“I’m bored.” The tall dark vampire draped his long leg over the plush velvet armrest. “MORTIMOR, I said, I AM BORED.”
A thin distinguished human walked into the great hall, his age anywhere between 40 and 60. His bony frame wrapped in an old styled black butler uniform. “I heard, Master.” Bowing at that figure lounging in antique chair.
“So, what are you going to do about it?” Long well manicured fingers tapped firmly on a sinewy muscled thigh.
Mortimer studied the dark vampire. His hair was pure black hanging straight and heavy down to his shoulders. The vampire’s unnaturally pale face showed no evidence of his true years. The features were angular and aristocratic, striking in their youth and beauty. The eyes were as black as the hair, the full lips pulling down in a frown reflecting the vampire’s ennui.
“You have a suggestion, Master?”
Count Dracula swung his leg back to the floor, resting his elbows on his knees, his fingers tapping together underneath his chin. The vampire’s eyes narrowed, his gaze cutting into the human. “If I did I wouldn’t be bored or have to ask, now would I? Do you want to die, Mortimer?”
“Truthfully, Master, yes.”
Dracula leaned back up resting his back against the chair. “You wound me, Mortimer. You do not find your service to me satisfying?”
Mortimer’s gray eyes remained steady. “As satisfying as decades of torture and mental anguish can allow, Master.”
“Mortimer, Mortimer, I haven’t had to torture you in years. Has it been too long? You still haven’t forgiven me for killing your wife and enslaving you, have you? Mortimer, that was a hundred years ago.”
“97, Master. And living beyond my natural life span has become tiring.”
“You’re tired? What about me? I have been alive a lot longer.” Dracula jumped up from the chair.
“Master, is it your desire for me to stake you to end your misery? I’d be happy too.”
Dracula laughed, slapping the human on his back. “See, you still have your sense of humor. British dry wit, a must in a loyal servant. No, Mortimer, just find me something to do that will end this hateful tedium.” Dracula sighed.
“It’s your birthday isn’t it? That’s what has gotten you in this mood.” Mortimer sighed. Someday soon, maybe his master would just kill him, but it didn’t look like it would be today.
“Yes, another year of boredom under my belt.” Dracula went to the heavily draped window, peering out into the black night. “Tell me again why I came back here.”
“It’s the land of your birth, your eternal life, the soil beckons to you, the blood of your vassals flows through your veins calling you home.”
“No, really, why? It’s boring here. And my VASSALS worship McDonald’s more than me. Where has the fear gone, I ask you? I’ll tell you, Big Macs, DVD players and Coca Cola. Disgraceful.” Dracula turned on his servant. “Why didn’t you remind me how boring it was here?”
“I believe it was because your last attempt to find some excitement ended with you be driven out of the Hellmouth by the slayer. I agreed that it was best that you leave.”
“DRIVEN OUT, I was not driven out by that child. I left. The appeal of slayers has been way overrated. She was boring.”
“Of course, Master.” Mortimer bowed again. There had been a moment there in the end that Mortimer actually thought that the Slayer would succeed in killing the vampire. But it was not to be. Mortimer should have known, his good fortune seemed to have left him 97 years ago, when he announced the dark Count’s presence at the ball given by his then employer, the Baroness Rothschild.
The vampire’s attention was not only focused on Mortimer’s lovely employer, but on him. It seemed that Dracula was impressed by his skills as a butler. It seemed his last human servant had gone completely insane at the Count’s torture and manipulations and ended up in an asylum where he did nothing but eat flies, spiders and birds. After several weeks of delicate and dark seduction the Baroness ended up as a vampire and after torture and mind manipulation, Mortimer as Renfield’s replacement.
“Why have you disturbed me, Mortimer, if it is not to relieve my weariness.”
“I’ve received a fax from the Baroness.”
Dracula rolled his eyes. “Disappointing childe. I’d hoped that her aristocratic breeding would follow onto her undead life. But, no. She’s become just as common as the rest of the world. But, at least I found you.”
“For that I am eternally grateful, Master.”
“Really, Mortimer, sarcasm? I expect better from you. What does my childe want?”
“She wishes to hold a gala for your birthday. It seems that Hollywood is once again attempting to tell your legend. The Baroness feels that it’s premiere would be an excellent time to prepare a magnificent tribute in your honor. She has all the preparations planned, all she waits for is your permission.”
“Another one.” Dracula went back to his chair. “I don’t know, Mortimer, they’re always so disappointing. They never capture the true me and I always end up dead. Bela Lugosi, do I look like Bela Lugosi, do I?”
“Master, you did allow Stoker to change your appearance and you did give approval on the death scene.”
“Approval? I let that drunken Irishman convince me that the book would be better received if good triumphed over evil. I hate the Irish. Never met one that was not uncouth. There was this vampire, Irish. Arrogant, rude. Never gave me the proper respect. And he had such a lovely sire, beautiful childe- a bit insane, but beautiful. Never understood their loyalty to him or to the other one. What was his name?”
“The Irish vampire?”
“No, the other one. It was a silly common name, Pole, Post, Nail…No. Spike, that’s it. Seems he liked to impale his victims with railroad spikes. Vulgar. Impaling victims was déclassé by the 16th century. He still owes me money. Oh well, with their violent and insolent behavior, I imagine they’ve been long dust.”
“You didn’t kill them?”
“Me? Spike wasn’t worthy of my time or energy.”
“The Irish one?”
Dracula narrowed his eyes at Mortimer. “Angelus…It was enough that I ran him out of London. Arrogant nobody. Born in a barn, I am sure. All brawn no brain, probably could not even read.”
“Angelus? I’ve heard of him.”
Dracula scowled. “Yes, he may have gotten a small reputation. Scourge or something or another of Europe. He had no style or class. A peasant. Reveled in the blood. I imagine the numbers of his kills were exaggerated. He was an arrogant bastard. Very disrespectful.”
“Again, you didn’t kill him?”
Dracula eyes became hooded and his voice cold. “I explained it was enough for him to go running from London. Don’t question me, Mortimer. I give you latitude, but always remember what you are.”
Mortimer bowed. The Count still had some issues with the other vampire. Mortimer had never seen that before. Was it merely that Angelus was uncouth and a disgrace or was it because Dracula couldn’t defeat him, not completely? The answer would remain unknown.
Mortimer had heard of Angelus, he also heard that Angelus had disappeared from the vampire community in the later part of the 19th century or was it the early part of 20th. Either way, the Irish vampire’s dust must’ve been scattered to the four winds; that was the only explanation for the sudden disappearance of the Scourge of Europe.
“Master, your answer to the Baroness?”
“Well, anything is better than here. We’ll go, make the arrangements.” Dracula fell back into his chair.
Angel stopped in the doorway of his suite. Cordelia was curled up sleeping in the chair by Connor’s bassinet.
How right Lorne was. Angel couldn’t deny it anymore. Angel loved her and he had absolutely nothing to offer her. Angel had started to tell Cordelia about the new direction of his feelings, but he had been interrupted by the appearance of Groo. And afterwards, he couldn’t.
His courage was gone and the hopelessness of his feelings became paramount. Cordelia had made it clear that she didn’t think of Angel has nothing but a friend. Even when she came to the conclusion that Groo was not who she loved, her attitude towards the vampire remained the same.
Well. Sort of. She had started bringing up Angelus more. Cordelia’s every word about his soulless self brought up even more of a barrier to Angel’s desire to express his feelings for the young woman. There was some part of Angel that wondered if she was doing it on purpose, reminding them both without acknowledging or saying the words that a relationship other than that of friends would be impossible between the vampire and his seer.
Angel almost wished he could believe that, because that would mean Cordelia had at least thought of the possibility, but Angel didn’t believe it. Cordelia had been so adamant that they forget everything that happened at the Ballet. She had Pfft it away as nothing.
But it had been something, not them, but still them together, kissing, feeling. Angel sighed and picked up Cordelia placing her on his bed. She stirred as he pulled her shoes off and tucked a blanket around her. “Angel?”
The young woman moved more trying to sit up. “I fell asleep.”
“He never woke up. Since when has Connor slept through the night?”
“He does that when…well when you are here with him.”
“I didn’t get my Blurslurp.”
“Then go back to sleep, I’m sure he will oblige in the morning.” Angel settled into the chair next to the bed.
“Okay,” she patted the empty side of the bed. “I won’t bite, promise.” She smiled as she closed her eyes and snuggled deeper into the bed.
Angel knew he shouldn’t but they had fallen asleep before together on his bed, granted Connor was present between them. But that had been wonderful. Angel remembered waking, relishing the heart beats and warmth of the most important humans ever in his life or undead life lying next to him.
Cordelia had just awakened mumbling something about morning breath and Angel needing a bigger bed or Connor would get smooshed the next time.
Angel had ignored everything, but the words the ‘next time’. He had started to look for a new bed soon after. But then Groo. Angel never got a bigger bed.
Cordelia stretched and looked up. “He’s awake.” She fumbled for her shoes, her hands reaching for the baby in Angel’s hands.
“I want…” Cordelia giggled as Connor made a small noise and sucked his lips at her, his tiny fingers grabbing for her hair as she cradled him to her chest. “Good morning sweetheart, my big tiny guy” she murmured against the soft down of Connor’s head. Cordelia looked up beaming at Angel. “And good morning to you, my other big guy.”
Angel’s smiled wishing her words were true.
A week later:
Angel looked up from his desk. He scooted back in his chair; he looked to the empty space behind Cordelia. If he was really quick, he could be out of the lobby in an instant.
“Don’t even think it.” Cordelia sat on the corner of the desk.
Angel moved further away, but stayed in his chair. He didn’t like her look. It was the one that foretold her asking him to do something he just didn’t want to do for her. Cordelia had the same look when she asked him to help her have sex with Groo.
He still couldn’t understand that one. Angel was very proud of the fact that he hadn’t taken her then, marking her as his and then killing Groo. For a brief moment, every demon instinct in his dead body cried for that. But he hadn’t. Angel just stammered and stumbled over his words.
He didn’t even know what he had said; the red blaze of rage and the blackness of fear so clouded his mind.
“I don’t want to.” Angel felt somewhat safe with that statement. Groo was gone, so she couldn’t be asking him about finding her sex with someone else. Could she?
“You don’t even know what I want.”
“I know that look. And I don’t want to. So just don’t ask. We’ll both be happier.”
“I don’t want to make you happy, Angelus remember? So, listen up. I won two tickets to a premiere of a new movie. I was the fifth caller with the right answer. It’s at the Commodore, that old theater they been working on for like forever near the Boulevard. Supposedly, quite swanky with old style charm. Whatever. But, the movie premier and the grand opening are at the same time. And I want you to go with me.”
Angel’s thoughts stumbled over the happy- Angelus thought and tried to concentrate on what Cordelia was asking. A movie? That wasn’t so bad.
“Really? Great. I thought you would be all growly and hard to convince.”
“I like movies.”
“True. But, you seem to have a problem with Dracula. And that’s the movie. Great, pick me up at 7:00 and wear your tux, there’s a party afterwards. It’s dress up.” She ran out of the room.
“What are the odds, Dennis?” Cordelia gnawed on her lip as she contemplated the red long gown, its price tag still firmly attached.
The formal dress Cordelia wore to the ballet floated in the air, the absence of the price tag obvious.
“That was just a fluke, a weirdness…oh, who am I kidding. Flukiness and weirdness are my life.” Cordelia slumped on the bed.
“But, Dennis, I checked out the Commodore. No history of mysterious supernatural happenings, no tormented lovers vanishing or dying. So, the odds are in my favor that there won’t be a repeat of the ballet. So, the odds are that this dress.” Cordelia held up the red strapless gown. “Can be returned tomorrow. Right? I mean, it’s a movie premiere, who can we possibly end up having to fight. Don’t answer that.” Cordelia slumped down on the bed.
Dennis floated up the new garment’s price tag. “I know. It’s even more expensive. But, Dennis, I can’t wear that one.” Pointing to the dress the ghost was still bobbing in the air. “Angel’s already seen me in it.” Cordelia scrunched up her face. “And out of it.” Mumbling to herself.
She couldn’t wear that dress. Angel in his tux looking gorgeously the same as he had at the ballet. Her looking the same. It would be like begging for something similar to happen and that wasn’t ever going to happen again. And that dress had been pretty easy to get off.
The red one might look like it, but the back was attached by tiny little buttons, it would take forever to get undone and the bodice may look like it may fall at anytime but actually it was pretty secure with a built in bra that locked the dress in place. That dress wouldn’t be doing anything that night but staying up and on.
Cordelia looked at the red dress on the bed. “I’ll risk it. I may not be able to afford food for the next year, but I’ll risk it. You gotta have hope, Dennis or what’s the point.”
The difficult decision made, Cordelia walked barefoot to the bathroom. Cordelia didn’t even pause as the phone rang for the fifth time. She turned on the faucet of the tub drowning out Angel’s voice coming through the answering machine.
She had stopped bothering to listen to his constant messages after the second one. The first had been waiting for her when she got home.
The first had been demanding, telling her that neither she nor he was going to the movie premiere. The second was still authoritative, but with an added whine for her to pick up. The rest of the messages Cordelia hadn’t bothered with.
Cordelia fluffed up the curls that framed her face with quick fingers. She glanced behind her watching the buttons of the dress close. “Thanks, Dennis.” Cordelia finished applying her lipstick.
The last message from Angel came at exactly 6:30pm. He had said- his voice firm that he wouldn’t be there to pick her up that he wasn’t going to a stupid movie about an asshole vampire. Cordelia was just going to have to deal with it.
“Necklace or no.” She said to her reflection. The lid of her jewelry box closed. “No, then.” She looked at the clock. It was 6:59 pm. “All, I can say is, Angel better just appreciate that I’m early.”
Cordelia went to the door as it knocked exactly one minute later.
“You didn’t answer your phone or call me back.” Angel strode past her.
“No reason to, you made your position clear. By the way, you look very nice. I see you got the drool off.” Angel did look nice. More than nice. Wow. Drool worthy all over again.
Angel pulled at his tux jacket and finally looked at her. His jaw dropped. Angel had thought she looked gorgeous the night of the ballet, but she hadn’t not really, this night she was glorious. His eyes grazed over her, not knowing where to stop.
The dress was a deep red, the bodice snuggly wrapped around her perfect breast. Angel could say that. He had seen them and touched and tasted them. They were perfect. The dress fell straight down hugging the swell of her hips only to flare out at the hem. Delicate bright red toes peeked out from the confines of strappy red sandals. His eyes raced back up to her face. Her hair was full, framing her beautiful face with wild curls. Angel gulped. He wanted to run his fingers through them.
“Does your silence mean you approve or disapprove?” Cordelia turned for him.
Buttons, a lot of tiny little buttons graced the back of the dress. Angel liked buttons. He had always had fun undoing them.
Fangs were good for things other than feeding. Angelus had gotten the skill down to a science. Darla had hated to have the tiny pearl buttons of her dresses replaced. He never tore them unless he wanted to. And Angel knew that like all of his other skills developed as Angelus that one remained. As did the appeal of the tiny objects, especially when they hinted at the promise of Cordelia’s hidden flesh.
His eyes reached back to her face as Cordelia completed her slow full circle.
“Well? Pretty, gorgeous, sexy, at least not a disgrace?”
Angel gulped. “Um….all of them?” Angel had to get his thoughts straight. He couldn’t have his coat draped over his groin the entire night. Then he saw Cordelia move again. He wished she would stop doing that.
Cordelia clutched at the shawl Dennis gently draped over her bare shoulders. “Thanks, Dennis.” She brightly smiled to Angel. “Ready?” Reaching to crook her arm with his, completely oblivious to Angel’s awkward step in her direction.
Cordelia pulled Angel away from the direction of his car. “There.” She pointed to a black limousine.
“My car is over there.”
“Yes and it will be fine there. The radio station called- ticket winners get a limo to take them to the theater and VIP entertainment. I answered that call.” Cordelia smiled and laughed. “Come on, Angel. No driving. Just sitting back and relaxing. It will be fun. It has a sunroof and a bar. I asked for details.” Cordelia pulled the vampire to the stretched out car.
Angel looked back at his convertible. He hated just leaving it. But nothing had ever happened to it yet when left outside Cordelia’s apartment. He glanced at his seer. Angel thought or rather hoped it had been just the dress, but it wasn’t.
And he knew that- in sweats, dirty covered with slime, laughing, crying, mainly just by being, Cordelia was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his 250 years. It was her, her spirit. It pushed her beyond the label of just being beautiful; it made it almost painful to look at her. Lorne had been right. Cordelia had become the most extraordinary woman.
Champion, she may be, but she was also so damn human, so full of life.
Angel sighed and nodded, leading her to the long black car that she had pointed too. He had already given in. Hell. Angel had given in as he yelled for her and left those messages. Angel had called and told her that he wasn’t coming, but that first call had been made from the dry cleaners where he picked up his tuxedo. Angel had called from Caritas as he begged Lorne to watch Connor for the night.
He had called again, while Fred and Gunn waited patiently as he finished telling them again when Lorne would be over and Connor’s night schedule. Angel called one more time as he waited outside Cordelia’s apartment until 7:00 pm.
Angel had known that he would go as soon as Cordelia had left the hotel, but he had to keep trying. It was the principle of the thing. Angel wasn’t sure what principle, but it sounded good. All Angel really knew was that he couldn’t let Cordelia go alone or with someone else or have her sit waiting for him.
So, when she didn’t answer any of his calls, Angel went- like he knew he would from the beginning, but he had tried, sort of.
It could’ve worked.