By The Waters Of Babylon
by Tigerlady

(Psalm 137)
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Gleaming spires of obsidian and quartz sparkled in the distance, yet no shadows fell among the many fountains and canals that punctuated the park where she now wandered. Cordelia glided along a wandering spiral of green glass stones, playful patterns picked out in shades of jade, olive, and citrine. There was a constant tinkling in the distance like wind chimes, but she had never been able pinpoint the sound to an object. A pink marble wall rose to her far right, seemingly out of place and purpose, though her othersense told her that it was a portal stone. She ran a light hand across the silken vines that stalked the path, causing the scent of jasmine to curl around her. This was the place that was her home now, a place out of time, a place without regard for time.

She continued on until she reached one of the long pools, its sides guarded by waist-high stone. The waters inside were as still as glass, though a waterfall spattered down from above. This was her favorite spot, a looking glass into the world of her birth. She hopped up onto the ledge and leaned forward until she could see the waters clearly. Then she blew lightly, tickling the surface with her kiss.

An image resolved as the ripples cleared, a dark alley she knew far too well. At the far end she could see a horde of demons approaching, breathing hard as if fire might erupt from their lungs, though only a few of them actually had that ability. Growls and cries nearly drowned out the sound of the shuffling of hooves and heavy boots. To one side, she could see a small wyrm hovering, the downdraft of its wings flinging garbage about the street. Behind them all was a shape so huge that it was indistinct, its form blotting out the lights of the rest of the city. A true demon, that one.

She shifted her vision a little, pulled it a few short feet to the other end of the alley in order to see them. There they stood; shivering but proud, dark and dripping and determined.

"Cordelia! Look everyone, it's the Cordelia!" She looked up at the familiar voice. The tones reminded her of Lorne, vapid and catty and oh so very gay, though the range was a tenor rather than a bass. She smiled as her hand was engulfed by an orange-skinned palm, and then she was pulled from her perch. Several other beings appeared behind Jezza, popping into existence at his excited call.

"We want a story, Cordelia. We are so bored and you have all the best ones," Jezza crooned at her.

Cordelia just shook her head, the back of her throat stuck together, her tongue tied to the roof of her mouth. The rest of the beings--her fellows--crowded closer. Most had not deigned to take corporeal form, and the light of them would have blinded her, had she needed to worry about such things.

"Yes, the things that happen on her world are so very meaningful to its life forms. Delicious drama." Cordelia matched the disembodied voice to Karal, though it was more a matter of practice than using her special skills. She shook her head and found her voice.

"You've heard all my stories, my good beings. It would just bore you to hear them again."

"Nonsense!" Jezza clapped. "We've only heard them a very few times. It's such a pretty telling, too. You were a good choice to bring here." And oh, how that smarted. To know that none of it mattered, the growth she had made, the pain she had felt. She was here because she was popular with the all-seeing eyes of this place. She was living the life of Queen C with her Cordettes, all over again.

"Perhaps she should make new stories, Jezza," a calm voice called. Jezza half turned, placing a furry paw on his snow white face.

"Oh, you know, that is a marvelous idea. Cordelia, you must make your old stories new. We can help if you like."

She smiled as warmly as she could manage, still certain of the power of her pearly whites. She spoke coyly though her throat felt coated in sand.

"I'll try, my darlings. You must leave me to find the best way."

They hovered for another moment, and then Jezza shook his furred body in agreement. Just that quickly she was alone.

She leaned back over the stone, her eyes drawn to Angel, her Champion. So. She was allowed to do something now, though she didn't have the power to do much. She was young still, and new to her powers. When she had first arrived, the others had gleefully demonstrated their own, enjoying the novelty of a new companion. She had watched in horror while a thousand lives were manipulated as a teaching exercise, including her own. Apparently demonic pregnancies were the equivalent of the Three Stooges in this place. Xander should have ascended in her stead.

She reached out, tempted to brush the surface with the tips of her fingers. To do so would bring oblivion, a new start. Like the waters of the Lethe in Egyptian mythology. She snorted. Giles would roll over if he knew she had paid attention to his ramblings. Well, sometimes. Nail polish and snarking at the Scoobies had held a powerful sway back then.

She pulled her hand back. She would not sink to that fate, not yet, not ever if she could help it. To do so was a game to the others, an option to be utilized when their current existence grew too dull. She sighed and forced herself back to her task.

She thought briefly of saving Wesley, or maybe Fred. But Wesley was more likely to die than live in that alley, and she would let him have his peace if she could. And no matter how her heart hurt for Fred, for that beautiful soul shattered in a thousand pieces, still she would not undo the girl's end. Fred was a minor footnote in their battle, while Illyria might turn the tide.

She might heal Gunn, save him some pain and provide a few more moments to fight, but it would accomplish little. She might give Illyria back her powers, but even if Fred's body could contain them, the lessons that had been learned would be lost. Illyria would once again be an unknown, no longer tied to their cause by that ember of feeling.

Angel and Spike were both well set for the fight, determined to cut a swath through the demons in front of them despite the certainty of their own death. She could still feel the power of the Wolf, Ram, and Hart pounding in Angel's veins, lending him strength he was not meant to have. Angel would last the longest, before he was pulled down by the masses around him.

So. She must look further afield. What else could give them a chance to survive to future battles? She pursed her lips and blew on another section of the waters. The ripples reformed into an image of a blonde head, eyelashes resting on a peaceful face. Cordelia smiled. This would do nicely. She waved her hands over the stream, drawing the two images together. The Slayer would have one hell of a dream this night.

Cordelia rose and walked away from the pool, the green glass stones lightly massaging her bare feet. She didn't have the heart to study the result of her work right now. Now, she would head to the pool of the masters, and study for a decade or two. Hopefully Jezza and his friends would forget about Cordelia and her stories for a while. She needed time to grow, time to gain in this timeless place.

The irony burned again in her non-existent stomach, her brain screaming at the fact that she was living the lie she had chastised Angel for. She had urged him to be wary of Wolfram & Hart, to not forget the good fight as he sat in those poisoned halls. And so he had fought. So they had all fought, fought and died as she sat in her own hallowed halls, watching and waiting for the day she could act.

It burned, but Cordelia would use that burn, turn it inside out and aim it like a gun. Someday she would have more than enough power, and her Champion would come out the other side of his fight. And on that day, the so called Powers That Be would be sorry they had abused their playthings.

Cordelia smiled. That day, the Powers That Be would hear one thing before they died.

Hello, I'm Cordelia Chase, and the Bitch is back.


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