Archive for August 2017

Faint Heart 17   2 comments

(nb: ookay. I wasn’t going to write today, but the bug hit- on this WiP. Now, I’m not saying this chapter is any good; more like a bit of history that needs to be written. Apologies for the dryness. (No doubt I’ll be popping in to edit on and off to fine tune. oops! 😀 ))

Part 17

When Angel had settled down in his chair for the day, he’d more or less expected his time to be taken up by the same things that occupied him the day before- and every day since Cordelia had left for Italy.

Brood in the dark, stare at the framed photo on his desk, pick up the phone every fifteen minutes; either to start dialing the number Buffy had left, or the Airport… eventually grabbing one of the many bottles of Irish whisky stored in the drinks cabinet along the far wall.

But today, fate obviously had other plans.

Within an hour of sitting down, Both Wes and Gunn arrived- the latter surprisingly lacking the spiffy suit he more or less lived in since they’d abandoned the Hyperion and became Satan’s Toadies, as Cordy so succinctly put it.

Wes seemed more… animated, for want of better description.  A far cry from the almost uniform expression of distraction Angel had become used to.

It turned out that Wesley Wyndham Pryce had been rudely introduced to the past – and his part in it with no holds barred, several days earlier.

It didn’t ease the sick feeling in Angel’s gut when he added that, so far, Fred and Lorne were still none the wiser.

Gunn, who’d walked over to lean against the edge of his desk; arms folded, coolly informed him that his own memories had never been affected.

Apparently he was having a ‘pow wow’ with the Powers at the time. “About getting all Lawyered up. A real tasty carrot after the shitstorm we’d gone through.” he explained, dark eyes briefly reflecting the stark place he’d occupied since moving to Wolfram & Hart.

“At the time I was pretty much done.”

“We will, of course be discussing this… decision of yours, in more depth. But after an interesting conversation I had with a very unexpected source, that discussion will have to wait.” Wes added, his tone warning that the respite was only temporary.

“For now we have more pressing issues. Unfortunately, for all of us, this means a trip down memory lane.” Seeing Angel’s mouth open, his face darkening with warning, Wes raised a silencing hand.

“Unpleasant as it is, Angel, this is necessary with regards to perspective. Things have come to light and there is no doubt this understanding of the wider picture will enable us to decide what happens next. Connor’s conception was … machinated by the Powers. Although they had their suspicions that Jasmine’s return to power would be connected to you, they were at the time uncertain as to how.”  Wes leaned against the far wall, outwardly relaxed; his expression grave.

Apparently they  took advantage of your slip to the, uh, beige to pull it off.  Things didn’t work out as they’d envisioned. Vampires aren’t physically able to create or sustain life. A female vampire was more of a problem, although not beyond their capabilities. Not their first choice, but it was the only avenue left to them.”

Angel’s head lifted at that. “First choice?”

Wes sighed heavily. “That night, they sent Cordelia a ‘message’ that you had in your possession a ring and that it was her job to take it from you. Darla turned up instead, and any delays would have lost them their only chance of stopping Jasmine”, he explained.

“They were left with no choice but to use her instead. It entailed more involvement on their part, but it was worth the risk. It wasn’t until much later that they realized the vision sent had been blocked by an outside force.

Wesley paused when realizing he’d lost the vampire’s attention. After several seconds, he cleared his throat loudly.

“It wouldn’t have worked,” Angel finally spoke, his voice a thread of sound. Wes raised an enquiring brow but didn’t have to wait long for clarity.  “I know without a doubt I’d have lost my soul if it had been Cordy instead of Darla…”

“You would have killed her.” Wes stated rather than asked.

Angel immediately shook his head. “I would have turned her.”

Silence reigned for several seconds before Wes responded. “Not exactly what the Powers would have preferred, but Connor still would have come into being.” Harsh, he knew, but it had to be said.

He paused, his head dipping for a moment before adding. “Although the outcome would have, unfortunately been the same. Not only can vampires not conceive or sustain new life labor would also have been impossible.” Wes elucidated gravely. “Cordelia wouldn’t have- surv-“

“I can connect the dots, Wes.” Angel interrupted hoarsely. “But it didn’t turn out that way, so let’s drop it.” He’d found himself unable to shake off the infinitesimal regret that it hadn’t been Cordy that night- until Wes had gone on to remind him that she too would have had to sacrifice herself for Connor’s sake.

“How did you find all this out?” Wes started at the vampire’s sudden- and emotive question, so absorbed had he been in not missing out any detail.

“Um, as said, from a surprisingly reliable source-“

“Who, Wesley?” Angel demanded, watching with narrowed eyes as the man swallowed heavily.

“Lilah- but she backed it up with physical evidence!” off the hard, suspicious stare Angel pinned him with.

“You still can’t trust that she’s telling you the truth!”

“Unlike you, who trusted her with your deal over Connor- Cordelia? Us?”

Thick silence settled heavily between them; two pairs of accusing eyes clashed. Both refusing to look away.

Then a loud whistle pierced the air causing both man and vampire to turn their now-startled eyes towards the young man who dropped his hand, looking totally pissed off.

“We gonna be here til eternity if you two don’t just bury your issues! We’ve got bigger things to deal with here”, he stated with mild disgust. “English?” nodding his head with raised brows.

Covering the faint smile that surprisingly touched his lips, Wes  cleared his throat. The familiar word Gunn used for the first time in … he couldn’t remember exactly; gave him a slight feeling of optimism.

Glancing briefly towards the rather subdued vampire, who now leaned back in his chair with his arms folded across his chest. Knowing it wasn’t forgotten. He would enlighten him regarding Lilah. But for now, it was mentally added to the growing ‘discussion’ pile.

“Um, oh yes: Connor, as we were aware, was prophesized to be the Destroyer. Thanks to Gunn – and Lilah for putting me in the picture,” Wes added pointedly, reminding Angel of the fact that he still had a lot of explaining to do himself later. “We are now aware that his role was in fact to kill Jasmine; which indeed occurred.”

“I still don’t get why we’re doing this?” at Wes off-look, Angel clarified. “Rehashing the past. It isn’t like doing so is going to change anything.” he added bitterly.

Wes begged to differ. “Actually, I am heading towards a few major points here, if you’ll bear with me?”

Gunn straightened up, rolling his eyes in exasperation. “Maybe I shoulda filled you in. I forgot how much that man can jaw.”  He raised his hands then settled back against the desk at Wes’ glare. “But booksmarts here will do it better”, he admitted.

“Holts’ appearance was entirely unexpected to all…” for a moment, Wes faltered, memories only recently retrieved coming back to hit him between the eyes. He glanced apologetically Angel’s way, half relieved to find the vampire’s gaze fixed on a glass of whisky he swirled in his deliberately relaxed hand.

“…even the Powers. Still uncertain as to when Jasmine would attempt to breach our world; possibly losing one of their main players permanently didn’t bode well.

Concentrating all their efforts on rectifying that- which apparently is how Connor found a way back, by the way,” he divulged, ” they were unaware until too late that they hadn’t been the only ones to target Cordelia as a means to an end.”

Wes paused to accept the drink that Gunn had poured and brought over to him. “Thank you.” he took a deep gulp before continuing, not knowing if he felt relieved or worried by the full attention Angel now gave him.

“Jasmine’s plans involved gradually taking over Cordelia’s physical form until her soul was literally forced out.” Except for the telling flicker of his eyes, Angel’s expression remained stoic.

“In the meantime, Connor returned, but was in such a dreadful psychological state that he was in no condition to take his place next to you when the threat of Jasmine was at its strongest.” Angel drew a sharp breath at that revelation.

How very different things could have been… he forcefully dragged his attention back to the ex-Watcher who’d begun speaking again,

“This setback unfortunately worked in Jasmine’s favor.” he paused the action of rising his glass on seeing impatience brewing on Angels face and instead rushed to continue.

“She’d almost succeeded in taking over Cordelia completely, when finally; the Powers managed to intervene and remove her from the equation…. but due to their own inter-power struggles, the only option open to them was wiping her memory and sending her back.  The idea being that without her memories, Jasmine would be unable to use the, um, disguise to weaken our group dynamics fully.” Taking a deep breath, Wes attempted to wind up it all up, but was interrupted by Gunn.

“Short version. We fixed the so-called memory glitch, gave Jasmine a get-out-of-jail, and were all too stuck in our own crap to notice our girl wasn’t right. Jasmine took over and kicked out her soul, which high-tailed it back upstairs.” Glancing round to find a chair, Gunn sprawled in it and continued- ignoring Wes’ put-out expression.

“With Connor being crazy, Bitch decided she wanted rid of barbie’s body and then came the baby from Hell.” glancing over towards the still pouting man, he indicated he could finish off.

“Wind it up, okay? I can feel my hair growing back already, “he grunted, before reaching for the bottle of whisky for a refill.

“I’ll try my best”, slight sarcasm in his response. “Her reasons for, uh, using Connor were twofold: to cause more conflict in the hope you would become too…self-involved” Angel looked up at that with a scowl, “to be much of a threat. And of course, she was counting on Connor’s DNA connection to protect her if he came to his senses and returned to his original path. : fortunately for all of mankind, it didn’t work.”

“What about the others?” At Wes’ frown, Angel explained. “Will they remember too? Connor-?”

“If you are asking about the deal you made, well, that is already fragmenting-” at the look of instant alarm on Angel’s face, he hastened to reassure. “The moment you dealt that blow to Connor, you removed him completely from the equation.”  What little color the vampire possessed drained out at Wes’ words.

“In other words, the Connor you knew- your ‘son’, died that day; his very reason for being, resolved the moment he killed Jasmine. The boy you’ve seen since is no longer connected to you on any level, his ‘new’ life is not a fabrication, Angel, it’s a reality. And it cannot be reverted to what once was, no matter the deal made.”

“I killed my son.” eyes deep pools of grief stared across the room at Wes, who swallowed hard before replying.

“No. Wolfram and Hart simply placed a new template over the old – a weapon to hold over your head and threatened if needed. The Powers stepped in and nullified the old template.”

When a long silence again blanketed the office, Wes sighed and wracked his brain for a clearer way to explain what he meant. When he opened his mouth to try again, Angel looked up.

“I get it. Go on.”

“Well, that’s all of it, on the history side.” Wes said awkwardly.

Gunn cleared his throat and straightened up. “I have to go round up Fred and Lorne. You can fill me –us, in on what our next move is when we get outta here.  Where we meeting up?” Both men looked at him in surprise.

“We thought you were coming back here?” Wes finally spoke.

“Nu uh. After the others are clued in -and believe me when I say, that shit piles in quick with only a few words from me. That’s us done at this place,” he shrugged, feeling the relief and enjoying the gradual lessening of detachment that had gripped him for so many months.

“So… basically, we are now in a bed of vipers?” Wes asked

“It’s always been a bed of vipers, Wes, we just ignored what was staring us in the face.” Angel was rifling through the drawers of his desk, before rising lithely to his feet, the Plymouth’s car keys in his grasp.

“Damn, the visions.” Gunn stopped in his tracks, facepalming; eyes tightly closed.

“Visions? You’re having a vi-vision, Charles?” Gunn looked up, dropping his hand at the startled squeak from Wes.

“Stick. Wrong end, dawg… With Angel getting his ass out of here,”he began -then noted the unearthly stillness of the vampire.

The shit just never quit.

“Barbie’s gonna freak”…

TBC

 Califi

Posted August 13, 2017 by califi in TBC

Right of Possession 3   3 comments

Chapter 3

Something was…off.

Cordelia couldn’t put her finger on it yet but there was a sensation, not of wrongness, but more that something wasn’t exactly right.  It wasn’t a feeling of danger, more a vague awareness that things weren’t quite as familiar as they should be.

At first she thought it might be the small but lingering aching of her head that was mildly reminiscent of the way she felt when she was 13. She’d pilfered the last of the brandy from the crystal decanter in her father’s study, while her parents were off in Europe for a few weeks.  Of course that headache had been accompanied by the continual need to vomit for the next 3 hours.  Noting the general lack of barfiness she abandoned the idea of a bender.

Although if anyone deserved to drink it was the people who were forced to live in this god-forsaken town.

Coming fast to the conclusion that she was going to have to open her eyes if she wanted any real idea of what was happening, Cordelia sighed and bit the bullet.  The one thing she knew for sure was that if Giles and a stupid demon hunting plan had landed her in the hospital this town was gonna be short one librarian…not that anyone would necessarily notice.

Opening her eyes in a half-hearted attempt at consciousness, she was surprised to find gray stone walls, awash in the dancing shadows of what could only be candlelight- when she had been so sure that the sterile white of a hospital room would greet her.

Okkkkkkay.

Well, Cordelia could now say with certainty why she had such a persistent sense of unfamiliarity; because she didn’t know where the hell she was.

But as she tried to sit up memories roared through her mind like a crashing wave and she remembered where she’d been.

Damn Giles.

With the haziness of any decent traumatic memory she recalled being assigned the job of bait tonight.  That was pretty much the standard every time they needed to attract a demon.  She preferred not to think of herself as a demon magnet, but more that she was obviously so attractive that it effected more than just the human race.

That was much better for her self esteem.  And she’d needed the boost since her break up with Xander.  Facing that he’d cheated on her when she’d cared for him so much, she could hardly wrap her mind around it.  Although the rebar certainly helped clear up any indecision she may have had about giving him a second chance.

They had all been at the cemetery.  She knew that for sure.  She’d lured the demon out into the open and the chase had been on.  The others taking off without her in pursuit of the demon.  Geez, they wanted her to be bait but never took into account that that limited her to some extent with the whole fleeing thing.  And they thought she was self-involved.

She remembered hearing the snap of her heel breaking and cringed at the true tragedy of the evening.  Her black leather, knee high, Italian boots deserved so much better then to be sacrificed to protect a bunch of people who thought that all the town’s troubles could be chalked up to the evils of PCP gangs.

Heaving a heavy sigh at both the loss of her shoes and the utter stupidity of the populace at large Cordelia’s hand rose to run through her hair in an automatic, soothing gesture.  Before it made contact with her mahogany locks she jerked it back.  Getting a clear picture in her mind of being tackled by the whosiwhatsit demon she remembered grabbing hold of for balance.  No matter what kind of head trauma you sustain you never forget slime like that.  Ewww; she didn’t want that in her hair!

And yet, as she checked her hand it looked suspiciously mucus free.  Looking down at the rest of her she realized that all of her was clean…and naked.

Crap.

Sitting up she quickly began scanning the room for her clothing.  While a small part of her brain tried to point out that wherever she was someone had obviously gone out of their way to save her from the demon, bring her back to a safer location, tend to her minor wounds, and leave her relatively gunk free, so it might not be that bad; the much larger and more prone to live through the night part of her brain screamed – “You’re naked in a creepy Hellmouth house – RUN!!!”

Unable to make out much in the darkness that blanketed most of the room she moved to leave the bed and begin a closer search for anything that she could wear to speed up getting out while the getting was still good; which was generally a temporary state of affairs in Sunnydale.

Unfortunately her attempts to rise were halted almost before they’d begun.  Glancing down at what was impeding her progress she saw that a long piece of crimson silk was bound to both her ankle and the iron bed rail.

Double crap!

It was bad enough waking up naked in a strange place in Sunnydale, but waking up naked and tied to someone’s bed was never of the good.  Her hands shot down to frantically tug at the elaborately knotted fabric, but her previous movements and her desperate pulling were  having the opposite effect and actually drawing the knots tighter.

In a minute she was going to have to upgrade to serious profanity.  Could things possibly get any worse?

And of course they did.

“Going somewhere?”

TBC

Califi

Posted August 12, 2017 by califi in TBC

Right of Possession 2   1 comment

Chapter 2

Sagging against the trunk while thanking their pathetic asses for leaving her behind, Cordelia sighed tremulously, and then reached down to remove her last boot. After spewing out several choice curses, she concentrated on the job at hand, debating whether or not to take the boots with her. That took all of two seconds. Tucking them snuggly under one arm, free hand gripping the stake that had, up till now, been stowed snugly in her waistband, she began to gingerly making her way across the moonlit clearing.

“Eww. Gross.” the complaint hissed out between clenched teeth as the sensation of cold and slimy blades of grass slid between her bare toes. It wasn’t the most pleasant of feelings, and to take her mind off it, Cordelia instead thought of the various ways she could make the others suffer for abandoning her in the middle of nowhere, and wishing she could recall the place they entered the clearing.

Knowing her car was most probably only yards away wasn’t helping her mood at all, but the anger helped mask the fear of the possibility that all kinds of evil creepy, flesh-eating demons could be watching her from the surrounding darkness and just waiting for her to enter the cover of the trees before attacking.

As if on cue something on the periphery of her vision caught her attention, and she turned, her mouth dropping open in shock as a dark, familiar figure came hurtling towards her.

Angel?!” the name had barely left her lips when something heavy crashed into her back. A blur of brown and green came rushing up towards her face, and then… nothing as blessed oblivion swamped her mind.

*~*~*

Dark eyes raked Buffy’s pretty face with almost clinical precision. Although still vibrating with the boundless energy that came with being an enhanced human, it was clear to see that time and experiences had wrought changes, even though less than half a year had passed since he’d been banished. Features were finer and more honed and her petite yet compact frame thinner than he recalled.

After nearly two centuries in Acathla’s time-warped hell dimension, he wasn’t surprised by his unresponsiveness to the familiar face that once had him aching with a variety of emotions. Although Angel had been back nearly a month, he’d made no effort, or indeed felt the compulsion to seek out the girl he’d once loved. His release from hell had a price, and once he’d paid it, he intended to leave Sunnydale for good.

Time had inevitably changed him too. Physically, his formerly large but lean frame was now powerful with heavy, defined muscle. He’d survived the cruel, harsh environment that might have broken him. It had strengthened him physically as well as mentally, heightening his predator side until he’d literally become a fighting machine that relied heavily on supernatural senses and instincts.

Psychologically, the changes in him were far subtler, and not all what most would consider for the good. The constant struggle for survival had honed his senses, his mindset that much closer to the predator he had once attempted to keep under his skin.  Emotions had no place in the world he’d been part of for so long, and as his scrutiny of Buffy Summers continued, it absently hit him that whatever had once flared between them had definitely died along the way.

Angel continued to watch them. Memories of what once had once been nothing to do with why he lingered; determination not to lose his prey to another the only reason. After so long where survival necessitated kill or be killed, he’d long become used to hunting for his nourishment.

On first returning, he’d attempted to go back to cold/processed animal blood, but it had turned his stomach, too much to consume. The thrill of the hunt was also something he was loath to deny himself.

When he’d first ventured out into the more populated areas of Sunnydale, ever vigilant of the Hellmouth’s protector even as hunger drew him from the shadows of the mansion, Angel had come across several attacks on humans. Initially, Angel had not only killed the demons but also turned on the grateful victims blindly seeking to quench the hunger that would always be a part of him.

It was those few times which had brought home to him that, although his behavior and morality may have blurred from so long in an environment that would have destroyed him if not for the demon beneath his skin, his soul still had enough of an influence that he’d left them alive; albeit dizzy from blood loss.

The high of killing and the unexpected contact of the odd victim who threw themselves into his arms in gratitude, superficial wounds tainting the air with the alluring scent of their blood… Angel would have been lying if he’d denied still taking the occasional snack.

Even though Sunnydale’s residents seemed to harbor the unique ability to rationalize the attacks and move on without reporting them Angel was ever wary of the slayer getting wind of it- especially of victims who’d survived a confrontation with a vampire.

So he’d made demons his prey though Angel’s tastes had become refined. These specific demons were too much of a prize for a vampire -especially one cursed with a soul, their blood a rare delicacy. Being so close in taste and nutritional value to human, they had the added bonus that due to their hulking size double the quantity flowed through their veins. Draining just one would keep him sated for a good while.

Angel assessed the demon taking mental notes of the way it moved, the speed in which it recovered from the slayer’s powerful kicks & punches, and its inability to do more than defend itself against its much smaller, fast moving adversary.  Quickly gauging its size, Angel figured out from what he already knew that the demon fighting for its life was the female.

This particular species mated early and remained together for life. A small satisfied smile curled his pale mouth at the knowledge that this left the larger male to him easing the irritation he’d felt at the slayer’s presence.

The demon began to falter at the duel assault of both Buffy and Harris, who shot bolts that mostly connected and sunk into its leathery hide. Angel’s satisfaction grew on seeing the exact moment the demon decided to flee into the surrounding coverage of the dark woods, knocking her to the ground and making a run for it.

With hardly a moment’s hesitation, Buffy sprung to her feet and took off after it closely followed by Harris and Willow.  Angel turned instantly to follow them and then paused on seeing that Cordelia had been left behind.

Nothing was more tempting than picking off a straggler, and Angel doubted the male he knew was lurking nearby would pass up the opportunity of an easy meal. As if on cue the male came silently but rapidly out of the cover of the trees and made a beeline for Cordelia who had pushed away from the trees she’d been leaning against to begin a tentative trek across the clearing.

Instinct took over and he approached at a run, bone shifting under the skin of his face even as he exited his hiding place. A large twig hidden by the thick grass snapped under his boot, drawing startled hazel eyes in his direction, and Angel muttered curse when her mouth parted, his name tumbling from her lips an instant before the demon barreled into her half-turned back.

Before she’d even hit the ground, Angel’s boot had connected with the demon’s chest taking advantage of its forward momentum. Instantly it staggered; focused so fully on its’ prey that Angel’s sudden attack had been unexpected.

Before it could regain its balance, Angel kept up his assault, curled fists connecting with its face and torso with savage accuracy taking advantage of reflexes that were even slower than the female’s due to the fact it also carried at least 200lbs extra weight.

Almost belatedly, the demon seemed to remember his razor sharp claws and brought up both arms attempting to deflect Angel’s flurry of punches and kicks as well as get in a few blows itself. But it was too late to avoid the inevitable, and all too soon for the demon, its attacker had managed to get it into a headlock and sink deadly fangs into its throat.

Unfortunately, with double the blood going through its veins, it took a lot longer to drain the demon, thus was slower in having the affect to weaken it. To avoid being thrown off its back, Angel altered his heavy grip and wrenched its head around until a satisfying crack broke the air.

Following its now limp and heavy body to the ground, Angel continued to feed until sated, retracting his fangs and releasing the rapidly cooling corpse to step away and straighten up to his full height.

For several moments, euphoria filled him, enjoying the feeling of almost-human blood coursing richly through his veins. Head tilted back, eyes half closed, Angel purred with satisfaction, as the hunger that rarely left him was sated almost fully for the first time since he’d been cursed with a soul.

Then the sound of a steadily beating heart brought him back to the present, his eyes snapping open and turning to rest on the still figure lying several feet away. The purr turned to a low growl, a scowl darkening his features.

For a moment, he’d forgotten the presence of Cordelia Chase, and now, realizing that the heavy blow had obviously not killed her outright, Angel wasn’t sure if he felt relief that an innocent life hadn’t been taken or anger that it left him with a major problem.

She’d seen him. Not only that— recognized him. That brought potential discovery by the slayer and her watcher.

Various options slid through his mind as he approached her, most ending with a quick death by his hands, but all reluctantly quashed; not completely by the presence of a soul, still buried deep enough to be a bleep on his moral radar. No, his decision had more to do with part of his conditional release.

Dropping to his haunches, Angel reached across and carefully turned the supine body over, taking in the graze and forming lump on her temple. On closer examination, he noted she’d hit a large branch, which, luckily for her had already begun rotting into the earth. Angel didn’t doubt that if the wood had recently fallen, the blow would have killed her.

He half growled in growing discontent.

It would have saved him the hassle of deciding what to do with her, he thought, shoving down the faintest flicker of shame that attempted to prick his conscience.

Running large hands through his already tousled hair, Angel checked out the rest of her for other injuries, dark eyes narrowing in subtle male interest on seeing that her silky blouse had lost several buttons, gaping open to display the rounded curve of one full breast snugly encased in fragile blue lace.

Nice! The thought popped unexpectedly into Angel’s head, and with an annoyed grunt he quickly checked for broken bones then rose to his feet and turned his attention to the demon. His brow furrowed in thought, considering the options left open to him, until, with a resigned sigh, he moved over to the corpse and, hefting it up, he strode over to the nearest thicket of bushes and dumped it. Satisfied that it was concealed, he turned back to unconscious girl and lifting her up, he eased her onto his shoulder.

The slightest chance of the slayer or her cohorts believing Cordelia’s claim to have seen him wasn’t worth the risk. At best Buffy could check out the mansion just to put her mind at rest; at worst…

Fuck. All he’d wanted was to do what he’d agreed and get out of town without anyone being the wiser. Taking the brunette with him, although appearing to be his only option right now pissed him off and made him wish he could have just killed her and be done with it.

Angel just hoped they didn’t find the demon’s body. If the Watcher knew anything about this species, and the vampire was positive he did, then he would no doubt be aware that it hunted in pairs. Said Watcher would also know of its ability to consume its victims quickly, leaving no trace behind. Their companion was easy prey and for the time being, it suited Angel to let them believe Cordelia Chase was dead.

Chapter 3

Posted August 10, 2017 by califi in TBC

Right of Possession 1   Leave a comment

Title: Right of Possession 
Author: Califi
Posted: 27/05/2006
Rating: R/N-17
Category:  Angst.
Content: C/A
Summary:  Unbeknownst to the others (incl Buffy) Angel is back from hell. His intention to leave Sunnydale (after honoring a bargain that got him out of hell) just as secretly is compromised, leaving him with a moral dilemma.  WARNING: If you are hoping for an Angel with finer feelings and morals, this fic isn’t for you. His moral ambiguity through out this fic may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Spoilers:  BtVS, Season three, (Post Hell,)
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt created the characters in the Angelverse. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution:  GTCA. Anyone else, please ask first.
Notes:  This is the result of a challenge put forward myself,  that ended up with several Authors (shoutout especially to Cydnestorm & Impress) putting forward ideas (in other words, I write it, and other DW members take part by suggesting material to include.
Thanks/Dedication:to Lysa, who agreed to Beta the fic for me (yay!) and to all DW members who’s ‘interactive’ suggestions have made their way into RoP. *hugs*
Feedback:would be yummy icing on the cake.


Chapter 1

Although the moon was at its zenith its pale rays barely penetrated the dense woods that both predator and prey threaded stealthily through. Neither relied on its illumination to see.  After twenty minutes of tracking two particular demons, Angel was confident that they hadn’t picked up on his presence.

Not so the night before when their roles had abruptly been reversed. One he could have handled; two were a force to be reckoned with.  So far, tonight was going as planned, and a small satisfied smile curled his lips when finally he’d picked up on two distinct trails. They’d separated. From what knowledge he had of their hunting habits, Angel knew it wouldn’t be long before the distance between them would be enough for him to make his move.

Satisfaction fled on hearing voices breaking through the relative silence and he cursed virulently when the distinctive sound of fighting followed quickly after. Picking up his pace, he followed the sounds of the struggle.

Angel’s nostrils flared as the scents of the interlopers reached him, scowling heavily as recognition hit. Reaching the skirmish he used the cloak offered by the surrounding darkness to remain hidden where he could easily observe the ongoing battle. Irritation flared at the possibility that their interference would cause him to lose his prey.

*~*~*

Life for their little group had certainly changed in the past four months. Once implausible relationships had shifted into more complicated ones, and then shifted again. Friendships were tested, love was gained and lost.

Buffy could remember a time she and Cordelia were more alike than she cared to admit, and their unexpected alliance painfully embellished that fact. Before her fateful calling had reared its ugly head, she too enjoyed the simpler things in life: popularity, vanity…indifference to those around her. And like Cordelia, falling for the wrong guy had knocked her world off its axis.

Their personal lives had all gone to hell in a handbasket. Thoughts of hell quickly reminded Buffy of two names that still caused conflicting emotions: Angel and Angelus.

She swallowed hard and forcibly pushed thoughts of the vampire out of her mind. Or was it vampires? It wasn’t really her Angel that had done those evil things. Buffy held onto the concept despite knowing better. Hopeless love refusing to die, she supposed, a dangerous mindset when preparing for slayage. So she turned her mind to the latest developments that were still of a personal nature, but was kinda glad that this time at least her heart wasn’t so intimately invested.

Finding out that Xander and Willow had a ‘thing’ going on— behind Cordelia’s back no less— had been a major surprise to Buffy. That almost fatal fall taken when fleeing after catching them together— to say she was amazed that Cordelia was actually back and helping out several weeks down the line was an understatement.

After taking a quick peek at Cordelia’s profile, her features unreadable, Buffy sighed under her breath and climbed out of the car. Part of her wished the older girl had stayed away. The atmosphere in Cordelia’s car had been more oppressive than it had been at the library, and Buffy couldn’t recall the last time Willow, who’d huddled in the back seat, had regressed into the shy persona of the girl she first met within minutes of leaving the school grounds.

Guilt: another not so subtle supposition.

Buffy had loved despite the intuitive warnings of a slayer and a woman. And in her pursuit of this doomed, great love she had risked the lives of her friends and the innocents she was charged with protecting. Even now this sat heavily on her slim shoulders. Shaking her head in an attempt to clear it failed miserably as ‘what ifs’ filled her mind yet again.

“Um, can we walk to patrol next time?” The timid, quivery voice had Buffy turning on her heel in surprise. Mainly due to the fact that she was so deeply into her thoughts she’d not even heard Willow approach. Distractions, tonight of all nights, would be dangerous.

Willow’s face reflecting the deep unease she’d felt at being in such close proximity to Cordelia confirmed Buffy’s theory. Guilt shadowed eyes that furtively watched as Cordelia climbed out of the car moments later. Buffy sighed again. Maybe that was why she felt so antsy tonight. Nothing at all to do with the demony lecture Giles gravely impressed upon them earlier.

Well, maybe a little.

For a moment, Buffy rethought the wisdom of bringing her friends along. Granted, some time had passed since the accident, and her biggest Big Bad to date was now out of the picture, but she hadn’t failed to notice that Cordelia occasionally favored her side, especially after patrol. Giles’ earlier and repetitive warnings about what she was about to face tonight, also had her wondering if she’d made the wrong call agreeing to let Cordelia be ‘Bait Girl’.

With a heavy sigh, Buffy hooked her arm in Willow’s and both turned away to begin a slow trek across the grass towards the patch of trees. As they neared the dense line of trees along the offbeat road on the outskirts of town, they stopped and waited for the other two to catch up.

“Oh, boy,” Willow’s softly muttered words caught Buffy’s attention and she looked back to see that Xander still hovered by the car, obviously waiting for Cordelia to lock the doors. Even from this distance she could see the tentative yet hopeful expression on his face.

*~*~*

Cordelia spotted her ex-squeeze-slash-rat-bastard-cheat standing right behind her. “Hover much?” she hissed through thinned lips while locking the car door.  Turning abruptly, she stalked around the hood before allowing Xander time to think of a reply.

As soon as they left the roadside, she cursed under her breath when the fine heels of her Italian boots instantly sunk into the soft grass. Probably not the best decision she’d made tonight. Make that the third, she corrected herself wryly. The first had been turning up at the library for the fourth night in a row and second, offering to be Bait Girl. The boots she could deal with.

As she stared straight ahead her eyes, that landed on Buffy and Willow watching from the distance, narrowed angrily. They were probably afraid for ‘poor’ Xander’s safety because he was alone with her. They’d gotten this far with the Harris family jewels intact, hadn’t they?

Conscious of him dogging her heels, Cordelia quickened her pace putting most of her weight on the soles of her feet to keep heel sinkage to a minimum. Rolling her eyes after hearing him clear his throat for the tenth time, Cordelia swiveled round to face him, one hand settling on her hip. His deer caught in the headlights expression was the only thing worth looking at, she thought with a sharp bitterness that just wouldn’t quit.

Before Xander could get over his surprise at the sudden confrontation of fiery hazel eyes pinning him to the spot, Cordelia opened her mouth and informed him icily, “If this is you trying to apologize again, save it.”

He persevered; the rehearsed apology so far not fully given chance to recite on the tip of his tongue, but she forestalled him with a sharply raised hand then jabbed her finger in a hard poke to his chest.

“I may be here with you losers, but this isn’t your get out of jail free card, so get that thought out of your dumb ass head now.” Her lips curled, showing clearly the displeasure she felt in even looking at him, but after a breath, she continued on.

“Unless it is of the ‘watch out for the sharp claws’ variety, do NOT talk to me.” Finished she turned her back on him.

“Cordelia, I-”

Her spine stiffened at his hesitant response and without turning back warned frostily, “The talking portion of the night with me is now over.” Satisfied with the thick silence that followed, she continued walking.

As they entered the cover of the trees, Xander sighed thickly before moving ahead to flank Buffy’s other side. Cordelia eyed their backs, a scowl curling her lips. Typical. Five seconds of attempting to make everything right between them and he gives up like the spineless rat he is, then does the expected- runs straight to the other girl he’d always put before her too.

Letting out a sharp breath, Cordelia cursed herself virulently for her contrary thinking. One thing she knew for certain: it was over. But that didn’t stop her wanting at least a shred of her self-respect back. Never would it have occurred to her the possibility that she, Cordelia Chase, would become the laughing stock of the entire school- and it was all their fault.

Which brought her back to the question that had bugged her for the last hour: Why the hell am I here again? She bit back a resigned sigh. Oh that’s right, helping the hopeless. Only Cordelia wasn’t quite sure why helping the hopeless was becoming so important to her.

As she watched them stride ahead through the clearing just beyond the trees, The Three Musketeers came to Cordelia’s mind, and as she thought of who fitted each of those characters, her footsteps gradually slowed until a growing gap separated them.

…Realizing suddenly that being alone in a dark woody place was definitely not of the good, Cordelia quickened her pace, but just three hasty steps into the clearing and pain exploded down her left side. The air whooshed out of her lungs before she even hit the ground, only half aware of Buffy’s yell of alarm– and then the heavy weight that pinned her abruptly disappeared.

Rolling onto her side with a pained groan, Cordelia looked up dazedly to see the slayer doing what she did best: delivering a roundhouse kick to what must have been, in her opinion the ugliest demon they’d had the misfortune to come across. Wincing, She muttered ‘oh, crap’ as Buffy rebounded like a rag doll when her foot connected with its broad chest. The demon hadn’t even budged at the impact.

Renewed fear flooded through her quickly as it crossed her mind that she was way to close for comfort. The sight of razor sharp talons lifting in an arc only to luckily miss their aim when Buffy dodged back sent Cordelia scrambling frantically to her knees.

A whoosh sounded out above her head a little too closely for her liking causing her to forget about rising.  Instead, she literally crawled out of the way until her hand thankfully connected with the solid bark of a tree. Glancing behind her and confident that there was a big enough gap from the tussling figures, she climbed shakily to her feet.  Almost instantly her ankle gave way, wrenching the tendons painfully and her pain-filled eyes dropped to investigate.

Great! She cursed angrily under her breath on finding that one of the heels of her new Italian boots had snapped like a twig. Another whooshing sound pulled her attention away from the annoying discovery and she was just in time to see a bolt sink into the demon’s sinewy neck.

Noticing another protruding from its shoulder, Cordelia looked around and saw Xander holding up a reloaded crossbow, obviously waiting for another clear shot. Willow stood a few feet to his right, her face deathly pale and eyes impossibly wide with fear. She clutched a small cloth sack close to her chest, and Cordelia recalled that it had some kind of sucking-of-demon-strength mojo inside.

Giles had taken great pains to warn the little witch that the powder had to be used carefully; apparently having the same effect on a Slayer as their quarry.  Cordelia hoped to God that Willow stopped visibly shaking enough to get it right when the time came. Otherwise a broken heel would be way down on her list of major disasters.

On seeing that Buffy’s constant attack was finally having an effect on the demon, Cordelia risked looking away to assess the damage to her boot, and then proceeded to go over her options. There weren’t many: remove them both or break the other heel off. The latter thought didn’t go down well. Three hundred and eighty dollars down the drain, jeeze!

Deciding they might be salvageable- considering they were one of a kind, she bent down to unzip them. As she was about to remove the second boot a loud thud sounded a little too close for comfort and her head jerked up, eyes widening at the sight of Buffy sprawled on her back only feet away from her. Before she could think to move, Buffy had sprung back to her feet agilely and took off after the now-fleeing demon.

Cordelia’s mouth gaped in disbelief as both Xander and Willow chased after her without once looking back until the trees and inky blackness veiling them swallowed them up.

Chapter 2

Posted August 10, 2017 by califi in TBC

Getting to Know You 15   1 comment

Part 15

The last hours of school couldn’t come soon enough for Cordelia. Visions of white sandy beaches and turquoise sea as clear as Venetian glass, taunted her throughout the boring dissertation that the English Teacher had decided to read out to the class.  Checking her watch for the zillionth time, she willed it to speed up and put her out of her misery.

I should be so lucky.

Her mind wandered back to two days before, when her parents had unexpectedly arrived home – only to inform her they were off again on Saturday morning.

Cordelia had instantly jumped at the opportunity to escape from SunnyHell, if only for a while. Literally begging to be included in their plans. Reminding them that school closed for Summer recess on Friday, when her mother attempted to use that as an excuse not to take her along.

She’d turned beseeching puppy-dog eyes towards her father, promising: “You won’t even notice I’m there.” This tactic had never worked with her mother, be he usually folded when exposed to the well-learned and perfected gaze from his ‘Princess’.

Or, it could have simply been the near-desperation in clouded eyes that did it. Whatever.

Her father had agreed, and in less than a day she’d be flying  first class, naturally, to Bermuda.

The bell finally rang. Cordelia held back, waiting for the initial rush for the door to be over, before shoving her books into her bag and rising quickly to head out of the classroom. Towards freedom. She’d given Harmony and her ex-Cordettes short shrift, and had no problem ignoring them after that, but…  A much-needed break from the-now two Musketeers and the Watcher was definitely in order.

Since Sunnydale High wasn’t exactly humongous, it had been impossible not to figuratively bump into them. And unfortunately there had been times when she’d had to visit the Library to grab books needed for her classwork. Xander -surprisingly, turned his eyes away after the initial glare each time they’d seen each other. Which suited her fine.

Willow, on the other hand, would catch her eyes and smile that weird/sad little smile that always tightened her throat, and made her mostly want to throttle the girl. Cordelia did not need- nor want her pity! With grinding teeth she’d skim the shelves for books needed for study, feeling the burn of her gaze on the back of her neck. The knee jerk reaction to turn and bitch her out stifled, for fear something might slip.

Mostly, Giles would be closeted away in his office, which again suited her fine. Not thinking for a second that he hadn’t thought long and hard on their very brief conversation. Her confidence, calm and “leave me the hell alone, I’m busy” persona had so far worked when occasionally confronted with his concerned and oftentimes deeply searching gaze.

Each night, she’d go home feeling drained and not a little depressed. Then spend hours rebuilding slightly cracked walls.

But finally, Cordelia could put all that behind her… until Sunnydale High inevitably opened its doors once again.  But by then, she hoped enough time would have gone by to bring some sort of normality to her World. ‘Normal’ hadn’t been part of their World for a long time, but the remaining ‘Scoobies’ would probably be concentrating on some other Big Bad by the time she got back.

One could but hope.

Part 16

Califi

Posted August 10, 2017 by califi in TBC

Getting to Know You 14   1 comment

Part 14

“Xander, stop! – Please?” His body tensed and stilled at the last softly spoken word, looking down at the redhead hanging onto his t-shirt for dear life.

Suppressing the urge to push her aside, he settled for glaring down at her. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t go over there and express myself, Will?” He exclaimed angrily, his dark hair almost on end with passionate; and to his mind, justified anger.

Willow glanced over at Giles’ office as the door closed behind the girl in question. She’d swept into the Library seemingly without a care in the world- unless of course, you were looking with critical eyes. The too brittle smile. A slight pallor that emphasised dark shadows under eyes that make-up couldn’t quite conceal. 

It had taken the speed of light to get to Xander before he managed to confront Cordelia who was by then at the door of the office. An almost impossible feat considering the cold dismissal in the brief flick of the girl’s dark eyes over his angry features.

Grimacing helplessly. Willow wracked her frazzling brain trying to think of the perfect thing to say. To turn this from what was definitely going to be so, so bad. Then it came to her.

“Don’t forget, Xan, we pretty much left her to fend for herself that night”. Although more than a little upset at the time, Willow had paled with the recollection:  the moment Buffy collapsed they’d both ran over. Completely forgetting for too long a time, that Cordelia’s life hung in the balance.

She looked up at her friend, relieved to see the hot anger bleeding from his face. “Can you honestly hold onto that angerfest you’ve got going knowing that you; well, we” she hastily amended off his accusing look; “did something worse?” Xander visibly deflated and she dropped her restraining hands.

Now bitterly regretting the anger-laced calls she’d made to both Xander and Giles right after the other girl had left -the same way she’d arrived. Sleep had been elusive as her mind constantly went back to the ‘spat’ between herself and Cordelia.

It had taken the best part of the night before Willow herself had come to that mortifying conclusion.

“I still think I have every right to be more than a little upset about this.” He muttered morosely, slowly sinking into the edge of a library table.

“I know,” willow sighed, “but right now I think we need to back off and regroup for a while, then try to build bridges.” Not that it’s gonna be that easy she thought sadly, glancing again at the door of the office.

***

Sitting back in the chair on the other side of the desk, Cordelia managed to keep her veneer of calm from cracking.

The still tender-looking cuts and bruises that adorned his face, the numerous taped fingers  and the wheelchair he now sat in had caused her confident stride to briefly falter when she’d first entered the library’s Office.  Willow had told of his kidnapping and rescue, but failed to mention the torture he’d endured. How’d he swung that past weasily Principal Snyder? she wondered. Car crash? Definitely believable.

Her own fading bruises paled into insignificance in comparison. Not that her short time with Angelus hadn’t left its mark.  The physical scars would eventually fade, but the psychological ones would stay with her for a lifetime. A small sigh fell from her mouth at the recollection of Xander’s reaction to her entrance; the little witch frantically rushing across the library to hang onto his shirt when he instantly approached her; self-righteous anger colouring his face bright red.

As pissed as Willow had been the other night, which in itself had been a little disconcerting for such a mouse it seemed she wasn’t looking for another round of the Blame Game. Restless fingers absently checking the neckline of her silk turtleneck top, she brought her attention back to the present.

Giles sat silently observing her with thoughtful eyes, and her jaw unconsciously angled high as she waited for him begin the inevitable lecture. Fortune had shone on her for most of the day, managing to avoid all three until, in her last class a school Monitor had popped in to hand her a note from the man facing her. The temptation to ignore the ‘summons’ was strong, but she knew she’d have to face him eventually.

Dragging it out would only make things worse in the long run. After what she’d been through, facing Giles would be a walk in the park. Most of all she wanted the whole thing finally put to bed. But long tense minutes of continuing silence was starting to grate. Shifting uncomfortably then half rising in irritation; her mouth opened ready to make excuses and leave, he finally deigned to speak. With reluctance, she settled back down onto the too-hard seat .

“Mrs Phillips mentioned this morning that your housekeeper called on Monday to confirm your absence. Due to a bout of influenza?” Thrown by his innocuous question Cordelia’s head nodded yes. He leaned back in his wheelchair, eyes sharpening as he continued.

“Apparently this was the only call she’d received. Even though you had in fact been absent for several days previous.” Giles noted and mentally filed away the guarded expression that now settled on her face. “I’m a little confused as to why you waited five days to notify the school of your… malaise.” He raised a stalling hand when she went to speak.

 “Let me finish, Cordelia. Please” off her look of frustration. Leaning forward, resting his hands gingerly on the desk he sighed wearily, a tinge of regret lit his tired eyes.

“I’m more than aware that I may have been a little…terse on the phone yesterday, and I can only put that down to the fact that for almost a week I thought you had died -horribly, I might add, at the hands of A-Angleus.”  The slightest stutter eased her annoyance somewhat, as did the reminder of the other girl’s death. They both had justifiable cause to hesitate over the vampire’s name.

“But things don’t seem to be adding up,” another sigh, “and as credible as your explanation of events sound, I’m left with the feeling that you aren’t being entirely…truthful?” For a moment stricken eyes stared into his. “Please talk to me, Cordelia,” he urged softly. “What really happened that night?”

Then she blinked and the moment was gone.  Expressionless hazel now stared into disconcerted blue. “Nothing else happened,” she asserted, her voice as cool as her eyes. “Given your background and everything, I can understand your need for dramatics.” Giles’ eyes widened, for a moment wanting to defend himself, but kept his mouth shut as the young girl continued on.

“I escaped. I survived.” Keeping her gaze locked to his, she rose to her feet. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused” with a subtle hint of sarcasm, “but the last thing on my mind at the time was ringing in sick.” Releasing his eyes, Cordelia bent to retrieve her purse off the floor and turned towards the door- only to look back; her expression mirroring his earlier weariness.

“Just remember, Watcher man. I’m not the only one that did a runner.” He jolted at that reminder, “Not that I blame her. But you can all freak out, lecture and recriminate to your heart’s content. As for me?” pulling the door open, she continued, her face hardening. “I’m done. I’m gonna put this whole sucky chapter in the trash where it belongs and be grateful I can carry on living my life.”

A slight shrug lifted one delicate shoulder.  “It’s getting late and Rosa’ll have a cow if I’m not home soon, so I’ll maybe see you around. Night” The door closed, surprisingly softly, behind her.

The Watcher stared blankly at the door, unable to shake off the fact that the young girl had thoroughly turned the tables on him.

Game, set and match.

Part 15

Note to self: Never reread your own fic once published. It never ends well.

Posted August 8, 2017 by califi in TBC

Getting to Know you 13   1 comment

Part 13

Letting out a world weary sigh, Cordelia settled her head against the inflated bath cushion. She could honestly say that the late night visit to the Rosenberg’s hadn’t turned out at all as she’d imagined.

How could so much crapola have happened in less than a week?

Her mood swung from anger, disbelief, despair then back again- a never-ending circle. The fact that they’d finally gone to the mansion; to rescue Giles, but didn’t think to go right after her kidnapping, told her a hell of a lot when it came to her place in their precious Scooby gang. Pfft. Fair enough, Good ol’ Buffy summers wasn’t available to help, with being all virusy.

Although well enough to hunt down and kill a resident monster at the Mercy Hospital…  Self pity welled and she let it take over for a few minutes before shaking it off. Anger was so much more productive.

A few things she was sure of: Xander was alive and kicking. Her car was parked at the Hospital (Xander had found her purse and used the car to take the ill Slayer).  And after figuring out the timeline, she’d realised Angelus hadn’t been Angel. None of what he’d told her had been true. He’d played her like a violin. Oh, how he must have laughed his evil ass off. Bastard. She supposed, grudgingly, it could have been worse. He’d gone and she’d avoided whatever else he’d had planned for her.

Most probably a painful and horrific death like the girl he’d dressed in her clothes. A trial run? At least there was one thing she could thank Buffy Summers for.

“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.” ‘Cos right now, she despised them all. Leaning forward, Cordelia reached for the tap, wincing when the move pulled at the ugly scars gracing her inner thigh.  Unlike the ones on her throat, they were taking a lot longer to fully heal. The climb to and from Willow’s balcony hadn’t helped much, either. With an unladylike grunt, she turned off the tap and lay back with a splash.

The night had only gotten worse after that.

Willow’s face when told of her ‘escape’ from Angelus. Sucked into every lie that fell from her lips. Woke up on the ground; Angelus fighting a couple of vamps. Made the most of it and ran like hell. Got home and decided to go with Rosa to San Diego rather than stay there on her own. In case he followed.

“But how did he get all your things? Oooh, you didn’t have to run n-naked?” eyes as big as proverbial saucers, and a flush that reached her hairline.  That took some quick thinking. She’d had time to concoct the escaping story. Jumped on the fact that Angel had escorted her home that one time. Invited him in. He didn’t take her up on the offer, but it must’ve been like a rain-check.  Found her long gone, taken her discarded things and decided to play dress-up with a substitute lookalike?

The little witch fell for it.

Unfortunately though, she became the bad guy. All that guilt and pain she’d caused them. Accusing green eyes and surprising chastisement: ‘selfish, inconsiderate’ amongst other mildly offensive nouns, for not bothering to let them know she’d escaped. Was alive.

Cordelia’s reaction had been to surge to her feet, plant her fists on her hips and let rip one single detail. “He punched me in the face the second my so-called friends turned their backs on me. He didn’t even have to run off with me first. So tell me, why would I even think of calling any of you?”

As they say: they came to an impasse.

***

The news given with gleeful spite by the Parking Official at the Hospital when she went to pick up her car, set the dismal tone for the rest of the day.

Cab back home. Dig out her Ownership papers and insurance. Cab to Municipal Pound. Show them the paperwork. A $600 fine for parking without ticket for four days. $280 for the tow to the Pound (even though they actually drove her car, as that idiot Xander Harris had conveniently left the keys in the ignition -and the doors were unlocked!). And a further $200 for 2 days parking at the Pound.

Great.

When Cordelia woke up that morning, she’d had every intention of going in to school- picking her car up on the way.  Three hours later and her plans had changed. Stay home. Eat Rocky Road – and think of all the ways she was going to make Harris pay. That was going well until the phone call from a ‘very disappointed’ Rupert Giles.

Luckily she’d managed to pick up before Rosa, who thought she was still feeling the affects of the day before. After several minutes where he described his disappointment in detail, followed by a long awkward silence- most likely him waiting for apologies and stuff. Which, by the way? was so not going to happen, he wearily ended with the expectation of seeing her the following day.

An hour after Rosa left, the phone rang again. After the day she’d had, there was no way she’d be answering it. Luckily- or maybe not so much, the answer machine was on.

“Cordelia, pick up. It’s …Xander… !”  Duh! I’m traumatised, not senile she muttered under her breath before turning up the volume on the TV, determined not to listen to anything he had to say. His tight tone said it all.

Tomorrow would come soon enough, but for now, mindless game shows beat recriminations hands down.

Part 14

Posted August 7, 2017 by califi in TBC

Getting to Know You 12   1 comment

Part 12

“OhmiGod, you’re you!” Cordelia attempted to pull away from the suffocating hold of the stark staring-mad redhead.  “I thought you were a Vampire- but that couldn’t be right cos, what with the no skin and teeth, duh. Who’d athunk my Holy water pistol could come in handy,” she drew a much-needed breath, “Sorry about the whole squirty thing, but I had to be sure.”

“Okayy…” So that made a lot of sense- Not! “Enough with the teddy snuggles already!” Gripping skinny arms, she pushed until free, wiping her face on the sleeve of her top. Willow stood there staring at her with – was she crying?  “We, we thought you were dead! We saw the body and everything … well not in the actual flesh, just the photos, ewwe, and-“

“What? What body?”Cordelia interrupted, her voice rising with each word. Almost instantly Willow glanced wide-eyed at her door making a shushing sound. Walking over and sinking slowly onto the bed, she stared at Willow in stunned confusion. What little color she had had, disappeared completely.

Settling herself timidly on the edge of the bed, keeping a healthy space between them, Willow tried to control her habit of blurting out the first things that came into her head. After a bombshell like that, softly softly was in order. But it was sooo hard to keep it together considering that she’d thought the girl not two feet away was d.e.a.d.

She kinda missed the man-eating  woodpecker in her dream. What was a little beak-jabbing compared to this? Taking a deep breath – didn’t help, but Cordelia’s expressions of angry confusion and disbelief warned her that she’d better start talking.

“We, that is, Xander,” she amended, “went looking for you non-stop”. Reassured by the slight softening of the girl’s eyes, her nerves settled a little. “He searched every cemetery in Sunnydale- even alleys in town. We- me and Giles, that is, well, me on my laptop and Giles with his newspapers, we searched for anything that might lead to you.” Aware she was rambling, Willow took a much needed breath and paused. She wasn’t at all looking forward to telling her the rest of it.

“What about Buffy?” at Willow’s confused look; “Wasn’t she looking?” Cordelia clarified. “I mean, she’s the super-powery Slayer, who kills vampires for a living. Why did she leave it all to Xander?” She folded her arms tightly; chin lifting in renewed anger.

“Ohh, you don’t know what happened after. Sorry.” Willow cringed at the death glare sent her way. How could I forget that?! “B-Buffy was kept in Hospital for a few days- virus. That’s why she fainted.”

How could I forget that? Not that she cared she’d bitched her out, but still. “Sorry, What with being grabbed by her evil ex, and fearing for my life, I kind of forgot that bit.” Willow looked suitably cowed. “Is she okay now?” As much as it pained her to ask.

I think so, I mean, yes, she got better; even killed a monster in the Children’s Ward.” The witch shuddered, thinking about it. Clearing her throat, she attempted to broach the dead Cordelia bit.

“What do you mean “think so”? Cordelia cut in first. “You two are practically joined at the hip”. Her interest peeked noting the shadows growing in the girl’s eyes; but it didn’t last. She wasn’t here to discuss the finer points of Scooby relationships. “So tell me about” air quoting “‘my body’?” Willow was relieved at the change of subject – then remembered that the other subject was just as bad.

“Giles found an article about a girl being killed in the alley behind The Bronze. So I checked the Police report to see, you know,” she stumbled over the words, “to see if it was you.”

“And?” So succinct. What I wouldn’t do to be like that, Willow thought enviously.

“Well, she had dark hair, like yours … She was wearing the clothes you wore that night- including personal stuff, like the-the locket Xander gave you.” Cordelia shrugged, outwardly calm.

“Just one look at her face woulda told you it wasn’t me!” Thinking back on the disappearance of her things from Angelus’ room. Did he think they were that stupid? Open to debate, she thought bitterly, since the ONE place they never thought to look was the most obvious for a start.

“Um, well, her face was gone,” and that came out badly. I should have called Buffy. She’d handle this better. But that wasn’t even a possibility right now. Chewing her bottom lip like a Terrier worrying his toy ‘prey’, she returned her attention to the obviously confused/stunned girl facing her. Eep!  In for a penny … “He’d cut her skin off and pulled out her teeth.” Since it wasn’t Cordelia after all, thankfully, the other details were irrelevant.

Silence reigned for an interminable length of time; Willow thinking that she’d prefer to have been cut down with Cordelia’s special brand of bitch than having to watch the multitude of emotions racing across her pallid features. Reopening the conversation with the question she wanted to ask her would probably not be such a good idea, but it had been riding her since she’d opened her window to a girl she’d thought dead.

“Cordy, where did Angelus take you? You’ve been gone nearly a week,” Willow nearly choked on her words when Cordelia’s eyes lifted abruptly; so much pain and fear stared back at her- then she blinked and all emotion fled as if wiped with a squeegee. “I know that poor girl wasn’t you, but Xander said only vampires were at the mansion when they got there-“

Cordelia was only half listening to Willow. Still thinking of the sickening fate of that girl. She’d also had the sucky ‘luck’ of grabbing Angelus’ psycho attention. Thinking how easily that could have been her fate.  Then her full attention was caught when she realised what was just said. “Who went to the mansion?!” she asked tightly.

Willow paused, startled by the brittleness of the girl’s voice. “Buffy – and Xander.”, adding, “They went to rescue Giles …”

Willow continued on, telling her of the events after the ‘first’ kidnapping;  Cordelia’s breath caught in her throat when told of the Gypsy curse they’d found. This little factoid sent a dart of anger through her. What would that have accomplished?

The story continued: Buffy and Angelus fighting to the death…”I don’t know how it played out after Xander left. Buffy left Sunnydale after the fight. We’re not sure where she went, but when we went back, the next day, Acathla was still a statue and the Mansion was deserted.” Her voice wobbled and she looked down at her twisting hands; missing the angry bitterness flooding Cordelia’s face.

Part 13

Posted August 6, 2017 by califi in TBC

Getting to Know You 11   1 comment

Part 11

No matter the exhaustion tugging at her, Cordelia just couldn’t sleep.

In the back of her mind was the compelling fear that she’d wake up and find herself back at the Mansion, in Angelus’ bed. Mouth drying up every time her eyes fluttered shut. Bolting upright and searching the room in a blind panic.

“Still home. Jeeze, Chase, get a grip!” The pattern continued for several hours until, with a muffled curse, she threw back the covers and headed for the bathroom- kicking the earlier discarded clothes with bitter anger and revulsion on the way.

A long hot shower. Change of clothes. Pulling her still-wet hair into a tight ponytail, she assessed herself critically in the floor-standing mirror in her room.  A little pale; tired eyes, but not too bad considering, she thought hollowly.

Walking closer to the mirror, a hesitant hand raised as she tilted her head to better see her throat, she was amazed to find the marks; two smallish holes, weren’t that in-your-face. A little bit pink, but not how she’s imagined it would look. At the time, no matter how gentle Angel had been, it had still felt like stiletto knives having a deep poke around.

Unable to help the shuddering that ran through her just thinking about her time with the soulless vampire, her hand abruptly dropped, just short of touching the mark, and she swung round to search her closets for something to cover them up. Fingering a soft chiffon scarf, Cordelia imagined walking around with the jeans and soft grey top she now wore.

“Nope.” Throwing it carelessly into the depths of the closet and heading for her vanity table. “Perfect”, she muttered on finding the set of Chokers she’d bought on a whim. The silver-grey velvet one covered the marks pretty well, and blended with her top.

With a deep breath and a bracing internal pep-talk she strode to the door.

I can do this; I’m Cordelia Chase!

No one will ever know I’d folded like a cheap suit.

***

The home-made soup Rosa left her was delicious, as was the freshly baked bread, but still the weird ache in her belly made itself known. Not in an OhMyGoditHurtssoBad! Way, but still. But shrugging it off was easy compared with the rest of it.

Rosa had offered to stay over, but although tempted, it was getting hard to act normal, when that was the last thing she felt. The silence of the house made her antsy and abruptly Cordelia pushed back her seat, mechanically clearing the dishes off the table. Rinsing them under the tap and leaving them in the sink, she wiped her hands then wandered into the lounge.

Grabbing the remote she curled up on the couch and surfed channels mindlessly as her thoughts went into overdrive.

Five days … that first night ran through her mind like a stuck record. Then it suddenly occurred to her that the others must at the very least be wondering where she was. Her mouth thinned at the thought that no one- especially Buffy Summers, got a clue and considered storming Angelus’ mansion in an attempt to rescue her.

Well, duh! Not like she didn’t know where he lived! Okay, so they weren’t exactly best buddies, but it WAS Buffy’s ex-squeeze that had kidnapped her. It was also her fault he’d turned evil in the first place – and definitely her fault ‘cos she should have staked his evil ass before all this happened!

In fact, everything that had happened was Buffy Summer’s fault – and it stood to reason that she should have saved me!

The tears sprung to life, but no way in hell was Cordelia Chase going to cry. She was DONE crying … then Xander’s face decided to pop into her head. She shuddered in remembered shock and revulsion, with not just a little grief added for good measure.  And the moisture spilled onto her cheeks.

Yupyup. All Buffy Summer’s fault.

A surge of uncertainty hit her as she recalled Angel telling her that they’d all died when the World was sucked into hell … which hadn’t actually happened. Why would Angel lie?  Maybe he got hit in the head and imagined it all. If he’d got that wrong, who’s to say he wasn’t wrong about the rest of it?

Throwing the remote on the couch, she glanced at the wall clock: 10.15pm.  “Well, there’s only one way to find out.” Mind made up, she headed for the lobby, automatically reaching for her keys on the side table – “Dammit!”  Where the hell was her car anyway?  It wasn’t outside. No way would they have left it by the entrance of the cemetery.  Willow didn’t drive, so it had be either at Buffy’s or Xanders …

Only she wasn’t sure now if Xander was dead or alive! Going to his house to check was definitely not an option right now. If it turned out he was… anyway his dad would have kicked off if he’d noticed her car was left there. He’d have bullied Xander into dropping it off a hers.

Well, she could either stay where she was and drive herself crazy, or stick to the plan of action. Rubbing her face roughly to erase all signs of shed tears, Cordelia grabbed the phone and hit speed dial. “Hi, I’d like a cab please…”

***

The Rosenberg’s house was in darkness, which was of the good. Facing Willow’s parents without knowing what they knew or didn’t know was not something Cordelia wanted to deal with. Her car was nowhere in sight, but she’d rather find out where it was from little Miss Geek than confront the Slayer right now. Plus, if she was being honest, her car’s whereabouts was of a lesser issue than catching up on the five days outside Angelus’ lair..

She wanted answers, and she was going to get them. As for her own traumatic experiences, she was saying squat. Once opening that Pandora Box, Cordelia truly didn’t think she was up to closing the lid. And no way was there going to be any mental freak breakdowns in front of any of the Scoobies. Or for that matter, anyone. What happened in that room is nobody’s business but mine. That had been decided en-route to Willows; along with telling them she’d managed to escape.

There being no visible damage they could see – on the outside, anyway, plus hey, alive!. They were the last people on Earth she’d tell.

Their pity would kill any self respect she had left.

The balcony outside Willows room had a very convenient trellis alongside. Ivy instead of Roses was definitely a plus, and Cheer leading had graced Cordelia with strength and agility. Jeans had been a good choice.

***

The incessant tapping on glass of the woodpecker trying to get in and peck her to death finally woke Willow up. It took her a minute to realise that it had just been a freaky scary nightmare, but the tapping still continued. “Oh, Lordy!” Pulling the covers up to her neck, she peered at the windows with abruptly alert eyes. The dark shadow partially blocking the moonlight caused her fingers to clench around the sheet, pulling it a little tighter to her chin.

The faint sound of cursing in a female voice had her bounding to the window at the speed of light.

“Buffy! Oh, thank GOD!” She’s back! Willow staggered back from the open window in pure shock as she took in the features of the girl standing on the other side. “Cordelia!?”

A mildly pissed off Cordelia Chase stared back at her; brow furrowed and arms now folded tightly across her chest. One slender brow lifted as the young witch darted away to grab what looked like a water pistol from her bedside table; then gasped as cold water sprayed in her face.

Willow! What the hell’s your damage?!”

Part 12

Posted August 6, 2017 by califi in TBC

Getting to Know You. 10   1 comment

[NB: due the the extensive amount of time this fic & notes have literally been sitting on a disk, is killing me to restart, lol. I’m not sure I still know how to write fic, tbh! But Ill try my best to do it justice & finish it. I’m looking at about 30 chapters (18 others already written, but needing a rewrite). The new stuff isn’t beta’d either (sorry). This one is rather short, but the rest won’t be- hopefully.  Cali xx]

Part 10

Gazing at closed gates of her home, Cordelia’s eyes filled with a combination of dismay and weary resignation. “Really sucks to be me”, she muttered; a wave of self pity threatening to overwhelm her.

It had been bad enough walking for at least an hour to get here. Dressed like a high class slut; pervs tooting their horns as they passed her en route … which led her again to the question: Why was Angel so convinced it was the end of the World?  “But then again, those pervs would probably fit well in hell, huh? “

It was a little lighter than when she left the mansion, but she figured it couldn’t be much past 6 in the morning. The chill in the air attested to the earliness of the day. Rubbing her arms briskly, then hugging herself, Cordelia briefly contemplated the gate: at least 12ft high, and the surrounding wall pretty much the same- the established Hawthorne bushes that draped them threw out a giant ‘no way in Hell’ vibe. So climbing over was defo out of the picture .

A shaky sigh fell from tight lips as she turned her back to the barrier, resting against it and took stock of her situation.

“No keys: check. No phone: check. Parents out of Country: check. Rosa on a break in San Diego: check … ” That sick feeling you had when you couldn’t recall the last time you’d eaten, edged into Cordelia’s vision, and she sagged against the cold steel of the gates. Barf or faint?  She grimly hoped neither. Concentrating so hard on not collapsing into a puddle of ick, she missed the faint sound of a car – until it backfired; causing her to jolt so hard she dry-retched.

An elderly Toyota turned in, then screeched to a halt just a few feet from where she huddled near the ground. The driver practically fell out of the car in her haste to reach her. Lifting blurry eyes, for the first time in, like, forever, hope flickered to life.

“Rosa?” OhthankGod!

“Miss Cordy! Oh my goodness! Are you alright? what are you doing out here? where is your car?” The frantic questions continued as she half knelt to reach for the girl’s hands. Eyes glossing with held-back tears, a shaky smile formed as she struggled to her feet with the help of her beloved Housekeeper, who’d ran the Chase home for as long as she could remember. been more like a mother to her than her own.

Rosa, now silent, took in the pale face, too-dark eyes and, querida Dios,  the wounds on her throat!  From her estimation, the injury must have happened several days ago. Although slightly pink, the marks had almost closed up.

Cordelia bit her lip and shifted under the scrutiny. What to say? Obviously something that didn’t involve Vampires, Kidnapping – and  bloodsucking holes. The perfect lie popped in her head just as Rosa opened her mouth, no doubt to question those ‘marks’. “Harmony!”

Startled, Rosa’s brows rose in confusion. Cordelia, surged on, her voice now normal level.  “I was staying over at Harmony’s house. Got sick of my own company”, she  explained.  “Her mother had been to Italy – shopping, so we decided to try a few outfits on when her parents went out.”  She indicated to the dress and flushed a little at her deception. But to be fair, the dress was more suitable for her mom’s generation.

“Okay,” Rosa nodded, then asked: “But where is your car? And the time ” she checked her watch. Cordelia was not an early riser. “5.30 in the morning is a strange time to come home, yes? And …” she pointed to the marks with worry etching her features.

“Her father had set up a barbecue yesterday and we decided to try it out. Harmony accidentally  jabbed me with a barbecue fork.” The flush deepened at the stunned expression on the woman’s face. “It wasn’t deep,” she assured quickly. “But we fell out big time. I stormed out, then realised I was still wearing this outfit and had left my purse in her room.” Her eyes dropped, “I was too mad to go back, so…”

“So you walked back alone; no car, no keys?  Ahh, chica tonta!” she scolded. Shaking her head and muttering, Rosa walked her to the passenger side of her car; settled her in then went round to climb in her side. She started the engine and pressed the remote for the gate.

Once in front of the family home, Rosa turned off the engine and turned to face Cordelia. The girl was a sorry sight; slumped in her seat, looking bone-weary. As if sensing the scrutiny, Cordelia turned in her seat. “If it helps, I only got here about five minutes before you”, she assured. Then it suddenly dawned on her. “I thought you were still in San Diego?”

“Pfft! I promised you I’d be back Monday, and am good as my word. What? You think I’d leave you alone here for too long?” at the shocked expression on the girl’s face.

Monday! It’s Monday? Five days – FIVE DAYS! Cordelia rubbed her face in disbelief, hardly aware of Rosa exiting the car and coming round her side.  Numbly she climbed out and let Rosa lead her into the house.

Luckily, the housekeeper must have assumed the long night, the accident and the walk home in the chill of the morning had knocked the stuffing out of her. She didn’t resist when urged to her room for  a ‘long rest’ – not to worry, I’ll call the school and tell them you have caught a nasty cold – then she was alone, sitting on her bed and staring blindly as the door gently closed on the retreating Housekeeper.

Part 11

Posted August 3, 2017 by califi in TBC