Title: 39, 23, 59
Summary: And he thought he knew eternity.
Spoilers: BtVS 2
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: AO, FSB, the places of Lea and Cal.
Notes: Impress, so very sorry this took so long, but I lost the disk it was on. I hope this makes up for the ridiculously long wait. Hope it doesn’t disappoint. It also might a week or two before an update, what with DoA and Christmassy stuff to do. Hugs and Snogs, S xxxx
Feedback: Like the cherry on top
It wasn’t often Spike found himself facing a tied up filly he had no intention of killing or hurting in any way.
It wasn’t often Spike found himself on a time limit.
It wasn’t often Spike found himself willing to pay said filly if she’d comply with his demands.
It wasn’t often Spike found himself writing out plans and taking notes.
“Stop bubbling will you, there’s a good girl.”
It wasn’t often Spike found himself comforting the filly he had tied up.
Well, excuse her if she found the situation called for it. Not like she could run away screaming, was it?
He rolled his eyes. Out of all the singletons of Sunnydale, he just had to choose this one. Like he didn’t have enough on his hands that he had to torture himself by picking the one woman in the land that had the tongue of a serpent. Saying that, his grandsire deserved no less. Especially since last year’s stupid plot to suck the world into hell.
Spike was sure he wasn’t the only happy camper that it didn’t work. He snorted. Like a statue was gonna come to life and swallow the Earth. There was more chance of a Martian invasion then there was of that happening. And idiot that Angelus was, had to go and try it.
Spike wondered what was next. Angelus hunting for Atlantis? He shook his head. He wouldn’t put it past his grandsire. He could actually see Angelus decked out in a pair of hiking boots, a Gortex anorak, and a pair of gators, ready to take on Everest, or wherever Atlantis was. Maybe if he was really lucky, his grandsire would wear a beanie.
He shook his head again. There were more important things than Angelus, and that was getting the tasty bit in front of him to agree to his plan. Not that she’d have much choice, of course. If she didn’t, he’d kill her. End of story.
Looking at her now, she seemed a tad stressed, and when he was stressed, he smoked.
“Want some?” Spike held out his cigarette.
She stared at him like he was nuts.
“Guess not. Listen.”
Pretty eyes rolled.
Oh yeah. The gag. “Not like you can do much else. Anyhow,” he took a drag. “You and me? We got business to discuss.”
Pretty eyes blinked. Business? What he could he need with her? Unless he wanted a barrister, in which case he’d have to go elsewhere. Her father didn’t specialise in vampirism.
“You an me have someone in common.”
Oh please. If this was about Buffy, she’d kill herself.
“See, Angelus and me.”
Oh God. Why couldn’t this have been about Buffy?
“We got a bet on.” He took another drag and yet again offered her some. When she glared, he shrugged. “If you’re sure. I stand to win.”
Win what? The award for being the most irritatingly evil schnoz the world’s ever known?
“It ain’t about the money, ya know. More important than that. Picture this.”
Oh dear God. He was gonna go down memory lane. Help her. Somebody, anybody, help her. Maybe she’d get lucky and he’d bore her to death.
“Me, three hundred years from now.”
Oh no. It was worse than she thought. It wasn’t memory lane he was going down. It was his future plans. If he said anything about two point four kids and a white picket fence, she was gonna cannibalise her own intestines and eat herself to death.
“Hearing his whiny voice you lost, you lost, ha ha, you lost.”
He had her there. Three hundred of years of listening to that would drive her over the brink. She sympathised and would have said so if she wasn’t gagged. She nodded instead. Poor Spike.
“Bad enough hearing his voice 30 minutes a day, let alone 300 years of it. This is where you come in.”
He must be mistaken. She didn’t come in anywhere.
“This bet. Involves a woman.”
Yeah well, she was not that woman.
“Not just any woman mind you, but a woman like you.” He took another drag, taking a second to savour the smoke before putting it out with his boot. “You know the sort.”
The sort? What kind of chauvinist was he?
“Legs up to here,” his hands waved around his neck. “Body like this,” his hands made an hourglass shape. “And bloody good tits. Drive a man mad, they would.”
What she wouldn’t give to yell at him. How dare he say she had good tits? That was so… so… Male. Urgh. Even vampires were men it seemed.
“Bet you’d give a right old tit wank.”
Oh God! Just who did he think he was?
“My Dru does. Not as hefty, mind you, but by heck. She doesn’t half know how to please her bloke.”
Forget the self cannibalising. The love struck expression was enough to make her choke on her own vomit.
“You an her would get on great.”
She could see the Christmas presents now. Dru would get a gift voucher for a year’s worth of therapy and she’d get an arm in a box. The seasonal joy was already getting to her. She could hardly wait.
“You two could have tea parties and the like.”
What did he think they were gonna do? Throw slumber parties where pillow fights would lead to female experimentation? God, perversion really didn’t discriminate between dead and alive.
What was worse? Him thinking of female bonding, or the reason why he had her tied up and gagged?
“Angelus an me have a bet. He’s a bit active, shall we say. Got a lot of time to make up for.”
Now she was confused.
“Poor git’s had a soul half his existence. Like a leash, it is.”
The soul was more of a blessing where she was concerned.
“He fed off rats.”
She was not going to feel sorry for Angelus. He deserved getting cursed.
“Course that won’t make a difference to you. What with being a strong woman and all that.”
Flattery would get him nowhere.
“He wasn’t himself. Bogged down with all that guilt, trying to save all them people. Falling in love with a slayer.” Spike grimaced.
She agreed. How anyone could fall in love with a girl who wanted what she couldn’t have was sickening. She’d seen Buffy have a chance with human men and ruin it because they were too normal, she’d seen Buffy have a chance and ruin it with a man who was not normal enough. It was pathetic, really.
“Let’s just say he was sick. Not himself. We’ll both be happier if we think that way.”
She’d be happier if she wasn’t tied up and gagged.
“Since he lost that soul, he’s been sleeping his way through the demon world. Trying to prove he’s back and badder than before. You know, trying to prove a point and all that.”
Oh lovely. Way to get attention, Angel.
“I had a bit of business last week.”
Was this the same business he wanted from her? Cus if so, then he could go to hell.
“And Angelus brings this bird home. Quite a meal, she was. He didn’t share of course. Kiss n tell is more his style. Then if I had a bint like her, I’d kiss n tell, too. Anyways. There I was, trying to conduct my business all professional like, when he became God, quite loudly if I remember rightly. It ruined the moment. You can imagine, I’m sure.”
Only too well.
“This brings me to you. The bet is he can’t go forty days without a shag. He says he can, I say not.”
How, exactly, did this bring him to her?
“If I know my old sire, he’ll go the nine yards just to prove me wrong. I can’t be having that over my head. Here’s where you come in. You got the looks, the bod, and I’ve already said, the tits.”
The outrage was back in full force.
“All we need to do is polish you up some, get you out of the high school cheerleader clothes and into something decent. Putting you on his radar ain’t gonna be hard at all. Not with those pins of yours.”
She’d give anything to choke him to death. Pins? Pins? God. She wanted to scream for all the females on the damn planet. Pins? Just how rude could one vampire be? She’d also give anything to have the ability to tug her skirt down.
The way he was looking at her was really giving her the creeps. His eyes kept going from toe to waist and back down again, lingering where thigh met pelvis. Urgh. What a perv. Anyway, what was all this we stuff? Last she heard, he was the one with the bet.
“As I was saying. Get you in a skimpy piece of yum, put you in a place where he’s gonna notice, and I win. Sound like a plan? Does to me.”
Why couldn’t he be the one in a skimpy piece of yum and why couldn’t he be put in a place where Angelus was gonna notice?
“And if you don’t go along with it, I’ll kill your family and make you watch.”
Didn’t that put a whole new spin on things?
“Now. I’m going to be a good little lad and take that gag off. When I do, you’re going to say yes. Understood?”
She nodded. Didn’t have much choice really.
Spike got off the rickety old chair he was on and removed her gag, patting her on the back while she coughed.
“There, there pet. I got something here to help with dry throats.”
She watched as he slipped out a silver flask and wiggled it in front of her face. She couldn’t smell the liquid inside, but she heard it sloshing around. It could be anything from absinthe to vodka. No matter what it was, she was so not drinking it.
“Hmm. We have to do something about your girl scout attitude.” His head tilted to one side. “Or maybe not. Tell you what. You let me handle the details and you just show up on time, eh?”
Yeah. She didn’t think so.
He must have read her mind. “Remember that thing where I’ll kill your family and make you watch? That’s no joke, pet. Angelus may be the original big bad, but I’ve learned a trick or two. Don’t you forget that. Had a kink on for railroad spikes, I did. Nice little toys. How I got my name.”
Spike blinked down at her. “You look a bit green around the gills. This’ll help with that.”
She opened her mouth, fully ready to let him have it when liquid started trickling down her throat. It burned. It really, really burned. Her eyes filled with tears and her head went to one side as she coughed up the disgusting whatever.
God, her throat was actually numb. “What the hell…?” She glared up at the vampire questioningly.
He beamed, pleased he had her approval. “My own recipe. Bit of Willie’s home brew whiskey, spot of brandy, and a smidgen of battery acid.”
“Good, ain’t it? Keeps me warm an cosy on a cold winters’ night I can tell you that much.”
“Now,” Spike took a drink of his own and she watched in amazement when his eyes rolled back in sheer delight.
“Do we have a deal?”
Cordelia could barely talk around the sizzling sensation of melting skin and tissue in her throat, but she just about managed it. “Do I have a choice?”
Spike grinned. “That’s the beauty of it, pet. Neither of you do.”
Day 40, the game begins…
She felt like a whore.
Black lace covered her from ankle to toe, with a slice of bare skin here and there.
She stared, dumbfounded, into the huge full length mirror at the dress adorning her body. Lace was the main course with black patent leather going from the bust to three inches below her ass, the straps belonged on a bra, and there was a slit which flashed part of her left thigh. It clung to every curve in a way that made her look like an hour glass with hands and eyes.
Then there was her make-up, which Spike had personally done.
She didn’t know what surprised her more. The fact he could apply mascara without her flinching or the fact he was an expert with a blending brush. A natural beige covered her entire eyelid while a metallic charcoal followed her eyebrow arch, and a smoky grey was on the lower part of her lid.
A light gold bronze had been dusted over the apples of her cheeks, tip of her chin, and middle of her forehead, while her lips shone like a freaking diamond. What scared her more than who applied was the way he’d applied it. He’d spent half an hour on the eyeliner alone, getting it just so he said, and then he’d gone on to spend another half hour on the eye shadow.
Her hair had almost gotten her killed. He’d wanted to add a blonde strand here and there. To add warmth, he explained as though he was Nicky Clark, but no. Blonde would be in her hair when Satan bought ice skates.
So, a compromise had rose.
Her beautiful, beautiful chestnut hair, her crowning glory. The same hair she’d been photographed for Sunnydale University fashion column was now highlighted with the odd strand of honey. He hadn’t used a store brand. He’d actually gone to a hair and beauty wholesalers for the proper stuff, including an intensive conditioner for her to use forty eight hours from now.
The fact she liked the few caramel strands scared the bejesus out of her. Creepy wasn’t in it.
The honey pieces really brought out her eyes, or so he claimed.
She felt like a whore.
“Come on then, ducks. Let’s have a butchers.”
Cordelia’s framed eyes rolled and hands made a choking motion. If only she was Buffy, then she could really hurt him. Speaking of the devil. How had the all important, all intuitive slayer not noticed anything was wrong with her today?
For heaven’s sake, she’d shaken her head when she said yes, she was fine, and had badgered Giles. Of course, they’d all been too busy to deal with her problems. Probably thought her problems revolved around a broken nail or split end.
Broken nail and split ends? Please. Who did they think she was? Willow?
She heard an irritated sigh. “I haven’t got all day.”
Funny. He just had an eternity.
Well, here went nothing.
Cordelia tucked her hair behind her ear, poked her tongue out at her reflection, and then eased out from behind the curtain. Silence greeted her and she wondered what was wrong. She checked everything. Wrinkles in the dress, a pinkie finger checked for mascara under her lashes, and tongue searched for something between her teeth.
There were no wrinkles, no mascara, and no stray bits of food. So what was wrong?
“C’mere, pet. Gimme a twirl.” He smirked through a cloud of scented smoke. “For good luck, of course.”
She did as told and twirled.
Hands clapped slowly, as slow as his eyes wandered over her. She wanted to take her dress off and strangle him with it. What a perv.
“Now that’s temptation if I ever saw it. My old sire’s going to have a rough night.” He inhaled, there was a pause, and he exhaled. “Having a hard time myself.”
Her shock and rosy cheeks went ignored as he nodded in approval. “You’ll do,” he commented after a moment of blessed silence. “You’ll definitely do.”
Spike had to admit he’d outdone himself on this one, and mentally thanked all the times he’d played Barbie dolls with Dru. The cheerleader didn’t half look good and it was all down to little old him.
Long legs were left bare just in case his plan worked and there was touching. Stockings had been considered, but since Angelus seemed to be going through a skin-on-skin fetish, the stockings idea had been postponed to a later date. Her long hair had been tweaked so those doe eyes of hers weren’t overpowered by dark brown.
Plus, the strong mix of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide would help drown out his scent.
After a lengthy debate, the decision had been made to leave it down so the natural waves could work their natural magic. The dress hadn’t cost much. Not a penny, as a matter of fact. Pretty cheap considering how deliciously helpful the sales girl had been. Well, delicious anyway.
All in all, the chit cleaned up nice.
Gee, thanks. Cordelia stood under the weight of his admiration, her patience waning with every passing second. So what if her family’s life expectancy was on the line. There was only so much she would put up with and waiting around for his say so was more than she could take.
“Hi there,” she waved a hand in front of his face. “Remember me? Cordelia Chase? The girl you’re blackmailing?”
She got his attention. Great. “Before you say anything, yes I know the giant black cloud over my head could open up, but can we please get this over with?” She wanted to go home, shower, shower, and shower again, then forget this ever happened.
Unfortunately, no such luck existed.
Blue eyes snapped up from the general direction of her buttocks and met hazel irises, and she didn’t like the gleam. It wasn’t a nice gleam and made her decidedly uncomfortable. She shuffled on her feet and skin prickled as a strange chill went down her spine.
She really didn’t like that gleam, and eyes subconsciously went to the door just behind him.
“You’d be dead before you moved an inch.”
Her brain waved bye-bye to the escape route.
“Glad we got that sorted. Let’s get down to it shall we?” Spike flicked the cigarette butt away, blowing out the last of the smoke in an unnecessary breath.
Cordelia couldn’t wait.
“Angelus will be sprawled in a corner, no doubt with his arm around a sweet piece or two and teasing me with a quick win.” He didn’t tell her what else Angelus maybe doing with said sweet pieces. “He’ll be bored out of his tiny mind. There’s only so much girl talk a man can handle before he blows a fuse.”
“Why didn’t you get one of those sweet pieces instead of me?”
He stared at her like she was an idiot. “Have you ever heard a pair of tits talk?”
“I’m listening to one right now.” Though the retort was mumbled, he heard perfectly.
Spike smirked. “Just answered your own question.”
She glared as much as she dared. “Look, I don’t know what you want from me. You say it’s to win a bet, but come on. All this trouble so you don’t have to hear him gloating?” She shook her head. “It doesn’t wash. What do you get out of it?”
“Nothing.” Except the fun of watching the high and mighty fall. When she didn’t believe him, “Honestly.”
“You’d sound more sincere minus the smirking and cackling.”
“Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“You’re already dead.”
“And you’re observant. Look,” another cigarette was removed from the packet. She was annoying him? Good. Shoe was on the other foot. “Angelus ain’t my favourite person and I’ll stake my life on the fact he ain’t yours, either. You play by the rules and we’ll both have a barrel of laughs at his expense.”
Then there was the added bonus of watching his grandsire suffer. Being around a hot bitch like her and not being able to a damn thing about it has to be hell. No better place for his old sire if you asked him.
“No doubt he’ll be expecting you to make a scene.” Off her look, “You know, the white hat routine.”
She was still confused. White hat routine? Spike sighed in irritation, struck a feminine pose, and raised his voice to a poor imitation of a woman’s. “You hurt anyone in here and I’ll get Buffy to beat you to death with your own arms.” His voice went back to it’s original level. “So you walk past and ignore him.”
Cordelia’s face remained blank as she listened to her instructions. That was it? Walk past Angelus and ignore him? “And you think that what? I look so hot, he’ll come running over to ravish me?”
Good point. Spike considered the options for a second. “Flash him one of them toothy smiles of yours.”
Okay. She was supposed to walk past Angelus, ignore him for a short while, smile at him, and then ignore him some more? “You’re pretty down with the light flirting. Why don’t you dress up and do it? He always did come across as sexually ambiguous.”
She wasn’t expecting the chuckle. “Oh pet, if only you knew.”
She winced. “That was just way too much information.”
An arched eyebrow was the response. “Don’t matter where you get it, as long as you get it.”
“Again with the too much information. Can we not talk about this, please? It’s giving me the creeps.” He was giving her the creeps. In fact, the last few hours was giving her the creeps. She shuddered.
“Let’s see it, then.”
Ah. The confusion was back. “See what?”
Cordelia twitched one corner of her lips. Trying to smile when there was nothing to smile about was a lot harder than she thought.
Spike’s blue eyes rolled. “No. A smile. Like this.” Pearly white fangs flashed as his lips parted into an ear-to-ear grin.
She just knew she was in for a lifetime’s worth of nightmares. How scary could one vampire be? His smile fell back into his natural smirk and he waited impatiently for all of two seconds. “Well?”
She copied him. Spreading her lips as wide as they would go, and held it until told to do otherwise. Face ache, prepare to meet Cordelia Chase.
He shook his head. “No. A plastic smile won’t work. It’ll only antagonise him. Again. I want a nice smile. A smile that makes me all warm and cosy.”
A smile that made him all warm and cosy? Fine, fine. Cordelia took a deep breath and thought happy thoughts. She thought about Keanu proposing, she thought about a giant wedding that would make front cover of Vanity Fair, she thought about the litter of baby Keanu’s that would surely follow. Maybe three, no four.
A boy first. Keiran Reeve? Hm. Definitely had a ring to it. Then twin girls. Gabriella and Elizabeth, then another boy, Tristan. They would live in Hollywood Hills, with vacation homes in Monte Carlo and Dubai, and perhaps a little honeymoon place in the mountains.
All horrible, horrible thoughts of Angelus and Spike and their stupid bet were banished.
“Smile and a half, that is.” He wondered what she was thinking about. Probably driving a stake right through his pretty little heart. It’d be fun watching her try. “You turn that on my old sire and he’ll be melting into his deceptively large boots.”
Didn’t that just bring her down to Earth with a crash and bang? Cordelia resisted the urge to growl at him. Instead of doing something that may result in her untimely death, she bottled up the growing anger and forced that smile and a half to stay put.
“Now, run by me what exactly you’re going to do. Finalising the details and all that.”
“I go in, spot Angel…”
“Wouldn’t call him that, pet. Not if you want your throat intact.”
“I go in, spot Angelus, walk past while ignoring him. I wait a few minutes and smile, then go back to ignoring him.”
Spike grinned. “Excellent.”
Cordelia didn’t like this one iota. “Won’t this seem too rehearsed? Won’t he see straight through this? I mean, if he’s expecting a scene and gets a smile instead, won’t he click onto the fact it’s a set-up?”
“Don’t overestimate his intelligence. He did bunker down with a slayer.”
She had to smile at that. “If I die, I’ll kill you.”
“I’m shaking, pet. Let’s away, shall we? Don’t want to keep him waiting.”
The place wasn’t what she expected at all. Instead of rockish Goth music, there was a nice piano instrumental that provided the right amount of ambient background music. Just enough to fill pauses in conversation, yet quiet enough for people to hear each other. It was strangely relaxing.
The decor was just as lovely, with comfortable chairs that could swallow a person and tables that were large enough to give decent elbow room. It was nice and clean, no spill stains on the wood or cigarette butts crushed into the floor. There also appeared to be a dress code or something as every person in there seemed to be wearing their Sunday best.
Or maybe they were just strict on who they let in. Either way, Cordelia decided, it was certainly her kind of place.
She stood just inside the double doors, staring around at the huge room, taking note of every little detail. Right from the attractive wall lights that gave off soft hues down to the bits and pieces that gave the place atmosphere. There were paintings, decorative mirrors, the odd display cabinet filled with ornaments.
Oh yeah. She could see herself fitting in quite nicely here.
She was only about halfway when she started noticing other things. It wasn’t the fact people were staring at her, it was how they were staring at her. It wasn’t obvious staring, it was more like sly sideways glances that roamed over her figure. It was the fact every person seemed to have a wine glass filled with red wine. There were other things, too. Like the heavy drapes that hovered above large windows, and the making out going on in every corner.
Her stomach began to churn and her flesh was crawling with a realisation she did not want to make.
Spike had sent her to a vampire club, and the place was choc full of them. Family or no, she had to get out of here pronto.
Cordelia tried to keep her cool as she spun on her heel, wholly intent on making a mad dash before any of them decided she’d make a nice entree. She got as far as the bouncers when a cloud of smoke whirled around her face, making her cough and splutter as she came screeching to a halt.
Blue eyes pinned her in place while a smirk irked her endlessly. Asshole.
“Something wrong?” Like he cared.
Was there something wrong? Was there anything right? “No,” she swallowed, not liking at all how he was eyeing her. “No problem.”
He nodded. “For a minute there, I thought you were making a run for it.”
“No, I was just…” Doing that very thing. “Getting some air. You know, prepare myself for a barrel of laughs at Angel’s expense.”
The smile he gave her did little to comfort. “That’s my good girl. Be a shame if you were about to run. You’ve made a bit of an impression.” Spike gestured over her shoulder to the double doors.
She glanced behind her to see a small gathering of vampires, both male and female, watching her with more than simple interest. How flattering. “Great,” Cordelia muttered as she looked away. “Cordelia Chase, the flavour of the vampire week.” How lucky was she?
“Go on then. Your public awaits.”
Sure it did, and so did her own grave. She took a deep breath, gave Spike a similar smile to his, nodded once and went with all the dignity befitting a Chase back into the club, all the while pretending not to notice the hungry gawking coming her way. She guessed it was time to go find Angelus, ignore him, then smile, and ignore.
Find, ignore, smile, and ignore. What exactly Spike thought he was going to accomplish with those particular instructions she didn’t know, but whatever. Wasn’t like she could make a quick retreat now, especially not with him watching her every move.
Oh well. Here went less than nothing.
Hazel eyes turned to a hawk’s gaze and she swept what part of the room she could see, but there was no Angelus. There were only people, or vampires rather, who kept inching closer to her. Cordelia tried to keep the panic to a minimum and her paces at a casual speed, her head held high and she treated the occasional dead person to a swift nod.
God, they must think she had a death wish.
It was strange because here she was, right in the middle of a bunch of demons who’d have her for dinner, and she was feeling fine. The numbness was probably to thank for that, but hey. Numbness was better than screaming help me, help me, for the love of God help me, for which she’d either get laughed at or she’d get eaten.
She decided it was a tough choice and so split the money between them. Maybe she’d get lucky and they’d laugh themselves so silly, the fangs were rendered useless. Yeah, and there was a golden pig taking off from LAX every twenty minutes.
Cordelia shook her head. Now was not the time for a nervous breakdown. She had light flirting to do. Oh, she really hoped her parents knew what she was going through to keep them breathing.
Oh God. There he was.
Her target for the night, and he was doing exactly what Spike said he would be doing. Sprawled out in a corner love seat, with one arm lazily draped over the shoulder of a gorgeous leggy blonde, while his other arm was being warmed up by a gorgeous leggy red head.
She snorted in sheer disgust. She could see the dye from here. Oops. A hand went up to her own, newly highlighted hair. She couldn’t say that no more, even if all she had were four or five well placed streaks. At least her hair wasn’t dog butt dry and at least her legs were normal length, not looking like an airbrushed commercial for support hose.
Cordelia looked away. She couldn’t stand to see it any more. So what if he was dead. Did that mean a lower standard and less taste? Spike’s words about slayers and Angelus came to her, and she smiled. Her gaze once more drifted round the room to land on the bar. Since she was here, she may as well grab herself a drink.
Hell knew she needed it. She just hoped she could get served. Not that they had any reason to turn her down, of course, not when the main clientele were sans pulse.
She shot a look over her shoulder at Angelus to make sure he was still there, thankfully he was. It was like watching a spider. She hated the sight of them, but always had to know where they were. If she couldn’t see, then the little bugs could be anywhere. Inside shoes, clothes, crawling up your trouser leg, skittering down your sock…
Yick. She shuddered in a way that had her hair tickling her neck, so she brushed the strands away, taking a second to admire the tiny caramel tint. It really did look nice. Huh. If Spike ever decided to give up his wicked, wicked ways, he could always pick up a curling iron and he’d be set for life.
Although, the idea of finding him working part time in her favourite salon was enough to give her nightmares, so she pushed those nasty thoughts far away. Right. Drink.
How weird was it to have vampires part to let her past? Cordelia didn’t dare question it and kept up a slow saunter, purposely putting on a regal and confident act. Not a problem for a star actress in the making. She ignored the thousand eyes on her as she ordered her poison.
“A glass of the house white, please.” Her first words came out a little more shaky than she would have liked, but what else could be expected? Determined to make up for it, “And don’t water it down.”
The bartender gave her a look that made her feel guilty for saying that. Watered down wine in this place? There was obviously more chance of an alien invasion. He didn’t say anything. “Excellent choice, madam, and will there be anything else?”
“No, thank you. I, ah,” she really couldn’t be doing this. “I apologise for the water comment, I’ve just never been here before.”
“Quite understandable. Humans do not tend to frequent here without invitation or choice. It comes as a bit of a surprise, but no less welcome.”
A polite vampire? What were the odds? “I’m not here by choice, either.” Off his look, “But thank you for making me feel welcome.” He was still looking at her in a way that silently asked for an explanation.
Quick Cordy, think of something. Anything.
A broken car was lame and wouldn’t explain her dress. She went with the next best thing. “My date left me in the middle of nowhere, and most places keep the facilities for paying customers only.” That was pretty damn good if she did say so herself.
“Then it is the telephone you wish to use. That will be seven…”
“I’ll get the lady her drink.”
Cordelia sucked in a breath and froze. God. Angelus was right behind her. She could feel him looking her over, taking in her outfit and no doubt thinking she looked like a whore. The insane part of her wondered how much he was going to offer her for a night of passion, while the sane part of her wanted to ask for a vat of acidic holy water to dump over his head.
“Cordelia.” Her name was drawn out, his tone full of amusement. “This is a surprise.” He glanced at the bartender once and she watched said bartender walk away, hopefully to fetch her drink.
There was a pause that told her he was yet again looking her over. “A nice one, I must admit. Like the outfit.” She felt him lean closer. “It’s very you. New, am I right?”
This wasn’t in her job description. Spike never said anything about having to make conversation with Angelus. She never replied. Mainly because her vocal chords seemed to be in that Monte Carlo house. Damn them, and damn her brain for going on the fritz when she needed it most.
He chuckled. “You know, ignoring me won’t make me go away.”
Now wasn’t that just a challenge waiting to happen?
Her fate was sealed the second she turned to face him. Cordelia shrugged with a nonchalance she certainly didn’t feel. “If you can’t say something nice… Well, you know the rest.”
Vampires close enough to hear immediately stopped what they were doing and stared at her like she’d sprouted a third head. Of course, they went back to minding their own business after a sharp glare from Angelus, something she was glad for. Anymore staring and paranoia would set in.
He walked round her to relax against the bar, stretching his arms across the brass pole, and sighing deeply. “Of all the bars in the world, you had to walk into mine. Must be my lucky day.”
Yeah well, don’t count your chickens. “Why is that?”
She got a grin and a quick glimpse of pearly whites. “It’s not every day a guy gets to talk to a pretty lady.”
“You seem to be doing alright.” Angelus followed her line of sight to where he’d been sitting with Darlene and Stacey. Stacey had been alright, but Darlene left a bitter taste in his mouth. Drugs probably, cocaine or smack. Having not been to his liking, he’d given the red head to Carmine, who didn’t mind dabbling. “Watching me were you? Didn’t think voyeurism was your style.”
“It’s not. I was merely wondering who to pity. You, or them.”
“Then what is your style?”
Cordelia received her wine graciously. “Self preservation.”
He appeared to read a deeper meaning into that and nodded. “I like your style.” His eyes narrowed as he took a closer, more intense look at her.
Now paranoia really was setting in. “What?”
“There’s something different about you. I can’t put my finger on it just yet.” Angelus focused completely on the brunette, carefully running his gaze from the tip of her head to the bottom of her chin, taking in every little detail. She jumped when he snapped his fingers in victory. “Your hair.”
“What about it?”
“Pretty, but I preferred it without the honey. You’ll change it back.”
“You’ll get rid of the highlights.”
Surely he couldn’t seriously be telling her how to have her hair? He was. He was being deadly serious. Where the hell did he get off telling her what to do with her hair? It was hers. She could have it however way she liked it. If he wanted to have chestnut hair, then he could dye his own. She was in half a mind to go all-out honey, just to tick him off.
“No, I won’t. I like them.” It hurt admitting that.
Contrary to his smile, “You misunderstand, Cordelia. It was a suggestion, nothing more.”
Didn’t sound like it, but she wasn’t gonna argue. Not when she was clearly outnumbered. That thought made her laugh. Without the club, she’d still be outnumbered. Not very comforting at all.
“Well?” Angelus tilted his head to her glass.
Honestly? “It’s delicious. Thank you.” There was no bitterness like a lot of wines had, and it left her mouth feeling nicely tingly. Refreshing was the word.
“My pleasure.” He relaxed further against the bar, glancing here and there as though he were a king checking on his royal subjects. “Care to tell me what you’re doing here? It is a little out of your way. Unless you often wander into these clubs.”
“Not especially.” Cordelia took a sip, and then another. “Bad date.”
“Left you stranded?” Angelus surmised. “What did you do… Or is it a case of what you didn’t do?”
He was handing the answers to her on a plate. Go him. “Something like that.”
He looked so dismayed in his fellow man. “I can’t think of anything more shocking. Me? I’d never leave a woman stranded.”
“No, you just eat them.”
“In more ways than one.”
“That was just crude.”
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend your delicate sensibilities. How are you getting home?”
Of all the questions she was expecting, that was not it. Cordelia blinked and glass paused an inch from her lips. “Pardon?”
Angelus smiled so serenely. “How are you getting home? It’s pretty far from your part of Sunnydale and walking wouldn’t be suggested. Who knows what unspeakable evil lurks around town at this time of night.”
Not much considering half of that unspeakable evil was currently housed in here. “Cab.”
“Oh no, no, no. Can’t have that. Allow me…” A quick click of fingers had the bartender there in seconds. “My guest needs a driver.”
“Let me know when you are ready, madam.” He was gone with a swift nod.
Cordelia couldn’t seem to stop blinking. What was up with the gentleman act? It was giving her the creeps.
Angelus chuckled at her expression. “What is it?”
“You had me worried for a minute. I thought you were gonna offer to take me home.”
He hissed in disappointment and shook his head, giving the impression of just how sorry he was he couldn’t take her up on that sweet little offer. “Another time perhaps.” Definitely another time. “In the mean while, how about you join me for another drink?”
She nearly choked. “I was gonna go home after this one.” Yes. Go home and max out her credit card on a very long stay at the Sunnydale asylum.
He tutted. “You’re not going to insult your host by not joining him for a drink and decent conversation?”
“And what exactly do you think we can converse about? Politics and current affairs?” She didn’t discuss those things as a rule. As far as she was concerned, politics was one of the main causes of war.
Angelus grinned. “How about human interest? It’s my speciality.”
Cordelia just bet it was.
“One drink. No harm, no foul. We can get to know each other better. Whaddya say?”
She didn’t want to know him at all, but there was obviously no way out of this, so she sighed in resignation as she delivered herself to Satan. “One drink.”
One and no more.