“She fucking eats me.”
“Bloody ‘ell Gelus! I did not need to hear that!”
The hand thumped against a silent chest. “Right fucking here.”
“Will you bloody stop cursing! You bloody wanker!”
There was an unneeded sigh. “Hell was preferably better. At least I’d burn. This is a damned tease. An almost orgasm.”
“Oh those bloody suck.”
Angelus glared across the coffee table. “Will you fucking stop cursing! You fucking idiot!”
Giles frowned at the dark man resplendent on his couch as usual. “Devu-ja!”
“You know that whole repeating itself. The thing! Again again.”
“I don’t like being eaten.”
“Who’s eating you?”
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. The men were so thick these days. “Hazel.”
“With a fork and knife my boy.” The bottle was raised in a silent toast. “You’ll give her indigestion.”
“Fuck, I hope so.”
“You’re doing it again.”
Angelus growled, the corner of his lip curling away from his fangs as he stared down into the nearly empty glass of rum. “I could just eat her.”
“You’d choke on her.”
His eyes darkened, the memory of her mouth pressed against his fogging his already alcohol addled brain. “Not so sure I’m not already Watcher.” He let his eyes wander up the stairs where she’d disappeared. “She thinks I don’t know what that is.”
The vampire snickered. “Love.”
The man across the table winced, almost like he was physically struck. “Oh there were days.” He shook his head. “You grow old with love.”
“Why do you think vampires are immortal?”
The only mortal in the room frowned at the odd reference, his mind already going off tangents without warning, but something his companion said seemed to snap him into focus.
“But love is life. Love does not kill?”
“So little you know.” Older the vampire might have been, but his voice was laced with misplaced regret as he leaned back in the couch, head against the back, staring at the ceiling.
“Love is an anomaly created to put a damned leash on everything. And the woman. She’s the fucking devil wearing stilettos. History is littered with manly fools giving up kingdoms, knightly hood, Godly hood and lord knows what other kinds of hoods, just to appease the female soul. Look at their construction.”
Angelus’ eyes hazed, reliving the way she’d fit against him, her breasts pressing against his chest almost like she was coming apart at the seams. Following him down his own descent. “Those sinuous curves and soft lines, big sensual eyes lined with thick beguiling lashes and a stretch of alluring lips worth drowning in.”
Nodding, the watcher seemed to ponder that, almost on a higher level. “The whole creation issue is bloody sexist. Give women all the real power and let the men rule. Bloody puppets of mock superiority and false prowess!”
His mouth stretched into a wide grin.
“Exactly. They drive you to drink. They make you into kings then tear you down with a smile. They shake you and break you, then put you back together only to be broken again. They make murderers; they make thieves and then make villains. Vile creatures of hell with the face of an angel marked to test our endurance so we could never control it. That fucking manly ego and hormonal desire was meant to be uncontrollable, to tease torment and torture our sex for making the sad mistake of being born male!”
He let out a lamenting sigh. “And they say I’m bad.”
“God has to be female.”
The sharp bark of laughter was genuine. A finger pointed to the man rudely, swirling in the air between his eyes. “You’re drunk Rupe.”
The watcher sat up straighter. “Tha’s not possible.” He frowned at the bottle in his hand and shook it. “The rum’s all gone!”
“No shit watcher. It’s in you.”
“Oh now you’re just flirting with me.”
And that was how Buffy found them. Of course the notion that Angelus might be hitting on her Watcher and that her Watcher was indulging the vampire only made the woman realize that maybe she had walked into an alternative universe.
But then the smell of alcohol was prevalent in the air and so were the empty bottles between them. She let out a slow breath. “I so need to get a new gig.”
Pulling out her scarf, the young woman walked over to the duo and put her hands on her hips. “Consorting with the enemy?”
Angelus looked up, his nearly empty bottle raised in a toast to the bane of his existence. “Perceptive as always Sluffy. Blayer.” The vampire winced. “You.”
She sighed. “Yeah me.” Pulling the bottle away she took a moment to watch the two wasted individual silently for a moment. Contemplating her options. One finger tapping against her thigh she looked down into the loopy grin on her mentor’s face and hid a smile. “Scoot over.”
“Blood good! We got another one!”
Angelus kept his eyes on the very sober slayer and his mouth stretched into a slow knowing smile. “One last fuck?”
Her mouth open to snap, but then she seemed to rethink it. “I don’t want claw marks down my face, I hear she bites.”
“Hmmm.” His hand gently rubbed the spot on his neck where he still dreamt she’d left a mark. “Hell yeah,” he purred at the vivid memory, before his gaze focused on her. “Playing?”
She shook her head, taking a swig from Giles’ bottle then coughed, the heat rushing to her head. “Jesus.”
“She fucking eats me.”
Buffy looked up startled, her green eyes wide for a moment at the familiar timber of his voice. Her breath caught in her throat as she watched the vampire sprawled on the couch, his eyes swimming with memories, longing and rum.
She watched him lift his hand and put it over where his heart should have been. “Right fucking here.”
“Devu-ja!” Giles cried out jubilantly. “Again again! See?”
The young woman groaned inwardly. This had to end – for her sanity.
Cordelia Chase couldn’t concentrate.
The accompanying grunts and groans from the living room were started to grate on her patience. The feminine growls were making her wish she’d invested in earplugs instead of new hairpins.
Maybe the pins would work, she mused distracted, pulling her elbow on the textbook, her chin in her hand.
She was engrossed in exam induced visions of bobby pins and earplugs when she heard someone sigh behind her. With Christmas approaching and her last exam looming over her head, Cordelia missed the newcomer into the room.
It was when she spoke that Cordelia snapped out of her day dream.
“Nice studying technique. Staring off into space.”
Blinking out of her haze, Cordelia frowned at the panting slayer, still garbed in her training gear as she proceeded to pour herself a glass of water. “Excuse you?”
Buffy leaned back against the counter and shrugged. “Just thought you’d be paying more attention, what with your graduation on the line.”
“Oh my god!” Hazel eyes widened with mock surprise.
“You are WILLINGLY striking up a conversation with me. Will wonders never cease? Will we have a hot January? With the sun forget to set? Will Xander rediscover his sexual preference?”
Buffy bit back the glare and met the cheerleader’s eyes evenly. “I’m a big girl Cordelia. I am aware of your situation with Angel…Angelus.”
“Funny I don’t believe you when you still have to rethink who he is.” Rolling her eyes, Cordelia put her eyes back on her page, hoping it would dismiss the slayer, but the young woman didn’t move, instead she came and sat down beside Cordelia on the kitchen table.
“I know it’s rough for you.”
Flashing caramel eyes glared at Buffy. “You cannot begin to imagine, so don’t pretend to sympathize with me Buffy. I’m a big girl too.”
Rolling her eyes Buffy Summers let out a frustrated sigh. “For the last time, I’m not pretending to sympathize with you, and while we’re on the subject, you’re sitting in the company of one very unwilling slayer. You think I WANTED this?”
The young girl snorted. “I got stuck with this destiny. Just like you’re stuck with yours. So yeah. I can imagine what it’s like.”
Leaning back in her seat, Cordelia crossed her arms, eyes narrowing suspiciously. “What do you want Buffy?”
“I’m trying to be nice.”
“You’re being too nice. What’s your angle?”
“God Cordelia, are you really that cynical to think that I’m still after him?”
“Then what are you after?”
Buffy ran a hand through her hair. “I don’t know. I thought I wanted Angel back, but you were right. And so was everyone else. He’s not my Angel.”
She met the caustic cheerleader’s eyes carefully. “He’s your demon.”
A muscle worked in her temple as Cordelia denied the heightening of her pulse or the indignant denial burning in her chest. So she chose not to comment.
“I’m okay with it.”
Cordelia let out an incredulous laugh. “That is so benevolent Buffy, but no thanks. I don’t want your nightmare.”
“Cordelia, I’m not giving you permission, I’m just…”
“Your permission means nothing to me.”
“So you’ve accepted it then?”
The cheerleader rolled her eyes, now completely distracted from her work. “Accepted what?”
“That you’re falling for him.”
Instantly, scalding toffee colored eyes glared at her unwelcome companion. “Butt out.”
Buffy seemed to be struggling to stay calm and control her smile all at the same time. “I’d love to.” The slayer held her gaze unfazed.
Years of staring down demons. She ought to be able to handle an irate cheerleader for a while. “But your demon likes to be in my space. Just yesterday I was informed, none too politely, that you’re his soul mate.
Walking in on two drunk men can really snap things in perspective. Can you imagine that? I thought the soul was mine.”
Cordelia wondered if she should invest in body armor. “You want him, he’s yours.”
“But he’s not, is he?”
At the cryptically observant question, Cordelia grit her teeth to calm her bubbling anger. “Look whatever you’re attempting to say, say it and be done with it. I do have a life.”
“Get him out my town.” Cordelia felt like the slayer had punched her in the gut.
“He is Angelus Scourge of Europe, bane of my existence. And he IS yours, whether you ready to believe it or not. You’re the only one he listens to. The only one he seems to care about. The rest of us mean nothing to him. Because if the chip one day decides to go wonky – I WILL stake him.”
Her green eyes were unshakable. “I will not let him hurt my friends again. Ever.”
“You better not be threatening us.” Cordelia’s hazel eyes were dark. “Neither or us takes it lightly.”
“Us, huh?” The slayer smiled knowingly. “Tell him to take his championing somewhere else. I’ve got this base covered.”
“This isn’t just your town.”
“You’re always welcome to stay back Cordelia, but you won’t. And you know it.”
The finality in the slayers claim didn’t sit well with Cordelia. The blunt insinuation seemed to tip towards reality. There was always the possibility. And the longer Cordelia contemplated leaving the slayer’s domain with Angelus, the more it became plausible.
The mere notion of Angelus being staked was like amputating a limb. The attachment alone drained the color from the cheerleader’s face.
The girl looked up startled when she felt the slayer’s hand on hers, her bright eyes staring up at her. Buffy Summers’ smile was sad.
“I know you didn’t ask for this, but if they’ve given you the visions, then they’ve given you the strength to see them.” Stepping back, as if realizing she’d touched the girl out of concern and understanding the slayer sighed.
“My advice: stop fighting it. I’ll give him till graduation.”
Cordelia watched the slayer walk out of the kitchen.
Angelus nearly bumped into the blonde slayer and he was about to snap, when he saw the thunderstruck expression on his seer’s face. Frowning, he walked into the kitchen, dropping his freshly acquired blood bags on the table beside her books. “Chase?”
Her eyes snapped up to him, as if noticing for the first time.
“What’s did she say to you?”
Cordelia licked her suddenly dry lips. “Nothing.”
“Fucking hell Chase, don’t lie to me. Not only can you not, but I saw the slayer leave. What the hell did she say to you?”
When he made a move to go after the woman in question, Cordelia grabbed his coat sleeve, swallowing her own panic.
“No don’t. She was…polite.”
Angelus frowned at the complacent face she was wearing, but her pretty caramel eyes were wide with panic. “Fine. What did the slayer politely say?”
She wondered if she should tell him. She knew he would go after Buffy. She had to make him understand. Cordelia wasn’t a big fan of the slayer, but she knew the girl meant business when it came to her business.
She knew the impulsive vampire’s safety was only a priority on Cordelia Chase’s list. Something she herself hadn’t made peace with. “She’s worried the chip will stop working.”
“Fuck I hope so.”
Her panic melted into a glare. “Do you even know what that means?”
“Yeah Chase, I’m a vampire, for Christ’s sake! I drain, I fight. It’s what I do best!”
A hand touched her throbbing temple as Cordy stepped away from him, going to pour herself a glass of water. “You’re a lot more than just a vampire fangbreath.”
“That’s what YOU see.”
“You’re also a PTB puppy remember? Or did we sleep through that rerun?”
“No I had a front row seat. What’s your point?”
“I don’t know.” Putting her hands on the counter she stared outside into the night. First the idea of staying in this stupid town had loathed her.
Now why did the prospect of leaving bother her so much? She’d never wanted to stay. “You can’t stay here.”
His brow drew together and he covered what little different separated them and grabbed her elbow, spinning her around to meet his eyes. “Spit it out Cordy; riddles don’t suit you anyway.”
Just for a breath, Angelus thought he saw longing marred with concern in her beautiful hazel eyes, her hand sliding up to almost touch his face, but then she looked away, her fists clenched to her sides.
“If you stay here and the chip does stop working. You’ll go back to being an asshole, not that you’re not much of an asshole now.”
An eyebrow shot up, his hand curling around her wrist, pulling her closer. “That’s never bothered you before.”
“Dammit you obsessive dork! This isn’t about me!”
“Who else matters?”
“Exactly!” She wrenched her arm away. “That’s exactly what the trouble is. You don’t care about anything else!”
Now the demon was stumped. Scratching the back of his head, he regarded her with obvious confusion before sniffing the air. “That time of the month?”
“Dammit woman, I don’t understand.”
“You’ll go after Buffy!”
“And what Hazel, she’s your best friend now?”
Stamping her foot, the girl let out a cry of frustration, her hands thrown up as she started to pace.
“I cannot believe you! Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall! If you go after Buffy she will STAKE you. You will turn to dust and be of no use to me! Who the hell will slay my demons if you’re dust huh? Who? Tell me!”
She gave him her patented know-it-all wriggle of her head.
At first Angelus didn’t understand her train of logic, because the notion of Buffy staking him was impossible; she had nothing on him. Then her words began to seep in and the corner of his mouth slid up. “You like me undead and kicking don’t ya?”
“Egomaniac! I like me headache free and without the death of innocents weighing down my shoulders.”
The demon chuckled. “Damn Chase. Why don’t you just admit you want me?”
“Why can’t you just listen to what I’m saying for a change?”
His mouth spread into a grin, taking a step towards her, trapping her against the refrigerator with a predatory purr. “I always listen to you baby.”
Distracted by the sudden heat flaring up under her skin, Cordelia floundered. “That’s what she said.”
Angelus drew his head back slightly to look her in the eye. “Buffy?”
“I don’t want you to take on Buffy. Or the rest of the Scoobie stooges.”
“What the fuck Chase, are you asking me to be nice to them!? Are they nice to you?”
“I’m saying she wants you out of here! Because to them you are Angelus Scourge of Europe, arrogant, pain in the butt, S-O-B killer and drainer of Sunnyhell innocents! To them you’re nothing else but a vampire.”
“And what about you Cordelia?” He growled softly, head tipping down to silence her ranting. Nothing she’d said so far meant anything to him.
And he had a feeling the prospect of his leaving wasn’t what had her smelling like sweet fear. “What do you see?”
“This isn’t about me!”
“This is ONLY about you!” He snapped back, his hands coming to smack against the refrigerator door, the ochre in his eyes shimmering to keep cool. “Tell me Cordelia what do you see?”
Shaken by the very angry and demanding demon, Cordelia pushed back against the refrigerator to put a little distance between them. Enough so she could form proper thought, but his body followed, his hips pressing insistently against hers.
Galled and unwillingly turned on by his brash behavior she gasped, her hands pushing against his chest. “Asshole.”
When the immovable wall didn’t budge, she let out an exasperated breath, her hazel yes flashing with determination and refusal to be bullied. “Brains enough to know when to leave.”
“What else?” He hissed softly, eyes already speaking what he wanted to hear.
“What else is there?”
“Wits, madness.” His eyes were unfaltering. “Love. As far as a demon is allowed.”
Her pretty mouth dropped open. “What?”
“You know I love you. I know, you know.”
“Oh my god!”
“Tell me you love me Chase.”
“Angelus, I –”
“Shhh.” The rough pad of his finger slid up against her mouth, eyes like liquid chocolate as he held her there. “Don’t say anything, unless it’s a ‘yes.’”
Her mouth quivered under his cold finger, the insane need to run building up into necessity. Her head aching with the need to shake hard, to deny his claim.
Angelus leaned down, his mouth sliding over his own finger, keeping the distance, his lips nearly brushing hers; waiting for her to speak. “Cordelia…”
She forced the only words she allowed herself to voice past her lips with an effort that nearly took her breath away. “Angelus, I like you.”
With a wince he shoved himself away from her. “Fucking hell.”
Cordelia grabbed the front of his sweater, the absence of his presence oddly disconcerting. “You’re my friend! I just…”
“Letting Buffy stake me would have done less damage, I think.”
“But we are friends! Buddies! Amigos even!” She tried to smile despite her panic. “Doesn’t that count for anything?”
“No Cordelia. We were never friends. And now, we’re finished.”
Her hazel eyes widened, something inside her welling, tightening worse than when Buffy had asked her to leave with him. “Finished? What do you mean finished!?” He couldn’t mean. He couldn’t!
“I can’t be your fucking FRIEND Chase! I’ll touch you. I’ll say things you don’t want to hear, and then you’ll tell me you ‘like’ me and I’ll want to take a sunlit walk. It’s painfully obvious you’re a part of me in ways I can never welcome. It took enough out of me to hear you say it the first time, I’m not about to let you do it to me over again.
Thanks for the reminder Hazel. I am the Scourge of Europe. Vampire on a leash, blah blah, woof woof. But I sure as hell am not your kick puppy. And I’m not contributing to your fucking pity party. You’re so damned good at it alone.”
She grabbed his arm as he turned to leave the kitchen. “You told me you couldn’t quit! You said we can’t quit! The PTB won’t let us!”
Looking down into her frightened caramel eyes, Angelus gritted his teeth and proceeded to do the most difficult thing since he’d been dead. “I’ll do the championing. You’ll do the seeing. We just won’t do it together.” Extracting his sleeve from her panicky grip, he took a step away.
“I’ll be at the mansion for a while. I’ll call you and tell you how to reach me.”
And then he walked to the front door, resisting the urge to drag her in his arms and fuck her until she couldn’t say anything but ‘yes’. Only Angelus had promised. This one would come to him.
He knew it as well as he knew he’d hunt one day; the only way Cordelia Chase would stay was if she came willingly.
Love was a bitch.