Another Time. 3

Part 3

The Past…

Cordelia couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe.

Angel held her tight. So tight. The power in the arms wrapped around her chest and waist made her bones ache. If he held her any tighter, she would shatter.

She shivered. His body, pressed so hard against her back, was so cold. Colder than the chilled breeze that fluttered through the open window.

She was too scared to wonder why the cold embrace felt vaguely familiar.

“I almost can’t bare to think about it.” Angel shook his head. “How I’ve underestimated you. Neglected you. If I’d just been paying more attention, I would have realized how…interesting you are way before now.” Lowering his voice, he whispered in her ear. “I know all kinds of ways we can make up for lost time.”

The hint of menace in his voice, the dark promise, snapped her out of her paralysis. She started to struggle. Her lungs filled with air. She opened her mouth to scream.

Abruptly, she was released. The vampire spun her around until she faced him. One hand wrapped around the back of her neck. With the other hand, he pressed a finger to her lips.

It all happened in an instant. Cordelia, was so startled, the scream froze in her throat.

“Do you really want to do that?” Angel asked, sounding truly curious. “Scream? I mean, you parents are bound to want to know why their daughter is screaming the house down. Like they did last night. And I *hate* interruptions.” Hand still pressed to her lips, he rested his forehead against hers. “Do you really want to see what I’d do to them if they came in here now?”

Cordelia swallowed. The scream was still there, begging for release. Clawing at the back of her throat. She had to grit her teeth to keep it from escaping.

Because she realized he was right. Her parents couldn’t help her. If she screamed, if they came to see why, they would die. He’d make her watch…because he always had more fun when there was someone to watch. Or so the stuff she’d read said.

Her parents would die. And it would be her fault.

For the first time in a long time, she wished her parents weren’t at home. That her father was away on another business trip. That her mother had taken off on another one of her frequent, spur of the moment vacations.

At least he couldn’t hurt Marta. The housekeeper couldn’t have picked a better time to go visit her sister.

“Just promise me you’ll be a good girl.” She saw him smirk in the dim glow of the moonlight. “And I’ll leave Mommy and Daddy alone.”

Cordelia started to tremble. Her breaths came in short, jerky gasps. Frantically, her mind ran through all of her options. Only to find she didn’t have any.

She was almost surprised to hear herself speak.

“I won’t scream,” she said against the finger still pressed to her lips. Her voice dry and raspy.

Angel seemed to give it some consideration. Then, abruptly, he let her go.

Unprepared for her sudden release, Cordelia staggered away from him. Her body, realizing she was free, strained towards the door. Her fight or flight instinct kicked in and, knowing she couldn’t fight him, all she wanted to do was run.

But she also knew she wouldn’t get far.

Angel watched her, waited to see what she would do. In the dark, in the moonlight, he was just a shadow in a room full of shadows. But, with his vampire senses, she knew he could see her far better than she could see him.

“Wait,” she gasped, suddenly realizing what he’d said. Her eyes grew wide. “Last night?” she whispered. “You were here last…”

“Oh, yeah,” he said, almost casually. He nodded towards the window. “Right out there. And, let me say, you put on quite a show.”

Her heart clenching into a fist, Cordelia stopped breathing.

“A seer,” Angel said, taking a step forward. “I’ve got a thing for seers.”

Cordelia backed away from him. Stopping when the backs of her legs bumped up against the bed.

Angel continued his advance.

“Don’t,” Cordelia gasped. And hated the plea she heard in her voice.

“Don’t what?” Angel said, stopping inches from her. “Kill you?” With a gentle hand, he pushed her hair behind her left shoulder. Cold fingers brushed against the side of her neck. “Don’t worry, Cordelia. You won’t be gone long.”

He struck with the speed of a snake. Grabbing her shoulders,he shoved her backwards.

Cordelia fell back with a yelp. She hit the bed so hard the wind was knocked out of her lungs.

Before she could even begin to catch her breath, he was on top of her. His body crushed hers into the mattress.

((Oh God!)) chanted a voice in her head. Because she couldn’t think anything else. ((Oh, God! Oh, God!))

She started to struggle, hands pushing futiley against his powerful chest. But her efforts had no effect. In fact, they were so weak in the face of his superior strength, he didn’t even bother to try to subdue her.

Angel hovered above her. Hungry eyes traveled across her face. Over her body.

“Where to start, hmmm? Here?” His fingers brushed against her breast. “Or here?” His hand traveled down her rib cage, down her hip, settled on her upper thigh. “Or maybe we’ll start with a classic.”

Cordelia whimpered as he grabbed a handful of her hair, wrenched her head to the side. The feral visage of the demon flickering over his handsome features, he buried his fangs in her throat.

Cordelia gasped, body tensing against the shock of the pain. Then…

Images filled her mind.

Angel smiling. But not the cold, malicious smirk. A smile filled with warmth and humor.

Angel fighting a demon.

Angel reading a book. Her sitting beside him, with her head on his shoulder.

Angel, begging her to do what he told her for once.

Angel, holding her pain wracked body in his arms. He looked so worried. Even a little scared.

They were all there, one after another. Hundreds and hundreds of images. Filled with sight and sound and color. Laughter and caring.

Hundreds of beautiful images followed her into the darkness.

* * *

Angelus ripped his fangs away from Cordelia Chase’s throat. Realizing, somewhere in the back of his mind, that he’d taken more blood more quickly than he’d intended. He hadn’t wanted to turn her right away. He’d wanted to play.

But the images…

Angelus pushed himself off of her unconscious body. Standing, he stumbled away from the bed.

Putting his hands to his head, the vampire tried to shake away the images that filled his mind. They were like memories.

Memories of things he knew had happened. Filling him with feelings he hadn’t experienced since his soul was ripped away.

There were hundreds of images, flitting through his mind so fast, he couldn’t catch them. But he knew they all had one thing in common.

Angelus growled. He had to get away. From the images. The feelings they caused. The girl…

With one final glare towards the bed, Angelus climbed through the window and jumped to the ground below.

* * *

Cordelia sat hunched in the middle of her bed. A stake in one hand. A large, wooden cross in the other.

Her room was ablaze. Every light, every lamp on. And her eyes flittered from the now locked window, to her bedroom door.

She had been unconscious for a long time. Hours. When she woke, she felt nauseous and woozy. The blood on her skin dry and crusted.

Even now, the wound on the side of her neck burned like a brand.

And she couldn’t stop shaking.

She knew she should do something. Call someone. Go somewhere.

But she was frozen, afraid to move. So she sat in her bed, clutched her cross and stake. Wondered why she was still alive. And waited for dawn to come.

And the images kept coming. Of an Angel unlike the one she’d known before he lost his soul. Certainly different from the evil vampire who had taken so much joy from the thought of killing her.

Every image filled her with warmth, and happiness. Felt safe and familiar. And broke her heart.

Cordelia felt her eyes fill with tears. They were images of an Angel who didn’t exist.

And she missed him. So much.

* * *

Rupert Giles opened the doors of the Sunnydale High School library. Early, as usual. When there was pressing Slayer business to attend to, Buffy and her friends would arrive an hour or so before school began, to talk and strategize. It had happened so often, coming in early had become a habit for the Watcher.

Carrying the new texts that had been delivered to his apartment yesterday, Giles started towards his office.

When he heard the doors open, the librarian turned around.

At first, he didn’t recognize the young woman standing there. Then…

Giles gasped with disbelief as he realized who it was. He’d never seen Cordelia Chase this way before. She wore jeans and a wrinkled sweatshirt. Her hair pulled back in a messy ponytail. Her face bare of make-up.

And she looked ill. Drained.


Putting his books aside, he started towards her. “Cordelia?” Giles began.

It was like hearing her name broke something loose inside her. Because, much to the Watcher’s horror, the usually strong, usually confident young woman started to cry.

* * *

“Angel gets his soul back?” Buffy gasped.

Her disbelief flew through the library. Like a tangible, living thing.

“Yes, he does,” Cordelia said with certainty. She sat slumped in a chair, and barely seemed able to hold her head up. “I don’t know when. But he does.”

Buffy’s heart started to pound with…hope. It was what she had been dreaming of. Praying for. Ever since that night…

But, with every evil, vicious, monstrous thing he did, the possibility had seemed further away. In fact, she’d begun to wonder if it was even what she wanted. Because, after he killed Miss Calender, the hate in her heart had slowly started to overshadow the love. She had finally reached a point where she not only *could* but *wanted* to kill him.

But this? These visions Cordelia had had? They changed everything.

“No!” Xander exclaimed. Standing behind Cordelia’s, he glared at Buffy. “No! And *hell* no!”

“Xander,” Willow began in a soft, warning voice.

“What?” Buffy said, glaring back at Xander. What was his problem?

“I can see it!” the teen exclaimed, voice harsh and angry. “You’re eyes lighting up at the thought that you might get your honey back. Who gives a *fuck* that he tried to *kill* my girlfriend?”

Abashed, Buffy lowered her eyes, looking down at the floor. She’d been upset about what happened to Cordelia too. She had. Seeing the bandage on Cordelia’s throat…

Well, if her ex had been there at the moment, Buffy knew she would have had no trouble killing him.

And the fact that he’d been stalking Cordelia, and had seen her have the vision was also cause for alarm.

But when the other girl told them about Angel’s soul…

“Xander, think about it,” Willow said, giving him an imploring look. She took Oz’s hand, almost like she needed the contact to give her courage. “If Angel got his soul back, he’d stop doing all of these horrible things. And he’d stop trying to hurt Buffy. And us.”

“And what? We welcome him back with open arms? ‘Hey, buddy. So you were an evil, psycho bastard for a few months. All’s forgiven.’ Right!”

Giles hardly seemed thrilled with that prospect. But Buffy could tell that her Watcher was trying to think logically. As usual.

“Cordelia,” Giles said. “Could you describe your visions in more detail?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “It was kind of like flipping through TV channels really fast. And with the sound off. And this was different from that first vision. It didn’t hurt or anything. It was kind of, like, a rush of memories. Or whatever.” Sighing, she closed her eyes. “I see Angel fighting demons. And saving people. A lot of people.” She pressed her hand to her temple. “And joking around with these two guys. And holding a…a baby.” She frowned. As if even she couldn’t believe that one.

“Yeah, ‘cause *that’s* who you want for a nanny,” Xander said sarcastically.

Silence fell over the room as they waited for Cordelia to go on. When she didn’t, Giles took a step towards her.

“Cordelia?” the Watcher prompted.

Cordelia opened her eyes. She cast a hesitant glance around the room. “A lot of what I saw was…me and Angel. Together.”

“Together?” Buffy frowned. What was that supposed to mean?

Xander gave his girlfriend a suspicious glance. “Together? Together how?”

“I don’t know.” Cordelia shrugged. “Just…doing stuff. Watching a movie. Or talking. Eating breakfast. Me patching him up when he’s hurt. Him sitting by my bed when I’m sick.” A slight smile curved her lips. “I actually think that’s happened more than once.” Looking at some distant point, she frowned. “And I think Angel’s teaching me how to fight.”

There was a silence as everyone tried to absorb what Cordelia was saying. Buffy wondered if anyone else noticed she was talking in the present tense. Like this was stuff that had already happened, rather than stuff she’d seen in a vision, happening in the future.

“I don’t think he…*we* are in Sunnydale anymore. I mean, it looks more like LA. And I didn’t see any of you in the images. Just a lot of people I don’t recognize. But they feel like…like friends. Family, even.”

Buffy was shaking her head even before the other girl stopped talking.

“So, what are you saying?” Buffy demanded, folding her arms. “Your visions are telling you that, in the future, Angel will leave Sunnydale”—Leave me, she thought—“and move to LA, where you and he will become bestest buds.” She shook her head. “I don’t buy it.”

“What?” Cordelia exclaimed. She gave Buffy an incredulous look.

“Buffy,” Willow began.

“No!” the Slayer said. “It’s obvious Cordelia was having a dream or something. Maybe it was the trauma of being attacked…”

“Buffy,” Giles interrupted. He gave her a quelling look. “We already know Cordelia has developed some kind of precognitive ability. An ability you yourself proved to be valid. There’s every reason to believe the vision she had last night is also valid.” There was a pregnant pause. “If not, we also have to discount Cordelia’s belief that Angel’s soul will be restored.”

“I’ll buy that,” Xander said, raising his hand. His lips pressed together so tight, there was a white line around them.

Buffy shook her head. No. She didn’t want to discount the part about Angel’s soul being restored. That was the only part she liked.

But wasn’t it possible that part had been the actual vision, and the rest was a figment of Cordelia’s imagination. It was possible. Right?

And, if Angel’s soul was restored, why on Earth would he leave Sunnydale?

((Leave me?))

“Do you know how his soul gets restored?” Willow asked Cordelia. “Maybe we could…”

“No,” Cordelia shook her head. “I didn’t get that part.”

Giles sighed. “Well, until you do, there’s nothing we can do.”

“There’s one thing we *have* to do,” Cordelia said. “We have to do that un-invite thingy on my house. Nobody’s home to notice the weirdness. My dad’s working late. And my mom’s leaving on a weekend spa retreat this afternoon.”

“I’ll take care of it after school,” Willow said. “I still have everything we need.”

“Thanks.” She touched the bandage on the side of her neck. “I still don’t know who invited him in in the first place.”

“That’s neither here nor there,” the Watcher said. “What matters is that we prevent him from getting in again?” He looked at the clock. “Now, I think it was time you were all getting to class.”

Buffy didn’t want to leave. She wanted to get this vision thing straightened out. But a look from Giles prompted her to move towards the door.

“Cordelia,” the Watcher began. “I don’t think you’re in any condition to sit through classes today. Why don’t you go home and…”

“No.” She shook her head. “I don’t want to be alone. Or with people who don’t know one end of a stake from another. Can I just stay in here? Sleep on your couch, maybe?”

“Of course.”

“And I’ll be in to check on you,” Xander said. “Every hour on the hour.”

“Thanks,” Cordelia said, giving him a faint smile. Pushing wearily to her feet, Cordelia staggered into the librarian’s office.

* * *

Once his charges had left, Giles slumped into a chair at one of the library’s tables.

The truth was, he wasn’t any happier about Angel’s soul being restored than Xander was. After what had happened to Jenny—the perverse pleasure the vampire took in arranging her body for Giles to find—the only thing that kept him going was the thought that Angel would pay. That Giles would kill him, with his own bare hands. In the most painful way he could devise.

Somehow, killing an Angel *without* a soul was a much easier prospect to contemplate.

But Willow was correct. If Angel’s soul was restored, he would stop tormenting Buffy. Stop hurting her friends. Stop being a danger to them all.

Sighing, standing, Giles turned…to find Cordelia standing in the doorway of his office.

“Cordelia,” the Watcher said with a startled gasp.

“Giles,” the girl said, coming into the library proper. “I just remembered something. It’s the only thing I heard in that vision.”

Giles waited for his heart to stop pounding before speaking. “What was it?”

“It was a word.” She frowned, as if trying to recall correctly. “Bizente.”

* * *

Angelus sat in a chair, glowering at nothing.

Drucilla flitted around the master bedroom, like a black butterfly, unable to find a place to land.

Angelus could feel Spike, sitting outside in his wheelchair, glaring at the door. Had been since Angelus got home last night and dragged Dru into his room.

Too bad he wasn’t in the mood to enjoy Spike’s jealous anger.

Too bad a night with Dru hadn’t eased his tension. His frustration.

He licked his lips, still able to taste the girl’s warm, rich blood on his tongue.

He wanted more. So much more.

“I can see her,” Drucilla said. She paused in her flittering to stand in front of him. “Smell her, all around you.”

Angelus glared at his childe. He wasn’t in the mood for her insane babbling. Not today. “Go away, Dru. Go play with Miss Edith. Or something.”

The demented vampiress didn’t listen. Instead, she knelt down between his legs. A familiar, vacant look on her face, she pressed her hand to his heart. “She lives here,” she said in a soft, whispery voice. Then, quick as mercury, anger clouded her face. “First, you love the Slayer. Now *her*.”

Growling, Angelus grabbed her arm. He pushed her away from him, so that she lay sprawled on the floor. “I don’t love her!” he snarled. Standing, he began to pace.

Dru watched him with eyes both mad and knowing. “You will *then*. So you do *now*.”

Angelus barely heard her cryptic ramblings. Instead, he stalked from one corner of the room to another.

He barely remembered the images that filled his mind when he’d bit Cordelia Chase. Similar things had happened to him before. Sometimes, when he bit into a victim, he could almost see their life flash before his eyes. All the possibilities. All the potential. Their futures. Dead at his hands.

But this was different. He’d never felt anything like the feelings these images had evoked. Feelings so strong, he ran away from them like a frightened fledgling.

Feelings that consumed his mind and raced through his borrowed blood. Made his mouth water at the thought of tasting one girl. At the thought of burying himself inside her warmth. Again. And again.

Angelus scowled. Why had he let her go? She was there, in his grasp. There for him to do whatever he wanted to and with her. And he just…ran away.

Now, they would be warned. Ready. Her precious friends and their precious Slayer would do whatever they could to protect her. From him.

((They’ll fail,)) he thought. And a ruthless sparkle lit his eye.

“Ooooh,” Dru suddenly giggled. A look of innocent, insane joy spread across her face as she clapped her hands. “I’m going to have a sister!”

“Yes you are, Dru,” Angelus promised. His hands balled into fists so tight, the knuckles cracked. “Soon.”

Part 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *