Let The Darkness In

From the writings of Cordelia Chase, January 20th, 2030:

My wife and my daughter are dead.

It happened late last night, just as they were about to finish up their rounds. Details are sketchy, but what everyone believes happened is that a large group of vampires ambushed them.

But they're wrong.

It doesn't take a large group of vampires to kill two people, even if one of them is the Slayer. It just takes one. One with enough knowledge to make them suffer--to kill them so I would know who did it.

Twenty years ago, we were given a gift, a miracle. But all great miracles come with a terrible price.

And today, that price has come. My darling baby girl, barely twenty years old, is dead. My wife, still as full of life as the day I fell in love with her, is dead.

And he's responsible.

I often wondered why, all those years ago, Giles went to fight Angelus alone after finding Jenny Calendar dead. And today, I know.

I know I may end up dead. But it doesn't matter. One way or another, I'll be back in Willow's arms. But I have to do one thing before I go.

I must avenge their deaths.

I must kill Tim Hunter.


Alexander Harris parked his car and quickly ran up the driveway.

The front door opened as he approached. A tall lank girl stood there, trembling slightly. "Uncle Xander," she said, her voice shaky.

Xander wrapped the girl in a long hug, holding her tightly for several minutes while she sobbed onto his jacket. "Shhh..." he said soothingly. "I'm right here..." He stroked her long dark brown hair. After some time, he finally spoke. "Alex," he said to her. "Where's your mother?"

Alexandra Rosenberg-Chase pulled away from him, wiping her eyes. "She's in..." She caught her breath. "She's in their room... She won't talk to me..." She begun to cry again. "Oh God...I don't know what to do...."

Xander pulled her into his arms again, holding her until her sobs faded, then looked into the house. "I....I better go see her..." he said quietly.

Alex nodded, wiping her eyes again. "She...She'll talk to you...I hope..."

Xander walked into the house, heading straight for what was Willow & Cordelia's bedroom. He reached the closed door and knocked softly.

"Mama's busy right now, Alex," Cordelia's voice said from behind the door.

"Cordelia," Xander said. "It's me...Xander..."

There was nothing for a few minutes. Finally, Cordelia said, in a quiet voice, "Xander?"

"Yeah, Cordy, it's me." He looked at the door. "Let me in?"

There was another pause, then the bedroom door slowly opened, revealing a darkened room. Xander walked in slowly. "Cordy?" he said cautiously. He looked around the room. Then he saw the bed. Crossbows, axes, swords, stakes, and other weapons specifically for vampire slaying were all laid out on the bed. "Oh God..." Xander said quietly.

"You got my message then," said a voice behind him.

Xander whirled around then gasped, his eyes widening. Cordelia stood there, her usually long chestnut hair cropped viciously short and peppered with gray, her face pale, gaunt, and hard. "Cordy...I..." Xander searched for words.

She looked directly at him. "Xander, I need you to do something for me." She paused for a second. "I need you to take care of Alex."

"Why? Where are you..." Realization dawned on him as he looked at the weapons again, flashing back to a small apartment, devoid of the "good" weapons, and that same hard look on Giles' face. "Oh God, Cordelia...you can't..."

Cordelia started putting her weapons into a large duffle bag. "Don't try and stop me, Xander," she said, her voice cold.

"He'll kill you."

She looked up at him. "I know." She resumed packing the bag. "But I'm taking him out with me."

Xander tried to find words to protest. "Cordelia...I...You can't leave Alex like this! Not after Willow and Jenny..." His voice trailed off.

She walked over and handed him a large folder, filled with papers. "This will explain everything to her," she said quietly. "She...she knew that our life wasn't going to be easy..." Cordelia looked up at him. "And I know you'll take care of your daughter."

"You can't fight him alone! You're 48! He still has the body of a man several years younger--not to mention that vampire strength!"

Cordelia resumed packing weapons. "I know. But I didn't spend twenty years training with Willow and Jenny for it to just go to waste."

"You don't even know where he is," he flustered. "He could be in another state--or another country!"

Cordelia zipped up the bag. "Since the Watchers moved to Los Angeles, they've been diligent about keeping tabs on Tim Hunter. I have an exact location." She effortlessly lifted the bag onto one shoulder and stood there in front of him, primed for battle.

Xander made one final plea. "You can't...." he said, his voice low and near breaking. "You can't leave me..."

She looked at him, then set the bag down on the bed. "Oh Xander," she said, her voice low, but resolved. "I have to do this. You know what will happen if I don't."

Xander closed his eyes for a second, the image of Cordelia and Alex's cold bodies lying in the morgue, Xander being the only person to claim them, much less recognize them. "I know," he whispered. "But I....I don't know if I can lose another friend..."

Cordelia walked up to him. "You're my dearest friend," she said quietly. "And wherever I go, I'll still be with you."

Xander grabbed onto her tightly, holding her closer than he ever has in the past thirty years. After a few minutes, he pulled away, trying not to cry.

Cordelia picked up the bag and made her way to the door.

"Cordelia?" Xander said.

She turned to face him.

A sentence rose unbidden from his memory. "Kick his ass," he said, his voice firm.

Cordelia smiled softly, then walked out of the room.


From the Diary of Willow Rosenberg-Chase, March 5th, 2012:

Our second baby girl was born today, Alexandra Marlene. It was a quick labor, Cordelia obviously better equipped for that whole baby-making routine than I was.

She's beautiful. Already has dark hair, just like her mother, just like her father.

Xander was there in the delivery room too, watching the birth of his daughter. I think he was more nervous than I was, despite that he won't be there to see her grow up. It was his decision, and we're standing by it. Jenny doesn't know much about her father, and Xander thought it would be good if little Alexandra didn't know much either. I hope he's right.

Cordelia was so beautiful, and when she held her baby in her arms, we were both crying. She told me once that she fell in love with me when she saw me holding Amy's baby at the reunion. And today, I finally realized what she meant.

We're a family of four now. And I don't think my life could be any more perfect.


There was a soft knock at the door. Alex looked up from her bed. "Yeah?"

The door slowly opened and Cordelia walked in. "Alex?" she asked quietly.

Alex sat up, her eyes wide with surprise. "Mama?" She blinked. "Oh my God, Mama. What did you do with your hair?"

Cordelia stood in the doorway. "Can I come in and talk to you?" she said, her voice still quiet.

"Mama?" Alex said, her voice fearful. "Mama, what's going on?"

Cordelia walked into the room and sat on the bed with Alex. "Alex, I'm..." Cordelia searched for the words. "I have to go away, Alex."

Alex stared at her mother in denial. "What?"

Cordelia sighed. "I..." She reached out for her daughter's hand. "When I married your mom, I knew that, someday, something would happen to her. And I vowed to myself that if I could, I would do something about it." She sighed again, deciding to be blunt. "Alex, Mom and Jenny were killed by Tim Hunter."

Alex recoiled. "What? Mama? Mama, what's going on?" She looked at her mother closely, then her eyes closed in grief. "Oh God...Oh no...Mama..." She opened her eyes, and stood up. "You can't go alone, Mama. I have to go with you."

Cordelia stood up and faced her daughter, her eyes narrowing. "Don't you dare say that, Alexandra. I won't lose my other baby girl to him." She looked at her daughter, her anger quickly fading. "Alex, I can't let you go," she said softly. "Your father will take good care of you."

"Father?" Alex looked at her mother in shock as it dawned on her. "Uncle Xander?"

Cordelia nodded. "He'll tell you everything, Alex. We...I...wanted a second baby in our household, and Xander agreed to help." She looked at her daughter, seeing the infant she held in her arms and the woman she was becoming. "Alex," she said, her voice softly. "Not a day goes by where I don't think about how wonderful my life has been. And now, I have to go. If I don't, everything that your mom and I worked for will be ruined." She put her hands on Alex's shoulders. "I love you, Alex. You are..." Her voice trailed off for a second. "You're the most precious thing in my life right now."

Alex fell into her mother's arms, crying. "Oh Mama.." she sobbed. "I love you too..."

Cordelia held her daughter close to her, her eyes filling with tears. "Shhh...it'll all be okay..." she crooned. After a few minutes, Alex's sobs faded and she pulled away from her mother. "You...you ought to go...before it gets dark..." she said quietly.

Cordelia looked at her daughter and nodded slowly. She walked out of the door, Alex following her.

Xander met both of them outside, only his eyes betraying how he felt. "Cordy," he said, his voice low. "The jeep's all ready."

Cordelia up at him. "Thank you," she said quietly. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly for a few seconds. She then turned to Alex. "Alex, darling," she said as she held her daughter tightly. "I want to give you something." She reached up to her neck and unlatched the necklace she was wearing. "Your mom gave this to me when you were born and...now it's yours." She put the thin gold chain and cross into Alex's hands.

Cordelia looked at her closest friend and their daughter, taking the image of them with her as she got into her jeep and drove away.

Alex and Xander watched the jeep leave, Xander's arm around the shoulders of the young woman who had just seen the last remnant of her life drive away.


From the Watcher's Diary of Vinh Nguyen (translated from the original Vietnamese), September 30, 2024:

No one can believe it happened. But it did. I saw it.

We were holding our weekly meeting, discussing the Slayers, discussing any minor problem that had occurred over the past week. It was a standard meeting, and I could see some of the older Watchers start to doze...when it happened.

In the middle of Benjari's account of tiger spirits in Calcutta, there was a loud yell in the London Council chambers. Then a scream. Then they appeared.

Like a pack of wild dogs, they attacked, swarming into the room. Vampires, a large group of vampires, moving in for the kill.

All we could do is watch, our faces riveted to the video screen in shock and fear. They had no idea, no preparation. No one expected a Watcher's Council, a private place that required strict invitation, to be invaded. No one brought any weapons. No one knew. And everyone died.

It lasted for over an hour, several of the Watchers fighting back. A few vampires were killed, but for every vampire killed, five Watchers died. At the end, there were ten vampires left. And one Watcher.

Rupert Giles had fought many vampires in his life, but this was too much for him. The vampires wouldn't kill him, they wouldn't touch him, they waited, toying with him, teasing him.

And we soon realized why.

In the centuries of Watchers, it had occurred before. Watchers had become vampires, been lead astray by temptation, by evil. But never had it occurred to someone who sought revenge--never had it occurred to someone so dangerous.

Timothy Hunter was a vampire. And when he entered the room, Mr. Giles closed his eyes and knew that there was no escape from this.

The silence was deafening, every Watchers' Council around the world holding their breath in, clenching their fingers around their desks, wishing there was a way to will themselves there, to prevent this from happening. But there was no way.

And everyone closed their eyes as Hunter reached up and snapped the other man's neck.

Hunter dropped the body, and looked towards us, looked towards the screens, and he was smiling, smiling with the vampire face, smiling at us. And the words he said will stay with me forever, haunting me in my dreams. "Just the first," he said. "Just the first."


Cordelia Chase had spent most of her life trying to get away from her past. She had left Sunnydale, vowing to never look back, to never come back.

And in the 30 years since she left, she had only returned twice. The first time, she had fallen in love.

The second, she was preparing to kill.

Tim Hunter knew everything about Willow's past. What she didn't tell him, he read in Giles's reports. He knew which places had been inhabited by vampires before, which building had the most memories. And because of this, he chose the Factory. It had been rebuildt, unrecognizable to the woman who had nearly died there, but it was still surrounded by memories, by vampires.

Cordelia pulled into the parking lot of the nearest motel, and quickly got herself a room. She needed time to prepare, to adjust, to be ready.

She threw her bag on the bed, then paused, her body teeming with energy. She pulled out a series of plans and looked at them, pacing. "Back doorway to the factory is there...park the Jeep there...slip in through there, do this, do that, make sure that happens..." She paused for a second, then threw the plans down. "It has to work. It has to."

She looked at herself in the mirror and tried not to flinch. She had spent so much time focusing on her appearance, on her elegance, on her beauty, that seeing herself now was painful, harsh, real. She traced her reflection on the mirror, her fingers barely touching the surface. "Where did it all go?" she asked her mirror image.

She traced her face in the mirror again, then her hands moved down to the locket around her neck. She undid the latch and slowly pulled it down, opening it slowly. She looked down at the two pictures in it, one of her wife, her eyes peeking up from behind her glasses as she smiled up at the camera, and the other of their two daughters, taken at Jenny's high school graduation, both of them grinning happily at their parents behind the camera. She smiled lightly, then closed the locket again, her face hardening back into her resolve.

When her mother was her age, she spent most of her time in bed, alternating between romance novels and medical books. She would never be seen in a cheap motel, with her hair cropped, a bag filled with weapons on the bed, and a plan to exact revenge on her mind. Cordelia wanted to be like her when she was younger, wanted that life of luxury, never having to worry about anything, except for the current ailment and whether or not she was out of chocolate.

And now, Cordelia stood in the motel room, alone, everything she ever did, ever wanted, ever was, behind her. All that was left was her body, her mind, and the single burning need for revenge. She closed her eyes for a second, gave up a quick prayer to whichever gods listened or cared, then grabbed the bag and left the room.


From the diary of Willow Rosenberg-Chase, January 7th, 2025:

Our daughter became a Slayer today. And we had to tell her everything.

We managed to keep this secret for so long, managed to keep her innocent of her heritage. But today, when she came home, covered in the ash of her first vampire, we knew we couldn't keep it hidden any longer.

She knew of Tim Hunter--every Slayer and every Slayer-in-training did. They all heard about him and how dangerous he was. He was what everyone feared--a bitter hateful Watcher-turned-vampire exacting his revenge.

But she didn't realize what the risk was to her. She had no idea.

She railed at both of us for over an hour. I tried to tell her calmly, to make her realize the danger, but she didn't want to listen to me, the woman who had betrayed her, who never told her who her father was.

Cordelia talked to her for awhile, locked away in her bedroom, leaving me with Alex, who was starting to worry about her father. I assured her that her father wasn't a vampire, but I didn't tell her any more. We made a promise to Xander and I'm keeping it.

Jenny seems to be all right now, but I catch her sometimes, looking behind her back, sheer paranoia and fear on her face.

It makes her more careful. But it tears me apart.


Cordelia sat down on the soft grass. "Hi, Buffy," she said quietly, looking at the gravestone. "It's been a long time."

She paused for a second. "I suppose you know what happened. Willow and Jenny are probably up there with you and Giles in Slayer heaven or whatever." She looked at the nearby small stone. "Oh, you too, Faith." She smiled. "I think you would have liked Jenny, Faith. She was a lot like you--the same joy of beating a vampire senseless. Except she didn't do that whole juvenile delinquent thing."

She turned back to Buffy's grave. "I know you never liked us being involved in your fight. But it wasn't just yours. It involved our lives, and that made it our fight as well. But right now, it's only my fight. There's just me...and them." She paused again. "I can't let him hurt another person, Buffy. He killed Giles. He killed Willow. He killed Jenny. And he won't stop. He won't stop until everyone is dead."

She stood up, dusting off her pants. "Tell..." She closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath. "Tell Willow I love her. And I'll see you all soon."


Cordelia slipped into the Factory just as the sun began to set, giving her only an hour, maybe less, to find Hunter before every vamp was fully awake. She thought she would be able to do it in that time.

She was wrong. The vampires were already up, hiding from the sunlight, waiting for the night to fall.

The first stumbled onto her in the shadows, drunk on cheap vodka and fresh blood. He died quickly, quietly, a sprinkle of ash on the floor. No one else noticed.

Cordelia walked silently through the Factory, hidden and yet obvious--all the vamps needed to do was look up, to turn away from their amusements and look in the corner, in the shadows, and they would see her.

And it was inevitable that this would occur. Lifting his head from his lover's lap, a young vamp looked into the corner and saw her, saw the mortal in the dark clothes with the hard face. He screamed, startling the other vampires into action.

They began to attack, swarming around her with the grace of the predator. Cordelia crouched down defensively, then struck, her body lunging directly towards a vampire's torso. She rolled through the falling dust and thrust again, striking into another chest. She felt a sharp pain lancing through her side, but she couldn't stop, she couldn't give up. She struck again and again, directly into their hearts, not stopping to fight, not stopping to feel. She was reaction. She was destruction. She was death.

And then it was over. Cordelia remained in her crouch, her body tense. Her eyes darted around, making sure there were no more survivors. After realizing there was no one else in the room, she stood, wincing.

Her hand went to her side and she felt the wet, torn cloth. She lifted her hand and winced again as she saw the blood. She bent down slowly, and picked up her stake, then reached for the bag of weapons. Most of them had been destroyed during the fight, but she managed to salvage a crossbow. She loaded it efficiently, then set it where she could grab it in an instant.

She then slowly, painfully pulled off her jacket. She looked at the wound as well as she could, then pulled off her shirt, leaving her in her tank top. She ripped up the shirt, and attempted to tie a crude bandage around it, hoping that the scent of the blood would be masked. She swore under her breath, then straightened up, grabbing the crossbow and walking towards the bedroom.


Cordelia walked into the master bedroom. Her eyes narrowed when she saw Tim Hunter lying on the bed, a nude female figure sleeping next to him. She pointed the crossbow and fired.

Hunter awoke to the sensation of the body next to him dissolving into ash. He jumped from the bed, his face changing as he crouched down defensively. Another crossbow bolt flew by him, hitting the pillow. His eyes caught sight of the woman standing there, the crossbow already reloaded and pointed directly at him. "You...." he said, his voice low and harsh.

Cordelia nodded. "Yeah, me," she said, her voice cool and detached. She gestured with the crossbow. "Get up."

He slowly stood, his body and face relaxing. He glanced at the bed. "You didn't have to kill her," she said, his voice smooth. "She was harmless...a little trifle." He smiled sharply. "Just like your darling Jenny..."

Cordelia's fingers tightened around the crossbow. "She killed more vampires than you had in this place. She killed more than I just did."

Hunter shrugged nonchalantly. "I can always make more." He looked up at her, his eyes sly. "Jenny was a delicious little thing, though. She would have made an amazing vampire...." He paused, his lips curving into a smile. "She would have looked so good in my bed..."

Cordelia paled, shaking her head. "You wouldn't..." she said softly. Her face hardened. "She was your daughter!"

Hunter walked up to her, his eyes blazing. "She wasn't my daughter. You made bloody well sure of that." He sneered at her. "You and that fucking bitch Willow." He walked away from her, pacing. "Yeah, I would have had her. Little Jenny Rosenberg-Chase, the first Slayer to be trained by her 'parents'. I wasn't one of her parents, she wasn't my daughter." He looked back at Cordelia. "She would have been mine, if it wasn't for your little Watcher whore."

At Cordelia's shocked stare, he continued. "I was close. She wanted it--She wanted to become one of us. But Willow kept on interrupting, kept on attacking me. It took me forever to kill that little bitch." He turned back to face her. "And when I finally ripped her heart out, my darling Jenny was already dead." He smiled ruefully, then shrugged. "Ah well...at least I got to kill Willow..." He looked directly into Cordelia's eyes, his face changing. "And I've been wanting to do that for years..."

Cordelia lunged at him, her face contorted with anger. He brushed her off easily, throwing her against the wall. She rushed at him again, pushing him against the other wall. He wrapped her arms around her, his hands clawing the wound on her waist. She screamed in pain, her body clenching.

She fell to the ground, gasping for breath. Hunter stepped back away from her and reached for a small knife. "You never learn, do you?" he said to her. He walked around her, holding the knife in his hand, pointing it at her. "You don't belong here. You weren't a part of this." He slid the flat of knife down her neck, running it across her chest before setting the edge against her waist. "You just...keep pushing..." He pressed the knife into her waist, cutting her shallowly. Cordelia bit her lip, trying not to scream. "And pushing..." He pressed the knife in deeper. She groaned loudly. "And pushing!" He thrust it in hard. Cordelia screamed, blinded by the pain.

Hunter pulled the knife out and ran his fingers over the blade, then licked them clean. "You know," he said quietly, his voice calm. "I actually think turning you into a vampire would be even more fun...." He traced her cheekbone with his finger. "All you have to do is ask..."

Cordelia lifted her head slowly, her eyes glittering. "Go...to...hell..." she whispered.

Hunter pulled back, his face crumpled in rage. "You bitch!" he screamed. His foot rose and landed directly on her chest. "You..." He kicked her again. "Damn..." He kicked her a third time. "BITCH!" His foot connected with her ribs, smashing them into her lungs. She gasped, unable to breathe, her face red.

He dropped to his knees and leaned in, his face close to hers. "You're going to die, Cordelia Chase. And I'm going to be the one that kills you..." He opened his mouth and dipped his head to her neck and prepared to bite down.

A sharp pain exploded in his chest. He looked down, his hand clutching the stake poking from his chest. His eyes flew up to Cordelia.

She smiled weakly. "Goodbye, Tim," she said, her voice a pained whisper. "I'll see you in hell."

He exploded into ash.


Cordelia sat there, her body wracked in pain, feeling the soft tickling sensation of ash falling over her.

She did it.

The dust settled--the dust of Willow's lover, Jenny's father, their murderer, Cordelia's enemy...

And her death.

She coughed, hacking more blood from her already filling lungs. She was past the point of pain, the point of recovery, the point of return. All that was left was this brief moment, Tim's ashes falling on her as she sat there, dying.

Then, suddenly, a soft warm light appeared. And a woman stood in the center of it. Cordelia's love, her wife, her Willow. She looked as she did when they were married, when Cordelia first fell in love with her, when they first met, when she first held Jenny, when she coached her through labor, when they fought, when they made love, when Cordelia held her close for the last time.

Willow smiled at the dying woman. "Cordelia," she said, her voice soft. "It's time to go..."

Cordelia raised her head and looked at her wife. "I...I killed him...for you..." she said, barely able to speak.

"I know," Willow said quietly. She held out her hand. "Take my hand, darling. It's time to go."

Cordelia reached out, her blood-covered hand reaching out for Willow's pale one. When Cordelia held it, it was as if she had left everything behind. And all Cordelia saw was her, her green eyes shining as she pulled her close.

"I love you, Cordelia," she said, her voice soothing and low. She moved close to the taller woman, her arms circling her as she leaned up for a kiss. And everything turned into light.


From the journal of Alexandra Rosenberg-Chase, January 28th, 2030:

They found my mother's body in the old warehouse where the vampires lived. Judging by the piles of dust surrounding her, they believe she took out most of the vampires. They know she succeeded in killing Hunter.

We had a small funeral. The Watchers set it up so that the media thought Mom, Mama, and Jenny died in an accident. They were buried the next day, in the Sunnydale cemetery where so many of their friends laid.

Uncle Xander--I guess I should call him Dad now--has started packing everything up so that I can move up north with him. He says we've spent too much of our lives watching our loved ones die, and that we have to be the ones to tell others about them. We're all each other has left.

Mama didn't want to leave me. But, sometimes, you have to lose yourself to save others. And although I miss her, I understood what she did and why she did it.

It's just me and Dad now. And together, we'll remember.