Hex And Shopping
by The Mong Key

It was all Lorne's fault.

"In the middle of the nii-ii-iight, I go walkin' in my slee-ee-eep-"

"OK sugarpuff, you can stop there. No, please stop. For the love of Mike, would ya stop? I'm dyin' here."

Cordy gave him a look. So it was no We are the Champions, but she'd been practising this one, darn it.

"I'm sorry sweet cheeks, I'm having an off day. And boy, are you too. Ya know what? I think you need to skip town for a couple days. I know for a fact there's a psychic convention happening up in Frisco this weekend. We'll just tell the rest of the gang - OK, what's left of the gang - you're there doing research. But you have yourself a gay old time, ya hear? Pick me up a studmuffin while you're there. And say hi to the Stupendous Yappi if you see him, we go way back..."

So here she was, sat in the Rainbow Room of the San Francisco LGBT Center listening to some total fake droning on about his gift. Gift to insomniacs, maybe. Stifling a yawn, Cordelia looked around at the room. It wasn't the Moscone Center, but it was air-conditioned and nobody was trying to kill her. Yet. She'd registered for the convention partially out of guilt at deceiving the gang but also a little out of curiosity and, if she was honest with herself, the need to point and laugh. Except all she felt was anger that people were lapping up this crap and paying for the privilege.


Fifteen minutes later Phoebe Halliwell slipped through the door into the Rainbow Room, ignoring the disapproving glances of the stewards and heading for the nearest empty seat. She would have been on time, but there'd been a very messy vanquish this morning and she'd had literally nothing to wear, except for some of Prue's old clothes kept around for purely sentimental reasons and not because they actually fit her. Because they didn't. Plus, tassels? Ugh.

She sat down next to a gray-suited brunette who looked to be mid-to-late twenties. The woman flashed Phoebe a quick smile and mouthed that she hadn't missed much.

The first half of the morning went slowly. Lots of mystical BS about visions and auras, punctuated by the odd muttered aside from the woman in the gray suit.

"Auras? That's not virginity, that's epilepsy!"

At least that's what it sounded like she said.


Coffee break was a welcome relief. They picked up drinks from the back of the hall and went out into the lobby just to escape all the dingbats arguing over who was best at channelling JFK or Elvis, or whoever.

"Cordelia Chase. Pleased to meet you..." Cordy extended her hand as she read the other girl's name tag, "Phoebe."

"Likewise." Phoebe gave a toothy smile and took Cordelia's hand. And flinched, raising her free hand to her left temple and closing her eyes.

"Are you OK?" Cordelia said, concern entering her voice.

"Yeah, I'm fine... just a bit of... toothache. I just had some work done - Vicodin's wearing off, I guess." Phoebe changed the subject. "So how about that guy, huh? The Stupendous Yappi? His Yap sure is Stupendous."

"Oh God, yeah. I'm not sure I could take much more of that. What's next?" Cordelia cast her eye down the schedule. "It should be Derren Brown, but he's not appearing due to unforseen circumstances. OK, we have 'Ten Ways To Spot a Demon Lover' followed by 'Mystical Pregnancy: Immaculate Conception Or Conduit for Ultimate Evil?'"

Phoebe blanched. "OK. Ya know what? No. I thought I could write this article but someone else can do it. Agony I can do, but this is just torture." She stood up. "I'm getting out of here. And you-" she linked arms with Cordelia "-are coming with me."


They walked to where Cordelia's car was parked.

"OK, shopping!" Said Cordelia brightly. "No offence, sweetie, but we have to get you out of those clothes."

Phoebe knew she should be angry at this, but somehow the prospect of Cordelia helping her out of her clothes was not an unpleasant one, so Phoebe was smiling when she said "what's wrong with my clothes?" Apart from the tassels, and the fact they completely don't suit me, she thought.

Cordelia rolled her eyes.

"Hello? San Francisco! With this demographic a girl has to try that little bit harder. Make the best of what she's got. And you have a lot you're not making use of right now."

"Nice car..." said Phoebe as Cordelia unlocked the doors of her less-than-stylish vehicle.

"It's a rental. Mine's in the shop. The whole vision thing? Not good for the insurance premiums." Crap, she thought. Did I really say that?

"Wait. Did you say vision thing?" Phoebe said as she opened the passenger door.

"Uh... figure of speech. I have these really great ideas sometimes, they hit me like a bolt from the blue. Tends to distract me. And then follows the shunting, or the running off the road."

Phoebe paused, half in and half out of the car.

"What? I'm kidding. Get in the car." Way to go, she thought. Cordelia Chase, winner of the Sunnydale "Mouth on Legs" award three years running. Yeesh.


It was the fourth boutique before they found something that Phoebe liked and Cordelia approved of. It was an off-white leather bodice that laced up at the back, which had the bonus of needing Cordy to lace her up in it. She was only sorry that the matching trousers were already on when Phoebe called her in to help.

Cordelia had tried to coax a little personal detail out of Phoebe but she was a tough nut to crack. If she didn't know better, she would have suspected she was dealing with more than an agony columnist researching an article here. She seemed to have some demons, and not just the metaphorical ones.

Cordy placed her hands on Phoebe's shoulders. "You gotta relax, or this isn't going to work. And we should do something about these two giant... balls of tension, here." She began to work away at the knotted-up muscles, admiring the smooth curves of the woman in front of her as she did so. "I miss the days when all you wondered about the cute ones was if they were gay. Not, y'know, evil." She felt Phoebe tense up further, then relax. Bingo.

"You get the evil ones too, huh?"

"Oh, Don't I. There was this one guy... all sweetness, and coolness, and hotness, and the next morning I was out to here and knocking out my best friend so I could give birth to who-knows-what. It was right after that I swore off one night stands..." She paused. "Well, with men, anyway. OK, we're finished."

Phoebe looked at herself in the changing room mirror. The leather had subtle gold and pearlescent flecks which made it sparkle. She liked it a lot.


"So, are you gonna tell me what you saw in your vision when you shook my hand earlier today?" asked Cordelia innocently as they made their way to her hotel room.

"Yes... it was you. I thought you were in pain. I thought you were screaming. And... I thought I was the one hurting you."

Cordy opened the door and stepped inside, Phoebe pausing in the doorway. Cordelia turned and looked back at her.


"And... I wasn't hurting you."

Phoebe closed the door behind her.

Cordelia just smiled.