Oblivious to the vampiress’ great escape, Angel and Giles sat opposite each other, turning page after page, praying they’d find a spell to send Cordelia home. Neither would look at the other for fear what happened earlier would be discussed.
The sight of Cordelia Chase, semi naked, was a bit too much for Giles considering the one he knew was like a child to him. The one thing he didn’t want to see was her in nothing but a pair of skin tight leather pants and a bra that barely fit. She was just eighteen years old. She shouldn’t be wearing such things. Neither should the vampiress, come to think of it.
She was just an eighteen year old with fangs. She could get into just as much trouble, if not more, than the human version. Rape was horrific and shouldn’t happen to anyone, even if the woman could kill a man before he could blink. There were just as many male vampires more than willing to do such a thing and with Cordelia looking the way she, the situation wasn’t impossible.
Giles gave an incredulous smile. Here he was worrying about a vampire. The same vampire apparently partnered with Angelus, one of the most brutal monsters to walk the Earth. He should be more worried about her getting loose on Sunnydale.
Angel’s thoughts were far, far different. He was having a hard time separating the two brunettes. The vampiress was hell with breasts and the human was not much better. He’d seen one dressed like an insatiable housewife and the other like she was waiting for her man to come home so she could seduce him into signing over everything he owned.
He hadn’t missed Dean’s voice, nor had he missed the sweet scent filling the air, and he certainly hadn’t missed how she blushed when he commented on her body.
Angel swallowed a frustrated groan and scrubbed his face with his hands, willing away the visions running rampant in his imagination. He was not Angelus and therefore had no right to think of the vampiress this way. He wasn’t Cordelia’s husband and had no right to picture her seducing him.
“Stop it.” Giles didn’t look up from the spell book. “I know what you’re thinking so just… Stop it.”
Another spell book was slammed shut, picked up, and slammed down on the table. Angel glared at the watcher. “You weren’t the one who had to ask Cordelia for underwear.” He squeezed the bridge of his nose and tried to wash away the images of what Cordelia looked like beneath that robe.
That shut the Englishman up. “Quite right.” It was a good thing, too. Giles already felt like a dirty old man. Breasts and creamy under garments kept appearing behind his eyelids. He felt sick.
That vampiress had Cordelia’s body. Or Cordelia had the body of the vampiress. Either way, it did not give him an excuse to visualise her half naked. She was barely legal for God’s sake! Not to mention being a student at the very school he worked at.
Angel blew out a breath, letting his head fall back enough to roll his shoulders free of tension. One of those massages Angelus got wouldn’t be half bad right now. Great. Now his brain was overrun by images of Cordelia rubbing her delicate little hands all over him. He really didn’t need that.
“Angel,” this time Giles did look up. “Get out and kill something.” Adding under his breath, “Kill something for me while you’re at it.” He suddenly saw an opportunity for redemption. “Why don’t you take Cordelia with you? This is a stressful for her, perhaps a bit of air will do her good.”
The vampire ground his jaw together so hard, the bones crackled. Damn the man. “I wouldn’t feel right leaving you to do all this reading alone.”
Giles waved it away. “I appreciate the sentiment. However, I believe far more work would get done undisturbed.” Come to think of it, there hadn’t been any disturbances for quite some time. Over an hour to be exact. He was expecting Cordelia to waltz out of the guest room and ask she looked, complete with indecent twirling and naughty smiles.
His eyes suspiciously darted towards the closed bedroom door and narrowed. He really didn’t trust that vampire as far as he could throw her.
Angel followed the line of sight. “What?”
“She’s been in there an awfully long time.” The watcher rose from his seat and headed for the room, intent on dragging her out of there. His instincts were starting to scream something was wrong and he’d learned a long time ago to listen. He couldn’t open the door fast enough and really wasn’t surprised to see the window open, and room empty.
Giles knuckles turned white as he gripped the handle. “And we thought she was a problem before.”
The music from the live band bounced through the Bronze, the heavy beat enticing people onto the dance floor with their respective others. Cordelia smirked. Or their mistresses.
The Bronze back home was nothing like this. In her Sunnydale, Aurelius owned the Bronze, and the only humans in there were the ones begging to be bitten. This Bronze was looking to be a lot of fun.
She wondered what Angelus would make of it. Cordelia shuddered and not just in pleasure. She knew what he’d do in a place packed with people. The words mass genocide came to mind. That boy of hers could be hellishly gross when he wanted to be. He had to learn some self control if he was going to be House Master.
She took a deep breath, taking in the sweet scent of humanity. It washed over her like a warm rain of deliciousness and a slow hunger burned in her stomach. God, these people really knew how to work up an appetite. Her eyes glowed gold as she scanned the crowd, looking for a yummy piece of flesh. Oh, and of course, the other Cordelia. These pretty things just had to come from her.
The vampiress stepped back from the dance floor and began to make her way through the throng of food, a rhythmic spring to her step and eyes sending vicious glares to the ones who dared bump into her. It didn’t take long for her stomach to start growling in response to the increasing hunger. It’d be ridiculously easy to simply pick one up and munch on it. As much as she’d dearly love to do that, she had business to take care of and an identical face to find.
Cordelia paused to tap her upper lip thoughtfully. “If I was me, where would I be?”
“Talking in the third person now?” A startlingly familiar voice came from behind her. “Not enough room for the voices in your head?”
The vampiress spun round only to be shocked into perfect stillness when her eyes landed on the one and only Xander Harris. “Xan? Thank God you’re here. I thought I was in this dump alone.” Cordelia flung her arms around him and squeezed hard, too happy to see a friendly face to acknowledge the fact he was human.
Stunned at the show of over-the-top affection, Xander could do nothing but return the hug. She must have left home without a coat. “You’re cold.” Wow. She was squeezing really, really hard. As in hard enough to break a rib. “Yeah. Okay, okay.”
Oh God. A chilling fear ripped into him as he wondered if she’d found out about what happened at the factory and if she really was trying to break a rib. He froze and his breath became a thick lump in his throat. She wouldn’t pretend to be nice if she was going to hurt him, right?
Right. She’d do more than hurt him. She wouldn’t kill him, either. Cordelia would simply make his life a misery by rubbing his nose in what he threw away like yesterday’s news. Xander didn’t have time to contemplate things more than he already had as she yanked away from him, a look of total confusion on her face.
“What the hell is this?” Cordelia snapped, her eyes wandered up and down his body. “Why is your heart beating?” She sniffed the air around him. “And why do you smell human?” It left a bitter taste in her mouth and the desperate need to feed began to fade. “And why do you smell like mould?” That could be his socks, but she didn’t think so.
“Hey!” That was his cologne. “Say what again?”
“You’re human, with a heart beat. Why and more importantly, how?”
Xander blinked. “I can see how humans might be weird to you, but I was born this way.” There was something so very wrong this picture.
Cordelia gave him a look of disgust. She knew why Angelus loved to torment him. “A comedian you are not.” Looked like she wasn’t gonna get anyway with words. Oh well. There were other ways that, if returned, Xander’s head would be rolling into a big ball of dust.
The vampiress never hesitated in backing the boy up into a darkened corner where she was sure they’d have privacy. Her palm cracked the wall as she slammed it perilously close to his head.
“What the hell…”
Her face was mere inches from his and the look in her eye soon shut him up. Cordelia drank in the humanity even as her confused brain tried to sort out the messy situation. She couldn’t stop her face from changing. So what if it was Xander, he was still human wasn’t he? Therefore he was as entitled to be eaten as much as the next person.
“If I ignore the mould, you smell good enough to eat.” Cordelia’s eyes were shut so she didn’t see the expression of sheer horror and heart break cross his face. She leaned in close enough to brush her mouth over his jugular and dipped her tongue out for a taste. It was Xander Harris, but it was a human Xander Harris. How fun!
The cool feel made Xander choke in revulsion as he unsuccessfully attempted too come to terms his girlfriend was now among the undead. He heard a low purring growl as her lips opened and the tips of lethal fangs scraped down his throat. He was numb to feel the terror shaking his body and too stunned to feel his pants turn wet.
The smell of urine had the vampiress pulling back in disgust. “Please, tell me you didn’t just piss your pants.” Cordelia stepped back a few steps and stared at the teenage boy not daring to move, breathe, or anything else for fear she’d chow down on him. “Oh come on. I’m not that scary…” She stopped when an all too familiar scent caught her attention.
Looked like she wouldn’t have to hunt Cordelia down after all.
Xander watched as her human facade fell back into place and that mouth gave a killer smile, golden eyes now dazzling as the irises swirled with hues of burnished bronze. She disappeared, leaving him to the sound of blood racing through his ears at the speed of light. A quaking hand came up to grasp his neck to make sure she really hadn’t bitten him.
He had to tell Buffy and Giles.
He would tell Buffy and Giles the second his legs remembered how to move.
The only word Angel could think of was stupid. Stupid not to keep an eye on her. Stupid to let himself be distracted. Stupid to borrow clothes off Cordelia for Cordelia. He should have known the vampiress would go looking for the owner who shared a scent so familiar to hers.
At the same time, Angel knew approaching Buffy was a big no-no. The slayer would have asked and asked, not stopping until she had every detail. He couldn’t imagine the reaction of Buffy if Cordelia started talking about Angelus, much less Darla and the Master. One vampire had bitten her mother and the other killed her.
Angel gave his head a shake. He needed to concentrate on tracking the vampiress. While it was easy to follow the sweet scent, he couldn’t afford to confuse it with his Cordelia.
He ignored the man who snapped watch it and picked up the pace. With a bit of luck, he’d get to Cordelia before the vampiress did. Horrible visions of another vampiress had his chest constricting tight. Angel prayed Giles didn’t give in and send Buffy the 911 call. It was doubtful she’d stop before staking Cordelia, and he didn’t want to see her dust.
He definitely didn’t want to see Cordelia dead.
His boots practically squeaked as he came to a sudden halt, his mind now focused on a dress he’d seen hanging off the handle of Cordelia’s wardrobe. The prepared outfit, the pampering bath, make-up ready to be applied. Oh fuck.
Cordelia was going out on a date with Xander.
This really spelled trouble.
If the vampiress found Harris before Cordelia, Harris stood a good chance at seeing, first hand, how determined vampires got their information. She’d probably picked up a few tricks from Angelus. If Xander was with the vampiress, Angel could only hope she’d make it quick.
His pace sped up into an outright sprint towards the Bronze.
Only one human had so far suffered at the hands of Cordelia and that was some guy who thought she was a piece of ass. A quick meeting with her fist soon took care of that little misunderstanding. The people who witnessed the violent display rapidly moved out of her way.
The vampiress, used to such attention, ignored the crowd as she walked past them and headed for the ladies. She heard the whispers, saw the looks of lust from males and envy from the females. Cordelia wondered if the other Cordelia got behaviour like this.
That was a thought. What was she going to do once she was face to face with Cordelia? It’d be weird seeing herself for the first time since she was alive. Only pictures and portraits taken and drawn by Angelus kept her from totally forgetting what she looked like.
Cordelia wasn’t that bad to look at… Who was she trying to kid? She was gorgeous and she knew it. If she wasn’t, Angelus wouldn’t be into her as much as he was.
Still, knowing it and seeing it were two different things. She missed putting on her own make-up and styling her own hair. In a nutshell, she missed her reflection. Ooh! Maybe she would take Cordelia home with her.
Naturally Angelus would be off limits, but the vampiress knew plenty of powerful, handsome vampires that would jump at the chance to have their own Cordelia Chase. That girl would be well taken care of, she’d see to that.
Unless, a mischievous smile appeared, Angel could be persuaded to cross over to the dark side.
For any of that to happen, she first had to find Cordelia, and as the vampiress was now stood outside the restroom, the inevitable meeting would be happening sooner rather than later.
Buffy had just equipped her trusty stake and donned her jacket when the front doorbell began to ring. “Mom, door,” she yelled as she tested the pointy weapon against her fingertip. “Ow!” Yup, sharp enough.
Silence answered her. Her mom must still be in the bath.
Just in case it wasn’t anyone she knew, she securely tucked the stake into an inside pocket and went to stop the bell from being buzzed to death. She was a few steps away when the ringing ceased and desperate pounding began, as did the voice of Xander Harris.
“Buffy! For God’s sake, open the damn door. Buffy!”
The petite blonde went into overdrive at the panic she heard. The door was reached and opened in a split second. Her eyes turned to saucers at the state of him.
She wasn’t the only one with wide eyes, but she was the only one not shaking in her boots. “What’s…” If he’d been hurt or threatened in anyway, she’s dimply go and hurt the thing right back.
Xander spared a few precious minutes to replace the air he’d used in blasting all the way from the Bronze. Running came in handy when a man had wet pants to brag about. “It’s Cordelia,” his voice bordered on tears.
This didn’t surprise Buffy in the least. If anyone could get into spectacular life or death situations, it was Cordelia Chase. Resigned to yet again coming to the rescue of the cheerleader, “What fine mess is she in now?”
Xander never blinked as he dropped the bomb. “She’s been turned.”
The he stood and watched while Buffy freaked.
Twenty minutes later, after Mrs. Summers had been strictly told not to invite Cordelia in under any circumstances, Xander was accompanying a scarily silent slayer to Giles’ house. There was nothing either of them could say that would make things easier or different.
Buffy had never been so glad to see the steps leading up to her watcher’s place. All the way here, her brain had been trying to assimilate what Xander said. Cordelia, her sort of friend, was now a vampire. She mentally berated herself. Cordelia was an enemy now, not a friend.
Angelus had taught her a lot about looking for things she wouldn’t find, like the humanity only a soul could give. No way in hell was Buffy going to give Cordelia a chance to ruin her life.
The first opportunity that came along, that vampire was dust.
Xander was the one who burst through the door first with Buffy hot on his heels, the slamming of the door against the wall rudely jolted Giles out of his nervous pacing. A single glance at their faces was all it took for him to figure out one or both of them had seen the vampiress and raised the alarm. From the appearance of the boy, he was guessing he was the one.
So much for keeping Cordelia a secret for a while. Oh well. He’d better get explaining before Angel returned with the vampiress.
The slayer spoke, not giving Giles an inch to speak his piece. “It’s Cordelia. She’s…” Buffy’s throat thickened to the point where it got too tight for more words to come out.
Xander finished for her. “A vampire. A walking, talking vampire. The kind that eats their friends and family.” He’d bet his allowance Angel wasn’t Angel, but Angelus, and was pretending to be Angel so he could get revenge by killing them all.
“No, she isn’t.” The Englishman stated. As expected, he was entirely ignored.
“I saw her, okay? She was talking to herself when I went up to her. She asked some really weird questions right before pinning me to the wall and…” His hand gestured to his face, which had crinkled up in an impression that would have been comical at any other time.
Giles still didn’t manage to get a word in edgewise.
Buffy took up the pacing where her watcher left off. She needed something to take the edge off. “Xander, you call and warn Willow. Giles, you stay here with him and keep watch. I’m gonna go to work.” She bit her lip, never did she think she’d have to kill any of her friends.
She really had to get a new gig.
“Cordelia is not, and I repeat, is not dead.” I hope, Giles wisely kept that thought to himself and tugged on his shirt collar. Was it getting warm in here?
Xander’s fingers ceased dialling and Buffy paused her purposeful walk to the door, all attention centred on the older man.
Giles continued. “Now that I have your undivided attention, perhaps I can speak…”
Buffy kept her voice low and steady. “What’s going on? And why do I get the feeling this has something to do with the unexplained research you’ve had us doing?” She also wanted to ask why she had a bad feeling about this.
Annoyance at being interrupted flashed in intelligent blue eyes. “I suggest you take a seat.”
Giles then proceeded to tell all.
In order not to be seen right away, the vampiress hid in a cubicle and patiently waited for Cordelia to leave the one next door. She leaned against the door and inspected her nails, mentally praising the fact she was dead. If she was dead then she couldn’t be infected by the grubby walls.
“Don’t they ever clean in here?” Cordelia grumbled and imagined her sire’s response at seeing the Bronze in such a state. He’d have a fit.
“Tell me about it.” The response had excitement rising in the vampiress. “This place is a serious health hazard.”
How cool was this? Their voices were exactly the same.
The vampiress inhaled deeply and listened, eyebrows shot sky high when she heard the heartbeat and her jaw hit the floor. Holy fuck! Cordelia was human! That explained why Rupert wasn’t in any hurry to talk about the girl. And she thought a human Xander was fun.
“You here on a date?” The vampiress carefully gauged the girl’s voice, listening for anything that might of interest.
There was a noise that sounded like a huff. “Where have you been for the last ever? Did you miss the memo stating I’m with Xander?” Or supposed to be as it were. She’d been here for all of half an hour and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of her boyfriend. He was probably off helping save the world with Buffy and Willow. Again. She wondered when Xander was gonna wake up and realise she was alive.
“Oh my God!” The vampiress mouthed as her brain threatened to explode. She, Cordelia Chase, was dating Xander freaking Harris? The same boy who proved he wasn’t ready for big boy pants? Something had to be done about that and fast.
“I’m new in town. You know how it goes.”
“If I were you, I’d be quick to leave.” Sunnydale held nothing but an overflow cemetery that had a grave with the name of the next poor schmuck unlucky enough to get caught up in hellishness.
It sounded as though she knew about the darker side of life. The vampiress chose her next words carefully. “So I’ve heard. Tell me, is this town the Viper Room of weirdness?”
There was a pause. “Then you know.” There was no accusing tone, merely a statement of fact.
“You could say that.” A flushing toilet was heard and the vampiress pushed away from the door, barely able to wait until she could look Cordelia in the eye. “I’ve had a close encounter of the dead kind. Tall and dark. Good shoulders.”
“You’re talking about Angel, right? Don’t go down that road. He already has an owner.” The sound of another door opening was music to the vampiress’ ears. She moved to do the same.
What did she mean? “An owner?” She said it as though Angel was a puppy.
A tap was turned on. Almost time to make her presence known. “Buffy,” Cordelia stated. “I wouldn’t go there if I were you.” She would have gone there at one point, but not now. She didn’t do sloppy seconds and plus, she didn’t fancy being the dish of the day for Angelus.
Now this was intriguing. Buffy, the name mentioned over the phone. “Miss. Vanilla,” the vampiress mused. Definitely intriguing.
“The very one. According to her they’re, air quote, over.”
“You don’t believe it?” The vampiress opened the door and leaned her shoulder against the doorframe, her darkening eyes roamed over the body of Cordelia Chase. Gorgeous dress, classy hairstyle, good shoes. All in all, 7 out of 10. 3 points were taken off for being overdone.
Nice, she decided after a moment, very nice indeed, if a little unpolished. That couldn’t be helped, not with her status as human. Cordelia would blossom under her guidance. She just needed a little push in the right directions. Away from the princess get-up and towards hotness, then away from Xander and towards Angel.
“I’d believe Christina is the next Madonna before I’d believe that. You obviously don’t know Buffy Summers.” Cordelia paused. “Lucky, yet not. Where that girl goes, dark forces follow. She’s still pretty handy to have around.” Like in case of an impromptu demon attack.
The vampiress grinned. Didn’t seem like there was any love lost between this Buffy girl and Cordelia. “For what? Extra flavour for your non fat triple latte?”
She saw a responding grin in the mirror, then she watched as Cordelia bent at the waist with a groan about something being on her shoe. The vampiress raised an eyebrow. Didn’t this girl pay any attention to her surroundings? She could be talking to another vampire. One who wouldn’t think twice about chowing down on her.
“One of these days, I’m gonna pay Rosie to come and clean these floors.”
The undead one stared into the empty mirror, waiting for Cordelia to stand upright, and fill it. “It oughta be condemned.” How long was it gonna take before the girl looked round to see whose company she kept? Her patience was beginning to wear pretty thin.
Okay, her patience was totally gone. Cordelia rolled her eyes and reached down to grab a handful of chestnut hair, ignoring the shocked shriek she forced the girl to her feet. “Oh relax and quit squealing, would you? God. How did I never realise my voice was that annoying?”
“What next?” Cordelia hissed, “Name calling?” If it was a fight the bitch wanted, then a fight she’d get. Let it not be said she was a coward.
The vampiress yet again rolled her eyes, this time in amusement. “I didn’t come to fight. It’s to say thanks for the pretty.” She pushed the human away from her, maybe a little too hard if the sound of a body colliding with plaster was anything to go by. Cordelia winced. “Don’t know my own strength it seems. Sorry.”