Dead on Arrival 15

Part 15

Xander was terrified to the point where sweat trickled down the nape of his neck. The flowers he’d splashed out on looked lovely in the store, now looked scrawny and withered in her hand, and the candy that sounded so delicious in the market now sounded sickly. They were a poor attempt at an apology for something she had no clue about, and as she stood on her porch with that expression, he knew he hadn’t done a good job at apologising at all.

Her lack of reaction had him fearing she knew what he’d done and was choosing on how to kill him. She wasn’t stupid by a long shot, and it wouldn’t surprise him if she’d taken one look at him and known instantly. God, how could he think he could get away with this? “I know this isn’t…”

She cut him off. “I’m not easy.”

“I know, I know.” Xander tried to placate her by holding up his hands in submission and talking in a tone used by hostage negotiators. “I can explain…”

“Explain?” Cordelia asked in a calm and cool voice.

“It just happened, okay, and I’m so, so sorry. It’ll never happen again. I swear.” If she’d just give him another chance, he’d be the best boyfriend in the business. He’d buy her enough flowers for her to set up shop and enough candy to turn her into thunder thighs.

“It just happened?”

Those words sounded a lot less dumb in his head. “Maybe not, but I didn’t ask for it to happen. It just… Did. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. Swear on Honey’s grave.”

“Honey died seven years ago.”

Xander mentally begged the forgiveness of his mother’s late toy poodle. “I loved that dog like my own.”

“You used to give that dog treats and take them away just so it’d whimper like a baby man.”

He had one defence. “I was thirteen!”

“When I was thirteen, I was helping Honey out of the closet you locked her in at your birthday party.”

“Bad thing to say, I know. That still doesn’t mean I wanted it to happen. I mean I did or else it wouldn’t have happened, but I didn’t want it to happen.”

Cordelia’s expression went from blank to confused in the space of two point five seconds. “You wanted it to happen and you didn’t want it to happen?” She could live to be a hundred and still never understand the mind of a male. She couldn’t be blamed of course, not when they came from Mars.

“Yes!” Xander yelled, not entirely pleased she saw where he was coming from. “I did and I didn’t. I made a mistake and I’m sorry. If you give me another chance, I’ll do anything you want.”

When he didn’t get a response, “She was just there. I couldn’t help it.”

Oooohhhhhh. Her. The Other Woman, as Cordelia oh so affectionately called her. “You blew me off for her?”

Oh God. He was supposed to take her out for a movie to celebrate their sixteenth month anniversary. He remembered asking why celebrate the sixteenth and not the big One Oh, she’d replied she wanted to be different. Like how her parents always threw a surprise birthday party months before her actual birthday. It wouldn’t be a surprise on her birthday.

His words from that phone call came back to haunt him. My life doesn’t revolve around you. You aren’t the centre of the universe. They seemed so cruel now, especially when he was the one to make the plans.

While she was entertaining her twin, he had been entertaining Willow. Only one word fit him and that was jerk.

“Cordelia, please. I won’t ever do it again.”

“How would you feel if I ditched you for Leon, huh?”

Leon? Who the hell was Leon? Unreasonable jealousy rose up in his stomach, making him wonder. “Leon?”

Her sudden and large smile knocked Xander for six. “Leon S. Kennedy. The buffed up, bullet proof cop from Resident Evil? The guy who can take out an eight hundred pound tyrant with a few well aimed grenades?”

She thought he blew her off for Lara Croft. He was so stunned by her train of thought that he couldn’t move a muscle. She didn’t seem to notice as she laughed. It was a nice laugh, he realised, one of good humour and sweet tone.

“At ease, soldier.” Cordelia grinned. “I know how much she means to you. Next time, make sure you don’t play with her on our anniversary okay?”

Xander couldn’t do anything but nod. It was so very wrong of him to take the easy way out, but if she knew the real reason why they never got to go out, he’d end up wearing his balls as earrings and Willow would get a good slapping, and that was the best case scenario.

“You coming in or are you just gonna stand there staring at me like you’ve never seen me before? I’ll show my gratitude with an ice cold can of your favourite Cream Soda.”

How could he say no?

Down by the main gate, Willow’s face fell as she watched Xander go into the Chase manor. Obviously he hadn’t said a single word about their affair.


Angel stood back a bit with his hand on the vampiress back to guide her into a chair, smiling lightly at her wide eyed gaze wandering around the stadium. He was also looking around, but only to find one particular person and there she was.

The burgundy and gold pom poms glistened in the artificial lights, her ponytail madly swishing from side to side as she bounced here and there. He grimaced when she kicked her height, his ears picking up on her Go Razorbacks chant and grinned when he heard her yell for the quarterback to basically tear someone’s head off. Maybe he should teach her anger management rather than self defence.

“Angel,” Buffy’s voice knocked him out of his study of Cordelia. “What are you doing here?” She didn’t think he was the football type.

Cordelia purred out a response. “He was kind enough to escort me so I can watch my twin perform. Rupert didn’t trust me around all these people. Can’t understand why.” It could have something to do with the never ending remarks about all-you-can-eat buffets and comments regarding young boys being lured to their untimely death by a hot brunette bearing fangs and dirty mind. His words, not hers.

The slayer blatantly ignored the vampiress. “It’s good to see you.”

“Thanks,” Angel gave a swift nod and sat down next to the brunette. “Cordelia know you call her your twin?”

“She’s still hung up on the fact she’s staring a dead her in the face. I don’t think she could handle it if she knew that. I’ll have to take a picture when I tell her.” Her face cracked with a huge grin. “Then I’m gonna run for my life before she kills me dead.”

“You’re not alive to have a life.”

Cordelia sighed, gracing Buffy with a look meant for petulant five year olds. “Semantics. I miss this,” she said and gestured at the dancing cheerleaders. “I would work on each routine every night after school, then go pamper myself in the hot tub. After I died…”

“Don’t,” Angel murmured. There was something he hated about her using that word to describe herself. She didn’t have choice in what happened to her. She didn’t die. She was murdered by her foolish parents and a vampire named Jorgan. What he wanted to know was what, if anything, Angelus had done in vengeance.

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t say died. It’s not nice.” It didn’t help that she looked exactly like his Cordelia. Since the vampiress forced the image of Cordelia aging and dying, he hadn’t been able to get it out of his head. Sleep eluded him for the entire night and most of the morning. The second his eyes closed was the second he pictured her in hospital, hooked up to monitors and listening as each beep got slower and slower, keeping rhythm with her dying heart.

He could stop that. A little bite and she’d be alive forever. She wouldn’t feel more than a pin prick. Quick and painless unlike the many incureable illnesses a human could get these days.

The vampiress did as requested. “Okay. After I was reborn, I continued dancing for a while until I had no time for it. You ever noticed that no matter how long you have, there’s never enough hours in the day?”

“Only too well,” Angel replied, his voice full of sympathy. “It comes with the territory of being the Master’s childe.”

“Not that you’d know about that, what with being Darla’s childe.” Cordelia sat up a little straighter at the mentioning of her sire. He disapproved of slouching, said since she was his direct descendant, she had to hold herself with pride. “I wonder who’ll come for me. If it’s my sire, he’ll probably bring Darla, and if it’s Angelus, he’ll come alone.”

“That’s if he comes at all.” Buffy couldn’t help the remark. “I honestly think you’re fooling yourself.”

“And I honestly think you should mind your own beeswax,” the vampiress snapped. “You wanna hope it’s Angelus and not my sire.” Her sire would systematically take the slayer apart piece by piece, and she’d be damned if she didn’t have ring side seats.

“I killed the Master once, I can do it again.” She was pleased that little confession shut Cordelia up. “And I’d only just been called.”

“She telling the truth, Angel? Did she kill my sire in this world?”

The vampiress didn’t get an answer as Angel was too busy glaring daggers at the blonde. He knew she had a petty side, but this was ridiculous. The quiet tone to Cordelia’s voice touched a part of him he thought long dead. It reminded him of all the times Dru got upset at the sight and smell of honey cakes and tea, the things she ate when she was alive.

It’d be more than wrong if he let that slide. “Not before he killed you, right Buffy?”

The slayer’s face showed nothing but betrayal and she turned away in disgust, her body rigid with growing anger. “I can see where your loyalties stand,” and they weren’t with her.

“It’s not about loyalties. What you said was uncalled for.”

“And what you said was perfectly okay?”

Cordelia sat back to watch the sparks fly. How cool would it be if they threw down in front of everybody? “Ten bucks says Buffy draws first blood.” Off their glares, “What? It’s true. Two seconds into a guy fight, you know who’s gonna win. Girls are different. We don’t give up.”

Buffy and Angel rarely saw eye-to-eye lately, but the vampiress words rang true, and they shared a look and an eye roll.

“Unless we’re talking Spike and Xan, then they really go at it sometimes. Although I don’t count their fights as actual fights. I’ve seen three year olds more vicious.”

“Xan?” The slayer quizzed, finding herself involuntarily intrigued. “As in Xander? Xander Harris?”

“The very one. He was turned a few months before me, not by the Master though. I can say it didn’t come as a surprise, really.” Cordelia grinned. “Not when it involved a hot blonde wearing next to nothing.”

Angel frowned. A hot blonde? The only hot blonde vampire he knew was… “Feel free to stop there.” A shudder of sheer revulsion ran through him as he wondered on the sanity of Darla.

“She wanted a toy boy,” the vampiress continued, her grin growing ever wider. “Oh come on. If you were over 500, wouldn’t you want to make a booty call on a fresh piece of ass? Anyway, Spike and Xan’s bickering got to the point where my sire had to intervene and lemme tell ya, Angelus and I had a ball watching em be caged for a week. Shoulda heard the insults.” She chuckled. “The language that came out their mouthes? Man.”

She paused to wave at Cordelia, who in turn shook a pom pom in hello. “Darla and Xan aren’t together anymore. I think she has a thing for my sire, but ssh on that. She’d kill me if she knew I said anything. Not like it isn’t obvious, of course. Not when she keeps yammering on about how great his old world charm is. A real gent, she calls him.”

Angel was inclined to heartily disagree. It was only out of respect that he kept his thoughts quiet. There was no time to change the subject as they were joined by a flushed, slightly sweaty cheerleader who pretty much bounced up the bleachers, her every step full of the joys of life.

“Hey all.”

He feared her smile would split her face. “Hi. Good game,” he gamely offered with a half smile of his own.

Cordelia gave him a blank look. “Apart from the miserable losing, yeah it is a great game.”

Angel froze. “Well, I… You know.” God, how much of a fool could one man be?

“Relax,” she said. “I was just teasing. We’re winning.”

He nodded. “I knew that.”

“Sure you did,” the large grin fell into an affectionate, quirky little smile. “Dork. Cordelia, you wanna come meet the girls? They won’t shut up until my long lost, stolen-at-birth twin sister from Milan goes to say hello.”

Angel glanced down to where the squad was standing impatiently, only looking away when the stares of teenage girls got a bit uncomfortable. “They fell for that?”

“Totally,” Cordelia sniggered. “The woman who stole her was locked up and she was adopted by Monique and Carmine Bracco, a notorious mafia boss and his wife. Her name is still Cordelia, which they found to be sooo cool, and we met last year when skiing in Aspen.”

“Isn’t that a little far fetched?” Angel asked with arched eyebrows. Mafia boss indeed.

“Are you kidding?” The vampiress face was lit up. “This is great! Oh my God, we can have so much fun with this! Can I be a cleaner?”

The cheerleader visibly blanched. “You’re the kid of a mafia boss, why would you want to be Mrs. Supermop?”

She rolled her eyes. “A cleaner is an assassin,” she informed in a tone sounding out all her worldly knowledge. “I could be the deadly, gorgeous assassin sent in to bring down the mayor. I can see it now…”

Yeah and so could everyone else. Thankfully Cordelia gave the vampiress a light shove to knock her out of whatever fantasy she was cooking up. “C’mon, Fangslot. The girls are waiting.”

Angel stared after the brunettes as they wandered down to the rest of the squad, his eyes going from one backside to the other and knew exactly what Angelus would be thinking if he saw that. He caught sight of a few men staring too and glared at them, wondering how much violence he could get away with. It seemed wrong somehow to let men do that, especially when the vampiress didn’t have her own man here to protect her.

Cordelia was a different kettle of fish altogether. She was exactly like the vampiress and yet not. It was extremely confusing, but it was kind of fun to seek out the differences and similarities in them. He smiled softly, thinking about how many people often did that with twins.

“Not going down there with them?” Buffy asked, more than a little relieved the vampiress was gone. It’d give her a minute’s peace with Angel.

“I think she’ll play by the rules.” He kept an eye on her just in case.

“About yesterday. I didn’t mean to make it sound like you were a monster.”

Angel tensed and refused outright to look at the slayer. Her saying that had cut deep. “It’s fine.”

He could see her fiddling with her fingers. “It’s just with her saying how in love she is with Angelus and after last year. It got me thinking, you know?” There was a pause and he heard her next sentence before she said it. “If he is in love like she claims, what does that say about us? You loved me, but he didn’t.”

“Can we not do this here, Buffy?” Airing dirty laundry in public wasn’t on his list of things to do.

“Then where, huh? You’ve barely given me the time of day lately. It’s like whenever she walks into the room, I don’t exist.”

“She’s lost. She needs all the help we can give her.” He took a deep, unnecessary breath. “She doesn’t show it, but I know it’s hurting her to be so far from home, her family.”

“I wasn’t talking about the vampire, Angel.”


“Oh my God,” Harmony cooed as her hand wafted around her face to ward off the sentimental tears. “And you met just like that?”

The vampiress smirked and snapped her fingers. “Just like that.”

“How totally cool.” Aura joined in. “Can you imagine going all your life not knowing you had a twin? God. I don’t know what I’d do if mine turned up on the doorstep.” She looked to the Cordelia in the Razorbacks uniform. “What did you do?”

All eyes were suddenly on the instigator of the little white lies who found herself struck dumb. She could only smile sweetly and shuffle her feet, all the while mentally cursing her big dumb mouth. When would it ever stop? “Well,” Cordelia started. “Naturally I thought it was a coincidence…”

“What’s coincidence?” Harmony asked with a puzzled look on her face.

Aura scoffed, flipping her blonde hair in the hope one of them would notice it was newly layered. How could a $200 hair cut go unoticed? “It’s when you turn up in the same outfit as me without knowing I was wearing it.”

“That only happened once and I bought it first.”

“You so did not. The date on my receipt says Wednesday. What does yours say? Oh wait, you probably got a five finger discount cus your allowance has been cut.”

Harmony looked positively insulted. “It has not!”

“Then explain that skirt you wore Friday night. Seriously Cor, off the rack wasn’t in it.”

Both Cordelia’s simultaneously shook their heads. “Anyway,” the cheerleader stated loud enough to shut the other two up before they really started bickering. “I thought it was…” she chose the next word carefully. “Strange how this girl looked exactly like me…”

“You’re not totally identical,” Carrie, one of the other cheerleaders, spoke up. “She’s not as tanned as you are and her hair is longer. Plus the eye colour is all wrong. Yours are a hazelly shade and hers are… Lemme see.”

The vampiress found herself being stared at intently by a set of green eyes that narrowed and squinted and wrinkled at the corners. “They’re kind of a gold with flecks of hazel and brown.” Or that’s what Angelus told her.

“No,” Carrie peered some more. “They’re like a light bronze with gold highlights and a dark brown rim.”

Cordelia laughed nervously as the vampiress eyes flashed, probably with impatient annoyance. She quickly pulled the red head away before she got her neck snapped. “I took my sister to see daddy…”

“Your dad is just way hot.” Harmony stated to a bunch of agreeing nods. “Your mom is sooo lucky. Your mom hit the jackpot when she landed him. Old money, good looks, and he probably had a car. It’s like a fairytale, but in real life.”

“Can we not talk about my dad being a sex object, please? It gives me the creeps.”

They had the decency to blush. “Sorry Cor, but admit it. He is great looking for his age. I mean, he probably still has all his own teeth.”

Oh God. “How old do you think he is? Geez Harm, it’s not like he was born in the ice age.” Cordelia’s glare was more than enough to get them all to stop idolising her father. “Do you wanna hear the story or not?”

“Sorry Cor,” Aura nudged Harmony, who nudged Carrie, who nudged Jenny, who nudged Caitlin, who nudged Tina, and they all finally fell silent. “We’re listening.”

“Okay,” the brunette continued after a moment. “Daddy immediately called my mom, they told us Cordy was stolen from the hospital when she only two days old and they never saw her again until then. There was a meeting between our families and it was decided she’d stay with her family…”

“Cor told us about you being the daughter of Carmine Bracco,” Jenny said in a voice laced with awe. “Wow. I mean seriously, that’s like wow.”

“Yeah, tell us what it’s like.” The vampiress was yet again the recipient of studious stares.

“Well,” she purred, totally loving the attention. “I get away with murder.” She was hard pressed not to cackle in their faces when a few of the girls paled. Sometimes, she really adored being a vampire.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “There’s morale to boost so get back to the field. I’ll be there in a second.”

The girls hurried out the locker room, their constant chatter heard until bickering once again kicked up by another dumb remark Harmony made.

Now alone, the two brunettes looked at each other and grinned widely. So what if they never got to tell the full story, the bits they did manage to say definitely brought some excitement to the night. It was only a matter of time before Chinese Whispers set in and the story became a headliner.

Cordelia watched the vampiress face fall a little, then made the decision to do something nice. “Alright, take off your clothes.”


The conversation, if one could call it that, between Buffy and Angel had deteriorated rapidly, now the slayer was sat perfectly still, her shoulders squared and mouth firmly set in a thin line, and it hit him full force why she was so against him spending time with the cheerleader. She was jealous, absolutely stone cold jealous. Angel couldn’t help the chuckle if he tried, and got him a stare full of hatred. He shook his head, feeling his heckles rise.

She had no reason to be jealous. After all, wasn’t it her who wanted space in the first place? Neither got a chance to continue as Cordelia returned carrying two cartons of what appeared to be juice.

Angel narrowed his eyes as he looked her over, a small smile began tilting his lips up at the corners. Hair twisted at the nape, black pants and sparkling top, dark red lips and tongue perched between her teeth. The swaying hips, graceful motion of slender arms, alert eyes darting here and there. Everything was in place, except for one teeny tiny difference, and that was the heart beating in her chest.

“Miss me?” She purred, hazel eyes shining with a mischief he’d never seen. “Since you were oh so nice to escort me here, I thought it polite to show my gratitude. This, my little soulled up friend, is all for you.”

She took the seat in the middle and sat in a way that drew his attention to each and every curve she owned. She handed him a carton, then sat back and stretched her free arm right across the back of his seat.

“I know what you’re doing,” he whispered in her ear. “I can hear your heart.”

Cordelia arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow. “Keep whispering like that and you’ll hear it sing.” Not the greatest of comebacks and certainly not what the vampiress would say, but trying to be someone else was flipping hard. Especially on such short notice. Still, she was an actress, and act she would.

Angel’s mouth twitched. “That was terrible.”

“It’s rude to whisper,” Buffy’s tone was clipped and strained as she interrupted the quaint moment between them.

The cheerleader simply took a sip of the blackcurrant juice and happily wiggled her fingers at the slayer. “And it’s also rude to intrude on private conversations,” she said as she slowly licked her lips and sent a wink to Angel, whose face expressed just how humorous he found this.

“You been to a game before, Angel or are you football virgin?” Cordelia’s lips were now stained a deep purple and to human eyes, appeared red. She smirked, wiping her mouth with two fingers and bringing them up for a soft licking. “Oops. How messy of me.”

“This is my first time.” He answered with a widening smile of his own. She really did have the vampiress persona down.

Buffy stared at who she thought to be the vampiress. “You brought blood?”

“I hope it’s not too painful for you,” Cordelia replied to Angel first, then turned to the blonde but didn’t get a chance to respond.

“Would you rather she eat a human?” The slayer shot him a look of betrayal. “She doesn’t have control over her appetite…”

“That’s right,” Cordelia added, purposely slurping loudly on her juice, and swallowing with an mmm of appreciation. “O neg, my favourite.”

“You’re disgusting,” the slayer snapped.

“What Angel said,” the brunette purred, thoroughly enjoying playing the vamp. Being bad was so much fun, she might take it up as a hobby. “My chowing down on one of the many young studs or bring take out?” She turned from the blonde to give the real vampire what she hoped was a piercing stare. “How’s your poison?”

Angel shot the carton a dubious look. It certainly didn’t smell like blood and the colour wasn’t red, so what the hell was it? He took a cautious sip and his eyebrows touched his hairline at the exotic taste of mango and passionfruit. Eyelids fluttered as the sweetness trickled down his throat, quenching a thirst he never he had. “Mmmm,” he heard himself hum and took another, much bigger drink. This was good stuff.

“Tickled pink?” Cordelia asked with a smile that was entirely hers. Not even an identical vampire could replicate it.

He nodded and showed no signs of letting the straw go, even as he involuntarily glanced at her drink, wondering if that was as nice, if not nicer, than his. The straw slipped from his lips and one was nibbled on before he offered it to her as exchange. He felt like an idiot and almost couldn’t bring himself to ask. “May I?”

Her smile got wider. “Sure.” He rarely spoke, let alone asked for things. If he wanted to try her blackcurrent, then try it he certainly could. “I like it cool,” she said to remind him of the role switching.

“I like cool just fine.” They swapped cartons and he wasted no time in trying the juice, only to find it wasn’t to his liking. “Bland,” Angel commented with a grimace. He wanted his back.

“Are you telling me,” she started slowly. “That you’ve never had anything bar blood?”

Angel grew uncomfortable with the fact Buffy was watching everything, her face unreadable. Tough. He wasn’t going to ignore Cordelia just to put someone else at ease. “Yes, but nothing like that.”

“You haven’t lived. Tell you what, to say thanks for all you’ve done for me lately, I’ll shout you to a few nummy treats. Just to help you catch up with the world.”

He was clearly embarrassed, but he graciously hid it. “I’d like that. Thank you.”

Cordelia’s grin now flashed two rows of straight, white teeth. “Great! I’ll bring some stuff with me tomorrow.” She paused, realising she was pretty much inviting herself to his place. “Unless you have plans, of course.”

He saw her eyes subtly drift across to Buffy and frowned. Didn’t Cordelia know she was welcome to call round anytime she wanted? “No plans,” he stated firmly. “I’ll look forward to it.”

She gave his thigh a little pat. “Great. It’s a date.”

“Excuse me.” Buffy stood so suddenly, she knocked Angel’s drink out of his hand and the juice went down his pants, instantly soaking straight through. She may have apologised, but she just had to get away.

“Way to say sorry,” Cordelia called after her and scoffed at the slayer’s behaviour. “Geez.” She turned back to see him wiping his pants of excess juice. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” he said with a half smile. “Had worse.” He noticed her lips twitching before she forced them into a tight line, and her eyes took on a gleam of amusement. “What?”

“Nothing, Angel. Absolutely nothing.” He really did look like he’d just peed himself and she’d be damned if it didn’t look kind of funny. “Come on. Let’s go dry you up.” Off his look, “You go to the little boy’s room, take your pants off, and hold em under the hand dryer.”

“I’ll just wait until I get home.”

He heard the muttered comment, “If you can call it that.”


Cordelia hadn’t wanted him to hear her judge his house, but really. A mansion with nothing in it could scarcely be called a home, could it? “You have nothing, Angel!” She half yelled, drawing a modicum of interest from the surrounding people. “You have a sofa, a fire that’s never lit, and a ratty old fridge that stores nothing but blood and the odd soda. That is not a home.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Remind me to give you a tour.”

“A tour of what? More nothing?” She sighed when he glanced away and felt horrible for being honest. “Where are your pictures, your…” Hands waved around in search if a fitting word. “Anything?”

“You haven’t been upstairs or in the basement. Who’s to say there’s nothing there?” He looked so smug, so freaking arrogant at winning a point, she wanted to smack him. “Just so you know,” Angel continued. “I have a bed, stereo, and as you already know, a spacious training area.”

She graced him with a look of disbelief. “Your bed probably came from an abandoned prison cell, your stereo has to be one of them wind up things, and your spacious training area are four walls surrounding a punch bag, and a ton of medievil weaponry.”

A laugh escaped his throat at her portrayal of his home. It was so far from the truth, it was unreal. “Where do you get these ideas? You are right about one thing, though. My stereo does play vinyl.”

“I really need to introduce you to the twenty first century.”

“It’s a phonograph. Bought it years ago.”

“So it’s antiquated. You still need a CD player. They’re less likely to break or get scratched. I’ve got one spare if you want it.” Come to think of it, she had a few things spare he could have. “It’s only small, though.”

Angel went silent for a second, leaving her to wonder if she’d offended him. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

“No, no. It’s not that.” How could he put this? “I’m not a charity case, Cordelia.” He said after a time.

She frowned, but it went unseen as his gaze was totally focused on the floor. Trust him to be a man under all that black. “Okay, if we’re gonna be friends then we have to get one thing straight. Friends help each other, Angel. You’re helping me not be an easy target and I’m helping you get a life.”

He looked at her after that blunt statement, her expression so scrunched up, her cheeks resembled apples. “That came out wrong. What I meant was I’m helping you out of the century with phonographs and quills, and into the century with five-CD hi-fi’s and french fries.”

“So you’re helping me get a life?”

Cordelia treated him to a megawatt grin. “For instance. You want it or not?”

“How much you want for it?”


Angel shook his head. “Really, how much do you want for it?”

“Really, nothing.”

He grit his teeth together. “Please let me pay for it.” He would give her something for it, or else he wouldn’t take it. Simple as.

There was obviously only one way to sort this out. “I’ll make you a deal,” she said in a tone full of resolve. “As payment for the CD player, you let me loose in your place?”

“To do what exactly?”

She seemed a tad flustered as she searched for an answer. “Certain things.” Like see what can be done to make it into a home.

Angel studied her for signs that she was thinking about tearing his place apart and redecorating it baby pink, or something equally atrocious. “What certain things?”

Cordelia’s mouth twisted back and forth as she tried to think of how she could spin things so she could get her own way and basically do stuff to the mansion. She thought of all the things she’d do if she had a place like that. Her own house may not be that big, but there were rooms with unknown purposes. “Oh, you know, a lick of paint here and there, shiny throw rugs. Maybe some lights…”

In other words, she wanted to turn his home into something from a Lifestyle magazine. He looked at her some more and saw an uncertainty in her gaze he’d never seen before. “This really means a lot to you, doesn’t it?”


“Then it’s a deal. You give me your spare CD player and you can have free reign in my place. Just… No baby pink walls, okay?” He knew he’d done something right when she smiled at him.

The vampiress had kept an eye on them from her place with the squad and had to keep from squealing in sheer joy when Cordelia linked arms with Angel. Oh yes, things were coming on swimmingly. All that needed to be done now was getting rid of the boy. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Corner Xander and choke the life out of him if he didn’t leave her, then choke him a little more just to let him know she meant it. If that didn’t work, then she’d simply kill him and hide the body. Not hard at all.

She stopped her thoughts ticking for a moment and stood there with a small smile. It wasn’t just the cheerleader who needed a shove in the right direction, the vampiress knew she also needed a new lease of life. Maybe getting sent here was a good thing. She had no sire or companion to fall back on, she really only had herself. Sure Rupert had helped a hell of a lot, okay he’d done most of the work, but she felt she’d kind of grown, even a little.

She knew she was going to be different when she got home and she hoped Angelus would like the new her as much as he liked her now.


A muscled neck cracked and shoulders popped, midnight eyes roamed the cemetery and an eyebrow arched. Well now, wasn’t this interesting? Same place, same shit, yet completely different. If he had the time, he may just take a little tour around the hell hole.

He sniffed the air for any signs of his lost lamb, but all he got was the stench of death and decay, and shook his head. Only she¬†would find coming to a place like this spiritually enlightening. Gloved hands dusted down a short leather jacket, then long legs directed his feet in the one direction he felt sure of. If this place was the same, then there’d be a mansion close by.

He managed a few steps when he came upon a small gang of vampires, who looked at him and laughed laughs that were full of arrogance. He again arched an eyebrow. “No rest for the wicked,” he said right before a few sweeps of a sword decapitated the lot.

Now that was done, he could get on with finding and taking her home where she belonged.



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