Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Groundhog Night
By Sajinn
For Dolores


Lorne glanced nervously at Cordelia. "She's fine. Fit as a fiddle, no impending apocalypses in her head," He told Angel. "Just dandy!"

Angel glared at the green demon. "Lorne..." He threatened. "What did you see?" The vampire knew with absolute certainty that the seer was lying.

"Nothing," Lorne grated out. "Just that she's fine. Perfect. Healthy. With no visions to worry about, ok?"

"Hello, subject of conversation is right over here!" Cordelia shouted. "And I don't appreciate being talked about like a piece of furniture." She stamped her foot and crossed the room to stand right in front of Angel. "And it's none of your business anyway!"

"The hell it isn't," Angel hissed. "You're my seer, and..." The vampire's voice trailed off as he inhaled, preparing to continue his rant. Lorne watched with a growing sense of horror, as Angel's face reflected confusion, concentration, and then finally realization. Actually, it was none of those expressions that worried Lorne. It was what came next that did.

Both Cordelia and Lorne stepped back as Angel's face twisted in a display of the blackest rage they'd ever seen. "You're pregnant."


"Are you sure it's a good idea for her to be here?" Fred asked Wesley, as she watched Cordelia saunter across the lobby. "He'll be able to smell it."

Wesley studied Cordelia, frowning. "No, I am not sure," He conceded. "However, we need her help." Although Lorne hadn't seen anything new when he'd read Cordelia, they were all still trying to deal with whatever had been brought to their world, whatever was bent on destroying it.

"I can hear you," Cordelia shouted. "And I don't care what the bastard thinks; it's none of his business!"

"Well, alright then," Gunn murmured, as he and Angel walked into the hotel. "No need to ask who that is." He handed the book he was carrying to Wesley.

"You found the contact?" Wesley asked Angel. "I'm impressed. He wouldn't talk to me."

Angel shrugged, staring at the back room where Cordelia was. "He seemed nice enough when we chatted."

As if on cue, Cordelia swept out of the office. "Oh, you. Where's Connor?" She asked snidely. "He's supposed to take me home soon."

Angel growled. "Off wherever he goes," The vampire grated, turning away from the young woman. "Is that the book?" He asked Wesley. "The one you needed?"

Wesley peered down at the thick black text he'd been handed. "I'm not sure," He admitted. "It may take some study to determine if it is authentic."

Cordelia rolled her eyes and stomped over to Wesley. "Right, study. Might I remind you that the last time you studied something, you sent a baby into a demonic hell?"

Wesley recoiled from Cordelia, even as the woman reached for the book. "Give that back!" Fred insisted, scowling at Cordelia. "He's the only one who can read it!"

Angel and Gunn circled Cordelia, trying to find a way to get the book. "Why are you doing this, Cordelia?" Gunn asked softly. "We're just trying to figure out what's going on with the apocalypse."

Cordelia laughed harshly. "Yeah, like making me sing for Lorne and thinking that Connor brought this thing with him when he was born? You guys think we're causing this, don't you?" She darted out of Gunn's reach, only to find Angel behind her. The vampire got a hand on the book and tried to pull it away. Cordelia kneed him in the groin, spinning away. As he fell, Angel caught her shirt and dragged her down with him. The book landed between them, falling open, pages shifting and crinkling.

"Gunn!" Angel hissed, as they landed in a heap on the floor. The vampire hunter started forward, but stopped when both Angel and Cordelia began to glow with a strange, green light. As Wesley, Gunn and Fred looked on in horror, the pair disappeared into the pages of the book, which closed with a resounding 'thump'.


"Oof!" Cordelia huffed, as she rolled over. "Get off me, Angel! I can't breathe," She moaned, gasping for air.

"I'm over here," Angel growled. "You can't breathe because you got the wind knocked out of you."

"Huh?" She muttered. "How'd that happen?" By this point, she'd managed to pick herself up off the ground and was shaking blades of dead, brown grass from her gown.

"When you fell off your horse," Angel said. It was then that Cordelia noticed that Angel's voice was coming from somewhere above her. She looked up, only to find Angel sitting astride an enormous horse.

"What's with the clothes?" She asked reflexively. "Tights? Something you're not telling me, Angel?" Her eyes widened when she saw that his hair was much longer than normal. Then again, her own head felt kind of heavy...

Angel simply raised one eyebrow and studied Cordelia. She glanced at herself, finally seeing that instead of her normal, form fitting garb, she was dressed in a full-length gown, draping loosely from just under her breasts.

"Er, Angel? Did we wander into 'Medieval Times'? Why am I in this outfit?" She asked tremulously.

Angel looked over at the horse Cordelia had inadvertently abandoned. "I have no idea, but I think you'd better mount up. We've got company." She looked over in time to see six men on horses the size of Angel's, running towards them full-tilt.

"Sir Liam, Lady Cordelia," The head rider began, in a low voice. "Forgive this interruption, but if we are to make the castle as per your schedule, we should continue posthaste."

Cordelia was just about to open her mouth when Angel spoke. "Then if you would but assist the lady, we shall depart." The man slid off his own mount to help Cordelia onto hers. She managed it with a minimum of difficulty, other than the hapless flailing that occurred when she realized that she had to perch on top of the horse on an odd sidesaddle. Angel guided his horse next to hers; grasping the reins of the smaller mare that Cordelia rode. At a nod, they followed the leader, surrounded by the other riders.

"What's going on, Angel?" Cordelia hissed. "Sir Liam? Lady Cordelia?"

"Shh," Angel whispered. "I have no idea. Maybe it's like Pylea. I certainly feel different." After all, the sun indicated that it was early in the day, but he was not dust. On the contrary, he looked and felt rather human.

"I don't like horses," Cordelia muttered. "And this dress is uncomfortable and heavy. And I hate you. And this is dumb and stupid and I want to go home. I miss Connor and Hollywood and--"

"Lady, be quiet!" Angel roared. "Gods toes, do you ever cease talking?" He knew he was taking a chance in addressing her in such a manner, but the muffled laughter of the men around him confirmed several things. First, he and Cordelia were on casual speaking terms. If he was right that this was medieval England, that meant they were either married or related. Second, even in this world, Cordelia was an annoying loudmouth.

Cordelia fumed silently. Her ass hurt, her legs ached, and the horse she was on stunk. Angel seemed to be enjoying himself, really getting into the whole riding thing. That just made her feel worse. If she'd wanted to ride horses, she'd have gotten her father to pay for lessons. Now they were speeding through some kind of disgustingly pretty countryside, gorgeous even, in what looked to be the dead of winter. In the distance stood a big, forbidding gray castle, probably the one they were supposed to be going to. She wondered if it had a moat around it. When her horse took a funny, loping stride to keep up, she was jostled a bit, making her scream. The guards looked at her oddly, but said nothing. She just glared, daring Angel to laugh. He managed to restrain himself.

They continued in silence until they reached the castle gates. Their guards drew up short and waited for Angel and Cordelia to be acknowledged. "Greetings," The bailey said to the still-mounted couple. "The Lord and Lady of Solmanor welcome you."

Angel dismounted, holding his hand out for Cordelia. She slid down gracelessly, immediately dropping Angel's hand. They followed the bailey inside, leaving their horses with the guards. It wasn't until they were in the courtyard that Cordelia noticed how fiercely Angel was scowling. "What's wrong?" She asked, prodding at his shoulder. "You look all mad."

"Nothing," He muttered. He was upset because he knew they should be offended. They were titled and should've been greeted by the Lord and Lady themselves, not the bailey. While it didn't matter that much to Angel himself, he had the odd feeling they were role-playing in this odd universe.

The bailey led them through a dark entranceway and into a large, open hall. All the while, Cordelia stared and gawked, taking in the sights of a bustling, living castle. "Angel, why is there hay on the floor?" She asked, whispering.

Angel glanced down. "Rushes, and they keep the floor from getting dirty." They stopped in front of a fireplace and were handed two mugs of what turned out to be the bitterest, foulest ale Angel had ever tasted. Cordelia took one sip and spat it into the fire, holding the mug away from her.

"What is that stuff?" She asked, grimacing.

"Ale, and it's better than the water," He murmured, taking another sip. He'd just about decided that they had in fact wandered into some strange amusement park, when a door on the opposite wall opened.

Cordelia watched as a pair of familiar faces appeared in the doorway. "Oz! And Joyce!" She exclaimed, running towards them. Angel winced, somehow knowing that that wasn't the right thing to do.

"Aurelius, I recommend you gain control of your sister," Oz murmured, stepping back from the overexcited Cordelia. "Last I heard, we were still enemies."

Cordelia jerked back, glancing at Angel. She mouthed to him, 'What the fuck?'. He motioned for her to return to the fireplace.

"She is simply tired from the journey," Angel stated.

"Ah, yes," Oz said, nodding. "So, Sir Liam, what makes you think this negotiation will go any better than the last?" As he spoke, Joyce stood silently, hands clasped in front of her.

Angel frowned. "They must," He replied, trying to buy himself some time. He had no idea what was going on... negotiations? And what roles did Oz and Joyce fulfill, other than Lord and Lady of Solmanor? Were they married? Siblings, as he and Cordelia seemed to be?

"Must they?" Oz asked dryly. "We shall see, although I must remind you that I will not concede the borderlands, not for anything."

Angel scowled harder, hoping that it made him look appropriately troubled. "That is unfortunate," He tried. Cordelia made to say something, but he shook his head. She settled for glaring some more and stamping her foot.

"Perhaps the Lady Cordelia would like to retire to the solar with Lady Joy?" Oz suggested. "Perhaps a rest would refresh her."

Angel nodded vigorously, over Cordelia's silent but noticeable objections. "Find out about Joyce," Angel hissed, as a servant came up to lead them away. Cordelia slapped at Angel's hands and walked off, still muttering under her breath.

"I can have a priest sent in to her," Oz offered once the women were gone. "I see that she has yet to learn grace."

"Never," Angel muttered to himself. Oz heard him and laughed, shaking his head knowingly.

"Now," Oz said, face becoming serious. "This blasted royal decree..."


"Joyce? What's going on?" Cordelia asked as soon as they were in the solar, which to Cordelia looked like a room full of chairs and sewing projects. "And what's with Oz?"

Joyce turned around slowly, before taking a seat and picking up a small patch of fabric she'd been sewing on. "I do not understand. Who is Oz?" She didn't even mention the fact that Cordelia had misspoken her name.

Cordelia huffed. "This... set up. You're dead; Willow told us that. And Oz... well, I haven't seen him since high school, but I heard that he went nutso and left Sunnydale when he found his ex with that other girl."

"Perhaps you should rest," Joyce said, echoing Oz. "You are overwrought from the journey; we would not want you to fall ill."

Cordelia paced the floor. "I’m fine. I'm more than fine, I'm great! Hells, I'm pregnant, not sick. And I'm not tired!"

Joyce's eyes widened comically. "You're with child? But you are not..." The lady's face fell. "And you rode! We must get you to bed! Call for Lord Daniel! The Lady Cordelia is with child." She jumped up and approached Cordelia. "And who has done this to you? Who has forced himself upon you?"

"Er forced?" Cordelia said curiously. "What are you talking about? No one forced anyone. Connor wouldn't do that! And I'm fine, dandy, and don't need to lie down!"

"Connor? You... a Scot? How... barbaric!" Joyce looked like she was about to faint. Her calls for Lord Daniel of Osbourne, who Cordelia realized was Oz, soon had the room filled with servants, all of whom were trying to get both women calmed down. Joyce was about to faint from outraged shock, and Cordelia looked like a woman possessed by the devil. She was shouting and clawing at anyone who got near her. The young woman wasn't about to let a stranger carry her off to bed.

"It would appear that once again your sister has made herself the centre of attention," Oz commented, as he and Angel walked into the solar, drawn by the commotion the two women had caused. "One would almost think you were incapable of controlling her."

Angel grimaced. Leave it to Cordelia to get into some big mess involving lots of noise and attention. He watched as servants struggled to get the two women under control. It wasn't until someone got Joyce into a chair, that he began to decipher what she was saying. When he realized what Cordelia had told Joyce, he covered his eyes with his hands. Oh shit, this was going to be so very, very bad.

"Lord Liam," Oz said slowly. "Is your sister with child by a barbarian Scot?"


"Happy now?" Angel asked Cordelia. She was ensconced in a bed well within the walls of Solmanor, resting comfortably. Oz had practically ordered her to--even going so far as to threaten her with imprisonment in the castle's dungeons should she disobey. As soon as she had capitulated, the young man had dispatched a messenger to the king. Angel had a sinking feeling that whatever negotiations and peace stuff he was supposed to be doing with Oz, was about to go out the window. He knew quite a lot about this time period, and he knew that an unmarried English Lady carrying the child of a Scot would go over very badly. He wondered how he was escaping relatively unscathed with his Irish name.

"How was I supposed to know?" Cordelia asked, gnashing her teeth. "I mean, I didn't know that Connor's name was going to get me in trouble."

Angel sighed. He needed to explain things to Cordelia. As he began to speak, a servant entered the room. "Yes?" He asked harshly.

"Lord Daniel wishes to speak to you."


Second Attempt

"Why am I on a horse again, Angel?"

Angel looked over at Cordelia. Even as she spoke, the young woman began to slide off the animal, landing in a pile of fabric on the ground, barely missing a pile of manure. "Er..."

"Don't even say it," She growled. "We're back where we started," She said as she stood up. "I mean, I was just about to get another lecture by that damned priest and poof! I'm here."

Angel didn't know what to say. He, himself had been ready to drink himself into oblivion when he'd found himself on his horse again, just as he had been the previous morning. "Cordelia? Next time you're sitting alone with someone from medieval England, don't mention unplanned, out-of-wedlock pregnancies with men who have names like Connor, ok?"

"How was I supposed to know? It's Joyce. She's a nice mom-type," Cordelia reasoned.

"No," Angel replied. "She looks like Joyce, but she's not. Neither is Oz."

"And why are we back on these horses? Where were you all night?" Cordelia inquired.

"I was getting drunk, right after finding out that because of your pregnancy, the king would probably have both of us branded traitors and executed," Angel replied. "Drinking heavily seemed like a good idea at the time." He glanced off to the side in time to see six horsemen riding towards them. "And look who's here."

Cordelia frowned. "That's way freaky, Angel. What's with the déjà vu?"

Angel shrugged. The riders were almost to them. "Sir Liam, Lady Cordelia," The head rider began, in a low voice. "Forgive this interruption, but if we are to make the castle as per your schedule, we should continue posthaste."

"Woah," Cordelia whispered. "That's exactly what they said before!"

"Quiet," Angel ordered. "Someone help her up," He said curtly. "We have to get to Solmanor." With that said, Angel took off, leading Cordelia's horse.

"We're having a talk, just as soon as I get off this damned horse!" Cordelia snapped at Angel.

"Greetings," The bailey said, to the still-mounted couple. "The Lord and Lady of Solmanor welcome you." Angel nodded curtly at the bailey and helped Cordelia down.

"I've seen this before," Cordelia whispered to Angel.

"Yes, yesterday," Angel hissed. "This time, try to not mention the whole pregnancy thing?"

"Yes, sir," She grated out.

"And try not to rush Oz. I don't think he appreciates it."


Angel glared at her, willing the young woman to just stay silent. The great hall was just as rush-covered as the first time they'd been there, the fire just as warm and inviting. And, of course, the ale was just as foul, but this time Angel didn't bother grimacing. Cordelia simply set hers aside, staring at the door where Oz and Joyce had appeared before, waiting. She wasn't disappointed.

Oz and Joyce entered the room, approaching Angel and Cordelia slowly. "Aurelius. Very bold of you to come here with no one to second you," Oz murmured. "Does the king still reward such confidence?"

"Of course," Angel murmured. He nodded deferentially towards Joyce, who returned the gesture demurely. "So, this decree..."

"Ah, yes," Oz said, nodding. "So, Sir Liam, what makes you think this negotiation will go any better than the last?"

"That is unfortunate," Angel said, remembering this part of their last conversation on the subject.

Oz waved him off. "This is foolishness on your part, Aurelius. The House of Osbourne will not take part in some foolhardy scheme of yours to curry favor with the king. Our borderlands are not going to fall prey to your ambitions."

Angel frowned. That didn't sound good, but at least he had a little more information to work with. For some reason, the king had set a royal decree requiring the houses of Aurelius and Osbourne to settle some difference. Angel would've liked to have known why the king felt the need to intervene between their houses, but it probably wasn't good. "It would be imprudent to risk the border," Angel conceded. Oz's expression turned calculating, making Angel even more wary. "However, I am sure that I can guard it sufficiently."

Oz's barking laughter reminded Angel of a wolf howling at the moon. "With what, Aurelius? Your petty contingent of mercenaries? Or will you put your sharp-tongued sister on a horse, to drive the barbarians away with her caustic voice?"

"Hey!" Cordelia shouted indignantly. "That's rude, mister! Nobody talks about me like that!"

Oz and Joyce stared at Cordelia. "Aurelius, I thought the king ordered you to discipline her. If you cannot perform the task, I am quite sure that I can."

Angel winced. "Cordelia, perhaps you should retire; the journey here has surely drained your resources." Cordelia glared at Angel, knowing that once again he was about to order her around. "Lord Daniel, is there somewhere that she might rest for a time? These negotiations are no place for someone of her delicate constitution; she may become overwrought."

"Joy, why do you and Lady Cordelia not retire to the solar?" Oz suggested. "I doubt that Lord Liam and I shall tarry long in these nonsensical talks."

Joyce nodded and led Cordelia away. The young woman wisely chose to hold her tongue, although she couldn't quite resist sending one last evil stare at Angel. He simply shrugged and turned his attention to Oz.


Cordelia stared at the embroidery in her hands. To her left was Joyce. The older woman was happily engrossed in her needlework, or so it seemed. Every few minutes she would take a quick glance at Cordelia, who was trying to look busy with her own project. It wasn't easy; she had no idea how to make a single stitch.

"Do you go to court this year?" Joyce inquired casually, just as Cordelia was about to scream for help.

"Court?" Cordelia asked curiously. "Er, no. Haven't gotten arrested lately."

Joyce frowned. "But I thought... ah, well," She murmured. "Will Lord Liam be attending?"

"Right, 'Liam' in court," Cordelia laughed. "That would go over so well. You can't get him in a court for all the money in the world." The very idea of Angel standing in front of a judge had Cordelia chuckling behind her hand. The only thing that sobered her up was the confusion on Joyce's face. Damn, she'd said something wrong again.


Angel paced the bedroom he'd been shown to, wondering where Cordelia was. He would wait to ask after her until evening, when he and she would probably be expected to dine with the Lord and Lady of the manor. The talk with Oz had been almost surreal in its oddity. He knew nothing about what was going on, so he tried to keep his answers as oblique as possible, forcing Oz to unwittingly explain things. It had worked, although it became quite clear to Angel that he was acting strangely enough to bother the younger man.

What he'd found out had been a bit disturbing. Somehow, he and Oz had developed an animosity between them, one that extended to his sister Cordelia and Oz's aunt Joyce. Since they were both allies of the king, he had ordered them to work out their differences. Somehow or another, that involved trading land around. Angel was sure he was missing some vital information, but he didn't know how to get it.

Oz was making him uncomfortable as well. Those eerie, pale eyes tracked his every move, and even though Angel was pretty sure this Oz was human, the young man seemed almost predatorial--far more so than his Sunnydale counterpart. Angel almost felt like he was on display, something that Oz was considering purchasing... or bedding.

Angel looked out the narrow window in his room and noted that it was now past dark. He was just about to find a servant to show him where Cordelia was when she burst into his room. "You!" She growled, slamming the door behind her. "Angel, I sat around pretending to cross-stitch for six hours!"

"Calm down, Cordelia," Angel murmured. "At least we're not being hauled around and shouted at this time."

She sighed and nodded, still angry. "I know, but... did you find out anything from Oz?"

"Some, I think," He replied. Angel watched Cordelia pace for another minute or so. "You're tired, Cordelia. And in your condition... perhaps you should get some sleep. We can talk about this in the morning."

Cordelia shook her head. "No, we talk now. What if we're back on those damned horses tomorrow..." Her voice faded as realization struck. "Groundhog Day."

Angel frowned. "February Second," He replied. "Not for several weeks."

"No, the movie," She muttered. "Bill Murray gets stuck in this po-dunk little town and has to relive this one day over and over, until he gets it just right. Freaky shit."

"What did he have to do?" Angel asked cautiously. This wasn't a movie, but the idea seemed to have gotten Cordelia's mind off her other gripes.

"Become a nice person, get the girl to fall in love with him, and not kill the groundhog," Cordelia replied.

"Ah," Angel said. Images of him wooing Joyce flitted through his mind, making him grimace. That was not going to happen. Of course, if he took into account the way Oz had studied him, maybe he wasn't supposed to win the girl at all... Angel shook his head to clear it. No, that wasn't what was going on here. "Interesting, Cordelia," He said.

"You think I'm full of shit, don't you?" She asked. "Just because it's some dumb movie and not one of your musty prophecies."

"No," Angel stated. "It's just too soon to tell. And who would make a book into a spell that did that kind of thing anyway?"

"Two words, Angel," Cordelia spat. "Wolfram & Hart."

"What purpose would it serve?" He inquired.

"How the hell should I know?" She screamed. "I mean, we can sit here for days twiddling our thumbs and wondering why someone sent us here, or we can try to figure out how to get back home!"

Angel sighed. This was going to be a very long night.


Fourty-Fifth Attempt

"Ah hah!" Cordelia shouted triumphantly, as she grabbed the reins of her horse and managed, for the first time, not to fall off. "I knew I could do it!"

Angel shook his head and refrained from mentioning the forty-four times she hadn't done it correctly. "Ready to go?"

Cordelia nodded and took off, by now a bit more confident about riding a horse. After their third morning appearance on their steeds, Angel had taken it upon himself to teach Cordelia how to ride. She wasn't too bad at it, and it gave them some extra freedom. The guards that accompanied them stayed farther back now that they didn't have to go searching for their masters. "Remember, Joyce is a widow!" Angel shouted, as Cordelia raced ahead of him. She pulled up to join him.

"Yeah, I remember. You know, I think you're right. She does like me, just a little. I mean, she keeps looking at me," Cordelia told Angel.

"Hmm..." Angel hummed, thinking about their situation. While they had made great strides in learning how to act and what to say in this strange world, they'd not had quite as much luck fleshing out what they were supposed to be doing. Oh, they knew that the royal decree was part of it, but the 'why' had yet to be discerned. Angel was about ready to take drastic action to find out what was going on... namely, torturing the information out of someone.


Cordelia bit back a curse, as she stabbed her finger yet again. Her embroidery looked like a piece of dirty hospital gauze, but at least she was learning. Joyce was still taking those sidelong glances, almost eating up Cordelia's presence. The young woman found that Joyce was more open and talkative when Cordelia acted almost aggressively towards her, forcing information out of the older lady.

"Do you ever get tired of this?" Cordelia asked, holding up her fabric. "Doing needlework all day?"

Joyce stared at her lap. "It is a peaceful respite from the management of the household," She replied. "And is a suitable task for ladies."

Cordelia snorted. "I'd rather be scrubbing floors than doing this," She remarked. "Er, never mind. I can't believe I said that." This place was driving her insane. Why else would she have just said that she wanted to clean?

"Why?" Joyce inquired. "You are always one to speak your mind. Always." The last words held more than a hint of regret, something that Cordelia picked up on.

"Not always a good thing," Cordelia admitted. "You tend to hurt people that way."

Joyce peered at Cordelia. "You have never cared about such things before, Lady Cordelia. Why would you now?"


Angel scowled at the fire as Oz stormed out of the great hall. He was pretty sure this day was another bust, just like the previous nine had been. Oz hadn't listened to him for very long before losing his temper in the very quiet way the young man had. Then he'd stormed off. Angel was getting damned tired of it. Every time he opened his mouth, he seemed to offend.

The longer he stared at the crackling fire, the more reasonable it sounded to just grab someone important-looking and torture them. He and Cordelia had established that everything they did got washed away each day. Doing a bit of creative knife work might wield useful information--like what was going on between him and Oz to keep them from completing their negotiations.

"Lord Liam?"

Angel turned to acknowledge one of Oz's servants. This was the intelligent-looking one, as opposed to the bailey, who reminded Angel of one of Lilah's dumber lackeys. "Yes?"

"Would you care to retire to your quarters?"

Angel smiled, baring his teeth. "Of course."


Fifty-Ninth Attempt

"You what?!" Cordelia screeched.

Angel sighed. "Apparently I... played with Oz while at court," He muttered.

"Played how?" She pressed, looking out for their accompanying riders.

Angel winced. "He was drawn to me, and I used that to my own advantage." There was far more to the story, but he wasn't willing to get into the messy details. He'd done more than play; he'd fairly well seduced the younger man, drawing him in like a spider in its web.

"That's horrible," Cordelia said, shuddering. "And now you're supposed to what, make it up to him?"

Angel nodded. "And you..."

The young woman's eyes narrowed. "I what?"

"Something went on between you and Joyce, ok?" He muttered. "I couldn't figure out exactly what, but I think you need to be careful."

Cordelia snorted. "I could've told you that, Angel. She has a thing for me." It made sense. All those glances, the indulgent looks. She kinda wondered if maybe she'd led the woman on, before she'd been herself... even thinking about it made her head hurt. Joyce was a nice lady and she didn't want to think about whether or not she'd hurt her or not.


Seventieth Attempt

"Okay, so apologizing is not the way to go," Cordelia said, as she reined her horse around to face Angel's. "I can't believe he stabbed you!"

Angel gingerly felt the spot on his stomach where Oz had sunk a sharp dagger. The experience hadn't been a good one; Angel felt it just like a human would have. Thankfully, the only thing he had now was a memory. "Apparently 'I'm sorry' isn't going to cut it," He replied. "How did the rest of the day go?"

Cordelia scowled. "Well, your whole dying gig pretty well ruined it. Joyce ran off and Oz locked me in my room. And I was getting a bit closer to her before you did that, too!"

Angel rolled his eyes. "I'll try not to die this time, ok?"

"Good," Cordelia stated. "'Cause this whole 'playing a lesbian' gig isn't easy. I'm supposed to be chasing her, Angel! She's old enough to be my mother!"

Angel shook his head. "Not here, she's not. A few years older, yes, but not that much." It was nothing less than the truth; their ages seem to have been adjusted to fit the story they were playing. Angel and Oz were of an age, probably around twenty-five. Cordelia wasn't more than eighteen, and Joyce was about thirty.

Cordelia shrugged. "Whatever. I'm gonna spend the day reading psalms to Joyce; she said she liked my voice."


One-Hundred Twelfth Attempt

"Why do English people insist on doing things in Latin?" Cordelia groaned. She'd offered to read to Joyce, only to find out that everything she was offered was written in Latin. It was then that she found out that in this world, she was one of the few women who'd been taught to read and supposedly loved to do it. Now she was struggling to learn Latin. It wasn't an easy process.

"Perhaps you should do your learning more quietly," Angel commented. Oz had made mention to Angel about how his sister was once again proving how much she liked falsehoods; it appeared to Oz that the Lady Cordelia's vaunted voice and reading were little more than empty boasts. The young woman's struggles were not helping Angel's efforts, either. He'd just a day ago found out that he and Oz shared a passion for hunting. Now Angel was having to relearn how to use a longbow.

"One more thing," Angel murmured as they started their ride towards the castle. "Please don't refer to the king as 'that jackass'."


One-Hundred Sixty-Seventh Attempt

As soon as she got her hands on her horse's reins, Cordelia took off, leaving Angel to chase after her. Soon their guards took up the pursuit, yelling for their mistress to slow down and wait for them.

"Cordelia!" Angel screamed, as he caught up to her. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I can't do this anymore, Angel!" She replied, urging her horse onward. She swerved off the path and directed the animal towards a rocky outcropping. Before Angel could stop her, she'd gotten the beast to balk and rear back. He watched in horror as she flew to the ground, striking the rocks with crushing force.

"Is the Lady..." One guard began, staring down at her.

"Go to Solmanor," Angel ordered quietly. "Have them send a cart." The guards nodded and split up, three of them riding on to the castle. The others left Angel alone, thinking that his silence was due to overwhelming grief.

Angel gritted his teeth. Cordelia was never going to hear the end of this tomorrow. Now Angel had to spend the entire day alone, suffering through whatever passed for sympathy and understanding in Oz's world. With Angel's luck, the young man would throw a party.


Angel turned to see Oz behind him. The slender man's face was grim. "Daniel."

"We shall take her to Solmanor," Oz murmured. Angel nodded and followed Oz down the path.


One-Hundred Seventy-First Attempt

"So, uh... could you kill yourself this time?" Cordelia asked Angel, as they appeared once again atop their horses. "I could use a bit of help with Joy."

"You're better served locking yourself in your room for a few dozen days, learning Latin and needlework," Angel retorted. "If I threw myself upon the rocks as you did, you would be expected to tear your hair out and spend the day with the priest."

Cordelia grimaced. "Thanks, I'll stick to those language lessons." Angel had spent an evening helping her with some basic Latin stuff, which had gone a long way towards improving her skill. She also got the castle's priest to read a few lines, to see how people here really sounded when they spoke Latin. "Things still going well with Daniel?"

Angel nodded. After Cordelia's rather deadly antics, he'd spent the day in Daniel's company. It was during one of his darker rages at her foolishness, that he realized that Daniel preferred him angry. The young man practically glowed when Angel was riled up. That gave Angel pause. Perhaps his self in this world was a bit more like the Liam he'd been as a human--boisterously womanizing, fun-loving and volatile. He'd been rather subdued for the first six months of their trials in this fairy-tale world. Perhaps it was time for a change.


Two-Hundred Eighty-Fourth Attempt

Angel swung down from his horse, grinning broadly. He let a servant take his bow and the buck he and Daniel had taken down on their hunting trek. As soon as they were alone again, he grabbed Daniel close, spinning him around to press them together against the wall of the stable.

"Forget the king, Daniel," Angel whispered, grinding himself against the man's smaller body. "We can resolve this between us, can't we?"

Daniel groaned, nodding. Angel bent his head, kissing him roughly, as they writhed against each other. The whickering and neighing of horses more than adequately covered the sounds of sex, as the two men fell to the ground.


Cordelia sighed tiredly and flipped through the bible in her lap. She was damned tired of reading psalms. They were boring, even if Joy seemed to like them. Right now the older lady was talking to some serving woman, leaving Cordelia alone in the solar.

"I'm almost desperate enough to read that," Cordelia muttered, as she opened the book to the story of Job. "But not quite."

Despite her statement, however, Cordelia did begin reading again, although she managed to avoid Job's boils. "Oh my... now this is interesting," She whispered, turning pages eagerly.


Three-Hundred Twenty-Second Attempt

"You're still reading her the Song of Soloman?" Angel murmured.

"It's working," Cordelia replied. "She's eating out of the palm of my hand. How's the 'seduce Daniel' scheme doing?"

Angel smirked. "Nearly got it," He said boastfully. Indeed, he'd improved his technique nearly to the point of perfection. All it took was a certain gesture, a particular look, and Daniel was putty. Angel loved the way the young man capitulated to his every desire while still fighting back and never really giving an inch. It was a fascinating dance, to navigate the man's pride and the king's decree while seducing his prey.

"Maybe tonight you won't have to sleep alone," Angel commented to Cordelia. "For once."

Cordelia's smile was positively evil.


Four-Hundred Fifth Attempt

Cordelia closed her book, glancing up when she heard a soft sigh. Joy's eyes were moist with tears and the older lady was on the edge of her seat. "Thank you," She whispered.

"Oh, it was nothing," Cordelia replied. "For you, I would do anything."

Joy smiled. "Really?"


Angel tracked Daniel's movements, as the young man lit candles and revived the dying fire. Soon, though, that angular body was back with him, tangled in heavy bedclothes. Night fell outside the castle walls, unnoticed by those inside.


The Morning After

Cordelia woke up slowly, savoring the warmth of another body next to hers. So much better than that damned horse... The fact that she wasn't on a horse brought Cordelia to full wakefulness. She sat up, noting several very important things. First, she was naked. Second, her very female bedmate was also naked. Third, and most importantly, she was where she had been the night before--Joy's bedroom. As in, not back in that damned meadow, sitting on a horse.

She'd finally gotten it right. The spell was broken; they didn't have to live the same day over and over again.

Then it hit her. Yeah, it was 'the morning after', but they weren't back in Los Angeles.


Angel waited anxiously for Cordelia. For the first time in more than a year, he'd woken up in a bed and not on that damned charger. They'd succeeded, so why weren't they back home? He relaxed a little as the young woman in question entered the room, quickly crossing over to greet him.

"What the hell is going on?" She hissed. "We're still here!"

Angel grimaced. "Yes, I know. I don't understand; I think we figured out the spell, or whatever it was."

"Then why aren't we home?" Cordelia inquired. She paused when she saw Joy and Daniel enter the room. They looked... well, to be honest they looked ecstatic. Cordelia felt a sharp pang of guilt. She and Angel had done that, made these two people happy. Although initially a chore, she'd grown to enjoy turning Joy's serious, sorrowful face into a litany of smiles, and she suspected that Angel had gotten more than a little attached to Daniel.

"Maybe there's more we have to do?" Angel suggested, staring at Daniel. It if involved the young man in front of him, Angel was more than willing to play along.

"Did you finish negotiating around the king's decree?" Cordelia inquired.

"Yeah," Angel murmured.

"Hmm..." She hummed.

Angel nodded deferentially towards Daniel. "Perhaps we were mistaken," He admitted to Cordelia.

"How's that?" She whispered, still watching Joy.

"Maybe we are home," He said.

Cordelia blinked. Home. Was that Los Angeles, where everything was shot to hell; or here, where the day meant spending time with Joy?

"Maybe we are," She replied hopefully.