The... Something More Series
Part 4 - A Friend In Need
written by Nickle
"Damn, damn, damn," Giles muttered as he rushed through the automatic doors of one of the many entrances to LAX. He glanced quickly around him and finding what he was looking for and hurried over to the monitor displaying flight arrivals. Finding the gate number he glanced up at the myriad of signs above and oriented himself before taking off in the direction of the gate.
"How do I get myself into these things?" he mumbled as he quickly moved through the eerily empty corridor. The lateness of the evening had brought a lull in the usually busy airport. Still, there were people still rushing at breaknecking speed to catch their flights. He nearly collided with a business man sprinting for his flight, no doubt eager to get home or to his hotel. How the man didn't collapse from dragging a briefcase, laptop computer case, trenchcoat and an armload of files, Giles couldn't figure out.
Continuing on his way, he shook his head. Out of the blue he gets a call from an old school acquaintance from England -Roger Miller- who was coming to the states on business and was wondering if 'good ole' Rupert would give him a lift from the airport. Show him around a bit and catch up with each other.
Why he even agreed to it he did not know. All he remembered about Roger was that he had been a rather straightlaced fellow. Unassuming and unremarkable for the most part. He was sure he was a nice enough person, but for all intensive purposes they would hardly be considered friends. Hell, he wasn't sure if he'd recognize him- he tried to picture what he might look like, but it was a struggle. His school days were many years -and many bumps on the head- ago. He had to hope that Roger would recognize him.
Finally making his way to the gate, he stopped short and narrowed his eyes as he read the flashing message board.
"Delayed?" he said outloud. He went over to a nearby desk. "Excuse me, what is the status of the flight due in from London?"
The receptionist looked up at him. "The one that had a stopover in New York?" He nodded. She gave him a sympathetic look. "It's delayed due to the weather in the area. It should land within the next half hour, though," the receptionist smiled.
Giles sighed and gave a brief nod to her before turning around. Great. Rushed all the way here only to sit around and wait-
He looked up and blinked in slight surprise as he saw Cordelia hurry towards him from across the terminal, having come from a flight that was deboarding. She smiled brightly and dropped her bags in front of him.
"What-" he stopped as she threw her arms around his neck and leaned into him.
"Just play along," she quickly whispered in his ear before pulling back-
And kissing him full on the lips.
She pulled back and smiled up at him. "I have missed you so much," she said warmly.
He saw her quickly flick her eyes to the side and he glanced over to see a man standing to the side, who was looking at them both with unveiled interest.
"I've missed you too," he said turning back to her with a slight frown. "How was your flight?" he asked carefully.
"Oh, the usual," she relaxed her arms on his shoulders. "Air turbulence, stale peanuts, and annoying, talkative passengers that just don't know when to leave you alone." Giles just nodded at her trying to figure out what the hell to do with his hands. Currently they were awkwardly holding her at her waist. He felt he should take them off, but since that would betray the ruse they were currently performing, he slid them up her back to rest near her shoulders.
"Sorry to hear that," he remarked as he tried to get another look at the man who was boring holes into his back. Not good. Definitely not good. "Are you ready to go?"
A look of relief came to her eyes and she nodded. "Am I ever." She dropped her arms and pointed to her bag. "I just brought that one. Nothing to pick up at the claim." She smirked as she picked up her purse. He shook his head and quickly picked up her bag but nearly dropped it as she took his free hand tightly into hers as they began walking back down the terminal.
He felt her grip loosen as they passed the staring man and he looked over at her with a questioning look.
They stopped and turned at the man's voice.
The man walked up to them and handed Cordelia a magazine. "You left this on the plane."
"Oh," she snatched it from him with her free hand, keeping firm hold of Giles'. "Thanks. I was just in such a in a rush to get out of there after that extra hour we spent circling. Eager to see my honey here," she motioned towards Giles.
The man looked at her skeptically."Yeah, I remember you saying you were meeting your-"
"Boyfriend. Yep." She patted Giles on the arm. "He's my boyfriend."
The man glanced over to Giles. "I was keeping your -girlfriend- company on the flight here." The man offered. "My name is James," he held out his hand.
Bully for you, Giles thought as it clicked what was going on here. "Giles," he replied coolly as he firmly took the outstretched hand. He caught the man's eye, briefly, but effectively, making his point clear. Retaking Cordelia's hand he nodded slightly at James, "We really must be going now."
"Yes, we should," Cordelia said quickly. "Thanks for the-" she waved the magazine before they quickly turned and headed into a small crowd of people, leaving James where he stood.
When they made it partway down the terminal, she quickly glanced behind her. "I don't think he's following," she said after a moment.
"Who? James?" Giles asked looking behind him.
Cordelia looked at him with a tired expression. "No, Giles, Ricky Martin." She glanced behind them again.
Giles pulled her along gently. "He's not going to bother you anymore, Cordelia."
"Yeah I think-" she stopped and quickly pushed them inside a magazine shop. The cashier looked up from the counter, gave them a cursory look, and went back to his magazine.
They waited inside the store a moment and soon James walked past them.
Slowly inching out, Cordelia watched him go around the corner and then visibly relaxed. "Oh God, Giles," she launched herself at him and hugged him quickly. "Thank you so much for helping me back there. I mean that guy was just slimy, oozy, and blech!' she shuddered.
"I take it he wasn't your type," Giles chided. Cordelia slapped him on the arm before glancing behind her again.
"Cordelia, he's gone. Good grief, he didn't try anything on the plane did he?"
"No. Nothing kinky anyway. Just was hitting on me nonstop all the way from San Francisco." She huffed as she adjusted her purse.
Giles frowned. "Well I'm sure you've dealt with worse."
"Yeah, but still it was two hours Giles. TWO hours of that loser boring me to death and trying to get my 'digits'. Like an idiot he wouldn't take any of the usual brushoffs- I mean come on how many times can I say "I speak little English?" God! And then I had to resort to the 'I have a boyfriend' excuse which STILL didn't stop him from trying to mack on me. He wanted to actually drop me off at home, like I would tell him where I lived. So I told him that my boyfriend was meeting and that he wouldn't be too happy to see my new shadow."
Giles blinked. "And this boyfriend would be?"
"Well," Cordelia smiled sheepishly. "Matthew McConahey in my dreams, but no one in this reality. I so don't need that hassle. I thought I'd be able to shake him as we got off the plane and ergo no need for a boyfriend. But he was on me like glue. If you hadn't been here I don't know what I would have done."
"Kissed any random man that happened across your path?" Giles offered as he leaned back against the wall.
Cordelia closed her mouth and gave him a small smile. "Well I had to greet my boyfriend didn't I?" she offered. "I'm sorry about using you like that. It was just... there you were and... I'd much rather kiss you than a complete stranger-"
Giles just stared at her silently in amazed amusement.
Her brow furrowed. "Giles, I didn't mean to-"
"Cordelia, no harm was done. There are much worse ways to be used," he gently scolded.
She looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "Men," she finally mumbled rolling her eyes. "At least you're a good one," she smiled as she took her bag from his hand." So what are you doing here in LA? Going on a trip?"
He shook his head. "Meeting an old school friend," he sighed. "Whose plane is unfortunately delayed due to the weather."
"Yeah, it was pretty choppy up there. Between the turbulence and James, I was clutching the air sickness bag. Angel owes me big for taking this trip," she grumbled.
"Business trip, I see."
"Yep, research girl must travel since bossman can't take conventional means of transportation. Except for his precious little car." She paused. "So, this 'friend'-"
Giles stopped her. "HE is an old school friend. Who's unfortunately fainted from memory a bit."
She nodded knowingly. "Ah, can't remember him, but got roped into providing chauffeur and hotel services?"
"Chauffeur," Giles grumbled.
"Well," she grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the store. " I'll keep you company while you wait. It could be a while before he actually gets off the plane and this place is dead."
Giles sighed. "Oh joy."
Cordelia stopped and dropped his hand. "Well, gee I'll just leave then," Cordelia said in an exaggerated insulted tone turning on her heel.
"Funny," Giles said as he gently pulled her back towards the direction of the gate. "Are you sure you don't want to go home? You seemed to be in a rush earlier." They walked slowly back towards the waiting area.
"Well, duh, Slimy James was lurking around. But since my "boyfriend" scared him away I'm fine."
Giles looked over at her and shook his head. "I doubt it was that."
"The tale of the boyfriend," he replied. "He didn't believe that you and I were dating for a minute."
She looked at him strangely. "How would you know what he believed?
"Secret male code. I can't divulge anymore without losing my membership in the club."
Cordelia frowned."Was that a joke?"
He turned to her with a look of mock surprise."Yes, Giles made with the funny."
"Uh-huh," she said shaking her head slightly. "Okay you could read him with your Watcher male sense or whatever. Why'd he leave me alone and not still try to pick me up since I was busted?"
"Again a secret male thing," he said mildly as they reached the sparsely populated waiting area in front of the gate.
"Are you serious?" she asked incredulously as he sat down in a chair and looked up at her.
"Lips are sealed," was all he replied.
Cordelia rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Okay, fine, whatever," she dropped her bags and sat down next to him. "But answer me this, oh wise one. You say he didn't buy it. Why not? I thought we pulled it off pretty nicely. You didn't freeze up on me or anything. And don't say its because your old. You aren't old. You are older. There is a difference. Older people date younger people all the time."
Giles nearly laughed out loud. "Well yes that is true-"
"And we look good together. You ain't too shabby in the looks department. You've got the face. And the body's comin along nicely. And your hair has never looked better."
"Are you finished?" Giles asked after staring at her after a moment.
"Why wouldn't he believe that we could be dating? Can I not have a boyfriend that isn't an idiot, dork, or bad kisser?"
Giles started at the last bit but said nothing. "I think it is simply that he thought I was too old for you," he finally said.
"Too old?" She looked at him. "No," she shook her head after a moment. "If anything I would say I'm too young."
"Too young?" Giles looked at her with interest.
"Well, not age wise. I am 18 and no longer jailbait. Fair game."
"Okay," Giles conceded, "but-"
"Well take you I mean you've been through a lot. Lived a lot. Got yourself together and your thing going. But me. I've been through stuff but not like lots of stuff like you and I sure as hell don't have it all together and am still trying to get my thing going."
"How is acting going, by the way?" he cocked his head.
She waved a dismissive hand. "Badly. I was this close to getting a trash bag commercial when they gave it to some catsuit wearing bleach blond." She let out a disgusted noise. "Anyway like I was saying. If anything I'm too young. Not as experienced or knowing. What an older guy like you needs is a woman who is sophisticated and mature and knows when to leave you to read your dusty old books and drink your tea and when to take you out for a beer and a night out on the town."
Giles swung his head around to her. "Oh really? That's what I need?"
"Well unless you want to drive your girlfriend nuts with being Mr. Bookworm one minute and Playboy Giles the next."
Giles just stared at her and laughed.
"I cannot believe you think you're too old for me."
He stopped laughing to look over at her. "Well, now I didn't say that I thought that. I said that he thought that." Cordelia gave him a look that told him to continue." Speaking in general terms, I cannot think of a reason why two people of mutual feeling, regardless of their age, who believe they have a relationship that is of substance and longevity should not be together. Life is too short and fickle a thing to waste it worrying about inconsequential things such as age. "
Cordelia looked at him speechless.
"What?" he frowned at her.
"You are such a Yoda-like man."
"Well not wrinkly and green or three feet tall, but spouter of sensible wisdom."
"I've been around a while," Giles shrugged. "You experience a lot of things and come to realize what's important and what isn't. On the other hand, just because I've been around a while doesn't mean that I have everything 'together' as you term it."
"Seems that way to me," Cordelia sighed.
"Believe me, nobody ever has their life always under control. Some days everything falls into place and you go with it, and other days it feels like the world is against you and you just try to stay afloat. I just happen to be in a good patch."
Cordelia sighed deeply. "I understand master Yoda," she said seriously.
Giles sat back and shook his head. "What does that make you? A wannabe jedi?"
"Again with the funny," Cordelia laughed. "I do understand what you mean Giles," she said after a moment, her smile falling a little. "Think I'm coming out of a rough patch myself." Leaning forward she bounced a little. "Did I tell you about my new apartment?"
Giles cocked his head to the side to look at her. "No? You've moved?"
"Oh yeah. I got a beautiful spacious multiroom apartment in a great neighborhood -and its rent controlled."
"Well you seem quite happy about it."
"Well after the hell I went through to get it, I deserve to be happy. Some old haggy ghost was haunting the place. She nearly killed me because of some beef she had with her son's girlfriend."
Giles grunted. He didn't like the sound of this. "Poltergeist?"
"Tried to kill you?" He cocked an eyebrow.
Cordelia nodded dismissively. "Yeah. But Angel and Doyle stopped her and I was okay."
"Yes -but-" he shook his head. " How did you get rid of her?"
"Well she was really giving me a guilt trip-thinking I was the girlfriend for some reason-and blowing everything around the apartment and talking smack to me trying to scare me." She stopped. "Well, she did scare me." She thought to herself a moment. "I mean she had me on the floor, crying my eyes out - which I so hate cause then I get these puffy circles around my eyes which take forever to conceal- and she was saying all these horrible mean things to me. Like trying to break me into little pieces."
Giles exhaled slowly and studied her closely. "Why would that affect you? She was referring to her son's girlfriend, right?"
"Well, I knew that. In the beginning. But then she started saying stuff -stuff that I always thought that people did say about me. Stuff that I thought about myself," she paused. "It was harsh."
Giles watched her carefully. "What happened?" he asked softly.
She looked up at him and smiled. "She almost had me. But then she said the wrong thing. Or rather right thing," She grinned. "She called me a bitch." She laughed softly. "The old hag called me a bitch and suddenly I wasn't scared anymore... I was proud. I was proud to be called a bitch. Not because it's what I really am- it isn't- but being bitchy is a part of who I am. A teeny part. But an important one. It helps me handle things-almost like a superpower," she joked. "For a while I had lost a part of myself, a part that I needed." She looked back up at Giles. "In ending I told the hag to go to hell and she did," she smiled with satisfaction.
He saw the way her eyes lit up and smiled gently. "Good for you. Although I must ask is this the return of the harder, more in your face Cordelia Chase?"
She shook her head. "Nope. I shall use my powers for good instead of evil."
He laughed at her pledge. "So I presume that all is well at home now?"
She pounded the armrest with her hands in glee. "It's great! I have clean, clear water and no bugs! And I even have a roommate."
"Uh-huh. The old lady's son, Dennis, was buried in the wall. She killed him His ghost hangs out at my place."
Oh, Lord. Giles sat up."You're living with a ghost?" he asked incredulously.
"Yeah," she said simply. "He's nice. He cleans up around the place and just makes me feel watched over. Like a big brother."
Giles looked at her in concern. "Well a little word of advice. You might want to have an area of your apartment cast with a protection spell to keep Dennis from enjoying the view when you shower or change."
Cordelia's face went blank. "What? You mean-? Ewwwww!" she squirmed. "If phantom Dennis knows what's good for him he will keep his eyes shut or I'll-"
She stopped and looked to Giles for help who only offered her an amused look. "I'll sing non-stop. Like Patrick Swayze did in 'Ghost' only the other way around. Dennis will learn his lesson."
"You might drive him to become violent." Giles chuckled.
"If he tries it, I'll tell him to go to hell too." She glared at Giles. Then stopped at the expression on his face. "It's rent controlled! I'm not about to give that up!"
He held up his hands. "Fine. I'm glad that things are working out for you and that you aren't subjected to brown water and bugs anymore."
"Yes, thank you God. And I don't stink anymore-I actually smelled, it was the worst-well not the worst-but definitely in one of those one of the worst categories," she sighed. "I just feel like that I'm finally back in the good. That whatever badness that I was due, I've paid up in full."
"I'm not sure that I understand," Giles frowned.
She thought to herself a moment. "Karma. Well bad karma. My bad karma. I just-I guess that all the bad stuff that's happened to me-well it's like what I was saying to Angel- I deserved it because of who I was back in high school. The mean bitch who hurt people and said and did mean things-"
Giles shook his head. "Cordelia no way in the world were you being punished for the person you were in high school or for what you did in high school. Ever hear of bad things happening to good people?"
Cordelia snorted. "I wasn't exactly a good person Giles."
"You weren't evil incarnate either. Everybody makes mistakes and acts atrociously in their life-especially teenagers. Lord knows that you weren't the worst of the lot. You may be -have been- a pain, but you were never that bad, Believe me there are much, much worse people out there than you."
"You know what I mean," he cut her off. "There aren't many people who would have done all that you did to help me and Buffy -before and after the business with Xander. And in spite of Wesley."
She laughed at the expression on his face, but sobered quickly. "So you think I'm a good person?" She cocked her head to the side.
His face softened."Of course. What would make you think otherwise?"
"Well you always seemed annoyed with me whenever I was around."
"Well you had a way of making yourself annoying whenever you were around. Yes you did help, but you complained an awful lot."
She huffed. "Well I couldn't look like I enjoyed all that stuff! Tracking vampires, performing witchy spells and watching werewolves. Who in their right mind would?"
Giles stopped and nodded slightly. "You do have a point I suppose." He leaned over towards her. "Cordelia you are not a bad person and you certainly were not being punished for who you may have once been. Like I said before everybody goes through hard times. Unfortunately yours were harder than most and came in quick succession."
"Don't I know it," she mumbled.
"But you've survived . And in admirable shape I must say."
Cordelia smiled slightly. "You think so, huh?"
"Definitely. You're stronger than you give yourself credit for and a much better person than you think. You were never being punished Cordelia, maybe it seemed like it, but you weren't."
"Well then fate, luck, or whoever has a really huge mean streak," she grumbled.
They both looked up as an announcement came over the intercom.
"Ladies and Gentlemen unfortunately due to the weather Flight 1131 from New York, has been rerouted to San Diego Airport. I repeat flight 1131 from New York has been rerouted to San Diego Airport. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you. Please consult a customer service desk for any assistance you may need regarding this flight. Thank you."
"Your flight?" Cordelia asked uneasily as she watched Giles grimace.
"Of course," he nodded and took off his glasses.
"What are you gonna do?" she asked as he rubbed his face. "San Diego is a ways away from here and somehow I doubt that little car of yours will make it."
Giles looked up at her. "I have a rental."
"A rental? Wow. You left the gremlin at home, huh?" she gave him a playful smile.
"It is not a gremlin," Giles countered.
"Might as well be," she snickered.
He looked at his watch and shook his head. "There is no way that I will meet him in time," he mumbled. Oh, well. He looked up at Cordelia. "Need a lift home?"
"You're gonna dump your friend? Geeze Giles that's so ungentlemanly of you."
He stood up."Well it's not like he's a close friend. And he did just spring this on me suddenly. I barely remember him and since I actually cannot meet him in time, he'll have to find other accommodations and catch up with me later." He put his glasses back on and looked back down at her. "Coming? Or shall I, being so ungentlemanly, just leave you here to fend for yourself?"
"Whoa, wait," she nearly fell out of the chair reaching out for him. "I'm not about to turn down a free ride." She jumped up out of the chair and grabbed her purse and bag. "You are just too damn nice a guy!" she said punching him gently on the shoulder.
Giles couldn't help but smile in spite of himself. "You make it easy." He took her bag and they began back down the terminal towards the exit.
"Hey, you might get to meet Dennis!" Cordelia said after a moment.
"How does one meet a ghost?" Giles asked.
"Ghost Dennis, Giles, Giles, Ghost Dennis. Easy." She shrugged.
"Okay," he conceded. "And then?"
"Then what do we talk about?"
"Talk? Dennis doesn't talk. He may possess you, but he doesn't talk."
"Didn't I tell you about that part ? About him possessing me?"
"No, you didn't," Giles remarked.
"Well it's way over now and he's being a good little ghost." She looked over at Giles as he remained quiet. "What?"
"Just marveling at how you managed to turn a ghost into a pet."
"He's not a pet! Just a ghost. A nice little ghost. Who I've trained to be a good nice little ghost. He likes it."
Giles snorted. "Well he does," Cordelia countered. "What? Would living with me be all that bad?"
Giles laughed. "I don't even know how to answer that question."
"Gah!?," she threw up her hands. "What is that supposed to mean? It's yes or no. Pick one."
Giles glanced over at her and shrugged. "Okay, one."
"You said -"
She whirled around in front of him and crossed her arms in front of her. "Giles unless you wanna get me in all out bitch mode," she said coolly. "You'll stop messing with my head."
They stared at each other for a few seconds before Giles blinked.
"I'm sure you make a lovely roommate for Dennis and don't treat him like a pet."
Cordelia smiled in satisfaction."That's better," she said as she turned around and resumed walking.
Giles shook his head and adjusted his hold on her bag. "Poor bastard," he mumbled with a smile as he followed her towards the escalator.
Read the next part: Couch Potatoes