Title: A Fighter's Worth

Original Author: Michael Weyer

Revamp Author: Mark Rand
Buffy and all rights owned by Mutant Enemy.
Steven St. Wolf created and owned by Steve Pantovitch.
SPOILERS:
1. Buffy died at the hands of the Master in "Prophecy Girl" and became Immortal.
2. Jenny Calendar is Immortal.
3. Cordelia, Amy, Jenny, Joyce, Carol, and Willow are Amazons that have been enhanced to the level of Buffy and Constance, who are also Amazons.
4. Mulder and Scully are Immortal and married.

From Michael Weyer: Thanks to Steve for giving me this and Tim for some advice. Enjoy.


 

A Fighter's Worth

 

In which a woman loses everything she has.... and discovers how much she's truly worth.

 

Chase Mansion
Sunnydale, CA
March 1st, 2014 - 1020 Hours PST

 

It was just another normal morning.

 

Sleeping in a bit late (patrol the night before had taken longer than usual). A nice, luxurious bath. Suiting up in a nice blue skirt and dark blouse. A half hour getting her hair and makeup in place. Selecting the proper shoes. Placing her essentials into the right handbag. Finally, a breakfast that would be right at home at any high-class hotel.

 

Just another normal morning for Cordelia Chase.

 

She glanced up from her plate as her father walked into the dining room, his eyes scanning the business section of the newspaper. "Hey, Daddy," Cordelia said. "Did you hear from Mom?"

 

"No, actually," Charles Chase replied as he took a seat at the table across from his daughter. The handsome man laid his paper to the side, placing a napkin on his lap as the maid quickly brought in a plate with a bacon and omelet combination on it. "I'm surprised. She usually calls as soon as she's settled in with whatever resort she's staying at."

 

"Maybe it was a late flight," Cordelia shrugged. While she wasn't crazy about her mother leaving town so soon after coming back from another trip, she knew her mother had to go on one of these trips now and again. It would have been nice to have brought her father along but he had business meetings to handle so he and Cordy were on their own. Well, except for the servants, of course.

 

"So, what's my favorite girl up to today?" Charles asked.

 

"I'm going to meet up with the guys at a friend’s house, and then we’re going to the mall," Cordelia explained as she rose from her seat.

 

Moving from the table, she gave her father a quick kiss on the cheek before heading toward the kitchen. "I'll only be a few hours. Me and Xander are going out tonight."

 

"Have fun, honey," Charles said. "And try to keep the purchase limit to under a thousand?"

 

"Daddy," Cordelia sighed. "You can't put a price on fashion."

 

"Actually, honey, that's why there's a fashion industry."

 

Laughing, Cordelia cut through the kitchen, where Maria was slipping a cardigan on over her uniform.  Both grabbed keys from a nearby hook, headed to the garage and opened up their cars. Making sure her mirror was adjusted right; Cordelia pulled out of the open doors, down the long driveway and headed out toward Steve’s house with Maria close behind. She lightly hummed with the song on the radio, already thinking of what she and Xander would be doing later on.

 

She had absolutely no idea that this would be the last time she would ever be driving her car out of her mansion again. Or that this would be the last "normal"

morning she would ever see.

 

Reflecting on it all later that day, Cordelia would realize a fundamental universal constant regarding the strange thing about the best times of a person's life: A person never realized they were living in them until it was too late.

 

*****

Steve St. Wolf’s House

1045 Hours PST

 

“Hi, Steve, everyone else here already?” Cordelia asked once Steven St Wolf opened the front door.

 

“Hi, Cordelia, Maria,” Steve said to both women. “We’re all ready. Come on in, and grab a seat.”

 

Cordelia and Maria walked into Steve’s house headed toward the living room. As soon as they entered it they both greeted the rest of the Scooby gang. Xander got up, and offered Cordelia his seat.

 

“Why thank you, kind sir,” said Cordelia as she sat down after planting a kiss on Xander’s cheek.

 

As soon as Cordelia was seated, Maria asked, “Steve, not that I’m complaining, but why are we meeting here instead of at the school library?”

 

“Meeting in the high school library worked when it was just Giles, Buffy, and the original members of our little group. It made more sense since everyone was already at the school all day,” Steve said.  “However, we can’t keep doing this when Carol, Constance, Joyce, you and I, not to mention Robert, when he’s here, might run into Snyder.”

 

“I can understand that,” Joyce said.  “How that screw ball ever got to be principal of the high school is probably one of the great mysteries of the universe. He treats his position like he’s Hitler ruling over Germany. All he needs is a bad comb over, and the cheesy little mustache under his nose.”

 

“Is he really that bad?” Carol asked.

 

“You don’t know the half of it,” Buffy replied. “For someone who’s supposed to help educate the future leaders of the World he certainly has a lot of contempt for the teachers. Not to mention the students.”

 

“I’ve lost count of just how many times the little troll has tried to have us expelled,” Xander said.

 

“Why does he want to see you guys expelled?” Carol asked.

 

“Your guess is as good as ours,” Xander replied. “It seems to be his favorite hobby. Most people like to collect various things. He gets a kick out of expelling students. For some reason Buffy, and we seem to be number one on his hit parade.”

 

“Don’t forget just how many times he had us, and other students bullied into “volunteering” for various projects just to make him look good. Of course to improve on his looks could take sand blasting,” Amy mentioned.

 

Carol seemed disgusted. “This guy is in charge of the high school! If he acts like that toward the students what about the parents?”

 

“I can answer that.” Joyce said. “Maria and I ran into him on our way out of the school after the last meeting we had. The little twit didn’t bother to hide the fact that he thought Maria and I must have been up to something since we were there so early. He probably thought he might find some ammunition to use against Buffy. He also kept talking down to Maria by calling her a ‘just a maid.’”

 

Steve then spoke up. “Those are all good reasons why I think we need to find a different place to hold our meetings. While the library may have everything that we need for research, and weapons supplies I think meeting there anymore is too much of a risk with everyone now, especially with Snyder running around playing at being important.”

 

“Where do think we could meet instead of the library?” asked Giles.

 

“We could hold our meetings here,” Jenny suggested. “After all, a group of friends having a get together several times a week doesn’t look strange. No one would pay any attention to us.”

 

Steve considered Jenny’s idea before replying. “I think that’s a great idea, and you’re right. Hiding in plain sight is the first thing they teach you in spy school.”

 

“We would have to move all the books and equipment here,” Giles pointed out.

 

“So what, G-Man? It would be a lot better meeting here since we wouldn’t have to worry about Snyder interrupting us all the time,” Xander replied.

Reluctantly Giles relented. “You’re right. We’ll just have to bring everything over in small batches so we don’t attract too much unwanted attention.”

The meeting continued for about half an hour when suddenly Constance seemed to react to something that only she could hear.

 

******************

 

Constance was listening to what was going on when suddenly something reached her sensitive ears. She sat up straighter when she realized that it sounded really out of place.

 

Steve didn’t fail to notice Constance’s reaction, “Constance, what’s wrong? Did you hear something?”

 

Constance looked over at Steve when she said, “Steve, is there anything wrong with your car that would require you needing a tow truck?”

 

“No, there’s nothing wrong with my car,” Steve replied.

 

“Well, it sounds like there is someone with a tow truck outside hooking up a car,” Constance told him.

 

Being close to a window Oz took a look out toward the street, and suddenly shouted “Cordelia! Some guy is trying to take your car!”

 

“WHAT?! I’m going to kill him!” Cordelia shouted, she got up, and ran toward the front door.

 

“Cordelia, wait!” Steve yelled after her, but she was already out the door before Steve finished. To everyone else present Steve said “Come on! We’d better make sure she doesn’t do anything that could get her arrested!”

 

As everyone else got on their feet to follow Steve, Xander asked him slightly confused “Steve, I thought you’d be the first one to take on this lug nut if this was your car? What’s the problem?”

 

“Xander, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many car thieves who would steal cars in broad daylight from in front of someone’s house with a tow truck yet!” Steve replied as he ran out the front door after Cordelia.

 

Just as the rest of the group spread out after exiting Steve caught sight of the fellow hooking up Cordelia’s car. The man had caught sight of Cordelia heading for him. He let go of the controls of the tow truck, and turned toward Cordelia his right hand reaching into his inside jacket pocket.

 

Steve was about to grab his gun when Cordelia reached the strange man. As soon as she did she kicked him as hard as she could right between the legs. The force of Cordelia’s blow knocked him to the ground in a heap. The papers he had been reaching for fell out of his jacket pocket.

 

“Come on, and get back up you dirt bag so I can hit you again for trying to steal my car!” Cordelia yelled at him while he was on the ground. When she saw that he was in no hurry to get back up she added “Here, let me help you up so I can knock you out again! You better have real good medical insurance!”

 

Cordelia began to reach for him, intent on doing as much bodily harm as possible, when Steve finally reached her. “CORDELIA, WAIT!” Steve shouted at her as he grabbed both of her wrists.

 

That got Cordelia’s attention. Before she could say anything a Sunnydale Police car came around the corner, and stopped in front of the little scene they were causing.

 

<Oh, great. These ding dongs are the last thing we need to deal with right now!> Steve thought. However he changed his mind when he noticed the two officers getting out were Jake Addams, and Jim West two of the more competent officers from the Sunnydale Police. Unfortunately, their group seemed to be in the minority. <Well I just glad it’s not Stein.>

 

Jake and Jim took in the scene before them. “Steve, what’s going on?” Jake asked Steve.

 

“This low life was trying to steal my car!” Cordelia got out before Steve could answer.

 

“I have authorization to take it,” the man groaned from where he laid.

 

“The hell you do! It’s mine!” Cordelia yelled back.

 

“CORDELIA! Do you mind if I could get a word in here!” Steve yelled at her again. Looking at Jake and Jim Steve continued in a calmer voice “All we know is we caught sight of this guy hooking up Cordelia’s car. She ran out here, and gave him a swift kick in his safety deposit box. We came out to make sure nothing else happened. The next thing we know you guys showed up.”

 

After hearing this Jake knelt down to ask the man on the ground, “Okay. Just what is your story?”

 

“Look at those papers, and my ID is in my jacket pocket. They’ll explain everything,” he said.

 

Jake handed Jim the papers as he reached into the man’s jacket and retrieved an ID wallet. Once Jake opened it he said, “This guy works for the IRS. He’s a government repo man.”

 

“That would explain these papers,” Jim mentioned. “There are legal orders to repossess Ms. Chase’s car.”

 

“WHAT?!” Cordelia shouted. “That’s impossible.”

 

“Hang on one second,” Jake said. He took the papers, and went back to the car to use the radio. After a few minutes he came back with a worried expression on his face.

 

 

“Ms. Chase, I think you need to get home as soon as you can. This problem is a lot bigger than just your car,” Jake said.

 

“What about my car?” Cordelia pleaded.

 

“There’s nothing we can do about that. He has a perfectly legal reposition order. I’m sorry,” Jake told her, and he sounded it too.

 

“Cordelia, let’s worry about that later. Right now let’s get back to the mansion. Come, on. I’ll drive you,” Maria said. Once she finished both she, and Cordelia got in Maria’s Prius and drove away.

 

“Jenny, Joyce, Constance, you three come with me. I think we need to keep an eye on Cordelia,” Steve said. “Giles, can you smooth things over here.”

 

“Of course, Steve. You guys get going,” Giles replied, as he turned to deal with the two officers, and the repo man.

 

“Steve,” Xander called after him. “Can I come with you?”

 

Steve considered this a minute. Then he said, “I think that’s a good idea, Come on.”

 

Smiling, Xander ran over to Steve’s car, and joined the others inside. Once he buckled up Steve put the car in gear, and drove out of the driveway.

 

*****

 

Chase Mansion
1110 Hours PST

 

The minute she saw the activity in the driveway, Cordelia knew things were worse than she thought.  As soon as Maria parked her Prius Cordelia was out of the car, and headed toward the front door quickly followed by Maria. Just as Cordelia reached the front door Steve’s car pulled up behind Maria’s.

 

As soon as she entered the house, she stopped dead in the foyer and stared. Men and women in business suits were everywhere, directing movers to take stuff away, and taking pictures of the house, removing paintings and other wall items and many checking things over on clipboards. Taking this all in, there was only one thing Cordelia could say as Maria joined her.

 

"DADDDDYYY!!"

 

She ran through the house, moving toward her father's study. One suited man saw her coming and stepped forward, holding up a hand. Not even pausing, Cordelia shoved him aside, sending him sprawling against a wall. Continuing her march, Cordelia burst into the study and stared at the scene before her.

 

The study was almost bare by now, with only a few chairs and the desk left. Two movers were carrying out his bookshelf and the walls were completely bare, only the hooks left. There were two suited men in the room with her father. One was in his twenties with short blond hair and staring at Charles Chase as if he was a serial killer. The older man seemed to be in his fifties, his hair mostly white, and his face showing lines of experience and was looking at his companion with a slightly disdainful glance.

 

"You've really stepped into it here, Chase," the young man was saying in a voice that he obviously thought dangerous but came off as irritating. "Twelve years of non-payments, all those little deals you've made, the offshore account, the flight."

 

"I'm still here, you idiot," Charles shot back. Cordelia couldn't believe the sight of her father. He looked so...old, as if he had aged at least ten years in only a few hours. His jacket was off, his tie was undone and he looked nothing like the cool and collected figure Cordelia had seen only that morning. His eyes...his eyes looked so sad and bitter and it showed in his voice.

 

"Yeah, but you were going to leave!" the young man said. "Your wife did, after all, so why shouldn't we think you----"

 

"Easy, Jasper," the older man said. He sighed and looked down at Charles. "Mr. Chase...I know this is coming as a shock to you----"

 

"Oh, come on, Pendleton, he had the warnings!"

 

"I never saw those!" Charles yelled at Jasper. "Sheldon handled all of that!"

 

"Daddy." The three men turned toward Cordelia. "What’s going on?”

 

The young man moved up, reached into his pocket and withdrew his wallet. He flipped it open, putting on what he considered a professional demeanor but came off as someone trying too hard to play a part. "Agent Jasper Ferris, lady. Internal Revenue Service. And just who are you?"

 

"That's the daughter, Jasper," the older man said with a tired 'I don't believe this guy' tone. He nodded respectfully at Cordelia. "I'm Gordon Pendleton. We've been talking to your father."

 

"About what?"

 

Pendleton looked at her, then at Charles, then at his partner. "Come on, Jasper, let's give them a chance to talk."

 

"We shouldn't leave the perpetrator alone with-----"

 

"Will you just leave?" Pendleton demanded. He half-pushed Ferris out of the room. "I swear, kid, you read way too many detective novels when you were a child." They left, and Pendleton closed the door to the office.

 

“Gordon, I don’t believe you. We shouldn’t leave them alone in their. What if they try to make a break for it?” Ferris said.

 

“You know, Jasper, every time I possibly think you couldn’t say anything stupider since the last time you keep proving me wrong,” Pendleton replied. “We’re standing in front of the only exit to that room. The only windows in there are at least eight feet off the floor. Just how do you think they’re going to get out of there without us seeing them? You think they have some kind of Hogan’s Heroes escape tunnel? Some kind of secret passage to the Bat Cave? Maybe he got the plans for this house from James Bond. All their going to do is have a talk.”

 

Ferris was going to say something else when Steve, Xander, Jenny, Joyce, and Constance came walking up to them along with Maria.

 

“Excuse me; are you the man in charge?” Steve asked Pendleton as he walked up. Pendleton was about to answer when suddenly Ferris moved in front of Steve with his ID out.

 

“Hold it, buddy. I’m Jasper Ferris with the IRS. Just who are you and what are you doing here?” he told Steve while trying to act important.

 

Steve rolled his eyes as he took in Ferris. It was all he could do to keep from laughing. “Are you the man in charge?” Steve asked Ferris.

 

“No. That would be me. I’m Gordon Pendleton.”

 

“Okay. Then you’re the guy I want to talk to.” Steve replied in a civil manner as he put his hand out to shake Pendleton’s.

 

However Ferris got in Steve’s way again. “Hey, just who do you think you are? We’re in charge here, and you better have some answers to my questions? Now do you have anything to say to me?” Ferris told Steve.

 

“Actually, I do. Get out of my way before I stick you in the floor like a thumb tack.” Steve said as he gently pushed Ferris out of the way while Pendleton gave a small smile.

 

Steve tried to move over to Pendleton again, but Ferris got in his way yet again. “I don’t know who you think you are, but you’d better have some answers for me before I let you talk to anyone else here.” Ferris was poking Steve in the chest as he talked to him.

 

With a disgusted look on his face Steve asked Ferris “Are you going to keep getting in my face every time I try to talk to your boss?”

 

“You bet I am, buddy boy!” Ferris confidently told Steve.

 

“That’s all I wanted to know.” Steve said with a smile on his face.

 

Before Ferris could do anything Steve grabbed him under the arms, and picked him up. Steve spotted a hook for a heavy painting, and stuck Ferris on it by his suit jacket. “Sorry to leave you up in the air like this, but I really need to talk to your boss.” Steve told Ferris. “I’ll get you down when you act a little more civil.”

 

Ferris looked around for help with a panicked look on his face. He caught sight of Pendleton who was outright laughing at Ferris’s current predicament.

 

“This isn’t funny, Gordon. He just assaulted a Federal Agent. Aren’t you going to have him arrested?” Ferris wanted to know.

 

“No. It’s your own fault, Jasper. He did ask you nicely to move.” Pendleton replied.

 

“Well, what am I supposed to do now?” Ferris demanded.

 

“Hang in there.” Pendleton told him as he moved over to talk to Steve.

 

****************************

 

Inside her father’s office Cordelia turned toward her father.

 

"Dad, what's going on?" she asked in a soft voice.

 

Charles sighed as he rose to his feet and began to pace the empty room. "I know it's a shock, hon," he said. "Believe me, it was to me too when these guys showed up just as I was about to go to the office. Evidentially, we've been warned several times by the IRS about failure to file taxes, some shuffling in our accounts and a couple of offshore accounts in the Caymans."

 

"But..." Cordelia was having a hard time taking this in. "But...how could you not know? Wouldn't Sheldon have..."

 

"Told me? Of course, he would have. It's his job, after all, as our accountant and manager." Charles wiped at his face, "Except Sheldon is the one who's been responsible for all this."

 

"What?" Cordelia couldn't believe this.

 

Charles nodded. "He's been keeping my tax files away from the IRS, he's been shuffling my money around, he's filing false returns and even not filing at all and he's apparently been doing it for quite a few years now. I haven't gone through all the records yet but I'm sure that when I will, I'll see that he's been stealing out of my pocket for a long time."

 

"I...I can't believe it!" Cordelia said, shaking her head. "He...He just took it all? How?"

 

"Well, he was our financial advisor, honey," Charles sighed. "And unfortunately, I let him get more control over our money than I should have. It was easy for him to hide it away and keep me from finding out. When the IRS started to get wind of it, he piled together what he could and left the country. They've actually got a record of him going to some small South America country without an extradition treaty."

 

"Goddess..." Cordelia whispered, rubbing at her face. "What...what did...Is there anything left?"

Charles shook his head. "Not really. Oh, a few thousand but not even close to keeping this place." He sighed. "The staff is almost cleared out; I've had to let them all go. No sense in staying on to work an empty mansion. They're taking it all, honey."

 

"How much?" Cordelia asked.

 

Charles looked at her with a smile that didn't match his eyes. "Honey, Sheldon's been keeping us from paying twelve years’ worth of back taxes. And he's been pulling some various scams behind our back, using my name. Trust me; it's going to be a lot. That's why they're seizing everything."

 

Cordelia rubbed at her face, willing herself not to cry. "What about Mom?" she asked. "Does she know?"

 

Charles let out a short and bitter laugh. "Oh, yes. She knows. It seems that her 'vacation' is at a resort in the very same country Sheldon's gone off to."

 

"Well, that's a coincidence," Cordelia remarked. "Well, does she have enough to get home? Can she manage to get back here in time to------"

 

Charles gave her a sad look and the penny dropped. "No..." Cordelia whispered. "No, no, she can't....She couldn't...."

 

"She did," Charles said. He sat back, staring at his hands as he fiddled his fingers. "I should have seen it," he softly said. "Your mother and I haven't been very...intimate for a few months now. Even then, the passion wasn't what it once was."

 

Normally, the idea of listening to her father talking about his sex life would have driven Cordelia from the room but she was too consumed with shock and betrayal to really register what he was saying. "I guess I knew before they told me," Charles continued. "I mean, Sheldon is good but to be able to move around our accounts like this, he'd need more personal access, which your mother gave him. For that and for...well, let's not go there," he said, seeing the shocked look on Cordelia's face and realizing she didn't need to know everything. "Suffice it to say...I doubt your mother will be back anytime soon, if ever."

 

"She..." Cordelia was having an understandably hard time accepting this. "She...she took it from us? She took it and just let us...hung out to dry like this?" Granted, Cordelia and her mother had never been that close and Cordelia knew that a lot of her formerly selfish attitude came from emulating her mother. But, that the woman would willingly and knowingly be cheating on her father and then stealing everything was nearly impossible for Cordelia to take. She rubbed at her face, feeling the tears that were building up behind her eyes. "What...what are we going to do?" she whispered.

 

Charles sighed as he rose to his feet. "I don't know, hon," he admitted. "I'm still going waiting for my lawyer to call back and let me know what our legal status is. I'm hoping I can convince them I'm not at fault, get the insurance company to handle things, maybe get us some money." He looked over at his daughter and moved forward, rubbing at her arms. "Cordelia...I hate to say it, honey, but...I'm afraid that whatever else, you won't be able to afford college. Not right now, anyway." He swallowed. "And...I'm afraid you can't stay here tonight. They're packing it all up now. Maybe you can stay with some friends while...until we figure it out."

 

Cordelia just stood there; still not able to accept what was happening to her. She felt her father embrace her, but didn't really feel any emotion to it. She was too overwhelmed by all that had just happened.

 

The den door slowly opened and Ferris and Pendleton stepped inside. The younger agent had a slick grin on his face as he stepped forward. The grin had appeared once Steve had gotten Ferris off the picture hook he had left him on.  He stopped grinning as Pendleton gripped his hand. "Not in front of the kid," Pendleton hissed.

 

"Oh, come on, it'd be good for her," Ferris smirked. "Seeing Daddy hauled off in cuffs will be a good lesson for her on how not to-----" He broke off with a slight gasp as Pendleton squeezed his arm tight.

 

"Not," the older agent said in a tight voice. "In front. Of the kid, or do you want to be hung up again?" He glared at Ferris, ensuring the younger agent got the point. He finally let go, as Ferris tried to compose himself. "Mr. Chase," Pendleton spoke up. "Can you come with us, please?"

The look Charles gave him let Pendleton know that the man knew full well what was going to happen and appreciated it not happening in front of Cordelia. Giving her one last hug, he walked over to where the two men stood. "Okay, let's go," he said with resignation. Cordelia watched him walk away, feeling completely numb as she did.

 

He glanced over at a female agent. "Smithers, take Ms. Chase to her room. Make sure she has some clothing to take with her."

 

“Hey, we’re supposed to take everything of value!” Ferris complained.

 

“Jasper, its guys like you working for us that make the general public think we’re the worse thing since the GESTAPO. I’m not about to let this young lady leave without what she needs to survive.” Pendleton told him.

 

“Thank you,” Cordelia said.

 

“You’re welcome. However, I am going to need you to surrender your credit cards, your car keys and its paperwork.”

 

“Do I have to give you everything I have?” Cordelia asked with a panicked look on her face.

 

“No, just whatever was provided by your father. Anything you bought yourself with your own money, or anything that was a gift you can keep.”

 

 “Okay. I’ll give you my cards, car keys, and the paperwork for the car.”

 

“Thank you,” Smithers said.  “Maria already gave us the cards to the household accounts your father paid into.  We didn’t touch her private accounts, and she still has her car.”

 

“Good to know,” Cordelia said.

 

“Cordelia,” her father said.  “In case something happened to your mother and me, I had my lawyer draft a letter authorizing Maria to adopt you.  Either the IRS or the FBI, who think I’m involved in organized crime, probably has it in their possession. If I need to, I’ll sign whatever forms I need to terminate our parental rights. I don’t want you dealing with this shadow following you for the rest of your life.”

 

“Dad, is that really necessary? I’ll be eighteen next year, and legally an adult,” Cordelia wanted to know.

 

“I know. However, I think it would be a good idea for you to cut all ties with us. Your mother is not going to be returning, and I’ll be in jail for who knows how long. The Chase name is tainted now, and I don’t want your life being destroyed by it. Let Maria adopt you, and you can legally decide for yourself if you want to keep the name. Please, do this for me.” Cordelia’s father told her.

 

With tears in her eyes realizing this may be the last time she ever saw her father Cordelia threw her arms around him and said, “Alright, Daddy, I will. I love you.”

 

“I love you, too, Cordelia,” her father replied. As she let him go, Pendleton and Ferris led him from the office.

 

After a few minutes Agent Smithers spoke up. “Ms. Chase, whenever you’re ready we can get whatever you need from your room. We can take as long as you need, and when you’re done your friends are waiting for you outside.”

 

“No sense wallowing. I’m ready now,” Cordelia told the agent. With a nod to Cordelia, Agent Smithers let her upstairs to what only this morning had been her bedroom.

 

Ten minutes later, a small duffel bag containing all of her worldly possessions in one arm, Cordelia Chase walked out of what had been her home, and what had been her life.

 

*****

 

Outside the Chase Mansion

 

"You sure about that?" Lysette Torchio asked.

 

"You got it right," Harmony Kendall replied. The girls wore designer dresses intended to get people's attention and were weighed down by bags. "Seems Cordy's pop got busted by the IRS and FBI. My dad was talking about it with one of his partners before I left."

 

"Well, what do you know?" Lysette observed with a wicked smile. "Looks like Chase finally got what was coming to her."

 

"What do you expect?" Harmony sniffed. "She hangs out with those losers; she might as well sink down to their level."

 

"Hmmm, maybe I should tell her about that job opening at Barron's," Lysette laughed. "Just think of Cordelia Chase having to wait on us. There is justice after all."

 

Hearing Harmony and Lysette from where they were standing since they showed up Joyce leaned over and asked Jenny, “Do you think there are any vampires in town that would do requests?”

 

“Here she comes,” Harmony said once she caught sight of Cordelia.

 

“Cordelia’s a loser.  Cordelia’s a loser,” her former friends chanted.

 

“There are a couple of job openings at Barron’s,” Lysette said.  “Maybe you and Maria can wait tables there.  That’s all you two are good for.”

 

As soon as Lysette finished Cordelia stopped, and dropped her duffle bag. Then she quickly moved over toward Harmony, and grabbed her by her dress. Picking Harmony bodily off the ground Cordelia stuffed her butt first into a plastic garbage can. Only Harmony’s legs and arms kept her from sliding too far into the can. Before she could react to what happened to Harmony, Lysette found herself stuffed into an identical trash can.

 

Before either popular girl could complain about what had just happened Cordelia leaned in real close and told them with a low growl in her throat “You know, if this had happened to one of you two over a month ago I’d be right with the other one calling the other a “loser”. However, I’m not the same person I was then. I’ve changed enough to know that all this stuff that I thought was SO important, and vital to me like make up, designer clothes, expensive hair styles, my car, and all the other stuff that you two seem to think goes with having money is really very petty. While I still like fashions, I know that there are much more important things to worry about than wasting my time with all this “I’m better than everyone else just because I have a lot of money crap”. Someday you’ll both realize that, and I just hope that it won’t be too late.”

 

After a short pause Cordelia continued “You two idiots might think just because someone is a loser because they don’t act like you two. Well then I am a loser, because I rather not act like you two anymore. Real friends would stick by you no matter what happens. As soon as I started acting independently from what you consider ‘normal’ you both dropped me faster than a hot rock. However, Xander, Steve, Buffy, and the others have been there whenever I needed them. They ignored their own schedules if necessary to help me out. Would you two? They have been much better friends to me in the short time I’ve been with them than you two have been in your entire lives. Look at them. They’re still here to help me. They don’t care if I have money, or not. So go ahead, and call me a loser. Because I’d rather be one of those than a stinky, rich, bitchy, snob like you two.”

 

Now finished Cordelia walked over, and picked up her duffle bag slinging it over her shoulder again. Before she turned to leave she added to Harmony, and Lysette, “Just to let you know, you need to get out of those trash cans before Tuesday. That’s when they pick up the trash around here.”

 

Maria walked over to Cordelia, and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “You handled that very well, Cordelia.”

 

“Thank you.” Cordelia said. “Maria, Dad told me about the paper work he had his lawyer draw up about…”

 

“About having me adopting you in case something happened to him, and your mother,” Maria finished for her.

 

“Yeah. I know that I’m going to be of legal age next year, but he still wanted you to take care of that. He didn’t want this shadow following me the rest of my life.

If you can I’d like that done as soon as possible.” Cordelia told her.

 

“I’d like that. With Steve’s, and Mrs. Standings’ lawyers helping us we’ll see what we can do,” Maria replied.

 

“Cordelia, my friends at Wolfshead Security have a couple of job openings.  Want me to recommend the two of you?” Jenny told the other two women.

 

Seeing Maria nod, Cordelia said, “Please, Miss Calendar.  That would be wonderful.”

 

“Hey, if those two losers could get jobs there, than so could we!” Harmony suggested from her place still stuck in the trash can.

 

“I don’t think so. There is one major job requirement that they both have that you two never will,” Jenny said.

 

“Just what would that be?” Harmony asked.

 

“It’s called intelligence,” Jenny replied.

 

“Hey,” Lysette said.

 

“I wouldn’t worry, you two,” Joyce said to Harmony and Lysette. “I’m sure that with your skills you both find jobs where you can use both your heads, and your hands. They’ll put caps on your heads, and brooms in your hands.”

 

“You two can stay at my house until you get settled,” Steve told them. “For right now why don’t you follow us back to my place, and we’ll decide what to do next.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” Maria said.

 

“Me, too. Let’s just get out of here,” Cordelia said.

 

Once in the Prius, Cordelia, and Maria took one last look at what had been their home for a large part of their lives. Then Maria started the car, and they both drove off into an uncertain future.

 

******* 

 

Steve’s house

1200 Hours PST

 

“Buffy, will you stop pacing so much. If you keep this up you’re going to create a new entrance to Steve’s basement,” Willow told her friend.

 

Almost ever since Steve, and the others had left to keep an eye on what was happening with Cordelia, Buffy had been pacing in Steve’s living room directly in front of his couch.

 

“Oh, come on, Willow. You’re exaggerating. I’m not that bad,” Buffy replied.

 

“Oh really. If you ever stop being the Slayer you’d make a wonderful carriage for an old style typewriter,” Giles piped up.

 

Buffy glared at Giles for a minute, but then relented. “I’m sorry you guys. I’m just worried about Cordelia. They’ve been gone almost an hour. We should have heard something by now.” Buffy mentioned.

 

“Buffy, relax,” Carol told her. “Cordelia is in good hands. Maria, Steve, Jenny, Xander, Constance, and your mother are all with her. I’m sure they’ll be back soon.”

 

Buffy was about to say something when she suddenly felt the presence of at least two nearby Immortals. Before she had a chance to say anything or react the front door opened revealing their missing members.

 

“We’re back,” Steve announced just in case Buffy wasn’t in the living room. He rather not have his girlfriend accidently run him through with her sword.

 

Steve and others entered the living room. As soon as the occupants of the room saw Cordelia they were all on their feet. They quickly gathered around her asking her questions about what happened. A loud whistle from Joyce quickly quieted everyone down.

 

“Hold it. Will everybody give her a minute to get herself together first?” Joyce told the group.

 

“Sorry, Mom. It’s just that with everything that happened this morning we were all worried about Cordelia,” Buffy explained.

 

Cordelia seemed a little surprised at what Buffy just said. “Really? You were all worried about me? That’s why none of you left, and went home?”

 

“Of course it is.” Giles told her. “We all wanted to make sure that you were alright, and that you’d be able to get through this. That’s what friends do.”

 

“You still want to be friends with me?” Cordelia said as she dropped her duffle bag. “I don’t have anything left. The IRS took it all.”

 

“Cordelia, how could you say that?” said a new, very recognizable voice; just then Artemis appeared in the living room. All the ladies in the room bowed to her, but Cordelia seemed a little nervous when she straightened up.

 

Artemis caught sight of the nervous look on Cordelia’s face, and quickly put her mind at ease. “You needn’t worry, Cordelia. I’m not going to take back your empowerment. You lost enough already today.”

 

“So I’m still an Amazon,” Said Cordelia clearly relived.

 

“In every way. While you may not be the woman you were when I empowered you you’ve have grown in so many ways ever since you became friends with Buffy and the others. Ways that have helped make you such a wonderful and strong woman. I couldn’t take that away from you.” Artemis told her.

 

As soon as Artemis finished she walked over to Cordelia, and gave her a very large, comforting hug. When they broke the embrace Cordelia had tears in her eyes.

 

However, as she wiped at her eyes there was one thing that she had to ask.

 

“Lady Goddess. I mean no disrespect, but wasn’t there anything you could do to have prevented this?” Cordelia asked. Not really sure if she wanted to know the answer.

 

“No, that’s not disrespectful Cordelia. You asked a very valid question, and you deserve a valid answer,” Artemis began. “We Gods learned the hard way a very long time ago that meddling with the lives of mortals on a regular basis led to very little good. I simply cannot keep an eye out for every single one of my Amazons. Even if I could, it would only lead to me controlling your lives, or worse you would soon feel that you could not survive at all without me. That wouldn’t be fair to any of you, Cordelia.”

 

 

“I know. I do know that,” Cordelia replied. “It’s just that it hurts. I’ve lost everything, Lady Goddess. I have nothing left to me now.”

 

“Which brings me back to why I originally decided to drop in,” Artemis replied. “Cordelia, take a good long look around this room, and then think about you’re last statement that you have nothing left to you now again.”

 

Cordelia did as instructed. Cordelia saw all the people gathered in that room. She saw all the care, and love that her true friends had for her. By the time she finished looking around she had tears in her eyes again.

 

“Cordelia, you lost everything you started with this morning except the most important thing. Everyone who truly cares for you because of who you are, and not because of what you have,” Artemis explained. “You told Harmony and Lysette after you stuck them in those garbage cans that you didn’t care if you no longer had all the money, or possessions that you had as long as you had your friends. Cordelia, do you really think that Steve, Xander, your Amazon sisters, and everyone else are so petty that they will cease wanting to be with you simply because you no longer have all your money?”

 

“No. It’s just that I don’t have a home. I don’t know if I can afford college. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” Cordelia said.

 

“That’s for you to find out on your own,” Steve said. “Your life has changed a lot today. That’s just the way it is. Life is constant change. There is no avoiding it. However, you have all of us to lean on for support. Let us help. There is no shame in asking for help if you run into a problem that you can’t handle.”

 

“I don’t want charity.” Cordelia said.

 

“It’s not charity; it’s aiding someone that we love as a friend,” Buffy said as she put a reassuring hand on Cordelia’s shoulder. “Your life may never be like it was, but if you let us maybe we can help you build an even better one for yourself.”

 

Cordelia gave Buffy a hug as she said, “Thank you all. It’s just that I’ve never faced anything like starting over in life. This problem just seems so huge.”

 

Giles picked that moment to speak up “Cordelia, my dear, you don’t have to solve everything tomorrow. We can take it in stages. Fix the most immediate problem first, and then go from there. It will all work out in the end.”

 

“Giles is right,” Willow said. “You’ll get through this Cordelia. You’re a lot tougher than the IRS.”

 

“Not to mention a lot better looking than the IRS too, if that Agent Ferris was any indication,” Xander mentioned.

 

Cordelia smiled at Xander. She then said, “Thank you, all of you. I guess that I just needed to remind myself just how much you guys really care about, and mean to me. That’s why I feel that I owe you all an apology. Not for something that happened today, but for the way that I treated all of you when we first met each other. My mother always acted snobbish, and stuck up so much that I thought that’s the way I was supposed to act. At that time I never dreamed that there was another way to behave. Then Maria came, and she started to teach me differently. Then Buffy came, and along with the rest of you helped me realize that acting like a snob was not how I wanted to be remembered.”

 

“That wasn’t necessary to say, Cordelia, but welcome anyway,” Willow said.

 

Artemis smiled as she said, “Well, now that everything seems under control here I think I’ll say good-bye. Just remember, Cordelia. The universe puts us in places that we can grow, and learn. There not always easy places, but necessary. The pain that sometimes comes from them is just part of constantly being born. You’ll do just fine.” Artemis gave Cordelia one last hug, and then vanished.

 

Once Artemis disappeared Steve glanced at his watch. “Well, it’s almost twelve-thirty. Why don’t I put a call into Romero’s Pizza, and order us up some lunch. I could certainly use some, and while we wait for that Cordelia and Maria can get settled in while Giles fills me in on what happened here while I was gone.”

 

“Yeah, not to mention that I want to hear about Harmony, Lysette, and some aforementioned trash cans. I have a feeling that that is going to be a really interesting story,” Buffy said.

 

“I’ll tell you everything in a little while.” Cordelia told Buffy. “Right now I just want to put my stuff away. Steve, thanks again for letting Maria, and I stay here until we can afford our own place.”

 

“You’re very welcome, Cordelia. After all that’s what friends are for,” Steve replied as he was dialing his cell phone to order the pizzas.

 

Cordelia and Maria both picked up their bags to take them upstairs to the rooms Steve told them they could use. When they reached the bottom of the stairs Cordelia stopped. “Cordelia, is everything alright?” Maria asked her.

 

“I guess I’m still a little scared. For the moment I was old enough to understand I thought my future was set. Grow-up, got to college, get married, have a family, and maybe even take over my father’s company. Now I don’t what is going to happen,” Cordelia explained.

 

Joyce heard this, and she said, “Cordelia, a very wise person once told me that future was not set in stone. The future is constantly changing. We create the future with our words, our deeds, and our beliefs. The future is what you make of it, Cordelia, and I think you’re going to make yours a good one.”

 

“Thank you, Mrs. Summers,” Cordelia said,

 

Cordelia, with the bond we have with the both of us being Amazons I think you more than earned the right to stop calling me, Mrs. Summers. It’s Joyce. The same goes for the rest of you as well.”

 

“Thank you, Joyce,” Cordelia hugged her sister Amazon. After a few minutes they broke apart. “Well now, Maria and I better put our stuff away. We’ll be down if a few minutes, Steve.”

 

“Take your time. We have about forty-five minutes before the pizzas get here,” Steve replied. “We can take care of everything down here go ahead, and relax awhile.”

 

“You know, I hate to bring this up now, but do you think that Snyder is going to make any noise about what happened with Cordelia when we go back to school on Monday,” Willow asked.

 

“I wouldn’t worry about Snyder,” Cordelia replied with a smile on her face. “If he does make any noise about it I’ll permanently remove his noise maker.”

 

Everyone laughed as Cordelia and Maria went upstairs. When Cordelia opened the door to the room she would be using she thought about Maria and all the other people downstairs who really cared about her.

 

At that moment Cordelia realized something. She might have lost her home, her car, most of her clothes, all her money, and possessions since this morning. However, at that moment Cordelia realized that she was richer with a gift that no one could ever take away from her, the gift of friendship.

 

FINIS