Angelus relaxed into the driver’s seat, hands wrapped comfortably around the steering wheel. He’d always liked driving, especially a nice car like this one. The speed, the roar of the engine, the control. The only thing missing was some tunes. But, if he turned on the radio, he wouldn’t be able to focus on that delicious heartbeat.
Smiling, he stared at the back of his passenger’s head. At the moment, Cordelia was staring out the window, pretending really hard to ignore him. Which was fine, because he knew it was a lie. Besides, he was finding just sitting next to her surprisingly entertaining.
The closed confines of the car magnified her scent, made it richer, stronger. There was her perfume, one of those fruity concoctions that seemed to be popular now days: peach and melon, with just a hint of—he took a deep breath—vanilla underneath. And there was the bitter sweetness of her fear, fading in and out as she struggled to get it under control. And the spicy warmth of her anger, so potent he could almost feel the heat of it pouring off of her skin.
It was like a song, each emotion with its own note, its own scent, blending together to make a perfect melody. The heady aroma was one any vampire with the brains to appreciate such things would have a hard time not getting lost in.
For a moment, Angelus considered pulling her towards him, burying his face against her neck, maybe taking a little nip. Just imagining how she would taste—spicy, and bitter, and sweet—made his mouth water.
But, no. That would be going to fast. And he was in the mood to take things slow.
He settled for reaching out to brush the backs his fingers against the left side of her neck, a touch so soft and fleeting, it was barely there.
Cordelia’s shoulder hunched as she made a soft sound of annoyance. Reaching up, she scratched the side of her neck, pushing her hair back because she probably thought it was responsible for that soft, ticklish touch.
Grinning, Angelus put his hand back on the steering wheel, and turned his attention back to the road.
Wide, hazel eyes watched the world speed by the passenger window. They were driving down a tree-lined, residential street, the car darting in and out of the pools of streetlamp light like they were playing Hide ‘N’ Seek. And the moon was playing too. Looking up, she caught the occasional glimpse of it through the tree branches.
For Cordelia, the entire scene felt surreal. The houses. The street. The car. It was like a vivid dream. It all seemed real, but there was this fuzzy haze around the edges to let you know it really wasn’t.
Cordelia sat ramrod straight in her seat, arms crossed in a defensive posture. Her knee jiggled up and down, a nervous gesture she couldn’t seem to stop. Every so often, she’d wish they’d have a nice, non-lethal-to-mere-mortals crash which would keep them from getting to wherever he was taking her. And she was trying really hard not to think about that. Nope, she didn’t want to think about the ‘where’ or the ‘why’ or the ‘what happens when we get there’ right now.
“Relax, Cordelia,” she heard Angelus drawl. “Why don’t you just sit back and enjoy the ride?”
“Yeah, right.” The chances of her relaxing with a homicidal vampire playing chauffer were exactly zero. And, of course, he knew that. Playing the part of the nice, harmless companion, when they both knew he was anything but, was his perverse sense of humor at work.
“Do you have to drive so fast?” she demanded, knee still jiggling. “There’s a speed limit, you know.”
Angelus grinned. “What can I say? I have a need for speed.”
Cordy barely resisted the urge to groan. However, she did roll her eyes at the deliberate lameness.
Silence fell in the car. The minutes ticked by, each one feeling like an hour. Cordy almost reached out to turn on the radio, just to fill the stillness, but found she didn’t want to unfold her arms. She knew, intellectually, that she wasn’t any safer sitting pressed against the door, her shoulders hunched defensively. But her primal, animal brain was telling her to roll up into a little ball, making less of her body vulnerable to the wild animal’s attack.
“You know, that’s really distracting,” Angelus said suddenly. And, before she could ask what the hell he was talking about, a large, cold hand came to rest on her jiggling knee.
Cordelia didn’t think, she just reacted. Arms unfolding in a flash, she shoved his hand out of her lap. “Don’t do that!”
“Hey, I’m sorry,” Angelus said, holding his hand up in apology. His smirk was plain to see in the soft, blue glow from the dashboard. “I didn’t mean anything by it, really.”
Closing her eyes, Cordy took a slow, deep breath. Calm. She had to stay calm.
“Besides,” Angelus continued. “I’d think you’d be used to guys trying to grope you in the front seats of cars. Or the back seats.” He shrugged. “Whichever.”
Cordelia let out a bark of laughter that even she didn’t expect. “Oh, come on. If that’s the best you’ve got…”
“Hardly,” Angelus interrupted. He turned to look at her, half of his face cast in shadow, somehow managing to look demonic even without the vamp face. “In fact, I’m just getting started.”
And Cordelia gulped, turning to stare out the window. It wasn’t that she forgot he was a monster, because she had a brain. It was more like there were moments when he seemed like an even bigger monster, which was truly terrifying. And, this time, there was nothing to keep him in check, no club full of witnesses that might make him reluctant to give in to whatever impulse his psychotic mind thought up. It was just him and her and…
Why hadn’t she cut her shopping spree short? It wasn’t like she needed another pair of shoes in that particular style. Although, these were in a shade that was almost impossible to find. Still, she’d give every great pair of pumps—and, okay, boots too—she owned not to be in this car right now.
“By the way,” Angelus asked pleasantly, like they were talking about the weather. “How did the gang react when they found out about our night together?”
Cordelia cringed inside. He made it sound like they’d been on a date. Or, worse, like they’d had a one night stand or something. “You can put a perverted little twist on anything, can’t ya?”
“Guy’s gotta have a hobby. You were saying.”
Cordy sighed. “They reacted the way you’d expect them to react. There was guilt, and apologizing, and groveling. Giles started stuttering, and Willow was inches away from offering to wear a hair shirt in penance.” And she had to admit she’d enjoyed it. For a while. Then, she started to feel bad for making them feel bad, which so wasn’t like her.
“What about the runt?”
“Xander is not a runt,” Cordy said defensively.
“Yet, you knew exactly who I was talking about,” Angelus pointed out cheerfully.
Teeth clenched, Cordy mentally counted to ten.
“I bet he’s been the perfect boyfriend all week,” Angelus continued. “Throwing his coat over puddles for you to walk on. Offering to slay dragons in your name. Maybe serenading you from beneath your bedroom window.” He paused thoughtfully. “It must be nice to have his full attention for a change.”
Cordy didn’t comment, mostly because he’d come way too close to the truth. No, Xander hadn’t done any of the stuff Angelus described, but he’d come pretty close. And, while Cordy had been enjoying it, she was a little bitter that it took her being menaced by a brutal killer for an evening to bring out her boyfriend’s gallant side.
“Although, to be honest, I don’t understand what you see in the boy. I mean, we both know you’re way out of his league. And you don’t seem like the type who likes slumming it.”
“Yeah, well, there’s more to Xander than meets the eye,” Cordelia said.
“Well, there has to be,” Angelus chuckled. “But I guess you have to spend a lot of, um, quality time with him in order to know what that is. And we were just never that close.”
Cordy snorted in mild disgust. “You just can’t help yourself, can you?” she asked. “Always looking for that dirty twist. What’s next? Limericks? Naughty knock-knock jokes? Maybe…”
“You know, Xander reminds me of a boy I once knew,” Angelus interrupted, as if he hadn’t heard a word she’d said. His expression was thoughtful, his gaze distant, turned to some old memory. “Same coloring, same basic build, same excuse for a sense of humor. Dressed like he hopped out of bed every morning and threw on the first thing he laid his hands on.” Once again, he turned to her, giving her a look that was sharp and intense. “He lasted for almost four days.”
Cordy’s eyes widened of their own volition. The shivers she’d been holding off all this time shook her to the core, a body quake that left every muscle tense. It wasn’t just what he said, and all the images it conjured up in her mind
it was the casual, matter-of fact way he’d said it. Like he was talking about some wonderful dream he’d had and hadn’t wanted to wake up from.
And she was alone with him, with no idea where she was being taken.
With a knowing smile, Angelus turned his attention back to the road. “Like I said, sit back and enjoy the ride. We’re almost there.”