A Second Chance. 5

Part 5

Hand pressed to her mouth, Cordelia yawned. Blinking tears from her tired eyes, she staggered through the doors of Sunnydale High.

This is all Angel’s fault, she thought…and didn’t notice that her angry glare sent a nervous freshman—Ronny something or other—scurrying in the opposite direction.

It was hard enough getting to sleep the night before last, when some trick of the moonlight made her think she saw someone outside her bedroom window. But then, last night, Angel comes along with his “Hey! I think there’s some big, slimy thing with 3 eyes and pointy teeth in your house.”

Okay, so he didn’t use those exact words. But that was what she saw every time she closed her eyes. It must have been at least 1 a.m. before she finally fell asleep.

Was it any wonder she felt like a zombie this morning?

With a weary sigh, she pushed through the library doors.

Buffy and Willow were the only ones there. The blond sat on the counter, the redhead leaned against it. Both looked fresh-faced, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ready to face whatever the day had in store.

It was sickening.

They also seemed lost in a conversation too interesting for them to notice her entrance. Lucky for them, she was too tired to be insulted.

“Well,” Willow was saying, “Angel isn’t exactly Mr. Motor Mouth.”

“I know, Will,” Buffy said. “He’s not big with the talkies. Which I’m used to, believe me. But he doesn’t have to talk for me to know he’s listening. You know?”

Of course, Cordy thought. Listlessly, she dropped into a chair. Another chapter in the Slayer and Her Souled Vamp Love Saga. Volume 2.

“I’ve never known anyone who just…listens, like Angel does,” Buffy continued, “When I’m with him, it’s like there’s nothing else in his world. But, last night, I don’t think he heard a word I said. His mind was a million miles away.”

“Or maybe a couple of centuries?” Willow suggested.

“Maybe,” Buffy agreed. And, as always, even a hint of Angel’s past seemed to make her uncomfortable. “Whatever it is, there just seems to be something…different about him.”

Which might explain why he was lurking around my house last night, Cordy thought…and would have said out loud if she wasn’t so busy yawning. Again. She just wasn’t any good without the full eight hours. And she’d been sleep deprived for 2 nights straight. Not only did she not feel 100%, she also didn’t look her best. Which was the real tragedy.

She so should have skipped today. After all, she was a senior. Didn’t she have the right?

Folding her arms, she put her heavy head down on the desk. Wait a minute! There was something she’d wanted to say. She just had to remember what that was.

Just then, the library doors swung open.

“Good morning, fair maidens!” Xander said. He grinned at Buffy and Willow. “Boy, I feel great today. Can’t remember when I had a better night’s sleep!”

Cordelia lifted her head and glared at him. As if, somehow, he’d stolen the sleep that belonged to her.

Still grinning like an idiot, Xander turned towards her. “Hey, Cordy! You look…” Then, his eyes took in her tired face and puffy eyes. “Um…”

Her cold-stare-of-death was enough to make him clamp his lips shut.

“Nemar demons,” Giles said as he exited his office. The Watcher also looked well-rested. Much to Cordy’s disgust.

“What’s a nemar demon?” Willow asked. Then, excitement lit her eyes. “Ooh, is it some new nasty? Do you want me to look stuff up?” She took a step towards the computer.

“That won’t be necessary, Willow,” Giles said. “Nemar demons are responsible for the killings reported in yesterday’s paper.”

The Slayer hopped off of the counter. “And you know this how?”

“There was a similar string of murders in Canada roughly ten years ago. But, in that case, there was one survivor. And the creatures the victim described were definitely nemar.” Giles shook his head. “The authorities thought the poor fellow was quite mad, of course.”

Cordelia shivered. That was definitely a fear. That, with all the weird stuff she saw every day, she’d blurt something out in front of her parents, for example, who’d think she was a complete nut case.

“In any event,” Giles continued, “the evidence collected by the Sunnydale Police Department, coupled with the autopsy reports, have convinced me that the creatures that struck night before last were also nemar.”

“So, how do I kill these neener things?” Buffy asked.

“Nemar,” Giles corrected. “And you don’t.”

Buffy gave him a puzzled frown. “And I say ‘huh?’”

“Well, if I’m correct, both creatures are dead by now. The fact that no bodies have been found this morning makes it a near certainty.”

“And that clears it all right up,” Xander said. A sentiment echoed on the faces of the three girls.

Giles took a moment to give the teen A LOOK before explaining. “Nemar don’t attack humans human. They feed, once or twice a week, on wild animals, sometimes livestock, the occasional pet. And they spend the rest of their time sleeping. But when a mated pair are about to die—which they invariably do together because of their link—they go into a frenzy. They are attracted to supernatural energies, like those emitted by the Hellmouth. They become extremely violent. They will attack anything that crosses their path. In this case, humans. Eventually, they turn on each other. And, once one nemar is dead, the other goes as far underground as possible to die itself.”

Silence dropped, like a stone, into the library.

“So,” Buffy said, voice dull with disbelief. “There’s nothing I can do?”

Giles gave her a sympathetic look. “No. Nothing.”

Which, to Cordy, sounded like a good. The problem had taken care of itself. If only all of Sunnydale’s demon problems were that easy to deal with.

But Buffy didn’t look happy. There was probably some Slayer instinct telling her to make something pay for the people found dead yesterday morning.

Cordy could relate. She’d turned ‘getting even’ into an art form.

“This is good, Buffy,” Willow insisted. “It means these nemar things can’t hurt anyone else.”

“And no research session this afternoon,” Cordy interjected.

Everyone turned to stare at her.

“What?” the brunette demanded. “Like we weren’t all thinking it.”


Cordelia stood in the center of his bedroom, bathed in the golden glow from the fireplace. Dressed in red silk. Blood lace.

She stood before him. Hazel eyes filled with love. And acceptance. And invitation.

With one slender, graceful hand, she pushed her long, mahogany hair over her left shoulder. Closed her eyes. Turned her head to the side.

Bared her throat to him.

“I can’t,” he said. “You know I can’t.” But he didn’t pull away. He leaned closer.

“I want this, Angel,” she sighed. Eyes still closed, neck still bared, her voice was husky and sweet. “I want to be inside you.”

Angel stared at her long, slender neck. At the pulse that beat there.

He wanted to taste her.

It was a desire he’d had for longer than he cared to admit. One he’d learned to ignore if not deny. To suppress if not destroy.

But the hunger roared to the surface. The need to feel her blood—only hers—on his tongue. To savor its sweetness. To feel its warmth slide down his throat. The need burned like hot honey through his veins. Filled him to the core.

Angel grabbed her upper arms. Stepped closer to her patiently waiting form. Brought his lips to within an inch of her sun-kissed skin.

God, he wanted to taste her.

And he couldn’t remember why he shouldn’t.


Angel doused cold water on his face. The crisp, sharp feel of it cleared away some of the fog that clouded his mind.

He glanced up at the bathroom mirror. And wished he could see his reflection there. If he could, what would he see? Loneliness. Longing. Desperation.


Running a damp hand through his hair, he closed his eyes and re-lived the dream.

The first had been a temptation.

This one? This one was nothing but frustration.

Because, as his dream-self leaned forward, the moment his fangs grazed her tender, pliant flesh…

He woke up.

“Dammit!” Angel growled. He banged angry fists against the cold, porcelain sink. For half an hour, he lay in bed, eyes squeezed shut, begging slumber to re-take him. To take him back to the dream. To that moment.

But sleep eluded him. Even as the images grew more vivid, more solid as he replayed them again and again in his mind, he couldn’t recapture the feelings of it.

Angel glared at the mirror. Almost gave in to the urge to smash his fist into it. To watch it shatter, just like the dream had. To watch his blood—like red silk and lace—trail down the glass.

With bitter humor, he remembered what he told the sorceress.

“I’ll wait.”

And he would have. If he’d arrived before Cordelia was born, he would have waited for her. Five years. Ten. Twenty.

But she was here. Whole. And alive. And flesh. And, with every moment, waiting seemed more impossible. Patience seemed harder to hold on to.

How could he not touch her? Hold her?

How could he not?

And, with every moment, it grew stronger. The voice, the urge, that asked with soft certainty,

What are you waiting for?


As far as Cordelia Chase was concerned, afternoon naps were for toddlers and the elderly. Oh, and her mother.

But, the minute she got home from school, she collapsed onto the bed, and was asleep before her head settled on the pillow.

When she woke, it was already dark outside.

Cordy glanced at the clock, and realized she was late.

“For the Bronze,” she muttered. “Big whoop.”

Sinse their demon problem—well, one of them—had taken care of itself, everyone but her had decided to spend the evening at the club. And, according to the clock, Xander and the rest of their wacky gang were already there.

“Fashionably late is always good,” she yawned. Pushing herself out of bed, she staggered towards the bathroom.


Again, Angel glanced towards the entrance.

It seemed the Bronze was a popular spot tonight. The door never rested. It opened again and again to admit a new stream of fun-seekers. It seemed like everyone in town was here tonight. Everyone except her.

And her absence was like a scream in the back of his mind.


Reluctantly, the vampire turned towards Buffy.

“Who are you looking for?”

He frowned. “What?”

“Well, you keep looking at the door,” the Slayer continued. “I was wondering if you were waiting for someone.”

“No. No-one.” And his eyes went back to the entrance.

“Hey, pal,” Xander said. “Don’t hog the conversation. I mean, we’d like to get a word in edge-wise here.”

“Xander,” Willow sighed. From the corner of his eye, he saw the redhead’s elbow poke the teen in the ribs.

On stage, Dingoes Ate My baby started another song. And the volume didn’t invite intimate conversation. Or more questions.

But Angel knew Buffy was watching him. Could almost feel the worry in his eyes as she wondered what was wrong with him.

Angel knew he was acting strange. He’d meant to act more…normal. To act the way he remembered himself being. But he just couldn’t seem to do it. To play that part. All of his energy was focused on the door. On not getting up to pace a trench in the floor.

Where was she? He’d only come because she was supposed to be here.

After she got out of school, Buffy came by the mansion to tell him about the nemar demons. And to subtly invite him—which meant she’d mentioned everyone was going, so he’d see them if he decided to show up—to the Bronze.

She was supposed to be here.

“I guess C.C. isn’t coming,” Xander said over the driving music. A hint of disappointment tinted his voice. “She said she might not come. Probably stayed home to exfoliate or something.”

Angel’s hands clenched into fist. Frustration clawed at his chest.

What if she wasn’t coming? What if she’d decided to stay home?

I could have been there with her. Near her. Instead, I’m wasting my time sitting here.

“I have to go,” he said suddenly. He stood so abruptly, the chair rattled as it skittered back.

“Go?” Buffy asked. “What? Why?”

“I…” But he couldn’t spare the energy to come up with an explanation. “I have something to do.”

He heard Buffy call his name as he walked away. But he didn’t stop. Instead he disappeared, like a shadow, into the crowd.


Cordelia hated nights when the Bronze was packed. If you didn’t get there early…

“You have to park two blocks away,” she grumbled. With a roll of her eyes, she parallel parked her red roadster. Why did everyone feel they had to drive everywhere, taking up precious parking space? Didn’t anyone believe in walking anymore?

With a sigh, Cordy got out of her car. She took a fashionable, black enamel perfume mister out of her purse. It was guaranteed to cover the maximum amount of skin with a fine spray of the expensive eu de cologne of you choice.

At the moment, it was filled with holy water. Because she was a little tired, not stupid.

She walked towards the Bronze, careful to keep away from dark shadows and alley entrances. Her eyes scanned the street for anyone or anything suspicious.

She wasn’t prepared for the something that swooped down on her from the roof of Store-N-Save.

One scream was all she got out before her body was slammed into the brick wall of the building. As she slumped to the ground, reality faded. Darkness reached up to claim her.

She never got the chance to use her spray.


Rage clouded Angel’s vision. A haze of red and black.

A wrathful growl rumbled in his chest.

He grabbed the vampire away from Cordelia’s still, unconscious form. Tossed it through the air like it was nothing.

Within seconds, before the creature could even think to get up, Angel was on it. Slamming a stake through its heart. Snarling at the ashes that fell to the hard, concrete sidewalk.

In an instant, the vampire was forgotten.

Panic raced through him, tried to force his dead heart to beat, Angel ran to Cordelia, kneeled. His hand trembled as he lay it on the smooth warmth of her shoulder. As he gently turned her over onto her back.

“Cordy?” he gasped, eyes roaming frantically over her body. Checking for injuries. Desperate for her to be okay.

She didn’t stir. Her eyes remained tightly shut. But her breathing was even. Her heartbeat, faster than normal from fright, was steady.

His eyes went to the gash on her forehead. To the trickles of blood that painted her skin. Like red tears.

He stared at the blood, mesmerized. The street disappeared as memories of the dream filled his head.

Cordelia, baring her throat to him. Offering him…everything.

And every fiber of his being screamed for him to take it. To forget about patience and waiting and just…

The sound of distant laughter snapped him out of his reverie. He remembered that, on a Friday night, with the Bronze open and thriving, this was a busy street.

Angel lifted her body from the punishing concrete. Standing, he paused. Closed his eyes, and allowed himself a moment to just…feel her. To feel the warmth of her body against his. The softness of her skin. Her silk of her hair tickling his chin.

Angel opened his eyes and glanced towards the Bronze. Where her friends waited.

After a moment’s hesitation, he carried Cordelia to her car.

Part 6

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