Title: Underneath the Drowning Water (Book 2)
Rating: R, for now, going into NC-17 eventually
Summary: Fighting her way back to sanity after Angelus’ attentions the previous spring, Cordelia now has to deal with his return from hell. AU of BtVS s3.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: Part of my Persephone series of fics, this is part 3 of Book 2. The previous four ficlets that make up Book 1 have been organized under a tag and stored in my memories. These are under the same tags. My grateful thanks to DamnSkippy for being an amazing and patient beta.
The boy weighs her down across the lowered passenger seat, but Cordelia can only feel how much he’s sweating, sweating while he gnaws on her neck like a newborn that hasn’t learned how to latch.
She flinches when his teeth scrape across her bite and pushes against his shoulders.
“This is a mistake,” she tells him when he finally raises his head, blonde hair twisted from her fingers. He blinks and then huffs in confusion.
“Mistake?” he parrots, still lost in a lustful haze. “You called me, remember?”
She narrows her eyes at the challenge in his voice.
“Yeah, and it was a mistake.”
She pushes him until he settles back into the driver’s side, sitting up and adjusting her seat. There are whisker burns along her jaw, and he’s got lipstick across his bottom lip.
He watches her with resentful eyes, and she knows he’s contemplating pushing things but her stint in the crazy house has carved new scars into her reputation, and he backs down, climbing over the stick shift as she gets out of the car and rounds the hood.
He doesn’t say anything when she gets in the driver’s side. Or when she starts the car and heads back to Sunnydale proper.
She doesn’t say anything either, just drives, the moon hanging over her car like the Sword of Damocles, lighting the twisting road ahead of her with moonbeams and shadows.
The night is silver and blue, shot with black.
Like her skin.
Like her mind.
It’s later and the moon is closer to the stars than the earth.
Cordelia sits on the low branch of a tree outside Angel’s mansion, watching through the windows as he sleeps, chained to the floor next to the fireplace like a bad dog.
He flinches periodically and she wonders what he’s dreaming about.
The bruises on his skin are purple and yellow, along his shoulders and arms, down his back.
Buffy did that, holding him down to chain him.
She wishes that she had been the one painting his skin with such pretty colors, leaving her pain on him like a mark.
Like her mark.
The breeze picks up, blowing her hair across her face but she doesn’t notice. She can’t take her eyes off of him.
If she does then he’ll wake up and he’ll break his chains and he’ll come looking for her.
He’ll bleed her; smear his blood across her mouth so they could share the taste.
She leans her cheek against the rough bark and keeps her eyes steady on him as the wind blows gently around her.
She remembers a visit to a zoo when she was ten. Daddy trying to make up for not being home five days a week by taking her out on Saturday afternoons. She ate the cotton candy he bought her and they had fun watching the animals.
Most of them were entertaining, and looked happy enough performing for the people.
Except the lion.
It sat in its natural habitat and watched her as she walked by, big body still and eyes barely blinking. When she passed directly in front of it, its nostrils flared.
Now the lion turns into a monster, and its eyes open as it climbs to its feet, stalking as she watches, approaching the window while its nostrils flare.
The wind makes the tree limbs groan as they sway and she opens her eyes, not sure if she’d been asleep or not.
And then she looks at the window and sees Angel stirring and rising to his feet like a marionette on a string, boneless and graceless. She watches with horror ripping a chasm inside of her body as he lifts his head blindly, nostrils flaring to catch her scent as thought he could sense it through the stones and mortar of the mansion.
She’s paralyzed, unable to move and in another second the monster will see her and she won’t be able to hide. He’ll see her and then he’ll eat her and she won’t be able to stop it and the thought fills her with such terror that she jumps straight down from the tree branch and lands hard onto the ground, her knees giving way.
She trips and falls and has to scramble to her feet, pushing up dirt and leaves as she rushes away, running across the empty, unkempt lawn as the indifferent moon looks on.
It comes as no surprise to her that she dreams about him after that. She’s resigned to it, feeling the pull and draw of his presence even in the black depths of her pill-laced sleep.
She gives up wrestling him and her own mind, allowing herself to be pulled down into the depths only he could sink to. It was always like that when she stopped fighting anyway, and it feels good to let go, to allow him to take her over.
It’s just a dream anyway.
the devil snuffles, looking away
School is hard, avoiding the Scoobies harder. Giles stalks her through the halls and her classes, sending messages and summons that she ignores.
Xander’s sneaking looks skid across the surface of her skin, looking for proof of Angel’s return, and Willow just looks like she wants to wave her hands and make it all go away.
Buffy, at least, ignores Cordelia as much as she can.
And then she bleeds.
Her period comes and Cordelia spends the day cramping and waiting for the end of school so she can go home and huddle in her bed.
Her period has been sporadic at best for six months, and she hasn’t missed it.
It had been his favorite time.
Faaaavorite, the devil hisses eagerly, licking his cracked lips.
At home she stays in her room and tells her mother through the door that she’s not hungry, just tired.
One more lie in a pile of them, but her mother accepts it and goes away, and Cordy is alone.
Afternoon turns to evening and the housekeeper puts a dinner tray in front of her door.
When evening turns to night, she takes the untouched food away again, shaking her head.
Cordelia huddles in her bed, knees to her chest, the blood flowing like a river. She’s using both pads and tampons, changing them every hour. But it hasn’t stopped the flow in the slightest and she begins to feel lightheaded.
Her face is a pale moon in the dark of her room, reflecting like a ghost in her mirror.
She grits her teeth to keep from crying, the cramps radiating to the small of her back and throbbing there like a drumbeat.
There’s a pull in the drumbeat that reverberates in her head, and when she tries to sleep it becomes insistent. Like footsteps through a forest and the moonless sky above her head, and tiny vermin in the foliage, beady eyes staring.
She doesn’t feel the cold or the rocks or the warnings her mind is screaming but she feels a tether tugging, like her heartbeat tugging at her veins, driving every breath.
Like him tugging at her guts, pulling her along, and when she opens her eyes, the night is thick and dark but she can see the stacked stones of his mansion through the dry brush.
And she’s there, bleeding onto the ground, rivulets of black mixing with the dirt.