Accidental Meeting
written by Ness

Rating: FRT
Spoilers: None indicated.
Summary: Giles and Cordelia meet unexpectedly.
Thanks: Thanks to Gileswench for being my beta on this one. I've changed a few things and she didn't get a chance to beta it a second time, so any mistakes are mine. Thanks to her and Joanna for encouraging me in this bad habit to begin with.
Dedication: This is Joanna’s birthday present. Happy birthday, Toots. Hope you enjoy it.
Feedback Author: Ness

Cordelia stopped in the doorway to survey the room. She had received an invitation to this party from one of the people she had met when she had been auditioning for acting jobs. She wasn't interested in acting anymore, but she was determined to enjoy a night out on the town. She had bought a simple black dress that had a strap on one shoulder and left the other bare. It fell to the floor and had a slit up each side that showed off her legs to perfection. *And* fit her in all the right places. When she had seen it, it had made her think of the glamorous gowns of the forties and fifties. It was a simple, classic design. She smiled as she thought about the reactions of Gunn and Wesley when she tried it on for them. Gunn had to try twice before he could tell her she looked great and Wesley could only nod in agreement. She took that to mean he was speechless with admiration. When she told him that, he just nodded again and grinned. She had put her hair up and left a few tendrils down to frame her face. She looked stunning, even if she did say so herself.

As her eyes scanned the room, she saw a familiar face. She made her way over to him.

"Why, Rupert Giles, as I live and breathe, to what do we owe this pleasure?" Cordelia said in her best southern belle accent . Then she grinned at him.

"Cordelia, how are--?" He got a good look at her and promptly forgot what he was going to say. He knew that all the children had grown up, but he hadn't seen Cordelia Chase in three years. She had been beautiful as a teenager, but her beauty had matured into an elegance and grace that momentarily rendered him incapable of speech.

"Giles? Giles, are you okay?" Cordelia sounded concerned.

"Yes, yes I'm fine," he replied in a dazed tone.

"What happened? One minute you're talking and the next you're in the twilight zone."

"I apologize, I didn't mean to be rude."

"No problem. I just wanted to make sure you're okay."

"I'm fine." Giles repeated shortly. He felt like a fool, gawking at her like a love-struck teenager.

Cordelia looked at him strangely.

"Okay, if you say so." She shrugged. "So, what are you doing here?"

"I'm supposed to meet a man about acquiring a book. But unfortunately, the only time he could meet with me was at this infernal party."

"So, where is he?"

"He won't be able to meet with me. Apparently he was called away on business. I've wasted a trip and have nothing to show for it but a rental bill for a tuxedo."

"Come on now, Giles. You got into one of the most exclusive parties in this town. That can't be a total loss."

Giles looked at her for a moment, "Cordelia, I care nothing about rubbing shoulders with the so-called elite of this town. I needed that book in order to avert a possible apocalypse and now I'm told that the man who owns it is not available."

"Who are you meeting?"

"I was *supposed* to meet a man named David Nabbit."

"I know David. Let me see if I can find him." Cordelia removed her cell phone from her purse and dialed David's phone number. She talked to him for a few minutes and then hung up.

"David said he has to leave L.A., but he has about a half an hour. He'll meet you in the library here and arrange something about the book."

The butler approached Giles and showed him to the library. He met with David Nabbit and arranged to speak to his lawyer about purchasing the ancient tome. He made his way back to Cordelia when he saw she was being accosted by a man who had had too much to drink.

"Come on baby, you know you're only here to meet producers. That's the only reason you young things even come here. Why don't we go somewhere more private?" The man leaned toward Cordelia.

She leaned back, almost knocked over by the man's breath.

"Look. I don't know who you are, and I really don't care, but if you don't get out of my face I'm going to--!" she was interrupted.

"Is this man bothering you?" Giles walked up beside her.

"Giles, what are you--?" Cordelia started to ask, but Giles cut her off.

"Why don't you and I have a little talk." Giles took the drunk's arm and led him away from Cordelia.

He led the man to the library he had met David Nabbit in. Once inside, he pushed the man into a chair and leaned very close.

"Let's get something clear, shall we? If you ever approach Miss Chase with such a crass and rude suggestion again, I will strive to teach you the manners that your parents obviously forgot to instill in you." He leaned closer and whispered in a menacing tone. "Do we understand one another?"

The drunk wasn't so far gone that he didn't understand when he was being threatened. He nodded, not trusting his voice to come out steady.

Giles stood up and straightened his jacket.

"Good, I'm glad we understand one another." He left the man still sitting in the chair he had deposited him in and made his way back to Cordelia.

* * * * *

Cordelia smoothed the front of her dress carefully as she waited for Giles to return. She was fuming.

"Are you all right?" Giles asked when he returned.

"I'd like to talk to you outside." Cordelia didn't wait for his reply. She started towards the patio doors that led to the garden. Giles had no choice but to follow her.

Cordelia was waiting for him on a stone bench that overlooked the rose garden. Giles wasn't sure what had happened. But Cordelia hadn't been angry before he left to talk to Nabbit and now she was obviously upset.

"Cordelia, I'm sorry that man upset you."

"I could have handled him Giles. I didn't need you to come riding to my rescue."

Giles was silent for a moment.

"Is this what you're upset about? Because I stepped in and assisted you in an unfortunate situation?"

"You didn't assist me, Giles. You took over." Cordelia shot back angrily.

"Cordelia, I saw a man accosting you. What was I supposed to do?"

"You were supposed to wait and see if I could handle it myself. I'm not some little woman that needs a man to protect me. I dealt with guys like him all the time when I was going to auditions. Trust me, I could have let him know exactly what he could do with his suggestion."

Giles took a deep breath, removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache coming on. He would never understand women if he lived to be a hundred years old.

"I'm sorry, Cordelia. I did not mean to imply that you were incapable of taking care of yourself."

Cordelia decided to let him off the hook.

"That's okay, Giles. Thanks for your help. Next time, let me handle it unless I ask for help, okay?"

"Very well." He looked at her. "Would you like a ride home? If you're ready to leave that is?"

"Yeah, I'm ready. I think I've seen all of Hollywood I can handle for one night. But I'm not ready to go home, I bought this dress to show off and I'm not done showing off yet."

Giles smiled. "Where would you like to go?"

Cordelia thought about it for a minute.

"I've got just the place. I've heard rumor that you can sing. Is that true?"

Giles blushed. He wished that no one had ever found out about that.

"Yes, I can carry a tune. I don't promise more than that." He replied.

"Well, that's not what I hear, but that's okay. I've got just the place for you to show me."

"Cordelia--!" But he didn't get to say anything else because Cordelia was dragging him to the door.

* * * * *

When Giles entered the karaoke bar, he was stunned to see demons sitting amongst the humans. He was even more astounded when a green demon with red horns, wearing the brightest red suit he had ever seen in his life approached Cordelia.

"Hi, Gorgeous. You know you could stop traffic in that dress." Lorne greeted Cordelia with a kiss on both cheeks.

"That was the intention." Cordelia said with a smile.

"What brings you to my little corner of the world?" He pulled back and took a good look at Giles. "And who's the hunk with you?"

Cordelia laughed. "Stop Lorne, you're scaring him. One more word and he'll be out the door before I can get him to sing."

"He sings? But a better question is, does he sing well?" Lorne quipped.

"I don't know. That's what I brought him here to find out." Cordelia answered.

"Are you two quite finished?" Giles asked shortly. He did not appreciate being talked about as if he wasn't in the room.

Cordelia laughed again and nudged him with her shoulder. "Lighten up, Giles. Lorne is the host of Caritas."

Lorne stuck his hand out.

"Welcome to my humble establishment. Anyone is welcome. We have a no violence policy that is strictly enforced. We want everyone to feel safe here." He had the feeling he needed to stress that at the beginning with this man.

Giles absently shook Lorne's hand.

"Are you telling me this is a safe haven for demons?"

"Not just demons. Anyone. When you walk through those doors, you leave all disagreements outside. That's the one hard-and-fast rule that I insist on. It helps cut down on the repair bills."

Giles just shook his head. Trust Cordelia to bring him to a demon bar.

"Have a seat and I'll have the bartender get you two drinks. Any preferences?" Lorne asked them both.

"I'll take a white wine." Cordelia replied.

"I'll have a scotch on the rocks." Giles answered at the same time

"Coming right up." Lorne left to give their drink orders.

"Okay, Giles. You've gotta decide what you're going to sing."

"I'm not singing."

"Yes, you are. That's what I brought you here for. Willow told me you sang great and I want to hear for myself."

"Cordelia, I refuse to sing at a demon karaoke bar."

"Giles, this isn't any worse than any other karaoke bar in this town."

"All right. I'm not singing in *any* karaoke bar."



Lorne returned with their drinks.

"So, have you decided what you're singing?"

"Yes, I'm not singing." Giles replied.

"I thought that's why you came here?" Lorne asked, puzzled.

"No, that's why Cordelia came. I have no intention of singing in a karaoke bar."

"Why not?" This question came from Cordelia.

Before he could answer, she continued.

"Please, Giles. If you don't sing now, I'll always wonder what you sound like. If it makes you feel any better, you can't possibly be worse than Angel."

Giles saw Lorne shudder delicately at the mention of Angel's singing abilities.

"Yes, you can't be worse than that." The Host agreed emphatically.

"Very well." Giles agreed.

Giles went to the stage, he borrowed a guitar from another one of the participants and sat on a stool. He had chosen to sing "Freebird". He began after Lorne announced him.

Cordelia listened with something akin to awe as he sang.

"Damn, he's good." She whispered.

"Yes, he is." Lorne agreed. "He's also got more issues than National Geographic. Who did you say he is?"

Cordelia hedged, "I didn't."

"Would you like to?"

"Not really." Cordelia said.

"I really must insist. Who is he, Sweetie?" Lorne asked, a bit more firmly this time.

"He'sawatchertoaslayer." Cordelia said it quickly.

"I'm sorry, hon. I didn't quite get that. Try again." Lorne was not getting a good feeling about this.

"I said, he's a watcher to a slayer." Cordelia repeated.

"He's a what?!?"

"He's a watcher." Cordelia mumbled.

"You brought the watcher, to the slayer, into my bar? A bar, that I might add, that has as its patrons the very beings that he is charged with destroying. That's who you brought to see me?" Lorne asked in an exasperated tone.

"Well, I didn't think about that when I invited him here. Besides, he's not trying to hurt anyone." Cordelia said defensively.

"No, you're right, he's not. But you also let me announce who he was to the entire establishment. You don't think he might have a few enemies in here?" Lorne asked incredulously.

Cordelia chewed on her bottom lip. "I didn't think about that. But no one can hurt him in here anyway, right?" Cordelia was sounding more unsure all the time.

"You're right. They won't hurt him in here. But what's to keep them from waiting for him outside?" Lorne asked patiently.

Cordelia got a worried looked in her eyes. " Maybe we had better leave."

"I think that would probably be a good idea."

"I'll go get Giles." Cordelia got up and headed for the stage. Luckily, Giles had just finished his song and was stepping down.

"Cordelia, what's the matter?"

"Giles, I think we need to leave right now." Cordelia said anxiously.

"Why? What's wrong?"

"There's nothing wrong--yet."

"Cordelia, what's going on?" Giles asked firmly.

"Giles, Lorne just reminded me that you have cause to have enemies in this crowd. I didn't think about that when I got you up on that stage."

"I thought he said no violence could be done in this building?"

"There can't. But that doesn't mean --." Cordelia began.

"That they can't wait for us outside." Giles finished for her.

"Yeah." Cordelia said worriedly.

"Good point. Perhaps it is time we left."

They said their goodbyes to Lorne and headed for the door. They were stopped fifteen feet from it.

"Hello, watcher. Long time, no see." A vampire stepped in their path.

Cordelia looked longingly at the door. They were so close.

"Don't you remember me?" The vampire was so focused on Giles he didn't notice Lorne come up beside him.

"Is something wrong?" Lorne asked in his best peace-making tone of voice.

"Yeah, this is the guy that trained the slayer that killed my brother."

"You know there's no violence in here." Lorne reminded him.

"Yeah, don't worry. I won't mess up your pretty place." He turned his attention back to Giles. "See you outside, watcher." With that, he left the bar.

"We need to leave. Now." Giles said urgently. "Do you have a backdoor here?"

"Sorry. I didn't think I'd need an escape route for watchers when I drew up the plans for this place." Lorne apologized.

"Why do we need to leave now?" Cordelia asked.

"Because in addition to being a very angry vampire, he is also an extremely powerful wizard. I need time to prepare a protection spell." Giles told her.

"Great, just great! Why didn't I just stay home tonight?" Cordelia moaned.

"Well, there's nothing to be done about it now. We simply have to do the best we can." Giles said in as firm a voice as he could manage. He wasn't worried about himself, but he wasn't sure he could protect Cordelia. "Perhaps, it would be best if you waited here with Lorne."

"No way. It's my fault we're in this fix, so I'm going out with you." Cordelia wasn't going to let Giles face this alone.

Giles thought about arguing with her, but then decided that would be wasting time they did not have. "At least let me leave first." He said, hoping she would agree to this proposal.

Cordelia wasn't happy with that suggestion. "Nope. We go out together."

Giles sighed. "Very well, let's go."

Lorne was reaching for the phone when Cordelia's voice stopped him.

"And don't even think about calling Angel. We'll handle this ourselves."

He pulled his hand from the phone and watched them with a worried expression.

"Let me know when you get home." He asked as they were leaving.

"I will. Don't worry, Lorne. We used to fight vampires all the time in Sunnydale." She said cheerfully. "We just didn't fight vampire-wizards." She added under her breath.

Giles squeezed her hand reassuringly. He didn't want to tell Cordelia, but he did remember the vampire that had threatened him. He and his brother had come to Sunnydale to try and open the hellmouth. They had very nearly succeeded. The only thing that stopped them was the fact they needed their combined powers to complete the spell and Buffy killed the brother before the spell could be completed. That had been six months ago. The remaining vampire had sworn vengeance. They hadn't heard anything else from him so they assumed he had left for parts unknown. Apparently, his parts had been closer than they thought.

"Well, come on then." Giles squared his shoulders.

Giles looked cautiously out the door before stepping out into the street. He didn't see anyone, but he had a feeling the vampire wasn't going to waste any time making good on his threat. A split second before the spell was released, Giles felt a change in the air signaling that someone was casting a spell. He shoved Cordelia back towards Caritas.

"Cordelia, run!" He yelled as he began a protection spell. He wasn't sure it would work, but he had to try something. He chanted as quickly as he could. When he released the spell, he realized his mistake. The spell the vampire had worked hadn't been life-threatening. It hadn't even been a particularly powerful spell. It would simply turn a protection spell against the person closest to the caster of the protection spell. The vampire knew that Giles would try something like this when he felt magic being worked. He also knew that Giles was with Cordelia, so he made Giles' magic backfire into Cordelia.

Cordelia couldn't breathe and she felt a searing pain in her chest. She tried to move, but her body wouldn't obey her brain's commands. Before the pain could worsen, she blacked out. She never saw the pavement rushing to meet her.

Giles spun around to warn Cordelia when he saw her slump to the ground. He rushed to her side and gently turned her over so he could see what damage had been done.

The vampire that had recognized Giles stepped out of the shadows.

"Nice seeing you, watcher. I hope your slayer gets better." He said insincerely.

"This wasn't my slayer." Giles said softly, just before he threw a stake that imbedded itself in the vampire's heart.

"Damn." Was all the vampire had time to say before he dissolved into a pile of dust.

Lorne came running out of Caritas. He took in the pile of dust and Giles holding Cordelia in his arms.

"Are you all right?"

"Where is Cordelia's apartment?" Giles was furious with himself. She could very well die and it would be all his fault. "I can reverse the spell, but I need to do it now!"

* * * * *

Giles held Cordelia in his arms as he knocked on Cordelia's apartment door. Lorne had told him he would call ahead and let Dennis know he was coming and what was happening. He didn't know who Dennis was and right at this particular moment, he didn't care. He was running out of time. The door swung open to reveal--an empty apartment? What the bloody hell was going on? Lorne said that Cordelia had a roommate. What else had he said? Oh yes, he had said that Dennis was a very unusual roommate. Well, he didn't have time to worry about an unusual, nonexistent roommate.

Giles laid Cordelia gently on her bed and prepared to cast his spell. He chanted the spell that would remove the power that was ravaging Cordelia's body. That was the danger of the spell the vampire had used. It used the power of the protection spell to destroy the body of whoever it was induced into. As he finished, he prayed that the vampire's spell hadn't done any permanent damage. He would never forgive himself if something happened to her because of him. He settled into a chair beside her bed and waited for her to wake up.

The first thing Cordelia noticed when she regained consciousness was the fact that concrete had gotten softer since the last time she had passed out on the ground. She moved her hand around and felt a bedspread beneath her hand. Okay, so she wasn't laying on the ground. Where was she? She opened her eyes and realized she was laying in her bed, in her apartment.

"Giles?" She croaked. Her throat was really dry.

"Cordelia! I'm so glad you're awake. How are you feeling?" Giles asked anxiously.

"Like I've been run over by a truck. Did you get the license plate number?" She joked feebly.

A glass of water and two aspirin came floating towards her.

"Thanks, Dennis." She said to her roommate.

Giles wasn't sure what to make of floating glasses.

"Cordelia? Who, or what, is Dennis?"

"He's my roommate." Cordelia answered. She saw the puzzled look on Giles' face. "He's also a ghost."

"You have a ghost for a roommate?"

"Yeah. His mother bricked him up in the wall. When I threw her butt out of here and set him free, he decided to stay."

"Can you remember what happened?" Giles asked, changing the subject.

"I remember leaving Caritas."

"Anything else?"

"That's it. What happened?"

"You were caught in the middle of my fight."

"What about the vampire?"

"There is no need to be concerned about him any longer." Giles replied shortly.

"You staked him?"

"Yes." Giles said softly. "I'm sorry, Cordelia."

"For what? I'm the one that didn't think about the fact that you could have enemies in Caritas. It's as much my fault as it is yours. Which it isn't, by the way."

"What isn't?"

"Your fault. It was a vampire. You know, evil beings, bent on death and destruction. Besides, I could have gotten hurt just as easily at work."

"Nonetheless, if I had waited for a moment I could have identified the spell and none of this would have happened." Giles maintained stubbornly.

"And if you had waited, he might have tried something else and we would both be dead." Cordelia could be just as stubborn.

Giles wanted to argue the point, but he knew it would be a futile gesture. He decided to let the matter drop and concentrate on taking care of Cordelia.

"Very well. Neither one of us was at fault."

"I'm glad you agree." Cordelia moved to get up.

Giles pushed her down. "Where do you think you're going?"

"I was going to get something to drink. I'm thirsty."

"I will get your drink for you. I want you to change and prepare for bed. You're not to exert yourself until I'm sure you're completely recovered."

"But, Giles--!" Cordelia began to protest.

"Do not argue with me." Giles cut her off. "You have to rest and give your body time to recuperate."

"I just want to get up and get something to drink."

"I will get it for you, what would you like?"

"There's bottled water in the fridge. Could you bring me one?"

"Certainly, I'll be right back." Giles left Cordelia to change in private.

Cordelia just grinned. Every now and then, it was nice to have someone besides Dennis take care of her. Not that Dennis wasn't the best.

"Dennis, could you hand me a towel?" Cordelia asked as she headed to the bathroom.

The linen closet door opened and a towel floated from the closet to the bathroom, into Cordelia's waiting hands.

"Thanks, Dennis."

Cordelia prepared to be pampered for the rest of the night. Even getting attacked by a vampire could have it's benefits. Giles and pampering for an entire evening. Maybe if she asked very nicely she could get him to sing again.

It was a thought.