False Claims 11-13

Chapter Eleven

As they arrived at the door to the Chase home, Angelus once again noticed the lack of occupants. Although it was certainly to his benefit, he had to wonder at parents that would leave their offspring unattended in a town like Sunnydale.

As Angelus was occupied with those thoughts, Cordelia removed his duster. Looking down as her tiny ensemble once again came into view; a lopsided smile tilted her mouth.

“Well, I guess I could always wear this for my turns as bait girl.”

Without warning, she was once again pinned to a wall, hands held forcibly overhead, trapped by his immovable bulk. Obviously psycho vamp had gone from “code red” to “code homicidal rampage” quicker than her car went from 0 to 60.

Game face firmly back in place, all thoughts of limiting their bond were wiped from Angelus’ mind. Instead, all he could focus on were thoughts of her lying in some graveyard inured or dying.

It wasn’t the idea of her being hurt that bothered him; rather it was the idea of her being hurt by someone other than him that was now driving him wild. The very thought that anyone would dare to trespass on what was his, to damage what was his alone to mar, ripped at the very core of his demonic being.

Snarling down at her through tightly clenched fangs, he made his intentions in this matter perfectly clear.

“That’s over.”

Unfortunately, they only seemed clear to him.

“What?” asked Cordelia, slightly dazed.

Shaking her slightly Angelus reiterated, “Being bait girl. That ends now. You will not be doing that anymore.”

His expression became more thoughtful than enraged as his faced lost all trace of the demon and he assumed that, having clarified, Cordelia would comply. Slowly the bruising hands loosened and began to caress the upraised arms unnoticed by both.

Looking at her fresh mark on her neck and knowing that it clearly distinguished her as the property of the Master of both the Aurelius Order and the Hellmouth, Angelus mused aloud, “Frankly, I’m not sure it would work anymore. But then there’s always that one demon with no respect for tradition or someone new who doesn’t understand the players or the rules. No, you definitely won’t be wandering around anymore cemeteries asking for God knows what to attack you.”

Cordelia gaped at the order and the matter of fact manner in which it had been delivered. He spoke as if everything had been decided, as if she were not Cordelia Chase, master of her own fate, captain of her own ship, and all that other crap.

Suddenly noticing his caress she quickly brought her arms down and wrapped them around her waist.

“Just who do you think you are?” Cordelia snapped at him. “Being bait is my job; my contribution to the team effort. It may not be much in the glamorous world of slayage, but it’s what I can do and you can’t make me stop!”

Angelus’ hands returned to her arms as his body leaned even further into hers. With threat etched into every line of his face he questioned her resolve. “Do you want to bet your life on that?”

A look of confusion crossed Cordelia’s face and registered clearly in her voice.

“I don’t get it? Why do you even care?”

“Sure, we’ve been thrown together by this whole stupid necklace thing, but we both know that aside from that, you couldn’t care less about me. So what if something kills me before you get a chance to? It’d probably save you some time in my opinion.”

Why did she have to keep putting that picture in his head – Other hands making her bleed, other ears hearing her screams, other eyes swimming with the glorious vision that would be Cordelia, writhing in agony. Couldn’t she see this was hardly supporting her case?

By now the furious vampire was so still he seemed to be wrought from granite, his words made all the more sinister by the hush surrounding him.

“Listen, little girl, you are mine. Mine to play with, mine to torture, mine to kill. My mark decrees it and you’ve all but admitted it to the demon community. Do you think I would let someone else damage my “asset”?”

“Don’t worry, when the time’s right I’ll get around to killing you. But your death will be at a time of my choosing, no one else’s.”

Well, at least now the possessiveness made sense to Cordelia. To her mind it wasn’t motivated by herself, per se, but more by the fact that his reputation was, in a weird way, tied to her. She could understand that, but he needed to know that he couldn’t dictate her life.

“Look, I guess I can sort of see how that might be bad for your reputation. On the other hand, if something got me you could go all vampy on their ass and everyone would know not to mess with you.”

Cordelia seemed so excited by the prospect that Angelus wondered if she had lost sight that she was speaking of her death. While he pondered that, Cordelia continued her ill-advised tirade.

“Not that I’m planning to let anything happen, mind you. That’s what the slayer’s for, you know. But I suppose accidents hap-

Commanding Cordelia’s attention by grabbing her wildly gesturing hands and returning them to their previous position above her head, he managed to halt the flow of words that were beginning to push him past the limits of reason. While he would never admit that explaining this to her was beyond him, maybe it was time to let cooler heads prevail.

“Cordelia, I think it’s time you tell Rupert what’s been going on. Everything that’s been going on.”

Cordelia remembered just how much had been going on – kissing, touching, groping. Things she’d never even want to associate with Giles even in her head, much less discuss with him.

“Well,” she hedged, “maybe not everything.”

“Everything, Cordelia. And if you leave anything out, soften the truth, preserve some misplaced pride, I’ll know. Don’t push me in this.”

Cordelia’s eyes widened suddenly as a thought struck her.

“Good God, is this about getting to Buffy? Geez, why can’t you just stalk her directly like a normal vamp?”

“You know, the other vampires I’ve met on the Hellmouth, they just want to kill you. They don’t need your name, address, and a list of your nearest and dearest.”

Refusing to be distracted by Cordelia’s bizarre conversational turns, Angelus instead threw her a predatory smile, an unholy fire lighting his eyes as the hands holding hers contracted, almost crushing her wrists and pulling a whimper of pain from the ensnared girl.

“Cordelia, tomorrow, the watcher, everything.”

The hostility suddenly leached out of his tone and it was as if her were merely passing the time with a pleasant chat.

“If you don’t talk to him Cordelia, then I’ll have to. I wonder if he’ll survive that.”

With that he pushed her towards her door. In the porch light she examined her wrists, knowing they’d have massive bruises the next day.

“Geez,” she said, almost to herself, rubbing her injuries. “You don’t have to break me.”

Halting her just as she was about to enter her home, he gently tilted her face up to meet his gaze.

“No, I don’t have to break you, Cordelia. But it certainly would be fun.”

And as Angelus turned to make his way back towards the mansion, he was surprised how good he felt about including the watcher in this private party. While normally he would resent the Giles’ interference in his business, because, absolutely, Giles would interfere, he instead found himself arrogantly content in the knowledge that Rupert would know that the girl was his. For Giles, far more than most, would know what his claim meant.

Deeper than that, though, was the dark pleasure of forcing Cordelia to recount every word, every kiss, every touch that passed between them. Making her relive each experience again to a man that she admired and respected was almost as gratifying as knowing that with every word she uttered she would be asserting his claim over her.

His plans of limiting his exposure to Cordelia were slowly being forced from his mind as the lure of tomorrow’s delectations seeped in.

Cordelia, however, was not fairing quite as well as she made up to her room with slow measured steps.

She didn’t for one minute doubt that Angelus would follow through on his threats against Giles if she didn’t bow to his ultimatum. Cordelia Chase did not like being dictated to, her natural reaction being defiance. But with the soft spoken librarian’s life on the line, she knew she would comply.

Funny, even though he was an expert on all things that go bump in the night, she had always associated Giles with a safety of sorts. For the first time she felt a tremor of fear race through her at the thought of seeing him tomorrow. Not a fear of his reaction, but a fear of what he might reveal.

Part Three – A Watcher’s Work Is Never Done
Chapter Twelve

A watcher’s instincts, while nowhere near comparable to a slayer’s, were still quite impressive. Honed by years of training and field work, their senses became adept at perceiving patterns outside the established norm.

It was that oft used ability that told Rupert Giles that something was out of place in the quiet library beyond his office. The hour was still early, the school day not set to begin for quite sometime. This fact heightened his apprehension to an even greater degree. Not that one’s awareness was ever completely relaxed when one worked directly on a rather loosely sealed mouth of Hell.

Reaching for the ever present crossbow from within his desk drawer and preparing for what would dare to intrude upon the territory of the slayer, Giles was truly caught off guard by what he saw.

There, in the crack of the barely opened door was the top of a silky brown head and a pair of deep hazel eyes peering at him in a silent quest for entry.

“Cordelia?” The surprise at the unexpected arrival could be heard clearly in the watcher’s voice. “It’s very early. Was there a meeting of which I was unaware?”

Taking that as permission to enter, Cordelia moved through the doorway and perched on the edge of the leather couch facing the desk as if preparing for flight should it prove necessary.

“Actually, Giles, I was hoping that I could talk to you before the others show up.”

Hearing the uncertainty in her voice, Giles felt the stirring of relief. As a watcher he knew better than most the trauma the supernatural could inflict even on those who were, sadly, somewhat accustomed to it. Obviously Cordelia had been more disturbed than she had let on by the incident with Angelus and the A’toreal demons.

Although he assumed that, if she were to open up, it would most likely be to Xander, he was somewhat honored that she would place such trust in him. After all, despite the fact that it seemed that Cordelia never had a thought that didn’t somehow find its way out of her mouth, he had begun to notice that her tactless words often hid what he sensed were deeper truths about herself.

“Of course, of course. I have to admit that I was hoping that you would seek out someone in whom to confide. The worst thing you can do is to hold these things inside. It’s alright, you know. Everyone understands how difficult it must have been for you caught between Angelus and a clan of hostile demons.”

“Yeah,” Cordelia muttered her agreement. “Last night was no picnic either.”

Hand frozen in the process of replacing the weapon in his desk, Giles could only stare in shock at the girl who had spoken words he must have surely misheard.

“Ex-excuse me?”

“Last night Giles. That’s kind of why I’m here.”

Even though she knew that it would be difficult to come to Giles with this, Cordelia was still saddened by the look of dismay on his face. Sure, Giles had been supportive about the necklace thingy, but if he found out how she’d acted, would he hate her? Damn Angelus for this, she thought as her eyes slid away from Giles’ still form.

Horrified at the idea that this child had been once again subjected to the viscous vampire with none of them the wiser, he was relieved as years of training pushed to the fore, tamping down emotions that would only upset the girl and prevent him from learning what had occurred. And how to make certain that it never occurred again.

“Cordelia, listen to me, you were right to come to me. Whatever Angelus has told you, whatever he has threatened you with to remain silent, know that we will let no harm come to you. You just have to tel-“

“No. God Giles, you don’t understand.” Cordelia rushed to interrupt the watcher who, while very sweet, definitely had the wrong idea. “Angelus doesn’t want me to stay quiet. In fact he told me that I had to come and tell you everything.”

“And he didn’t threaten me, Giles. He threatened you.”

All of Giles’ previous shock and horror came to an end as confusion swamped him, obliterating everything in its path.

“Why on earth would Angelus want me to know? Certainly if this was some kind of message he would have killed you and left….”

At the sudden pallor of Cordelia’s face, Giles rushed to cover his blunder.

“Good Lord, Cordelia, I’m being quite the fool. There’s no sense in looking at what might have been because you are, quite thankfully, sitting here safe and utterly alive and I personally intend that you stay that way. So whatever message Angelus gave you to pass on, rest assured that we shall endeavor to make sure that it will be addressed with no further involvement on your part.”

Giles’ reassuring smile and the fact that Angelus had let her go with no deception needed on her part, helped soothe her nerves and allowed her to collect her thoughts.

“Look, Giles. There isn’t really a message per se. But this is totally about Buffy. He wants to mess with her mind; make her weak. That’s why he told me that I had to tell you everything.”

Giles felt a sense of dread growing within his tightly clenched stomach as he wondered just what, exactly, “everything” might mean.

“That’s why I think it would be better if we didn’t share this info with Buffy. After all, Angelus didn’t say we had to.”


“He just said that he’d know if I lied or left something out. He wouldn’t though, would he? I mean, how could he know.”


“Oh well, I still can’t take that kind of chance with your life, can I? And he knew it, bastard -“


Giles’ shouting finally had the desired effect of quieting the ranting girl.

“Are you saying that Angelus specifically told you to tell me? He didn’t mention Buffy.”

Thinking about it a moment Cordelia, too found the omission disturbing. On reflection though, she realized that, of course, Angelus would expect the watcher to go right to his slayer with this.

“Just you, Giles. But hey, I’m sure that he figured that you’d go to Buffy with this so that she could protect me or herself or try harder to kill Angelus…or at all.”

“I, for one, vote that we don’t tell her. I mean, come on, we’ll just be playing right into his evil hands. Besides, Buffy isn’t exactly rational when it comes to the whole Angel/Angelus thing, and frankly, I’ve had enough pain for a while.”

Giles’ mind having been on the vampire’s intentions in making himself specifically, and not Buffy, aware of what transpired between him and Cordelia, he only half heard her ravings until the last sentence grabbed his attention.

“Pain? Cordelia, did Angelus hurt you?”

“Duh. Evil, mass murdering vampire, Giles. Of course he hurt me.”

With that, Cordelia pulled up the sleeves of her copper colored blouse. Falling well past her wrist, Giles could see the reason for her fashion choice as two rings of swollen, heavily bruised skin came into view, one adorning each wrist like macabre bracelets.

“Giles, this has got to stop. Having to accessorize with all of this violence is hard even with my extensive wardrobe. I’ve been through my closet twice. I have nothing that goes with abuse!”

Adroitly avoiding the pitfalls of Cordelia logic, Giles examined what he knew and came to one solid conclusion.

“The account of the other night was highly edited, I assume.”

Hearing no condemnation, only the watcher’s seemingly endless curiosity, Cordelia admitted, “Maybe a little. But I hit all the highlights.”

Seeing her hesitancy, Giles understood that Cordelia was afraid of his reaction. It dawned on him that she absolutely did not want to do this and it seemed that only her genuine fear for his safety had convinced her to share this difficult tale with him. Moved by her for his concern well being, he attempted to comfort her.

“Cordelia, you must understand that nothing that happened while you were with Angelus was your fault. Anything that you did, anything, was justified because it kept you alive, and your life is definitely the most important thing. The amulet can be retrieved another day. Honestly, you should be extremely proud. You managed to survive the Scourge of Europe not once, but twice. There are thousands of people who can’t say the same.”

Acknowledging Giles’ unconditional support, Cordelia took a deep breath and began.

“It went just like I told you.”

“I had the necklace, ran, hid it, and stumbled into the demon’s house. Angelus grabbed me and took me into some kind of study.”

Giles listened patiently. So far this matched, exactly, everything that she had already told them. He was sure that he would have questions soon, but he had learned over time that most questions would be answered if one were just allowed enough time to speak.

“Angelus wanted his amulet back so he could give it to those demon guys. I told him that I hid it. He was…not happy. He threatened to torture me if I didn’t tell him where it was. You know how it goes – Blah, blah, blah kill you slowly. Yada, yada, yada rip off your skin. I swear, if he keeps that up Hallmark’s gonna sue him for copy write infringement.”

Knowing that her words were merely a cover for her discomfort, he silently waited for her to continue, bracing to hear of the young woman’s terror at the all too real threats from a monster that had instilled fear in an entire continent.

“So I told him if he killed me that he wouldn’t have his precious necklace. I also informed him that pretty soon those weirdo demons were going to come and see what our wacky behavior was about and that when they did I was going to tell them that he was really Angel, it was all a trap, and that the slayer was on her way.”

At this point, even had Giles wanted to question the girl, he knew that he would be incapable as he was literally struck dumb by the words spilling from Cordelia’s mouth. Of all the things he had conjectured that she might have done to survive, never in his wildest imaginings had threatening Angelus ever crossed his mind.

Oblivious to the stunned watcher who was staring, mouth slightly ajar in continuing shock, Cordelia let her momentum carry her forward.

“He threatened to kill me some more, but he was running out of time and we both knew it. That’s when we struck our deal.”

“I promised to give him his hideous amulet if he got me out of there safe and sound.”

A look of betrayal chased briefly across her face. “Of course the minute I believed him the bastard bit me!”

Seeing her building agitation, Giles felt it was prudent to interject, giving her a moment to calm herself.

“Ah, yes. Window dressing I believe you called it.”

The moment clearly wasn’t enough to allow a decrease in her irritation.

“Hmmph. Well that was way better than what he called it. Can you believe that jerk called me a pet?!”

Chapter Thirteen

In Rupert Giles’ time in Sunnydale unfortunate timing seemed to have made itself his constant companion. Today was, sadly, no exception as the librarian took a sip of his bracing Earl Gray tea just as the last sentence left Cordelia’s mouth. Spine snapping to attention in shock, Giles, never a true multi-tasker, nevertheless managed to choke on the slightly sweetened liquid, dump the cup and its remaining contents in his lap, and half eject himself from his chair.

This time it was Cordelia whose jaw dropped in shock as the normally unflappable watcher had, what appeared to be, some kind of fit.

Sure, she’d been enormously offended when Angelus had used that particular term in conjunction with herself, but she understood that, in the grand scheme of things, if that was the worst thing the vampire ever did to her (and it most certainly was not), then she would have been let off lightly. So what on earth was giving Giles the coronary?

Whipping off his jacket and using it to blot up some of the tea quickly soaking through his pants, Giles rattled off a number of seemingly nonsensical words which Cordelia was fairly certain would cause blushes if she had any idea what they meant. Why the heck couldn’t Giles speak the kind of English a person could understand?

Cordelia would have been surprised to learn that despite being covered in his beverage of choice, the watcher’s crass language was inspired by her revelation and not his graceless maneuverings.
Finding his voice for words not of a risqué nature, Giles hectically questioned the girl.

“A pet? He called you his pet?”

“Yeah, I know, Giles. I was upset, too. In fact, if he hadn’t just been talking about killing me I would’ve -“

“Cordelia!” Although he had planned to let her story flow naturally, Giles broke in before she could work herself up and delay the desperately important questions at hand. “A pet. Are you sure those were his exact words?”

“Of course I’m sure. I’d hardly forget being compared to Lassie.”

Realizing that this may be much worse than any of them had imagined, Giles noticed that Cordelia’s neck was once again hidden from view; this time by a light, earth toned, gauzy scarf.

Wanting to do anything other than ask Cordelia this favor, Giles had no choice but to request that she remove her scarf and allow him to view the bite.

“Alright, Giles, but haven’t you been a watcher for like…ever? Surely you’ve seen two red dots before.”

Cordelia’s minimalist words did nothing to prepare Giles for the transfixing sight on her neck. Far deeper than a mere feeding bite, yet lacking the damage of an actual attempt on her life, Giles had the sinking sensation that what he was now starring at was the mark of Angelus.

In fact, in light of the vampire’s words to the girl, Giles had the sneaking suspicion that things were much worse than that and that she had, in fact, actually been claimed by the monster in the familiar guise of Angel.

What the Hell had Angelus been thinking? Comprehension struck Giles as a blow as he realized that, of course, he’d been planning to kill the cheerleader until she’d pulled that little trick with the lock. He smirked at the thought of the great and feared Angelus being duped by a teenage girl.

The sly grin quickly left his face as it occurred to him that while he might have been fooled the first night, it would be beyond the realm of credibility to believe that Angelus had left himself open to such trickery again. And yet here Cordelia sat, which seemed to indicate that the vampire had let her walk away, relatively unharmed.

Supporting this hypothesis was the fact that the vampire had ordered Cordelia to recount both encounters, in their entirety. This actually disconcerted Giles more than the happy fact that Angelus had let her live.

While Cordelia may be correct in her assumption that this was a ploy to distract the slayer, Giles couldn’t shake the fact that he was missing a more direct explanation. It’s true that this news would upset Buffy, but Angelus had not specified that she be told. In fact, according to Cordelia, the vampire seemed only concerned that she engage in this act of honesty here with him.

Seeing that this was upsetting the girl, he decided to return to his original design of allowing her to travel at her own pace through this trying narrative. Helping her to find her place in the course of events he redirected Cordelia’s attention.

“At this point you met with the A’toreal demons?”

Grateful to be away from questions of a biting nature, Cordelia quickly replaced her scarf and picked up in the general area in which she had left off.

“Yeah. And what’s up with their freaky eyes?”

Not giving Giles a chance to answer, ’cause Lord knew he’d have a long ass explanation, she continued.

“Anyway, I didn’t like that whole “pet” thing from them anymore than I liked it from Angelus, so I told them I was more of a business asset.”

Almost two years fighting demons on an active Hellmouth, shoulder to shoulder with the slayer, it was ironic, thought the lightheaded librarian that it might be this one, lovely, young woman that would cause him to loose consciousness in a fit of incredulity.

Shock leaving him no other recourse than to interrupt, Giles asked the most pressing question since…since…well, since he’d last interrupted to ask her an important question.

“You denied Angelus’ claim in front of the A’toreal clan?!”

The more he heard of this tale, the harder Giles found it to credit the fact that Cordelia was here, in one piece, still breathing.

“No, not really. I just pointed out that I was the one who got their precious amulet for them.”

Cordelia paused for a moment and looked up at Giles. The vulnerability he saw reflected in her face tore at his heart.

“You know Giles, despite what people may think of me, I’m not stupid.” Ignoring his halfhearted attempts at a denial, Cordelia plowed ahead. “I knew that no matter what deal I made with Angelus he was still planning on killing me at the end of the night.”

It had been disturbing enough for Giles to imagine the predicament in which Cordelia had found herself when he could believe that she had been somewhat blissfully unaware of the danger she had been in, thinking herself protected by her “deal” with Angelus.

Now, realizing the terror that she must have felt the entire time, Giles had an even greater appreciation for his young charge and her astonishing ability to survive.

“I knew there wasn’t really a point in trying to give him a reason not to kill me. Let’s face it, he’d kill me on the slightest whim and never look back. So I figured the best thing I could do was to wait for a chance to escape, and then give him an excuse to let me go.”

“An extremely sound plan.” Giles said with honest sincerity.

“That’s because you haven’t heard the rest.”

Seemingly drained of her normal self-assurance, Cordelia’s gaze drifted away from the watcher’s, finding the floor and remaining there. Still and somber, her downcast eyes gave her the appearance of one on the verge of confessing some great sin.

“Angelus told me that the amulet was to prove to the demons that he didn’t have a soul. He said he needed their support because he was staging some sort of Hellmouthy coup.”

“I kind of convinced them that he’d never had a soul. I told them it had all been an act to gain power. I said that he’d told Buffy that he had a soul so that he could seduce her into helping him thin the Aurelius ranks. I let them think that Angelus had orchestrated the killing of Darla and the Master by playing on Buffy’s love. And I implied that he faked the soul loss to break the slayer so that she couldn’t kill him because he still might be her true love.”

Giles looked at the young woman, still focused on the floor, in absolute wonder. He wasn’t sure which he found most amazing – That her agile mind had been able to weave such a complex and effective fabrication in the midst of what must have been heart-stopping terror. Or the fact that one of his students had not only listened to what he said, but absorbed it and then used it in an appropriate way at the appropriate time. With the exception of Willow, he hadn’t been sure that he’d ever see the day.

“I’m sorry, Giles. I know that I helped Angelus, but -“

Desperate to relieve some of her obviously overwhelming anxiety, Giles quickly broke into her unwarranted apology. “Cordelia, you have absolutely nothing to either regret or repent in this situation. We should never have gone after the amulet so unprepared. We let our own personal issues with Angelus color or judgment.”

“Please, if nothing else, believe this. The fact that you were able to think so quickly on your feet is a credit to you, and should be, in no way, a cause for self-recriminations.”

Giles’ unexpected words of support drew her lowered gaze back to his in surprise. Cordelia felt tears sting her eyes at the acceptance and warm regard she saw there in the face of the man she’d viewed a thousand times, but had never really seen until this moment. Far more accustomed to the disappointment and derision so often reflected in the eyes of her parents, the unbounded concern she saw now aimed at her was like a soothing balm to her troubled soul.

But as lovely as that feeling was, it made her unease concerning the events of last night even greater. Still, she had no choice. After the fatherly display of concern she had just experienced she was even more determined to give Angelus no reason to harm the man in front of her. And so the nightmare of humiliation continued.

“I figured since I gave him the damn amulet he would leave me alone. But no, of course I had to get caught up in demon politics.”

“Demon politics?” Giles queried, wondering if there was to be any end to the strangeness of this saga.

“Yeah. Apparently the black eyed, necklace wearing demons wanted to make a big ol’ party out of getting their amulet back. So they had some kind of dinner for Angelus because, with their support, he seemed to be the uncontested leader of the Hellmouth. Talk about a crappy job.”

“And honestly Giles, what sort of self-respecting demons give banquets for other demons? I mean what kind of lame ass behavior is that for evil doing fiends? What’s next, satanic Tupperware parties? Not that I’m complaining, but we have to be on the most pathetic Hellmouth in history.”

Unsure how to answer that bit of utter nonsense, Giles wisely kept his own counsel.

“Well, I guess I’d made quite an impression on the Miss Manners demons; which actually is the only part of this whole thing that makes sense,” Cordelia interjected with a return of her natural self-confidence. “‘Cause they requested my presence at their little soiree.”

Still a bit unsure of how to respond, Giles managed a hesitant, “Are you saying that Angelus took you on a date?”

Cordelia remembered Angelus similar statement and her face tightened in vexation. Forcing the words out through clenched jaws, she corrected his erroneous assumption.

“It was not a date!”

“What? Oh, no. No, of course it wasn’t.” Giles hurriedly backtracked, seeing the girl’s understandable distress at the comparison of her time at the mercy of the Scourge of Europe to dinner and a movie with Xander. Although Giles himself had to wonder which of those alternatives would be the most disturbing. At least with Angelus one could hope for death.

Cursing himself silently for his insensitivity, he asked Cordelia to continue.

“Well, I was on my way into The Bronze. Of course he had to harass me when I finally get to do something non death inducing. He grabbed me and it was weird, because he was all flirty, and his face was waaaay to close to my neck for my liking.”

“He told me about the evil shindig, and made it clear that I had two choices – Go with him or death. Which really wasn’t much of a surprise since his options always seem to be something ultra-hideous and death. So I really didn’t have any choice. You see that, right?”

Giles could see that recounting the previous night’s events was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for Cordelia. Although he shuddered inwardly at what the next revelation would be, outwardly he rushed to reassure the agitated young woman.

“Of course you didn’t, Cordelia. You were right to go along with what he wanted and the proof of that is your presence here now.”

Despite the constant comfort of Giles’ positive affirmations, Cordelia still feared the repercussions of her full disclosure.

As she considered and discarded several ideas on how to ease into the subject she concluded that there was really no delicate way to say that she’d made out with a Buffy’s boyfriend’s power hungry, psycho alter ego in a dressing room.

Her teeth pressed into the smooth surface of her lower lip anxiously as she decided that, much like with cold water, it was best just to dive in. Sure, the shock hurt, but at least you got it over with all at once.

“I guess Angelus, the Joan Rivers of the Underworld, didn’t think I was dressed appropriately for a demon gala. Personally, I’m taking that as a compliment to my wardrobe. I mean, my outfit that night was so today it was almost tomorrow. Well, except that I have to keep adding these damn scarves to everything ’cause some dead guys wont keep their pokey teeth to themselves.”

Giles cleared his throat to interrupt the coming diatribe on proper Hellmouth attire. “Yes, well, I’m sure that Angelus was quite callous in his lack of appreciation for your fashion sense, but if we might continue before the others arrive.”

The reminder of the impending arrival of the Scoobies was all Cordelia needed to steer her back on course.

“Anyway, he dragged me down to that leather store; you know the one on Forth and Palm? And of course you don’t know. You and leather – yeah, not so much.”

“So, he picked out this dress. Well, not really a dress, more like two leather handkerchiefs and some chains.”

Giles’ irritation at Cordelia’s allusions to tweed clothing dissipated instantly at the picture her words created in his head. Despite what his students might choose to believe, Giles was very much a normal male, and as such, the young cheerleader’s evocative words produced an automatic response that could only be described as truly disconcerting.

Shaking the disturbing image out of his head, and remembering that, for all intents and purposes, Cordelia was much like any other victim of violent crime, he regained his focus on her words.

Said focus, however, promptly deserted him as he tuned in for the last bit of her sentence.

“…and then we may have kissed.”

Chapter 14

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