The Fine Line. Pro-3   Leave a comment

Title: The Fine Line
Author: OnlyAnne/AnneB
Posted Here: feb 19  2004
Rating: R/N-17
Email
Category: Angst
Content: C/A
Summary: This is in response to a challenge posted by Psychofilly back in Sept. 2003 on the ‘Hiatus Challenge’ thread [at Stranger Things]. It’s at the bottom of this page – just in case anyone doesn’t want to read the challenge first.
Spoilers: None- It’s set in BTVS Season 3
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution:
Notes:
Thanks/Dedication: Becky and Kel. Those lovely talented women have given me nothing but encouragement, help, and support on this story.
Feedback:


Prologue

Sunnydale Herald page 3

March 20, 1999

Sunnydale. The Sunnydale Police arrested a Stacey Reynolds
last night in the gruesome murder of her husband. John Reynolds
and his wife had just left the re-release of ‘Pulp Fiction’ at the
Emerald Theater in Downtown Sunnydale. Eyewitnesses told the
Investigators at the scene that Stacey Reynolds bludgeoned her
husband savagely to death in the town park minutes after the movie was over.

This incident has caused an outcry in the ‘MOTHERS’
OPPOSED TO OBSCENITY AND VIOLENCE (MOO). Susan Ware, the
chairwoman of MOO, blamed the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ for driving
the otherwise ‘loving wife’ to violence. She indicated that MOO
would increase its efforts on its ‘STOP THE VIOLENCE
IN ENTERTAINMENT’ campaign. She pledged that the
organization of dedicated moms would get all movies of such
heinous nature banned from the theaters of Sunnydale.

Stacey Reynolds is confined in the Sunnydale Hospital Psychiatric wing.

Sunnydale Herald page 1

March 27, 1999

Sunnydale. A nine-year old boy was found dead in the concrete
ditches surrounding Sunnydale Elementary. His name is being
withheld because of his age. The medical examiner’s reports
indicate that the boy was beaten and clawed repeatedly, his death
caused by a slash to his throat. In a horrific twist, the boy’s
mother is being held as a suspect in the Sunnydale Hospital
Psychiatric wing.

This murder has just been another in a string of strange and violent murders.

The Mayor’s office has issued a statement indicating that
Sunnydale’s Environment Watch’s claim that the U.S. Government
was drugging Sunnydale’s water supply and causing the bizarre violent
behavior in the community was beyond consideration. Though,
violent murders in Sunnydale were unprecedented, the reported incidents were unrelated, and the police department has shown their usual diligence and in swift time caught each perpetrator responsible, reconfirming that there was no outside source to blame. The Mayor assured the people of Sunnydale that the
Town was still the safest place in the state if not the country to live.

Buffy pushed away the stack of newspapers that Giles laid down on the library’s main table. “And?” She looked up at Giles. “Weird murders by non-demons are worthy of an ’emergency meeting’?”

Xander’s chair scratched the floor as he pushed forward to grab at the articles. “Sunnydale is the safest place in the country to live? I knew it.” He slapped the paper back on the table. “The mayor is on crack.”

“Um, the murderers have been caught. Pretty much in the act. Mrs. Reynolds killed her husband and that mother killed her poor little boy. What’s there to research?” Willow asked, clearing her throat.

Buffy glanced at Giles, pausing in her nod at Willow’s statement. Giles expected something from her she could feel it in his gaze. Her mind raced through the contents of the newspaper articles trying to find what she had obviously missed.

Giles fingered his glasses. “The reason. Each of the perpetrators, prior to their specific acts of violence, had never shown any inclination towards violence of any nature.” Giles took an impatient breath and then turned to Buffy. “I requested that Angel be here.”

“I am.” Angel leaned up from the corner he had had settled in.

“Oh.” Giles cleared his throat. “I didn’t see you come in.”

Buffy’s fingers curled into tight fists. She hated that Giles was still uncomfortable around Angel. She hated that it was because of her love for Angel that Giles had experienced so much pain. She forced her hands and body to relax. Giles had wanted Angel to be there.

Xander raised his hand.

“Yes, Xander.” Giles peered at the young man over the rims of his glasses.

“It’s the water, isn’t it? The Environmental group is right. The water is changing normal people into scary homicidal crazy people,” Xander gestured to the newspaper.

Giles sighed. “No, Xander.”

Buffy discounted Xander’s reasoning even before Giles spoke. She began to see the pattern. “Spell or demon?” Buffy asked.

“Demon.” Giles nodded.

Buffy smiled at Giles’ approval. Buffy didn’t like disappointing Giles and she didn’t want to fail him. She looked to Angel still standing in the corner. Her shoulders dropped in the knowledge that she had already failed Giles once.

“Buffy,” Giles asked.

“Sorry, I’m here.” She jumped off the table with a forced smile. “What do I kill?”

“A Phermitica Demon.” Giles placed a large opened book on the table before her. “And you don’t. Humans can’t kill it.”

Buffy studied the black and white sketch. “So it looks big and has six arms,” Buffy shrugged. “It’s still a demon and I kill demons, even the really big ones with six arms.”

“Six arms?” Xander pulled at the book. “Whoa, it’s a spiny horned demon Otto Octavius.”

Willow leaned over Xander’s shoulder to look at the picture. “Who?”

“Dr. Octopus. Don’t worry, Buffy, if Spidy can take him, you can.”

Buffy gave a soft smile. She could always count on Xander. She looked up at Giles’ disapproving cough. Unfortunately, Giles didn’t always appreciate Xander’s attempts to lighten up a serious situation.

“Xander, the Phermitica is not a comic book villain, but a very dangerous demon.”

Buffy’s eyebrows went up. “Too dangerous for me?”

“Yes.” Giles said firmly.

“We’ll see.” Buffy crossed her arms against her chest.

“No, we won’t. You won’t be any where near it.”

Buffy bristled. “If I can’t do it, whose supposed too.”

Angel shifted into the light. “Me.” He glanced at Giles. “That’s why I’m here, right?”

Giles nodded, but Buffy noticed he didn’t meet Angel’s eyes. “Right.” Giles stuck his hands in the pockets of his tweed jacket and went into lecture mode. “The Phermitica, upon release of fluids, will taint whomever it touches, should that person be living.”

“Taint?” Willow squeaked.

“Yes,” Giles nodded. “The individuals will fixate on the first being seen.”

“Fixate? Giles, those people turned into savages, violent savages and then went nuts.” Buffy’s worried glance shot towards Angel.

“They were alive and human, Buffy, Angel is neither.” Giles stated matter of factually.

Buffy inwardly winced, her eyes searching for any sign of distress in Angel’s stoic expression. Buffy’s gaze dropped to the floor as Angel’s dark eyes met hers. Nothing. She rolled her shoulders clamping down on the shivers that ran up her spine. The pain caused by Giles’s words was just hers.

Angel turned to Giles. “When?”

“Tonight. I would suggest you read up on the demon’s weakness.”

“So, it looks like the dead guy gets to be the one crapped on.” Xander chuckled.


Chapter 1

Cordelia studied the seemingly endless dark Sunnydale Street in a vain attempt to find the answer to the ultimate question – when had her life become such a sucky Lifetime movie.

Cordelia turned back to look at row of stores lining the street, her eyes feasting on the Starbucks on the corner. Her mouth watered picturing herself smack in the middle of the store surrounded by the smells of roasted coffee beans, vanilla and chocolate. She wetted her lips. Maybe cinnamon.

No. Sitting in Starbucks and actually enjoying a thick foamy coffee drink would just make late even later. Cordelia jumped as a BMW honked its horn at the slowpoke Honda in front of it. “Show off,” Cordelia grumbled. She had a car. A cute one. She peered into the unwelcoming darkness. She just didn’t have it with her.

She was poor and gas cost money. She wasn’t going to waste either by driving to a job she hated when she needed her car to drive to school. And showing up at Sunnydale High on a public bus or on foot was so not on her agenda. Of course, that had been her reasoning when she was supposed to only work until 7:00 p.m. Plenty of time to walk home under the safety of the slow setting sun.

She turned back to the storefronts, this time focusing on the glass door and panel windows of the store she just left. She had brains and she had pride. So, maybe she had too much pride. She peered through the window of The Dress Place. She could see the slim light shining under the back office door. She should just go back and ask Miss Twittle for a ride.

She jerked away from the street light as the back office door opened and the manager exited. Work was over and the woman still wore her standard cross bitter expression. There was no way she was going to ask the stiletto heeled Miss Simon Legree a favor just to have her say no or god forbid say yes and then see where Cordelia was forced to live. She wasn’t going to step foot back in that stupid dress store until she had to. It was bad enough that she had to spend her once normal Bronze night working two shifts because Jenny didn’t show.

Cordelia took a deep breath. She could do it. She had a stake and a spritzer of Holy Water and really, not everyone that walked the darkened streets of Sunnydale became vamp food.

“Righto,” she muttered. “You’re not only poor, Cor, you’re delusional.” She didn’t know whom she hated more – her father for cheating on his taxes and forcing her to work retail or Xander for cheating on her and making it impossible for her to call him to come pick her up.

Cordelia started down the sidewalk. “Get a grip.” She didn’t need her dad, Xander, or anyone else to save her. All she had to do was live through this night and she would be one day closer to her goals -getting her diploma and high-tailing it out of Sunnyhell. She would do it, too. She may be poor and delusional but she was still Cordelia Chase.

***

Cordelia stretched and rubbed at the base of her spine as she walked. She was eighteen and in great shape, her back shouldn’t be feeling like it belonged to an arthritic eighty year old. She blew out a burst of air. The distance to the shop from the hotel hadn’t seemed so far in the daylight.

Cordelia glanced across the street to her left studying the granite mausoleums and ornate headstones that peppered the interior of the largest cemetery in Sunnydale. The motel and her dingy bed were just on the other side. “Insanity, Cor.” She clenched her fists. “that’s not a shortcut but a quick trip to death.”

Cordelia sidestepped to her right, walking off the sidewalk into the grass creating even more distance between her and the cemetery. She quickened her pace, ignoring the 20 lb sharp weight that had attached itself to her lower back and dragged at her shoulders. Damn, she wished that tennis shoes and dresses didn’t look so stupid together.


Chapter 2

Buffy paced back in forth between two low headstones, her eyes fixed on the dim forms of Angel and the Phermitica fighting. She could barely see them. “I’m too far away,” she grumbled, shoving her hands in the pocket of her pink duster. She jumped on the top of the gravestone, standing on her tiptoes to get a better look.

She forced herself to stay on the headstone and not run to the fight. Giles hadn’t wanted her to come at all. She had agreed that Willow and Xander should stay away, but she wouldn’t budge on going. Giles relented on her promise that she would stay 100 yards away at least.

She was the slayer she should be the one fighting not Angel. It was her job. She chewed on her lip, her shoulders balled up as she watched. Giles said that vampires were as strong as the Phermitica. But she didn’t know, from the distance it looked like Angel was getting the worse of the fight. He had gone flying to the ground more than once and the Phermitica was still standing.

It wasn’t fair. Angel was fighting because of her. She hadn’t asked him but Giles had. Same thing she guessed. Buffy cupped her neck, stretching it back. It wasn’t fair that Giles hadn’t even been able to look at Angel. It wasn’t fair that Angel had to feel the guilt of what Angelus had done. It wasn’t fair that she had to. None of it was fair. Angelus being the most unfair of all.

“Damn.” Buffy gave a frustrated stomp on the stone. She peered into the darkness. Her eyes widened. The Phermitica was running. She jumped from the headstone following as fast as she could. Her promise to Giles did not include letting Angel and the Phermitica out of her sight.

***

Angel let out a loud grunt as his upper torso went flying into a headstone, decapitating the memorialized ancestor of some Sunnydale citizen. Angel rolled to his feet, barely managing to avoid the blow of the Phermitica’s third fist, grunting when the sixth slammed into his chest.

Angel leapt kicking up 7 feet to swipe at the demon’s head. He gave a satisfied growl as the demon’s horned shiny head jerked back.

Angel took the momentary reprieve to wipe his hands on his pants. His nostrils flared in distaste at the blue sheen that smeared off. Every inch of the demons flesh sweated, coating it’s body with a slippery gloss making it impossible to avoid contact with its fluids or to get a solid grip or punch on the surface.

Imagines flashed from a lifetime ago of an Irish boy struggling in vain to hog-tie a greased up sow. It had taken three men and burlap bags tied to their hands to subdue the pig.

Angel jerked out of his memory diving to duck the Phermitica’s hammer like fists. Some pig, more like a mountain with a motorized windmill attached.

Angel rocked on his back the momentum bringing him to his feet. He looked again at his hands. The slime may not contaminate him, but it made his fist fairly useless. The strongest blow just slipped off the demon.

Angel jumped again, using the greater length of his legs to get past the swinging arms, smashing his boots in the demon’s face. The Phermitica howled and blue moisture sprayed from its head.

His child hood memory flashed back along with the solution. Angel grunted. He ripped at his sweater wrapping the strips of material in a heavy bandage around his hands. He would have to tell Buffy to tell Giles to pencil gloves in his how to tomes.

Angel swallowed his wince, clinching the knot with his teeth as the Phermitica directed a blow and a five fisted follow through on his head and chest.

Angel growled, his demon coming forth. He was hurt and pissed. He embraced the surge of adrenaline, glad that Giles had ordered Buffy to keep her distance. The fight was going to get ugly and Angel would enjoy every moment of it.

He lunged, his head smashing into Phermitica’s chest, knocking it back. Angel leaned up punching, his material covered fist finding purchase against the demon’s skull. His other fist followed in a blur against the demon’s neck. Angel growled as more blue liquid spurted over him. Angel tightened his fist backhanding the demon with a vicious blow. Satisfaction filled Angel as the demon howled and chunks of blue flesh joined the moisture on Angel’s jacket and the ground.

The demon staggered back, it’s pain obvious. The Phermitica gulped his top hand going to his neck. “Vampire,” he groaned, into the gold of Angel’s eyes.

“Yeah.” Angel smiled malevolently at the demon’s belated realization.

The demon eyed Angel’s clothed fists, his yellow eyes, and his snarling grin and ran.

Angel grunted. “You’re running? What kind of demon are you?” He took off after the demon with a flying tackle. Angel hunched over the demon, yanking at the demon’s horn. “Damn.” His hand slipped off the horn as the Phermitica bucked at him.

Angel’s covered left palm crushed the demon’s head back to the ground as he worked to retie the material on his right with his fangs, a low growl vibrating in his chest. Giles’ uncomfortable avoidance, his own guilt aside, Angel really thought that the watcher needed to hear about the lack of the word gloves in the text on Phermitica and the trouble it was causing.

Angel grunted as the demon’s lowest arm gripped at his jacket pulling him off as it scrambled to his feet, running past the stone squat columns into the street.

Angel took off again. Angel was about to bring down the Phermitica when a flash of bright blue flickered into his peripheral vision. Damn. The Phermitica recognized source as a human as soon as he did. The demon changed its path heading straight for the young woman.

Angel lunged, shoving his shoulder into the girl pushing her away from the Phermitica.

Angel turned into the charge of the Phermitica. Obviously, pushing the human away from his grasp seemed to make the Phermitica more willing to fight a vampire. Angel shook his head at the blow that hit him on the side of his skull. He growled swinging back. Angel put all of his strength, speed, and violence in a flurry of punches, moving to quickly for the six hands. With a loud growl, he plunged his fist straight into the demon’s chest.

He grunted at the hard red glass stone in his palm and the thump the demon’s large body made as it hit the ground. The watcher’s book got that right at least. Angel’s yellow eyes dimmed into a deep brown as the Phermitica’s body liquefied and seeped into the grass.

He clutched at the stone and turned to the frantic heartbeat that still remained. “Cordelia?” Angel stared at the teenager collapsed on the ground. The dark hair was covering her face, but the thick hair and long legs sprawled out on the ground were unmistakable. Angel took a deep breath. The teenager would probably want him to walk her home, play hero, or use him in some way to irritate to Buffy. He winced at the ache to his side and head. He wasn’t in the mood to listen to Cordelia’s screams or bitching.

Angel frowned, looking at the young woman. She wasn’t doing either. Cordelia was pulling up her long legs, examining them with her eyes and fingers. She winced as her fingers found an abrasion on her thigh.

“Are you okay?” Angel flinched at the hazel eyes that had left her thigh to travel up to his question, focusing in a glare.

“Uh, no.” She shook her head at the vampire and looked back to her dress. “This is silk and grass stains cannot be hand washed out. They can’t.” She rubbed harder. “Do you have any idea how much dry cleaning cost?” She narrowed her eyes at the vampire. “Is that real?” She pointed to the fist-sized ruby in Angel’s hands.

Angel frowned. The statement was typical but the tone lacked the its usual bite. She must be hurt and in shock.

Angel jerked the stone up. “It’s…” He stared, as the stone dissolved and oozed through is fingers.

“Figures.” Cordelia grumbled, lifting up a delicate ankle to study her shoe. “Italian. Indestructible. Thank god.” She sighed.

“Um, are you sure you are okay?”

“I said no didn’t I, Geez.” She glared at the hand the vampire held out. Sighing again, she leaned up reaching out to grasp his.

Angel jerked his hand away seeing the blue sheen that coated his fingers and remembering what it could do to the girl.

“Cute.” Cordelia fell back. “Did they teach you that trick in vamp elementary school?”

She scrambled to her side.

“The demon…”

“Whatever.” She cut short his statement and crawled to her knees and then on to her feet, scrunching her nose at the vampire. “You stink. Just go away and leave me alone.”

“Cordelia?”

“I said go away. Why are you still here? You’ve done your little stinky job.” She waved to the pile of gooey mess on the grass. “Why stick around and pretend be the hero?” she glanced around. “I don’t see Buffy anywhere. Go find her, tell her you beat up the gross thing, she’ll be your DID, I’m sure.”

DID? Angel wasn’t even going to ask. He hardly ever understood a quarter of what came out of the teenager’s mouth anyway.

“You shouldn’t be out here alone.”

“Oh.” Cordelia cupped her hands around her waist. “You planning to walk me home or trip me over the crack that would break my mothers back, or were you planning to get me a chair and then yank it out, just to see me fall flat on my butt again. And I’m not getting near you.” She pointed to the bright splatters of goo on his hands and jacket. “You stink,” she repeated.

Angel clenched his jaw, the pounding in his head was getting worse. He wished he could just leave her.

“Cordelia…”

“Oh, just stop with the hero bit would you, I’m not your DID, I didn’t ask to be saved, didn’t even need it until you brought your demony fight to me. “

Angel scowled, bringing his hand up to his head rubbing at his eyes trying to clear the abrupt distortion affecting his vision. Cordelia’s face zoomed in and out of his focus. Flashing hazel eyes rushed towards his face only to drift back. He shook his head to relieve the ache increasing in his skull. Angel squinted as Cordelia’s scowl zoomed in close again. He shook his head.

“You look funny. Are you all right?” Cordelia’s eyes widened as the vampire fell face down on the street. “Angel?”


Chapter 3

Buffy skidded to stop on the street, her jaw dropping, at the sight of Cordelia kneeling over a prone Angel.

“What did you do to him?” Buffy inwardly winced at the idiocy of her question as soon as she heard the words. Buffy sighed. Cordelia obviously hadn’t missed it either.

She watched warily as Cordelia rose from the ground, taking jerking swipes at her dress. “Okay, you caught me. I beat him up.” She raised her fists and struck a fighter’s pose, “that’s me, Cordy the vamp beater. Didn’t know that about me did you? One punch and super strong dead guys are out like a light.”

“Get serious.” Buffy knelt by the vampire.

“Oh, like you were being?” Cordelia scoffed. “You seriously think I did that.” She pointed to the fallen vampire.

“Of course not,” Buffy huffed. “What happened?”

Cordelia threw up her hands. “I don’t know what happened. I was minding my own business and your ex decided to go all Fight Clubby with an colorful multi-hand big spiny thing.”

“What did the Phermitica do to Angel.” Buffy shot to her feet, tugging at the sides of her coat as she crossed her arms. “Well?”

Cordy clenched her fist. “Phermy-whata?

“Cordelia.” Buffy tightened her jaw.

“Hello, not up on demon speak. Geez, I don’t know,” Cordelia repeated. “There was a fight. Angel smacked his fist into the gross things chest, the octopi wanta be went splat dissolving into that.” She pointed to the swirl of goo on the ground. “then Angel went splat.” She jerked her finger to the prone vampire.

“Cordelia,” Buffy interrupted sharply.

“What? He went splat.” Cordelia tucked her hair back behind her ears. “Oh, calm down, he’s fine.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because he moved his hand,” Cordelia said, pointing.

Sure enough, Angel’s hand flattened on the pavement, pushing his body upwards, slowly getting to his feet.

Buffy was concerned at the dazed look on Angel’s face. “What happened,” he asked, his eyes centering on Cordelia.

Cordelia rolled her eyes at the vampire’s questioning stare. “Me? Why’s everybody asking me?” pointing at her chest. She waved her hand at the vampire. “Don’t go all amnesicy on me. You pushed me down.” She gestured to the smudges on her blue dress.

“Cordy,” Buffy snapped. She couldn’t believe it. Sensitivity and Cordelia were strangers.

“Buffy?” Angel jerked around to face her.

Buffy worried her lip. Angel seemed surprised to see her, stunned even. “All you all right? What happened?” Buffy stepped closer to Angel.

Buffy shot a look at Cordelia’s mumbled ‘typical’. “Would you be quiet?”

“First you want a blow by blow, then you tell me to shut up. Make up your mind.”

“You’re not saying anything helpful so yeah, shut up.” Buffy glared, then turned back to Angel. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.” He said quietly.

Buffy held out her hand to the vampire. “Angel? Maybe, we should go back and talk to Giles, you were unconscious. You seem still dazed. For a minute there I didn’t think you even recognized me.” Buffy manufactured a chuckle.

“I’m all right.” Angel stepped away from Buffy’s gesture. “I just need to get cleaned up. I’m fine.” He repeated again disappearing into the darkness.

Buffy watched as Angel vanished down the street. Her fist clenched, her feet ready to kick out and slam something. She couldn’t see behind that impregnable mask that he wore like a second skin. She had thought, hoped, that the small rare smiles he had graced her with once would continue.

But, Angel wouldn’t or couldn’t connect with her anymore and she was left flaying in the demise of their relationship. She wanted to be friends and grasp at something that they were allowed. But he kept hiding.

Buffy pushed her fists into her sides. Angel hadn’t hid, not completely. He fought her battle for her. God. She hated this. It was so unfair. She jerked at the sound of heels scrapping on the pavement. “Where are you going?’ She snapped at Cordelia.

“I thought home would be good. I’m sorry, did you need uninterrupted idolization to your Angel angst.”

“Shut up.”

“I was leaving.” She cocked a brow.

“You can’t. Are you okay?”

“Excuse me. Now you’re concerned. Are we going to be best friends? Oooh, I’m all warm and fuzzy.”

“Would you at least pretend to be serious.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Did any of that touch you.” She pointed to the goo on the ground, resisting to the urge to pull and drag the other girl down in a playground fight. Buffy had promised herself that she wouldn’t let Cordelia’s bitchy attitude bait her.

Buffy knew that Cordelia’s recent over the top bitchiness had to do with her remaining anger at Xander. And Buffy couldn’t appear to take Cordelia’s side, after all Xander and Willow were her best friends, but she wasn’t blind to the fact that Cordelia was still in pain over Xander’s cheating with Willow. Still understanding aside, Cordelia Chase could be a real pain in the ass.

“Did any of that.” Buffy pointed again to the gooey mess on the ground again, “get on you?”

“Eww, no, thank god.”

“Good.”

Cordelia narrowed her eyes. “Uh, Why?”

“Because,” Buffy pulled out a pouch from her coat pocket and sprinkled the contents over the puddle of goo. The stains hissed, steamed, and finally dissolved as the powder touched them. “It’s a no touch type of goo.”

“Eww. Aren’t they all?”

“Um, Yeah, but…” Buffy shook her head. “Where’s your car?” Buffy sighed, escorting Cordelia home was a bad ending to a very unpleasant night.

“Why?” Cordelia asked.

“Because, it’s dark, it’s Sunnydale, do you want me to walk you to it? What are you doing here anyway?” Buffy stared, puzzled. Cordelia was many things, clueless even, but walking alone in Sunnydale stupid she wasn’t. The girl had the self-preservation instinct of a shark and the teeth when she needed. Her car must be just down the block.

“I’ll pass. I’ll be safer far away from your slaying magnet of trouble,” Cordelia huffed.

“Whatever.” Buffy rolled her eyes. It would’ve been too much to hope that Cordelia would’ve offered her a ride home.

“Yeah.” Cordelia took off pushing past Buffy.

Buffy shrugged her shoulders. She wouldn’t waste her time. Her head jerked sensing something in the bushes several feet away, not that far behind from Cordelia’s retreating form.

Buffy smiled. Maybe the night would get better. She ran yanking out the body in the bushes. “Am I about to interrupt something?” She grinned at the strange vampire.

“I…”

Buffy laughed at the demon’s involuntarily jerk towards Cordy.

“I. I. I don’t think so.” She plunged her stake. “I’m not her biggest fan either, but that doesn’t mean I want her dead,” she told the dust pile at her feet.

Buffy twirled the stake in her hand shoving it in her jacket pocket. She shook her head. It wasn’t worth it, yelling after Cordelia wouldn’t get her a ride home. Cordelia would probably just bitch that the vampire was some how Buffy’s fault. She sighed, and took off running back through the cemetery.

***

Angel rubbed his head, slumping on the worn velvet couch in the living room of the abandoned mansion he had taken over when he had lost his soul. His head was pounding. Angel sunk into the cushion trying to insulate the throbbing. The trip back had been a blur.

He knew he had passed out. The Phermitica had managed to get some vicious blows in before the tide of the battle changed. His body and head still ached at the evidence.

That he understood what he didn’t understand was when he first came to his senses he had been bombarded with a rush flavors and sounds, none of which were coming from the surrounding street but from Cordelia Chase. All of it hit him. The overwhelming flavors unidentifiable but the orchestra of her voice, on the other hand, he had no trouble identifying, sarcasm, disdain and frustration were clear to anyone that was listening.

But what had even more strange was that he never sensed Buffy’s presence. She could’ve been there an hour or a minute he didn’t know. He hadn’t sensed her familiar presence, only Cordelia’s.

Angel pressed his hands on the couch, lifting his body, heading for the bathroom. He had to get the stench off of him. Angel threw off his earlier confusion. The Phermitica’s had just gotten in a luckily shot.

He winced as the ringing of his phone pierced into his skull. “No.” he growled. Angel knew it was Buffy. He would talk to after he was clean. Then he would be able to deal with Buffy’s worry.

Chapter 4

Posted July 25, 2015 by califi in TBC

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