Chapter Twenty Four
Lightening. It had to be lightening striking her skin, Cordelia thought through the haze of pleasure overwhelming her. What else could explain the electricity flowing through her, prickling her skin and igniting her senses? She wanted to tell him to stop, she wanted to beg him to continue, but she could do neither. His tongue, cool, strong, and dominating, just like the rest of him, was plumbing the depths of her mouth, preventing speech even had she been able to form a coherent thought.
The taste of him filled her head with a strong, masculine flavor and all of her other senses dimmed, bowing to the superior experience her tongue was relishing as it wound around his, desperate to fill every possible space inside of her with a part of him.
She’d never felt anything this powerful, and the intensity would have frightened her if passion wasn’t overriding all else. Her breasts tightened with need and she thrust them further against the sculpted marble of his chest in an effort to ease their demand for friction. Their lustful moan merged into an erotic symphony as the taut peaks pressed through her dress and teased him with the evidence of her hunger.
But nothing compared to the feel of his thick finger piercing into her heat. Filling her perfectly, a sense of completeness settled in her blood. There was a rightness in his mastery of her body that no part of her could deny.
That vague concept floating in the far reaches of her mind triggered another thought. The bond. She wasn’t supposed to be doing this, she shouldn’t be anywhere near him. But how could she stop. At that moment she could sooner give up air than Angelus’ touch.
No. She was strong. No matter how right this felt, no matter how natural it seemed to have some piece of him inside of her, she had to end this. Fighting the drugging affect of his body crushed against hers, she used every ounce of willpower she possessed as she laid her hands on Angelus’ shoulders and tried to create some breathing room between their bodies.
Angelus was incredulous as he felt Cordelia’s attempted retreat. True, vampires were given to sever bouts of anger, but nothing he’d ever experienced could rival the furious storm that was forming within him.
Harsh vibrations issued from his chest as his true face pushed forward. Following her body as she attempted to move backwards he crushed Cordelia against the wall behind her. The deadly projectiles that were his lengthened teeth pierced her lower lip in warning, leaving shallow cuts to alert her to the danger she was courting with her rejection.
Although he wouldn’t have thought it possible, as he lapped at the blood in her mouth his arousal grew stronger, eliminating reason, eradicating rationality. All he could do was submit to these all consuming feelings as he planned to strip her of her innocence here in a darkened corner of the Bronze.
As Angelus slid a second finger into Cordelia’s clenching center, he shuddered as her untried muscles gripped him, urging him further.
Suddenly the mood was interrupted as a clumsy partier barreled into the distracted couple, jarring the vampire. Emotions already beyond his control, Angelus turned his demon face to the unfortunate young man and roared his displeasure.
Shock trying to root him to the spot, the boy was lucky as instincts as old as time forced his legs into motion and propelled him to the nearest exit, ending the last night he would ever choose to spend at this particular club.
The brief disruption in their prurient exertions was enough for Angelus to realize that they had to get out of there. The things he wanted to do to the body shaking with desire in his arms would take all night. And probably most of tomorrow.
Acknowledging the painful truth that it would be just a little bit longer before he could feel Cordelia wrapped tightly around him while he pounded into her until he burst forth, pouring himself into her, he slowly withdrew his fingers from the shivering brunette. Catching the sharp intake of her breath as he pulled free of his sensual confinement he caught Cordelia’s widening eyes and, holding her gaze in an unblinking stare, brought his saturated fingers to his mouth.
Slowly they pushed past his lips as his tongue curled out to meet them. Savoring every pearly drop of Cordelia’s essence, a rumbling of satisfaction shook its way through the pair. Cordelia’s pupils enlarged at the scene before her and Angelus knew that she, too, teetered on the edge of sensual oblivion.
Sliding her down the length of his body, he grasped her hand tightly and pulled the dazed girl through dancing crowd and into the cool air of the night. Even the frigid breeze couldn’t break the sultry haze that transfixed the couple.
However, that voice could.
Chapter Twenty Five
“Leaving so soon, Angelus? Not even a goodbye; what would Miss Manners say?”
“Slayer.” That one word held all of the hostility the vampire felt at her interference in his plans for Cordelia.
“It won’t work you know. You can’t get to me through my friends. I won’t let you hurt them.”
Hating the young blonde with a virulence he hadn’t previously known himself capable, Angelus faced the slayer.
“Were you expecting me to ask your permission, Buff? Don’t delude yourself, lover. I’m not just going to kill your friends; I’m going to kill everyone you know, everyone you try to know. All you’ll ever be is alone until finally you beg me to end your miserable existence.”
“Well, if your plan is to talk me to death then you’re off to a good start.”
And with that Buffy leapt at the vampire, striking him full force in the face, knocking him backwards and causing him to loose his grasp on Cordelia. Thrown to the side, she was caught by Xander who quickly moved her to safety behind the infuriated slayer.
Eventually the two combatants realized that their ongoing battle was pointless, as neither was prepared to kill the other on this night. With Cordelia out of harm’s way for the time being, Buffy decided that a strategic retreat was for the best.
Angelus silently agreed with the slayer’s tactics as he still had months of enjoyment planned at her expense. That pleasant thought, however, was stripped from his mind as he noticed Cordelia, back in the arms of that moron. Had she learned nothing from the evening’s escapades?
Eyes shooting sparks across the distance that separated them, the newly enraged vampire spit out a warning only he and the girl he could still taste on his tongue would understand.
“This isn’t over Cordelia. You must know that the only way this can possibly end is in a hideously violent death.”
Although her friends took Angelus’ words as a threat against the cheerleader’s life, Cordelia knew that he was promising that painful end to the gentle boy whose arms held her with the honorable but mistaken notion that he could protect her from this demon.
“You’ll never get close to her again, deadboy.”
Angelus slowly looked the boy over, a smirk tilting up the corner of his lips. “Don’t upset yourself, Xander. I always keep my promises, and this one will be far more pleasurable than most.”
With that he turned and was almost instantly engulfed by the darkness.
Cordelia was still quaking, although not in fear, as Buffy made her way over to the couple.
“Don’t worry, Cordelia. Xander’s right, I won’t let Angelus get this close to you again.”
A small nod of her head was all Cordelia could manage because right then she wanted nothing more than to have the vampire far closer to her than he’d had a chance to get tonight. Her body still burned with unfulfilled desire, and even as that sent shame spiraling through her as she stood in her boyfriend’s protective embrace, she knew that she couldn’t help it.
Giles had been right in everything he’d said about the bond. A part of her rebelled at Xander’s soft touch and wanted nothing more than to shake off it’s cloying presence and follow her would be lover into the night.
But that wasn’t going to happen. She wouldn’t let that happen. She wasn’t a weakling; a mindless slut who gave into every demand her body made. She was strong with a core of steel that nothing had yet been able to break. And she’d be damned if that would change because some psychopathic vampire wanted to dive into her pants.
She’d told Angelus that this was her life and she’d meant it. And until the day he took it from her completely in his bid to break Buffy, Cordelia was retaining control.
Turning in Xander’s arms she ignored that uneasy feeling settling in her stomach at the close contact and leaned forward and kissed him sweetly.
“Thanks, Xander. My boyfriend the hero.”
The young man blushed under the uncharacteristic praise from his girlfriend. Unbelievably relieved at having her safe in his arms he pulled her in closer to his body, attributing her stiffened posture to the lingering fear of her ordeal.
“Why don’t we get you home Cordelia. We can sort out what to do about this in the morning.”
Buffy hadn’t had an easy time of it that evening, and even with her slayer healing she would still be pretty banged up come morning. Realizing that she wasn’t the only one who needed to be home Cordelia nodded to the slayer.
“How ’bout Xander and I get you home Buffy.”
Buffy could only stare at the girl. Having prepared herself for another diatribe on why she needed to kill Angelus, the concern, especially from one of his victims, was startling. Of course, what Cordelia giveth, Cordelia can taketh away.
“‘Cause you know, black and blue are sooo not your colors, and you definitely don’t need anymore fashion strikes against you.”
If Cordelia’s worry had been surprising, it was nothing in comparison to the shock Buffy felt as a genuine smile lit her face. Usually Cordelia’s insults were tedious and annoying, but this time the sense of normalcy and the clear indicator that the shaken brunette was basically alright were reassuring. And catching Cordelia’s soft expression from the corner of her eye she wondered if the young woman hadn’t meant her words to do just that.
As the three teens made their way to Cordelia’s car, each lost in their own thoughts, none of them noticed the dark, malevolent presence observing them from the roof of the Bronze.
It was cold.
It was really cold.
As the chill dragged her out of a sound sleep Cordelia wondered what was going on. It was never cold in her house. The entire house was controlled with sensors in each room that activated the heater when a specified temperature was reached. In fact she could hear the warmed air shooting out of the vents at full blast.
So why the Hell was she so cold?!?
Opening her eyes she glanced down. All of her blankets were still in place, so that wasn’t it. Her door was still closed, so it wasn’t some kind of weird draft from the rest of the house. Skimming her eyes across the rest of the room, she was shocked to discover her balcony doors standing open.
Even though she knew it provided no real safety, Cordelia hadn’t been able to sleep without her doors locked since discovering that only a few bare feet of dirt stood between her and Hell. So she knew, without a doubt, that the open doors were not her doing.
Sliding out from between the sheets, Cordelia slowly made her way around the bed. As she approached the other side she pushed back her rising fear as the floor, littered with roses and sheets of paper came into view.
Telling herself, repeatedly, that it was daylight, she carefully navigated the thorny flowers and bent down to pick up the page nearest to her.
And then she screamed.
Chapter Twenty Six: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
God, there was so much screaming. It was so loud she couldn’t focus. Why didn’t someone help that poor girl? Why couldn’t she think?
As if a frozen moment of time suddenly regained its natural momentum, Cordelia slammed back into reality and realized that the screams she was hearing were pouring from her mouth. Forcing it to close the piercing sounds converted to muffled whimpers as she bent her shaking legs and lowered herself slowly to the floor. She never felt the thorns puncture her delicate skin as the contents of the other pages became clear.
Images covered every available inch. Horrible, frightful images. Things she’d never imagined; acts she couldn’t conceive. And every one of the perpetrated on Xander’s tall, thin body as torment cut into every torturous line of his face.
Her kind and tender boyfriend, skin split under a barbed lash.
His throat ripped open as blood streamed out of his gaping mouth.
His neck wrapped in a noose, his eyes bulging and his right arm lying on a nearby table.
And finally her eyes traveled back to the drawing clutched in her trembling hand.
A knife, buried in Xander’s chest, leaving a bloody chasm from its entrance just bellow his naval. His head was thrown back, howling in agony as his innards spilled onto the floor below in a bloody heap.
The pictures conveyed every likeness with a clarity that bit into Cordelia’s soul. And yet, what shook her to the foundation of her very being were the dark red smears staining each surface, giving terrible life to the writhing figure in his various stages of death.
Overwhelmed by the vileness surrounding her, Cordelia began to retch, emptying the contents of her stomach onto the floor.
No. No. No.
The repetitive thought rang so loud that she wasn’t sure she hadn’t said it aloud.
This couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t. Not because of her. Not because she’d touched the jovial boy, not because of her kisses. She wouldn’t believe it. Not until she knew for sure. Not until Giles condemned her as a whore for her actions and Buffy stilled her betraying heart with a stake.
He’d warned her. Giles had told her what would happen, how the vampire would act. And though Cordelia had tried to stay away, to escape every encounter, that logic eluded her now in the face of these possible atrocities and all she could feel was the crushing wait of the blame she was sure should rest on her shoulders.
Rising from the floor, heedless of the blood marking her knees, she ran to her dresser, and frantically seized the phone. Dialing Xander’s number with shaking fingers she struggled to breathe as she waited, desperate for a voice that could end this nightmare.
On the seventeenth ring, Cordelia could bear the suspense no more a hurled the phone across the room. Pausing only long enough to grab her keys, she ran down the sweeping staircase, out the large double doors and rocketed into her car.
Flying down the roads at speeds the transformed her vehicle into nothing but a red blur, Cordelia would never remember the trip at that breakneck pace to the Harris residence. Skidding to a halt half on the road and half across the sidewalk, she jumped out before the car had even stopped and flung herself at the door, banging on the wood in a blind panic.
Tears flowing down her face, she cried out, begging someone to come to the door, beseeching them to allay her overpowering fears. As her knuckles split and blood painted the entryway, her mind raced to other locations at which Xander might be, safe and unharmed.
The library. Buffy would be there early today, and wherever Buffy was Xander was sure to be close behind. Oh, if only that proved true today she would never again ridicule his need to stay close to the slayer.
If the trip to Xander’s house had been dangerous, her drive to the library was positively suicidal. Not knowing how she made the trek from the parking lot to the library, she suddenly found herself surrounded by books.
Looking frantically around, she saw Willow in her exclusive seat in front of the computer. As Cordelia’s mind spun dizzily she wondered how the girl could be so calm. Didn’t she know that her lifelong friend was missing, probably ripped to pieces at the hands of a demon.
The opening of the door to Giles’ office caught the overwrought girl’s attention. From the library’s inner sanctum stepped the slayer, her watcher, and – Oh God – Xander! At the blessed sight of the tall, lanky young man, hysteria overcame Cordelia as she collapsed, sobbing to the ground.
The room’s other occupants looked on in horror at the normally immaculate young woman who kneeled now on the hard floor, heedless of her form clad simply in a thigh length T-shirt obviously meant for sleeping, as giant tears trailed down her face and convulsive weeping caused shudders to rack her body.
Chapter Twenty Seven
Although both Giles and Buffy were skilled in dealing with crisis, it was Xander who was first shaken out of his stupor at the sight of the broken girl before him. Rushing to his girlfriend’s side he bent down to take her into his arms.
Snapped out her nearly catatonic state by the sudden move, Cordelia scrambled backwards, relief forgotten as she focused on the only thought left in her head – protecting Xander.
“No! Don’t touch me. God, don’t touch me! He’ll know. He always knows. He’ll – He’ll, God, he’ll -” Whatever else Cordelia might have said was lost as the crying returned and her words became incoherent.
Xander’s confusion was palpable and hung in the air as Giles waved the boy aside and bent down beside the now rocking brunette. Careful not to touch her, he kept his voice low and soothing as he tried to coax her out of her trauma induced trance.
“Cordelia, it’s okay. You’re safe now.” Moving slowly closer he observed her breathing begin to even out with relief. In order to help her he would need to discern what had happened, and that hardly seemed likely without Cordelia’s help. “May I see what you’re holding?”
Looking down in shock, she was surprised to see that she still clutched the proof of the evil that was fast overshadowing her life. Dropping the hideous page as if burned, she reared even further back as if physical distance could erase the scenes forever burned into her mind.
Undeniably curious, yet with great trepidation, Giles reached down to retrieve what he suspected to be the cause of the girl’s suffering. It took the discipline of every year of training he had to keep his face relatively impassive in the face of the stomach turning image he was seeing.
Noticing Giles’ distraction, Xander moved towards Cordelia once again, hoping that her calming demeanor would allow him to offer her some kind of comfort.
Before he got within a few feet of her, Cordelia’s head shot up and the warning fell once more from her lips.
“Stop! Don’t you understand? I can’t – We can’t. I- I can’t see you anymore.”
Not knowing what could have possibly caused this sever emotional reaction in his usually stoic girlfriend, Xander felt an even greater urgency to ease some of her obvious distress.
“Cordelia, don’t worry, honey. Whatever it is, we’ll work -“
Wild-eyed, she almost screamed her denial at him.
“NO! I can’t see you anymore. Never again. Don’t you get it?” Turning to the watcher her eyes begged him to confirm for Xander what they both knew to be the only viable course of action. “Giles please.”
Understanding completely what had happened; Giles rose to his feet, dreading the drama about to unfold.
“Yes, Xander; I’m afraid that I have to agree with Cordelia.” Acting quickly to ward off the protests that were even now forming on the boy’s lips, Giles pinned a stern look to his face and inserted a tone of extreme gravity into his voice. “Sit down children.”
Bowing to the authority of the only adult present, and grateful in some way for what they hoped would be a voice of reason in the utter weirdness that was their morning, they sat.
Reaching his hand out to the still distraught girl, Giles continued the use of his firm pitch in the hopes that Cordelia would respond automatically as the other’s had.
“Cordelia, I want you to come and lay down in my office.”
After a moment of hesitation, Cordelia gripped Giles’ hand as if it were a lifeline in her sea of turmoil. Allowing him to escort her to the very couch she had sat upon barely a week before spilling her secrets to the librarian, she stretched her body out, caught unaware by the exhaustion sweeping over her.
Covering her with a blanket, Giles made his way to his desk and retrieved a bottle of Scotch that he kept for those days that made him question the wisdom of working in a high school as a cover for his real profession. Pouring a small amount in a glass, he turned to Cordelia’s still form and placed it in her hands, silently urging her to drink.
Rousing herself slightly, she looked in Giles’ eyes. Seeing the endless concern in his gaze she relaxed and allowed him control of the entire situation. Knowing that Xander was safe left her swimming in relief so intense it was almost as painful as her panic. Suddenly the golden numbness contained in the tumbler that was offered seemed like an oasis in the desert. Swallowing it quickly, she grimaced as it burned its way down her throat and into her stomach. But it was more than worth that small discomfort as warmth spread through her and her eyes finally drifted shut.