The heel of Cordelia’s palm smacked hard against the swinging doors of the cafeteria as she stormed out into the hallways. Another day, another C.
Hazel eyes flashing with anger and frustration, the young woman stalked past startled classmates as she headed straight for the counselor’s office. First she had to lie about her missing school. Then she had to lie about her slipping grades.
Now she’d have to lie about the fact as to where her parents had disappeared to.
Passing by the trashcan she threw the note the TA had passed to her and walked up the stairs and into the administration offices. Passing by a bulletin board she peeked into her reflection in the glass and erased the frown off her forehead.
She could do this. She could look them in the eye and tell them her parents were on vacation. That wasn’t a lie anyway.
They probably where.
Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door to Mrs. Morgan’s office.
Pushing the door open, Cordelia fixed a bright smile for her counselor’s benefit. “Hi Mrs. M. You sent for me?”
The slightly plumpish woman looked up from behind her spectacles and smiled. “Hello Cordelia. Please have a seat.”
That was when the brunette noticed the man standing in the corner and instantly her stomach lurched. “Giles.”
The librarian nodded; his expression unreadable.
With suspicious eyes Cordelia took the seat Mrs. Morgan was gesturing to. Crossing her legs she ignored the growing butterflies in her stomach and faced the counselor without giving away any hint of nervousness.
“Is everything alright?”
“You tell me Miss Chase.” Mrs. Morgan leaned back in her chair slightly, her sharp black eyes fixed on her student. “I’ve just been contacted about two of your teachers who insist that you have not been giving their course your best. Is something troubling you? Because I just heard from Rupert that you’re relocating?”
A muscle twitched in her jaw, a flush of betrayal almost making her glare at the librarian standing silently. “After I graduate.”
“If you graduate my dear. American Literature I believe is a required course.” The woman leaned forward her hands clasped in front of Cordelia as she met her eyes evenly.
“Is something wrong besides the fact that you are leaving town soon?”
“You’ve missed two weeks of school for which you have yet to make up for Cordelia and when we called to confirm, we found out your house has been sold? Now Rupert here tells me your parents have left you in his care.”
The young brunette nodded, somewhat calmer now, realizing Giles hadn’t said anything about her parents ditching her.
“How do you intend to solve this?”
Taking a deep breath Cordelia looked up at Mrs. M. “I’m doing my best.”
“No dear,” the woman smiled sympathetically, “unfortunately it seems like you are not.” She sighed and stood, walking around her desk to sit down on the edge of her desk next to her.
“You’ve been entrusted in Rupert’s care from what he tells me; I can gather as much that you’re displaced. He assures me you’re a mature young woman, of which I’m certain, but it still seems as though your hearts not really in it.”
Gota have a heart first, the brunette snorted inwardly.
“Cordelia?” She looked up, expecting an admonishment, but instead Mrs. Morgan’s face only radiated concern. “We’ll have to work through this. There isn’t a lot of time left. Will you be willing to do some extra-credit work?”
For a minute the brunette thought she’d heard wrong. “Work? You mean, after school?”
“Just helping Giles in the Library. It could be enough to even let you back on the Cheerleading squad, to begin with.”
Hazel eyes snapped up to Giles before she cleared her throat. “Um…yeah. Yeah, I can do that. It would be great.”
Mrs. Morgan nodded with a smile. “Good. That should do for your History teacher. Your American Lit. I believe you have about six pending assignments that you should turn in within the week at the most.” She held out a printed sheet of paper.
“Mr. Shaw has arranged for one of his students to help you if you should need it.” Silently Cordelia took the list of assignments; still slightly shaken by the help she was being offered.
Without asking. “If you do manage to pull this off Cordelia, which I hope you will – because you are capable; I will arrange to put you back on the squad.”
She swallowed thickly and for an insane moment she thought she’d been dreaming. “I have two due today for Mr. Shaw.”
“Next Monday will do. I’ve explained the situation to him.”
Looking down at the paper, Cordelia’s brow furrowed. “Thank you.”
“Next time Cordelia, I would rather you came to me in advance?”
With a minute nod she rose on shaky legs. “I will.”
“Now get back to lunch.” Mrs. Morgan smiled widely before going to sit back in her seat. “Stay for tea Rupert.”
“I’ll have a word with Miss Chase and meet you here shortly.”
Led by the Librarian Cordelia mutely followed him out of the administration offices and into the hallway outside. Once back in the bustle of the students rushing to and from class she looked up at him with clear hazel eyes.
“I can’t believe he snitched.”
“He was almost bursting with it. I didn’t even have to ask.”
Cordy still couldn’t get over that fact that Angelus was even listening, never mind shooting his mouth off. What did he get out of it? Then she frowned. Of course there was the whole issue of her semi-confessing to an unscrupulous opportunist.
This was the last time she was going talk to the loud mouthed vampire bound in Giles’ bathroom. “He’s such whiner. Like the proverbial four year old girl stuck in a two hundred and some body. The only thing he’s missing is blonde pigtails.”
“And the charming naiveté.”
“You still didn’t have to talk to Mrs. M.”
“I didn’t.” Giles held back a smile. “Thank your Squad coordinator. You mentioned you were staying with me?”
She winced. “Missy has a big mouth.”
“Seems you are invaluable to her.”
Cordelia folded the list of assignments and stuck it into a folder. “Well thanks anyway. I’ll see you after school?” Resisting the urge to suddenly hug the old man and bounce like a little girl, Cordelia instead offered him a soft smile before walking away.
One thing was certain, Cordelia realized. Things were starting to get a bit more interesting.
“OOF!” Cordelia fell back against the side of the car, the stack of books in her arms dangling precariously against her chest. “Geez Giles! I don’t think doing Gorilla work counts as extra-credit.”
The watcher grinned at the brunette over the hood of his car as he kicked the car door shut. “Shouldn’t you try to stay in shape for cheerleading?”
Scathing hazel eyes snapped up to his. “Are you saying I’m NOT in shape?”
“Not even, Miss Chase. I’m merely suggesting you keep your fitness until you are back in the squad. Now? Ladies first?”
Scowling at the dancing mirth in Giles’ eyes she turned and lugged the huge stack of books towards the house, only to pause a few feet away from the door. “Oh look what someone left at your doorstep librarian-man.”
Green eyes narrowed at her as she grinned at the slayer. “A wavered slayer.”
Buffy Summers ignored the need to quip back at the bait thrown her way and instead she looked at her watcher. “Where were you? I thought we were meeting an hour ago.”
“I’m sorry. I had a new batch of books come in and I had to familiarize Cordelia with a few things in the library.” Giles walked up to the door and turned to his side. “Could you get my keys Buffy?”
With a confused frown the slayer dug into her watcher’s coat pocket to pull out the keys. “Cordelia? In the library? Is the hellmouth opening”
When the brunette next to him scowled Giles cleared his throat as he looked at the slayer struggle with the door. “Try jiggling it a little.” Buffy gave a soft grunt as she finally got the door open and stepped back to allow the two heavily burdened people into the house.
Cordelia had half a mind to step on the slayer’s cheap shoes while she walked by but then there was that dangerous prospect of dropping the load of books on her feet. And she’d only painted her nails this morning.
Walking into the living room she dumped her heavy load on the table and took a deep breath. Menial work was so not her strong suit.
Neither was musty old books, but then if hefting books and cataloging in the library was going to keep her on the squad and give her credit for history, she wasn’t going to complain.
Not any time soon anyway.
While the slayer launched into an all out epic of her day, Cordelia stole herself into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of ice water. The story of prospective new men in Buffy’s life, just seemed horribly clichéd to Cordelia.
She closed her eyes and sighed as the cold liquid filled her belly and calmed her nerves. And for a few minutes she just stood there in the light of the early evening, her eyes fixed outside the window as she wondered how long this would last.
She realized how happy she’d been to fall back into normality.
The truth was; that as soon as she left Giles, her normality would go up in smoke. She’d be alone and without purpose. And being with Giles now, ending up on the cheerleading squad and being pleasantly single; she would fall back under the spell and forget that it was just a trailer before the actual movie started.
And she knew, today in that little office, she’d felt as if things were finally going the way she wanted. Only when the trailer was over, she’d fall back on her ass and it would be back to scrounging at the bottom of the barrel.
She wished she’d taken the damned bus and left normality behind.
It was entirely the stupid leather-clad vampire’s fault. She glared at the now half empty glass of water. Angelus was to blame.
Floating out of the haze self-criticism, she made out brief snatches of the conversation in the living room. Buffy going on and on about some new boy and Willow harping about an A+ that might be in jeopardy and Cordelia felt the sudden insane need to guffaw like an uncultured.
Irony and Alanis Morrisette was her best friend. Shaking her head at her own funny she walked out of the kitchen when she caught the distinct timber of a richer cacophonous voice. A perfect eyebrow shot up in alarm.
Singing? Without any regard for melody or harmony.
“Mary Mary Quite Contrary, how does your garden grow? With bloodless bodies, virgin hotties and dead slayers stacked in a row.”
Cordelia Chase stood in the doorway with an amused smirk. “Such talent. Do more.”
“Little Bo Peep has lost her Sheep.” The wicked mouth parted in a leer. “Coz I ate um.”
“I’m only guessing.” She couldn’t hold the snort of laughter. “You’re really bored.”
“You don’t say! Oh I have a lot to amuse me sweetheart, for example: Did you know there are one hundred and forty eight thousand nine hundred and forty-four cracks in the ceiling?”
Taking another sip of her water she walked in to perch on the closed toilet. “Pathetic much?”
“Pots and kettles Chase.” Angelus snorted rudely before hunched lower in the tub. “Of course if I’d known her highness was going to grace me with her presence I would have rolled out the red carpet.”
“No need.” She waved nonchalantly with her hand. “I know you’re as feeble as I am for the moment. I forgive you.”
“Piss off cheerleader.”
She glared at him. “Stop calling me that! I’m not a cheerleader okay! Enough with the salt on wounds bit; do I tease you about your useless existence Mr-I’m-only-good-to-a-scooby-as-a-labrat!”
“Oh ouch Cor. That stabbed. That really cut me down. I think I’m going to cry now.”
With a muffled groan Cordelia let her head fall into her hands.
Angelus went deathly still as the young woman’s shoulders started to shake. “Oh for the love of! Are you crying! Coz I hate it when they cry! Dru would cry and it would drive me crazy enough to want to kill her. I can’t fucking kill you Chase! Have a heart!”
She let out a snicker and amber eyes narrowed as she threw back her head and laughed. Scowling at the hysterical woman Angelus shook his head sadly. “Bitch.”
Recovering from her fit of hysteria, Cordelia watched the dark shadows in his face. “Me cry? As if fangboy! I’m all cried out. I’m just laughing at the joke that is me.”
“Hell I coulda done that.”
She grinned at him. “See? Suddenly I’m not only bonding with a toothless vampire, but I’m relating to him and believe me this is a new low, even for me.”
“Wait for it.”
“In a heartbeat.” He leered at her then leaned back to regard her more carefully. “Although, I never took you for the cowardly quitter type.”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s complicated.”
“So’s life. So?”
Frowning at his quick retort, she wondered why she even bothered speaking to him. He only upset her. But anything was better than listening to the whining outside in the living room about problems that didn’t come close to the proportions she’d had to deal with.
“So I don’t have time to sit and pull apart every knot slowly and carefully; too many new knots are forming every moment I waste opening the first.”
“Kinda frustrating when what little control you have on your life is just wrenched away from you, isn’t it sweetheart? No wonder villains are always bitter.”
“Are you bitter?” She met his eyes evenly.
“Am I the villain?”
Her pretty face contorted softly in a confused frown. “Okay, that’s kind of scary that I can’t just say ‘yes’ without thinking.”
“Ye-hah!” She snorted before rolling her eyes. “Right up there with delusional.”
“Not as much to believe life did one over on you and you take it like a pro Hazel. I thought you humans were supposed to be made of stronger mettle.”
“What are you doing that’s so positive fangboy? Besides live in a bathtub rather than a grave?”
“I’m here aren’t I?” He snapped, the irritation reflecting in his brown eyes. He knew Cordelia Chase wasn’t stupid and he couldn’t believe he was bored enough to actually be having this conversation with her.
If anyone saw him now they’d be laughing about as hard as she had been a few moments ago. Only at him. Former Scourge of Europe, present emotional-guidance-counselor to an eighteen year old school kid.
“At least I’m not a constant whine. What you need is a good shot of whiskey and some aspirin instead of trampling the male-egos of defenseless vampires.”
“Defenseless my ass.” Cordelia resisted the urge to reassure him. So now she was sympathizing with a sociopath.
Oh, how far the mighty had fallen.
“And while we’re on the subject of whining, you’re the one who needs excitement by poking your fat nose into other people’s business.”
Brown eyes rimmed with gold. “I’d refrain from calling me fat Chase.”
“Oh you’ll what Angelus? Turn me to dust with your super vampire vision?” She couldn’t hold the bubbling irritation in her chest. Why did this undead bastard always rub her the wrong way?
“I’m ignoring you now.” The lanky vampire rolled his eyes before closing his eyes, hoping against hope that the exasperating brunette would be gone when he opened them. But then, he remembered he was never that lucky.
Then he couldn’t help glare at her remembering the snide little tip he’d thrown the watcher about her cheerleading. “Come to think of it, you should be thanking me Princess. I did you a damned favor. Sounds like you owe me.”
“You owe me a dog as well since we’re counting and a manicure if you’re feeling generous.”
“I’m not,” he spat out.
“Good, then don’t do me any more favors Fangboy, I’ve got enough on my plate and no desire to owe anything to anyone.”
“Sucks to be you.”
“Sucks to be you more, Mr-I-have-to-eat-people-through-a-straw.”
“Where the hell do you get off calling me up on my fucking inadequacies Chase, when you’re the one without house and home? Impecunious wanabe slut!”
For an insane moment Cordelia had a merry vision of actually attacking the vampire and twisting his big head off, but instead her eyes narrowed.
“Resorted to name calling already? You know I don’t understand, no matter how big or how powerful, it always comes down to name calling, but then there’s very little else you can do biteless. So I guess, again, I forgive you.”
The older vampire let out a growl of irritation. How the hell did this slip of a girl manage to rile him up enough to want to kill her? Maybe that’s what she wanted.
He looked at her curiously. “You know if you want to die so bad sweetheart all you have to do is bend over.”
“You’re the one who ate my dog Angelus, seems like you’ve picked up more than enough of his dog habits.”
His lips widened into an insolent leer. “Not his habits exactly. Next time though, if you want to play solo in your bed, let the dog out first. Even he has eyes.”
When the irrational fury flushed her cheeks all concern for security or sanity burst into angry flames and went up in a cloud of red smoke. Before Angelus could marvel at the feral glint in those flashing Hazel eyes the brunette had pounced.
And that was saying a lot for a human; Angelus concluded as he let out a startled cry of pain when her knee landed places it had no right being around.
“What the?” Giles rushed in from the bathroom at the unholy racket in his bathroom and just stood there gaping like an idiot for a second too long.
“Tweed! Get this psychotic bitch OFF ME!”
“Oh, dear Lord!” Giles rushed forward, praying the slayer didn’t walk in behind him. “Cordelia, please climb off the evil vampire!”
He attempted to peel away the brunette who showed no sign of letting loose of the flesh she worried in her teeth as she practically straddled the vampire and held his head to the side in hair-ripping talons.
“ARGH!” Angelus shuddered, his hands caught between their bellies, pinned motionless as he felt the flesh of his throat tear in merciless blunt teeth.
Before he could react enough to condone the splitting headache at the prospect of draining her, Giles grabbed the snarling girl by her shoulders and deftly yanked the furious bundle of teeth and hair off the vampire’s lap.
His eyes glowed with pained pleasure at the sight of his borrowed blood smeared on her cherry lips. Cordelia Chase had bit HIM?!
“He so deserved that, the perverted, depraved, useless bastard! Let me go Giles! He called me IMPECUNIOUS! I’ll kill him!” Cordelia struggled in Giles restraining grasp then slowly became aware of the vampire’s golden gaze fixed hungrily on her mouth.
And then the bitter taste invaded her senses. “Oh, EWWWE! Phthaphthaphtha! Ack!” Spitting and wiping her mouth on the side of her sleeve the brunette spun around, the bile building up her throat.
Oh shit, did I just bite him? For real!?
“Ahem, Cordelia?” Giles lifted the curtain of hair as she bent over ‘ewie’ing in quick succession. When he caught the trail of blood beside the curve of her lips he choked on a breath. “Um, oh dear. Upstairs. My bathroom.” He barely finished before the girl was storming out into the den.
“Mouthwash in the medical cabinet!” He called out after her; then closed his eyes hoping to forever the erase the picture now unfortunately committed to memory.
Turning to the now deathly silent vampire he met his curious gaze with weariness. “What did you do this time?”
“What can I say tweed, I taste damn good,” the evil vampire purred, his head already rushing with visions of one fiery brunette and his pants tightened at the prospect of other things she could do with her teeth.
He lifted his chained hands enough to touch the fast closing wound on his throat as he let the cheerful mental picture of blood and hazel eyes occupy his otherwise unoccupied time.
Giles looked down at the chains that still bound the vampire in the bathtub. Suddenly, he realized it wasn’t Angelus who might hurt someone, but rather someone might kill the contentious vampire. The chains seemed so bloody useless.
He wondered if there was an un-invite-spell for keeping the capricious brunette out of the bathroom.
Shaking his head, he walked out to meet the alarmingly shocked eyes of his slayer, witch and the newly arrived Xander Harris, who looked appropriately cowed.
“Giles? What’s impecunious?” Buffy frowned.
Giles rubbed his face with both hands and prayed for patience.