False Claims 57-60

Chapter Fifty Seven

Cordelia was amazingly bored as she watched the sun begin to set. She’d done just about all the investigating she could of both the small garden and the bonds keeping her there. In the end she’d discovered very little.

The manacle around her ankle was thin and yet apparently unbreakable given her limited strength. It seemed to lock in much the same way as handcuffs did, with a smaller end fitting into its larger counterpart, metal teeth prohibiting backward movement, allowing for an adjustable fit and a secure lock. The chain was also beyond her ability to damage, even with the large rock she’d found.

And if she could remove the manacle or break the chain, Cordelia knew the next problem would be getting out of the garden. Through the house was definitely not an option, and although there was a gate to the outside, careful listening on her part had proven to her satisfaction that Angelus had people placed along the outside of the garden walls.

None of those precautions on Angelus’ part had surprised her. What had caught her off guard was the fact that she had been allowed to spend the afternoon searching for avenues of escape. She had expected, at every new attempt that one of the vampire’s obsequious servants would rush out to halt her activities. Yet no one had. Which told her that either Angelus was so secure in the measures he had taken to keep her here that he felt confident in leaving her to her own devices, or those watching her were given strict orders not to interfere. Staring into the darkness of the house, Cordelia tried to discern which it was.

A noise at the doorway was the first indication she’d gotten that she wasn’t alone and hoping to glean some further information, she rose to her feet, determined to confront the mysterious presence.

“Look, I don’t know which repulsive toady you are and frankly I don’t care. If it’s time to come in just say so, don’t skulk around like some pervy voyeur and don’t you dare come out here and give me another talk about how lucky I am and how great your beloved master is.”

Unexpectedly it was a deep, accented voice that floated back to her, answering her demands.

“Well, luv, I’m the last one to be singing the praises the bloody wanker that owns you, but I gotta say that I wouldn’t mind a little bit of the pervy watching. Are you planning on doing something to make it worth my while?”

Cordelia rolled her eyes not in the least afraid of the vampire before her. It wasn’t just the sunlight which, although lessening was still enough to restrict Spike to the shaded doorway, nor was it the wheelchair to which he was confined; no, her safety came from a most unlikely source considering her current predicament – Angelus.

Before he’d settled his obsession solely on her shoulders, Cordelia had to worry about the countless dangers inherent to life on a Hellmouth, despite knowing the slayer. But now she was free of many of those concerns, bearing both the mark and the indelible scent of its most ruthless occupant. It was ironic that the danger of Angelus saved her from the threat of other demons. It was like not being ripped apart by hyenas because the lions were devouring your carcass – either way you lost. That was the story of much of her life lately.

So not only did she feel little fear for the blonde vampire leering charmingly at her, but since he seemed to be the only one around at the moment he became the focus of her frustration and helplessness.

“Great, the head honcho can’t be bothered to irritate me today so they’ve called in the second string?”

The leer was gone, replaced instantly with a look of extreme indignation at the implication that he was some kind of second rate vampire.

“Hey! Now I understand that spending so much time with Angelus is bound to make anyone a little cranky, but there’s no need to take out your frustrations on good ol’ Spike. After all, I’m not the one who shagged you for days and then chained you in the yard like a dog.”

Cordelia’s eyes blazed and her mouth opened to deliver a cutting set down worthy of the queen of Sunnydale High, when suddenly she snapped it shut and sat back down with a resigned sigh.

“Look Spike, I have enough trouble with the vampire I can’t avoid. I really don’t need to deal with one I can.”

Spike had found Angelus’ non stop waxing poetic about the girl obnoxious in the extreme, but it had peaked his curiosity about her. So, as soon as he’d sensed the older vampire’s departure he made his way down to satisfy his inquisitiveness.

He wasn’t disappointed. It was rare that a human showed no fear of him. Even trapped in that fucking chair Spike knew that a vibration of violence flowed from him that resonated deep within all who crossed his path. But this girl was different. Although he understood that a large part of her sense of security came from the fact that no one, not even him, would dare to damage Angelus’ property, especially property so cherished; he suspected that even without that formidable protection she would stand up to him, spewing her acerbic comments with lethal precision. After all, hadn’t she done that and more to Angelus? And she had absolutely no defense against him.

“Don’t worry, cheerleader; I’m just here to talk. Unlike some demons I can keep my teeth to myself.”

Cordelia’s laughter echoed off the garden walls. Genuine amusements were few and far between lately and she decided to enjoy this one.

“Are you actually implying that you’re doing me a favor by not biting me instead of acknowledging that the only reason you haven’t dragged me in there and sucked me dry is because Angelus would give you a never ending holy water enema? Besides, didn’t you get the memo; I’m not a cheerleader anymore.”

Spike’s grimace at the graphic imagery Cordelia had invoked was replaced by a look of exasperation. “Yeah, well, you can hardly expect him to let you run around flashing your goodies at every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the Hellmouth, pet.”

The fire that Spike had seen hinted at suddenly blazed to life at his unfortunate choice of words.

“Don’t call me that!” Cordelia bit out, literally shaking with the force of her anger as she jumped to her feet.

As devoted as he was to Drusilla, Spike had to admit at that moment, were the girl before him not owned by his grandsire he’d be hard pressed not to claim her as his own. The allure to which Angelus had alluded was achingly clear as he surveyed the girl before him. The setting sun encompassed Cordelia in a halo of fiery light as she stood, like a mythical Valkyrie, body taut and ready for battle.

“Spike, if you don’t leave now -”

A look of mockery settled on the vampire’s face. “You’ll what, luv? Call me nasty names? Beat me with your little chain there? Tell your master that I hurt your feelings?”

As quickly as it had come, Cordelia’s anger seeped out of her, and where previously fire had blazed in her eyes there was now a look of calculation and a spark of mischievous amusement.

“No. Tattling’s not my style. I think what I’ll do instead is come over there, climb up into your lap, and stick my tongue so far down your throat that I hit your tonsils. Do you still have your tonsils?” Cordelia mused almost to herself. “Oh well, I guess I’ll find out.”

There was no more mockery in the blonde vampire as pure horror overtook him at the thought of what Angelus would do if he returned to find his new obsession covered in the scent of another vampire. Cordelia’s earlier disturbing comment of what Angelus was capable of wasn’t even close to what Spike knew would be the reality of the retribution for such a transgression.

“Of course I’ll have to tell him how you found me out here, chained and vulnerable. How you took advantage of my defenseless state to force me back into the house where you attacked me until my screaming brought in the minions who saved me.”

Returning once more to her seated position, back braced against the solid tree trunk behind her, Cordelia tapped the tip of her finger against her lip as if lost in deep contemplation.

“Do you think Angelus will feel bad? I mean he did leave me chained in this sad excuse for a garden. And if you’re here then he obviously left me unguarded. Do you guys ever feel guilty about stuff? I wonder what I can get out of this.”

Since his turning there had never been a human Spike had feared. Vampire hunters, watchers, even village mobs; none of them had ever posed any real threat to him. Even if he considered slayers human, which was generally but not strictly true, he didn’t fear them, especially having killed two. He had to admit that this new slayer was different. The people around her, those loyal to her made her stronger than the slayers who came before her. But that didn’t make him fear her, rather it made her more of a challenge and thus more fun. No, he’d never really had cause to fear a human.

Until now.

Sure, he understood that his actual death would come at the hands of Angelus, but he would merely be the tool of the cunning woman before him. Actually, if he was honest with himself, under that frisson of fear was the stirring of arousal. Humans rarely had the advantage with his kind, and more than that, the fact that she could get one over on Angelus, use him by twisting his raging jealousy to her advantage, well, it was kind of hot.

“Hold on there, cheer- uh…Cordelia. Don’t do anything we’re both gonna regret.”

“What makes you think I’ll regret anything about watching you die, Spike?” Cordelia’s smile was almost predatory as she felt in control of something for the first time in weeks.

“Well now, I have to admit to being biased here, but ending my life would be a waste. After all, you certainly look like you could use a friend.”

“And you’re volunteering?”

Spike seemed almost as shocked as she seemed to be by the offer. But honestly, life had been a drag lately. Slowly he was regaining the use of his legs, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to share that fact, and was thus forced to keep up the charade of being helpless and limited to the confines of the mansion. So the opportunity for entertainment was more than he could pass up.

“Seems as I am. So, friend, what’s new with you?”

Chapter Fifty Eight

It was a surreal moment; the kind where time seems to slow and you begin to wonder if the stresses of life have shattered your mind into a million pieces and put it back together wrong. And Cordelia knew that this instant couldn’t be real because instead of following through with her plan to have Spike killed, she instead wanted laugh at the unmitigated gall it took for him to ask such an unbelievably obnoxious question when she was the difference between an ongoing healthy life after death and a horrifically painful final demise. As she puffed out a breath that ruffled the lock of hair resting across her forehead, she made her choice.

“Not much is new with me really. I’ve been stalked by a viscous demon, lost my friends, my boyfriend, had to leave school, my home, and the only person I seem to have to talk to is said viscous demon’s sidekick.”

“Hey!” Spike had to resist the urge to jump out of his chair and go smack the annoying bit. Only two things stopped him – One, he wasn’t supposed to be able to jump out of his chair; and two, the sun, although low, was still hovering in the sky just enough to make any headlong rushes outside ill advised. But honestly, there was only so much a self- respecting vampire could take. Although lately he wasn’t that big with the self-respect.

“You now, this whole friendship thing works better if you’re not insulting me every other sentence.”

“Pfft.” Cordelia rolled her eyes in exasperation at the affronted vampire. “And you’d now that how? Because your hundreds and hundreds of friends told you? Yeah, right.”

Cordelia knew from her experiences with Angelus that vampire’s didn’t act altruistically, so she wasn’t foolish enough to believe that there was the potential to even remotely be friends, or that Spike wasn’t getting something out of pretending that they could be. That last thought, though, was what made her curious; and, having nothing better to do for apparently the rest of her life, she decided there was no harm in asking.

“I don’t get this, Spike; Giles always told us that vampires loathed humans. And yet, I’ve been kidnapped by Don Juan Dracula and now you want to get all Mr. Rogers on me ‘cause you’re so glad I’m living in your neighborhood. Not to be a downer here, but where’s the hate?”

Spike laughed, really laughed for the first time in a long while; certainly since the return of his grandsire. The chit was enjoyable. She was more than easy on the eyes, she had a spirit like a live wire, and best of all, she was unpredictable. Almost every one of her reactions to him had caught him off guard, and he knew, without a doubt that more than anything else this was what had grabbed and held the attention of Angelus. He thought about warning her to change that, but he was having far too much fun. Eternity could be, well, eternal; and it got boring fairly quickly. He wasn’t about to jeopardize this fount of entertainment just so she could better handle Angelus. Besides, if her earlier threats were anything to go by she would have no problem manipulating the older vampire.

“It’s not so much that we don’t like humans as much as it is that it doesn’t pay to get too chummy with the what’s on your menu. Besides, you’re all so high maintenance. With a vampire you know where you stand – he wants whatever he wants and he’ll do anything to get it. With people you never can tell what’s going on. Are they being nice, are they being selfish, are they good, are they bad? There’s something to be said for the uniformity of evil, you know. It’s comforting in its predictability.”

Cordelia found the laughter bubbling up again. Even though she knew that Spike was most likely trying to lighten the atmosphere to put a greater distance between himself and her very credible threats, she still appreciated the effort. Although Angelus had a teasing, playful side, it was almost always buried under his overbearing need to dominate and his incessant sense of melodrama. Maybe Spike, being lower on the power ladder had a smaller need to control, or maybe he just took himself less seriously. Who knew, and honestly at that moment, who cared? It was an all too brief break from the desperate hopelessness that had become her almost constant companion.

“Well, that’s an interesting viewpoint on evil, Spike, but don’t expect an Evil Appreciation day to be designated any time soon…although here in Sunnydale who knows? We may already have one.”

Cocking her head to the side, Cordelia turned Spike’s earlier inquiry back on the vampire. “So, now that I’ve summed up my miserable excuse for a life, what’s new with you?”

“You mean besides the fact that my grandsire got himself a soul and spent all his time helping the slayer kick my ass all over this hellhole of a hellmouth, then he lost his soul, which you think would be a plus for me, but no, the first thing he does is steal my minions, my town, and my girl, all the while mockin’ me in front of anyone within hearing distance ‘cause I’m stuck in this fucking chair? ‘Cause other than that it’s all daisies and kittens.”

Except for the fact that Spike was an evil, homicidal demon who’d tried numerous times to kill her, her friends, and most grievously, to destroy the mall, she had nothing personal against him. Sure she wouldn’t shed a tear if the breaks on his chair failed and he rolled out into the sun, but she did sort of feel bad for the guy. Maybe it was because the downward spiral of both of their lives had a shared origin – Angelus.

Zeroing in on their other commonality, Cordelia sent the blonde a sympathetic smile. “Sorry about your girlfriend. Breakups suck.”

She was surprised to see a smile tilt the corner of Spike’s lips, certain that this would be the thing he was most upset about.

“Actually, Cor – you don’t mind if I call you Cor now that we’re friends and all, right?” The flippant vampire continued on, making clear that her permission was incidental to his christening her with this new moniker.

“Well Cor, that’s the one part of my life that’s looking up thanks to you.”

“To me?” Suddenly her confusion cleared as understanding dawned. “Ahhh. Of course, this is why you’re so buddy-buddy with me. You were all put out ‘cause your girlfriend was spending all her time obsessing over Angelus. But lately Angelus has been spending all his time obsessing over me, leaving the way clear for your twu wuv to triumph. I’m glad my hideously traumatic life could be of help to you.”

Spike had to admire the girl. It’s not that he was trying to hide his reasons for wanting her there. But still, humans were funny and tended to be hurt when they felt they were being used. But this one, she didn’t seem surprised at all, just satisfied as if she had finally fit the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle in place.

“Well, I like to think of it more as the silver lining in your cloudy gray sky.”

Spike laughed again as Cordelia showed her appreciation for his perspective by extending the middle finger of her right hand in his direction. This was the most fun he’d had in far too long, and frankly he could see why Angelus let her get away with so much. Although he doubted that she appreciated those instances of kindness from his grandsire.

“Now Cor, haven’t we already established that that’s an offer I can’t take you up on?”

He was such a jerk that Cordelia wanted to be mad. She wanted to hate him, to hurt him, to do all the things to him that she was helpless to do to Angelus. But she couldn’t. Not because he’d hurt her, and certainly not because Angelus might punish her, but because somehow in the extremely short amount of time they’d spent together Spike had become the most familiar thing in her topsy-turvy world. He was like the boys at school – immature, irreverent, flirtatious, and always looking to have fun. And if she closed her eyes and locked out the sight of the garden, if she pushed away the weight of the chain, she could almost imagine that she was joking with on of the football players at a pep rally.

As much as she wanted to linger in that illusion just a little longer she couldn’t afford to delude herself about the realities of her situation; not if she wanted to get her life back. And really, she was kind of curious about this little dysfunctional demon family she’d been drafted into.

“Angelus explained a little about the relationship between a vampire and their childe. I mean it doesn’t seem like Drusilla can actually help wanting him so badly, right?”

Sadness briefly darkened Spike’s eyes. “No, I don’t suppose she can.”

“But he could, couldn’t he?” And Cordelia knew that she’d just discovered why Spike could love Drusilla and hate Angelus when they both seemed to be betraying him. Vampires – they really needed to turn Oprah so they could work out some of their issues.

“Damn right he could, bloody bastard. He could have any woman he wanted. He fucked the goddamn slayer! Even with a soul he’s able to get whatever wants. Could he leave something for the rest of us? No. It wasn’t so bad at first. But then he left and for the last century it’s been me that takes care of Dru; me that makes sure that unruly mobs don’t kill her, that she doesn’t have a spell and wander out into the sun, that her damn dolls always have tea. But does Angelus care about that? Is he even remotely grateful that I’ve taken care of the childe he abandoned? Of course not. All he cares about is getting his rocks off and rubbing my face in the fact that there’s nothin’ I can do about it…yet.”

Well Cordelia certainly understood the feeling of helplessness at the hands of Angelus.

“So that’s why you hate him?”

Spike pulled out a cigarette, a habit that never failed to soothe him. “There are lots of reasons I hate Angelus.”

Cordelia watched the smoke the vampire exhaled, losing herself in the gray swirls as they were taken by the wind. She couldn’t help but agree with Spike’s statement. “Me too.”

“But you know the worst part, Spike? I’m not always sure that I do anymore.”

“I know, pet.” Both too lost to realize that he’d once again used that most hated of endearments. And this time it was Spike who had to agree with her. “Me too.”

Chapter Fifty Nine

The view was getting old. Five days of being chained in the garden was starting to grate on Cordelia’s nerves. But there were two things that made this time bearable.

The first was Spike. If one could overlook the whole evil vampire thing, he could actually be amusing. It wasn’t as if she would be issuing him any invites once she got out of this place, but he did make this situation a tiny bit easier for her.

The second was that it gave her plenty of time to plan her escape. And she had to escape. Every moment she was here was tying her more and more tightly to Angelus. Even now she felt sick at just the thought of leaving him. And the bastard knew it. He was aware of exactly what he was doing, and she knew that if she stayed much longer it wouldn’t be that she couldn’t go; it would be that she wouldn’t even want to.

And the damn vampire was cunning if nothing else. He understood that if he just took her, if he just came in and saw to his pleasure and to hell with her own, then leaving would still hurt, but it would be so much easier. He knew it and wouldn’t cooperate. But as he kept reminding her over and over, he loved her. And she was getting the sinking sensation that while the time spent with her was about strengthening their bond; the manner in which he chose to spend that time was about his “feelings” for her. After all, how else could she explain that morning?

She hated waking up to find Angelus staring down at her. But he claimed that he loved to watch her sleep, and she’d learned the hard way that he was an expert at getting his way. Of course a part of her was grateful that she’d woken up able to see him watching her instead of once again blindfolded which had only increased her sense of helplessness a thousand times over.

But instead of a blindfold he had a beautiful rose. Large and in full bloom, its velvety white petals seemed startlingly pure in the hand of the demon who held it. As it traced its way across her cheek and over to caress her lips the silky texture and enticing aroma were lost to here as she began to drown in the liquid pools of passion in his eyes.

Without warning the rose was abandoned as he swept her up in his arms. As he carried her towards the bathroom, Cordelia noticed that every step he took was on a pathway of rose petals. Her eyes screwed shut as she tried to dig deep inside herself to withstand the onslaught of another romantic interlude with the ardent vampire.

As he opened the bathroom door, managing both the doorknob and her weight with ease, steam poured out warming her exposed. Lifting her head from its place on his shoulder she surveyed the atmosphere that had obviously been painstakingly created to swamp her senses.

Candles filled the room creating a fluid tango between light and shadow. The steam that swirled around her was rising from the large roman tub, the water within covered with more of the fragrant rose petals. It was a scene straight from the pages of a Harlequin novel and for a moment Cordelia was afraid that the picture of Angelus reading a trashy romance and taking notes would cause her to laugh out loud and God only knew what the strangely sensitive vampire would do if he felt she was mocking him. Usually she wouldn’t care, but when he was in this particular mood the punishments he dolled out were invariably sexual in nature and every time she caved in she felt weaker than the time before. At least when he was threatening people she could take solace in the fact that she was strong to suffer for the safety of others. But when his chastisements were so intimate and solely about her, she felt so wrong for giving in.

As she met the water, heat poured through her, warming her from the inside out. Sleeping with a vampire didn’t make for toasty warm nights. While Angelus loved the arrangement as he pulled the heat from her body into his, without a return of the favor Cordelia was left never quite as warm as she was on her own, even when wrapped in the luxurious velvet comforter that cloaked the large bed. She briefly considered demanding an electric blanket, but thought that subject would be better broached at another time.

Angelus leaned back against the porcelain slope of the tub and settled her in front of him, forcing all thoughts from her mind as the hard body that seemed to surround her took center stage. Compelled to recline against the chiseled chest behind her, she felt fingers beneath her chin firmly tilting her head up. Expecting the crushing feel of his mouth hard against hers, she was taken aback by the gentle, oh so tender brush of his cool lips against her forehead.

A kiss as soft as the flutter of hummingbird wings, the innocence of that caress swamped her with warm emotions; emotions she had no right to feel for the demon cradling her to his chest.

She felt Angelus reaching for something, but couldn’t tear her eyes away from his simmering gaze long enough to investigate. There was little waiting as her arm was gently lifted and held aloft. Water rained down its length as an indescribably sensual fragrance filed the air. A material so soft that it was hard to tell where the water ended and cloth began moved gently over her fingers stroking every inch of her skin as it made its way down to her shoulder, leaving the scintillating scent in its wake.

When Angelus was satisfied that no part of her arm had been neglected he brought her hand to his mouth and softly kissed each finger, pressing his lips reverently to her palm before lowering the liquefied limb back into the water and turning his attention to her other appendages.

And so it went as he washed every inch of her. The quiet veneration in his touch was more damaging to the walls she’d erected than any act of violence could ever be. By the time he had finished what could only be accepted as the worshipping of her body, she was beyond words, beyond thought, beyond any understanding of them as anything other than two parts of a broken whole, and her need to create a unity between them drowned out even the loudest voice of reason in her head.

Her articulate pleas for completion died in her throat as the sensations in her body overwhelmed her, and all that managed to escape were small, breathy sighs. As if spoken in a language only lovers understood, Angelus seemed to divine the meaning in the erotic puffs of air and acceding to both their wishes, he smoothly spun her around to face him.

The new position placed her firmly against his throbbing arousal and Cordelia, unable to bear a moment more without being a part of him, making him a part of her, reached down to guide him into her burning heat.

Sliding down the rigid length, dual moans echoed in the small room. Angelus’ constant need to dominate usually placed Cordelia in a series of passive positions. But now she controlled their pleasure. The rhythm, the depth, the pace; all were hers to dictate and the power was nearly as intoxicating as the pleasure.

Caught up in her new found authority, she surprised the vampire beneath her by leaning down to lay siege to his mouth. Pressing hard against his lips, her tongue swept in, rubbing against his own only to withdraw and then return in a cadence that matched her downward plunges.

As their eyes met and locked, Cordelia could see that Angelus was finding her newfound sense of control just as heady as she was. Although his eyes were gold, his features retained their human appearance as if he knew that releasing his demon would be the end of her little dominatrix stint.

Although her lack of experience was clear as she struggled to manage the endless movements that Angelus made seem oh so effortless, the staggers in her rhythm or odd variations in her descending thrusts seemed to excite him even more as did almost anything that reminded him that he alone had touched her. And while usually that thought bothered her, at this moment she found it utterly empowering as it spoke to her ability to drive him beyond the edge over which he routinely pushed her.

As the pressure built up inside them, threatening to explode at any moment Angelus’ fingertips rose to gently brush across Cordelia’s parted lips.

“Tell me that you love me, Moonbeam.”

It wasn’t a command, but a request. Had it been anything other she could have resisted, made him work for the lie, made it achingly obvious that the sentiment was a fabrication. But it hadn’t been a demand; it had been an appeal, and it had been delivered with a sharp rise of his hips as her own surged forward. And as they met, the world seemed to fracture and the pieces slipped away as the words she longed to infuse with abhorrence came out instead in a rush of indescribable emotions.

“I love you, Angelus.”

Chapter Sixty

Even now the memory made her cringe. And honestly, she wasn’t sure if it was because it was getting so much easier to state the lie or because it was getting so much harder to convince herself that she was lying. The only thing she knew with any certainty was that she had to get out of there.

“Hey, Spike.” Cordelia called out from her shaded position next to the house. As she waited for her afternoon diversion to move as close as the sun would permit she went back to her time filling activity of building what appeared to be a small teepee out of broken sticks.

She was glad for the distraction that she knew was coming when she heard the slight metallic click of his chair as it rolled in her direction. In the days she’d spent talking to the house bound vamp she’d learned a lot about him, Drusilla, Angelus, and vampires in general. They’d talked about his relationship woes and her captivity complaints and more than anything it helped her fend of the crushing sense of isolation that she knew Angelus was trying to impose on her.

“I have to get out of here.” The thought seemed to be a broken record repeating endlessly in her head ‘til it spilled from her lips.

“And how are you gonna do that, luv?”

Cordelia’s eyes shot to his as surprise coursed through her. “You don’t mind? I thought that I was part of your master plan to win back Drusilla.”

Spike smiled at her and it reminded her that he was just as much of a predator as Angelus, and no matter how much she enjoyed his company he was always working his own agenda.

“Are you kidding? The only thing better than you being here, would be you being somewhere out there. Don’t you get it, Cor? He needs you, the same way you need him. And sure, the separation that would make you want to die would only cause him some physical discomfort; mentally he’d be hurtin’ loads more than you. Lord knows you’re not here because you want to be. No, you’re here because his head’s so full of you he’ll never be able to shake it clear again. He’s not just obsessed with you, he’s completely given in to every thought, every feeling about you that spins its way across the muddle that passes for his mind. Don’t get me wrong Cor, I’d miss you if you left. You’re fun for a do-gooder. But there’s no way in hell that if you were somewhere else Angelus would still be here. You’re a clever chit. I bet if you got enough of a head start you could stay hidden for a while. You’d keep him busy for years.”

Seeing the smirk that brought to Spike’s face Cordelia smiled in return.

“Yeah, and I bet that would just break you up inside, huh?”

“Well, we all have our burdens to bear.”

Spike’s endearing wink seemed to have the opposite effect on her as melancholy pressed down her shoulders.

“It never stops, does it Spike.”

The vampire didn’t pretend not to know what she meant. “No luv, it never does.”

“You know, at first I didn’t believe him. I didn’t think it would be like this. Not ‘cause I believed that somehow Angel was in there and he’d suddenly realize he wanted to do the right thing. No, I left that kind of denial to Buffy. It’s just – I know the frickin’ vampire slayer! I thought that would give me at least a little protection from a vampire.”

“He wants you; not the slayer and not her band of merry morons could have protected you from that.”

The note of something that sounded strangely like sympathy in the blonde’s tone let Cordelia know just how bad her situation really was.

“Then I guess I’ll just have to protect myself.”

And before Spike could enquire just how she was planning to do that she slipped off her left shoe. Setting it down next to her he watched as she rolled up her pant leg and slid her sock from under the metal cuff and pulled it off. Then he watched as she did it again. And again. And again until she’d pulled of 6 socks, leaving her foot finally bare. Under his awestruck gaze he watched as she yanked and tugged until her foot slipped through the ring that had been widened by the padding of so many socks hidden beneath her pants.

Not wanting to draw any undue attention by falling into the hysterics this situation called for Spike managed to rein in his laughter. Besides, if he was convulsed with hilarity he would miss whatever plan she must have cooked up to get her out of the mansion.

His willpower was rewarded as Cordelia picked up the extra socks, slipped her shoe back on and stood. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a bright silver object. The laughter was threatening once again as he recognized Angelus’ lighter.

To think that all the careful planning that went into keeping the girl, the chains, the guards, expanding their bond; all undone by the stupidity of Angelus’ bumbling servants and a misplaced Zippo. It was more fitting than anything Spike could have devised had he another century just to think on the problem.

“Roll back Spike. I hear vampires are more flammable than gasoline.”

And with that warning issued she bent down and lit her little stick house on fire, the dry kindling she’d put in the middle catching instantly and blazing to life.

Wiggling her eyebrows at the vampire who was quickly maneuvering himself backwards, Cordelia shot him one final smile, picked up the shackle and moved near the garden’s wooden gate before she began to scream.

“Fire! Oh my God, the house is on fire!”

And just as she knew it would, the gate was hurriedly unlocked and thrown open to allow three large men to barrel there way through.

Seeing the fire beginning to creep up the side of the house the nearest of the men ran inside to grab one of the many fire extinguishers scattered throughout various rooms as the other two remained outside, one grabbing the garden hose while the other attempted to beat the flames out with his shirt. In all the excitement no one saw the gate open, no one saw it swing closed. And in the panic of such potential danger no one noticed that the Master’s new pet was gone.

Chapter 61

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