Title: A Fighter's Worth

Author: Michael Weyer

Buffy and all rights owned by Mutant Enemy.

Steven St. Wolf created and owned by Steve Pantovitch.
Shaw Hunter created by Tim Knight.
Robin Goodfellow and Liam Danahure are mine.

SPOILERS:
1. Buffy died at the hands of the Master in "Prophecy Girl" and became Immortal.
2. Jenny Calendar is still alive and engaged to Rupert Giles.
3. Joyce Summers is still alive.
4. Cordelia, Amy, Jenny and Willow are Amazons while Xander, Oz and Giles are empowered by Robin Goodfellow.
5. This is just after "Immortal Kombat." Liam Danahure has come to live in Sunnydale. He and Robin are on a lowered level of magic but capable of more if the need arises.
6. Mulder and Scully are Immortal and married. Scully is an Amazon while Mulder has an empowerment from Robin.

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
April 28th, 1999 - 1032 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 the whole Outworld mess, 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 the mall," Cordelia explained as she rose from her seat. "Robin and Liam are going to be meeting us there."

"Liam?" Charles frowned. "Who's Liam?"

"Oh, Robin's best friend," Cordelia explained. "He just moved into town and staying with Robin for a while."

"Really. What does he do?"

"We're still trying to figure that out," Cordelia muttered. 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, plucking a set of keys from a nearby hook. She headed to the garage and opened up her car. Making sure her mirror was adjusted right; she pulled out of the open doors, down the long driveway and headed out toward the mall. 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.

*****

Sunnydale Mall
1243 Hours PST

"Ye know what they need here?" Liam Danahure said as he chewed on a piece of pizza. "A decent Irish restaurant."

"Is there such a thing?" Xander Harris smirked. He, Liam, Cordelia, Robin Goodfellow, Amy Madison, Shaw Hunter, Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenburg and Oz Green were seated around a large table at the mall's food court. All were munching on a variety of foods while noticing how Liam seemed to have grabbed one item from every food establishment and was on the last of them now. The red-haired leprechaun appeared to have adapted well to human life in only a few days. He was wearing a dark green shirt with a darker vest over it and light slacks. It was eye-catching but compared to Robin's bright red and black ensemble, it seemed to pale.

"Don't knock Irish cooking, laddie," Liam warned. "We've got quite the nice cuisine on hand."

"Alcohol does not count as cuisine," Shaw carefully stated.

"Well, it should." Swallowing the last of his pizza, Liam flipped back to the newspaper before him. "What are you looking for?" Buffy asked.

"Real estate," Liam replied. "Got a few things circled here and there."

"You just got here and you're already looking for a new place?" Cordelia asked with surprise.

Liam shrugged. "Well, as nice as it is to be bunking with Robbie here, I really do want a place to meself. A nice, quiet little home I can call me own." He glanced at Robin and smirked. "Besides, I think Robbie and his lass would appreciate a little more private time to themselves."

"Ah, that's the old Liam," Robin said with a smile. "Always so caring."

"When ye get to know me, ye'll love me," Liam said toward Shaw, winking at her. Shaw merely glared while Amy couldn't resist a smile at her cousin's behavior.

"So, going to settle your pot of gold down after all?" Xander asked.

The minute he said it, he knew he'd made a mistake. Liam froze, his eyes taking on the same dark expression that Robin did whenever Puck was mentioned. "Uh oh," Oz muttered from across the table. "This won't be good."

Calmly, Liam leaned forward and fixed Xander with an icy glare. "Let me make this clear, lad," he said. "I've realized that I'm going to have to put up with a few misconceptions with you lot regarding my people. Let me make this clear now. We do not carry a pot of gold with us everywhere we go. You do not find them at the end of the rainbow. If you catch a leprechaun, you are not automatically entitled to either a pot of gold or wishes, I have no idea where all that came from. And do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, mention that lousy, miserable piece of drider droppings movie from a few years back. Got me?"

Buffy looked at the expression on his face, then at Robin, who just shrugged. Closing her eyes, the Slayer let out a pained expression. "Oh, God, now there's TWO of them!"

*****

"What do you think of this one?" Cordelia asked as she held up a dress with a large floral pattern on it before her.

Xander crossed his arms and shook his head. "Cordy, I keep telling you. I'm a guy. What do we know about fashion?"

"With you, that's an especially good point," Cordelia teased. She moved up toward the purchase counter where the others were waiting.

"I keep telling ye," Liam was saying to Shaw. "A little more leather would be nice with ye."

Shaw shook her head. "I am not a fan of that," she intoned. "Except for the occasional jacket."

"I wouldn't say that," Liam said, his face puling into a wide grin. "After all, I saw the image of that little 'biker chick from hell' illusion ye pulled on Amy and Cordelia."

Amy groaned as Shaw shot a glare at Robin. She turned back toward Liam and stepped forward, her face tight. "For your own sake," she said in a cool tone. "Do not attempt to be imagining me in such a twisted outfit."

"Oh, I won't," Liam replied. Shaw let out a quick nod and turned away. Without changing his expression, Liam continued. "See, I remember that little barmaid outfit ye once----"

The sound of Shaw's fist smacking into his jaw echoed throughout the store. The clerk, who had been ringing up the various dresses Cordelia was trying to buy, started and looked up to see Liam rubbing his chin. "Not to worry," he told her. "Just a little spat is all."

"Liam," Robin quickly muttered. "Try to be a bit more civil in public. Trust me, it'll ease things down quite a bit."

Cordelia ignored them as she handed her credit card over to the clerk. She hummed lightly as the clerk ran it through the machine and wondered just which of the new outfits she'd be trying out tonight.

Looking back, Cordelia would mark the loud beeping of the card reader as the moment it all came apart for her.

The clerk frowned and scanned the card again and then once more. Frowning, she looked up at Cordelia. "Um, there may be a problem," she said. "It's reading your card as invalid."

Cordelia frowned in puzzlement. "Are you sure?"

The clerk nodded. She looked at the reader, then back at Cordelia. "Um, maybe we should try another-----"

"That won't be necessary, Clarice," a deep male voice came out. Everyone turned to see a thin-faced man in a dark suit come up to the counter. "I'll be handling this." He looked over at Cordelia and cleared his throat. "Ms. Chase. I'm Joshua Greggs, the store manager. May I see all your credit cards, please?"

Cordelia looked at him with suspicion. "What is this?" she demanded.

"Ms. Chase," the man said with an authority that belied his seeming quiet frame. "I must insist."

Cordelia wasn't sure about this but experience had taught her than when the owner of a store asks for something, it's wise for the customer to give it to him. Not wanting to cause a needless fight, Cordelia sighed and opened up her purse. She rummaged through her wallet, removing one card after another, a dozen in all. Greggs swept his hand over them, gathering them all together and ruffling through them. "Is this all of them?"

"Yeah," Cordelia said. "Now what is this about?"

"I received a special phone call about ten minutes ago," Greggs stated. He lay the cards down on the counter and removed a large pair of scissors. "Ms. Chase, I regret to say that all your cards have been declined and I have been authorized to destroy them." With that, he took the American Express card and neatly sliced it in two.

"Ahhh!" Cordelia yelled as if in pain.

Discover.

"Ghahh!"

Visa.

"Uhhh!"

Her store card.

"Gheyah!"

Greggs went on until a small pile of sliced plastic pieces lay before him. Cordelia stared at them, her jaw working up and down but no other sounds coming out. "I regret this action but it was the responsibility I was given," Greggs said in a flat tone. "Are there any questions?"

"I've got one," Liam said, moving in and holding the pieces of the Discover card. "Can you give this one another snip? I want to see the 'ghahh!' face again."

Shaw and Robin both whacked him upside the head, resulting in a loud "OW!" Backing away, Cordelia stared in shock at the pieces of her credit cards. She kept her eyes on them even as she rummaged through her purse for her cell phone. "I've gotta call my father," she said. "I don't know what the hell this is but I've got to call..." She flipped through her address list and pushed in her father's number. She held the phone to her ear and then frowned. "Service has been discontinued?" she muttered to herself. "What the hell is going on?"

She looked at the guys and shook her head. "Guys, I've gotta get home, something's wrong."

"Do you want us to go with?" Buffy asked.

Cordelia shook her head. "No, this is something on my end. Look, I'll get home, find out what's what and give you guys a call later. All right?" Without waiting for an answer, she took off, moving quickly toward the exits.

"I still would have liked to have seen the 'ghahh!' face again... OWWW!"

*****

Chase Mansion
1345 Hours PST

The minute she saw the activity in the driveway, Cordelia knew things were worse than she thought.

The taxi had to pull up to the curb as the driveway was filled with cars. There were a few police cars there but most were nondescript black cars. There were also two large moving vans and as Cordelia watched, she could see several men in coveralls moving furniture out of the front door.

Shoving a fifty into the driver's hand and telling him to just keep the change, Cordelia burst out of the car and ran up the driveway. "What are you doing?!" she shrieked at a pair of men who were moving the living room couch out into one of the trucks. "Just...just put that down! Put that down right now!"

"Sorry, lady, we've got orders," one mover grunted. "You might as well calm down, we're going to be here for a while."

Cordelia stared as another mover walked out carrying the small table that usually sat by her bed. "Wait just a damn minute, you can't take that!" she yelled. "Be careful, do you know how much that cost?" The mover ignored her and moved on. Staring at him for a long moment, Cordelia turned and ran into the house.

She stopped dead in the foyer and stared. Men and women in business suits were everywhere, directing movers to take stuff away, 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.

"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 her was a serial killer. The older man seemed to be in his fifties, his hair mostly white, 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 Nicholas. "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. "Daddy, what is all this?" she demanded. "Who are all these people?"

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 Cordelia turned toward her father.

"Dad, what's going on?" she asked in a soft voice. "My cards were cut, I tried to call and my cell service has been discontinued, I went to the parking lot but my car was gone and I wanted to get home so I didn't have a chance to report it stolen-----"

"It wasn't stolen, Cordelia."

Cordelia stopped and looked at him. "What?"

Charles sighed and sat back in his chair. "It wasn't stolen," he repeated. "It was repossessed. Along with most everything else we have, hence the movers."

Cordelia swallowed. "Dad, what the hell is going on?"

Charles took a deep breath. "Hon, there's no easy way to say this so here goes." He looked up at her and licked his lips. "We're broke."

Cordelia would swear her heart stopped. She blinked twice, staring at her father with utter disbelief. "What?" she squeaked out.

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...hang 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 before...before we can 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. 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." 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.

<CORDELIA!>

The high-pitched voice ripped through the fog in her head and pierced Cordelia's shock. Instinctively, she moved, rushing out of the study and down the hallway and toward the foyer.

There, a female agent was having a hard time trying to hold the withering furball in her hands. Arial was clawing at anyone who moved, as the tears in the agent's coat could attest to. "Let her go!" Cordelia screamed. "Let my cat go right now!"

"Aw, jeez, people," Pendleton announced from his place in the doorway. He was glad to see that Cordelia was standing in a spot that prevented her from seeing her father being placed into the back of a car with his hands cuffed behind him. The senior agent motioned toward the cat. "Isn't this going just a little too far?"

"Sir, Agent Ferris said----"

"Ferris is second in charge on this one," Pendleton stated. "I'm in charge overall." He looked at the pained look on Cordelia's face and bit his lip.

"Sir," the agent pressed. "This type of cat is rather expensive."

Pendleton looked over at Cordelia. "Did you buy this cat?"

Cordelia shook her head. "No. No, she was...a gift from a friend."

Pendleton nodded. "Not an actual asset then." He looked at the agent and motioned toward Cordelia. "Give her the cat."

The agent looked ready to argue but a hard look from Pendleton took care of that. She handed Arial over to Cordelia, who clutched tightly to what was now her only possession. She stroked at Arial's ears, feeling the tears once more beginning to well up within her.

<Cordy.> Arial's voice made Cordelia look up in time to see Ferris walking back into the mansion, whistling as he tossed the statue of Artemis in his hands like a toy. "Give that to me," Cordelia hissed.

Everyone looked at her, surprised at the sudden vehemence in the young woman's face. "Sorry, hon, but this is solid gold," Ferris smirked. "It goes."

"It was a gift from someone who means a lot to me," Cordelia bit back. "Give it back right now."

"Make me," Ferris said. He was more than a little startled when Cordelia marched forward, seeming ready to do just that. Ferris backed away as Pendleton stepped forward. "Ms. Chase," he said. "Please. Calm down, this isn't making things better."

"They can hardly get any worse, can they?" Cordelia bit out, her eyes flaring at Ferris.

Something in that look told Pendleton that this statue meant a lot to Cordelia. Maybe more than even he could guess at. He reached over and plucked it out of Ferris' hands. He made a show of looking it up and down, especially at the base. He looked at Cordelia and beneath her anger, he saw a quiet pleading. Smiling, Pendleton pointed at the bottom of the statue. "Made in Taiwan," he announced. With that, he tossed it over to Cordelia, who easily caught it. "Not worth our time." 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 spoke up. Pendleton turned and fixed him with an icy glare as Cordelia slowly stepped away and made her way up the stairs. He moved forward, leaning in to hiss into Ferris' face. "You know, Ferris," he muttered. "It's guys like you who make me understand why people hate us so much." He shook his head as he watched the agents go back to their business of dismantling the Chase home. "I mean, honestly. The statue I could understand but the cat? What were you going to do, hold it behind your desk and stroke it like a James Bond villain?"

Before Ferris could reply, the voice of the female agent sounded out. "Sir!" Everyone turned to see Smithers coming down the stairs with a pair of sizeable cases in her hands. Cordelia was right behind her, wanting to explain what Smithers was going to show.

"These were under her bed," Smithers explained as she set the cases on the bottom stair. She opened the unlatched cases to show the contents. Everyone was slightly taken aback at the attache case that contained a pair of pistols, a H&K MP5PDW submachine gun and several knives of different varieties. The other case, with its long and polished katana, got some eyebrows raised high.

"Well, well, well," Ferris smirked, crossing his arms before him. "It looks like you've been quite the busy girl, eh, Ms. Chase?"

"Listen, Ferret-----"

"Ferris! My name is Ferris!" From the way he exploded at her and the snickers of some of the agents around him, Cordelia knew this wasn't the first time Ferris had been called that.

"Ferret," Cordelia went on, her own arms crossing before her. "I have a permit for each and every one of those weapons and the katana was a gift. I work part-time for Wolfshead Security. My boss will vouch for me."

"Oh, please!" Ferris snorted. "Like a rich bitch like you would bring herself down to have any type of job that risked ruining her nail job!"

In an incredible display of self-control, Cordelia resisted the urge to smash this bastard's face in. Fortunately, Pendleton was already on it. "Ferris," he said. "She does work there. It was in the file, remember? Wolfshead Security has an okay rating from the FBI, it's clean. If she has the permits, she keeps them and if the sword's a gift, she keeps that."

"We should confiscate-----"

"We're the IRS, not the ATF," Pendleton cut him off. "I'm sorry you flunked the exam for that but keep your mind on the job we have. Come on, the woman is not going to go on a murder spree so let her keep them." He turned back to Cordelia. "Pack them up carefully and we'll be okay."

"Okay," Cordelia said softly. "Mr. Pendleton, thanks to you people, I don't think I'll ever be 'okay' again."

*****

Twenty minutes later, Arial tucked under one arm and a small duffel bag containing all of her worldly possessions in the other, Cordelia Chase walked out of what had been her home. And what had been her life.

*****

Home of Steven St. Wolf
1437 Hours PST

The ringing of the telephone cut through Steven St. Wolf's ears. Rising from his seat and turning the mute button on the ball game on TV, the Immortal demon hunter picked up the phone on a nearby table and spoke into it. "Hello?"

"Steve? It's Dana."

"Dana?" Steve asked with surprise. "What's up? Is something wrong?"

"Well, not demon or massive evil wrong but, yes," Dana Scully, Amazon Immortal Special FBI agent replied. "Mulder got this program from the Gunmen a few months back. It goes over all databases and throws up a red flag if any of us are mentioned in them."

"And a flag's gone up?"

Dana sighed. "The IRS is going after Cordelia's father. Apparently, a recent check showed that he hasn't paid taxes for the last twelve years, he has some illegal accounts set up and has been skimming off his business as well. His manager and Cordelia's mother have both fled to a non-extradition treaty country, presumably with the money."

"Oh, shit," Steve muttered. "How bad is it?"

"They're talking about full repossession of everything," Dana stated. "I mean everything, Steve, they're putting a lien on the property and all of it. Plus, it looks like her dad's going to be arrested and they barely have enough to pay for a couple of weeks at a hotel, let alone a good lawyer."

"Damn," Steve said. "Okay, I'd better call the guys, see if we can help."

"Mulder and I are flying out," Scully told him. "We both want to be there to help."

"It'll be appreciated," Steve said. "We'll see you soon." He hung up the phone and shook his head. *Funny. I've fought Immortals, vampires, demons, ninjas, commandos and the odd dragon. So why does the thought of taking on the IRS give me a little plunge in my stomach?*

*****

Sunnydale Mall
1527 Hours PST

"Are you sure Cordelia would come back here?" Buffy asked Amy.

"It's the mall, isn't it?" Amy said. "She'll come back. It'll beckon to her."

"Not the most scientific approach," Shaw observed. The three were walking down the halls of the mall, trying to see if they could find Cordelia. They had gotten the call from Steve only a few minutes before letting them know what had happened and had immediately broken off into searching parties.

"Since when does science enter our world that often?" Amy observed. Before Shaw could reply, a chattering was heard from around the corner. The three paused before it, all leaning against the wall as the voices came closer.

"You sure about that?" Lysette Torchio asked.

"You got it right," Harmony Kendall replied. Both girls wore designer dresses intended to get people's attention and both were weighed down by bags. "Seems Cordy's pop got busted by the IRS. 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."

The two walked off, laughing at Cordelia's misfortune as Buffy, Shaw and Amy watched them go. "I wonder if there's any vampires in town who do requests," Amy muttered under her breath.

*****

Xander Harris' Apartment
1558 Hours PST

He hadn't left since getting the call. He didn't need to. He knew what was going to happen.

Xander sat at the table inside his apartment, tapping at the surface as he waited. He knew what was going to come. He didn't really know how he knew it, but he did. Maybe it was instinct, maybe it was premonition or maybe it was some sort of connection he had to her. What mattered was that he knew she was coming and he had to be here when she did.

There was a knocking on the door and he immediately got to his feet and walked over to it. He opened it wide and felt a stab of pain through his heart as he saw Cordelia standing before him. Arial jumped out of her arms and darted into the room as the small bag in her hands fell to the floor. She looked at Xander, her hair mussed, her face lines with tears, the obvious pain over all that had happened starting to hit her all at once.

Xander reached over and embraced her and that was all that was needed to send Cordelia into a wave of sobs. She leaned into him, crying for all she was worth as he brought her inside and kissed her head gently. "Just let it out, hon," he whispered. "Just let it all out."

*****

"So, she's okay?" Steve asked.

"I don't know," Xander admitted. He turned from the phone to look over at his shut bedroom door. "After her initial crying jag, she locked herself in my room. She won't come out for anything right now. I've tried, but she's really taking it hard, Steve."

"I don't blame her," Steve said. "Cordelia's adjusted and grown since joining the team but her money and lifestyle was still a big part of her being. Losing everything she had isn't something that can just be brushed away."

"I know the feeling," Xander sighed. "And finding out her mom's the one who did it...God, I knew Mrs. Chase was always a bit self-serving but I didn't think she was capable of anything like this."

"Well, she was," Steve told him. "And unfortunately it seems that, at least for the moment, she's gotten away with it."

"What are we going to do, Steve?"

"We're working on that here," Steve informed him. "Right now, Cordelia needs someone with her right now. Even if she thinks she doesn't."

Xander was looking toward the table and slowly nodding. "I know," he told the Wanderer. "I'll call you back later. I've got to talk to someone else right now." After hearing Steve's reply, Xander hung up the phone and walked over to the table. Cordelia had slipped out some of her meager belongings and spread them out. It had hurt Xander to see her looking over a few items of makeup, a couple of photographs and other personal belongings that represented everything that was left of her former life. Standing in the middle of the pile was the statue of Artemis, which Xander looked right at.

He coughed into his hand and did his best to not appear nervous. "Look, um...I don't know if this is against the rules or anything but..." He swallowed and urged himself to continue. "I'm sure you know what's going on by now. And I want to let you know right now that I understand there was nothing you could do. It was one of those things you couldn't meddle with." A slight smile came to his face. "Besides, I think even Ares might want to pause a minute before tangling with the IRS."

He sobered and cleared his throat before continuing. "Like I said, I may be out of line for asking this but I don't think Cordelia's in the right mind-set to right now. She could use you right now. Not to change it or give it back, I know you can't do that. But she needs to hear you tell her it's all right, that it will be all right. She could really use a talk with you right now."

He cast his eyes down, swallowing yet again. "I love her," he whispered. "I love her so much and it hurts to see her coming apart like this. I want to stop her before she goes too far to come back. She won't talk to me right now. I could break down the door easy, but that won't solve anything. She doesn't need a confrontation. She needs a talk from someone who cares for her as much as I do. I know you do that."

He looked back up at the statue, light tears in his eyes as he finished his quiet plea. "Look, I'm sorry..." He stopped and rolled his eyes. "Aw, man, I'm getting worse than Larry." Wiping at his eyes, he went on. "If you can...please...talk to her now. I'd...I can't promise anything in return, I don't know what I could give you but...whatever you can do. Thank you."

The statue seemed to take on a light glow and a voice suddenly echoed within Xander's head. *I cannot recall when last a man asked me for aid for an Amazon,* Artemis "said." *That alone is worth my attention. I would have come anyway. I know she needs me. But...I am grateful to see my faith in you has been rewarded.*

"Faith in me?" Xander said, not believing what he'd heard.

*Faith that you truly love her,* Artemis clarified. *Faith that you will be with her when she needs you. And faith that you can realize that sometimes even you alone are not enough for her. Had I had that faith in men three thousand years ago...perhaps the Amazons would not have fallen. Be at peace, Xander. I will go to her.*

The statue ceased its glowing as Xander instinctively looked toward the room where Cordelia was. "Thank you," he whispered and realized that sometimes knowing a Goddess wasn't a bad thing at all.

*****

Cordelia lay on the bed, her face buried into the pillow, the cover streaked with tears. She knew she looked a mess but she felt it somewhat fitting at the moment. She had lost everything. Everything she had, everything she'd ever had, it had all been taken away from her. And the worse part was that her own mother was the one responsible for it all. She wanted to just curl up and die and barely heard the slight rush of air that welcomed the arrival of her second mother figure.

"Cordelia?" Cordelia froze at the soft but powerful voice that echoed through the room. She slowly turned and faced Artemis as the Greek Goddess looked at her with sympathy. "I needed to see you," she said.

Cordelia slowly nodded. "I know," she whispered. She wiped at her face as she rose to her feet. "I've been expecting you to come for this." She closed her eyes and steeled herself. "Just...just get it over with, okay?"

For a being who was supposedly omniscient, Artemis didn't have any idea what Cordelia was talking about. "I'm sorry?" she asked, staring at her with puzzlement.

"Look, we both know what you're going to do," Cordelia continued, her eyes still closed. "So, just go ahead, take it and then leave."

It took a moment for Artemis to understand what Cordelia was saying. When she did, she stared at the young woman in amazement. "You...You believe I'm here to take my blessing away from you?"

"Duh!" Cordelia bit out, her eyes shooting open and flaring at Artemis. "I mean, I don't have any money, I don't have anything of my own, I'm not the woman you recruited to be an Amazon so why would you want to keep me?!"

The sight of Cordelia, eyes running wild with tears, standing before her, convinced she was about to lose one more important item to her life made Artemis want to weep herself. She stepped forward, a hand going to Cordelia. She tensed, convinced that the next sensation she would feel would be her empowerment being taken away.

Instead, Artemis pulled her in and embraced her fully, squeezing Cordelia's body to her. It took Cordelia a moment to realize that Artemis wanted to hold her, not punish her. She closed her eyes and felt a new wave of tears come over her as she let Artemis hold her tight, the goddess trying to ease her charge's pain as much as she could.

"You're right, Cordelia," she whispered. "You're not the woman you were when I empowered you. You've grown in so many ways over the last year, ways that have helped make you such a wonderful and strong woman. I couldn't take that away from you. Not after everything else you've lost already."

Cordelia gathered herself up and backed away, wiping at her eyes. "So...I'm still an Amazon?"

"In every way," Artemis told her. "Including a place in my heart."

Cordelia brought herself up, a flash of anger coming over her eyes. "Then why the hell didn't you stop this?!" she demanded. "Why didn't you do something with the IRS, stop the theft, stop them from coming! Why didn't you stop my mother from doing this! What the hell are you good for if you won't help one of your Amazons when she's in-----"

The flare in Artemis' eyes let Cordelia know she'd stepped over her bounds slightly. She swallowed as Artemis leaned in, her face calm but eyes showing a touch of anger. "Cordelia," she said in a cooler tone than before. "I had to see my first tribe of Amazons wiped to the point of extinction, mainly due to my own poor judgement. I love you and I trust you. But do not lecture me on what I can and cannot do for my own charges."

Cordelia looked down, feeling a bit of shame and Artemis immediately regretted her actions. *Wonderful move, Artemis. Run her down when she's already at a low emotional point.* Sighing, Artemis placed a hand on Cordelia' shoulder. "Cordelia," she said carefully. "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 isn't fair to you, Cordelia."

"I know," she whispered. "I do know. It's just that..." She choked. "It just hurts. I've lost everything, Lady Goddess. I have nothing left to me now."

"That's not true and you know it," Artemis stated. "You have your friends."

"Do I?" Cordelia snorted.

Artemis resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Cordelia. Do you truly believe Steve or Buffy or Xander or your Amazon sisters are so petty that they will cease wanting to be with you simply because you no longer have your money?"

"Well...no..." Cordelia had to admit. "But...But I don't have a home. I don't have a mother anymore, I don't have a car or clothes, I won't be able to afford colleges, what am I supposed to do?"

"That's for you to find out on your own," Artemis said. A slight smile came to her face. "I can tell you that you have more than you might think. Not just with money but also with people you can lean upon."

Cordelia shook her head. "No," she said. "No, I don't want to burden the guys with this, I don't want them to know-----"

"It's too late for that, Cordelia," Artemis said. "They know." At her shocked look, Artemis shrugged. "Cordelia, a man of your father's statue is rendered bankrupt in less than a day, it will get out. That's inevitable. But your friends, the people who truly care for you, they won't think less of you because of it. They'll want to help you, Cordelia. Let them."

"I don't want charity," Cordelia said.

"It's not charity, it's aiding someone they love," Artemis stressed. "And it's their choice of whether or not to do it." Artemis stroked Cordelia's chin, giving her a look of sympathy. "Your life has changed, Cordelia. And I am afraid you will not be able to get back what you once had. But perhaps you can look upon it as a turning point for the better. A chance to grow even more, without your money to fall back on. It will not be easy, I admit. But that just makes the journey all the more worthwhile."

Cordelia slowly nodded as Artemis' words flowed into her. She stepped away, wiping at her face as she shrugged. "Where do I start?"

Artemis smiled and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. "With the fact that there's a man out there who loves you so much he actually prayed to me to aid you."

Cordelia's eyes went wide. "Xander...Xander did that?"

Artemis nodded. "He did. And he did it out of love for you. He doesn't think of you any less than he did before. He wants to be there to help you through this. If you want my advice...you'll accept that help. Both from him and anyone else."

"Thank you, Lady Goddess," Cordelia said. She bowed her head and took a breath. "I...I'm sorry for what I said before------"

"It was understandable," Artemis told her. "I don't predict the future, Cordelia. But I believe yours will improve. Know that I will be there watching when it does." With a final smile, she vanished in a cloud as Cordelia backed away. She looked towards the door, weighing what Artemis had just told her. She carefully walked over and unlocked it, then slid it open.

Xander was already waiting on the other side with a sympathetic smile on his face. Without a word, Cordelia reached out, gripped his arms, brought him in and kissed him on the lips. He answered her as they moved into the room, falling onto the bed. Unlike their previous times, however, this wasn't just for the pure act of sex. Instead, Xander was showing her how much he loved her and letting her know that no amount of money would ever change that.

*****

Robin Goodfellow's Home
1927 Hours PST

Robin whistled slightly as he wrapped the bathrobe around himself. He moved from the bathroom to his room, opening up his closet to select the right outfit. *Funny how fast you get used to not just snapping your fingers to change* he thought to himself. One of the biggest surprises Robin had received when Oberon had allowed him to access his magical abilities without restriction was that he didn't jump right back into using it all the time. *What do you know? Old Obe was right, being human was a learning experience.*

After deciding on a pair of dark jeans and a blue shirt, Robin stepped out and into the main room of the house where he saw an odd sight: Liam Danahure sitting before a computer. "Wow, finally decide to join the 20th century?" Robin called out.

Liam glanced at him and smiled. "Well, I have to admit, this is something unique. Since we can't scroll through space like we used to, this could be quite the benefit."

Nodding in agreement, Robin walked up behind Liam and looked at the screen. He looked at it, then at Liam's hands, which seemed to be taking on a slight glow. "Liam," he said carefully. "What are you doing?"

"Oh, just fixing the lass's records," Liam said. "Nice to know not even a good hacker can beat the magic touch, eh?"

"Stop it, Liam," Robin said.

"Oh, come on, Robbie, it won't take long," Liam looked over the screen, mentally figuring how to work his spell. "All I need to do is make a few figures go away, disappear some records, no trace of any problems, the girl's back on her feet."

"Liam," Robin said. "Stop it now."

"Just give me a minute," Liam waved. "I'm almost set to-----"

The screen went black. It took Liam a moment to realize that Robin had unplugged the computer and was letting the wire drop to the floor. The faery leaned over the table, staring right at Liam. His expression was tight, his eyes flaring and Liam knew that for once his old friend was going to be dead serious.

"Liam," he said in a chilly tone. "I'm going to make this clear and concise right now. It took me a little getting used to so I'll excuse it this time. But if you're going to be hanging around here, there's one thing you have to get through your head right now. They don't do things the easy way around here. No using your magic for a quick fix. Not for this, not for yourself, not for anything unless it's literally a matter of life or death. Now, I appreciate you wanting to help and all but not this way. This is a problem created by mortals. It has to be solved that way too."

Liam watched as Robin slowly backed away, making sure his message was getting through. He slowly sat back and digested the words. "Well, shoot me for wanting to help," he muttered.

"We can help her, Liam," Robin said. "But not like this. She may think on some level that this would be best but it's not and I think you know that." He crossed his arms and shook his head. "Like it or not, Liam, our days of just snapping our fingers and fixing things are behind us. Live among mortals, do as they do." He let out a small smile. "Well...with a little touch here and there just to make sure we've still got it. But not for easy stuff."

"Why not?" Liam asked.

"Two reasons," Robin replied. "One, they're mortals, even Shaw."

"Good point," Liam answered. "The second?"

Robin grinned at him. "Faith's the only fully Irish one on the whole team."

"Ah, enough said." Liam smiled back and chuckled. "I thought you'd want to help her out a bit more than the others might. I remember the last lass named Cordelia who caught yer eye while in a spot of trouble."

Robin sighed and nodded. "I know, I know." He frowned. "You know, that's what I could never understand about 'Lear.' Why Willy decided to give it the dark ending. I told him she lived on afterward but he had her knocked off." He sighed. "Then they tried to give it the right ending a century later and it's run down so they put back in the dark one." He shrugged. "God, Willy never could get things right..."

Seeing an all too familiar expression coming over Robin's face, Liam sighed and decided now would be a good time to grab some Bushmill's Whiskey.

*****

Steven St. Wolf's Home
April 29th, 1999 - 1023 Hours PST

Fox Mulder and Dana Scully felt the Buzz as soon as they made it to the front porch of Steve's house. The two FBI agents were dressed more casually than usual. Mulder wore a simple pair of slacks and dark shirt while Scully had on a dark miniskirt and blouse with dark jacket. She brushed at her red hair, trying to keep herself collected as they came up to the door.

As she rang the bell, Mulder looked at Scully carefully. "You okay, hon?" he asked. "I know it's not easy being back here so soon after the whole Outworld thing."

"I can handle it," Scully quickly replied. She took a deep breath and Mulder rubbed at her shoulders. While they had tried to push past it, the memory of being under Maeve's total control, if only briefly, still weighed upon the two. They hoped that time would dull that memory but for now, it was still something hard to live with.

Scully composed herself as the door opened and Steve stepped into view. "Nice to see you two again," he said, motioning them inside. "Glad you could make it."

"Are the others here?" Scully asked.

"Those who are in town," Steve said. "Faith, Larry, Randi and Kendra are all still on their own things. I managed to touch base with them quick, left messages and such so they know what's going on. The others are in the living room."

With that, Scully and Mulder stepped in to take in the scene in the living room. Giles and Jenny were at the side, Giles sipping at a cup of tea. Shaw stood beside a chair with Amy in it. The Amazon witch looked up at the duo and gave a small sympathetic smile, letting the duo know they weren't the only ones still feeling rough after Maeve's spell. Oz and Willow shared adjourning seats, Willow giving Scully a quick smile. Liam was making himself right at home, sitting back in a chair with his feet propped up on the coffee table and giving a quick wink at the new arrivals. Robin rolled his eyes at his friend's behavior but still appeared friendly. Buffy was giving Steve a quick hug before settling back in her chair.

On the couch, his hand in hers, sat Xander and Cordelia. After some sleep and a shower, Cordelia looked better than she had before. Her outfit, scrounged from what little clothing she had left, wasn't among her best: A simple plain dress with a light vest trying to make it seem more fashionable. Her hair wasn't as perfect either and she was sans most of her makeup. Mulder and Scully were both thrown by the change in her. Whereas before Cordelia had taken pride in always looking her best, she seemed more comfortable than they would have thought in such a dowdy outfit.

"How are you doing?" Scully asked as she sat next to her fellow Amazon.

Cordelia shrugged. "As well as can be expected, I guess." She smiled at Scully. "Thanks for coming."

"No problem," Scully said. "We've already done some checking and we think we have a few ways of helping."

"Really?" Cordelia said, immediately perking up.

Mulder removed a sheaf of papers from his coat pocket and flipped through them. "Tax laws are always tricky and more so when it comes to something like this," he stated. "However, if we can prove that your father had no idea of what his accountant was pulling, and I'm reasonably sure we can, he won't be held liable for any charges of theft or withholding of funds."

"He won't go to jail?" Cordelia asked with hope coming over her features.

"No, but that's the easy part," Mulder informed her. "Unfortunately, there is still the matter of the money. Now, between the government and the insurance company your dad had an agreement with, there will be a major search for your mother and accountant and the cash they have." He sighed. "Unfortunately, with the non-extradition treaty block and the fact that Cayman banks are notorious for not handing over information on clients, that can be a very lengthy process. Even then, there's no guarantee you'd get your money back."

"Oh," Cordelia said, her face falling slightly.

"There is still your private account," Shaw spoke up.

Cordelia looked at her. "What?"

Shaw answered the stare with calm certainty. "The private account I had set up for you," she answered. "The one with the two hundred thousand dollars in it."

"Actually, more," Steve added. "You did do some investments, after all. I think it'd be closer to three hundred thousand now. Enough to keep you and your dad afloat for a while."

"Oh my God," Cordelia whispered. "I...I'd completely forgotten about that! In all the chaos, it never hit me that..." She looked at Shaw and felt tears come to her eyes. "Thank you."

Shaw merely nodded. "It is the least one can do for family."

Now Cordelia really felt herself ready to cry. She wiped at her eyes and smiled at Shaw. "Thanks." Her eyes swept over the group, seeing the support in their eyes. "Thanks to all of you," she said. "I was..." She took a breath. "Well, I know it's stupid now, but I was worried that you wouldn't...well..."

"Worried that we wouldn't like you now that you don't have all that money?" Buffy said. "Come on, Cordy. We didn't like you because of the money."

"Actually, for years, Xander and I hated you because of the money," Willow observed with a little smile.

"The point is," Buffy went on. "You mean a lot to all of us, Cordy. You've proven yourself more times than any of us can count and we all want to make sure you get through this."

"Even Liam," Robin observed. "And he barely knows you."

"For which she should be grateful," Shaw muttered under her breath.

Scully coughed before she spoke. "You know," she stated. "VAN is trying to work on such things as college scholarships. We could work something out there."

Cordelia held up a hand. "Dana, I appreciate the help and I'd really love to get to college but I don't want to become a charity case."

"It's not that," Scully assured her. "It'd be a way to get us on the map with such programs and increase our visibility."

"Head for business, caring heart and a natural redhead," Liam remarked with a grin. "If she weren't called for by Robbie's favorite, she'd be a woman after me own heart."

"If that means one who wants to rip it out, then I would tend to agree," Shaw remarked. Liam just smiled wider.

Cordelia looked down at her shoes. "It's just hard," she admitted. "Yesterday, I had so much and now...now, I can't fall back on my cards or cash or my dad or anything. I have to figure out a lot more on my own too and..." She bit her lip. "You know what's the weird part?"

"I feel you're going to tell us," Jenny observed.

Cordelia brought her head up to look at them all. "It's just that so many things that seemed so vital to me yesterday...things like clothes, and makeup and hair stuff and my car...they seem a lot more...petty now. I mean, I still like the high fashion stuff but...it just doesn't seem so important to me now that I know I can't afford it. Isn't that weird?"

"Not really," Buffy said. She moved across the room and knelt by Cordelia's seat. "I felt the same way."

Cordelia looked at her with some confusion. "What? When?"

Buffy looked at everyone. "One thing I'm really grateful for," she said. "Was that you guys never knew the kind of person I was before I was Called." She shook her head at the unwanted remembrance. "I didn't have your kind of cash, Cordy, but trust me, in my first days of high school, I was such a socialite, selfish, trend-addicted bimbo that I made you look like...well, Willow."

"Hey!" Willow and Cordelia both yelled.

Buffy chuckled. "Sorry, guys, but it's the truth. For me, the end of the world was missing the latest sale at the mall." Her face darkened as she remembered what happened next. "Then I started to get the dreams. Then Merrick came and told me what I was. Then I started to kill vampires and burned down the school and my parents got divorced. That's when I learned what was really important to me and what I was really capable of."

She put a hand on Cordelia's knee and rubbed it. "Cordy, I wouldn't have wished this on you for anything. But, you can go on after this, I know you can. Trust me, you can really learn to change after it looks like your life has fallen apart. Pick up the pieces, get on with your life and in a few years, you'll look at this, not as end but as a beginning. I know that."

Cordelia smiled at her and was about to give the Slayer a hug when the doorbell rang. Frowning, Steve got to his feet and walked to the door. He opened it to see two figures standing before him. "Mr. St. Wolf?" the younger of the pair asked.

"Yes?" Steve frowned. With a nod, the man pushed right past Steve and into the house. "Excuse me, who the hell are you?" Steve called out. "Hey!" He reached out and grabbed Ferris by the back of his coat, yanking him back with a yelp. Ferris tried to bring back his balance as he threw a disdainful look at Steve. Steve was struck by the fact that this man apparently truly believed that a man in his twenties with such a sleazy complexion, was intimidating while everyone else could see he looked like an idiot.

"Mr. St. Wolf, my apologies," the older man said. He looked to the other man who just sighed and made a "what can you do?" gesture at his partner. "I'm Agent Pendleton, that's Agent Ferris. We're from the IRS."

"Do you people usually make house calls like this?" Steve said, staring as Ferris crossed his arms to try and seem more important.

"I only heard he was coming a few minutes ago," Pendleton said with a heavy expression. "I tried to stop him before he got here but no luck." He sighed. "Can we come in, sir? We need to talk about a few things regarding Cordelia Chase."

Steve looked at him for a long moment before nodding. "All right, come in." With that, Ferris turned and walked right toward the living room. "Oh, this will be fun," Steve muttered under his breath.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" Ferris said, sounding like the cat who had just eaten the canary.

"Oh, God," Pendleton muttered as he rolled his eyes. "I apologize in advance, sir." He and Steve walked into the room to see Ferris looking at everyone with an arrogant smirk to his features, his arms crossed before him and looking even more foolish than ever in a coat at least two sizes too large for him.

"Oh, Goddess," Cordelia groaned. "Can't you just leave me alone?"

"Sorry, toots," Ferris said. He missed Giles and Jenny looking at each other and mouthing "toots?" behind his back. "We've still got business to take care of. You still owe us."

"I don't owe you jackshit, pal," Cordelia said, her face filling with anger. Xander quickly put a hand on her shoulder to hold her back a bit while she flared up at Ferris. "You've already taken just about everything worth anything from my house, including my house. And that's all to pay off one something that was neither the fault of myself or my father. What the hell else do you want?!"

Ferris smirked. "How's about that little private account of yours?"

Cordelia stopped, thrown by the mention. "Yeah, didn't think we'd be checking for that, did you?" Ferris went on. "It was mentioned in the financial sections of your father's legal documents."

Cordelia set her jaw. "That was my own private account," she stated. "It was supposed to be revealed to my parents only if something happened to me."

"Nice story," Ferris chortled. "But I think old Daddy wanted another private account to hide some extra cash in. Mommy couldn't get the cash herself since the access is controlled but I'm sure you'll be willing to hand it over to Dad at anytime. So, how's about just giving us the code and we can get the cash?"

"Actually, you'd be wanting to talk to Steve," Robin spoke up. "He's got the codes. Not that he'd be giving that to you since the account was set up by someone else."

"Back off, pal!" Ferris yelled. "Or maybe you and your buddy here would like me to go over your records and see what dirty little secrets I can find!"

Robin looked over at Liam with mild interest. "You know, this is amusing on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin."

"Ferris," Pendleton spoke up. "Can we possibly do this without berating every last person here?"

"Ah, the voice of sanity," Mulder said. "Always nice to see around here."

"Excuse me, but you don't talk back to a federal agent like that," Ferris barked at him.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other with raised eyebrows. As one, they reached into their pockets and removed their wallets, showing off their ID badges. "Special Agents Mulder and Scully, FBI," Mulder intoned. "I think we know about talking to a federal agent."

To their surprise, Ferris actually laughed. "Well, looks like you're finally getting busted down for those weapons, huh, Chase?" he laughed at Cordelia's glare. Turning back to Mulder and Scully, he shook his head. "Look, I know the illegal weapons charges are important and all but we've got our own score to settle with her, so you're going to have to wait your turn."

Mulder and Scully stared at him in utter disbelief. "Just when I think the federal government couldn't possibly be filled with more assholes, something like this proves me wrong," Mulder remarked.

Scully leaned forward, fixing Ferris with her fiercest glare. "Let me clear this up for you, Agent," she said in a cold tone. "Agent Mulder and I are here for personal reasons. Ms. Chase's weapons are covered by permits as per her part-time job for Wolfshead Security. Furthermore, as to this little 'get the rich crook' kick you've got going on, we are currently reviewing options to ensure that Mr. Chase will avoid jail time and maybe even get some of his money back."

"Uh uh," Ferris said, shaking his head. "Ain't gonna happen, *babe*. We're going to be throwing the book at that guy."

"Ferris," Pendleton stated. "We're not the courts, we don't decide what charges can be filed. And if they do have evidence that Chase didn't know anything, then we will let him go."

"Oh, and by the way," Mulder spoke up. "Call my partner 'babe' like that again and I'll break your left arm. That'll be after she breaks your right arm." From the hard expression on his face, Ferris could see he was serious. Swallowing, he tried to regain his composure, glancing around the room and to Shaw. He frowned as he saw her pulling an envelope from her pocket along with a single sheet of paper. Rising to her feet, Shaw calmly walked to Ferris and placed the envelope in his hand.

Ferris frowned and stared at the envelope. "What is this?"

"You need not bother with any of your worthless threats," Shaw stated in a calm voice. "Here is what I owe."

"What you owe?" Amy spoke up in confusion. "What are you talking about?!"

Liam knew and chuckled. "Oh, I knew yer cuz had a sneaky streak. It's always..." He stopped and thought about it. "Well, 'quiet one' doesn't apply to her really, does it?"

For once, Pendleton was in total agreement with his partner regarding their confusion as to Shaw's actions. "Just what do you owe, Miss?"

"Various amounts on minor matters," Shaw easily replied. "I had my foster father triple check the amounts and brought you what I owe."

"Oh," Ferris said, starting to recover. "Well, at least someone here has half a brain. Too bad she's not American."

"I believe I'm joining her in taking that as a compliment," Giles stated.

"Same here," Liam piped in.

"And here," Robin added.

"It is rare elements like you that make us all happy we are not American," Shaw said with biting sarcasm.

Ferris didn't like being insulted like that and glared at Shaw. "Watch it, kid, or I'll audit your foster daddy?" He was more than a little thrown as everyone else in the room immediately started laughing. "What?" Ferris demanded. "What are you all laughing at? You think that's funny?"

"Not the audit," Shaw answered. "But what will come if you meet Ulric."

"And what's that, you little tart?"

A tiny flash of anger went through Shaw's eyes but she remained calm. "The look on your face when you try to audit a Catholic priest."

Even Pendleton had to chuckle at Ferris being thrown for a loop as he glanced through the papers. "It looks like everything's in order, Miss...Hunter. Very good."

Ferris, trying to get his dignity back, went through the envelope, scanning its contents. "You will find all seven hundred, ninety-four----"

"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!" Ferris interrupted Shaw, his eyes wide.

Shaw was nonplused. "The money due to your employers."

Ferris turned the envelope upside down and shook out several wads of crumbled paper. "This isn't money!"

Shaw raised an eyebrow. "I beg to differ. This is the proper amount I owe you. If you do not want to collect it, that is your choice."

Ferris plucked up a few crushed bills and held them up. "Pendleton, look at this shit! You call this money?"

Pendleton just raised his own eyebrows. "It is money, Jasper." He glanced at the paper in his hands. "By her computations, seven hundred, ninety-four..."

"Pounds," Shaw said with a smile. She shrugged at the look she got from Ferris. "I *am* British."

Liam let out a loud laugh, sitting back in his chair as he howled. "Gods, what a woman," he said, shaking his head.

Ferris set his jaw, having reached his breaking point. "That's it!" he yelled. "I did not come here to be made to look like an idiot."

"No, you can just stay home for that," Jenny quipped.

"Shut up!" Ferris said. He spun toward Steve, moving forward and poking a finger right into his chest. "We want the codes," he said. "And we will do anything to get them."

"Jasper, don't lump me in with you," Pendleton said, his own expression darkening.

Ignoring him, Ferris went on, spittle actually coming from his mouth as he launched his tirade. "I want access to that money, I want every last cent of that money and if you don't hand that over, I am going to make sure every single one of you is audited, assets frozen and maybe even taken and that includes that little blonde bimbo who's hanging over you and her mom if I have to----"

The sound of Steve's fist smashing into his jaw made a sizeable popping sound. Ferris stood for a moment, seemingly unsure of what had just happened. Then, his legs folded under him and he fell back on the floor, lying in a heap.

Steve flexed his fist a bit, feeling the slight ache the impact had left. He glanced over at Pendleton and shrugged. "Sorry."

"For what?" Pendleton asked with innocence. "It's not your fault he tripped and hit his head on the floor." He let out a small smile that let Steve know it was all right.

"Thanks," Steve said, rubbing at his knuckles.

"Ah, don't worry," Pendleton told him as he stepped over Ferris' unconscious body. "I've been wanting to do that to the little prick for weeks now."

Scully shook her head at the unconscious man. "How did this idiot ever wind up in the IRS?"

"It was the only agency his dad could get him in," Pendleton snorted. "Senator or not, even he had his limits paving the way for his son. Apparently, the kid was an old movie mystery buff, wanted a career in law enforcement. Forget Sherlock Holmes, he didn't even have the brains to be Watson." He sighed. "This was the best he could manage."

"Somehow, it fits," Cordelia muttered. She looked up at Pendleton and brought her chin up. "So," she said in a somewhat defiant voice. "Are you going to be wanting my account, too?"

Pendleton smiled and shook his head. "No. No, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt here."

"Really?" Cordelia said with surprise. "I thought you'd be the one less inclined to help me. I sorta figured you'd be...jaded."

Pendleton smiled wider. "Kid, I've been in this business for twenty-eight years. I've seen a lot of scum come my way. More importantly, I've learned to trust my instincts. And every one of them was telling me that your father was honestly and truly shocked to learn what his wife and his manager had done yesterday."

"He wasn't the only one," Cordelia sighed. She smiled at Pendleton. "Thanks."

"Not a problem," Pendleton said. "Jasper's young. He still thinks that everyone we bust *has* to be guilty. I'm hoping once he's broken in, he'll be able to tell the really rotten ones from the rest we handle." He smiled at Steve. "Maybe that little shot you gave him will get his head on straight."

"If not, I'm sure I can help speed that along," Steve answered with a smirk.

Pendleton turned back toward the two FBI agents. "Can I ask just why are you here?" he inquired with a far more considerate tone than his partner.

"We're friends of Cordelia's," Scully answered. "When we heard what was going on, we came to help her out as much as we could."

"So, this is strictly unofficial?" Pendleton clarified.

"Pretty much," Mulder confirmed. "Although, as we've said, we've been giving her some tips on how to help her and her father out."

Pendleton nodded. "Well, that brings me to some news I didn't get a chance to tell you about," he informed Cordelia. "I was trying to tell Jasper but he didn't want to listen and spoil his big bust. It looks like your father will be able to avoid jail time and may even be released tomorrow."

"Oh, thank Goddess," Cordelia whispered. "That is so good to hear, thank you."

"Well, we're still going through the paperwork," Pendleton said. "But, from our initial checks, it looks like there's no evidence of tax fraud on your father's part. Leastways, that he didn't know about it so he'll be able to avoid any federal indictments." He took a deep breath, growing more serious. "Unfortunately, your accountant has done a good job of keeping the money stolen hidden. With the restrictions we have for investigating offshore accounts and the red tape involved..." He bit his lip and looked at Cordelia. "I'm going to be honest, kid, because I think you can take it. The fact of the matter is, it's highly unlikely you or your dad will be able to get even a fifth of what you once had back."

A day before, that idea would have ripped at Cordelia's heart. Now, to her surprise, she didn't find it quite so devastating. She slowly nodded as she took it in. "Thanks for being honest," she said. "Actually, I've sort of learned about some...extra help I may be able to get to keep myself going."

"I'm glad to hear it," Pendleton said. He took a deep breath. "Ms. Chase...A lot of the guys I go after deserve what they get. But every now and then, some actual hard-working people get caught in the middle and suffer. I'm sorry that it looks like you're one of them. My job's not pretty but it has to be done."

"I understand," Cordelia sighed. "Um, what will happen to my stuff? My dad's stuff, our...stuff."

"Most of it will be sold, some simply confiscated, some may be given to charity," Pendleton answered. "That's mostly out of my area but it's standard procedure."

"So, no chance of me getting some of it back, huh?" Cordelia said.

"Very doubtful," the IRS agent answered. "But, you say you can still live on what you have left. That's a lot more than most people can say after something like this.""

Cordelia nodded as she recognized the wisdom in his words. "I was just telling my friends that I'm adapting to a lot of changes," she spoke up. "I guess I'll just have to learn to live with them."

Pendleton had to admit he was impressed. While he didn't have the same narrow-minded view as Ferris, the initial readings on Cordelia had indicated the typical spoiled brat he'd seen in many a rich family. However, the woman before him was a lot stronger than he had thought, able to take both the betrayal of her mother and the loss of the life she had once known. *Always nice to see something that can raise my spirits on this job.*

A groaning from the floor got everyone's attention and the group collectively looked down at the reviving Ferris. The agent sat up, rubbing at his jaw as he tried to gather his wits together. Before he could say a word, Steve stepped forward, his hand reaching into his pocket and pulling out a set of small cards. "Before you try to make yourself look like a big shot again," he said in cool tone. "Let me give you a few names you might want to call."

He dropped the cards onto Ferris' chest, the confused agent catching them and flipping through them quickly. "Who the hell are all these people?" he demanded.

"Oh, some people I know here and there," Steve said. "I keep the cards and numbers just in case I run into some asshole who wants to try and boss around people who don't deserve it."

Ferris stopped at one card, staring at it. "Jack Ryan, Director of..." His eyes widened. "CIA?"

"Let's see, you failed their entry exam three times or four?" Pendleton jibed, trying to hide his own surprise.

"If you want," Mulder piped in. "We can put you into contact with the Assistant Director of the FBI and the Attorney General."

Ferris kept flipping through the cards. "Okay, I don't know why you're giving me stuff about French and British guys," he said. "Not like their opinion matters."

"Well, he's got a point there," Liam said, ignoring the glare Shaw gave him.

Ferris looked at one card and stopped dead. "Just one damn minute," he rasped. "You can't tell me you know...him."

"Through connections to other people, yes," Steve replied. "You can go ahead and call him at any time. Just dial information and ask for the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. You should get right through." He smiled. "Tell him the Boy Scout says hello."

"How the fu-----"

Steve smiled. "Jebb always remembers the people who personally threaten to kick his ass for being too nosy where he shouldn't be."

Ferris' jaw worked up and down and even Pendleton was thrown by this information. Steve calmly walked over and none-too-gently yanked Ferris to his feet. He leaned in and gave the man his best glare. "Your partner can tell you all about how Mr. Chase isn't to be held liable for what's happened," he bit out. "And somehow, I'm thinking that you're overstepping your bounds by threatening audits on people just because they're pissing you off by treating you like the irresponsible moron you are. Now, daddy may be able to help you get a job but if everyone here was to send in a formal complaint...and keep in mind, there are two federal agents here...that will curtail any future career plans you might have."

Steve let go of Ferris and stepped back. "You've already taken what you can, what you're entitled to as far as the law's concerned. Try to push for what you can't get...and we'll push back. Only we push a lot harder than you do. Trust me on that."

"What could you do?" Ferris simply didn't have the humility (or, more likely, the intelligence) to give up. "What if I tried to have you audited here and now?"

Steve raised an eyebrow. "Then I put in a call to New York and ring up Ira Meyer."

Pendleton's eyes shot open. "The Butcher?" he whispered. "How the hell can you get HIM involved?!"

Steve shrugged as if it was nothing. "I saved his niece from a serial killer."

Ferris swallowed and seemed ready to make another loud comment when Pendleton slapped a hand on his shoulder. Ferris gasped as Pendleton squeezed with surprising strength on him. "Jasper," he hissed into the young man's ear. "You've gotten off lucky so far. Don't press it. Or *I'll* be the one filing a complaint about you."

Jasper opened his mouth to speak but another squeeze by Pendleton ended that quickly. "Ms. Chase," the senior agent spoke up. "I apologize for what we've had to put you through and I sincerely hope you can carry on with your life after this."

"Are you sure you work for the IRS?" Jenny asked. "You have so much compassion."

"Occasionally, one gets past screening," Pendleton replied good-naturedly. With a nod, Pendleton hustled Ferris out of the living room and soon out of the house.

Liam had been watching Steve through all this and was slowly nodding. "Ye know, I think I'm gonna like the lad."

"Be still my heart," Steve muttered, knowing having Liam around was just going to give him more headaches.

*****

Sunnydale Police Impound Lot
1512 Hours PST

The police officer on duty looked up as the two people in suits walked up and flashed ID's on him. "Agents Mulder and Scully, FBI," Mulder stated. "We're here to go through Cordelia Chase's car?"

"We're working with the IRS on this," Scully dead panned. "If we can see the car?"

"Just a moment, the officer said as he stepped out of his booth. He paused to look through a cabinet containing several rows of keys on hooks. Plucking the ones he was looking for, he led the two down the rows of automobiles until they found the one they wanted. With its bright color and the "QUEEN C" license plate, it stood out among the less flashy cars held inside the garage.

"Here you go," the officer said as he dropped the keys into Mulder's hand. "Are you driving it off?"

"No, we just need to do a quick search," Mulder said.

"It'd be the first," the officer told him. "We hadn't quite gotten around to going over it yet." He nodded at the two. "Just bring the keys back when you're done." With that, he walked off and back toward his booth.

"Never thought I'd be grateful for the ineptitude of the Sunnydale PD," Mulder said as he unlocked the car. He looked to Scully, who was popping open the trunk as she dropped the large case she had been holding to the ground. She reached into the trunk, feeling at the bottom of the surface until she found the raised edge she had been looking for. A tug and a section gave away to reveal a small compartment. Glancing behind to make sure the guard wasn't looking, Scully began to remove the small arsenal of weapons from inside and placing them in her bag.

Mulder was at work inside the car. His first stop was the glove compartment, where he found a pistol, stake and holy water. He felt underneath the passenger seat until he found the small rack holding the shotgun and pulled it out. Lifting a cushion in the passenger seat revealed another pistol and set of stakes. All of them went into the bag Mulder had been carrying. He stepped out to watch Scully searching through the trunk. "Are we clear?"

"Just about," his wife answered as she stepped back and shut the trunk. She leaned on the hood, her face heavy. "What's wrong?" Mulder asked.

Scully sighed. "I just feel bad about Cordelia. I know she's taking it better than I thought she might but this is still a big hit for her."

Mulder looked at her carefully. "You really feel for her, don't you?"

Scully shrugged. "I owe her, Mulder," she said. "She's the one who first called upon Artemis. Without her, I wouldn't be an Amazon."

Mulder nodded. "And I wouldn't have gotten the empowerment from Robin to balance it out. We do owe her a bit, don't we?"

Scully sighed as she picked up the bag. "Funny. I never saw myself as a maternal figure before. All of a sudden, I'm thinking of her like a daughter, almost." "Well, that's pretty much as close as we can get," Mulder observed. He patted Scully on the arm. "Too bad. I know you'd make a great mother."

Scully smiled at him. "Thanks, Mulder," she said. She looked back over the car. "Let's pack up what's left so the police don't have more to throw at Cordelia."

Mulder sniffed. "Hey, is it me, or do you wonder if Ferris is related to Stein?"

"Would make sense," Scully replied. She looked at her husband and her face took on a sultry smile. "Then, after we drop these off to Steve...you and I can enjoy those little gifts Cordy helped us get."

"Ah, *that's* why you're so grateful," Mulder smiled in reply as the two began to pack up and move out.

*****

Sunnydale Police Station
1602 Hours PST

Cordelia was happy to see that her father was still dressed in regular clothing as he was led into the interview room. The idea of him in an orange jumpsuit had been torturing her mind for several hours. She was also glad to see him in good health, if a bit unkempt. The smile he gave her raised up her heart, as did the reassuring squeeze Xander gave her hand.

"Hey, hon," Charles Chase said as he took a seat at the table facing her. He wanted to reach over and give her a big hug but felt the guard watching might frown on that. He took a deep breath and looked at her. "So...how are you?"

"Better than I thought I'd be," Cordelia said honestly. "How about you?"

"The same," Charles answered her. He shook his head. "Hon...I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault, Daddy," Cordelia stressed. "None of it is."

"I should have seen what she was up to, honey, I should have..."

"Daddy," Cordelia broke in. "The last thing I want is to have you blaming yourself for this, for any of this. It's not your fault, it's not mine, it's Mom and Sheldon. They did this."

"And I'm getting the blame for it," Charles sighed.

"Actually, that's what we came here to talk to you about," Cordelia said. "I talked to the IRS guys and it sounds like they believe you. You won't be indicted on tax evasion charges."

Charles immediately brightened at that news. "Well, that's good. Did they say how long until I get out of here?"

"Tomorrow for sure," Cordelia informed him.

"I'm glad to hear that," Charles said. His face fell a bit as a new thought struck him. "Of course, I don't really know where we'll be after that." He sighed yet again before looking up at Cordelia. "Honey," he said in a flat tone. "I am sorry but this is going to hurt a lot of things. My business will be bankrupt in days, you won't be able to afford college, there won't be an apartment."

"College is taken care of, Dad," Cordelia said. "I've got a line on a scholarship deal that will handle it. As for your business, we'll give you a loan to help keep you afloat. Ditto for an apartment."

"A loan?" Charles asked in disbelief. "Honey, we don't have any money for a loan or..."

Cordelia took a breath. "Dad, I never told you this but a while ago a...friend set up a private account for me. Two hundred thousand dollars."

Charles' eyes widened. "Two hundred thousand?" he whispered. "You have another two hundred thousand dollars?"

"Actually, I did some quick investments so it's now about three hundred thousand," Cordelia said offhandedly. "It was going to be an emergency account." She made a slight smile. "I think this qualifies. I'll be using a bit to help myself with clothes and food but a few grand will help you keep the business going. And with the real estate prices in this town, finding a good apartment won't be too hard." She shrugged. "Of course, we're both going to have to get used to watching what we spend and not just getting whatever we want whenever we feel like. But I think we can adapt to that."

Charles Chase had never been prouder of his daughter than at just this moment. He could actually feel tears in his eyes as he realized how his little girl had grown up practically overnight. "Honey," he said, his voice choking. "I love you."

"I love you, Daddy," Cordelia said, tears in her own eyes.

Charles suddenly frowned. "Wait, just so I'm clear. Are you talking about a place for you and me?"

Cordelia lowered her eyes. "Actually, no, Dad, that's something else I wanted to talk to you about." Her eyes flicked to Xander and then to her father. "I was thinking that...That I could move in with Xander. In his apartment. Both of us. Together."

It didn't take more than a moment for Charles to understand what she was trying to ask. He looked over at Xander and gave him a warm smile. "Somehow," he said. "I'm getting the feeling that you helped her through this."

"Not that much help," Xander informed him. "It was more of a group effort thing." He looked over at Cordelia and gave her hand another squeeze. "But I am glad we were all able to help as we could."

"So am I," Charles said. He looked over at Cordelia, seeing the slight pleading in her eyes. "Honey, you don't have to worry about my blessing. I've been okay with you and Xander for months now. He's a good guy and if he wants to help you...then I'm all for it."

"Thank you, Dad," Cordelia said. She quickly wiped at her eyes and glanced over at the guard. He carefully pointed at his watch to let her know time was running out. Looking back at her father, Cordelia put her hand on his. "Dad, you don't have to worry about me. I'll be fine with whatever we do. Trust me on that."

"I do, honey," Charles told her. "I know you can handle it. It won't be easy but we can make it." He looked down at the table and then back at her. "I know I haven't been as close to you as I'd like," He carefully said. "And your mother, of course, was as stand-off as you can get." He managed a smile as he squeezed her hand. "Maybe if there's one good thing to come out of all this...We may be able to be a bit closer." He looked over at Xander and his smile widened. "All of us."

"I'd like that, Dad," Cordelia said, her tears back. "All of it." Then, not giving a damn what the guard thought, she reached over and embraced her father, her tears coming loose. As the Chases hugged, Xander looked over at the guard, who just smiled and watched the scene before him.

*****

"Well, that went better than I thought," Cordelia said. "I was worried he might raise a scene about you and me moving in together. He's always seemed a bit unsure about our relationship."

"He's not the only one," Xander quipped. They reached his car and he opened the door for her, then leaned in as she moved into the passenger seat. "Then again, as you yourself have found out, a person can change their outlook pretty big pretty fast."

Cordelia had to agree as Xander walked around the car and into the driver's seat. As he slid in the key and turned on the car, Cordelia said back, staring out the windshield. "Are you okay?" Xander asked.

"I'm getting there," Cordelia told him. "It's still not totally sunk in yet but...I'm getting there." She tried to put some levity into things as she looked over to Xander. "Hey, look on the bright side. It'll take me about five minutes to move all my stuff into your apartment."

"Well, I'm sure you'll be able to redecorate it pretty fast," Xander replied in kind. "Should I order all the catalogs now?"

Cordelia paused to think about it. "Funny. For right now...trying to make my life the way it was isn't as all-consuming as it was."

"Well, money really doesn't solve everything, hon," Xander told her as he started up the car. "It makes it easier, sure, but it doesn't erase the problems."

"Oh, so if a million dollars dropped into your lap, you wouldn't do anything with it?" Cordelia asked.

"Oh, I might spruce up the apartment a bit," Xander admitted. "But I wouldn't go out and buy a mansion or anything." He smiled. "Of course, I would have completed one of your childhood dreams."

"Which is?" Cordelia asked.

Xander grinned at her. "Finally snagging a millionaire after all." Cordelia was feeling so good about what he'd done, she decided not to smack him for that. Instead, she let Xander drive out the car and take her on a new road in her life. A road that may not have been as high in finances...but it definitely had more riches than Cordelia Chase would have ever dreamed.

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