The sound of Cordelia’s laughter bounced off the walls of the apartment and couch cushions shook with the vibrations. Tears leaked from the corners of tightly shut eyes and her jaw began to ache. Lord, her sides were splitting.
Giles and Angel stood impassively, just watching as the vampiress descended into hysterics. Neither was at all impressed.
Slowly, her laughter began to subside and the giggles drifted off into a calm sigh. Unfortunately the second she looked at Angel, the laughter started right back up again to the point where Cordelia was doubling over in order to stop her gut from exploding.
“I tell ya,” she wheezed through a cough and directed her words to Angel, “Life with you is never boring Angelus. Stop kidding around and lemme up.” When Angel did nothing, “C‘mon, lemme up…” Seeing he had no intentions of letting her loose or ending the game, the vampiress schooled her features into a seriousness she didn‘t feel. “Okay, I’ll play.” Alternate dimensions indeed!
A tiny snort managed to break her face and Giles shot her a warning glare. “Alright, alright,” Cordelia cleared her throat, “I’m fine now. Really. Please, do go on.” She was amazed Angelus could keep a straight face, but then he was known for being a drama queen.
Angel opened his mouth and yet another giggle sounded out. Immediately, his jaw was snapped shut, and this time it was him who glared. He’d had enough of her carefree attitude, her laughter, and her referring to him by that name.
He knelt down and shiny eyes gauged his every move, a spark of wariness crept in and replaced the merriment of moments before. His face was mere inches from hers, but she didn’t flinch. “I’m going to talk, and you’re going to listen.” He knew what place she had in her clan. It didn’t take a genius to see she was the darling. The one that could do whatever she wanted, when she wanted, and all with her sire’s blessing; whoever that was.
Yeah well, this wasn’t her world, and he wasn’t her sire.
Cordelia nodded once, her mouth still fighting off a grin. “Okay.” She copied him and leaned forward just a tad, so her nose touched his. She had an urge to cross her eyes and pull a face, but she doubted that would have gone down well. Instead, she focused on the vampire in her face.
He was as handsome as ever, she thought. Dark hair and dark eyes, muscles, all topped off with a wicked personality. She scowled. He wasn‘t right. There was something about his eyes that gave her the creeps. Angelus usually gave her the creeps anyway, but not quite like this. It was like…
She couldn’t describe it, but he wasn‘t right. Plus there was the small matter of a soft feminine scent surrounding him. It was very light, but there nonetheless. The Angelus she knew would only have her scent, no-one else’s. He wasn’t stupid enough to go there.
Angel watched her expression go through a myriad of emotions, until finally her features became blankly set. It was only the flickering of a plush pout that gave away any underlying emotion. “We’re telling you truth. This isn’t your world.”
“This is Sunnydale?” Cordelia raised her eyebrows in question, then rolled her eyes at her own idiocy. Duh, of course it’s Sunnydale. Where did she think she was, Disneyland?
Angel nodded. “Obviously not your Sunnydale. If you don’t believe me, ask him.” his head nudged towards Giles, who could no doubt explain this far better than he could.
The watcher had never once taken his eyes off the vampiress; still not able to comprehend he had a vampire Cordelia Chase, in restraints, on his couch. At 2 am, no less. He had strong suspicions he was not going to be able to get back to sleep tonight.
“Charmed,” the vampiress drawled without a hint of amusement in her voice and dismissed Giles like he was yesterday’s news. What would she want with a human? Ooh, dinner.
She grinned wickedly and returned her stare to the man, who was now registering the hunger written in flashing amber orbs. “Who‘s the after dinner mint?” A pink tongue swept over her lower lip and she cheekily smiled, giving the watcher a glimpse of deadly fangs.
“Rupert Giles,” was his stiff introduction.
“Mmm, Rupert,” the vampiress purred as though it was the sexiest name she’d ever heard. “Ru-pert, Ruuuperrrttt. Rupert. Hm, I like it.”
Giles ground his teeth together and pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping to ease the stress induced headache. That vampire was, in a word, aggravating. “It would be in your best interests not to make an attempt at harming anyone.” He would see her dusted quicker than she could blink
“Is that right, Shakespeare?” Cordelia shot him another grin, this time there was no hiding what she thought of him. A quick fix for the hunger burning in her stomach.
Angel interrupted what was sure to follow. “You better do as he says, or the chances of you getting back home will be slim to none.”
Now Cordelia definitely knew this wasn’t her Angelus. He wasn’t even up for having a little fun at the Brit’s expense. Worse than that, he was taking sides with the human. This one was no fun at all.
She relaxed back into her comfortable prison, her gaze darted back and forth between them, and her mind contemplated the possibility of it being the truth. Only one way to find out. “Prove it,” she brazenly dared. “Prove this isn’t my world.” She doubted she’d believe it until she saw some solid proof.
Prove it? That was easy. “You’re a vampire, correct?” Giles asked and got a cutesy smile as confirmation. Now that he thought about it, perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to mention she was human in this dimension. Who knew what might happen if they met up. He tried a different tactic. “Who sired you?”
Angel visibly tensed as dread bubbled up in chest. His scent wasn’t just embedded in the vampiress, it was all over her. His scent clung to her like a second skin and mixed potently with hers. He deeply inhaled and God, it was delicious. He imperceptibly shook his head to get those thoughts firmly out of his head.
“The Master,” Cordelia stated and proudly puffed up her chest. “Aurelius.” She grinned at Angel, who felt simultaneous surges of relief and an unexplainable bolt white hot anger.
“The Master sired you?” Angel spoke slowly. Why hadn’t Angelus sired her? How’d Angelus fuck up?
“Uh-huh. Direct descendant of the Master aside, it was still your fault. If you hadn’t lived up to your reputation, you wouldn’t be in this mess.” Cordelia shrugged and relaxed, simply wallowing in Angelus’ reaction. At least there were some things that never changed. He still got pissed off when she mentioned her sire.
That was a thing. “Where’s my sire?” He could take care of this situation easily, she figured, especially with his contacts in all things supernatural.
Angel and Giles exchanged a look Cordelia didn’t like, and she slowly shook her head. Oh no.
Oh hell no. That look didn’t mean what she thought. It couldn’t.
Giles beat Angel to it. “The Master was killed at the Harvest.” At least he had the grace not to add anything else to that sentence.
“No!” No way would her sire let himself get dead on her, not when she needed to get back home. That was if these people really weren’t lying about the whole alternate reality thing. “He’s kidding, right Angelus?”
He truly hated to be the one who shot down her hope in flames. “I’m sorry, but it’s the…”
Cordelia looked away and for a second, Angel and Giles worried she might cry. “Wow, that really sucks,” she shrugged and turned back to them with a smile. “Guess this means Darla’s Da Man in this world… I can live with that.” Boy, could she ever.
Oh yeah, the House of Aurelius would totally rock with her and Darla as it’s two beautiful rulers. Cordelia was already dreaming of the changes they’d make, like staking that little snot Jorgan while he slept. The House parties, the mandatory gift giving from the men to their women…
It would be glorious, totally glorious! Of course, they would also use their feminine wiles to take total control of the Hellmouth. Wouldn’t that be something? Teach those vampiresses-don’t-make-good-rulers sexist, chauvinistic berks at the Summit a lesson or two.
“Yeah, about that,” Angel scratched the back of his head. He never thought he’d hear Darla be referred to as Da Man, but then again, he never thought he’d live to see Cordelia Chase as a vampire either.
“What about that?” She questioned, not at all enjoying the way he nervously fidgeted. If he was trying to tell her Darla was dust too, then that would mean she was the House Master.
Oh God. Cordelia’s eyes widened in pure panic. Sure, she’d often fantasized about what it would be like to have the throne, but that was just fantasizing! She wasn’t ready for this kind of responsibility; she was only a year old.
Angel and Giles exchanged confused glances as the vampiress started whimpering about heaven helping her.
“This cannot be happening to me!” She yelled to the ceiling, despair and alarm filled her increasingly shrill voice. “What did I do to deserve this? I don’t scare children like Spike. I don’t hurt cute little animals. I paid my taxes when I was alive…” Off Giles and Angel’s disbelieving stares, “Okay, okay. My parents paid the taxes when they were alive. But I am a good person.” Well, as good as vampires got, anyway. No one year old vampire deserved this.
She could already feel the weight of the world crushing her sweet spirit, and she knew the world wouldn’t be satisfied until it squished every last drop out of her and left her an empty shell. “Angelus, you have to do it. I renounce my title. You can do the work and take the credit. I’ll do what I’m told and promise to be a good little girl if you just do this one little thing.”
Angel cautiously eyed Cordelia as terror had her breathing hard and fast, with her pleading face coming ever closer to his. “I’ll even bribe Spike to get new quarters far, far away from ours. You do the ruling, and I’ll just be me. Deal?” Her head began to frantically bob up and down, while her mouth seemed to be stuck in a desperate smile.
They had to have a deal, or else her life was gonna be over. No wonder her sire was permanently demonised, all this stress must’ve worn him to the bone. Cordelia vowed to treat her sire to a weekend away at a health spa when she got back. She was sure he’d appreciate a ton of pretty girls fawning over him. Besides, he was way overdue for a manicure.
“Ruling?” Angel, completely unaware of the vampiress’ thoughts, scratched his head and exchanged another confused look with the watcher.
“Ya know, you sit on high and dish out orders to the commoners? Of course Aurelius’ throne will be mine, what with being a direct descendant and all, but you could have one made special.” The vampiress positively beamed. That was sorted out. Now if she could only get out of these damned restraints, then all would be right with the world.
Angel had no idea what too say to her, “Uh, sure?”
Cordelia breathed out a hefty sigh of relief and lay back. “Thank heaven. For a minute there, I thought you were gonna dump all the responsibility on my softly curved shoulders as punishment.”
Unlike Angel, Giles did know what she meant and didn’t hesitate to interrupt. “Do you mean to say,” his walk was thoughtful and a finger tapped against his lips. “That in your Sunnydale, you would rule the Order of Aurelius if the Master and Darla perished?” There was a part of him that took great enjoyment out of watching Angel having to take orders from Cordelia Chase.
“Yup. Cool huh?” She paused long enough to send a wink and a smile to a severely unimpressed Angel. “Well, it would be cool if I was ready for that. I can’t stress enough how much I’m not. I’m more the…” Cordelia pulled a thoughtful face and searched for the word she was looking for.
Angel helped her out. “Spoilt childe?”
Cordelia grinned. “For instance,” and earned herself a half smile in return for the honest admission. “Hey!” The vampiress exclaimed when Giles rolled his eyes. “It’s not my fault Aurelius dotes on me, and it’s not my fault Darla and I are the life and soulless of Sunnydale.”
Angel’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “The Master actually allows you to call him by name?” He’d never known any vampire in the Order who was given the right to do that. She must be something really special.
“Only when he’s not around to hear it.”
Angel’s flickering lips threatened to turn into a proper smile. It wasn’t hard to know why Cordelia was the sweetheart. He’d stake his life on the fact she had the Master wrapped round her pinkie. So did Darla apparently, but that wasn’t anything new. “We’re not lying to you,” he said and her expression quickly wiped away any smile that might have appeared. “This really isn’t your world.”
The vampiress fell silent before a hopeful glance was directed to Giles. “He’s kidding, right? I mean, I know I’m taking this as a joke.” Cordelia’s voice was kept as steady as she could make it. “A really, really sick joke, but you’re being deadly serious, aren’t you? I’m not in Kansas anymore.”
Both Giles and Angel had the decency to genuinely sympathise with her plight. Neither could understand how she must be feeling; thinking she was going home and ending up in another dimension. The whole thing was preposterous and a bit more than frightening. “I’m afraid not,” the Englishman soft-spoken voice did little to soothe her. “If you agree to our terms, we’ll do all we can to return you home.”
“God,” Cordelia breathed unnecessarily, “I was only supposed to be gone for an hour or two. Go visit my parents’ graves, pick up some munchies, and go home. That’s all.” She shrugged. “Guess that won’t be happening for a while. Angelus is gonna be so pissed.” Pissed wouldn’t be in it.
She knew without a shadow of a doubt he’d tear the world apart looking for her and wouldn’t stop until he did. There was a good chance her Sunnydale wouldn’t be standing when she got back.
Giles immediately snapped to attention. “What?”
Cordelia shrugged again. “I was in the mood for something exotic. Like Thai or Indian. American tends to clog the pores.”
The men were too caught up in the bombshell of what she had been doing to care about what she wanted to eat. Was Cordelia an orphan in this dimension? Neither Giles nor Angel knew, and both felt equal amounts of shame at the revelation.
She saw the expressions and rolled her eyes. “Relax boys, I didn’t see any dearly departed Chases…Oh my God!” The restraints didn’t stop Cordelia from bolting upright and scaring Giles in the process. No wonder Restfield hadn’t felt right. “I didn’t see them. There were no graves. I knew something was wrong, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Angelus always tells me to listen to my instincts and if something doesn’t feel right, then get outta Dodge.”
Good advice, Angel wanted to say, but couldn’t because of the vampire who gave it. He scowled. This whole thing was getting confusing. Before he could say anything, the vampiress’ gaze intently focused on the watcher.
“Wait a minute,” suspicion clouded her voice. “Why would you be worried about my parents? Don’t deny that’s what you were thinking. If you were worried about Ma and Pa Chase, then does that mean there’s a me here?” There was only one word to describe it if there was another Cordelia.
Cool! She’d always wanted a twin.
Slowly, Cordelia’s face went from extreme curiosity to excitement. “There is, isn’t there?!” Her gaze darted from Angel to Giles, and back again. “There’s a Cordelia Chase in this world, too! Ha! If my hands weren’t cuffed, I’d be clapping. Who’s my sire? Is it the Master still, or is it you?”
Dazzling hazel eyes came to rest on Angel’s dark brown ones and, “No. I’m not your sire.” The hope faded into chestnut strands as she hid her emotions with her hair. He felt like a first rate bastard, but he couldn’t lie to her. That kind of lie would undoubtedly come back to bite him on the ass.
“Oh,” Cordelia nodded in acceptance and wondered who her sire was. “If it isn’t you, then who is it?” If he said Spike, there was gonna be trouble.
Angel got the impression that she wanted to be sired by him. Why would she want that? Why would anyone want to be sired by him? More to the point, why would she wish to be sired by him, when she was a direct descendant of the Master? He couldn’t help but feel flattered.
“Perhaps,” Giles suggested, “The less known about the you in our dimension, the better.” Just the thought of clashing dimensions was enough to give him nightmares. “This is not my area of expertise by any means, but I know enough to realise it has the potential to be catastrophic.” Heaven only knew what could happen if the vampiress met up with her human self.
Time, space… Everything had the possibility to fold or unfold. This situation needed to be treated with the utmost care and every step taken with extreme caution.
For now, however, “It’s late, so may I suggest we all get some rest.” Well, as much as they could given the circumstances. “I trust you will be comfortable on the couch.” It wasn’t a question.
“Hold up there.” Cordelia glanced from one man to the other, “You don’t really mean to give me the couch, do you? Because that’s just wrong.” It was wrong, not very gentlemanly, and downright rude. Men these days.
Giles looked at the vampiress. That was what he fully intended on doing, but the way she said it made him feel like an insensitive berk. “I do have a spare room…” Even if she got the spare room, there was no way was he going to undo those restraints.
“I’ll take the couch,” Angel firmly stated and received a grateful smile from the watcher. Leaving just didn’t seem right.
“There’s no way I’m gonna be untied, is there?” Cordelia tugged on her bound wrists for good measure.
“Not in the least,” Giles replied with a smirk, “Nice try.”
“Well?” She asked expectantly.
“Well what?” Came the simultaneous response from both watcher and vampire.
Cordelia rolled her eyes and wiggled, drawing their attention back to the fact she was restrained, and thus unable to move. “I can’t go anywhere without help.” Her head shook in disappointment. “I don’t know about men in this world, but in mine men don’t leave their women helpless. Which one of you strong, virile specimens of masculinity is gonna sweep me away to the guest room? Unless two of us are sharing?”
Giles visibly blanched and once more burned red. Angel hid a smile. “I’ll take her to the guest room. Make sure she’s…”
“She is the cat’s mother. I have a name. Say it with me. Cor-de-le-ah.”
Angel’s smile was replaced by an irritated grimace. “I’ll take Cordelia to the guest room, make sure she’s secure.”
The vampiress watched as Giles remained expressionless in face of her cheeky wink and grin. She wiggled until Angel slid a well muscled arm under her shoulders and another under her knees. He lifted her up as though she weighed nothing.
Cordelia stiffened as the female scent surrounding him began to surround her, too. It might not be her Angelus, but he was close enough. When she wiggled this time, it was in effort to escape the disgusting smell of vanilla. Her shoulder collided painfully with his sternum and upper rib cage, her legs were long enough for her heels to crack off his pelvis. God, it was choking her. “Put me down. I want him to take me.”
Sickening. Truly sickening. She was nearly gagging on it.
Angel struggled to deal with the squirming woman and shot Giles a look, who in turn looked intrigued. “That’s a quick change of heart,” the Englishman commented without a trace of censure.
“He stinks of her. Whoever she is. I don’t want that smell on me. Put me down or I’ll scream.”
Giles tensed dramatically as Angel averted his gaze from the accusing blue eyes now staring daggers at him. “It’s only a short walk to the guest room, I’m sure you can deal with perfume until he puts you to bed.”
Cordelia was no longer playing nice. She was no longer being calm, rational. She no longer wanted to be anywhere Angelus. The smell, the vanilla, was weighing down on her senses and bringing a warming rage to her heart. She wanted to twist the head clean off the slut’s neck and use it as a bowling ball. How would he like it if she was caked in another man’s scent?
She opened her mouth, stuck it right next to Angel’s very sensitive ear, and screamed.
“So,” Willow smiled as Buffy pushed open the library door with her back. “How did things go with Angel last night?”
The slayer paused for a second before blowing out a deep breath and sagging against the hard, wooden door. “He agreed to give me some space. He knows how hard it is for me to accept him back after….”
The red head nodded understandingly, then gave the blonde a sympathetic pat on the arm. “Just give it time. Apparently it’s the world’s greatest healer.”
“Thanks Will,” Buffy sighed again and glanced towards Giles, who was busy yanking books out of a large hold-all and throwing them onto the floor in a messy big heap.
He was muttering under his breath about dimensions, doppelgangers, and vampires who could squeal like electrocuted pigs. One book after another joined the increasing pile and he still had yet to realise both girls had approached and were now watching through widening eyes.
Buffy shot a worried glance at Willow and got a confused shrug in return. She knelt, speaking softly as though she were talking to a wild animal. “Giles?”
“Gah!” The watcher jumped a mile, possibly shedding his skin in the process. “Must you do that Buffy?” He demanded in breathless yet chastising tone. Giles patted his pounding chest and sat back on his knees, taking off his glasses to make for the hourly massaging of his forehead. The damned headache had been present since that infernal shrieking.
“What are you doing?”
Giles swallowed thrice at Willow’s question. He thought and fast. “Oh uh, I received these books this morning. They were supposed to arrive here, but they came to my house instead. I must have a word with the courier about correct addresses.” There. That was a decent enough lie.
Heaven only knew what their reactions would be if they found out about his vampiric house guest. Of course, they’d have to be told eventually, but he had hopes of holding out until he had all the facts.
Or at least, a few of the facts.
Buffy frowned. It was possible that books would be delivered to the wrong address, it had happened many times before, but that didn’t explain why he was throwing them onto the floor. “And you’re taking it out on books?” The same objects Giles probably treated better than his own mother. It just didn’t stick right with her.
“You’re better off not knowing. Believe me.” Thankfully the mumble went unheard, unfortunately the book titles didn’t go unseen.
Willow grinned as she picked up a tome entitled “Dimensions of the World? Cool. Is it about other dimensions? Cus there’s this theory where every time a person makes a decision, another dimension is formed where that decision is the opposite. Like if I chose to wear a red sweater today, in another I’d choose blue.”
“Sliding Doors,” Buffy remarked with a grin. “In one universe, Gwyn missed the train, and in the other, she caught it. That guy was a total sleaze.”
“And she was blind not to see it coming.” Cordelia breezed through the double doors and paused long enough to raise an eyebrow at the mess on the floor. Nothing surprised her anymore when it came to the people who lived in the library people.
Everyone looked at the brunette.
“What? I’m right and you know it. First off, he buys her flowers, which we all know is a classic sign of male guilt. Then she plays at being the strong, confident woman and confronts him about her suspicions. Any decent, non-scummy guy would instantly quash those feelings with a show of love, or better yet a Tiffany’s bracelet. Does he do that? No. He makes her feel guilty. Thus pushing what he’s feeling onto her. It’s like a weird form of reverse psychology.”
Buffy had to smile. It wasn’t often that she and Cordelia agreed on something, but that didn’t mean it was impossible. “Didn’t Xander give you flowers last week?”
Cordelia blinked, the confusion remained a moment or so before realisation dawned. “Oh, you mean those daisies stolen from his back yard? Yeah, he did, and I’m still trying to get to the bottom of it.”
While the slayer and cheerleader bonded over men and their ways, no-one noticed how pale Willow had grown. She bit her lower lip, her green eyes saucer wide with anticipation, were anxiously darting from Buffy to Cordelia and back again.
If Cordelia had gotten to the factory a few minutes earlier, she would have walked in on why Xander was flower giving.
Giles house had a far different atmosphere to that of the school library.
Cordelia, who hadn’t been able to sleep, was pacing the length of the living room, impatience evident in every silent step she took. Her thumb bounced off her lower lip and golden orbs eyed the phone. “Why hasn’t Rupert rang?”
Angel resisted the urge to knock either himself out, or her. If he knocked himself out, he wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on her. If he knocked her out, he wouldn’t have to watch the way dark brown leather pants shaped her ass every time she moved. Maybe he should knock them both out. “Give him time. It’s only 9:45 am. He’s probably just gotten a chance to open a book.”
Those golden eyes left the phone and landed on him with all the rage a master vampire could wish for. They narrowed dangerously. Angel was sure he felt a bead of sweat trickle down the back of his neck. He tugged at the collar of his shirt.
That vampiress was pretty damn scary.
“He started at 9. It’s now 9:45. 45 minutes after he started. He would’ve had a chance to open a few books by now, don’tcha think?”
“We’re talking dimension travel, not exactly your typical holiday package.” When Cordelia didn’t laugh at his attempt at sarcastic humour, “I thought it was funny.”
She merely arched an elegantly shaped eyebrow and made a noise that sounded remarkably like urgh. Angel pretended not to hear that. It was too similar to the noise the real Cordelia Chase made. It didn’t seem right to hear it spoken by a vampire, even if it was her in a way.
“You’ve never made an effort to laugh at my jokes, so why should I laugh at yours? I don’t take double standards from Angelus, I’m not taking them from you.” Cordelia wrapped her arms around herself, trying to ward away the reality before it truly set in. “All I wanted was to visit my parents’ graves, go get dinner and go home. Instead, I wind up in here. A place where I get restrained, cus hey. Nothing says welcome to the neighbourhood like rope burns.”
Angel remained unmoved by the rant. He knew better than most that taking a sympathetic stance with a vampire could only lead to trouble. “You’re not restrained now,” he pointed out.
“Only because the sun has got his hat on. God I’m bored. Doesn’t Rupert have Monopoly or the Game of Life? Better yet, doesn’t he have a phone call to make?”
He groaned in frustration and gave serious thought to knocking her out. It wouldn’t take much. Just a quick slug to her head. Definitely not much at all. Angel worked out some of the tension building up at the back of his neck when she spoke again, only this time her voice was softer, more feminine. He glanced up in time to see the vampiress with a tiny smile on her face.
“Angelus gets tension in his neck and shoulders too.”
Frankly, Angel didn’t want to hear about Angelus or what they had in common. “Oh,” was all he could think of to say.
Cordelia rolled her eyes and gave communication one more shot. “He gets massages every other week. Says it relaxes him, that it helps him deal with the trauma of being infamous. He gives as good as he gets, of course.” Her tiny smile became bigger. “Darla says that he only returns the gesture cus it’s the only way he can get me to sleep with him.”
Angel didn’t want to hear about Darla either. Especially since he was the one to dust her in the first place. However, he wasn’t quick enough to stop her from speaking again.
“My sire hates him, but says he’s good for me.”
He couldn’t imagine being good for anyone with a soul, let alone without one.
“Spike says Angelus is only good to beat up.” Cordelia saw the look of incredulity on Angel’s face. So he wasn’t an emotionless, cold hearted dickwad. He really didn’t appear to like hearing about his other self. Hmm. This could work to her advantage. “Not that he could, but Spike does like bravado. I love watching them throw down. Especially over Dru. Spike gets so protective over Dru, but Angelus can’t seem let go of his little girl. She means so much him, and it can’t be easy knowing your childe is screwing…”
This conversation had gone on long enough. “Okay, I’m gonna call Giles.”
Cordelia kept her victorious grin inward as she thanked Angelus for teaching her how to exploit weaknesses.
The second Giles heard Angel’s voice on the other end of the phone, he kicked his office door shut, and pulled down the blinds. Slayers, his in particular, were known for extreme curiosity and eavesdropping. With a little luck, Buffy would take notice of his Do Not Disturb sign.
“Please, tell me you found something?”
Giles’ eyebrows rose at the vampire’s voice. He didn’t think that level of desperation existed. “Yes, actually. The 55 minutes I’ve been here was the amount of time needed to research dimension travel and how to do it.”
Did Angel just grind his teeth?
Were there tears in those words?
“I’m afraid not. Unfortunately, I have guests to attend presently, and have no time to be bombarded with questions I have no answer for.”
“Buffy?” This time, Angel’s tone was tense, almost croaking with… Fear?
“Who’s Buffy and what kind of name is that?”
Suddenly it all became clear for Giles as he heard Cordelia in the background. Although from the loudness of her voice, she didn’t seem to be that far in the background. “Angel, I’ll call when I can.” Then he hung up to leave one vampire to deal with another.
School had finished, the sun was almost gone, and two library tables were covered in books and copious amounts of notes. Still for the combined efforts of Buffy, Willow, and Xander, nothing concrete or useful had been found. Headaches were beginning and not just at Sunnydale high.
Angel had lost track of how many aspirin he’d taken over the course of the day and was now tallying up the amount he’d have to pay. Cordelia on the other hand, seemed cheerful enough. She was on her knees, hands clasped, and staring out the window trying to see some difference between her world and this one. She kept chatting about people and things he didn’t care to hear about, she kept asking questions he didn’t know how to or want to answer, and…
And she kept moving in ways no woman should ever move.
The worst of it was with her having Cordelia Chase’s face, body, and voice, Angel couldn’t help but picture the Cordelia Chase he knew.
The Cordelia Chase he knew didn’t have a body with tight curves and full breasts, right? She didn’t have a smile that big and pretty. She didn’t have an ass that should be illegal. Then there were the eyes. Of course the eyes of Cordelia Chase didn’t have the golden glow that came with vampirism, but surely she didn’t have large, expressive ones that could entice a man to sign over all his worldly belongings.
Now that everything was back in perspective, Angel found the lingering headache had miraculously disappeared. Amazing, really.
“Is your Cordelia alive?” Cordelia quizzed as if she suddenly thought of that scenario. “Are you together? Is that who the vanilla smell belongs to? Though I can’t imagine me choosing to wear vanilla. Too sweet for my tastes.”
“I don’t know. She’s not my Cordelia. No, we’re not together, and no that’s not who the vanilla scent belongs to. That is none of your business.” Oh look, there was the headache again. Angel squeezed the bridge of his nose, and vowed to ignore whatever she asked or said next.
“Why not?” Cordelia asked as she turned away from the window and starry sky. Trying to get this Angelus to talk was like pulling teeth. “Why aren’t you and Cordelia together? If she’s anything like me, I can’t imagine you not wanting her.” Her plush pout quirked up. “Unless she’s the one without the wanting?”
“There’s no point in answering. You’re never going to meet her.” So much for ignoring her. But he did say, “She is like you, or you’re like her. You both talk.”
“And you don’t listen to a word she says, which is probably why you don’t know about her parents, and definitely explains why you two aren’t together. If you aren’t gonna spare a few obviously precious minutes to speak, why should she?” Cordelia shook her head, then shrugged. “As you say, it’s none of my business, and I’m never going to meet her.” She paused long enough to look quizzical. Why is that?”
A light anger began to churn in his stomach. She hadn’t been here for 24 hours and she already thought she knew everything. Well she didn’t. “Just because you and Angelus are the couple of the century,” and he used that term loosely, “Doesn’t mean it’s the same here. Different world, different people.”
“You think? Lemme ask a question.” Cordelia climbed down and sat with a bounce next to him. “If the woman you worshipped, say the owner of that vanilla perfume, disappeared. Would you tear the world apart looking for her?”
Angel didn’t answer immediately, didn’t know how to answer. What would he do if Buffy disappeared?
“Okay, lemme rephrase. If your one true love disappeared, would you move heaven and earth to get her back?”
Again, he didn’t know how to answer. Yes, he’d move heaven and earth to get her back. He would turn the world upside down until he got her back. But that was him dreaming. The disappearance would no doubt be part of his punishment, just one more thing to let him how much of a bad boy he’d been.
Cordelia intensely studied the emotions washing over his face. This really wasn’t Angelus. Yes, he looked exactly like her companion, and yes they had the same mannerisms, but Angelus would have answered that question instantly. “Wow, someone really did a number on you. What was it? Caught the lady love in bed with your best bud? Oh wait! You caught her with her best bud? Or maybe she caught you with your best bud…”
Angel snapped. His head sharply turned to her and a burnished bronze gaze held the vampiress in place, not only that, but also managed to stop the incessant chatter.
She was off the couch and standing opposite him, hands on hips and eyes slanted with warning. “Listen here Cowboy. You don’t get to threaten or intimidate me in any way.” Cordelia bit out with a growl. “You’re so lucky my Angelus isn’t here.”
Angel gave a chuckle and felt himself turn bitter from it. “Or what, he’d kick my ass?”
The vampiress smirked. “No, he’d just do to you what he did to the last guy who thought he could scare me. I’m a year old, not a fraidy cat, but nor am I delusional. If you and I went for it, it’d be over before it even started. Besides, my kicking your ass wouldn’t help my chances of getting home, would it? Now don’t you have something to say to me?” She arched a brow expectantly.
What? Oh. “Sorry.”
“Sorry for what exactly? Threatening me or the fact it didn’t work?”
Angel frowned at her, but Cordelia didn’t change her expression, and he was beginning to feel increasingly guilty. Her cheek still held a small bruise from his fist. Genuinely this time, “I’m sorry.”
That put a smile of satisfaction on her face. “That’s better. Now, where does Rupert keep the food? I would be starving to death, but ya know…” She flashed her fangs. “Already a done deal.”
He had to admit to being curious about her turning. He knew the Master was her sire, but there were so many questions. She seemed to have a close bond with Darla, something Angel found to be extremely debatable. He’d spent 150 years with Darla and he’d learned she hardly liked herself half the time, let alone anyone else. Then there was Angelus.
Angel recalled only too well the night he, as Angelus, had pinned the human Cordelia to the ground. A few exquisite seconds of having her hot, svelte body shaking under him was enough to leave him hard and needing to come. Her fear tasted like a fine French wine and he’d been drunk on her for days after. There were times when he could still smell her, still taste as she slid down his throat.
There were reasons why Cordelia Chase was used as bait and it had nothing to do with her inhuman ability to scream loud enough to wake the dead. Long legs and good breasts combined with an attractive scent and youthful innocence made her the quite the catch.
He guessed someone had seen the potential and pursued it.
He was sure he was going to regret asking, but he just had to. “How did you meet Angelus?” Please, please don’t let her say…
“My parents,” the vampiress beamed. She loved to talk about this.
Angel blinked a few times, and then a few times more. “You’re parents introduced you to Angelus?”
Cordelia shook her head. “Like Ma and Pa Chase would marry their only child off to a vampire? Get serious. Daddy was doing business with Jorgan, some little snot who thinks he owns the world. Anyway, this and that happened, and Jorgan had my folks killed. Don’t gimme that look. They had it coming. Sure in our world, Jorgan isn’t anything more than a nuisance, but to a human? He is the Big Bad. It’s not him, but the rest of the House of Boogers.” She paused long enough to shudder, adding a tiny yick for effect.
“Word got around that Heiress Chase had a ton of info on the wheelings and dealings of Jorgan and Angelus was sent, courtesy of Aurelius, to get it. God knows I tried to resist, but when that boy of mine turns on the charm… Well, you are him so you know.”
Oh, he knew all about the charms of Angelus.
Cordelia thought about it some more. “I’m not sure of the exact point where I caved, not that it matters. The outcome was never going to be different.”
“Why could it not be different?” Even as he asked, Angel knew why not. With this Jorgan after her, and no doubt countless others, her life was over. It was Cordelia’s parents who had the protection, not Cordelia herself. That thought sickened him. Obviously Jorgan was young vampire and everyone knew the younger generation had no respect.
“It was either Aurelius, Boogers or some bottom dwelling toad with bad breath. I got the better deal. Even if Angelus lucked out when it came to the crunch. He really needs to learn patience is not always a virtue.”
“This Jorgan,” Angel began as the wheels in his head started turning. “He an enemy?”
“More a pain in the ass, but whichever word works for you. Why? You think he’s the one responsible for sending me here?” Now that she thought about it, it was possible. It was no secret Jorgan had been after her for whatever reason and it was certainly no secret there was no love lost between him and Angelus. “For such an idiot, he does have a lot of contacts. No thanks to Ma and Pa. I hope he is the one responsible. That’d give Angelus good reason to dust him.”
“Why would he send you here? What could he gain from it?”
Cordelia took a deep unneeded breath, exhaling after a few moments. “Angelus is always in control, even if it doesn’t seem like it. He plays a game, the rules change, but the goal is the same. He’s good, but has one major weakness. His temper. When he sees red, that’s all he sees. There’s no bigger picture and the goal waves bye-bye. He’s likely to suck the world into hell rather than use his brains to get the job done. Angelus can be a loose cannon at times. Exciting? Sure. Not good for the rest of us? Definitely not. See where I’m going with this?”
Yes he did and she wasn’t wrong. Angel knew when he lost his temper, he never thought things through, and people he cared about tended to pay the price. As Angelus, it was so much worse. It still didn’t make sense considering what Angelus seemed to care about wasn’t there to pay.
“Okay,” Cordelia figured sharing a little bit of information with Angel wouldn’t harm anyone. Not like he knew anyone from her world, was it? “Aurelius has been offered to be part of the Summit. He needs someone to take the throne. Darla could do it standing on her head, but Aurelius has his eye on Angelus…”
Angel finished it for her. “No Angelus, no House Master.” Thus leaving Aurelius open to attack. Even with Darla around, if the Master never had an official predecessor then it was up for auction so to speak.
“Precisely. If this is Jorgan’s fault, then that means he’s gunning for the House. Oh man, he is so gonna get his ass kicked.” Like it wasn’t bad enough he’d had her holed up for three days in his poor excuse for a dungeon. What kind of dungeon came with blow up furniture and a DVD collection of Transformers cartoons?
“I’ll contact Giles, tell him to look into witchcraft, spells etc etc. Maybe we can get you home soon.”
Cordelia grinned cheekily. “Keen to get rid of me, are you?” She watched as Angel suddenly resembled a deer caught in the headlights. She held up her hands. “I was kidding.” Well, sorta. He did seem to be pretty uncomfortable around her. Now it was her turn to get curious. “Why are you so nervous around me?”
She watched Angel’s back tense and shoulders square. “I’ve been honest with you and answered your question. Least you can do is answer mine and just as honestly.”
“In this world, you’re human. I can sleep knowing that.”
“So you care about me, well, the Cordelia from this world? Glad to hear it.”
Giles had been dodging Buffy’s suspicious gaze for most of the morning. He’d grown to be an expert in evading subtle questions and he was more of an expert at changing the subject. He could see her patience waning as each second of ignorance passed. The ringing telephone came as a blessing and he couldn’t answer it quick enough.
Turning his back on the slayer and speaking in a very quiet voice, “Angel?”
“Yeah, it’s me. Cordelia and I may have hit on something. A vampire, Jorgan, from Sunnydale, her Sunnydale, could be behind this. Look into the witchcraft side of things for any spells or incantations. I’ll go over her last few steps, see if we can figure out the exact point when she crossed dimensions.”
“That certainly gives me a place to start. Well done.” Giles rubbed his forehead and squeezed the bridge of his nose, the tension headache slowly began to dissipate under the possibility of sorting this mess out.
The phone was fought over and Angel was the victor. “I’ll take her to the cemetery after dark. If she walked through, maybe she can walk back.”
The watcher nodded then realised it couldn’t be seen. “In the meanwhile, I’ll keep researching.”
“Please do that.”
Giles had to smile at the sheer amount of pleading in the vampire’s voice. “I will patrol with Buffy, keep her from going to that part of the graveyard.” He hung up and prepared himself to tell more lies about why he was having Buffy, Willow, and Xander look up spells on dimension travel.
He straightened his sweater and coughed, wondering if they would believe he was looking for an extreme adventure holiday.
Later that evening…
It was a lovely night, Angel noted offhandedly. The stars were out, there was a pretty silver crescent moon that made the wispy clouds look purple. He studied them for a moment before centring his gaze on the vampiress. The red marks caused by the earlier restraints were gone, and though the bruise on her cheek was also gone, he still felt like a jackass for hitting her.
As Angelus, he’d done worse than hit a woman, but Cordelia was the first he’d hit since he’d had a soul. He felt sick at the thought of raising a hand to her, even if she was a vampire.
“Okay,” the silence was effectively broken by her dulcet voice. “I just walk?” She highly doubted that just walking would get her where she wanted to be. Why couldn’t there be an SLK Mercedes with a white knight to take her home?
Angel ignored the dubious expression. “Worth a shot.” He hoped she didn’t end up somewhere like hell. She wouldn’t last three seconds there. A smirk appeared. She’d probably have Satan himself down on one knee, offering her his kingdom.
The vampiress nodded and rubbed her palms together. This dimension hopping did test the nerves. “Here I go.” Cordelia began to walk, slowly, unsurely, between the graves of Mrs. Morgan and Mr. Greeley. She bit her lip and glanced over her shoulder for one last look, “Nice knowing ya.”
Her smile thawed the solid ice around Angel’s heart. “It’s been fun.”
Cordelia nodded. “Let’s not do it again.” And he grinned.
She resumed walking, taking each step with extreme caution. She really didn’t wanna end up in the middle of Antarctica. She got closer to the graves and closed her eyes. God, please let this work. She wanted to go home. One, two, three more steps and she waited for something to happen. Whirly lights, a hefty wind. Anything to let her know just walking had worked.
One hazel eye and then the other cranked slowly open. They suspiciously darted here and there, seeing nothing but graves, grass, trees, and crypts. Cordelia looked over her shoulder and saw Angel. Maybe it was Angelus. “Angelus?”
There was so much hope in her eyes that he hated to disappoint her. He swallowed. “I’m sorry.”
It hadn’t worked.
Buffy followed Giles like a lost puppy. She had no choice. Every time she suggested about where they should go, he dove right on in there and suggested the exact opposite direction. It was really starting to grate on her nerves.
She was slayer. She was out here every night, slaying demons and vampires, making Sunnydale safe for the general public. Shouldn’t she know where the action is? She shook her head.
Giles had been acting weird all day. Throwing books into a messy heap, stuttering and stammering about why they were researching dimension travel. Then there were the constant phone calls he’d been making. Why would he phone home when there was no-one there? Unless there was someone there.
Had Giles gone and got himself a lady friend he hadn’t told her about? Hmm. This called for some serious investigating. She knew it was wrong, but she couldn’t help but want to look out for him. Especially after what happened to Jenny last year. Buffy couldn’t begin to imagine how he’d felt.
She knew how she’d felt. She’d waited too long to kill Angelus and Jenny Calendar paid the price. Not just Jenny, but other innocents suffer because of her weakness and willingness to believe there was still some of Angel inside, but there wasn’t.
Where Angel had made her dreams, the monster made her nightmares. The look in his eye when he’d said what he did would haunt her for a long time to come.
Buffy knew Angel understood that she needed time too come to terms with the fact there was something evil living under his skin. Not just that, but she still saw the sword sticking out from his chest as she killed him. God, the sound it made as she drove it home was sickening.
She needed time and he had plenty of that.