Reality Bites 6-8

CHAPTER 6

Time for a taste…

The thought flashed into Angelus’ head. He was thoroughly enjoying his current position but was finding it harder and harder to resist the call of Cordelia’s rapidly heating blood.

Might as well heat it up some more, make sure I get the best flavour.

He looked down at the girl trapped beneath him, her eyes were closed, her cheeks flushed and her hair delightfully mussed – the cat ears had long since fallen off. Even with the soul he’d appreciated the beauty of Cordelia Chase but seeing her like this increased his appreciation tenfold. He had originally planned to drain her dry and then move onto the slayer…but damn she was hot!
He raised a hand and lightly brushed the pad of his thumb across her cheekbone. Cordelia opened her eyes and was immediately caught in the vampire’s dark gaze. What she read there frightened her – she saw his desire and a small part of her delighted in that – which perhaps frightened her more than what he was actually doing to her.

I am not supposed to enjoy being ravaged by an evil vampire!

All thoughts were abruptly cut off when Angelus resumed his passionate assault. The hand on her cheek slowly tracked a path downwards, caressing her neck, tracing along her collarbone before coming to rest over one breast. The thin material of her costume offered no protection against the skilled touch of Angelus and she couldn’t stop herself from reacting to it. He stoked her breast again, brushing his thumb over the rapidly hardening nipple. His other hand meanwhile was continuing downwards, running over her toned stomach and coming to rest at the juncture of her thighs. He brushed his fingers back and forth over the sensitive area there causing her hips to jerk upwards demanding a firmer touch. All this time his mouth had been latched onto her throat, alternatively sucking and laving her pulse point. Cordelia moved restlessly under him, unsure of what she wanted but instinctively knowing that she needed more. All thoughts of trying to run had fled in the wake of such intense sensations. Angelus himself was slowly sinking into the web of pleasure he had created and was beginning to realise that one quick tumble with Cordelia Chase may not be enough, he wanted more and as that thought entered his head his face changed to reveal his true vampiric features.

Cordelia’s eyes snapped open at the sharp sting of fangs piercing her neck. Reality returned and she finally began to struggle.

Great – so he distracts me and then goes in for the kill – literally! Why couldn’t Giles have figured this out BEFORE Angel realised that real vampires drink blood.

She pushed against his chest but was unable to move him , she wasn’t even sure if he noticed her futile efforts.

Since Cordelia had become aware that she lived on the Hellmouth she’d accepted that death came more easily to Sunnydale than it did to other towns. She had also accepted that by getting involved with Buffy and her followers her own life was more at risk – but she had never imagined that she would end her days by having the life sucked out of her by and evil-yet-hot vampire who wasn’t really a vampire.

Just as Cordelia was beginning to feel lightheaded relief came in the form of Xander Harris. He had quietly approached the vampire from behind and struck him on the back of the head with the butt of his rifle. Angelus dropped like a rock, releasing the terrified brunette, who immediately raised a hand to her neck to check on the damage.

“Time to go.” Xander held out a hand to help her up. He had no idea what he had just walked in on and he wasn’t sure that he wanted to, but one thing was clear – they needed to get out of there before the ‘vampire’ came round. Cordelia grabbed the proffered hand and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet.

“Thanks, you just saved my life.”

“Save it for later – right now we need to move” They made their way to the front door, Xander calling out for Buffy and Willow as he went. Cordelia paused and turned to regard the slumped figure of Angelus. She didn’t understand the thoughts that were running through her mind – on the one hand she couldn’t wait to get as far away from him as possible, but on the other she wanted to shake him awake and beg him to finish what he’d started – the hot bit not the blood-sucking bit.

Once out in the cool night air sanity returned and the reality of what had just happened hit her. She stopped in her tracks and began to shake. Buffy and Willow continued on oblivious but Xander paused to check on her.

“Hey, you ok?” He asked gently. He removed his jacket and placed it round her shoulders.

“Me? I’m great – I just nearly died, but hey – no big,” Cordelia snapped, knowing that she sounded mean and ungrateful but unable to stop herself. Xander didn’t even flinch at her cold tone. He understood what she was going through, she had the same look in her eyes that he’d seen in countless soldiers after their first battle – the terror, the disbelief and the anger. It was that spark of anger that would keep her going and that would allow her to deal and move on.

“Come on,” he said, “we need to keep up with the others.” They both set off at a brisk jog, catching up with the two girls in front.

***

Angelus slowly shook himself awake. He groaned and rolled over, massaging the back of his head where he’d been struck. He painfully pushed himself to his feet and glanced around the now empty room. The front door stood open, clearly showing the route that the teenagers had taken.

“Now I’m pissed off,” he said aloud. Not only had he been interupted in the middle of a more than great time but he had been bested by Xander Harris of all people – soldier or not. He had been so caught up in the moment that he hadn’t even heard the boy approach.

No more Mr Nice Guy.

He stode out of the house and inhaled deeply. The four young peoples’ scent was easy to pick up(well three since Willow left no trace – being a ghost and all). He could smell Buffy’s perfume, Xander’s sweat and most tantalising of all the lingering scent of Cordelia’s arousal. He set off after them determined to finish what he had started with the brunette, killing the slayer now a firm second on his list.

***

The small group made their way rapidly across town, desperate to put as much distance between them and the vampire they’d left behind. Xander took the lead to keep an eye out for potential threats and the three girls followed behind, also on the alert for any danger.

“Are you sure you’re ok Cordelia?” Questioned Willow, who kept glancing at the raw wounds on the other girl’s neck.

“I’m fine – geeze – will you stop already.” Cordelia was not in the mood to reassure the redhead who, in her opinion, had got off lightly in all the Halloween madness.

So she’s dead – big deal. Its not like anything worse than that can happen to her and I bet it didn’t even hurt.

She briefly touched the now throbbing marks on her neck. She didn’t want to dwell on what had just happened between her and Angel; it was too confusing.

Maybe when he’s human again…

“Lets keep it moving ladies,” called back Xander, “we’ve gotta find somewhere safe to ride this storm out.”

“God – give a guy a gun and suddenly he’s all in charge and bossy,” grumbled Cordelia under her breath, however she picked up her pace unwilling to admit that the nearer to Xander she was the safer she felt. Buffy also stayed close to the young soldier, although she was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up as her large skits kept tripping her up. This was not at all how a lady of quality should spend her time – she found herself longing for the peace of her embroidery hoop.

The little band had reached the bad part of town, it was all alleyways and abandoned warehouses. An eerie silence hung in the air as though even the monsters had decided to stay away from this particular area.

“Great idea, Soldier boy,” came Cordelia’s sarcastic voice, “we’ll hide from the big evils in the part of town they call home.” She had a bad feeling about being there, something felt wrong. No sooner had that thought popped into her head when a large guy dressed in full pirate garb lept out from behind a stack of crates. Before he had a chance to get anywhere near the girls Xander had him immobilized with a swift uppercut to the jaw.

That was oddly satisfying, he thought, before continuing on. The three women moved to follow him, pausing to gaze down at the fallen buccaneer.

“Can we say cliche?” Willow sadly shook her head.

***

Xander waved them all into one of the abandoned warehouses.

“I think this is the best place to hide – if we keep quiet and try not to attract and attention.”

“So we’re safe here? Nothing bad will get us?” asked a pale Buffy.

“Its just not your night, is it slayer?” An English voice floated out of the darkness. A tall, blonde haired man stepped into view, surrounded by a gaggle of children-monsters.

“Mister, I don’t know who you are and frankly I don’t care but if you don’t move on then I’m going to have to use force.” Xander raised his rifle and shifted his stance so that he was ready to fight.

“Ooooh, listen to you all big and important. What’s the matter Slayer, cat got your tongue?” His gaze moved to Cordelia, who was standing rigid with fear. “Looks like someone already had some fun with you tonight,” he nodded at the bite marks.

Spike slowly bagn to stalk towards them, his band of minions fanning out until they were surrounded. He regarded the slayer who was cowering away from him, her eyes darting around the room desperately seeking a way out.

“You can shoot him,” whispered Willow to Xander. He readied himself to fire but before he could get a shot off he found himself grabbed by several small demons.

“Now, now,” tutted Spike, “no need to get violent. All I’m going to do is snap your necks – nothing to get worked up about.” He smirked and moved closer to Buffy. Willow stood by helpless to interfere.

Curse my incorporeal body!

She was just about giving up hope of help arriving when it came from the most unexpected quarter.

“Spike, my boy, you always did try to take credit for my plans.” Angelus stepped into the room, a cold smile playing on his lips. Cordelia tensed,

Oh crap…


CHAPTER 7

Oh crap…

Cordelia found herself unable to tear her gaze away from the dark-haired vampire – her mind was flooded with images of what had passed between them less than an hour ago. A flush stole along her cheeks at the memories. Angelus turned and ran his eyes along her body, as if he could read her thoughts. His slow perusal was interrupted by an irritated Spike,

“Oh good – now the party can really get started,” sarcasm evident in his voice, “come to save the day have you?”

Angelus said nothing and simply stood watching Spike. He knew just how much his silence would annoy the blonde vampire.

“Ahhh yes, I forgot…you’re the strong, silent, brooding hero type now. How’s that working out for you?”

“So far so good,” replied Angelus, wondering just how long it would take Spike to figure out that he was back to his old, evil self. We could be here a while, Spike never was the sharpest knife in the drawer.

“And what…the cape is part of your new superhero image?” Spike mocked, “My God man, are you trying to live down to the stereotype?” Spike was enjoying himself immensely, the night just kept getting better and better – he had the slayer trapped and helpless and now he got to insult the poof for a bit.

“Its Halloween, Spike, this is my costume,” Angelus replied in a slow and measured tone as though he was speaking to a child who had trouble following along. Spike looked at him in amazement for a moment,

“I see being good has sent you crazy. You know Halloween is a big no-no in the underworld – right? Or what…you’re so in love that you can’t think straight?” He shot a glance at a trembling Buffy, “Never mind, mate, I’ll soon sort that out for you”

“At least my outfit’s a costume, what’s your excuse? Can we say ’80s reject?” Angelus had forgotten just how much fun it was to wind Spike up – he could go at it for hours. The shorter vampire glared at Angelus, not liking the way the conversation was going. Damn it, he was supposed to be the one in charge, the one who got to do all the mocking.

“This is style – something you wouldn’t know anything about.” He ran his hands loving along his long, leather coat.

The four teenagers stood quietly to one side, watching the insults fly back and forth. Willow was praying that the two vamps would keep it up until Giles broke the spell, Xander was desperately seeking a way out of the situation, Buffy was debating whether to faint or scream and Cordelia was silently hoping that Angel would forget all about her.

“You keep telling yourself that,” was Angelus’ rejoinder. Spike decided he’d had enough, he had a slayer to kill and refused to be sidetracked any longer.

“Ohhh, your words wound me, really they do and much as I’ve enjoyed this session of ‘What Not to Wear’, Soulboy, I’ve got a slayer to kill.” Spike gestured to his minions to hold Angel but they were halted by a wave of the dark man’s hand.

“Spike, boy, you never did catch onto things very quickly. You still think I have a soul?” Angelus raised his eyebrows and tutted as though disappointed in the younger vampire.

“You’ve tried that one before, mate, didn’t work then and it’s not going to work now,” Spike replied smugly, “I’m not stupid.” Silence reigned as everyone took a moment to digest that statement.

“I’m not even gonna touch that,” said Angelus, “too easy. Take a closer look Spike, I’m not lying.”

Spike slowly approached the dark vampire and circled him. He came to a stop directly in front of him. Their eyes locked and something passed between them.

“Bloody hell! It really is you – Angelus!” Spike stared in wonder.

“You get there in the end, don’t you?” But Spike wasn’t listening, he was too busy pacing.

“This is great, it’ll be just like old times.” He paused and thought for a moment, “Hang on a sec – I hated the old times – you were an arrogant, annoying, self-absorbed, vain…”

He would have gone on all night but Angelus interrupted,

“Spike! You’ve got issues – I get it. You’re intimidated by me,” He raised his hands in a ‘hey-who-can-blame-you’ gesture, “But right now I don’t have time to go on Montel and work through this, I’ve got some business I need to take care of.” His eyes rested on the tense form of Cordelia. The brunette had been standing as still as possible hoping that she could somehow fade into the background. Apparently her plan hadn’t worked. Great – I’m back to being vamp food. Spike followed his gaze,

“Oh so it was you who had a taste. Good choice.”

“Thanks. So how we gonna work this?” Angelus had decided to try and reach an agreement with Spike; it would save time. But if he’s difficult then I’ll just dust him and get what I want anyway.

Spike watched Angelus intently. He knew the vampire of old and knew that reaching an accommodation would be easier then fighting him…not as much fun but definitely easier.

“Well, I’m gonna kill the little lady over there,” he nodded towards Buffy, “But if you want the catwoman then I’m feelin’ generous – knock yourself out.”

“I want the boy as well,” growled Angelus, “I owe him.” He was still smarting from the blow earlier.

Buffy and Xander both visibly paled at the casual discussion the two vampires were having concerning their lives. Buffy could not understand how they could so easily discuss killing her, or indeed why.

“Woah there supervamp – no one said anything about the Merry Men.” There was no way Spike was going to let Angelus have all the fun…the haggling began in earnest.

***

Silence hung over the near empty costume shop, the only sound to be heard was the harsh breathing of the beaten and bloody man lying on the floor.

“So, Ethan…have you had enough? Or do you wish to continue this…conversation?” Giles stood over the prone form of Ethan Rayne, gently rubbing his slightly bruised knuckles. Ethan looked up at the Englishman through the one eye he could still see out of, he should have known that Ripper wouldn’t be buried to deeply beneath the civilised veneer of the watcher. Rayne could be a pragmatic man when needed and now was one of those times – he’d had his fun, caused chaos on the Hellmouth and now was the time to quit while he still had a head.

Giles quietly waited for the man to reach the correct conclusion. Outwardly he was as calm as calm could be. Inwardly however, his mind was racing and his pulse was beating wildly. He knew that if his theory was correct and Angelus was truly free then he had no time to lose. He could only pray that Willow had reached the others in time and gotten them out of harms way.

“So, do you need more persuasion or have you had enough?” Asked Giles, his voice full of the promise of further retribution if Ethan gave an answer not to his liking.

“Enough,” coughed the man on the floor. He slowly rolled over onto his back, groaning all the way. “In the back room, the statue of Janus – smash it.”

The words had barely left his mouth before Giles was stepping over him and moving towards the back room and what he hoped was the answer to the night’s problems.

***

“No. How many times do I have to bloody well say it – you can have the brown-haired bird but that’s it. This was my evil plan and I’m going to kill the most people.” Spike stamped his foot and crossed his arms, looking like a child about to throw a tantrum. Angelus debated internally whether to continue the argument or not. He weighed up the pleasure of killing the Harris boy against the pleasure of Cordelia’s body and swiftly made a choice.

“Fine, you get Private Pansy-ass over there. Its a shame the redhead’s a ghost…unless you happen to have everything needed for an exorcism handy?” He questioned.

Willow stiffened at that, she hadn’t thought that they would try and exorcise her. Giles will figure it out before that, she told herself desperately. Cordelia meanwhile was frantically looking around the room hoping that an easy exit would magically appear. Like magic ever actually does anything useful. She was terrified about being alone with Angel again. He might decide to finish draining her, or he might decide to finish…well, either way she knew she didn’t want to be anywhere near him in his current vampy state. The thought of being drained scared the hell out of her and the thought of her reaction to the other stuff didn’t bear thinking about. She snapped back to the present as the two vampires seemed to reach an agreement, they shook hands and began to move towards their respective targets.

Buffy shrank back against the wall and watched the blonde approach her. She knew he was coming to kill her, he and the other man had seemed to take pleasure in discussing it. Xander struggled helplessly against his captors. Seeing the terror on the girls’ faces he felt compelled to help, he looked over at Willow who was wringing her hands and shifting her incorporeal weight from one foot to the other.

Cordelia was oblivious to the drama playing out nearby – all her attention was on the vampire approaching her. Her breath caught in her throat at the look in his eyes – hunger – for what she wasn’t sure but she knew she didn’t want to find out. Why can’t he just go back to being a nice normal human, then I’d know how to deal with him. But it seemed her wish was not going to come true as Angelus relentlessly closed the distance between them. She risked a glance out of the corner of her eye – hoping that perhaps Buffy had remembered that it was her job to save people in trouble – but what she saw caused her panic levels to rise even more. Spike was standing over a terrified Buffy who was leaning back over some crates, crying with fear. No help there then.

She looked back and found Angelus standing directly in front of her. A shiver ran up her spine as she finally accepted that escape was unlikely. Angelus grinned, he was having the time of his unlife. Nothing could beat having a beautiful, terrified woman at his mercy – well except perhaps a naked, beautiful, terrified woman. Quite why he felt so drawn to Cordelia Chase he couldn’t say…hell he’d given up killing the slayer for another shot at the brunette. Unwilling to examine the subject too closely he decided to focus on the more pleasurable matter at hand. He leaned in an lightly touched the bite marks on her neck, Cordelia flinched away and closed her eyes, not wanting to see the moment when death struck.

***

Giles pushed through the curtains and was confronted with the site of the statue of Janus sitting in the centre of a circle of candles. The two faces appeared almost alive in the flickering light and both seemed to be smiling triumphantly at him, as though aware of the trouble they had caused. He wasted no time in picking up the icon and bringing it crashing to the floor causing it to splinter into several pieces. He felt a brief rush of power and then nothing…silence. He prayed that Buffy and the others were safe.


CHAPTER 8

Cordelia tensed and waited for Angelus’ next move, she wasn’t sure what it would be but she refused to let him see her fear. She waited…and she waited…and she waited…nothing. Cracking open one eye she risked a quick look round – Angel was no longer in her line of sight. Fully opening her eyes she was able to take in the events unfolding in the warehouse. Buffy seemed to have remembered her role as defender of the innocent and was beating the crap out of a highly indignant Spike, Xander was menacingly brandishing a plastic gun at a group of crying children and Willow was nowhere to be seen. Angel on the other hand was…Cordelia looked down at the floor and saw him curled up in a ball, shaking. He’s not taking this well.

She stood, unsure of what to do. Part of her wanted to join Xander in trying to calm down the kids, another part wanted to run like hell and not look back and a final part was drawn towards the tortured form of Angel. She made a start towards Xander, the least confusing option, who was rapidly becoming overwhelmed by upset children but was distracted by the sight of Buffy sending Spike running. The slayer stood for a moment dusting herself down and surveying the scene, for the first time that evening Cordelia was able to take in Buffy’s costume – Wow, that shade of pink does nothing for her..

“Everyone ok?” Questioned a now fully functional slayer. Words could not express how glad she was to be herself again, being stuck as a passenger in her own body was no fun at all.

“I’m good,” replied a harassed Xander, “Although I’m starting to think these guys were less trouble when they were evil.” He gestured towards the clamouring hoard. Buffy spared him a weak grin before moving towards Cordelia and Angel. Cordelia was surprised when the slayer stopped in front of her and gently enquired if she was alright, her eyes fastened on the wounds on Cordy’s neck.

“I’m fine – sure it was no picnic and really lets NOT do this again next year but I’m good.” Cordelia didn’t see the point in saying how her neck was throbbing, that every bone in her body ached and that she may need therapy for the next ever – everything was back to how it should be, which granted was weird, but it was a weird she could deal with.

Buffy was now standing in front of Angel who was slowly getting to his feet. One look at his sorrowful eyes was all it took to see that he was back to his normal self.

“Angel, are you…” Buffy paused, unsure of what to say.

“I’m fine, Buffy, its me.” Replied Angel. A pained look of regret flashed across his features as he recalled everything he had said and done that night.Not my finest hour, he thought ruefully.

“So you’re you…right? Soul in tact?” Buffy felt compelled to double check, after the night they’d just lived through she didn’t think a little caution was out of place.

“As it should be…I’m sorry – for what I said. I wasn’t in control.” Control, he thought, is what it all comes down to…as Angelus…as Angel – control was key. He had to control the hunger, the desire to hunt and kill and feed. As Angelus he was free to indulge in all of these things but he had to learn to control them, if he didn’t then he was bound to get careless and meet a dusty end like so many others. As Angel the soul compelled him to control them and that control allowed him to help Buffy and do good. Yes, control was vital.

“Its ok, I know it wasn’t you saying all those things, believe me, its not like I would ever normally call for smelling salts…I don’t think I even know what they are.” She shrugged, trying to bring some humour to the rather tense situation. Angel was relieved that she seemed to be taking it so well and he turned to the one other person he knew he needed to apologise to.

Cordelia regarded him warily as though unsure whether to trust him or not.

“Cordelia,” he began, she held up a hand to stop him.

“Look, I’m not saying its all fine ‘cos its not, for one thing accessorizing this,” she pointed to her neck, “is not going to be easy. Lucky for you I am Queen of the fashion trend so it should work out. But…I’m ok – it wasn’t any fun but hey I’m alive, which in this town constitutes a good night.” She gave him a smile, not quite as brilliant as usual but he took it as a good sign.

“Thanks, I’m glad you’re ok.” And he was glad. What – no part of the evening had been fun for her? He thought back to their little ‘interlude’ in the Summers’ living room, I’m sure she was having at least a little fun then.He gave himself a quick mental shake and reminded himself that what he had done had been a bad thing. Didn’t feel bad…His mental train of thought was interrupted by Xander calling out to him,

“So, deadboy, how’s the head? Didn’t hit you too hard did I?” Xander couldn’t help but smirk, it was the one time he’d ever be able to best the vampire in a fight and he was going to milk it.

“Its fine – barely felt it.” There was no way Angel was going to put up with the boy mocking him about that.

“Really? ‘Cos you seemed to go down pretty hard. Just remember that if you ever get the urge to start snacking on one of us again. I mean I know you’re normally a good vampire and all but after tonight…” Xander trailed off. A sharp intake of breath caused Angel to turn to Cordelia again. Hazel eyes, wide with shock gazed at him.

“You mean you actually are a vampire?” She had gone even paler, “I thought it was just the costume, that Buffy was joking when she said you were a ‘good vampire’.” His small nod of confirmation squashed any remaining hope that it was all a bad joke or nightmare. This was the final straw, it was not something she could process right now, not after everything else.

She spun round and ran from the warehouse, uncaring of the people she was leaving behind or what may be waiting for her outside. Angel moved to follow, the desire to apologise again strong as well as the need to make sure she got home safely but he was prevented by Buffy stepping in front of him.

“I think she needs to be alone right now, Angel. Let her figure it out in her head before you start apologising all over again.” She gave him a small smile, “She’ll be fine. Cordelia’s strong. Now, you want to help us get these kids home?”

“Please,” begged Xander, “I’m rapidly reaching the point where I wish Spike would come back…he seemed to have a way with them.”

“Let’s go. And then we should really find Willow, check she’s back in the land of the living.”

***

Later that evening Buffy, Willow and Xander sat comfortably in the Summers’ now restored living room. They had called Giles as soon as they’d returned the children to their homes and assured him that all was well. They were now discussing the night’s events whilst enjoying hard earned cups of hot chocolate and some candy that Xander had ‘appropriated’ from the kids. When Buffy and Willow had turned their shocked gazes on him he had shrugged and said,

“Hey, they held us hostage in a warehouse – I think they owe us.” Having no argument against that the two girls had willingly accepted the spoils of the evening.

“So,” began Xander, “evil Angel – what was that all about?” He looked at his two best friends and saw a sadness in Buffy’s eyes and Willow with her thoughtful face on.

“Giles said that the costume made him revert to his souless self – you know pre-curse,” replied Willow.

“What, so that’s what he’d be like if he was a normal vampire? Scary, not someone I’d like to meet in an old abandoned warehouse in the middle of the night.” He glanced at Buffy who was endlessly twisting and empty candy bar wrapper between her fingers. “You ok, Buff?” She jolted, startled from her own private thoughts,

“Huh? Yeah, Xander I’m fine,” she paused, ” It’s just that I never thought I’d see Angel act like that. I know it was the costume but it was still a look at what he could be like. I mean he bit Cordelia, he wanted to kill me…” She trailed off, not liking where her train of thought was taking her.

“He was scary alright. I mean he wanted to exorcise me!” Exclaimed an indignant Willow. “What – it wasn’t enough that I was already dead?”

“I don’t think that was his main priority, Will,” said Xander. “Don’t worry, I would have protected you. I took him down once…I could do it again.” He gave the girls a superior look and claimed another chocolate bar from the pile on the table.

“Whatever,” snorted Buffy, “All I know is that I’m glad its over. I also know that 18th century living is not for me…and that my boyfriend has the potential to turn into the Prince of Darkness.” Her tone was light but her eyes told a different story. Her idealised view of Angel had been shattered. No longer could she pretend that he was just a guy. Tonight she had been forced to confront his vampire side and it was a confrontation she wouldn’t soon forget.

“We should check on Cordelia tomorrow,” came Willow’s voice, breaking Buffy’s concentration, “She had a rough night what with being bitten and finding out that Angel really is a vampire.”

“We did tell her,” pointed out Buffy.

“Yeah but she didn’t believe us did she? I think she was really shocked.”

“Ok – we’ll give her space tonight and then see her tomorrow,” replied Buffy, her thoughts already drifting back towards Angel.

Xander sat quietly listening to the conversation. He was the only one who knew that Cordy had been more that just bitten, he’d seen the whole show. I’ll talk to her tomorrow, alone,he thought. Cordelia Chase may not be his favorite person and he certainly wasn’t hes but he was determined to be there for her, whether she wanted it or not.

***

Cordelia sank lower into the soothing bathwater and felt the tension slowly draining out of her. For the first time since Halloween went wonky she felt as thought she could finally relax, safe in the knowledge that no vampire had ever been invited into her home, and never will be.

Peace reigned and her mind began to wonder. She began to contemplate the strange turn her life had taken since the arrival of Buffy Summers in Sunnydale. Life used to be simple – she’d had school, admirers, the Bronze and a social life that had never threatened to kill her. Now she had all of that plus monsters, evil, Hellmouths and shades of grey where before there had only been black and white. Sure there was still clear cut good and evil but now it appeared that there were annoying layers to that. Now it seemed that someone could be evil, turn good, turn evil again and then revert to good. So her question was – how do you know who to trust?

The episode with Angel had shaken Cordelia to the core. The one thought that had sustained her that night was the thought that vamp-Angel was all just part of a spell, that it could be fixed and he would be human again – and a human Angel she could deal with. Now she had to face up to the fact that he was a vampire, that Buffy had been telling the truth and no matter how many spells were done he would always be a vampire.

This caused Cordelia a number of problems, the foremost being that she was still attracted to him, dead guy or not, and after the ‘incident’ between them earlier she didn’t think she was ever going to be able to look at him without remembering how he’d made her feel. Cordelia had yet to decide whether they were good feeling or bad feelings. They had certainly felt good but the fact that en evil vampire had caused them surely made them bad. Welcome to my life – one giant contradiction.

There was also the fact that she had liked Angel, he’d seemed nice and was strangely easy to talk to. Now she was just plain confused. Angel had terrified her earlier, she had thought he was going to kill her and that was not something that you just moved on from, regardless of whether it had been the costume doing the talking. How was she supposed to feel comfortable with him now that she knew he was a vampire? A good vampire, granted, but the guy still possessed the same fangs that had left the scars on her throat.

I should just avoid him, she thought but the more she considered it the more she realised that it wasn’t going to work. In that moment in the warehouse, when she’s looked around and seen the devastation caused, heard the crying children, seen a tortured Angel and felt the lingering fear of death she’d made a decision. She had decided that she would no longer just ‘drop-in’ on fighting the good fight, no Cordelia Chase was going to become a fully paid up member of the White Hats. What she and the others had faced that night had made her see that fighting evil wasn’t a part time deal and that if she wanted to make a difference then she had to help properly. So avoiding Angel is out – since he’s dating the leader of the good guys. I’ll just have to avoid him while hanging out with him…I can do that.

As she slowly drifted off to sleep her final thought was of the dark-haired vampire and when she would next see him.

***

Across town in a darkened apartment Angel sat quietly assessing the damage he had caused that night. Guilt washed over him at the memory of terrified hazel eyes, it was a sight he wouldn’t soon forget. Just another thing to add to my ‘to-brood-about’ list.

What made it all worse was the fact that Cordelia hadn’t realised that he was actually a vampire in his pre-spell state. He had seen the shock on her face…and the fear – good vampire or not it was going to take a lot for her to ever trust him again. That thought bothered him for some reason. He didn’t know Cordelia Chase well but the few times he’d spoken to her they’d got on. He acknowledged that most of the time she was simply enjoying winding Buffy up but he’d also found her good company. She was funny, intelligent and blunt to the point of it being painful, but one always knew where one stood with Cordelia. I’ll apologise again…maybe buy her something…like flowers or chocolates…sure because a box of candy is going to make up for being attacked and bitten.

That thought brought to mind the taste of her blood, it still lingered in his mouth, rich and tempting, and he was reluctant to lose it. Human blood at the best of times weakened his iron control and he knew it was going to be next to impossible to be around the brunette without hearing the call of her blood and desiring it. That’s not all I’ll be desiring…the thought popped into his head without warning and he was bombarded with images and sensations – touching Cordelia, tasting Cordelia…He shook himself and forced the pictures out of his head before they drove him crazy and turned his mind to other things – like Buffy.

She was another girl caught in the fall-out from Halloween. Angelus had truly wanted her dead, he had wanted to destroy the girl who had helped to make him feel good and useful and human – and Buffy knew it. She had experienced his souless self in all its glory and Angel wasn’t sure that she’d ever be able to forget that. She shouldn’t. She’s the slayer, she needs to be prepared to deal with anything – even me. A great sadness welled up in him as he realised that his relationship with Buffy would never be the same. In one night he’d managed to alter his relationship with one girl and destroy any chances of having one with another.

This is what comes of dressing up on Halloween. Thank God I decided against the fake fangs…who knows what I would have done…

Chapter 9

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