turned and walked the to the kitchen counter. He sat her on it and pulled back a little. He rested his forehead against hers.
"Why are you stopping?" She said breathlessly. His hands were on the countertop on either side of her hips. He was standing in between her legs.
"Too many people around."
He started kissing her neck.
"What did you mean when you said you weren't indestructible?"
"I've drown, been electrocuted, and been stabbed." She started unbuttoning his shirt.
"Mmm. I've only been shot. And I did this freaky cocoon coma thing once. Who drown you?" He shrugged out of his shirt and it fell to the floor.
"A master vampire. Thank God for best friends and CPR. Who shot you?" She crossed her legs behind him and started kneading the flesh on his back.
"Someone who was after my sister. It hurt like a bitch." He grabbed the bottom of her shirt and yanked it over her head, leaving her in her red leather pants and black bra. "Who stabbed you?"
"You say that, and now I want to." His fingertips grazed the sides of her breasts.
"I got stabbed with my own stake by a vampire."
He pulled back and chuckled. "Whaaaat?"
She shoved him back and hopped off the counter. "See."
He grabbed her arm and turned her back to him. His hand caressed the side of her face. "What is it about you?"
"I honestly don't know. I am incapable of attracting a normal, human guy."
"And that's a bad thing?"
"Not from where I'm standing."
"Why were you sharpening stakes?"
"Isn't it obvious? I'm going to walk back into that cave an hour before sunset and do some damage."
"Then I'm going with you."
He pulled her back up into a searing kiss.
Max opened his eyes. He was in Michael's bed. Cordelia's head was nestled against his chest. Willow was curled into her other side, and Isabel was sitting in the chair that was in the room.
"This is pretty wild, Max."
"What do you mean?"
"Witches? Vampires? Demons? Vampire slayers?"
"How do you think they feel about the alien thing?"
"It's just strange." She got up and walked out of the room.
One minute later she was back. She walked straight to the chair she had been in and sat back down.
"Michael and Buffy are on the couch."
"Wearing just a blanket."
Isabel sat in a booth at the Crashdown fidgeting. They had dropped her off an hour ago. The sun had gone down on the horizon ten minutes ago. She hated waiting. She couldn't believe Max and Michael had trotted off with virtual strangers to slay vampires. Vampires. Vampires weren't supposed to be real. Then again neither were aliens for some people, and here she was.
Voices caught her attention as she noticed a trio walk up to the counter and get Liz's attention. Two men and a woman. Both men were wearing leather coats. One blonde. One brunette. The girl with them had light brown hair.
"Excuse me?" The girl asked. "We're looking for three women traveling together." The girl plunked down three photos. "Have you seen them?"
Liz looked at the three photos then her eyes darted to Isabel. Isabel knew without a doubt what three faces were on those pictures. Both the men turned to look at her. She was stunned. They were both gorgeous. Especially the taller brunette. She cleared her throat.
"Why don't you three have a seat? I think what your looking for will arrive shortly."
"Who are you, cutie?" The blonde asked.
Isabel nearly melted. His accent was stunning. "Isabel."
The trio made there way to the booth. The girl slid in across from her and the blonde tried to sit next to her, but the brunette growled at him. Growled? As the dark guy slid in next to her Isabel shivered. She could feel that he was dangerous.
"I'm Tara." The girl began. "That's Spike, and that's Angel."
Isabel looked up at Angel. He had the most intense stare ever. And he was gorgeous. Angel indeed. And he made her feel tiny. There weren't a lot of guys that could do that since she was so tall, but he made her feel downright petite. And utterly feminine. He was just so large and male. And she needed to stop before she started blushing.
"So you know where Slutty is?"
The table jerked.
"OUCH! Bleedin' hell, Angelus!"
Isabel hadn't even felt him move.
"So you know where Willow, Buffy, and Cordelia are?" Tara asked.
"They're with my brother and my friend Michael."
"Doing what?" Spike asked.
"Cordelia said there was a problem in this one place, so they went to take care of it. Max and Michael didn't want them to go alone."
"Cordelia said there was a problem?" Angel asked.
Isabel shivered at his voice. It was so smooth.
"Hell, yeah there was a problem, you bastard! But can I come to you? Noooooooo."
The entire table looked up. Cordelia was looming over them. There was a guy with dark hair and eyes standing very close to her with his hand on her waist. Behind them stood Buffy with a guy who looked like he never brushed his hair, ever. And then there was Willow. All five of them had dirt and dust on them. Michael looked particularly rough. His lip was busted.
"Willow." Tara crawled over Spike and rushed at her girlfriend. She grabbed the redhead's face in her hands and kissed her.
Michael's jaw dropped open. "Oh."
Buffy took her hand and closed his mouth.
Angel looked at them they were standing very close together. "Buffy."
He started to get up, but Cordelia forced him further into the booth. His hip pressed against Isabel's. Angel noticed the girl's breathing changed.
"Huh uh. You get to deal with the angry seer first. Then you can move on to moment of true happiness girl."
"Cordelia." He growled.
"Did you come for me or the car?"
"Did you come to get me?"
"Giles called Wesley. He told me where you'd gone."
"Did you beat it out of him?"
"You didn't come for me. You came for the damn car. I know it!" She stood and walked outside.
Max moved to follow her, but Buffy grabbed his arm. She looked at Angel. "You get your undead ass out there and fix this." She hissed. "She nearly died last night, and she was talking about how she loved you. You fix it, or I fix you."
"D-died?" Angel looked at Willow. She had a solemn look on her face.
"She got shot." Michael whispered.
Isabel looked at her brother. "Max."
Angel looked at him. "You helped her?"
"He saved her life." Willow added.
Angel stood. He started to walk out. He stopped and put a hand on Max's shoulder. "Thank you. She's very precious to me. She's all the family I have." He moved out the door to find his seer.
Max sat in the booth next to Isabel. Willow and Tara squeezed in making Spike scoot down. Michael grabbed a chair to sit in and pulled Buffy into his lap. Spike raised an eyebrow. Buffy noticed.
"You and the new boy. Glad to see you've found yourself a nice safe human again. Wonder what his hang-up will be?"
Isabel leaned across the table. "Who said anything about Michael being human?"
Spike looked at her. "What?"
Willow hooked her arm around Spike's neck. "Spike, how do you feel about aliens?" She whispered.
He looked at her. "You've got to be bloody kidding me."
Isabel grinned and grabbed the bottle of ketchup.
"Turn it to blood." Buffy whispered.
"Turn it to blood. Trust me."
She was sitting on a bench. She turned to look at him. There were unshed tears in her eyes. He sat down next to her.
"I came for you."
"I don't believe you."
"You didn't come for me before. Why now?"
"I was worried. Giles said that you'd had a vision. I knew it had to be bad if you went to Buffy. You could have come to me."
"You wouldn't have listened."
"I'm listening now."
"You hurt me."
"I know. I'm so sorry."
"An 'I'm sorry' isn't going to get it this time, Angel."
He hung his head.
"But it's a start."
He looked up at her. "Cordelia..." She threw herself into his arms.
"When I was bleeding, all I could think of was you were my best friend, and I'd never see you again."
"Angel, I've missed you. I'm still pissed as hell at you, but I have missed you."
"And this Max guy?"
She pulled back. "Isn't he wonderful?"
Angel raised his eyebrow. "Wonderful?"
"Well, I like him. He helped me hang on to something I value." He caressed her cheek.
Kyle walked into the Crashdown. He immediately noticed the large group hanging out in a booth. Just the people he was looking for.
Max looked up. "Kyle. Hi." Max did a double take. "What the hell happened to your head?"
Kyle's hair ranged everything from it's normal brown to bright orange to white blonde.
"Tess tried to give me blonde highlights." He moaned.
Michael started laughing.
Kyle cringed. "Max, will you fix it?"
Max tried not to laugh and failed. Isabel shoved Max out of the booth. He landed on his butt still laughing.
"I'll fix it, Kyle. Sit down." Isabel said.
Kyle looked at everyone. Especially the guy with the bleached blonde hair that was sipping from the ketchup bottle. "So, who are your friends?"
"Oh, sorry. Kyle, this is Buffy, Tara, Willow, and Spike. Angel and Cordelia will probably be in soon."
"Angel and Cordelia? They hot too?" Kyle grinned at Willow and Tara.
Willow and Tara looked at each other and grinned.
"Angel's a guy." Isabel giggled.
"And Cordelia is totally off limits." Max hissed.
Everyone looked at him.
They had decided not to go home right away. To take a small break. It was still dark. They'd found a nice spot of desert on the edge of town and built a fire. They had coat hangers and marshmallows. Kyle had even talked Liz into joining them, feeling much better after Isabel took care of the whole hair situation. Most of them were watching Spike. He was absolutely giddy at the concept of marshmallows.
"He's strange." Isabel said to Angel.
"That he is."
"You sound like you know him pretty well."
"You could say we're related."
"I turned the one that turned him."
"Oh." She shivered.
"We don't have to talk about it."
"I brought it up. It's ok."
"I just don't want you to think it's weird and get all freaked out."
"Weird? Angel, I'm an alien."
"Oh yeah. Right."
They both started laughing.
They'd walked away from the group.
"You think you could show me that crossbow thing sometime? You're pretty badass with it."
Buffy looked at him. "Michael, I'm leaving in a few hours. I don't wanna spend it training."
"Buffy, I said sometime."
He put a finger to her lips. "You talk a lot." He leaned down and kissed her. He pulled back a little. "You don't think I'm not already figuring out a way to end up in Sunnydale one day soon?"
"So what do you say, slayer?"
"I'd be happy to show you the crossbow thing and any other things you might want to be shown."
Michael smirked at her and lowered his mouth to hers again.
Spike licked the marshmallow off of his fingers. He noticed the Liz girl sitting all alone. He looked next to him. He was getting tired of the Kyle boy asking the witches about being gay. The kid was absolutely fascinated with the idea of their lesbianism. He was also fascinated with the pink pig ear muffs Tara had on because he kept reaching up and messing with them. Spike shook his head. The witches sure were weird birds when it came to fashion.
He shoved himself to his feet and walked over to her. Liz jumped when Spike plopped down next to her.
" 'Lo, pet."
"What're you doing sitting all alone?"
"I just felt like it." Her eyes strayed to where Max and Cordelia were sitting snuggled together.
"He your ex?"
"The Max chap. Is he your ex?"
"He broke it off then?"
"No, I did. Sort of. It's complicated."
"Want me to scorch you a marshmallow? It'll make it better. I promise."
She looked at him and grinned. "Ok."
He jammed a marshmallow on his coat hanger and held it over the fire. "I know what it's like when they turn to someone else. Even if you've walked away, it can be hard. Not as hard if they do the walking, ducks, but still not fun." He pulled the coat hanger back. The marshmallow was on fire. "Blow on it."
Liz did. But she was looking at his face. Spike pulled the marshmallow off and held it to her mouth. She took it from his fingers. Spike nearly shivered. She was so very innocent. It was coming off of her in waves.
She stared at him. He was fastly becoming the most interesting person she'd ever met. He seemed to be able to read her pretty well too.
Spike noticed she had a bit of marshmallow on her bottom lip. He reached out and wiped it away with his thumb. Then licked that thumb. Liz gasped. All the blood rushed to her face. Spike just grinned at her.
Cordelia was leaned against Max. They were both just staring at the fire.
"This is so strange."
"I feel so attached to you. Is that because you saved my life?"
"It might be part of it, but you had my head spinning before that."
"Max, if you ever make it to LA-"
"You don't even have to finish that sentence. I'll look you up."
"Here." She dug in her pockets and pulled out a business card.
He looked at it. "Angel Investigations."
"That's us. Fighting the good fight. Helping the hopeless."
Sunrise was in two hours. They all stood staring. Tara took off her pig ear muffs and snapped them onto Kyle's head. Willow kissed one cheek while Tara kissed the other.
"Wow. You chicks are so cool." He rubbed the ear muffs and looked at Tara. "Thanks."
They smiled at him and ducked into the back seat of Spike's DeSoto.
Isabel was looking up at Angel. "It was nice talking to you."
He took her hand and kissed the back of it. "Likewise."
Max leaned down and kissed Cordelia. "See you."
"Soon, I hope."
"You have my e-mail. I check it everyday."
"Than I'll have to give you something to read." He kissed her again.
Spike noticed Liz looking at them with a little hurt on her face. He didn't even think. He grabbed the tiny brunette and dipped her back.
She was cut off by his mouth. At first she resisted. Then he felt her fists twist into his shirt. He swung her back up to a standing position and stepped back. She was staring at him. Her fingertips went involuntarily to her lips. She smiled. He winked at her.
"Don't let the bastards grind you down, luv."
Her smile widened. Spike ducked into his car.
Angel walked to the passenger side of the DeSoto. Cordelia was already in the passenger seat of his convertible. "Buffy, let's go. The sooner we drive the sooner I can get out of Spike's presence. And you better drive safe." Angel slid inside Spike's car.
Buffy rolled her eyes.
"You used to date that guy?" Michael asked.
"He's not so bad. Now." She giggled.
Michael leaned down and kissed her. "Do you want me to call or just pop up one day in Sunnydale?"
"You can just pop up. As long as you make yourself known. No lurking in the bushes."
He made a face at her.
"It's a long story."
He kissed her again. She didn't want to let go. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself closer. His arms went behind her waist.
"Hey, Slutty! Let's hit the bloody road!"
Michael and Buffy broke apart just in time to see Angel's hand come out of the window Spike was hanging out of and knock him up the back of his head.
"Ouch! Peaches! Damn!"
"I better go."
"Yeah." He pressed his forehead to hers. "I'll see you later."
She turned to open the car door and Michael spun her back again. He grabbed both sides of her face and kissed her. Buffy just stared at him when he pulled back.
"Try not to get stabbed again before I get to you."
She grinned. "Only if you promise not to get shot."
"It's a deal."
She caressed the side of his face and stood on her toes. She kissed him lightly. The horn of the DeSoto began honking. Buffy lifted the hand that wasn't holding the side of Michael's face and flipped Spike off. She could hear Angel laughing from inside the car. Followed shortly by a 'shut the hell up, you poof '.