Title: Bargain Hunt
Category: A bit of humour
Summary: A Pure Darkness Fic. A chance encounter in the magic shop.
Spoilers: Season 2 BtVS, up to ‘Phases’
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: PD/GTCA/AO. Anyone else please ask first.
Thanks/Dedication:For Cyd, the bestest beta ever
Feedback:Would love some
“Stupid Xander, with his stupid ideas.” Cordelia muttered resentfully to herself as she unwillingly made her way towards the magic shop.
“Cordelia’ll go, she has a car.” Hazel eyes narrowed as she recalled Xander’s careless comment. What kind of person volunteered his girlfriend to go alone, after dark to a creepy magic shop when they lived on top of a Hellmouth? Plus, hello, big scary monster out there ripping people and newly detailed cars to shreds.
She slowly pushed open the door of the dimly lit shop, the bell overhead jangling loudly in the hushed atmosphere. Cordelia cautiously stepped further into the store, her senses assailed by the musty smell of books, the faint aroma of incense and the sound of tacky new age music. Xander owes me big time for this!
The walking cliché behind the counter was deeply immersed in a large book and didn’t even glance up at Cordelia’s approach; all floaty scarves and gold hooped earrings, Cordelia had to fight the urge to check if she had ‘gyp s y wannabe’ tattooed on her forehead. She stood for a moment, waiting to see if the lady would notice her, but the book was obviously ten times more important than a potential customer.
“Hey…person here with money to spend, how about a little help?” Her patience already hanging by a thread, Cordelia was in no mood to wait.
“Sorry dear, I didn’t see you there.” Carefully the shopkeeper marked her place in the book, before turning to give the brunette her full attention.
“Whatever, look I need something…a magical something…” Now what had Giles called it? “The Eye of something…the Eye of Salamanders?” Cordelia trailed off, looking hopefully at the fashion disaster in front of her.
“The Eye of Iskander?”
“Yes! That, I need that.” Relief coloured her tone when she realised she wouldn’t have to call the library to check on the name, which no doubt would have earned her a lecture from a certain English librarian about the merits of taking notes.
“It’s a very powerful object. Are you sure that’s what you need?” The lady looked doubtfully at the teenager standing in front of her.
“Powerful thingamabob that helps track things that go bump in the night? Yes, I need it.” Cordelia let out a sigh of annoyance, this errand taking too long, and now she was stuck in a debate with the crazy shopkeeper.
Her firm tone must have convinced the lady behind the counter. “Its in the back, top shelf.” Her duty done she quickly returned to her book. An effective dismissal.
Cordelia slowly made her way deeper into the shadowy interior of the store, all the while marvelling at the lack of customer service. I bet if Versace ran a magic shop you’d be shown all the latest charms, while sitting in a comfortable chair eating canapés.
Grab the eye thing and get the hell out… chanted in her mind. Being in the magic shop was strangely unsettling; with the unnatural hush that hung in the air and the myriad of dancing shadows. Grab the eye things and get the hell out…
Hazel eyes travelled up the set of shelves that stood against the back wall, coming to rest on the topmost shelf. “Great…” Cordelia mumbled to herself as she glanced around for something to stand on. Seeing nothing helpful, the brunette heaved the sigh of a martyr.
Dating Xander seemed to be dragging her further and further into the world of the weird. Helping fight the forces of darkness was all very well, but why did it have to involve non-fun shopping trips? The world truly was an evil place when all the joy was sucked out of spending someone else’s money.
Stretching onto tiptoe, Cordelia maintained her balance with one hand, while the other scrabbled around, desperately seeking. Finding nothing on her first pass she sucked in a breath and stretched up either further in an attempt to reach the very back of the shelf. A few seconds more of frantic patting and her fingers closed over an oddly shaped metal thing. Since it seemed to be the only thing on the shelf, Cordelia decided that this was what she had been sent for, and if it wasn’t – tough. Next time Giles can do his own shopping.
Just as she was about to bring the object down off the shelf, a large, cool hand blanketed her own, and an immovable wall seemed to have appeared at her back, pinning her in place.
An indignant yelp rose in her throat, but was cut off by a smooth voice whispering in her ear, “I think you’ll find that belongs to me.”
Hazel eyes that had been squeezed shut in concentration snapped open in surprise. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and every instinct screamed at her to run. Cordelia had a horrible idea that she knew exactly who was standing behind her, and for once in her life she would be more than happy to be proved wrong.
Maybe Giles decided that he doesn’t really trust me, and came to get the stupid thing himself. The desperate thought ran through her head, igniting a small spark of hope that was quickly doused when she realised there was no way Giles would feel that toned and firm.
Angelus felt Cordelia stiffen, heard her sharp intake of breath, and couldn’t prevent a sly smile of satisfaction from pulling at the corners of his mouth.
The night had been shaping up to be a dull one. Spike and Dru were off celebrating the anniversary of their first massacre together, and the slayer seemed to have gone into hibernation. He had been slowly strolling the streets, debating on which passer-by to eat, when the shapely form of Cordelia Chase entering ‘The Magic Box’ had caught his eye. Curiosity piqued Angelus had decided to follow her, and it was turning out to be one of his better decisions.
“We could stand like this all night.” Angelus shifted his body closer, invading personal space and enjoying it. He felt her hand under his tighten reflexively around the Eye, all the while her body pressed closer to the shelves, as though trying to sink into them.
Cordelia’s mind was racing. Mixed in with threats against Xander and curses at Giles, was the question of how she was going to escape Buffy’s p s ychotic, yet clearly fit, ex-honey. The evening she’d thought couldn’t get any worse had taken a rapid nosedive, and now it seemed she may not come out of it alive. Suck it up Chase, if you’re gonna become the walking dead’s dinner then at least do it with dignity.
“Back it up, fang boy, if I’m going to die I’d like to do it head on, besides, I’m getting dust all over my Gucci dress.” She dug an elbow into his ribs to emphasise her point, the vampire was going to kill her either way, so why not inflict a little pain of her own?
A small smile quirked at Angelus’ lips at the cheerleader’s bravado. He knew she was afraid; the delicious scent of her fear was heavy in the air.
Deciding to play along he took a small step back, allowing Cordelia just enough space to lower her arm and turn to face him. He drank in the sight of hazel eyes wide with panic, full lips slightly parted to allow short pants of breath in and out.
Clutching the disputed charm close to her chest Cordelia tilted her head back and regarded the face of the vampire standing well inside her personal bubble. His dark eyes were fixed unblinkingly on her, and a self-satisfied smirk played at the edges of his mouth. Clearly the guy was having fun. At least one of us is.
Angelus braced a powerful arm either side of Cordelia’s head and leaned in until their eyes were level. “So, how do you wanna to play this?” He gazed steadily at the girl in front of him, his amusement clear.
Lost for a moment in the sea of his dark coffee eyes, it took a moment for Cordelia to respond, “How about you let me go and I won’t sic the slayer on you?” It was a slim hope, but Cordelia was willing to take anything she could get. Maybe Giles exaggerated about how evil he really is…
Angelus paused, as though considering the suggestion. “Tempting, but I like my game better.”
Amber seeped onto his eyes, and fangs elongated, as his face shifted, and the demon came to the fore. Time to have some fun…
Cordelia’s eyes snapped shut and she once again tried to merge with the shelves behind her.
Fear saturated the air. Angelus inhaled deeply, enjoying playing with the cheerleader. He hadn’t yet made up his mind about killing her, he was torn between draining her dry, or sending her back to the slayer terrified and empty handed. Either way, the night was going well.
Cordelia cringed away from the vampire, all the while berating herself fro be such a predictable victim. Cordelia Chase was a style leader, but here she was cowering in the corner like someone wearing last season’s Manolos. As that thought ran through her mind, it was closely followed by the realisation that she was still bite-free, Angelus had yet to lay a fang on her.
She slowly cracked open one eye and risked a glance in her would be killer’s direction. There was nothing in her restricted line of sight, so sucking in a deep breath of air, Cordelia opened both eyes.
Angelus stood a few steps away enjoying the show. He saw relief flare in the brunette’s eyes, only to be replaced by shock and a hint of annoyance that he was still there. He did so love to give his victims false hope.
“Didn’t your Mom ever tell you not to play with your food?” Outraged that Angelus hadn’t left, and annoyed at herself for believing he actually would, Cordelia’s anger was beginning to get the better of her.
“Sure, right up until I ate her.”
He was serious. So Giles not kidding about his evilness.
“Well aren’t you just the poster boy for problem child?” Even as the words left her mouth Cordelia was mentally kicking herself. She couldn’t believe she was standing there trading insults with the Prince of Darkness, when she should be working on a way out. That thought in mind, her eyes surreptitiously slid past the tall vampire to the shop beyond, and freedom.
“You’d never make it.” Angelus’ dark voice broke into her thoughts. “Now, I think you have something that belongs to me.” He looked meaningfully at the object clutched in the cheerleader’s hands.
Truthfully Angelus had no idea what the charm was, and he didn’t really care. If the do gooders wanted it, then so did he, anything to piss off the slayer, plus playing with Cordelia was just too delicious.
“Well, you can’t have it.” My God, I’m crazy, totally whacko. Spending time with Xander and the supernatural crime club had obviously pushed her over the edge. Here she was standing up to a vampire who could snap her neck in seconds.
“You know I can snap your neck before you take your next breath.”
Being right sucked.
“We need it. Look we just need to do a quick spell and then you can have it, honestly, cross my heart.”
Dark eyebrows rose in surprise, Angelus truly hadn’t expected Cordelia to argue with him. He had thought more along the lines of her cringing in terror wile he tossed out threats.
That in mind, he tried again. “Give it to me.” He growled, taking a threatening step towards her.
“No.” Her firm voice totally at odds with her trembling insides.
“Let me put it another way; give it to me and I’ll kill you.”
“Don’t you mean or you’ll kill me?”
An evil grin spread across the vampire’s face. “No.”
Cordelia blinked in surprise at Angelus’ blunt answer. She was staring death in the face, but seemed to be having trouble getting past the fact that death looked really hot in leather pants. For God’s sake focus!
Giving herself a stiff mental shake, Cordelia struggled to return to the matter at hand; the matter being that she was going to die unless she thought of something fast.
“You haven’t really got the hang of the whole bargaining thing, have you?” Deciding that if these were going to be her last few minutes on earth, then she was going to string them out for a long as possible.
Angelus ran his eyes over the girl over the defiant girl standing in front of him. Cordelia Chase was a beautiful woman, long chestnut hair, lips that begged to be kissed, and a body made for a man’s touch. She was definitely marked ‘savour’ on his ‘to kill’ list. And now it seemed he could add ‘feisty’ to her list of attributes. He couldn’t stop the faint glimmer of amusement at her bravado.
“Don’t need to bargain, little girl, who’s the one with the fangs here?”
She gulped. “Fair point. But there must be something else you want?” Loony, no question. . Cordelia could see the men in white coats heading in her direction.
Now Angelus was well and truly hooked, he never could resist a crazy brunette, they were a weakness of his. Cordelia Chase may not realise it, but her stupidity had just saved her life. Stalking the slayer was getting to be predictable, the cheerleader would be the perfect diversion.
“What are you offering?” He moved even closer, voice low and seductive.
Not liking the look in Angelus’ eyes, Cordelia shifted nervously, glancing down at the charm in her hands. She wondered if it was really worth all the trouble. Sure, there was a monster out there killing people, but this was Sunndydale, there was always a big bad throwing its weight around. The man standing in front of her was a case in point. Yeah, but this thing can maybe help stop whatever it is this time. It seemed some of the ‘save the world’ crap was rubbing off on her.
“Um…well…” Her mind scrambled to try and find something that would appeal to a 200 plus year old vampire, with a love of death and carnage. “Hey, how about computer lessons from Willow? It never hurts to move with the times, and then you could spread your special brand of evil worldwide via the Internet!”
Cordelia gave Angelus a brilliant smile in the hope that he would embrace her lame idea. The heavy silence told her he wasn’t impressed.
“Ok, maybe a bit too modern for you. Well, Giles could always stop by and catalogue all your books? Buffy says you have tons of the musty old things just lying around.”
Again Angelus seemed unmoved by her offer. He stood in front of Cordelia completely relaxed, while she scrabbled around frantically for ideas.
“Free fashion advice?” Not that he hasn’t got the who ‘creature of the night’ look down perfectly. Her eyes slid over long legs, encased enticingly in black leather.
“Appealing as all that sounds, I’m thinking you’re going to have to offer me something a lot more valuable than computer tips and alphabetising my books.” His gaze dipped to her throat, latching onto the pounding pulse point there.
Cordelia’s free hand immediately flew to cover the area Angelus was staring at, as if covering it would somehow protect it.
“Don’t even think about it, you overgrown mosquito. My blood is not on offer.”
“Really? Shame.” Angelus sighed, his tone mockingly sorrowful.
“No way. I am not some vampire’s Happy Meal.” Still clutching her throat, Cordelia eyed Angelus warily. He was wearing a kicked puppy look, and fake or not it was adorable. Get a grip Chase; the evil vampire does not look sweet.
“Well, if blood is off the menu, then I guess I’ll just have to settle for a kiss.”
Hazel eyes went round with shock at his suggestion, and Cordelia attempted to back even further into the shelves.
A wolfish smile spread across Angelus’ face as he watched a variety of emotions pass across the young girl’s face; shock, fear, anger, and even a hint of curiosity.
When the soul had been in him Cordelia had made it more than clear that she found Angel attractive. In fact, she had gone out of her way to show her interest. And soul or not, Angelus had never denied that the cheerleader was a desirable proposition; his head had just been too full of the slayer to act on it.
“You’re kidding, right?”
He was pulled from his thoughts by Cordelia’s shrill question.
“God, this is like some kind of bad movie…talk about unoriginal…” Muttering under her breath, Cordelia forgot that Angelus could hear every word she said, as her mind reeled at what he was suggesting. Sure the guy was a hottie, but he was also hell bent of killing Buffy and all her friends. Cordelia could not, in good conscience, make out with a guy who only a few minutes ago threatened to snap her neck. Plus hello – Buffy’s ex. Cordelia Chase did not do sloppy seconds.
“Its either that or we’re back to me killing you, your choice, Sweetheart.” Angelus settled back to enjoy the girl’s confusion. Fear warred with outrage on her beautiful face. He was confident of the outcome, he knew people, they were predictable. Cordelia may have surprised him once or twice that evening, but the basic human desire to survive would kick in, it always did.
“How about if I just give you this and we call it quits?” She stuck out the hand holding the charm. She didn’t want to kiss him, mainly because a small part of her did want to, and that worried her. It was all way too confusing, a quick trip to the magic shop had turned into a game of Russian Roulette, and Cordelia wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to dodge the bullet. So the simplest thing seemed to be to try and avoid the situation altogether, the others would understand. How was she supposed to take on the guy who made Jack the Ripper look like a stand up guy? And it wasn’t like she was a super strong freak who could fight her way out.
“Sorry, you wanted to make a deal, those are the terms.” Angelus held up his hands in a gesture of helplessness.
“Well, I don’t agree. Think of some new terms.” Agitated, Cordelia demanded, rather than asked.
“Ok…I’ll kill you, and take what I want.” The evil grin was back in place. “How are my bargaining skills now?”
“You’re a quick study.” Cordelia’s voice was weak in the face of the decision she had to make. Kiss the evil, but hot vampire, or die a horrible painful death…Hmmm, tough call… “Fine.” She huffed. “One kiss and then I get to walk out of here, alive, with the stupid Eye thingy.” She fixed narrowed eyes on Angelus, determined to show no fear.
Faster than she could blink, Cordelia found herself once again surrounded by the tall, well-muscled vampire, and breathing suddenly became nearly impossible. She gazed up at the chiselled jaw line of the vampire she had just stuck a deal with; amazed that something so very beautiful could be so very wicked.
Angelus’ hand slowly rose to cup her face, the pad of his thumb gently tracing the arch of her cheekbone. Gentle… she hadn’t expected gentle. Fast and brutal she was ready for, but this…The softness of his touch was making it hard to remember that Angelus was an evil, sadistic killer, and not the guy she had fantasised about kissing ever since she’d first laid eyes on him.
Angelus stared down at Cordelia, pleased at her reaction to his touch. Her body was leaning into him, while her eyes told a different story, one of confusion and fear. Keeping her off balance was all part of the fun. Angelus did so hate to do what was expected of him.
He leaned in closer, could hear her breaths coming in shorter pants, saw her tongue dart out to moisten her lips in preparation. He doubted the girl realised what a tempting picture she presented.
Cordelia steeled herself for the feel of his lips on hers. One part of her mind was doing cartwheels, while the other, saner part, yelled at her to get a grip. She couldn’t seem to stop her body swaying towards his, couldn’t stop her heart racing in anticipation. Just as she was sure that Angelus would kiss her, he pulled back slightly and grinned down at her.
“You know what?” His husky voice loud in the near silence of the shop. “I think I’ll collect payment at a later date, wouldn’t want you to be late getting that charm back to the watcher.”
Still lost in a haze of confusion, it took a moment for Cordelia to fully understand what was happening. It was only when the vampire pulled away completely that she realised there wasn’t going to be a kiss. Disappointment flared inside of her before she could stop it.
“I’ll see you soon.” The promise made, he sauntered towards the door, even pausing to wish the still distracted shopkeeper a cheery ‘Good evening’.
The night he thought was going to be a dull one had turned out much better than expected. News of his little visit to the magic shop was sure to get back to the slayer, and she was bound to take it personally, the girl always did. Better than that, though, was the new game he had just begun. Happy thoughts of stalking Cordelia danced in his head. Whistling he made his way down the street, heading back to the mansion to contemplate when to collect the debt the brunette now owed him.
Still standing where Angelus had left her, Cordelia heard the shop bell jangle as he left. She blinked to clear her mind; still not sure she believed what had just happened. No kiss, that was what. She searched for the sense of relief she was sure she should have, but instead found only frustration and anger at being deprived of the promised kiss. Cordelia didn’t want to examine that twisted piece of logic too closely.
She made her way slowly to the front of the shop, surprised to see the shopkeeper was still immersed in the large book, even more surprised that she wasn’t lying in a bloody heap on the floor with her throat ripped out. Guess I should be flattered Angelus found me so distracting,the sarcastic thought flitted through her head.
Cordelia walked back to her car, lost in thought. Relief at making it out alive was now uppermost in her mind; she was beginning to convince herself that her reaction to the vampire had been caused by fear and adrenalin, nothing more. She’d tell Buffy all about it and she’d kick his ass, plus Xander would never volunteer her as errand girl again.
Just as Cordelia was preparing to settle herself into the role of wronged victim, her thoughts came to a crashing halt. Angelus had promised he’d be back to collect, she wasn’t free and clear. She’d struck a bargain with a vampire, and now all she could do was wait, and hope…