Buffy appeared from between the gravestones to meet her watcher’s solemn eyes. “Okay, I’m just about looked-out here. We’ve been over this place ten times.”
Giles let out a silent breath as Willow and Xander joined them. “No luck?” The two teenagers shook their heads. “Perfect. And you’re certain this is where you saw him Buffy?”
“Yeah.” The young slayer dusted her hands before nodding. “Although, to tell you the truth, I’m a little distracted knowing Cordelia’s alone with Angelus at your house.”
“He’s biteless Buffy, what could he do?” Willow put a hand on her friend’s arm.
“I’m not worried about Cordelia,” she grumbled softly before letting her eyes wander over the landscape of the graveyard again for any sign of the demon she’d been tossed around by before. She couldn’t fathom what had possessed the cheerleader to bite the demon.
The whole biting was reserved for vampires. Buffy knew Cordelia and Angelus were in each other’s proximity a lot lately. She just hoped he wasn’t rubbing off on Cordelia. Buffy so didn’t want another complication in this picture.
Giles fixed his glasses. “Well, then I suggest we head back. It’s getting late and it doesn’t look like the demon is here.”
Xander shrugged. “It’s dark, dreary, creepy and perfect demon prowling territory. Not to mention the hour is witching.” He looked at Willow. “No offense.”
The Witch only smiled softly. “None taken.”
“Look at it this way.” Xander grinned. “Where else could he go?”
A shadow cast over the wall. On the other side, a demon sat in the tub contemplating death. Or the un-death, as it were. It was a new low. Being dead was one thing, being dead and useless was another.
Angelus wasn’t used to being useless. He, a demon who prided himself in having purpose had nothing to his name besides, the countless cracks he was recounting in the ceiling and the merry fantasies of killing the slayer, eating her friends and maybe tying the cheerleader in the bathtub for a few weeks, before eating her.
Suddenly even his soul seemed welcoming, but it was not his to greet anymore. One little deal with the devil and he was soulless for life and biteless for eternity. A damned cock-tease. Give him power and immortality and take away his freedom.
The perfect damnation. It was befitting. Just not for a demon like Angelus. He had been destined for great things. Not a damned lab rat to a bunch of kids and a ratty old man without a sex life. True the cheerleader had potential.
And the slayer still lived.
Where’s the damned God-sent miracle when needed, Angelus took an unnecessary breath. Not that he believed in God.
Then the scent drifted up his nose and he went deathly still.
Cordelia smirked over her shoulder at the face of Xander Harris as she wrapped her arms around the neck of the man and lifted her mouth up for his kiss. “Sorry Harris. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
Looking up into the green eyes of Jude Law, Cordelia sent the handsome man a dazzling smile and rose on top toes to receive her kiss, when the hiss made her rock back in alarm.
Pale manly arms morphed into scaly gray limbs, the hands wrapped around her arms elongating into claws as she stared up into blood red eyes and the demon opened it’s wide, fanged jaw.
“GAH!” The brunette jumped as her history book hit the floor as she sat on the couch, one hand on her heart, panting wildly, in the dark living room.
Momentarily disoriented, she whipped her head around violently, her heart nearly leaping out of her throat before she realized she wasn’t in her room. She was at Giles. And she was alive.
Shakily she raised a hand to touch her forehead to find it dripping with perspiration and seething hot. A foreboding ache settled into her temples as she took a calmer breath, trying to stop her screaming heart from beating wildly against her ribs.
“Geez Chase. You live on the Hellmouth, one would think you’d be used to a few nightmares.” Her whisper was meant to calm her nerves.
With her legs folded under her still, she reached down to the floor to pick up her book when she caught the flicker of the shadow in the light of the lone lamp burning in Giles’ kitchen – and froze.
Then her breath caught in her throat as the shadow rose across the wall of the kitchen, and the arms and limbs became distinguishable and, even from a distance, she could see the open jaw of the fanged demon.
As the scream built in her throat, Cordelia’s hand rose back to curl around her mouth and muffle it before the first rational thought hit her.
Without deliberation, she rose; her legs unfolding as she stood to her full height. The shadow on the wall got larger and the soft snarl nearly made her jump.
Bare, feet softy shifted on the carpet as she walked backwards towards the light slanting out of the bathroom, her eyes fixed on the rising shadow.
Not daring a single whisper, Cordelia held her breath, one hand behind her to catch the doorframe of the bathroom, until it caught against a stack of books and sent them crashing onto the floor with a resounding ‘thump’.
And the head of the demon twisted towards the living room.
“Oh fuck.” The two identical, simultaneous curses echoed through the house just as the demon’s head appeared in the archway and it turned to look straight at Cordelia framed in the light of the bathroom.
Giles walked tiredly towards his house, the slayer beside him just as weary. They’d just dropped off Willow and Xander when they heard the female scream.
Both heads whipped up in alarm before they took off into a sprint towards the house.
Angelus stared in shock as the brunette let out a shriek of terror and did the most ridiculous thing he’d ever seen her do, she closed the door and jumped up on the toilet a loofa in her hand.
“What the fuck are you doing!” He’d barely finished his question when the door to the bathroom splintered and blew off the hinges. And the demon looked him straight in the eye.
Unable to keep his gameface from appearing the vampire’s eyes exploded with gold as he growled back, the fangs elongating to full length.
When the demon bore down on him, he realized he was still firmly bound by his hands and feet. “You wouldn’t happen to have the keys on you, would you Chase?”
Cordelia’s eyes were fixed on the snarling demon. “No.”
“Fuck.” Angelus hissed just as the demon lunged. Lifting his chained hands, he braced for the impact that would come, and sure enough, the demon grabbed him by his clamped wrists and yanked him right out of the tub.
Cordelia let out another scream as Angelus grunted and twisted, His left elbow lifting and looping up before he threw his weight against the back and his arms came to lock around the demon’s neck in a choke hold.
The gray monster rose high on his powerful legs his hands clamped around Angelus’ wrists as the vampire tightened his grip.
“What the hell are you doing!” Cordelia stared in horror, her loofa held up for strike as the snarling demon tried to dislodge the vampire.
“What does it look like you fucking idiot!” Angelus snapped back between the violet shaking, as his wrists tightened under the fiend’s throat.
“I don’t do SLIME!” Reaching behind her Cordelia grabbed a bottle of shampoo and chucked it at the demon, only it bounced and hit Angelus in the eye. “Awo! HEY!”
“Sorry!” She winced then her eyes widened as the demon reared back, slamming Angelus into the brick wall behind him and she could have sworn she saw the vampire’s golden eyes nearly cross in pain.
Then she noticed the demon was too busy trying to get the strangling vampire off his back and she took her cue to run.
“Be right back!”
“Hurry!” The vampire ground out before he let out a cry of pain as he was smashed back into the plaster again.
The force of the blow loosened his grip as Angelus lost a fraction of the hold on the demon’s neck and the one large fang sank through the links of the iron chains and into his arm. Blood nearly flared in Angelus’ eyes.
Cordelia was rummaging through the drawers for a large knife when she heard Angelus’ scream of rage. “Oh crap!”
Grabbing the first thing she could find she ran back into the living room and nearly went flying with the gray that sailed from the bathroom doorway and into the cupboard.
Turning her head she blinked to see Angelus yanking the last of the chains off his ankles wrists, eyes spitting gold fire and a gash in his arm, nearly missing a good chunk of flesh as he rose to his full height.
The enraged vampire lifted his eyes from the sprawled demon shaking his head across the hall to see Cordelia toss him something.
Catching the object he stared down at before looking at her incredulously. “A fork!?”
The brunette only shrugged helplessly before she yelped as Angelus was tackled to the floor by a spitting angry demon, claws reaching for his face, the fork falling harmlessly by his head.
Angelus snarled in fury as the demon howled above him, the bulk of his body pinning his legs and torso under him as Angelus held onto his lower jaw, his fingers splayed between his teeth and the other hand holding a ripping talon from decapitating him. “Cordelia!”
A wooden chair splintered on the demon’s head nearly dusting the vampire underneath, but it gave Angelus enough time to grab the fork and ram it straight into one of the burning red eyes of the angry demon as it screamed.
Cordelia jumped away, the demon reared back in pain and the vampire rolled onto his heels. As it towered over the brunette, Cordelia closed her eyes wincing for the blow, just as she heard a crack and a reverberating ‘thud’ before everything stilled.
Surprised hazel eyes looked up to see Angelus glaring down at the demon with the broken neck, clutching his bleeding arm.
Golden eyes looked up at her with appalled exasperation. “A FORK!!!!?!”
Straightening to her spine she was about to retort when the front door burst open and Giles and Buffy stormed into the house.
“Unhand Angel you…” The slayer blinked as she saw the scene in the living room. “Oh.”
Cordelia glared at the shocked face of the watcher.
“You know this was not part of my babysitting plan.”
Angelus was still staring at Cordelia with vexation. “A FUCKING FORK!”
Buffy sat on the couch, her head in her hands, the dead demon laying at her feet with the broken neck. Beside her Angelus was sitting on a chair holding his bleeding arm, while Cordelia towered over him with gauze and disinfectant.
The slayer looked up as the vampire let out another growl of pain. She let out a sigh when Cordelia held the bottle over his head, threatening to make him wear it if he jumped again.
Trying to ignore the unsettling picture that the two presented and the camaraderie that built between them with ever passing minute Buffy turned her eyes to her watcher, as he handed her a cup of coffee.
Giles watched Buffy take the cup without a word and he frowned slightly at her. “You’re troubled.”
“I hear that’s a slayer trait.”
“Along with not being around when you’re needed.”
At the antagonized quip, Buffy fixed her weary eyes on the vampire while he attempted to dodge Cordelia’s disinfectant bottle. “I slay your kind, not protect it.”
“Slay, fuck; what’s the difference with you, right?”
Gritting her teeth she chose to ignore the barb. The baiting was rather obvious now. “You’re a mistake I regret everyday Angelus.”
“Allow me to feel guilt. Oh wait…” Angelus seemed to ponder that thought almost comically and Cordelia bit her cheek to keep the smile off her mouth. “I think I skipped the assembly when they were handing out sensitivity.”
“Why didn’t you tell us these things were the ones after you?”
The bleeding demon shrugged. “Because sweetheart, I had other things on my damned mind. Like feeding.”
“Always think with your fangs?”
Angelus smirked at Cordelia’s accurate conclusion. “After I’m done thinking with my…”
“Angelus!” Giles glared at the pornographic reference that was about to be voiced. “How could you fail to mention the demon’s link to you? Cordelia could have died.”
“And that affects me how? AWO!” He jumped when her finger dug into the gouging flesh she was trying to bandage. He stared at her incredulously. “Who’s the fucking vampire here?”
The brunette kept her head down as she continued to administer first aid, the only indication that she was in their conversation was her smirk.
“Why are these creepies after you anyway?”
Angelus rolled his eyes and glared at Buffy. “You’re still here?”
Throwing up her hands she stood up. “Why do I bother? Giles’ I’m out. You’re better with interrogation anyway.”
“Are you quite sure you will be able to take it to the incinerator alone Buffy?”
The blonde rolled her eyes. “You talk as if I’ve never done it before. How hard can it be? I dump him in the car then dump him in the oven and then its hello home sweet home and warm shower.”
Giles looked up as Angelus let out another exaggerated yelp and frowned. “Perhaps Angelus could help?”
The entire room went silent. All eyes trained on Giles incredulously.
“What the fuck are you smoking watcher? I’m not taking a pleasure cruise with the damned slayer. Once was enough, thank you.”
Buffy scowled at him before looking up at Giles. “For once I agree with him.”
“Watch out slayer. The hellmouth might open. Again.”
“I have a name you know!”
Angelus’ mouth widened into a smirk even when his nerves were singing with pain. “Whatever you say tubby.” Besides him Cordelia let out a snort of laughter, as she gripped his elbow with one hand and cleaned the excess blood around the gash.
Giles ran a hand through his hair. “I was merely suggesting because even being the Slayer, you’d have problems hauling a monster his size without help and I do believe I’m not quite as young as I’d like to be.”
Buffy looked down at the very large, prone demon on the floor and let out a defeated groan. “Fine. But if he decides to go off running into the night, I’ll stake him.”
“I think he’s proved tonight that he’s in no mood to run away.” Cordelia rolled her eyes as she slapped the medical tape on his arm.
“AWO!” The vampire threw her a scathing glare and was only rewarded with a smirk. “Keep that up Chase; I just might.”
“And walk straight into the arms of the Initiative. Yeah, because if that’s the plan, you should have just told me; I would have left you in the gutter.”
“Why didn’t you?”
At the blunt question even Buffy looked up at the brunette.
She only snorted in a rather un-lady like fashion before she recapped the disinfectant bottle. “That’s entirely your fault. I blame my lack of sanity on the fact that you opened you fat trap to call out to me and because you beg pretty good.”
She winked saucily at him. “For a Scourge anyway.”
He stared at the audacity of the ex-cheerleader as she walked away from him without so much as a look in his direction. “I did not beg.”
Sticking her hands on her hips she turned to regard him with a haughty eyebrow. Before she could breathe, he was out of the chair in a flash, and the daunting knot in her throat came back as golden eyes bore down into hazel, with a touch of sexy insanity only Angelus could pull off.
“I. Did. Not. Beg.” It irked him that this child wouldn’t stop calling him up on his inadequacies. And then there was the ‘fat’ thing.
Cordelia took a nervous swallow, the span of his chest nearly blocking her view as she stared up at him slightly caught off-guard. So she didn’t see Buffy walk up to them purposefully and it was only when the blonde hair obstructed her view into his amber eyes that she snapped back to reality and took a shaky breath.
What was that? She physically shook her head to clear it and frowned at the odd ache in her belly. What the hell was going on?
Buffy shoved Angelus away from the stunned brunette and glared at the vampire. “Back off Angelus.”
The vampire’s game face receded back into smooth planes of his angelic face and chuckled. “No need to get your panties in a twist slayer. So should we go get acquainted? I think doing it on the hood of the car could be a new thrill.”
His hand drifted down his stomach and Buffy’s mouth dropped open in shock.
Cordelia had recovered just enough to see Angelus hit the couch hard, his lip bleeding as the steam rose from the slayer’s blonde head.
She took a deep calming breath. “Great. Now I’ll have to fix that too. You know playing nursemaid was never one of my goals in life or on my list of things to do for today.”
Giles grabbed her arms as the blonde stepped forward to hit him again, green eyes flashing with murderous, betrayed rage. “That was NOT you! It was him! I would NEVER touch you!”
Angelus’ tongue snaked out to lick his borrowed blood on his lower lip and leered at her, his eyes darkening with cruel depth. “Whatever makes you feel any less dirty slayer.” He held up his hands sadistically taking tally.
“These were the hands that touched you. This body pinned yours down while you screamed my name and it was this cock inside you. You fucked a vampire either way.”
“Shut the hell up!”
Cordelia winced at the struggling woman and for an insane moment she contemplated dragging Angelus to the bathroom and locking him in to protect him. But then, it was sort of fun to watch the spitting young slayer struggle with the prospect of dusting her ex-boyfriend slash worst enemy.
The delicious emotional melodrama was so much better than watching any soap on TV. She crossed her arms and waited for the quip; she could almost feel it lingering on Angelus smirking mouth.
“Slayer, go out, get some fresh air, get a damned life while you’re at it and stop pissing me off.”
“Get out! We’re not helping you anymore! This arrangement is finished.”
Cordelia opened her mouth to remind the slayer it wasn’t her house before she realized neither was it her own. And just then she wished she was anywhere but here. The melodrama was starting to hit a little close to home.
“Angelus,” the watcher began with a warning, barely able to hold the angry young woman in his arms. “Buffy let it go, he is inciting you on purpose.”
“I’m gonna count to three!”
“You can count?” Angelus feigned shock.
Cordelia yelped as she jumped far away before the slayer launched out of Giles’ arms and tackled the sniggering vampire with a battle cry. And that was when she moved forward to help Giles as she grabbed one arm and he grabbed the other. As they bodily dragged the blonde away from the vampire now nursing a red eye.
“Buffy!” Giles yanked her away hard, pulling her farther away from the growling vampire.
“I’m sick of him Giles! I’m so SICK of him!”
“Buffy! Calm down!”
Cordelia let out a slow breath as Giles slowly guided the still snarling woman into the kitchen and she finally turned to look back down at the still man-pire sitting on the couch.
“Do you have a death wish?”
“How’d you guess?”
She frowned. “They why bother making me haul your butt out of that alley anyway?”
He touched his bleeding cheekbone, where the skin had split over bone and scowled. “I forgot how damned pathetic this was.”
With a lamenting sigh she twisted the head off the disinfectant and wetting the gauze that was still in her hand as she sat down on the table in front of the couch and reached out to wipe the cut on his cheekbone and then his lip.
When he just sat there, she lifted her eyes to meet his perplexed gaze. “What?”
“Why do you do that?”
She blinked, startled by the vague question. “Do what?”
“Don’t play dumb with me Chase. I’ve been on to you for a while now. Why do you do this?”
And she had a pretty good idea what he was talking about, only the more she thought about the answer, the more she realized she didn’t have one. None that made any sense. “It’s in my new job description.”
“What? Florence Nightingale?”
She chuckled softly, glad for once he didn’t startle to her tending as she cleaned the gash on his cheek. “Story of my life. Not like I applied for this position you know.”
“So then why do you do it? And it’s not because you feel sorry for me. Not anymore.”
With a confused frown she sat back, her hand in her lap as she regarded his glittering brown eyes watching her with amusement. “Are you mocking me again?”
“It’s a fucking honest question. Answer it.”
“Honest and you never did mix fangboy.”
“It’s what I do best next to biting.”
His mouth quirked at one corner. “Oh yeah baby. I know.”
Rolling her eyes she recapped the bottle of disinfectant for the second time tonight. “Things have a way of not going the way I want them to.”
“They never do. The trick is not to give a damn.”
She looked up with a raised eyebrow. “Give a damn about what?”
“Life sweetheart. It gets a kick out of being ignored. Ignore life and it will fucking worship you. Not like fate listens to you humans anyway. He’s always got his head up destiny’s ass. Gota tell you though, that is one tough chick.”
Cordelia was silent for a moment. “Did they put you on crack?”
He leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees as he faced her squarely. “It’s simple Brighteyes. Don’t go around caring and breaking yourself up over every little twist and turn in the road. Play dumb when it counts.”
“Pfft! What do you think I’m doing now?”
He leaned closer and the nervous butterflies resettled in her stomach at the vampire proximity. His eyes although, were a rich brown, it was the challenge that that had her swallowing hard.
“Look at me Cordelia. And tell me you feel nothing.”
Dry lips parted as she stared into his eyes, afraid to look away. “I…I f-feel…”
His lips twisted into a rueful line, one cold finger lifting to graze her chin with a whispery caress. “Too much, Chase. You feel too damned much…”
Humiliated fire built in her veins at his accurate and somewhat cocky deduction and she pulled away from the cold heat of his finger to glare down at him. “No death wish here at least. I still have a choice.”
He snorted scornfully. “That’s what they want you to believe. Look at me. I’m heartless. Everything I do or say is for kicks. I don’t feel a goddamned thing. How do you think that turned out? The minute I get the fucking soul, Destiny decides to give me purpose.”
He leaned back against the couch, one arm draped over the back. “Even after I left it in hell, I’m stuck in the fucking circle of life crap the powers-that-do-shit spun just for lil old me.”
She stood on unsteady legs, crazily thinking if he was loose and on the couch where would she sleep, her head a kaleidoscope of jumbled thoughts and shaken beliefs. The last thing she needed was advice from a two hundred year old callous bastard with death on the brain.
Even if some of the things he said made and insane amount of sense. She shook her head before stepping away from his proximity. She wished she really had caught that bus to LA. “That’s a great bedtime story Fangboy. I’ll remember it so I can tell it to my kids one day.”
The vampire let out an unneeded breath. “Can’t you at least call me fangMAN? I do have some two hundred odd years on you little girl.”
He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the back of the couch signaling that she was to shut up. “Snooty bitch.”
She couldn’t hold the stretch of a satisfied grin as she picked up her books from the floor. “Want some blood?”
“Good.” Her grin widened. “Get it yourself.”
“Fossil.” And she walked into the kitchen laughing louder than Giles would have ever guessed.
Buffy blinked in confusion. “Did I miss something?”
Safe to say. Buffy took care of the demon burning alone. And Angelus slept on the floor.
Without the chains.
Buffy walked around the back of Giles’ car and opened the dangling trunk open toe wrinkle her nose at the decaying demon. “Just you and me.”
She sighed and reached out to grab one arm and grunted at the weight of him. “Who told you to eat all those people? OOF!”
“AWO!” Rubbing her head where she hit it with the trunk hatch she turned to glare at the owner of the voice. “Stalker boy?”
Riley Finn looked up and smiled. “No curfew?”
Still smarting in the head, she tilted her head curiously. “What do you want?”
“You found the demon.”
He cleared his throat before stepping up to. “It’s mine. I’d like it back.”