Of Demony Things & Crappy Lifetimes. 15

CHAPTER 15

Cordelia held her head high as she flipped the latch closed for her bag. It was just as well. The great big hole in her chest would only get worse.

She needed her time away. She needed her space to come to terms with what her head and heart was telling her. And now that her contact with Angelus was restricted to a phone call, Cordelia was glad for the loneliness.

It reinforced what she always believed.

She was born alone and she’d die alone.

“Cordelia?”

Lifting her eyes, she pasted on the bright smile that would hide the loss of another friend. If she could ever call Angelus friend. It was just the bond. Nothing else. She kept repeating the mantra in her head so she’d remember.

Angelus didn’t love her. He didn’t want her. He was just as lonely as she was.

“Guess what Librarian man?”

Giles had stood there at the bottom of his staircase watching the young woman slap her clothes into the bag before he’d spoken.

After his night long drinking session with Angelus the week before and the torrent of tears he’d found his slayer in, loving her for her interference and at the same time dreading the effect it would have on both the occupants of his house, Giles feared the worst.

Cordelia was leaving for LA. Again.

“You just happened to find a bus ticket to LA in the mail?”

At the discovery of her secret wish, Cordelia’s smile wavered and she wrung her hand in a nervous gesture. “Not even Giles. Harmony invited me over to her house for Christmas.”

Giles’ heart plummeted. “Cordelia you don’t have to go.”

“I do Giles.” Suddenly the open wide smile melted into the impassive planes of her apathetic face. A face Giles never liked and had seen a lot of lately. “I can’t be here when they come bearing gifts I’m not getting.”

“Who are you running away from Cordelia? Them or him?”

She didn’t look surprised at his question. “Both. For different reasons.”

“For the same I fear.” The watcher came to stand beside her. “You’re afraid.”

“And I don’t like it.”

“Maybe if we all sit down together…”

She snorted. “Please Giles. Let’s not fool ourselves. I have a barely tolerable rapport with the slayer. The witch and the dork avoid me like the plague – which is good for them. And Angelus,” she let out a shaky sigh,

“he’s made it perfectly clear that I’m only vision girl. He’ll get his PTB induced guidance. I’ll call if something happens. His new cell number’s taped to the fridge. Right now? I just need to not be here.”

“But Harmony?”

“Beggars and choosers.” She shrugged and slung her bag over her head. She met his eyes with determination. “You get one hug old man.”

Giles smiled at the familiar reference he’d gotten used to hearing from their vampire. He covered the few footfalls and wrapped his arms around the girl, resting his chin on top of her head. “You’re coming back right after.”

She held him for a breath longer before muttering. “A bit long for one hug, don’t you think?”

Knowing that she hadn’t answered his question he released her and stepped away, giving her room enough to bring back her fake smile.

He was starting to hate it. Cordelia only gave him a tip of her chin before she turned and walked out of his house.

And he realized she had never looked back.

***
Giles smiled as Willow stood on the little ladder hanging the decorations on the tree. Joyce was curled up in his recliner writing out her Christmas cards. Xander was wrapped in Christmas lights.

He laughed when the young man nearly tripped taking Willow with him, the two laughing like he’d seen them laugh since childhood.

The house was filled with the smell of cookies and eggnog while Buffy worked in his kitchen. The atmosphere, save for one aspect, seemed perfect.

Giles would have figured that once Cordelia was gone, Angelus would have ventured away as well, but he had returned now and then. And he never talked to Giles unless absolutely necessary. Without his usual bite and sarcasm.

Almost like everything that was left alive inside him had gone with the brunette. And what remained was for what little connection she still had with the house.

Giles hadn’t let on, but he’d known the extension in his kitchen had been picked up silently when Cordelia had called him to tell him she was settled into Harmony’s house and how she was living a life of luxury for the while.

And he’d felt the sadness nearly potent in her voice as he felt it in his silence.

Then she proceeded to tell him about the vision. Angelus walked out of the house silently and returned with more than enough wounds that would have kept Cordelia busy the entire evening, but he wouldn’t let Giles tend to him, just collected his blood bag and left.

It was nearly Christmas morning. Almost like he needed to reassure himself, Giles grabbed his coat. “I’m just running out for some coffee, we’re out.”

Buffy peeked out from the kitchen with a frown, the jar of freshly ground coffee beans in her hand. “But we already have…coffee?”

Her frown deepened. “Weird.”

***

Angelus sat watching the flickering light on the second story bedroom across the street. Without the insistent whine of his soul, his mind painfully blank of thoughts. The burn of the brandy he’d stolen out of the watcher’s house in his throat and the ridiculous music from the night nearly deafening.

It’s been a while
Since I could hold my head up high
It’s been a while
Since I first saw you
It’s been a while
Since I couldn’t stand on my own two feet again
It’s been a while
Since I couldn’t call you
And everything I can’t remember
Is fucked up as it always seemed
The consequences that I’ve rendered
I’ve gone stretched myself beyond my means

It’s been a while
Since I couldn’t say that I wasn’t addicted
It’s been a while
Since I can say I love myself as well and
It’s been a while
Since I’ve gone and fucked things up just like I do
It’s been a while
But all that shit seems to disappear when I’m with you

And everything I can’t remember
Is fucked up as it always seemed
The consequences that I’ve rendered
I’ve gone and fucked things up again, again

Why must I feel this way
Just make this go away
Just one more peaceful day

It’s been a while
Since I could look at myself straight
It’s been a while
Since I said I’m sorry
It’s been a while
Since I’ve seen the way the candles light your face
It’s been a while
But I can still remember just the way you taste

And everything I can’t remember
Is fucked up as it always seemed
Me, I know its always me
I cannot blame this on my father
He did the best he could for me

It’s been a while
Since I could hold my head up high
It’s been a while
Since I said I’m sorry

Angelus wished it was approaching dawn. After his goddamn pansy behavior, he deserved it. Because he’d pegged her wrong. She wasn’t coming to him. Willingly or anything. And it was obvious – he’d fucked things up.

“Do you miss her?”

“Sometimes.” The answer was out of his mouth in response to the watcher’s question before he could stop it.

“When?”

This time he allowed himself a moment to find the right words. “When I can’t sleep.” And he didn’t hide the bitter want in his voice.

Giles let out a defeated breath. “Oh Lord…look, Angelus, we’ll drink, alright?”

Angelus took a deep drag on his cigarette before letting it out slowly through his nose, the tobacco burning out of his lungs. “Not tempting enough.”

There was utter silence behind him and Angelus figured the man had taken the hint and left, but then he felt himself being bodily lifted off the curb by the scruff of his coat collar.

“HEY! WATCH THE COAT!”

“ARE YOU GOING TO BLOODY WORK WITH ME OR NOT?”

Angelus bit down the urge to body slam the Englishman, but he was weary and had no strength to fight the pain of his chip for the sake of a few punches. Rattling on his feet while Giles shook him in anger, he glared up at him defiantly.

“Get your hands off me Giles, or I’ll take you to hell with me.” His voice deathly calm.

Looking at the reigned anger in the vampire’s eyes and control he was showing, Giles took a deep breath to calm himself. He couldn’t stand to see Cordelia so broken. And God forgive him, Angelus’ obvious moping was grating on his nerves.

Even Cordelia hadn’t been this darkened when he’d found her in that house sheathed in white. But without him, she’d seemed to disappear and Angelus was halfway down the same road. “Bloody sod…”

“One day you’ll give yourself a damned coronary Rupe, and I’m going to get a front seat.” Angelus reclaimed his bottle and dropped back into his previous position, picking up the fallen cigarette and taking another drag.

“Since when do you smoke?”

“Since I can’t bite.” At the raised eyebrow, Angelus rolled his eyes. “Oral fixation.”

Giles watched the vampire take a swig from his bottle before offering it to him. With a calm intake of breath he took the bottle and mirrored his motion, sitting beside him on the curb.

“Cordelia deserves better than you.”

“Beggars and choosers and all that jazz.”

Giles’ eyebrows shot up at the familiar words he’d heard from the woman in question. It was almost eerie the way these two were connected which only reinforced his belief that they needed each other to survive. And Giles would never admit it, but there were times he would sympathize with the vampire.

Cordelia was more than a handful, especially when she made up her mind about something. “It has been a week. How long do you plan to sit out here?”

“I don’t much care for your hospitality to come over anymore.” He snatched the bottle from the condescending man.

“Are you daft?” Giles leveled a glare at him. “After you’ve drained just about every drop of liquor in that house that I’ve ever had the displeasure of owning?”

“You should learn to hide it better.”

Giles let out a defeated sigh. “You skate around the issue almost the same way she does.” Running a hand over his face he stood up. “I cannot believe I’m about to say this.”

Angelus tipped his head back and glanced up at the watcher as he towered over him.

“Get off your bloody arse and go talk to her.”

Angelus couldn’t help raise an eyebrow. “That sounded too much like encouragement on your part. You sure you haven’t taken too much of the slayer’s eggnog?”

“My slayer’s eggnog is neither spiked nor bad. And furthermore.” Giles resisted the urge to wag a finger at the strangely complacent vampire. “When have you ever taken no for an answer?”

Pulling his gaze away from his, Angelus frowned at the inane need to spill his guts to the young man. To tell him of Cordelia’s rejection and his own rage. He wanted to kill her. To drain her and make her hurt, but since he could do neither, Angelus seethed and plotted.

Thought and planned, until he was drunk and dizzy and hungry. And then even the brandy would taste like her. “The seer needs to get off her goddamn high horse.”

“She won’t.” At the soft tenor of his voice, Angelus frowned up at Giles before he continued. “Cordelia is hanging onto the last vestige of her pride. Look at it from her point of view Angelus. She’s lost it all.”

“And I haven’t?”

“She didn’t bloody deserve it! And she’s human. What is it about her existence that eludes you? She is human and she knows her time is limited as opposed to you. And it’s hard to imagine yourself as a ticking time bomb with only a crass vampire for a companion until she blows.”

“It’s safer if she just does the seeing anyway.”

“What has escaped you Angelus? The fact that you’re bonded for eternity to a slip of a girl? That you are finally afraid?”

The bottle smashed into a thousand angry shards as the demon reared up, eyes amber and the snarl nearly deafening. “I’m NOT afraid!”

The human didn’t blink. “The thought of her dying doesn’t scare you? That you will lose her one day? Isn’t that why you’re out here and she’s in there?”

Muted fury melted into confused regret and Angelus lifted his head to look up at the house where his woman was hiding. “What the hell do you want from me Giles?”

“You will remain miserable without her. She will die young with the pain she’ll carry in her heart. And the visions will take her.”

Angelus’ eyes darkened back to chocolate. “She’s really dying?”

“Without her. So are you.”

Angelus frowned. “Stop the fucking riddles. Get to the point.”

“You are no longer two entities. The PTB granted you this gift so that you may redeem yourself. Her soul chose to save you Angelus. Now it is your turn to save her. Together you will find a solution. Not if you both act like egotistical arses.”

“Last nerve,” the vampire warned.

But Giles pressed on. “You need her.”

“NO I don’t.” Giles nearly smiled as the vampire started to pace. “I don’t need her. I don’t fucking need anyone. Not my childer and definitely not some bitchy harpy who thinks she’s above me.”

“Alright, I stand corrected.” Giles crossed his arms and gave him a twisted smile that wasn’t too amused. “You don’t need her. You want her.”

“Like I want blood.”

“Ironic that she’s the only one in this world that will allow you that liberty.”

Everything about the previously prowling vampire stilled. Flashing ochre eyes caught Giles like he wanted to burn right through him.

The smile on the watcher’s face was as wicked at the vampire was vain.

Damn blood lust.

Part 16

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