the bunny warren v. Faith

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Burn, Baby, Burn

Author: Mikelesq
Concept: Anya retains Angel Investigations to help her obtain the Urn of Osiris. Set between Seasons 5 and 6 of BtVS and Seasons 2 and 3 of AtS.
Author's Note: This fic is based on a challenged issued by Estepheia. The challenge was as follows:
* Cordelia and Anya meet again (either in Sunnydale or L.A.) and this time they get on like a house on fire (No slash, just friendship, please). Make it funny.
* Please mention at least 3 of the following:
- Xander kissing Willow
- The Internet
- Shopping
- Trivial Pursuit
- Sushi
- Harry Potter

Rating: PG-13.
Spoilers: General through Season 6.
Feedback: Please.
Legal disclaimers: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" characters and situations are owned by Joss Whedon and the producers of the show. The story is entirely fiction. Distribute if you like.

Prologue

"Wow! You should rent this place out for weddings!"

Cordelia walked around the front desk of the hotel lobby and stood before the young woman who had walked through the front doors.

"Anya?" Cordelia asked.

"Seriously," Anya continued. "This atrium is perfect for a ceremony! I..that is, the bride...could walk down the stairway to the wedding march. The band could be over by the elevators. That counter would be perfect for the gifts. It's a little small though, but I guess...hey, is that a garden outside!?"

"Anya," Cordelia repeated. "What are you...?"

"Oh, that would be perfect for an outdoor ceremony," Anya mused, gazing out the open rear doors, and then looking up at the vaulted ceilings. "And if it rains, you can move the ceremony inside, so you haven't wasted the rental fee, no matter what happens. Of course, you wouldn't necessarily charge that much. Especially if the bride and her betrothed happen to be fellow crusaders in the battle against evil and injustice and monsters that want to suck the world into Hell dimensions with no regard for the matrimonial plans of...."

"Anya!" Cordelia shouted.

Anya turned her attention to Cordelia.

"Hypothetically speaking, of course," Anya said.

"O.K.," Cordelia said. "First, hi. Second, what are you doing here?"

"Oh, yes," Anya said. "Sorry. I got caught up the absolutely wonderful layout of your...well, anyway, I'm here to retain your services."

"Anya," Cordelia asked, "you're not evil again, are you?"

"Of course not," Anya gasped. "Why would I go back to being evil?"

"It just happens to us," Cordelia replied. "A lot."

"Anya?"

Wesley walked out to the lobby, with Gunn close behind.

"Oh, hello," Anya called out. "You're that fired Watcher, right? I remember you from the Ascension. Although, you do look a little less stuffy."

"Looks can be deceiving," Gunn interjected.

"Ahem, yes," Wesley said. "Ah, Anya, is there something we can...?"

"Yes," Anya said. "I'm here to retain the services of Angel Investigations. Perhaps I should talk to...."

"He's not here," Wesley said. "He required a...sabbatical...after, well...."

"Oh, yes," Anya said. "Of course. Well, I suppose you people could handle this for me. At a reduced rate, of course."

"Of course," Cordelia said, rolling her eyes. "Look, Anya, if it's important...."

"Oh, it's nothing," Anya said. "I ordered an item for the Magic Box. That's my store. Well, it's Giles' store, for now. He says he's leaving. Yep, he just keeps saying it, and saying it, and I can hear him saying it, because he still keeps hanging around like a...."

"Anya," Cordelia interrupted. "We charge by the hour."

"Oh, well, then, it's a magic urn," Anya said. "It's Egyptian. It's being delivered by freighter, on a dock over at the L.A. pier tonight. I need someone to secure safe transport of the urn from the docks to my hotel, and then over to the train station."

"Is there anything...dangerous about this urn?" Wesley asked.

"Oh, no, no, no," Anya assured. "Nothing like that. Just an ordinary magic urn. Not really magic. More like...well...charmed. Yes, charmed. That's a much better word. Nothing dangerous or dark. Certainly nothing that challenges our very notions of...well, you get the idea. Just...charmed. But it was being shipped overseas, and the seller wouldn't send it Federal Express. It's pretty valuable, so we don't want to trust it to a messenger service."

"Yes," Wesley said. "I'm sure we can provide whatever assistance you require. Cordelia can take you to Angel's office and work out the details of our retainer. Gunn and I will prepare our weapons for an escort."

"Perfect," Anya said.

"It's back here," Cordelia said, shooting a sidelong glance at Wesley. Anya and Cordelia walked across the lobby and into Angel's office.

"Hmm," Gunn said, after Cordelia and Anya were out of earshot. "I think the lady doth protest too much."

"Yes," Wesley agreed. "I think it would be prudent if I contacted...doth?"

"What?" Gunn said. "You're gonna give me a complex if you get that look every time a brother quotes the Bard."

"You did that on purpose," Wesley muttered.

"Yeah," Gunn smirked.

"I'll contact Giles," Wesley said.

Part I.

"O.K., let me just find a blank retainer agreement," Cordelia said, shuffling through the papers on the desk. "Sorry about the mess. Wes has been using the office for research while Angel's out of town."

"Oh, I figured as much," Anya said. "I noticed the rare tomes, the yellowed parchments, the...um...is that a Harry Potter book?"

"Oh, yeah," Cordelia replied. "Wesley has this theory. Rowlings. Dark magic. Mass hypnosis. Bestseller list. It's been a slow summer."

"Must be nice," Anya said. "Things have been just crazy, what with the vampires and demons. We're trying to do everything that Buffy used to do."

"Must be tough," Cordelia said.

"Very," Anya admitted.

"Well, let's just get this started. Cash, I'd assume?"

"Oh, yes," Anya said. "Unless travelers checks would be more convenient?"

"Eh, we're easy," Cordelia said. "We're just happy to get paid at all."

Anya's eyes widened. "You mean, you...work...for...free?"

"Eh, if they're hopeless and broke," Cordelia said. "Or if it's a world saving sort of thing."

"It doesn't seem it would be very profitable."

"Oh, it's not. But, you know. Mission. Duty. The whole nine."

"I suppose," Anya said, even though she didn't suppose. "Cordelia, are you comfortable with this arrangement? Taking the case from me, I mean."

"Oh, don't worry," Cordelia said. "If I was picky about working for ex-demons who'd tried to kill me, well, do the math."

"Oh, it's not that," Anya said. "It's just that you used to be Xander's girlfriend, and I'm Xander's girlfriend now, and we have sex quite often, or at least he' thinks it's quite often, even though I'd prefer...."

"Anya," Cordelia interrupted. "First, please stop. Second, I'm fine with it. It's ancient history."

"Oh, good," Anya said. "I thought it would be. Xander told me that he never had sex with you."

"He was kind enough to tell a lot of other people, wasn't he? I mean, it's not like everybody would see that ad I took out in the Sunnydale Times."

"Xander said you were probably still mad at him," Anya said. "He said I shouldn't mention anything. Of course, he's always telling me I shouldn't talk about things that...."

"It's fine," Cordy repeated. "Look, I was mad at Xander. I mean, he did cheat on me with Willow, what with the kissing her and sneaking behind my back and humiliating me and I know I wasn't always easy to be around but I really tried and it wasn't easy for me to...."

Cordelia looked up at the blank look on Anya's face.

"Um, anyway," Cordy muttered. "I'm over that."

"You know," Anya said. "I was perfectly willing to deliver vengeance for you when I first came to Sunnydale."

"Eh, whatever," Cordelia shrugged. "It was more fun doing it on my own."

Anya frowned. "How did you do that?"

"Oh, it was easy," Cordy said. "I just took every opportunity to put him down, make him feel worthless, the usual."

"Oh," Anya said. "I once turned a man into a turkey."

"That's nothing," Cordy shot back. "When Xander was around, I flirted with Wesley."

"That Wesley?" Anya gasped, gesturing toward the lobby.

"Yep."

"Diabolical," Anya sighed.

"Well, I had a lot of practice," Cordelia said. "I was pretty good at tormenting people. I'd pretty much make life hell for anybody who broke my own code. You know, if they wore last year's shoes, or asked me on a date without their own car, or sat at my lunch table, or next to my lunch table, et cetera."

"I remember this one guy," Anya chimed in. "He'd forgotten his wife's birthday for like the twelfth time, so I made his ears fold inside his head."

"Yeah, that sort of thing," Cordy said. "I just figured that anyone who didn't meet my standards pretty much had it coming. Of course, that was the Old Cordelia. Now, the New Cordelia gets to fight an eternal battle against evil for a migrant worker's wage, and has visions that make her head feel like it's in an orange juicer."

"I get that," Anya said. "I'm mortal. I break bones and age."

"There you go."

"Cordelia," Anya whispered, leaning forward. "Do you ever...miss it?"

"Oh, God," Cordy exclaimed. "Every day! It was soooo much easier. And it was fun. But, everyone has to grow up eventually."

"It took me a thousand years," Anya said.

"Anya?"

"Yes?"

"Where are you staying?"

"I got a motel room," Anya said. "It's a little far out of the city. I went on priceline.com, and I got a good rate bidding on the room, but the closest I could get was in the Valley, which still saved me...."

"Bah, the Internet," Cordy scoffed. "That takes all the fun out of shopping. I tell you what. You stay with me tonight while the guys are getting the urn. We'll order in. There's a great sushi place in my neighborhood that delivers. We'll make it a girls' night."

"Oh, that sounds lovely," Anya said.

"I'll just let the boys know," Cordelia said, standing and walking around the desk to the lobby.

"Wes," Cordy said as she got to the front desk. "You don't need Anya to pick up this urn, do you?"

"I don't imagine so," Wes said.

"We can handle it," Gunn agreed.

"Fine," Cordelia said. "Anya's gonna stay with me tonight. Just bring the urn back to the office, and we'll pick it up in the morning."

"Actually," Wesley said, "I'll probably bring it back to my flat. I want to examine it before I surrender possession of it to her."

"Why?" Cordy asked.

"Cordy, didn't Anya appear somewhat...evasive...to you?"

"She's an ex-demon," Cordelia retorted. "Of course she comes across a little weird. Remember the guy with his name on the letterhead? Hel-lo! Demon plus former equals strange. Look, just call Giles. It's his store. He'll tell you that...."

"I've already telephoned Giles."

"And what did he say?"

"He didn't, actually," Wesley explained. "I spoke with Willow. She confirmed Anya's story. The urn is harmless. It's rumored to have at best minor healing qualities. It was purchased for a rather large sum of money on behalf of a collector of rare artifacts."

"There you go."

"She also insisted that Giles was unavailable," Wesley continued. "She came across as rather evasive as well."

"Oh, please," Cordelia said. "Willow doesn't lie."

Wes and Gunn exchanged knowing glances.

"What? Oh, come on! That was ages ago, and besides, this is...hey! You told him!?" Cordelia exclaimed, slapping Wesley on the arm.

"Hey, I just asked who she was," Gunn said, raising his open palms defensively.

"She's an ex-vengeance demon," Cordelia hissed. "She's a thousand years old. She runs a retail store that sells potions and spells. And somehow you felt the need to add that we met her after I caught Willow kissing my boyfriend!?"

"If we could please focus on the matter at hand," Wesley declared. "Cordelia, if Anya is going to be with you tonight, please at least try to find out if she has some ulterior motive for seeking this urn. Gunn and I will take delivery of the urn tonight."

"Fine," Cordy sighed. "I'll keep my ears open."

"Good," Wesley said. "I'll secure a few smaller weapons for Gunn and myself. We should be prepared for any contingency."

"Should anyone stay with Fred?"

"She should be fine," Wesley said.

Wesley walked over to the weapons cabinet.

"So," Gunn asked, "this Willow, is she hot?"

"She's gay, Gunn," Cordelia shot back.

"A demon showed up after a gay woman stole your boyfriend?"

"Shut up, Gunn."

"Damn," Gunn said, shaking his head. "Remind me to drop in on your ten year reunion. Your high school makes the south side look like Leave It To Beaver."

Cordelia stormed off in a huff.

Part II.

"You expect anything?" Gunn asked.

"Perhaps," Wesley replied, looking across the docks toward a freighter anchored across the harbor. The two of them walked toward the ship. Gunn kept a hand inside his jacket, ready to draw his stake if there was any trouble.

"It's just a hunch," Wesley continued. "And I generally don't trust demons."

"Right there with you," Gunn agreed. "I thought you worked with these guys, though? You and Cordy?"

"Cordelia and I did," Wesley explained. "Anya did not. It's my understanding from Giles that Anya became involved with them after she started dating Xander. Normally I'd trust everyone's judgment, but...."

"Yeah," Gunn said. "From what you told me, those guys in Sunnydale were pretty tight. I guess they wouldn't let anyone in who wasn't straight up."

"Um...yes. We're here."

Gunn and Wesley walked to the end of the gangplank. A group of sailors stood at the top. Two of them picked up a crate, and walked down.

"You from the Magic Box?" one of the sailors asked as they dropped the crate.

"Yes," Wesley said. "Do you have it?"

"You got the cash?"

Wesley pulled a manilla envelope out of his jacket, and tossed it to the sailor. The sailor caught the envelope, opened it, thumbed through the cash, and them took a chisel out of his back pocket and pried the lid off the crate.

Wesley and Gunn crouched down beside the crate. Wesley stuck his hands into the packing hay, and moved it aside until an image became visible.

"What?" Gunn exclaimed. "Why would the ancient Egyptians make an urn with a bunch of lame-ass white boys on it?"

"That's the lunch box," the sailor explained. "The urn's underneath."

Wesley and Gunn exchanged puzzled looks before Wesley reached down farther into the hay and pulled out a small clay urn.

"Are we good?" the sailor asked.

"Quite," Wesley said.

Wordlessly, the two sailors walked up the gangplank. Wesley returned the urn to the crate and closed the lid. Gunn and Wesley each lifted a side of the crate and walked back toward the car.

"You recognize it?" Gunn asked.

"No," Wesley admitted. "But I'm somewhat disturbed by the imagery."

"You and me both," Gunn replied. "All those boy bands make me wanna...."

"I meant the images on the urn. Some of the symbols suggest a connection to an ancient cult that worshiped Osiris, god of the Underworld."

"So? Maybe the urn guys had it bad for this Osiris dude. Hey, maybe it's like the lunch box?"

"I highly doubt it," Wesley explained. "It does appear to have markings indicating an actual magical quality, and no spell caster who could successfully enchant an object would casually include a visage of a dark deity such as Osiris. They wouldn't dare."

"Well, it must be pretty important," Gunn said, as he and Wesley arrived at the car and hoisted the crate to the backseat. "What with a bunch of vamps after it."

"What?"

"Look behind us."

Wesley turned and saw a group of at least a dozen vampires running toward them.

"Think they're Backstreet Boys fans?" Gunn asked.

"I doubt it," Wesley said, as they climbed into the car and sped away.

Part III.

"So, Anya, what's it gonna be?" Cordelia asked. "I'm waiting."

"Are you sure you want to hear it?" Anya shot back. "You might not like it."

"I'll live," Cordy replied. "I think you're stalling."

"It's a big question."

"As big as they get."

"You seem pretty confident," Anya said.

"I've been in tough spots before," Cordelia stated.

"This isn't a tough spot," Anya warned. "This is it."

"Try me," Cordelia said, leaning forward. "You see, Anya, you've been pretty cool and casual so far, but I can sense we've finally come to a question you're not ready for. Well, I've got all night, and you can hedge and procrastinate forever, but sooner or later, you're going to have to give me an answer. So what's it gonna be?"

Anya bit her bottom lip, and then said:

"Alright, you asked for it. It's...the Battle of Waterloo!"

"Ugh!" Cordelia exclaimed, tossing the question card on the playing board in frustration. "I should have known better than to play Trivial Pursuit with a thousand year-old demon! You were probably at the Battle of Waterloo."

"And with all my pie pieces," Anya giggled, "and a correct answer in the center, I win! And, actually, I wasn't at Waterloo. With the French Revolution and the powdered wig types getting their heads chopped off, the whole 'Dangerous Liaisons' thing was pretty much over. The real action in the vengeance game was in the Far East."

"Hmm. Go figure. Want any more of the futo-maki?"

"No thanks," Anya said. "I'm still finishing my California Roll. Is there any more of the wasabi?"

"Oh, I think I left it in the kitchen," Cordy said. "Dennis?"

A moment later a small plastic cup came floating down the hall and into Cordelia's hand.

"Thanks," Cordy said. handing over the cup full of the condiment. "Have all you want. I'm not a big fan."

"Oh, I love it," Anya said, scooping a dab of the wasabi with a chopstick. "But Xander gets mad when I use too much."

"He doesn't like the flavor?"

"No, he says it makes oral sex painful."

"Well," Cordelia replied. "I guess you can't go back to that restaurant again."

"Oh, we'd ordered in," Anya said. "If we'd been at a restaurant, Xander would never have agreed to...oh, I get it. You were extending my statement into an inappropriate context in order to be humorous."

"Well, I was trying to, anyway," Cordelia said. "You know, Anya, if you don't mind my asking, why Xander?"

"He's really sweet," Anya replied. "And he's funny. And he makes me feel special. And I know he'll never cheat on me."

Cordelia scowled. "How do you know that?"

"Because he cheated on you, and it made him feel awful. I guess I should thank you. I know that sounds weird."

"Nah, I get it," Cordy said. "You know, this is fun. Heck, I haven't had a girlfriend spend the night since...well, there was Harmony. Of course, vampire, so...."

"This was a lot more fun than the motel," Anya agreed. "I got stuck with the bill, but I would have to have paid that anyway. Besides, I'm still ahead after I got a real deal on those shoes I bought last week on E-Bay."

"Do you really buy all that stuff on the internet?"

"Oh, yes. You can save a lot of money."

"Yes, but, shoes," Cordy said. "You don't just buy shoes. You pursue shoes. There's the browsing, and the trying on, and the thrill of walking back and forth in front of a full length mirror. You can't get that from a web site. We have got to hit Rodeo Drive before you leave."

"I really don't know if I can," Anya said. "I mean, I'd love to, but I really have to get back. We really need the urn."

"You mean, your buyer really needs it, right?"

"Oh, um, of course. Yes. Our buyer. Impatient guy, him."

"Anya, look," Cordy said. "You're basically an honest person. You're direct, and blunt, and a lousy liar. So what's the deal with the urn?"

"I...I can't tell you," Anya said. "It's nothing bad. And it's not just me. Xander and Willow and I just need it."

"And Giles? Does he need it?"

"Oh, god! You haven't...?"

"No, we haven't," Cordy interrupted. "Not yet. But if I don't tell Wesley something, he will."

"Alright," Anya said. "Just...can we keep this between you and me?"

"Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on what you tell me. If I hear something that Wesley shouldn't, I'll keep it to myself."

"Why should I trust you?"

"Because I'm a lousy liar, too."

"Yeah, I get that," Anya said. "Alright, look. It's called the Urn of Osiris. Willow says that it can raise the dead."

"Oh my god," Cordelia exclaimed. "Well, I still don't see...wait a minute. You're not thinking of...?"

"Cordelia, it's been terrible," Anya said. "The Hellmouth keeps drawing demons faster and faster. We're using a robot to keep Buffy's death a secret, but sooner or later things are going to get worse than we can handle."

"Anya, do you have any idea what you're doing? Raising the dead?"

"I know," Anya admitted. "But Willow said it's possible."

"It's more than possible," Cordelia said. "We've seen it. Problem is, you never know what you're getting. Last time we saw a dead blonde come back from the afterlife, things got bad. I mean, really bad. Plus, let's not forget zombies and vampires and all the other creepy crawlies that can happen when...."

"What if it was Angel?" Anya asked. "Or Wesley, or that other guy? Are you saying that you wouldn't take a chance?"

"I live with a ghost," Cordelia said. "And the guy who gave me these visions? Not around anymore. There are a lot of people I cared about that I'd love to bring back, but I'm not crazy enough to mess with magic that powerful to do it."

"It's not crazy," Anya argued. "And we don't have a lot of choices. Faith's in jail, where she belongs. The world needs a Slayer, and right now bringing Buffy back is our only option. There may be consequences. We know that, and we'll have to live with whatever happens. But there are consequences to keeping things the way they are, and we have to live with that, too. Giles is leaving. Angel's got enough on his hands here. That leaves Xander and Willow and me and Tara to watch the Hellmouth, and I think that gives us the right to make the tough choices."

Before Cordelia could answer, Gunn and Wesley burst through the door.

"Heads up!" Gunn shouted. "We got about a dozen pissed off vampires on our tail, and they don't look like they're gonna take no for an answer."

"Did you get the urn?" Anya asked.

"Yes, we did," Wesley answered, reaching into his jacket and pulling out the Urn of Osiris. "And I don't think they're after us. They're after this. After we've dealt with them, we need to talk."

"Dennis!" Cordelia shouted.

The coffee table flew into the air, scattering the Trivial Pursuit game onto the floor. The table came to a rest at the front door, blocking the entrance.

"No need," Gunn said. "Without an invite, they're not coming in."

"They had a van," Wesley said. "They followed us the entire way. We remembered you were here with Anya, so it seemed to be the best place to make a stand."

"You keep weapons here, right?" Gunn asked.

"Oh, great," Cordelia muttered. "Talk about bad timing."

"What?" Gunn replied. "You send out your stakes to get cleaned?"

"No," Cordelia struggled to say. "I'm mean...bad...time...for...ughh!"

Cordelia collapsed to the ground as the vision overcame her. A cushion sprang from the couch and landed underneath her as she dropped, breaking her fall.

"Nice moves, D-man," Gunn said as he ran to Cordelia's side. Cordelia convulsed in pain as Gunn watched. Wesley stood at the window, turning his attention between Cordelia and the van that pulled up to the curb outside.

"Damn," Cordelia exclaimed as struggled to sit up.

"What did you see?" Gunn asked.

"They dropped off a couple of the vamps before they got here," Cordelia answered, massaging her temples. "They're sneaking around to the back of the building."

"What good will that do?" Anya asked. "They can't get in that way, either."

"They're carrying bottles of liquor," Cordy explained. "And matches. They're going to burn us out."

"Great," Gunn said.

"Anya," Wesley said, walking away from the window. "These vampires are going to a lot of trouble to get this urn. We don't have time for games. Now, I want an honest answer. What do they want with this urn?"

"I can't tell you," Anya said.

"It raises the dead," Cordelia stated. "She told me everything."

Anya shot an angry look at Cordelia.

"You found the Urn of Osiris?" Wesley said incredulously.

"Wait a minute," Gunn said to Wesley. "You saw an urn with a picture of Osiris on it, and you've heard of an Urn of Osiris, and you're just making the connection now?"

"It doesn't exist," Wesley said. "Or at least, it isn't supposed to exist. What were you planning to do with it, Anya?"

"It's Giles," Cordelia continued. "He's been looking for it through his magic shop's suppliers. He's got this idea that he could bring Buffy back. The gang found it first. They're going to hide it so he can't get his hands on it. They've tried reasoning with him, but he won't listen."

"Cordelia," Wesley said. "Are you sure...?"

"Look, Wes, I know it's hard to believe," Cordelia said. "But think about it. Why did you go to Sunnydale in the first place? Because Giles couldn't put Buffy through that crucia-whatsis. I love Giles, but he's got a real blind spot when it comes to Buffy. Any other circumstance, I'd say Giles is Mister Level Head. But he'd do something stupid if it would stand any chance of bringing Buffy back."

"Look, guys," Gunn interjected. "As interesting as this conversation is, we've got to deal with the smoke I just started smelling."

Wesley sniffed the air as Anya helped Cordelia to her feet.

"We need a plan," Cordelia said.

"I have one," Wesley said, walking over to the window.

"Gentlemen!" Wes shouted. "I believe you are looking for this?"

Wesley stretched out his arm, holding the urn out the window.

"Give us the urn if you wish to live!" one of the vamps shouted. "Save a few years on your pitiful lives! We shall have the Urn, and the Master will rise again!"

"Oh, god," Cordelia said, holding a hand to her mouth.

"The Master?" Gunn repeated. "What the...?"

"Vampire," Wesley called over his shoulder. "Very old."

"And very scary," Cordy chimed in. "And very dead. Well, at least, for now."

"And he's staying that way," Wesley concluded. He turned back toward the window.

"A good plan to smoke us out!" Wesley shouted to the vamps. "However, this Urn, while very powerful, is also clay! I'd suggest you think twice about trying to burn us out! Defile the Urn, and the Master will never rise!"

Wesley observed the vamps talking amongst themselves.

"Cordelia," Wesley called. "Do you have a fire extinguisher?"

"Dennis!" Cordy shouted.

The small red tank flew from the kitchen into Wesley's hands. Wesley tossed the fire extinguisher out of the window onto the grass outside.

"Nice going, Wes," Gunn said as he walked to Wesley's side. "That would have helped if it started to get hot in here."

"I know that," Wesley said. "And so do they. This way, they know we're not bluffing."

Gunn and Wesley watched as the smell of smoke got stronger. Seconds seemed to last an eternity. Then one of the vamps ran to the lawn and grabbed the fire extinguisher. He ran out of sight. In a moment the sound of the foam spraying from the nozzle could be heard from the back of the building.

"We want that Urn!" the lead vamp shouted.

"We're willing to talk terms," Wesley said. "You and three of your companions can come to the front door."

Four of the vampires began moving from the street to the front of the building, while the rest stayed behind.

"They're coming," Wesley said. "We'll have to deal with them here. Gunn, watch the window. Cordelia, in your vision, how many vampires were at the back of the building?"

"Two," Cordy answered.

"I counted ten outside," Wesley said. "And one of them ran to the back of the building. We'll need to divide and conquer. Dennis, do you think you can handle four vampires?"

A chair in the living room lifted slightly from the ground, and then dropped with a single thud.

"That's a yes," Cordelia explained. "Once is yes, two is no. It's better than having the words appear in blood on the wall."

"Good," Wesley said. "Dennis, the table."

The coffee table floated away from the door and came to a rest in the living room.

"Alright," Wesley continued, "we'll invite four of the vampires into the apartment. The three from the back will undoubtedly be waiting to ambush us if we try to escape. We'll trap four in here, Gunn and I will take care of the three lying in wait, and by the time the others arrive from the front, you can get Anya and the Urn out toward the back of the building."

A knock sounded at the door. Wesley handed the Urn to Cordelia. Gunn went to open the door, but Wesley held up a cautioning hand, and then gestured toward the window. Gunn held his position, and watched the five vampires outside to make sure they did not come running prematurely.

Wesley walked over to the door and opened it, being careful to step backward as he did.

"Well?" The lead vampire asked as his three companions looked on.

"We have it," Wesley said. "What assurances do we have that we will be allowed to leave?"

"You won't be allowed to leave if we don't get it," the vamp said.

"Well, then we appear to be at a stalemate," Wesley said.

"Not really," the vamp said. "We can always start that fire again. We may not get the Urn, but if we're not going to get it anyway...." The vampire shrugged.

"You're a fool," Wesley said. "The Urn will never work on a vampire. The Master will never rise again."

"He will, human," the vamp growled. "The Master will walk the earth, and all will bow before him. We will draw your blood like sap, and the screams of your children will fill the night sky!"

"Oh, yeah," Cordelia said. "You sure talk big on that side of the door. Why don't you and your three friends come in here and...um, oops."

"Thank you," the vampire said, as he and his companions stepped through the doorway. "That's a mistake you'll not live to regret. We'll kill you all, and feast on your flesh."

"Well, you'll have a hard time killing all of us," Cordy retorted. "I mean, with the exception of you vamp types, you can only die once. Speaking of which, DENNIS! NOW!"

The sound of cracking wood filled the apartment as the legs of the coffee table snapped off, and began flying through the air toward the vampires. The vamps dodged and swatted at the stakes as Gunn drew his own stake and ran toward the doorway. He darted outside, and a vamp lunged at him. Wesley buried a stake in the vampires back, which freed Gunn to shove his stake into a second vampire as it tried to attack Wesley. The third landed a punch across Gunn's chin, but that left him vulnerable as Wesley stabbed him between the shoulder blades.

"Cordelia, run!" Wesley shouted, as he and Gunn position themselves between the front door and the expected onslaught of vampires from the street. Cordy took Anya's hand, and ran outside with the Urn in her free hand.

Epilogue

Cordelia stopped as they got to the alley behind her apartment.

"Will they be alright?" Anya asked.

"Eh, Dennis will finish off the ones inside," Cordelia replied. "Wes and Gunn should be able to handle five vamps on their own, especially since they can move in and out of the apartment for cover. Besides, most vamps aren't exactly brave. Once they figure out their leader is dead and the odds have evened up, not to mention that there's a ghost, they'll probably just take off."

"I thought you said you weren't a good liar?"

"No, but I'm a hell of an actress. I really had that vamp...oh, you mean with Wes."

"Yeah," Anya said. "Thanks for that."

"Speaking of which," Cordelia said, walking over to one of the window sills in the alley. She grabbed one of the flower pots sitting on the ledge, turned it upside down and shook it until the plant and the soil had fallen completely out, and then dropped it on the pavement. She slammed the heel of her shoe against the broken shards until nothing remained but a fine clay powder.

"When the guys get back," Cordelia said, "that was the Urn. We smashed it in case the vamps caught up with us."

"Thanks for that, too."

"Anya," Cordelia said. "I hope you know what you're doing."

"I hope so, too. Do you think Wes will try to talk to Giles."

"I'll talk him out of it. Tell him Giles had to grieve for Buffy in his own way, no sense stirring up trouble among the ranks, blah, blah, blah."

"What about Angel?"

"Him?" Cordelia gasped. "No way. You pull this off, great. But there's no way I'm getting his hopes up. Trust me, you don't want to see what Angel gets like when one of his exes gets on his mind. Anyway, we'll hide the Urn over in those bushes. Once the guys are gone, we'll get it back."

"I am sorry about lying to you."

"I know," Cordy said. "Look, Anya, I'm not saying I agree with what you're doing, but you're right. It's your call. Besides, I'm a pretty good judge of character, and I'm guessing you wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't the best way to go."

"Cordelia," Anya said. "Have you ever been a bridesmaid?"

"Huh?"

Anya reached into the front pocket of her pants and pulled out a small black box. She opened it, and showed the ring inside to Cordelia.

"Xander gave this to me just before Buffy died," Anya explained. "We haven't told anyone. Things have just been too weird. But, when we get married, I'd like you to be my bridesmaid."

"Oh, Anya, that's sweet," Cordelia sighed. "But...I don't think it's a good idea. I mean, I'm over the whole thing with Xander, and I'm sure he's over it, too. But it may get a little awkward anyway. The last thing you want on your wedding day is for things to get all dramatic."

"True," Anya agreed.

"Anyway, let's hide that urn and see how the guys are doing," Cordelia said, walking toward a thicket of bushes by the side of the building.

"O.K.," Anya said.

After they'd hidden the Urn of Osiris, Anya and Cordelia walked through the alley back toward the apartment. By Cordelia's calculations, there would be just enough time before Anya's morning train to clean the apartment, and squeeze in a Trivial Pursuit rematch.

THE END


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