“Feel like a new man… Pire.” He smirked, smoothing down his long, black duster. He stared into the mirror, of course, it didn’t catch any reflection, but tonight, he humoured only himself as he stared.
The last time he’d seen a reflection staring back would have been a long time ago, back in the ‘powdered wig’ days as he’d heard one of the Scoobies refer to those times. Back when Drusilla had been enough to keep him happy… Back when Cecily had reminded him just how beneath him he really was.
Just thinking of how he was in those days, all poncey bloody poetry and heartfelt sentiments was enough to drive him mad. He’d be crazy to think any girl would fall for that crap now.
And oh, how the mighty had fallen. Girls nowadays, liked a bit of monster in their man. Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen. Spike had just forgotten all that in a bid to get closer to Buffy… His pathetic attempts of making her love him had turned sour but now… Now she’d see…
Spike turned, “Let’s see, does this cover it? Or not?”
The Doctor, safely muted and strapped to the seat looked wildly at Spike, his eyes staring but not taking in the inevitable – through his hands, Dr. Gregson had had many patients. The vampire only months ago that had requested his heart removed when his love died… The demon who requested his hands be removed for sacrificial purposes (what else?) and now, this. The vampire with a chip that wanted only to show the woman who’d turned him down — the woman who he loved — that he was no longer beneath her.
“See, Doc… Bloody slayer thinks she’s above me. That just ’cause Spike doesn’t play with the puppies any more, he can’t bite. Well, I got news for her – ” His sentence stalled and Spike stalked towards the Doctor, watching as his eyes spun wildly around the room, anywhere but Spike.
Fear was a wonderful thing indeed…
“Angel, how many times do I have to **grunt** tell you… It doesn’t FIT…”
“You push! It’s yours, isn’t it?”
“Cordelia… **growl** …”
“Don’t get all grrr-face with me. It’s not my fault it’s so big…”
“It’s not THAT big, Cordelia… Stop exaggerating…”
“Well you try to put it in a hole that’s considerably smaller – see how well it works for you!”
“I’ve tried it,” He offered, shaking his head, “It *did* work for me…”
“Okay, now? You’re gloating. Just shut up and PUSH…”
A creak of the bed springs later and Cordelia yelped, “OWWW, damnit, Angel! That HURT!”
“You told me to push!”
“I didn’t mean for you to push THAT hard!!! I’m never going to get out of here…”
“If you just move your leg like…”
“Angel, I do NOT bend that way, ex-cheerleader or not…”
At that moment, Buffy decided she’d had enough – walking in on Angel going down on Cordy was bad enough, but this? Nuh-uh. “Okay guys, that’s ENOUGH – I walked in on you earlier but I refuse to listen as… Oh…”
Cordelia was trapped at one end of the bed, Angel at the opposite side – both trying to push the heavy iron headboard that they’d been trying to move into a corner for the past hour.
“You refuse to listen as what?” Asked Cordelia, puzzled, blushing when she realised how that must have sounded. “Ohhh… Uhm, we were talking about this. The furniture in the hotel is all heavy metal and cast iron fifties crap, we were trying to move it and, uhm… Angel kinda pushed it on my leg and now… I’m stuck…”
“You… Thought we were having… Sex?” Angel asked, looking incredulously at Buffy.
“Do you BLAME me? Hello, that conversation was up to Anya standard and it wasn’t even on purpose!” Said the slayer, blushing furiously. “Besides, with your recent track record…”
Cordelia frowned, “Uhm, excuse me? As much as I’m loving this conversation, do we think we could move me? I think I’m losing all feeling in my leg…”
“Sure.” Buffy stepped forward, moving the bed without so much as breaking a sweat – to which Angel and Cordelia both frowned,
“You knew you could do that?” Asked Angel, shaking his head, “And you let us struggle in here?”
“Where was the struggle?” Asked Buffy with a grin, “From the sounds of it, you two were enjoying yourselves.”
“Yeah,” Replied Cordelia, “Because I just *love* getting my leg stuck between cast iron headboards… Pffft…” Stooping, she rubbed her leg and looked at Angel, pouting, “You didn’t have to push that hard…”
“Do you know how cute you are when you look at me like that?”
Rolling her eyes, Buffy shook her head, “And it’s time for me to leave again…” She said, dryly, sauntering out of the room and back downstairs into the lobby.
“I see you guys made up.” Said Buffy, smiling at the sight of Anya and Xander, sitting in each others arms.
“We’re having a baby!” Announced Anya.
“Woah-what?” Buffy’s mouth fell open, “You’re having a… A…”
“You look like Xander,” Observed the ex-vengeance demon, “Yes, we’re having a baby.”
“And we’re going to get lots of nice baby things when she’s born, because that’s what people do…”
“What?” She asked, severely huffed, “You said we were going to have a baby…”
“When we’re ready! Do you see my face? Still looking terrified? I’m… NOT… Ready!” Said Xander, hurriedly.
“Operative word being you,” Snapped Anya, “What about me?”
Xander turned and took her hands in his, “Anya, listen to me. I want babies, I do. Just not yet. I like it just being us. I like waking up next to you and seeing you asleep. I like that we can go where we want, when we want and not have to worry about parents or being back in time for babysitters going home. I would like nothing better than to be having your child, but not now, not yet. I like it being us…” He said gently.
Anya huffed… Fumed… And then almost melted into a puddle on the floor, “I’m going to have to stop listening to you,” She warned after kissing him, “I keep listening to things I don’t want to listen to, then I get talked out of having something I wanted.”
Xander chuckled — thankful the conversation was over with — and kissed her again, his lips locked with hers when the door opened. His gaze slid upward, locked on the couple that stood there.
“I think I ate too much…” Groaned Fred, softly, eyes widening as she saw all the people gathered in the lobby, “Uh, did we open the hotel for business?”
An eyebrow raised, Gunn backed that up with a, “Who are you guys?”
“Scoobies.” Said Xander simply, “Firmly known as the ‘We Walk in On Vampires And Half-Demon Seers When They’re Having-umph!” His sentence was cut off by an elbow to the ribs and he turned, glaring at Anya, “What was that for?”
“They weren’t doing anything! Besides, I’ve lost count of the amount of times Giles almost walked in on us. That time up against Buffy’s pommel horse, when…”
“I BEG you not to finish that sentence,” Said Buffy, shuddering slightly.
“Is the B-Word here?” Asked Fred, “I always wondered what she looked like, I mean she had to have been pretty ’cause Angel only goes for the pretty ones. And besides-“
“The B-word?” Asked Buffy, frowning. “If you mean Buffy – then that’s me. If you mean anything else? It’s not.” ‘Bitca? Bitch? Bint?‘ Buffy frowned – thinking of Spike just wasn’t big on her list of things to do today.
“No…” Said Fred, awestruck, “I meant you. We’ve never had a real live slayer in the hotel before… I mean, not to my knowledge.” She turned to Gunn for confirmation,
“Was that girl that tried to kill Wesley in the hotel? Anyway, it doesn’t matter… It’s nice to meet you after only hearing about you from Cordelia and… And Wesley. Well, that was when we were allowed to talk about you. We weren’t. Not when you died, anyway and… I’m babbling, aren’t I?”
Gunn smiled and put his arm around Fred’s shoulders, “Where’s everyone? Wes? Angel and Barbie?”
“Wesley’s talking with Tara, Willow and Dawn. Angel and Cordy are upstairs…”
Gunn tossed a conspiratorial wink in his girlfriend’s direction and chuckled, “They’re usually in the basement getting-“
“That would be another sentence I don’t want finished.” Said Buffy, “Isn’t it enough that-” Buffy’s sentence was cut off by a scream — a female scream.
A Cordelia scream.
They moved up the stairs quickly, Buffy heading the small group of friends and family, until she got to the door… Angel was struggling to his feet, obviously dazed – blood running from a cut in his forehead. His eyes were wild, panicked, giving weight to the notion that something was very wrong with Cordelia.
Suspended a couple of feet from the bed, Cordelia’s body bucked and twisted reflexively – a blue light encompassing the room. She screamed again, so very obviously in pain and Angel ran forward, only to be propelled backwards, back into the self-same wall he’d hit earlier.
He growled, prepared to launch himself forward until Buffy stopped him – a hand placed on his chest, “Angel, don’t… You’ll only get hurt.”
The calm he’d felt earlier, being with Cordelia, was replaced with a sudden fear, an anger that Angel couldn’t shift – his game face slid on and he glared at the slayer, “Back off, Buffy. This is none of your business.”
The light dimmed and as Angel moved forward, Cordelia was dropped to the bed, left mewling and whimpering in pain.
“B-Buffy?” Whispered Dawn, from her position at the door, “What happened to Cordelia?”
“I don’t know…”
In silence, the friends backed away – watching as Angel gently smoothed the hair away from her face. “Cordy? W-was it a vision?” He asked, his eyes searching hers. “What was it? Talk to me…”
Her gaze slid to his, tears rolling down her cheeks, “Just stay with me? Please?”
“Don’t leave me?” She whispered.
“You wanna tell me what’s going on around here?” Asked Buffy, now back down in the lobby with the others, pacing the floor. “What’s wrong with Cordelia?”
Wesley’s face was drawn, pinched, “The demon that offered Cordelia a way out of her visions informed her that the ‘demon transition’ phase would be particularly difficult. That her visions would be like a stroll in the park compared to-“
“What park?” Asked Anya.
“Excuse me?” Wesley glanced at the former vengeance demon, puzzled.
“What park?” She asked softly, “Because there are some parks I’ve seen and nobody would want to take a stroll in them…”
“Yes,” Said Wesley through gritted teeth, “But we’re not talking REAL parks, we’re talking metaphorical…”
“No need to get testy with her, Wesley.” Said Xander, frowning, “She’s only trying to help.”
“Well, she’s not, is she?” Asked Wesley, simply worried about Cordelia. When he looked up though, Anya’s gaze slid away and he sighed,
“I’m sorry, it’s just… I’m worried, I didn’t mean to get ‘testy’ with her. It’s just… This is what Angel feared, the demon transition phase beginning before he had the chance to help stop it hurting so much…”
Anya smiled, “It’s alright… I’m used to Giles doing it.”
Xander smiled, pulling Anya towards him and placing a kiss on her forehead.
The friends sat quietly for a while, waiting for Angel to come down with news of how Cordelia was… Waiting for a breakthrough in the spell that Wesley, Willow and Tara were researching – Dawn twiddling her thumbs… And Buffy nervously pacing the floor.
No one saw the figure slip through the doors of the Hyperion, in complete silence.
The slayer in her felt it… Felt the figure hurtling towards her, foot outstretched. Even Buffy wasn’t quick enough to counter it – she went down, startled by the attack. A flip later however and she was standing, eyes wide as she faced Spike.
“That’s right, luv…” He grinned, vampire face having slipped on,
“I’m back… And this time? No bloody chip’s going to stop me getting what I want…”