Archive for August 11, 2017

Mercenary Hearts 3   1 comment

Part 3

Rising lithely to his feet the stranger reached out to help her up. Amusement danced in his dark eyes. Cordelia’s blush of mortification intensified and she roughly pushed the large pale hand away, her lovely face scrunching into a deep scowl. Jerk!

Climbing to her feet with as much grace as she could manage, Cordy attempted to ignore the tall, black-clad man standing a little too close for her liking and quickly tugged down the skirt that had twisted around her waist like a gauzy rope. This was all Buffy Summers fault, she thought resentfully. If the annoying girl had given her more notice, displaying her panties to the world- well, him and God knows who else, would never have happened.

Then she looked up. Just her luck. Tall, dark and sinfully handsome from what she could tell in the semi-darkness, anyway. Any other time, Cordy would have appreciated the sight of salty goodness- a rarity in this town, but at this moment all she wanted to do was cringe and smack the smirk off his chiseled yet full lips. “Thanks.” Her grudging gratitude caused the smirk to widen into a sizzling smile that made her blink hard before looking away.

“Glad to help,” Angel eyed the young woman with open appreciation. From the top of her glossy head to the tips of her perfect toes, she fitted every one of his fantasies. Her rumpled appearance and flushed cheeks only added to the becoming picture, bringing illicit thoughts to his head.

When he’d turned from snapping the demon’s neck and saw her sprawled out so enticingly, the urge to slide his hands up legs that seemed to go on forever had been difficult to quash. The need to touch was still strong, so he gave into it, running his fingers innocently along the hot flush of one cheek. Appeased for the moment, he asked, “Are you hurt?”

For a second, Cordy unconsciously leaned into the touch, then her eyes widened in shock. What the hell am I doing?! One touch of those cool fingers and her knees had turned to jelly. Sheesh. With a huff, she knocked his hand away, shook her head and took a step back. Only my dignity, she thought with growing embarrassment, recalling the first words he’d uttered and opened her mouth to rip into him.

Lucky for him, a short, sharp scream caught her attention. Cordy broke eye contact with him, and looked around his large body just in time to see one of the demons attempting to herd her now-alone friend towards the trees.

“OHMIGOD!” she cried, moving forward to push the dark-haired man out of the way. Then she froze as a blond guy appeared out of nowhere and jumped onto the demon’s back. “What the…?! That’s a vampire! ” Sheer disbelief colored her tone. Her brow scrunched up in shock and confusion. She watched in horror as the demon still attempted to approach Tara even as it struggled to dislodge the vampire on its back.

“This is just GREAT! First demons and now vamps are joining in.” She took a second to glare up at the hulking figure still blocking her way and with an angry huff tried to slip around his unmoving body.

A powerful arm hooked around her waist before Cordy had taken two steps, swinging round and depositing her back to her original spot. “He’s with me,” Angel replied vaguely, keeping hold of her wrist, and again blocking her way.

Cordy tugged at her arm and glared up at him. “With you?” Shaking her head in growing anger and confusion, the move dislodged the clip that had been holding her hair back. Broken in the tussle with the demon, it released its tenuous grip and the glossy strands fell to surround her flushed face.

Angels gaze was instantly drawn to it, his nostrils flaring as the scent of apples enveloped him. A low sound of appreciation escaped his throat and caught her attention.

Did he just…? Cordy could have sworn she’d heard purring- then gasped. For a split second, she was almost certain she’d seen a flash of fang. Jeeze, now she was seeing things. Putting it down to oxygen deprivation to her brain earlier that was affecting her, she shrugged it off and instead narrowed her gaze, tugging again at her captured arm.

“Well, if he’s your friend, shouldn’t you go help him out?” she asked pointedly, and peeked around him again. Even with the vampire on its back, the demon was still making ground towards Tara, who’d belatedly remembered the sword in her hand and was waving it in front of her haphazardly. “We so need to learn how to use those things,” Cordy muttered anxiously, now tugging in earnest.

Angel flicked a look behind him and shrugged, seemingly uninterested. “He can hold his own.” He grabbed her other wrist quickly when she gave up pulling and instead started clawing at his hand.

“Lemme go, you big bully, I want to help her.” The demon roared when a lucky swing of Tara’s sword-nicked it’s face causing it to increase its efforts to dislodge the vampire who was reigning punches into the back of its thick skull.

“You’ll be of better help keeping out of it,” Angel shifted to avoid the swift kick she aimed at his shin, a grin stretching his mouth. Feisty! He was really starting to like this little spitfire! “Your friend’ll be okay,” he assured her- then cursed under his breath when the blond vampire was abruptly thrown across the clearing. After giving itself a violent shake, the demon turned its attention back onto Tara, who had backed into a tree and was cornered.

“Maybe not,” Angel muttered under his breath and moved so fast, Cordy blinked in shock before shouting worriedly, “Tara! Run!” She breathed a sigh of relief and an ‘ewe’ when Tall, Dark and Unfairly Yummy appeared behind the demon and removed its head effortlessly with a sword pulled from beneath his long leather duster.

After rescuing the gorgeous sassy brunette, Angel kept her in his sights. He’d been impressed with how she’d defended herself. Not bad for a human. No match for the demons, but quick on her feet and flexible…boy was she flexible! He had salivated at the thought of how that could come in handy in other ways. He’d had to force his thoughts out of the gutter and concentrate on the fight at hand, taking care not to hurt the humans that kept getting in his way.

The chaos continued, fast and furious for several more minutes, then after a lucky punch from the demon he’d been fighting had knocked him to the ground, it had taken off, along with two remaining demons- one injured by a bolt sticking out of it’s scaly shoulder. He dusted himself off as Spike snapped the neck of one and the Slayer and two male youths finished off the other.

With intense irritation, the vampires watched their marks scatter. Now their second confrontation and only three killed between them thanks to the Slayer and the humans interfering. What the hell they were doing there? He wondered with a dark frown…the Slayer, yeah- both vampires had been aware that a Slayer resided at this particular hellmouth, and had hoped to avoid confrontation for obvious reasons.

But in all his long unlife, he’d never heard of a Slayer that actively worked in the field with humans in tow. Although the Slayer had managed to kill another two of demons, which narrowed down the marks he and Spike had to deal with – but with the reckless help from the humans? Weren’t Slayers supposed to keep a low profile? What was the world coming to, Angel wondered shaking his dark head in disgust.

Several days earlier, after finding Spike who’d been shoved down a derelict elevator shaft at the New York Warehouse, the fall knocking him out cold, Angel had pulled him out, and then both had impatiently waited until the cover of darkness to continue their pursuit. Already aware of the demons’ planned destination, it hadn’t taken them long to catch up. They needed a Hellmouth for a particular ritual the vampires were contracted to avert, so it was expected the demons would make for Sunnydale, the nearest one in these parts.

What they hadn’t expected was the sound of fighting- and the sight that met their stunned eyes. So much for their decision to keep a low profile! Vamping out hadn’t helped either, judging by the wary eyes now aimed their way right now. Just fucking great.

Angel walked over to retrieve his sword, but before he could reach down and grab it, a booted foot appeared in his line of vision and slammed down on the bloodied blade. He sighed silently and rose to his full height, backing up and leaving the weapon where it was. Equally wary brown eyes lifted to connect with the cold blue of the Slayer.

“Who the hell are you- and, more importantly- why are you helping us?”

***

Spike appeared next to his partner in a blur of movement that made the humans jolt in nervous surprise. Buffy remained steady, used to their unnatural speed, but her eyes flicked from one to the other vampire warily.

“Who said we were helping?” Spike drawled “You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He added with a casual shrug and pulled out a crabby pack of cigarettes, shook one out and lit it with a heavy silver lighter.

They faced off each other in the now eerily quiet clearing. Buffy headed her group, who now congregated slightly behind her.

Angel eyed the crossbow that the redheaded youth, who didn’t smell quite so human at closer quarters, had now leveled towards them- also taking note of the stake that had appeared abruptly in the Slayer’s hand. “We’ve been tracking that particular clan for a while,” he finally replied. Then went on to briefly explain that they’d been hunting the demons who’d escaped them and fled New York a few days before. They’d been following their trail for several nights when they came upon their fight.

“Good thing we showed up,” he finished, almost insultingly.

Buffy’s back immediately went up at his scathing tone. “We could have taken them without your help,” she responded coldly, even though inwardly she knew that was debatable, but they didn’t have to know that. At the same time, it hit Buffy that these two were the reason her vampy tinglies had set off earlier.

Angel looked at her expressionlessly for a long moment before glancing around him pointedly. “She would have been dead or worse by now.” He gestured to Cordy, who scowled and folded her arms tight, but kept her mouth shut because, unfortunately, it was true. “Those two whelps were having trouble taking them on, too.” Angel indicated Xander and Oz with a jerk of his dark head.

“Little cutie over there was left alone,” Spike added, and winked casually at Tara who found herself blushing like a schoolgirl. She ducked her fair head and looked at the soft grass beneath her shoes.

Buffy swallowed the guilt as she belatedly recalled that Tara had been separated from the rest of them in the midst of battle. The vamps had a point, but no way was she going to admit it to them. Instead she folded her arms and attempted to stare them both down.

Angel raked a hand through his spiky dark hair, unconsciously drawing Cordy’s eyes, which then dropped to get a longer look at his face. Although hard and pretty expressionless, she could see clearly an edge of violence in those almost black eyes. No revision on her initial thoughts; he was sinfully handsome …pity! A small, disappointed sight left her.

Watching him beating the crap out of one of demons earlier had been quite a turn on she grudgingly admitted; for such a powerfully built guy, he moved with an almost feline grace that drew her eye. But it had been one hell of a shock seeing his handsome face change when the demon had got in a lucky punch. Just her luck, she thought. The only decent male around for ages and he had to be not only full of himself, but a vampire to boot.

Oblivious to the brunette’s thoughts, Angel pinned the Slayer with hard eyes. “I get why you’re here, Slayer, but bringing along humans? You’re either new to the gig or just plain stupid,” he chastised coldly.

A collective gasp echoed, and then Xander stepped forward, his youthful face twisted in defensive anger. “Back off, Dead Boy, it’s none of your business how we do things around here.”

Buffy remained silent as the familiar guilt surged to the surface. Their human frailty wasn’t lost on her and it was a worry that still plagued on and off. But she knew from past experience exactly what they’d say or do if she told them not to accompany her on patrol. They’d done it before, and if she’d hadn’t have come across them when she had, Willow would have been dead- or undead after they’d been attacked by a small group of vampires. Better they were with her rather than worry they’d follow regardless of her demands.

Quashing her emotions on the subject for now, Buffy hardened her own gaze. It was so easy for these two interlopers to say that- not that she could understand why they’d helped- or why she was still standing there listening instead of staking their asses. Why the hell would these vampires have even the remotest feelings about anything but the kill- of humans?

“How I work is none of your business, Fangy,” Buffy fiddled with the stake even as she eyed the two vampires with mistrust. “What I wanna know is why you helped us?” she lifted a hand when Spike opened his mouth to reply, “Yeah, I get that you were after those demons, but why not us- me? I *am* your natural enemy,” she reminded them unnecessarily.

“We’re here to do a job, nothing more.” Spike raised his hands in mock surrender and took a step back, his expression now reflecting boredom. “Now, if you’ve finished, luv, we’ll be on our way.” He half turned away, wanting to put as much distance as he could between them. The girl and what she stood for brought bad memories and even worse regrets back to the surface. The terrified face of the last Slayer he’d killed still haunted him. What had once become some kind of personal quest back in the day now sickened him. He needed to leave now.

But Buffy wasn’t finished by a long shot. She’d seen what was under those human veneers. Would have sensed it even if she hadn’t – she hoped so, anyway. They weren’t acting like any vamps she’d ever come across and that made them more dangerous in her book. An unknown quality was never a good thing. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of Sunnydale and not look back,” she finally warned.

Spike turned back and looked at her with a lift of a dark brow, but didn’t bother to reply this time, his expression unreadable. Angel, equally poker-faced replied instead. “Once we finish what we came here to-”

“This is my territory,” Buffy butted in abruptly and took a step forward. “I can deal with them. Go back where you came from or I’ll deal with you now.” It wasn’t a threat and both vampires seemed to turn into stone. The tension on both sides racked up and Buffy swallowed thickly.

And then the dark haired vampire relaxed and let a slight smile touch his mouth. Buffy’s breath hitched. “We don’t want trouble, but …” Cool confidence oozed from him as he shrugged offhandedly, unspoken words hung in the air between them, and it gave her pause for thought.

Right now, each and every one of them sported bruises. She could see no other choice but to retreat. She’d seen them fight. It had taken three of them to kill one of those uber-strong demons. Granted she was the only one with supernatural strength, but still, the two vamps had taken out three demons with relative ease.

More powerful than the average vamp, these two – especially the dark haired one. She’d bet her life on it that his large, imposing body was finely honed with muscle. The brutal yet efficient methods they’d used told of years- maybe centuries of fighting skills. Hell, just looking into those deep brown eyes that seemed to hold a lifetime…

The last vampire she’d come across with that look in his eyes had been Luke, – and he hadn’t shown as much skill as the ones facing her now. Buffy had beat him – but by the skin of her teeth. It had taken several days to recover from the injuries he’d inflicted on her

Unlikely she’d walk away Scot-free. Yes, Buffy, decided grimly. Retreat was the best option- for now. She took a step back and lowered her stake slowly.

The vampires widened the gap a little more, and after eyeing the contemplative Slayer briefly, Angel flicked his dark gaze over Cordelia, from head to toe. This one was worth hanging around for… even without the business that brought him here. He admired her sass…amongst other things. It probably wasn’t the time or place, but dayyamn, she’s sweet! He let a slight, sensual smile touch his firm mouth. “Maybe see you around.”

The pure male appreciation in that look had Cordy tingling right down to her toes, but she rolled her eyes and shoved aside the accompanying shiver that ran along her spine under his hot appraisal. “Not if my stake sees you first, vampire.” She jolted when a soft, deep chuckle floated through the air even as they stepped back and then seemingly melted into the darkness.

TBC…

Califi

Posted August 11, 2017 by califi in TBC

Mercenary Hearts 2   1 comment

Part 2

Tara sat herself in a nice quiet corner of the University library and did what she did best – watched with interest as the group she’d become a part of since meeting Cordelia Chase, went through what she’d found to be their nightly routine.

Well, Tara didn’t really see herself as a part of the group; more of someone in ‘the know’ and willing to help when she could. More or less the role Cordelia played… which at first confused Tara, as there was history between her, the redhead, Willow Rosenberg who, like her, was a pretty accomplished Witch; the girl’s squeeze, Oz – who was also a werewolf on a full moon basis, and the blonde girl, Buffy Summers, who, she recently found out was a supernaturally enhanced being going by the ‘Official’ title of Vampire Slayer.

The one girl chosen to rid the world of evil vampires…. Only since she’d become friends with Cordy, Tara had heard there was also another- not that anyone one really talked about it. Even Cordelia hadn’t said much about the other Slayer, besides her name being Faith and the pleasure she’d taken at the time the other girl had arrived, and put Buffy’s nose out of joint. – And that the girl had left under a dark cloud.

Cordy had been pretty blunt about her own place in the ‘Scooby’ dynamics, although she had admitted to not exactly making an effort to be truly accepted – the only connection originally having more to do with the guy she’d been dating at the time. Watching the interaction between the two girls and Xander Harris had filled in quite a few gaps that had said a lot more to Tara than anything Cordelia had.

She was more than certain that his almost worshipful regard for the Slayer and over-protectiveness of the little redhead wasn’t something new, and could understand to a large degree why *that* particular relationship was doomed from the start. Her new friend, in Tara’s opinion, deserved more than coming third place. Hell, anyone did!

She’d met Cordy by chance in the halls of University on her second day. Being painfully shy, Tara had done her usual avoidance tactic and attempted to blend in, but being a pretty girl with soft blonde hair and lush curves obviously worked against the ability to do so. She’d filled out quite a lot in the time between High School and the first day of uni. A come on by one of the older students that had quickly become unpleasant had her cringing against the wall and inwardly panicking- until a voice cool enough to freeze the air had cut through the tense atmosphere of the deserted uni corridor and put the would-be groper in his place quick smart.

Tara had watched with relief and quiet admiration as the young woman reduced the 150lb jock to a quivering wreck before he’d rapidly disappeared with his tail between his legs. She’d then turned to asked Tara if she was okay.

The others had seemed pole-axed the first time Cordy had introduced Tara to them- a week or so after striking up a surprisingly warm friendship. An unlikely one going by the reaction of the Scoobies. Buffy had pulled Cordelia to one side and although her voice was lowered, Tara hadn’t been able to help but hear the admonishment which her new friend had let wash off her like water on a duck’s back.

“You think I’d bring Tara along if she wasn’t already in the know?” She’d asked with a raised brow. “Trust me, she knows ‘monsters under the bed’ isn’t just a saying.” Cordelia then went on to reveal that a small spell Tara had used saved her life out in the university car park.

“I’d be vamp chow right now if she hadn’t come along,” Cordy Explained briefly how her arms had been full of books at the time. The redhead, Willow, who’d watched silently from the sidelines, had immediately turned her inquisitive eyes on her.

“You’re a Witch?” After the nod of confirmation, Willow had visibly warmed to her, admitting to ‘dabbling’ herself and went on to ask if she’d be interested in joining a local Wicca group run by some of the older students…

The Scoobies had found out pretty quickly that her friendship and loyalty to Cordy was unshakeable. After several initial comments as they’d wondered how she and Cordelia could possibly be friends- that only missed being snide due to what looked to be real confusion on their expressions, were soon brought to a halt when Tara in turn had asked why? Weren’t they her friends?.

The disbelief on their faces when she’d added that Cordy, although only knowing her a short time, she’d found to have a warm heart and was ‘interesting to be around, had been disconcerting.

Xander Harris’ “Interesting isn’t the word that comes to mind” comment had her zipping her lip and keeping her personal opinions to herself. After that, they’d wisely backed off.

But Tara had decided to take up Willow on her suggestion and joined the Wicca group -after the girl had pestered her for several nights, seeming genuinely pleased when she’d finally agreed. Cordelia had bluntly asked if it was really what she wanted, knowing Tara wasn’t one to deal with someone like Willow Rosenberg and her ability to talk anyone under a table; offering to step in, until Tara admitted to agreeing purely out of interest in the group.

Not knowing many people, and what with Cordy having Self defence classes, as well as weapons training she’d worn Rupert Giles into agreeing to several months before, it gave Tara a feeling of some independence- as well as not wanting Cordy ever to think of her friendship not unlike that of a barnacle to a ship’s hull. A small grin touched her pretty mouth as she imagined Cordy’s response to that thought if ever she said it out loud.

But comfortable enough with solitude, Tara usually spent her spare time sat quietly, the times Cordelia was absent, actually grateful for the ‘clique-yness’ the others had; too involved with their own gossip and interests to think of pulling her in. That left her plenty of time to observe and absorb.

She noted that Oz, too, tended to sit back, only now and again making comments that held depth beyond his years. Oz mostly listened as Willow chattered almost constantly, jumping from one subject to another in a way that would have had Tara blinking dizzily if she’d have been taking notice fully.

Willow twittered a lot. At first it was pretty endearing, but Tara sometimes felt the girl wasn’t quite as ditzy as she outwardly appeared and that the twittering, almost childish speak was more of a habit she refused to grow out of.  Xander… Xander Harris at first came across as a bit bumbly, a major joker- especially when things were tense…but there was something there on occasions that reminded Tara of the saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.

A lot of the joking around seemed to her to be deliberate at times, as if attempting to pull the Slayer out of her frequent funks. The young mans’ dark eyes unknowingly revealed his feelings where Buffy was concerned, but she either ignored it or was completely clueless- which was a shame in Tara’s mind, as his normality could possibly balance out the girls life in a good way.

Buffy Summer’s topics of conversation were mostly self-involved- but Tara could understand that to a point. The girl obviously had a lot of responsibility on her young and deceptively fragile shoulders, and Tara supposed that the world probably did sometimes feel like it revolved around her. She did think to herself sometimes that the girl would excel in Drama, and was tempted to suggest it whenever Buffy complained of her boring, ‘sucky’ life.

Rupert Giles, once Librarian at the now derelict Sunnydale high, had managed to acquire the position of Head Librarian, and ran the University Library like clockwork. It amazed Tara how he managed it, what with his extra curricular activities. But she supposed after several years of juggling his time, he’d got it down to a fine art.

After a meeting with the Wicca group, and nothing much else to do, what with Cordelia being out with her parents and her assignments done and dusted, Tara had agreed to accompany Willow to the Library and help with what she’d soon found was almost nightly demon research. Willow mentioned that Buffy and Xander had gone out for eats, but Oz was going to meet her at the library.

Her thoughts were wrenched to the present when the library doors crashed open. All eyes turned and widened as the rumpled state of the pair who stumbled in.

“Houston, we have a problem,” Buffy blew at a loose tendril of hair, her face a little bruised, and expression highly pissed.

“Don’t tell me they’ve ran out of Rocky Road at the Ice cream Parlour?” Willow’s weakly witty comment broke the stunned silence.

***

“From your description I may have an idea of what kind of demons you faced,” Giles spoke as he rose from his seat at one of the large study tables scattered around the vaulted library. “Hold on a moment,” he told them absently and headed off towards his office.

Buffy looked around with a slight frown on her face, until her eyes landed on Tara, who was still tucked away at a smaller, nearby table. “Where’s Cordy tonight?” she asked after a perfunctory smile and nod.

“She-she’s out with her parents- for dinner,” Tara replied, responding with a tight smile of her own, which dried up instantly at the resulting scowl on the blonde’s face.

While Tara was wondering why Buffy would ask in the middle of a mini crisis, the scowl deepened. “Damn; we could really do with her here tonight,” understanding dawned and Tara had to stop herself from rolling her eyes, Cordelia fashion. Giles, appeared carrying an old, tattered tome, and a newspaper

“I think it best that I remain here while you and the others go out on patrol.” He told them, sitting back in his chair and placing the book to one side. If I find anything worthwhile, I’ll call you- you have your cell, yes?” he asked, his already distracted eyes lifting briefly in time to see Buffy pull it out of her back pocket and wave it at him. “Good; make sure it’s turned on this time.” Buffy rolled her eyes before nodding.

“_And not smashed to smithereens accidentally,” he added pointedly, again looking up from the pages of cramped text.

“It’s not like I did it on purpose,” Buffy pouted. “Don’t forget, I get thrown around a lot in this gig.”

Giles cocked his head to one side before replying; “If I recall, the last time was when you happened to sit on it after fighting over a slice of pizza with Xander.” A flush stained her cheeks even as the pout melted into a grimace.

“Now back to business,” Giles added after a pause, opening the newspaper he still held and laying it open on the table. “ I saw an article in here this morning which may have some relevance on the situation…”

***

“Sorry that we have to love you and leave you, darling, but the flight leaves in three hours, and you know how they are at LAX about passengers arriving at the last minute.” Mrs Chase checked her watch even as she threw an apologetic smile towards her daughter in the back.

“It’s okay, mummy, I’m heading straight for a long bath anyway,” Cordy replied as she opened the rear door to climb out of her parent’s Jaguar. Her father reached over to pat her knee.

“Are you sure you can’t come along?” He asked, ignoring his wife’s reminder of the time. “It isn’t too late, sweetheart, I can arrange for a ticket to be held for you at the airport- you could meet us at our hotel tomorrow, or in a day or two?” Cordy shook her head, a warm smile spread her lips, brightening the evening.

“Sorry, Daddy, but I have way too many assignments to do to even get away for a weekend,” she leaned into the car and dropped a grateful peck on his cheek. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Have fun, and don’t forget to bring me back a bottle of vintage wine, okay?” she gave his arm a playful squeeze, then leaned in to kiss the air next to her mother’s rouged cheek.

“We will, but you won’t be able to open it for another few years, darling,” her mother reminded her with a regal lift of an arched brow, missing the sly wink and stifled smile father and daughter exchanged.

A minute later the car pulled off, and Cordy couldn’t help but sigh longingly as she watched the taillights fade and vanish out of sight. With another heartfelt sigh and a pout that would have impressed Buffy Summers, she turned wearily towards the short flight of steps to her front door, then muttered an oath under her breath when the mechanical strains of “Who let the dogs out” broke the silence.

Reaching into her purely-for-decoration purse, Cordy extracted her cell and flipped it open. “y’ hello?” her eyes rolled. “I’ll just go cha- riiiight.” She closed the phone with a snap and glared at it like it was a rotten egg.

“No time for that! You’re needed pronto!” her voice rising in an exaggeration of Buffy’s. Shoving the cell in her purse, she dug out her keys. And about turned before stalking towards the garage.

“I Knew I should’ve gone to Baruch!”

***

Cordy eyed the dense trees that lined the side of the highway with misgiving before frowning down at her attire of floaty chiffon skirt and strappy silk top, grateful at least for the incongruous looking tennis shoes she’d found tucked in the recesses of the trunk of her car- as well as her decision to wear silk panties instead of the sheer lace thong that had tempted her eye when she’d got ready for the restaurant earlier.

Damn, “You shoulda let me at least change into something a little less ‘pet me, I’m available'”, she griped, flicking an irritated glance Buffy’s way after briefly sending Xander a killing glare when he commented snidely that available was good since they were trying to get the demon’s attention.

“Sorry, but time was of the needy type,” Buffy replied lightly, adding faux-sweetly. “We didn’t have time for you to go through you’re uber closet,” garnering an arched brow from Cordy

Catching Tara’s eye, and the slight ‘let it go, it isn’t worth it’ shake of her head, Cordy let out a calming breath; “So, what? Any idea where these big n scalies are gonna be? She asked.

Buff shook her head. “Nope. Not really- but Giles said he’d read in the Tribune that some teens were frightened off from this area yesterday.”

“But this is the hellmouth, Buff; things like that happen all the time,” Xander piped up. Buffy flipped the stake she always seemed to have on demand no matter the time of day, making Tara wonder if she took it in the bath with her.

“You heard what Giles said: the would-be attackers were ‘badly disfigured’- and it was still light when it happened, which rules out vamps” Buffy told them. “So I reckon here is a good place to start.” She turned to Cordy; “These demons were after a girl, – and you’re it” she added bluntly. Cordy grit her teeth. Although things were better since the High school blew up, there still existed an edge– moreso since she’d picked up on the more-than friendly vibes between Buffy and her ex.

She personally felt they deserved each other- plus the fact that it was obvious that Xander had it bad when he was her boyfriend- that was one of the reasons she broke it off with him- that and realising she wasn’t in love with him, and probably never would be.

Oblivious to Cordy’s thoughts, Buffy continued. “There’s a small clearing just past those trees. You head towards it.” all business now, she stepped back. “We’ll follow behind and watch your back.” She assured the brunette when seeing hesitation.

“What about my front?” Cordy muttered under her breath, turning away from the group and headed for the trees, wondering, not for the first time why she agreed to be permanent Bait girl. “Sounds so *not* like a well-thought out plan” she whispered nervously to herself as the clearing came into sight.

Buffy in the meantime, felt tinglies. Odd. Normally, she only got them when vamps are nearby. Oh well, two birds with one stake… she thought with a shrug…. and then a high-pitched yelp broke the semi-silence.

She rushed on ahead; leaving Xander, Willow, Oz and Tara trailing behind, her attention focussing on Cordy as she left the trees behind her. The brunette was struggling with a demon that looked identical to the two herself and Xander had come across earlier that night. She also noted absently that Cordy was doing pretty well at staving – and then she skidded to an abrupt halt.

“Well, crap!” the others caught up and stopped too. There was more than one. About half a dozen of ‘em, in fact. And they were surrounded.

“A little help here!” Cordy’s yelp shook Buffy out of her crap moment and she took a flying leap toward the struggling pair and landed on the demon’s back. The jolt caused the demon to lose his grip on Cordy, who instantly dropped to the grass and then rolled to her feet. The others spread out in a small semi circle.

Oz lifted the crossbow he’d brought along and waited for a clear shot, and as soon as the demon faced him, Buffy still on it’s back; took aim and fired. Willow winced and ewwed under her breath at the sloopy, cracking sound made as the bolt jammed through its eye socket. The demon died instantly and dropped like a stone. Buffy landed gracefully next to it, pausing to give it a hard nudge with her booted foot before throwing Oz a quick grin and then all hell broke loose.

The death of the first demon seemed to act as a catalyst. The remaining demons had been just as surprised to see the Slayer and the others as they were and had frozen in their tracks- until their comrade hit the ground.

Cordy took a step forward, about to make her way over to Tara, who now stood alone holding onto a crossbow for her, and brandishing a short sword but looking a little nervous about using it- then Cordy’s arm was captured in an almost crushing hold. The demon that’d grabbed her swung her round roughly but Cordy used the impetus to kick high and ram her heel into its gut. She grimaced when all that got her was a slight ooph. “I should’ve kept my kitten heels on.”

Hooking a foot around the back of one of it’s knees, she yanked hard, and then her mouth opened in a dismayed yelp when, instead of falling backwards, the demon, who still held her arm lurched towards her bringing them both down, with her ending up pinned between it and the ground.

A large scaly palm pressed down on her mouth and nose, and no amount of heaving or kicking moved the great hulking beast. Just as stars started to appear before her vision, the weight of the hand -and demon abruptly vanished.

Only vaguely aware of a sharp snap sounding a few feet from her, Cordy sucked in much needed air- then the sensation of someone- or thing hovering over her caused her eyes to flicker open … and found herself looking into a shadowed face… Dark, yet glittering eyes held a touch of leering appreciation as they flicked over her before lifting again to lock with her dilated gaze. The gleam of white teeth flashed for a moment and she blinked, still a little dazed.

“Nice panties,” a dark as velvet voice commented….

Part 3

Posted August 11, 2017 by califi in TBC

Mercenary Hearts 1   1 comment

Part 1

Rumania, 1898.

The acrid stench of fear hung in the air like a pall. Angelus’ mouth watered copiously, impatient to push aside the pleasantries Darla loved so much.

“We decided today was our boys’ birthdays,” she purred softly into his ear, slim pale arms wrapped around his thick neck, her body plastered against him. He gave her a cursory glance then looked over her fair head impatiently, attempting to see what had assailed his senses so deliciously from the moment he’d entered the building, but Drusilla blocked his view as she literally danced on the spot; her glittering eyes widening with excitement when the door behind him opened and her loved one entered.

“My Spike is finally here and now the party can begin!” She clapped her hands with glee. “Can we let them open their presents now?” Her delicate face turned towards Darla, feral excitement twisting her pretty features. The blonde shook her head and twining arms tightened, thin fingers threading through Angelus’ hair to tug demandingly.

“All in good time, sweetling, but first I want my boy to greet me in a proper manner.” China blue eyes gazed into his expectantly, and with an inward growl of building impatience he brought his head down and devoured her scarlet mouth brutally.

Spike peered around the brunette and grinned in sheer delight. “Ahh, Dru, you’ve truly outdone yourself tonight. However shall I repay you for such a precious gift?” Striking dark brows wriggled deliberately and the answering girlish giggles were stifled abruptly as the sound of wet kisses and purring growls filled the room… but then the softest whimper intruded and avid curiosity had Angelus finally tearing his lips away from the woman in his arms and looked up.

Flames danced and spat in the impressive stone fireplace casting its golden glow across the marble floor. Candles flickered warm yellow light from every available surface bringing an almost dreamy ambience to the cavernous and sparsely furnished chamber.

But nothing compared to the gold fire that lit the dark vampire’s eyes as they finally sought out and rested on the ‘gifts’ his sire and childe had laid out artistically a few feet from the large hearth. Pulling away from the arms and body still clinging to him like poison ivy, Angelus stepped around the petite blonde, his tongue sliding out to moisten suddenly parched lips.

Walking over, he circled slowly, a lecherous smile lighting his strong pale face as glittering tigers eyes caught a glimpse of delicate ankles peeking temptingly from under the voluminous material of heavy, pale blue skirts. Wrists were tied together with red silken cords and pulled taut over their heads, the ends wrapped around the thick oak legs of a large damask-covered couch.

Dropping to his haunches, Angelus reached out a large hand and ran it from hip to knee, a deep dark chuckle rumbling through his chest when a bare foot lifted and kicked out.

With the accuracy of a deadly snake, he grabbed the fragile ankle and held it high, grinning in delight that the lower limbs were left unbound. He brought it to his mouth; dropping light teasing kisses along warm, olive silky flesh, which quivered in his firm grip.

Spike teased Drusilla’s smiling blood red mouth with biting kisses before releasing her to saunter over. Cool blue eyes ran over both the young girls huddled next to each other, liquid brown gazes frantic with fear above the confining gags. Their clothes although lacking the richness of wealth were still bright and flattering. Long dark hair hung loose around their shaking shoulders, and his eyes glinted with more than the reflection of the roaring fire. “Gypsies,” he breathed with a pleasured purr.

The female vampires held hands and swayed coquettishly. “Not just any gypsies,” Darla responded with a triumphant grin, causing Drusilla to giggle and swing their joined hands.

“Romany,” Angelus murmured softly, his free hand reaching down to slide the covering fabric along from the trembling leg he still held fast. “I have no idea how you both managed such a difficult endeavor,” he grinned back briefly, “but be sure I’ll show you just how impressed I am, later.” His promise of reward made, Angelus’ dark head turned back to the banquet laid out before him before opening his mouth and suckling on the soft skin now bared to his hungry eyes.

“And I look forward to it, my love,” Darla replied, licking her too-red lips as avid eyes followed the path of his roving hand and grinned with feral amusement when a muffled cry of pained distress echoed through the chamber following the sound of tearing fabric. His purr of delight as thick, blood-tinged fingers slid between his lips had her impatient for a taste, she tugged on Drusilla’s hand taking a step forward, but stilled when a low growl warned her they were close enough. Willing to let him have his fun alone for a little while longer, she settled down to watch.

“Twice the pleasure,” Drusilla giggled softly and pulled away from Darla and began to dance around the room. “Two pretty little girls who share the same face, isn’t that just wonderful?”

Spike shifted his avid gaze from the now bare writhing limbs of the girl chosen by his sire and tugged the other closer. He ran a long finger down the side of her frightened face, enjoying the silky texture, the gentle smile that graced his sculpted mouth at odds with the savage light in his eyes. “Wonderful, pet, truly wonderful.”

*
*
*
“It hurts, yes? Good. It will hurt more.” The old Romany woman smiled coldly, her wrinkled lips twisting with a hint of glee as she looked down on the two prone vampires.

“You don’t remember… everything you’ve both done. In a moment, you will. The face of everyone you killed… our daughters faces… they will haunt you, and you will know what true suffering is….”

***

“So… Could you tell me if we need to help you file for assistance?” The woman smiled in what Cordelia guessed was the “I’m-your-friend-trust-me’ look these people probably worked on constantly to get it just right.

”What do you mean by that?”

The smile faded pretty quickly. Obviously it wasn’t working this time.” Ah…assistance. Public assistance. Do you have a job?” Cordelia nodded instantly; an expression of pride on her face.

”Yup. Got a job. I work at the cafeteria at the University. You ever been there? I’m the beverage girl. See, I get there really early in the morning, 6:30 am, and I start these big huge urns of coffee. And I make the iced teas. And the lemonade, too. And I have my afternoons all to myself cause I get off around three. It’s great, to get off work and it’s still like practically the middle of the day!” She finished breathlessly and then sat back, folding her arms tight across her chest.

”So you don’t need to apply for public assistance.” The woman asked again causing a dark frown to crease Cordelia’s normally smooth brow as she glared at her.

” I just told you. I’ve got a job.” The woman stared back. After years in her job, she was pretty much used to antagonism. Then she blinked and finally broke contact, dropping her eyes to the open file on her lap.

”Let’s see… ‘Recently released from…Women’s penitentiary. Probation for a year…’ That’s what it says here, in your record.” The woman pointed out so calmly that Cordelia had to stifle the urge to yank the file from her and throw it across the room. “Now, could you tell me about this attempt to steal the Christ Child out of the rectory of the University Lutheran—”

“Didn’t steal nothing.”

The woman blinked rapidly at the vehement tone in the voice that interrupted her. “Sorry?”

Cordelia’s expression was tight with anger, defensiveness in every line of her body. “Who says I stole? I didn’t steal nothing … Anything.” She added reluctantly after a pause.

RINGGGG!

“Timeout. Thank you, Sarah, Cordelia. Very well done, now don’t forget, study, people!” Closing the book on his desk with a snap, Mister Barnes eyed the class with a stink eye before leaning down and grabbing the tattered old briefcase next to his chair. “I want this scene wrapped up by tomorrow afternoon. Get to it.” With a quick flick of his hand, he left the room without looking back.

Chairs scraped across the floor as students got to their feet and made a mass exodus to the open door.

“That was really good, I wish I could just…” she shrugged before continuing, “forget everyone else was watching when it’s me up there.” Tara took her time rising, sliding her books and notes carefully into the holdall she pulled off the back of her chair.

“Like I said before, just imagine everyone in their underwear. Works for me,” Cordelia’s grin turned into a grimace. “But then, maybe not such a good idea where Mister Barnes is concerned. Can I say ewwe?” Tara giggled, pushing in her chair before walking over to join the brunette at her desk.

Reaching out quickly to grab a book that tried to slide off the top in protest as things were stuffed into a large purse haphazardly, she held onto it until everything else disappeared, then handed it over. “What do you have planned tonight?” she asked as they made their way out of the now empty room at a more leisurely pace than the other students had.

Pulling a face, Cordelia shrugged with a sigh. “Dinner with mother and daddy,” her bottom lip pushed out a little. “They’re off to Sicily tonight. Business trip thrown in with a little sightseeing.” She shrugged again, outwardly unconcerned, but Tara picked up on the hidden pique.

“Didn’t they get back from Hawaii not long ago?” she asked, shifting her hold all more securely on her shoulder. Cordelia nodded glumly. “I’m sorry.” Tara added.

Cordelia shook off her mini funk, leaning over to nudge the blonde girl with a grin. “It’s not your fault my parents decided to ask me if I wanna go to Italy half way through a semester.” The grin faltered for a second. “Dammit, I’ve always wanted to go to Sicily too,” she whined. Tara patted her arm consolingly, and then dug into her jean jacket pocket.

“Twinkie?” she proffered a slightly squished candy bar, and then grinned at first the look of horror, quickly followed by guilty greed as Cordelia took it, then Tara pulled out another bar and unwrapped it.

“Don’t think I won’t remember this when I’m as big as a hippo and have to buy two seats on the next plane I ever get to travel on,” she warned between bites. Both giggled as they sauntered down the rapidly emptying corridor of Sunnydale University.

***

“God, I don’t think I have room for ice cream after that,” Buffy groaned, rubbing her middle soothingly as she walked out of the Pizza Parlor.

“If that’s your way of saying you want me to pay for the cold creamy goodness, forget it.” Xander gave her a warning look as he shrugged into his jacket. “I got the pizza,” he reminded. Buffy rolled her eyes before poking him in the ribs lightly with her elbow, eyes rolling once again at his exaggerated ‘ooph’.

“And here was I thinking that the man was supposed to buy,”

“Who said I was a man?” he quipped, “Anyway, the man only buys when it’s a date.” The grin slipped a little as awkwardness worked its way to the surface. “And it isn’t a date – is it?” Mentally kicking himself for making it a question, Xander gave a quick sideways look and flushed a little when wide eyes collided with his.

What was she supposed to say? No, don’t be stupid, we’re FRIENDS-? Or… well, I was actually kinda thinking…. Giving herself a shake Buffy instead decided to change the subject. “So what flavor ice cream are you gonna have?” She plastered a big smile on her face and deliberately ignored the stifled sigh that left him.

Xander kicked a bottle lid absently while he attempted to shove down the urge to confront the abrupt shift in atmosphere between them. He knew they’d have to talk about whatever it was that was that was going on soon, but not now. Lifting his head, he turned to respond when something caught his eye. “Uh oh, trouble.”

Buffy instantly followed his gaze and stiffened as her eyes locked onto the shadowy figures several meters away down the dark alleyway they’d been about to pass. Reaching round the back of her jeans, she pulled out a stake and changed direction. Xander followed closely with a frown and whispered,; “How did you sit down with that in your pants?” Then shrugged and concentrated on the scene ahead.

“What’s up, scaly? Didn’t she like the idea of a date with ya?” Buffy quipped, eying the unconscious girl one of the demons held close to its large, blue-skinned body whilst she worked out the best way to rescue her safely. Xander widened the space between them and sidled along the wall, his eyes never leaving the demons as he edged forward.

As soon as they’d heard her voice, both demons had turned to face her; the one holding the girl stepped back until his cohort was almost in front of him. He sniffed the air and grimaced. “A slayer” he hissed gutturally.

The one who’d taken up a protective stance half turned his large head to flick a quick glance behind him. “We can’t risk a confrontation right now. Leave the sacrifice; we can get another one,” he ordered harshly.

Sacrifice? Buffy and Xander exchanged glances then moved as one.

Xander looked around the dark alley for something to use as a weapon while his companion charged the empty handed demon. Just as he spotted and grabbed a length of rusty pipe, the other demon had started to make good his escape with the girl. Checking quickly behind him and finding that Buffy was still busy with the other demon, Xander weighed up his choices and then decided a slightly injured victim was better than a dead one and ran forward, swinging the heavy pipe.

The demon grunted loudly as the metal caught the side of his head and staggered, but still doggedly held onto the girl. Groaning in frustration, Xander jogged ahead and turned, blocking his quarry and hoping he could stave until Buffy had dealt with the other one.

Shaking its big head, the demon righted itself and then eyed the youth for a moment through lidless eyes before its thin lips spread into what was obviously a sneer but looked more like a grimace, revealing small yellow – and very sharp looking teeth. It lifted the girl and threw her over a large bony shoulder and then advanced.

Xander gulped, but refused to budge. Pipe at the ready as the demon got closer, one of its large hands curled into an impressive fist.
His anxious eyes sought out Buffy’s’ whereabouts and he swallowed thickly when realizing she was too busy fighting herself to come to his aid. His split second distraction cost him. The demon was now only a foot away and he raised the pipe to shoulder level, wondering how the hell he’d be able to use it to its full potential with the girl in the way.

And then a small pair of hands appeared either side of the demon’s head, which abruptly twisted it in the opposite direction with a sickening crunch. Relief filled Xander even as he rushed forward when the large figure began to crumple to the ground, managing to grab the girl round the waist before it hit the floor.

Surprised brown eyes met wry green when he lifted his head.

Keeping hold of the arms she’d grabbed at the same time Xander had moved, Buffy steadied the girl, who was now slowly coming round, while Xander settled her feet on the ground. “So much for an ice cream pig out,” she grumbled.

Part 2

[The small scene in the class came from NOVEMBER WOMEN, a one-act play by Kate McGrath]

Posted August 11, 2017 by califi in TBC

Mercenary Hearts Prologue   Leave a comment

Title: Mercenary Hearts
Author: Califi
Posted: 25/06/05
Email
Rating: R/N-17
Category: AU
Content: C/A
Summary: Challenge by Impress.
Spoilers: Based Around BtVS 4 timeline- but AU
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: just ask
Notes: Did I ever tell y’all I hate bruddy fight scenes? Grrr Arrrgh! A/N: Some already know that this fic is also a kinda ‘lesson’ that Lysa is overseeing….so I would like to thanks Lysa once more for her support through this fic. I only hope I do the lesson justice.
Challenge: details at bottom of page.
Feedback: Is always nice!


 

Prologue

“Are we gonna go in there and kill ‘em, or just act like bruddy virgins at an orgy?” Spike asked; rolling his eyes when Angel lifted a silencing hand in response, his dark eyes fixed on the grubby window of the derelict warehouse.

“There are too many,” Angel finally spoke, his voice a low rumble. “Let’s wait until they split up.” A statement, rather than a suggestion, Spike noticed sourly.

“Then it’ll take bloody forever to find ’em again.” He shifted impatiently on the crate he’d found to sit on; he’d never been one to avoid a fight, regardless of the odds, and he was getting antsy just waiting. He could think of better places to hang out than this particular area of New York. The bleached blonde hated the smell of harbour water. It brought back too many bad memories of his not-so brief reign of terror in the murky Docklands of England.

The dark haired vampire beside him hadn’t so much as twitched a muscle since they’d ended up on the outside looking in, and that just pissed him off more. Oh, he could do the impression of a tree alright, but that meant being still. Which soon led to boredom… “Shoulda brought popcorn”, he muttered under his breath. At least eating would take the edge off.

They’d been tracking the group of demons hiding out in the warehouse for several weeks, and had been more than irritated earlier to find out there were easily half a dozen more than the seven the paperwork had stated.

Although that put the kibosh on ending it tonight, being pissed had nothing to do with being outnumbered, and everything to do with the price agreed upon. Angel was more than tempted to stick to the original number and let the ones who’d hired them sort out the others themselves.

But his decision to wait it out until the group broke up a little and pick out their marks then, was just about to hit the crapper.

In fact, from the second Spike dropped his half-smoked cigarette and rose lithely to his feet. “Sod it. I’m going in.” Angel cursed a blue streak, as the hand reaching out to stop the impetuous vampire wasn’t quick enough and grasped thin air.

“Im gonna kill the scrawny bastard” Angel swore under his breath as he headed rapidly towards the doorway the younger vampire had just kicked open. If he isn’t already dead, he thought as the sound of raised, guttural voices, roars and crashing grew to an ungodly level…

***

“Fuck it!” the curse tore from him as his blood coated hand slipped on the length of wood jammed between his ribs jolting it higher. Sweat popped onto his brow as he realized how close the buried shaft was to his heart.

Gritting his teeth, Angel eased it out an inch at a time, groaning aloud when it finally pulled free and his borrowed blood sluggishly filled the jagged hole. Dropping the wood to the ground next to him, he finally lifted his dark head and scanned the gloomy warehouse; dilated eyes briefly resting on every dead demon sprawled on the filthy floor.

Counting up seven, a growl of annoyance rumbled his powerful chest, changing pitch as he attempted to get to his feet. Blood starting pissing out of his wound, and with a grunt, Angel slumped back onto the floor, his back propped against a wall.

Resigning himself to the fact that he’d be going nowhere for at least several hours, he settled as comfortably as he could and tried not to think too much about the distinct lack of a bleached-blonde’s head amidst the carnage….

Part 1

 

Challenge by Impress – “Angel and Spike are highly sought after freelance mercs. They fight for which ever side offers the most lucrative incentive. They come to Sunnydale, why I leave to you.
Cordy and Tara are Scoobies, but not Scoobies. kind of on the outside looking in. The gang is in college. Cordy and Angel meet and Angel is immediately attracted. Their first meeting has Cordy putting him in his place, which only attracts him more. He begins an all out pursuit of her, which she does her best to resist despite being attracted to him.
A big end of the world situation threatens and the Scoobies find they need Angel and Spike’s help to stop it. Angel agrees to help, only if they are willing to pay his price…Cordelia. Musts: *Angel and Spike with souls, but without the brooding, guilty, angtsy. dorky stuff. They should be close to their presouled selves, cocky, confident, etc… just a bit more tempered. ***Angel saving Cordy’s life, preferably when she’s acting as bait girl.***Spike/Tara.***Buffy and Angel animosity. ” I will attempt to cover what I can. Tara is someone I haven’t written before, so fingers crossed I get it *gulp*

Posted August 11, 2017 by califi in TBC