Of Demony Things & Crappy Lifetimes. 5

CHAPTER 5

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There’s always some reason
To feel not good enough
And its hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memories seep through my veins
Let me be empty
Oh and weightless and maybe I’ll find some peace tonight

The hues in the sky were such a perfect blend. The girl sitting on the back porch took another swallow of her lemonade. Looking down at the bottle, she sighed. The last two dollars to her name. The seven-eleven guy would have laughed.

What’s a girl to do?

Cordy looked up at the fast emerging stars and sighed. For someone who hasn’t worked a day in her life, a job sounded like a death sentence. But she’d become comfortably numb. Even the tears wouldn’t come.

Between moments of positive thinking there were gut-wrenching glimpses of fear that sent her heart racing. Work? Provide for herself? Build a life from scratch? Alone?

Shamefully, Cordy admitted a part of her had hoped Angelus would kill her when she’s stepped into that alley. Put her out of her misery. Where she didn’t feel like such a waste of human flesh.

And then she’d been lifting him to his feet. Helping him. Offering support when there was nothing left inside her to give.

When her purpose to life was gone.

Had she really been desperate enough to cling to the prospect of saving a bloodthirsty monster just to feel needed?

And now, she was still in SunnyHell imposing on a man she didn’t really know. Rupert Giles the librarian. The girl snorted caustically. Oh how the mighty had fallen, she snickered to herself.

A fitting end to the Chase legacy. She had trouble recalling one Chase of importance. Then she frowned.

Well there was that cousin of hers. The neurotic schizophrenic basket case. He was certainly a topic at big dinners.

Oh the poor screwed up man. Right before: How do you like my pearls darling? Oh did you hear? Cordelia is working at the local Burger king. Oh look, Martha’s wearing a Gucci. Cordelia shops at the Hand-Me-Downs-R-Us now.

Her fist tightened on the bottle. Yeah, the pity party played on in her mind every chance it got. Rising to her feet she watched the green of the trees blacken and she was so damned tired of feeling sorry for herself.

Instinctively, her fingers wrapped around the bottle’s neck before she pitched it past the backyard fence and heard it smash against a tree trunk.

She wasn’t a Chase. She was Cordelia. And Cordelia wasn’t weak.

She turned and opened the door back into the house. “Hey Giles?”

***

“You are unworthy.”

“You deserve none of our sympathy.”

“The price is high.”

“You alone are weak.”

“We will decide who to choose.”

“Your destiny is eternal.”

“You will have to earn your keep.”

Angelus awoke with a start. His knee hit ceramic with a bone-crunching thud as he struggled to piece together where he was.

The florescent light of the bathroom wasn’t bright enough. He touched his chest to find the scorched flesh missing. The lose T-shirt the watcher had put on him in his sleep – because there was no way in hell he would have ever worn it otherwise – was dry.

He wasn’t bleeding. Blinking clear the haze of his recurring nightmare, Angelus took in the bathroom tiles with unabashed relief before letting his head fall back with an unneeded sigh.

He wasn’t on the lab table. And he wasn’t in hell.

After fitful nights of remembering his last moments in hell, the hasty promise he’d made and the torture he’d endured with the Initiative, Angelus had hoped he’d atoned enough.

But apparently the glowing bastard didn’t agree.

He let his eyes fall shut and held back the amused grin at his own stupidity. And it had sounded so nice.

His soul for his life.

At the time, he’d figured it would be a sweet deal. He’d get out of hell and the nagging conscience of wuss-brain would be absent. He’d be the biggest bad again. Only, he hadn’t realized.

Now his soul belonged to them and they had the Scourge of Europe on a leash. He’d forgotten his life was eternal.

The Powers That Be had acquired a new puppet and they obviously wanted him to make good on his promise. And for once in his unlife, Angelus had no idea what to do with himself.

***

The alarm went off a lot sooner than she would have liked. The brunette was not used to sleeping anywhere else beside her bed and she’d flatly refused to throw Giles out of his.

Grabbing the little alarm clock, she switched it off before burying her head under the pillow. Until yesterday she hadn’t even considered what she’d do if she didn’t graduate, but when last night Giles loaned her the alarm clock she took it with only a frown.

Since she was in SunnyHell for a little longer, she might as well.

There was the prospect of her trying to get back on the cheerleading squad maybe. And maybe miraculously she’d pick up her grades that had been slumping to all kinds of new lows in the past few weeks.

Who knew? The sun might forget to set, she finished her thoughts with a muffled snort under the pillow.

Then her nose twitched.

Pulling the pillow away she frowned towards the archway that led into the kitchen. Couldn’t be. She took another whiff of the air and her stomach let out a confirmatory growl. Pancakes?

Swinging her legs out of bed, the drowsy girl instinctively reached for the rubber band to secure her hair into a lose ponytail as she lumbered into the kitchen and blinked in alarm.

“Oh my god! What, were you Martha Stewart in another life?”

The kitchen was brewing with all sorts of delicious aromas and one very happy looking librarian was bustling about carrying cups and plates as breakfast for two was set on the little round table in the kitchen.

He looked up at his rumpled houseguest. “Oh, you’re awake. Just in time. Have a seat.”

Cordy stared as he set a cup of coffee next to a plate, which she assumed was for her, because Angelus was still in the bathroom. “Giles? Why are you acting like a compulsive wife?”

The older man chuckled. “It’s rare I get to show off my inborn culinary skills, I’m afraid. Let me show off a little. I hope you like coffee.”

“Decafe,” the girl pointed out helpfully, still watching him in wonder.

“I’ll get some on my way.” She frowned as he moved around the kitchen.

“Okay.” She walked up to him and grabbed his arm with a glare. “Okay, stop. Just stop for a minute.”

When he looked up with a confused eyebrow, she sighed before releasing his arm. “You’re freakin’ me out okay? Even my mother wasn’t this domesticated. It’s just weird.”

“Well I do this for myself every morning, so you’ll have to get accustomed I suppose.”

“Every day?”

“Yes.”

Her mouth twisted into a pretty, confused pout. “An English thing?”

Giles smiled slightly. “More of a bachelor thing I’m afraid.”

“You SO need a woman Giles.”

“I’ll put it on my agenda.”

She pointed a threatening finger at him. “Don’t. Don’t even try to mock me okay? I’m bereaved and for the record, I live off you now; I thought we agreed last night that you’d let me do stuff around the house. From now on you’ll wake me in the morning; I’ll make my own b-fast.”

“Truly, it is not much…”

“I insist.”

Watching the stony resoluteness on her beautiful face, he nodded.” Agreed.”

“Good, now give me something to do.” She looked around the kitchen, wondering what she would do without burning down his house. There must be something.

“Everything’s done. I was only going to run this mug of blood to Angelus.” He opened the microwave.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Only you’d be concerned with his blood-involved sensibilities Giles. Gimmie.” She took the mug from his hands.

“I’ll give the creepazoid his meal-in-a-cup and brush my teeth while I’m at it. Being broke does not mean I have breakfast with mossy teeth.” She shook her head as she walked out of the kitchen, grumbling about weird old Englishmen.

Giles watched her go and took a deep breath. The girl might not be broken but there was a sad bitterness to her that did not suit her. He wondered how long it would take for her to find the need to smile with teeth.

One thing he’d always liked about her was her smile that went from her heart to her eyes. He hoped she hadn’t lost them for good.

Muttering and still shaking her head, Cordelia walked into the bathroom and sighed. The vampire was as still as death. His features calm and his chest unmoving; if Cordelia didn’t know of things going bump in the night, she’d be screaming.

Her forehead creased as she watched his almost healed wounds and the perfect skin replacing the angry gash she’d cleaned only yesterday, his handsome face almost flawless. He lay there like a marble statue and she took a second to let her eyes scan his lean frame.

Maybe bringing him his blood every morning could be fun. He was easy on the eyes when he wasn’t dying or leering like a lecher. Her eyes reached his face and her cheeks pinked.

Oh oh. Almost like he was leering right now. Busted.

“Like what you see, Hazel?”

She let out an exaggerated breath complete with eye rolling. “Nothing, I’ve never seen before. Have your breakfast and stop with the googly eyes. Won’t work on me. I don’t bother with slayer hand-me-downs. Come to think of it, I don’t bother with anyone’s hand-me-downs.”

The amber flashed in brown before he fixed his irate gaze at her impetuous and beautifully shaped mouth. “Angelus belongs to no one sweetheart. It’s you who will belong to me. If I chose to have you.”

“Well for my sake then, I hope not. His grace is too costly to wear.” She threw back at him nonchalantly as she placed the mug on the floor next to the tub.

“Beatrice.”

Hazel eyes snapped up sharply at the rich timbre of his knowing voice.

He smirked. “I’m familiar with Shakespeare’s works. ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was it?”

Her eyes narrowed at the deliberate coquettish lilt of his voice and eyes as she stood. “The play was a part of my literature class.”

“Good memory you have. Lady Beatrice did have some of your more…” She watched him with a raised eyebrow as if daring him to say it and he grinned.

“Willful attributes,” he finished with a wink.

“I’ll take it as a compliment.” She turned towards the mirror and grabbed her toothbrush and unabashedly went ahead with the task of brushing her teeth.

“It was meant as one, baby. Ancient version of the whole cute, bitchy cheerleader persona, eh?”

Gritting her teeth, she rinsed before looking up into the mirror, not the least bit unnerved by his lack of reflection.

“Not anymore considering I haven’t really been big on school these past few weeks, seeing as life’s been busy getting screwed over. They took me off the squad. Thanks for reminding me asswipe. I feel so much better.” She threw back with venom as she cleaned her brush and grabbed the towel.

“I aim to please.”

Turning around, she hung the towel back before meeting his eyes apathetically. “In that case Angelus; please go screw yourself.” With that she left the vampire in the bathroom grinning after her.

He pulled the mug to his lips. “She likes me.” And settled back to enjoy his warm blood.

***

Willow heard the cries right as she sprinted past the gate of the cemetery. Maybe they should have brought Xander along, but the boy had seemed distracted and Buffy had volunteered to walk her back to Giles’.

Who’d have thunk Buffy was not slayer-ed out even after dusting an entire pack of vampires last night.

Willow dug out her stake from her bag as she ran up to the clearing and screeched to a halt. “Oh no. This is not good. Not good at all.”

Buffy heard a snarl behind her and turned just in time to see the vampire lunge for her, his demon visage conveniently in place. His claws came for her face and she fell to her hands, her leg sweeping out easily as she sent him crashing to the floor.

The stake went through his heart.

Willow’s eyes widened when a rather dirty looking female charged Buffy with fangs drawn. “Buffy, look out!” The witch took one quick breath before jumping into the fray!

Buffy’s breath came out in a rather frustrated grunt when she felt the arms grab her from behind. With a muffled cry she threw her elbow back into the vampire’s gut; her foot coming hard on the boot.

Incensed by the days events and her mind screaming of what-ifs, she reached up and behind her, grabbed the vampire by her collar and bent down hauling her off her back and flat on the ground. Before the vampire could look up the stake was rammed into her heart.

With a cry of pain she exploded into dust. “Never grab me from behind.” Buffy glared down saucily.

“Awosers!”

Buffy pivoted on the sharp yelp as she saw Willow get tackled by a rather large snarling vampire. “Pick on someone your own size!” She jumped up into a snap kick and the heel of her boot landed at the base of his neck knocking him clear off his feet.

Before she could stake the leathered asshole for attacking her friend she was grabbed by the tie of her lose braid and yanked back. With a yelp of pain Buffy hit the hard body behind her.

“Didn’t I say never grab…” She stopped in mid sentence when she stared up into the eyes one very large, scaly gray demon with burning red eyes snarling in her face, his fangs dripping with saliva. “Oh, hello.”

Willow had by that time found her stake and this time when the vampire tackled her to the ground her stake impaled him and she was greeted with a mouthful of dust.

Hacking and coughing she looked up just in time to see Buffy sail over her head and land with a crack against the mausoleum wall behind her.

Willow’s eyes slowly traced up the burly limbs of the demon before she saw the ugly snarl. “Oooh…I’m in trouble.”

The redhead cringed as the claws came for her face and then she heard the crack-shots. Bursts of explosion in the air so sharp, her eyes snapped open with alarm as the huge demon stumbled before taking off in a run. Away from her.

Panting with fear and covered with dust, the young girl lifted her eyes to see combat boots under gray jeans and a light navy blue T-shirt below one very concerned face of a man she’d never seen in her life.

And he wasn’t bad looking.

“You okay?”

He held out a hand and Willow instinctively reached out for the offered help and rose to her feet. Dusting herself, she blinked still disoriented when she noticed a small glistening object caught in the soft wool of her sweater.

Her brow creased when she pulled away the small plastic chip. Then her eyes widened.

“BUFFY!” Whipping around, Willow ran towards the groaning slayer as she sat up, rubbing her head.

“Anyone get the number of that freight train?”

“Buffy, you okay?”

“Did I kill it?” The slayer swayed on her feet until she felt a strong pair of hands grab her arm and looked up with a confused frown into brown eyes. “And what are YOU doing?”

The man with the crooked smile tightened his grip on her until she stood on her own weight. “Helping you?”

Pulling her arm away Buffy glared at him slightly perturbed. “I know you’re helping! Why are you helping?”

Willow cleared her throat. “Ah, Buffy, this man chased away the gray slimy demon thingie. I don’t think we should be mean. He did save us.”

At the slayer’s irritated growl Willow quickly amended. “Not that you couldn’t have handled it, but it ran away.” Willow tried her best sad face. “Damn.”

Buffy looked up at the lightly dressed man. “I could have too.”

“I don’t doubt it.” Hiding a smile he held out his hand.

“I’m Riley Finn.”

Chapter 6

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