Archive for June 2018

Mercenary Hearts 4   Leave a comment

Part 4

Spike woke with a yell. Sweat dampened his pale brow and harsh breaths pushed out between clenched teeth.

Throwing aside the faded cover, he climbed off the bed and stretched until his lower spine clicked. A shaking hand rose to swipe at the moisture that dripped into his eyes.  Coming face to face with that slayer had brought back memories long buried.

It had been a while since he’d had that particular dream- nightmare…memory, and the familiar ache that settled in his clenched gut both unsettled as well as pissed him off.

The curse of a soul hadn’t changed him completely. Or Angelus, come to that, and instead of hiding away from the world, both had managed, after several long, anguish-filled years to handle the guilt that accompanied the bloody things.  But in dreams, their conscious acceptance hadn’t eased the torment.

They soon found out that being a demon with a human soul was an anomaly, and as such there’d been no handy users manual to help them along the way.  The vampires were shoved between two worlds: Humans aware of vampires were still fearful; distrust in their eyes- and demons full of hate.

Darla hadn’t hesitated in throwing Angelus out without so much as a by-your leave.  Dru… she’d attempted the path of denial, but even with a broken mind, dealing with her lover’s curse had been too much to bear.  His new refusal to wreak violence and carnage against humans mocked her every time she attempted to draw him back in.

Pariahs to their own kind, Spike and Angelus levitated towards each other. Misery loves company. Never a truer word said, in Spike’s opinion.

The Boxer rebellion was always at the forefront of his mind- with good reason. It was the time both he and Angelus, sick with each other’s company, decided to try for the route of denial themselves. It had to be better than hiding away and living on rats in stinking alleys.

But it had been far worse.

Darla and Dru had taken them back even as their eyes remained heavy with distrust. In a bout of desperation, Spike had followed Dru’s urgings to face the then Slayer…

Spike dodged another blow from the Slayer’s sword. “Just like I pictured it. This good for you?” he taunted softly.

With a glare, the young slayer charged him, sword whickering through the air in a deadly blur. Spike dodged every swing and viciously backhanded the girl, breaking her grip on the sword.

She went hand-to-hand with him, landing several kicks and punches to his head, serving only to further enrage him. He beat her back but began to lose ground again until she backed him up against a support column and pinned him there, her foot to his throat. Raising a stake and poised to strike the killing blow, an explosion outside suddenly blasted part of the temple wall inward, the concussion breaking her hold.

Spike instantly went on the offensive, knocking the stake from her hand. As she bent to retrieve it, he seized her arm and wrenched it up behind her back. Pulling the hapless girl to him he sank his fangs deep into her neck.

The Slayer gasped in pain as her life drained away. Spike turned the dying girl towards him and she looked into his eyes. “Tell my mother I’m sorry.” She whispered hoarsely. Spike shook his head slowly.

“I’m sorry, love.” He responded, the regret in his eyes strangely at odds with the cockiness of his tone. “I don’t speak Chinese.” Then he watched as the light in her eyes flickered then died.

For a moment he paused, then roughly threw her to the ground like so much refuse. Panting heavily, he looked up, eyes connecting with triumphant brown. Licking his lips of the slayer’s blood and forcing down the nausea, he pasted a grin on his face and made his way over to Dru, who’d stood watching the whole while from the shadows.…

That night he’d fled with Angelus, too distraught to question why the other vampire carefully cradled a human baby against his chest…

Three demons still to find before they could move on. They’d have to kiss goodbye the other half of the substantial payment they’d demanded if they gave up now.

Also the reputation the two vampires had developed would be damaged beyond repair once known they’d welched on a deal.

Letting out an irritated breath, Spike walked over to the drawn curtains, twitching them back a bit with one hand while searching his back pocket with the other, before remembering his smokes were still in his coat pocket.

Still dark.

Sleep wasn’t an option. With a low curse he turned, shrugging on his duster and left the room to make his way out of the crappy old mansion they’d come across hours earlier.

Obvious earthquake damage hadn’t made it entirely uninhabitable – he’d stayed in worse. Bonus that the previous occupants hadn’t even bothered to take most of their furniture. Old, dusty, but good enough quality to still be useful.

The bed he’d chosen had been pretty comfortable, too. But physical comfort wasn’t the issue right now.

The walled-in garden at the back of the property was overgrown; part of one wall half-collapsed. Either the earthquake or the thick, dark Ivy that almost covered every inch.

Lighting up a cigarette, Spike wandered over to an old bench and dropped onto it, lean legs sprawling out as his sightless eyes stared up at the clear, starlit sky.

It wasn’t all bad here, he grudgingly admitted. Angelus had his eye on a little something that interested him. Couldn’t miss the gleam in the otherwise hard mug of his Sire. Worth staying just to see him get his arse served on a plate. He grinned at the thought. Feisty little bit, that one.

His eyes remained focused upwards even as Angelus sat himself down on the wall of an old Koi pond; the water practically hidden by lotus plants and algae. Only to snap them down when his smoke was snatched from loose fingers.

“Bout time you started buying your own ruddy fags,” fresh irritation flaring at the slight smirk as the dark haired vampire took a long drag.

“When have you ever parted with money for anything?” One last drag then the cigarette flicked in a small arc towards the pond’s surface.

“Not the point”, Spike muttered, absently taking note of the slightest glimmer of light touching the sky. “You got anything?” he asked, changing the subject. Not that he was interested in listening right now, but he knew he had to ask. Partnership an’ all that.

Angelus – or, Angel as he called himself now, Bloody poof; like it made any difference, rose lithely to his feet before responding.

“Found a demon bar in town.  A human runs the place.”  Spike wasn’t surprised. Plenty of scrotes out there even worse than the demons they hunted.

“Was he helpful?” A slight grin when Angel flexed his hands before continuing.

 “Not so much on the ones we’re after, but insight into the wider picture.”

“We’re not here for the Wider picture, mate.” Air-quoting with his fingers before reaching for another cigarette, the blond vampire rose to his feet and lit it. “Not bein’ paid for that.”

“Narrow vision gets you nowhere.”

Spike shrugged. “Hasn’t stopped me getting things done.” Ignoring the roll of his partner’s eyes, he turned on his heel.  “It’s getting light and I need a drink,” he stated, not waiting for Angel to follow.

*

He was already holding a bottle of whisky and drinking from it when Angel walked in. “Can’t that wait till later?”

At the disapproving look, Spike took a long swig of the booze. “I know you need to get it all off your chest, but right now I’m in the mood to get pissed.  Not like we’re goin’ sightseeing or summat.”

With one last irritated glance, Angel left the younger vampire to it. He was tired, and it was true they had all day…. And he hadn’t missed the haunted look that still darkened the blue eyes that avoided his. Personal experience of similar moods bled away his annoyance.

After what he’d found out earlier, it looked like their visit to Sunnydale was not going to be as cut and dried as first assumed. Not all bad, thinking back on their confrontation with the Slayer and her friends.

Especially the sassy brunette. He grinned, dark eyes lit with amusement and avid interest.

No, not bad at all….

TBC

 

Califi

Posted June 23, 2018 by califi in TBC

Getting to Know You 16   Leave a comment

Part 16

Back to School…

The face staring back at her was bare of the obligatory make-up. Fresh from a long, hot shower, Cordelia stared critically at her reflection.

Even after the summer vacation with her parents, lazing around on the beach most of the time, she still felt –and looked, on edge.

True, the dark, unflattering shadows beneath her eyes had almost faded away, but her face was a touch thinner emphasizing, a little too much, in her opinion, her cheekbones.

Full lips were drawn a little too tight for her liking. Taking a deep breath, Cordelia stretched her lips into a wide, humorless smile, and held it until her face ached.

“Great! Now I look depressed,” she muttered, frowning at her reflection. But at least the pinched look had eased off.

Sighing disconsolately, she traced her fingers across the now-reasonably faded scar on her throat, before reaching for a kingfisher blue choker. The collection had grown from two to about twenty in the last month. A variety of colors to mix and match.

Resentment tugged as Cordelia was reminded of the changes she’d had to make to her wardrobe because of those horrible scars.  Chokers and scarves for her throat, and girl-shorts instead of thongs when she opted for skirts or dresses.

Thinking of the ones she’d bought to wear with her Cheerleaders outfit caused a scowl- which then twitched into a smirk. By the end of the week, most of the squad would be wearing them too. She’d bet her Jimmy Choo’s on it.

Catching the time on her bedside clock abruptly wiped the smirk off her face as she hurriedly applied her make-up.

The much needed break from Sunnyhell was officially over.

********

If looks could kill, Cordelia Chase would now be surrounded by Police tape cordoning off the murder scene.

Not ten minutes into her first lesson of the day, she’d literally felt the burning gaze biting into the back of her neck. Glancing behind her, Cordelia assumed irritably that it had to be Xander Harris; jolting when hazel eyes locked with cold stormy blue.

So the Prodigal had returned. And judging by the laser beams headed her way, it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Half listening to the Teacher droning on, Cordelia silently fretted; a mixture of fear and growing anger churning in her gut. As the lesson ended, she watched as everyone scraped back chairs and quickly exited the room.

Everyone except herself and Buffy Summers.

**

Taking a deep breath, Cordelia rose from her seat and slowly turned towards the Slayer, who stood there with her arms folded tightly across her chest.

“I don’t know how you’ve the nerve to show your face after what you did!” Buffy tilted her chin up, all righteous indignation bristling from every pore.

“Oh? What did I do?” The brunette mirrored the Slayer’s stance; a fine dark brow lifted in faux interest.

“Don’t play dumb,” Buffy retorted through thinned lips. “Have you any idea what you put everyone through when you disappeared without a word to anyone?”

“Pretty much, yeah. Have you?” A tight smile graced Cordelia’s face when the arrow hit its target. Glass houses

Buffy recovered quickly, taking a short step closer. “Difference is, I saved the World first.”

“Well, duh, you’re the Slayer,” Cordelia replied acidly. “It’s your job. Now if you’re done, I’ve got more important things to do than talk to you.” Turning round she grabbed her bag and got half way across the room before being roughly jerked back.

“I seriously thought you’d changed.” Shaking her head Buffy’s lip curled contemptuously, taking in the blank expression staring down at her. “But Leopards and stripes come to mind.” Cordelia opened her mouth, ready to mock, then stilled at her next words.

“I killed him.” Buffy released her arm and stepped back.

“I put a sword through A-Angelus and sent him to Hell”. Her face hardened; “I did my job, as you so nicely put it, Cordelia. Don’t you think I deserved a break after that? What’s your excuse, huh?”

*****

Things continued downhill after that. Her heartfelt “Thank God” at finding out Angelus was truly gone – and snarking “it took you long enough,” followed by “get used to disappointment” probably wasn’t the response Buffy was after, but if she’d expected Cordelia to tell her what had really happened… last time she’d looked, Hell hadn’t frozen over.

And since that revelation was the only thing that would possibly change their opinion of her, they’d pretty much hit stalemate.

Not that it bothered her much; being an outsider did have its benefits.

You can’t lose friends you’d never had in the first place.

****

Later that Afternoon …

A lot had happened while Cordelia had been on vacation.  With an AWOL Slayer, Willow, Xander and Oz had taken over her patrols armed with walkie talkies -and the Grace of God – as the redhead had lamely joked. Surprisingly they’d managed not to get themselves killed. Rupert Giles, still in a wheelchair, became at-home ‘Research Guy’. Nothing really different in that.

Smiling nervously in obvious discomfort at being the only one actually doing the talking, Willow perched on the edge of the facing couch in the tastefully decorated drawing room of Cordelia’s home. Now wondering why she’d even considered coming here a good idea?

After half an hour of rambling,  Cordelia finally asked why Willow had decided to show up at her house. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d come here. Kindergarten probably?

Did Buffy talk her into coming? Not like the redhead didn’t know about their earlier confrontation, Cordelia thought, more than mildly irritated. She’d seen them huddled around a table in the cafeteria at lunch.  Peering up with fish eyes when she’d walked past.

Which made this unexpected visit set off several alarms.

Did they really think the little Witch would get anything out of her? Her lips tilted, allowing a small tight smile. Probably thinking of that one time Cordelia had -surprisingly, turned up at her house. That could have led them to think she was more disposed towards the girl. As if!

Willow hesitated, the weak attempt of humor disappearing at the sound of Cordelia’s slightly bored tone. She glanced at her feet as if they possibly had the answer before looking up; young face pensive..

“Remember when I told you about finding the Gypsy Curse?” At Cordelia’s confused expression, she continued with a frown. “I thought I’d told you we’d done the ritual.” Completely oblivious to the other girl’s stunned face, she prattled on. “I could’ve sworn it worked. I was absolutely positive … but Buffy said she killed Angelus.”

 “Are you Insane? Why would you do that? And Why tell me? ” Cordelia asked, ice coating every syllable. she couldn’t believe the girl had been so stupid…  and Thank God it hadn’t worked! Also? What was the point of talking about this stuff anyway?  The vampire was gone and she could finally get on with her life.

She said as much to Willow who defended her decision.“We had no choice at the time. Hello, end of the World?” staring at her as if it was obvious. Then she deflated. “It’s just… well… I felt it work. But it couldn’t have if he’d already gone to Hell.”

“So, what? You think she lied and killed Angel? By the way: still a vampire” No difference in the brunette’s mind. A Slayer hooking up with a demon she was meant to, well, slay. Gross. As far as Cordelia was concerned, it was as much Buffy’s fault as it was his. A thought occurred and she abruptly leaned forward, her eyes wide with growing anxiety. “Or maybe it worked and… they ran off together?  And now he’s hiding out somewhere?” Just the thought took every scrap of color from her face.

The redhead hesitated, for a moment unsure- then shook her head firmly. “No. If you’d seen her when she came back…” Sadness flickered in her wide eyes.  “I…I guess I was wrong. The Doctor did say I had concussion. Maybe it messed up my head,” she sighed disconsolately.

An uncomfortable silence stretched and filled the room for a while, then:

“It wouldn’t have made any difference, anyway.”

“Huh?” Confusion clouded Willow’s face for a moment before she clicked. “Oh, … I definitely think it would’ve.”

“You’re kidding right?” Cordelia tightly folded her arms, staring in open disbelief.

“No. think of it from Buffy’s side” Willow replied defensively. “For a start, she wouldn’t have had to, err, kill him,” looking at the other girl with a saddened gaze “They were soulmates.”Her tone softened. “They could have had a second chance.”

Cordelia’s mouth dropped open. “Oh My God! What’s wrong with you?” she asked, sickened by the tender expression on Willow’s face. Anger grew as she contemplated the other girl.

“Ooo, let’s forget what he did- so long as Slutty is happy!”  Willow’s face flared with with color . She obviously hadn’t thought this through. Nothing new there, the brunette thought contemptuously. “Then what?” she asked. “All would be forgiven?”

Willows mouth opened in shock. Xander had said the exact same thing.“No! No, of course not! Corde-“

Cordelia interrupted, her voice raising higher as she continued on “Giles accepting him back in the fold- conveniently forgetting the evil psycho killed his girlfriend, and nearly tortured him to death?”  ignoring the horrified expression on the girl’s face. “And you think I’ll ever forget what he did to me?”  Her lip curled.

“I can’t believe you thought everything would, like, go ‘back to normal’!” Willow stared, mesmerized by the way the  girl’s pupils dilated, emphasizing the growing pallor of her face. She honestly hadn’t meant it the way it came out. Never one to have a clear pathway from brain to mouth.

“It was A-Angelus that did those horrible things not Angel!” she pointed out, “He would never -“

“Suddenly you’re a Vampire expert? You always act like you know everything, but you’ve no idea what you’re talking about!” Cordelia lurched to her feet and began pacing around the room, Willow stared mutely noting the spiralling tension in every line of the girl’s body.

All Cordelia could see right now was the beautiful face of the vampire; cruel smile twisting his full lips… “It could happen again!”

“But-But it wouldn’t have” Willow stood up and took a tentative step forward. “I changed the curse- left out the lose-your-soul bit. He’d have Permanent soul. I thought I’d told you.” She reached out in an attempt to pacify. “Anyway, he’s..gone. It’s a moot point. It’s ok…”

“No, it’s really not!” Cordelia ground out angrily, jerking away and turning her back on the redhead. Stalking to the wide bay window, she gazed out with blind eyes. By degrees the the grip blind fear had on her loosened, her fingers absently fiddling with the neckline of the silken turtleneck top she wore. Mortification soon replaced it on belatedly realizing her over-the-top reaction.

Flaking – in front of the motormouth of all people!

Crap!  Cordelia cursed under her breath and vainly wished she’d never invited her in. I bet she can’t wait to tell the others!  How could she have let her guard down like that? So much for thinking the worst was over. That she was strong and dealing with it.  Yeah, right!

Willow hovered uncertainly behind her, not quite sure how do deal with the situation. Although pretty much immune to the older girl’s acid tongue, this reaction felt a bit like she’d just jumped into a Twilight Zone episode. She was in no doubt that it was all her fault. she should have kept her mouth shut.

“I.. I’m really sorry. I should have known you’d still be upset.” Though not as upset as this. She thought to herself, unable to prevent the slightest tinge of irritation along with the sympathy. It was only one night– and she’d gotten off lightly compared to the others.

I was nearly vamp chow myself, you know! She knew better than to say it out loud. A few bad nightmares, true- but she’d managed to put it behind her quite quickly, considering. Feeling a bit mean thinking such thoughts, she reached out to touch Cordelia’s shoulder. “Are… you okay?” she asked tentatively.

Cordelia’ straightened up, her back stiffened, before abruptly spinning round to face her. Willow had cringed at the sudden movement, taking in the now hardened lines of Cordelia’s face.

“I was fine until you opened your big mouth!” She responded icily. “Why did you come here, anyway?”

“I-I wanted to…” swallowing hard, “to-to apologize.”

Bitter eyes pinned the quailing girl in place, watching the guilt redden her face. “You just did.”

“No, that one was, um… I was really horrible to you when you came to see me.”  Willow explained weakly, pulling her gaze to her feet, painfully aware that she’d outstayed her welcome a zillion times over. “And… and I really needed to get the whole spell thing off my chest,” she looked up with an embarrassed expression. “Can’t really talk to Buffy about it. She doesn’t know we tried again.”

“Well, I don’t think she’d be happy with you telling me about it.” The brunette did have a point.

“But it seems you can talk to her about me, huh? Thanks for that, by the way.” The flush staining Willows cheeks deepened. “I don’t want you coming here again.” she stated coldly.  “We’re not friends.” Ignoring the tinge of hurt feelings on the girls face.

Running her hands down slim grey slacks, Cordelia paused to pluck an invisible piece of lint from the soft fabric before glancing back up. Her face now sported a dismissive, almost bored smile. “We’re done.  It’s getting late and I’ve a ton of important things to do, so can you let yourself out? ” Without waiting for a response she turned to go.

Willow silently watched the other girl walk out of the room and disappear around the corner. Still shaking a little with embarrassment and not a little hurt, she went over their conversation with a fine tooth comb.

Cordelia Chase was the ultimate b.i.t.c.h.  Her tongue sabre-sharp and many times mean. Add selfish and shallow to the list and that was her in a nutshell. But… the deep emotions she’d witnessed were so…Real. Known to dramatize (badly) even the smallest paper cut and demand attention, she’d practically fallen apart in front of her and then somehow pulled herself back together. Acting like it’d never happened minutes later.

This was so not like the girl she’d grown up with.

Thinking of her spurt of irritation earlier caused Willow a pang of guilt- especially when recalling the level of fear that had paled Cordelia’s face.  She swallowed a hard lump in her throat. The more she dwelled on it, the more certain she was that Cordelia Chase was hiding something.

Something more than she’d let on must have happened that night. Something so very, very bad, that the thought of even Angel, the soulled version possibly surviving the whole thing had freaked her out.

But what? And why hide it? It didn’t compute.

Although knowing Cordelia expected her to, Willow decided not to tell the others about her impromptu visit. But at the same time felt she just had to tell someone.

Just not Buffy- or Xander.

It was too confusing, and possibly even important not to keep it to herself.  Her own faux pas though, would be kept to herself. She still blushed every time she recalled what she’d said. And honestly? At the time she hadn’t even considered the consequences, and Giles hadn’t been available, what with being kidnapped and all…

“Eureka!”

Grabbing her book bag off the couch, she practically ran out of the room. Pausing briefly after opening the front door, she glanced up the curved staircase, her brow furrowed with concern. With a heavy sigh Willow finally stepped out and quietly closed the door behind her.

Part 17

(pps: Sorry, sorry, I’ve edited loads *blush*. Hopefully anyone whose already read it will reread, as it was changed-a lot. Cx)

Posted June 16, 2018 by califi in TBC