Chapter Sixty One
The bodies were beginning to pile up.
Three humans were strewn carelessly across the floor, their oddly angled limbs and torn, bloodied flesh testament to the violence that had robbed them of life. But they weren’t the only casualties. Spread intermittently among the human remains were small piles of dust that showed that no one had escaped the wrath of the Master.
Hands braced against the mantle as he stared into the cold embers of a fire long dead, Angelus exuded a fatal menace that had all in the room, regardless of species cowering in abject terror lest they be next to bear the blame for the actions of his wayward pet.
He could feel his childer out in the hallway. He knew that Spike had stopped Drusilla from entering the room. In some ways that disappointed the livid vampire as he would have loved to vent his rage on his brunette child, pretending that she was another, the one who’d left him. But the rational side of him was glad that Spike had the forethought to restrain his sire. While punishing Dru would be satisfying it would distract him from his primary purpose – retrieving Cordelia.
A tremor of rage once again shot through his body at the thought of her, out there, beyond his reach, running from where she belonged, from him. That fury was in no way lessened by the fact that he knew where she was headed; to the slayer.
Cordelia was no fool and she was loyal to a fault to those she considered her friends. She had to know that he would annihilate anyone unwise enough to aid her in this futile attempt to escape her destiny. But she would believe that Buffy was the only person who could possibly stand a chance of surviving his wrath. She was wrong.
If Cordelia was successful in making it to the protection of the slayer, Buffy would die. Horribly. Painfully. Slowly.
And Cordelia would watch. She’d watch it all, and when the protector of the Hellmouth was dead he’d reclaim his wayward pet in a violent possession, covering them both in the blood of the fallen slayer.
He wanted Cordelia, her loyalty and her love; and he was willing to be patient in his pursuit of that goal. But if she wouldn’t give those things to him, if she left him, denied him, he’d break her to obtain them.
As thoughts of pounding into Cordelia surrounded by the corpses of everyone she loved ran through his fevered mind, a part of him recognized that these thoughts, this massive deviation from his plans was the result of his separation from the girl.
Although undoubtedly she would be hurting by now, she hadn’t been gone long enough for him to experience much physical discomfort. Mentally, however, he could feel himself breaking apart.
Sure, he had known that his interest in Cordelia had leapt far beyond fascination and deep into obsession. He’d even admitted quite openly and often that he loved her. But he’d had no idea that his feelings for her had reached such a depth that Cordelia was necessary for his stability, his sanity.
Which was why it was imperative that Cordelia was returned to him as soon as possible; for her sake as well as for his own. As much as he truly valued her spirit, if he couldn’t see her, hold her, taste her soon he’d be crazed by the time he retrieved her and he really would destroy her.
Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that, because even though Cordelia had a head start he had the advantage in this chase.
As bad off as he was mentally, Cordelia was most likely ten times worse physically. Add to that the fact that she was on foot while her pursuers had vehicles and that he was well aware of her destination and the odds shifted greatly in his favor.
He hoped it was enough.
Chapter Sixty Two
Cordelia almost doubled over in pain. Despite the feeling that every cell in her body was exploding simultaneously she forced her feet to keep moving.
Over and over in her head she repeated, in a desperate attempt to convince herself, that the agony she was suffering wasn’t real; there was actually nothing wrong with her body, it was just the illusion of the bond that had been forced upon her.
And whether she was right or wrong about the reality of the pain, the thought gave her the strength to make it past one more house, down one more block, across one more street.
As she neared her destination further aspects of the insidiousness of this mystical force that bound her were revealed as a traitorous part of her mind screamed at her to return to her vampire lover and bury herself in his embrace. She knew instinctively that if she just turned around the pain would begin to ease. The thought alone of doing so brought a small measure of comfort. But ruthlessly she tamped those notions down, accepting the renewed burst of pain and using it to rekindle her anger, letting that emotion drive her onwards.
Revello Drive. Cordelia almost cried as she saw the sign on the corner. Two and a half blocks and she’d be there.
She didn’t want to go to Buffy’s. Not because of the ever present animosity between the two of them; quite the opposite, in fact. She didn’t want to go because she was loathe to put any of her friends in danger, even a barely, sort of friend like Buffy. Sure, they didn’t get along, but that didn’t mean that when it came right down to it they didn’t care. She was the first to admit that Buffy, in her role as slayer, had saved her life numerous times. And it had been for the health of all of their little group that Cordelia had tried to leave Sunnydale in the first place.
Which was actually what was bringing her now to Buffy’s door. She knew that no one could hide her away from Angelus. It would be suicide for them to even try. No, she couldn’t stay in Sunnydale before and she could stay now even less.
What she needed wasn’t a place to hide, but an escort out of town. And while she hated to put Buffy in more immediate danger from Angelus, she was really the only chance she had of getting past all the minions, human and otherwise that the vampire was sure to send forth to prevent her escape.
Besides, she knew that Spike was correct in his assessment that Angelus would follow her to the ends of the earth. She had believed it before when she had tried to leave and she believed it now ever more. If she could just get out of Sunnydale she had a chance to evade him and, in doing so, keep him chasing her and away from her friends. It was sadly the only hope any of them had.
Falling to her knees, Cordelia nearly vomited in the bushes bordering a small, well manicured yard. By sheer force of will she pushed down the nausea and on legs that felt suspiciously like rubber, rose and resumed her stumbling trek towards the only haven left to her.
Finally she could see it. Cordelia had lived her life in wealth and luxury, her home one of the greatest Sunnydale had seen. But at that moment no house had ever been finer to her eyes then the modest, two story house that rose up before her.
Not knowing if she was about to cry in pain or relief, she moved to take the last few steps that would lead her to freedom. Before her foot could fall she felt a hurtling force knock her sideways and then all went black.
Chapter Sixty Three
He snapped to attention, a dark smile curving his lips. He could feel her. She was close. Delicious shivers rippled through his muscles as the red haze began to clear from his mind.
As his servant came through the door carrying the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen he froze, every muscle in his body rigid with fury as he took in the stillness of the girl. Crossing the room in a blur of angry motion he deftly reclaimed the motionless figure.
The feel of her in his arms; her warm, soft body pressed against his chest calmed him as nothing else possibly could. The rhythmic beating of her heart sounded gently in his ears as he inhaled enthralling fragrance that was uniquely Cordelia wrapped tightly in his own scent. It was all working to sooth him immeasurably until he looked down at her.
The roar that split the silence chilled the marrow of every creature to hear it; living or dead. Letting Cordelia’s feet slide to the floor, Angelus pulled her close against him with one arm while the other raised, his hand sweeping the hair from her face to reveal a darkening bruise over her left temple.
“Master, she was approaching the slayer’s house. There was no other way to sto-”
The remainder of the sentence was lost in a gurgle of horror as blood arced high into the air, spurting with the force of the man’s slowly stilling heart as he crumpled to the ground.
Angelus, who had turned to shield his sleeping pet from the filth of such inferior blood, now spun back around, swinging Cordelia up into his arms. Moving his icy gaze slowly over each and every occupant in the room he warned all in a low, ominous growl, “No one hurts her but me. No reasons. No excuses. That privilege is solely my own.”
And seeing the terror in the eyes that had watched him brutally kill a man for simply doing what was asked of him, Angelus felt secure in the fear that was hovering so thick on the currents of the room that he could taste its tangy flavor. With fluid movements he turned and bound up the stairs; now that his minions had been dealt with he had a very naughty pet to punish.
Chapter Sixty Four
She was floating on a sea of bliss; serenity flowing through her where so recently only pain had dwelt. Even the nagging sensation that she was supposed to be hurting wasn’t enough to break through the idyllic lethargy that was unfurling inside of her. Unwilling to open her eyes and break this wondrous enchantment Cordelia began to reach out with her other senses to pinpoint the origin of such pleasure.
Lids that had gently shielded her eyes now screwed tightly closed as the source of her contentment became all too clear. Cool, moist lips pressed delicately against hers once more, parting slightly and to sip gently at her own. As perfect as her body felt at that moment, her soul screamed in agony at the knowledge that she was again in the vampire’s care. She’d been so close; close to Buffy’s, close to freedom, close to having her life back. She wanted to cry at the injustice of it all, but even her body betrayed her, refusing her tears in the face of such ecstasy.
The small, sucking kisses left her lips to wander up the line of her jaw, across her cheekbone, resting briefly on each eyelid before coming to rest on her forehead. Cool air blew against the damp trail left by his tender caresses as he spoke softly against her skin.
“I know you’re awake.”
As much as she wanted to hide in her warm cocoon of denial, Cordelia Chase had never been a coward; and so, opening her eyes she forced herself to face her worst nightmare – a monster who loved her.
Whatever she’d expected upon opening her eyes it wasn’t the beauteous smile that graced the vampire’s face as if having her in his arms fulfilled all his desires; granted his every wish.
“Welcome back, moonbeam.”
Cordelia hadn’t allowed for any thought other than success when she’d fled hours before, but if she’d bothered to imagine the scenario of her recapture, none of it would have been like this. Angelus was happy, more than that, he was ecstatic. It lit him from within causing a radiance that no creature of evil should house.
So caught up was she in the breathtaking show of joy that lent his face such boyish charm, that it took a moment for her to realize that the hand wandering down her body was moving over bare skin.
Despite the pleasure surging through her at every touch, knowing that he’d undressed her, held her, caressed her while she’d been in a state of oblivion made her feel extremely vulnerable. And more than the fulfillment, more than the fear, it was that helplessness that she most hated, and his next words in no way alleviated that that feeling.
“I have a surprise for you.”
The announcement slid down her spine leaving a gripping sense of unease in its wake. It wasn’t the words, but rather the sheer satisfaction with which they were uttered that caused her such concern.
Angelus’ hand skimmed its way over her skin in upwards strokes and, reaching her head, he twined his long fingers in her hair. Gripping the silky locks tightly, but not painfully, he lifted her head from its resting place on the pillow and angled her gaze towards the end of the bed.
Panic began to swallow Cordelia as she felt herself being scalded by a heavy burnt umber stare. It was knowing that a reaction was expected of her that gave her the strength to keep her features smooth and untroubled at the sight she beheld –
The blonde vampire was naked to the waist and hanging by his wrists in his place against the far wall. From the bruises already forming on his body it was clear that his position was in no way voluntary. Arms upraised and held in place by manacles attached to a large wooden X, his wiry body hung limply, his legs seemingly unable to bear his weight.
Ignoring the slight pain of pulled hair that was still wound round Angelus’ fingers, Cordelia turned to look at the dark haired vampire, one eyebrow raised.
“I liked the picture that used to be there better.”
Angelus smiled down at the girl in his arms. Now that she was back where she belonged – naked in their bed where he could touch her at will, he was sincerely looking forward to this game; and by Cordelia’s reply he could tell that she’d already started playing.
“I’ve heard some interesting things about you and Spike recently.”
Always a loquacious girl, Cordelia’s silence told Angelus more than any confession could. When one of his human servants had mentioned that Spike had been seen talking with his Master’s pet off and on throughout the week, he’d been livid at the younger vampire for such a flagrant trespass.
Cordelia’s little escapade today showed quite clearly that he couldn’t function rationally without her by his side so there was nowhere she could go that he wouldn’t follow; hunting her with every predatory instinct buried within him.
Looking back at things, Angelus was rather shocked at the level of denial he’d carried throughout his relationship with Cordelia. The fact that he’d assumed early on that he could ever give her up was truly laughable in retrospect; a mistake that was only compounded by his erroneous belief that he was affected, but not at the mercy of the bond he shared with her.
But Spike, being outside of their relationship, would have a much more objective view. Angelus was willing to concede that many of his perceptions were filtered through a fierce sense of possession and need that colored his every interaction with Cordelia. It was that kind of thinking that allowed someone uninvolved, like Spike, to see things that instinctually he knew, but had yet to admit.
Angelus was no fool; he knew that Spike was exceedingly bitter over the situation with Dru that had developed with the demise of his soul. And although he loved pushing his buttons, he was the first to admit that neither was Spike as idiotic as he often seemed.
Having seen the weakness in his grandsire, he would have been the first to exploit it for his own purposes. Spike had to know that he would go after Cordelia if she ran, and that would only be to his benefit as it would leave him here with Drusilla. And while not for one second did he think that the younger vampire was suicidal enough to actually help Cordelia, he did believe that not only was it possible, but that it was far more than likely that Spike knew what she was up to and told no one.
It was funny, but now that Cordelia was back under his dominion, his admiration for his beloved pet soared for her bravery and daring. But his wayward grandchilde engendered no such lofty feelings; and that, Angelus thought with immense satisfaction, was about to cost the boy dearly.
Freeing his hand from her hair, he trailed the tips of his fingers down the side of her face, moving on to skim her shoulder and then make his way to the lush, ripe curve of her breast. Grasping the tip gently he waited for her gasp before addressing her.
“Such a beautiful body. Perfect. Responsive. Mine. I have wonderful plans for this body tonight and none of them have to do with violent bloodshed.”
Without warning his head swooped down and his mouth took hers in a shattering kiss. Cordelia’s need to breathe put her at a distinct disadvantage as the hard thrusting of his tongue plumbed the depths of her mouth again and again until stars began bursting behind her clenched eyelids. Finally allowed to pull away from the addictive taste of his lips, Cordelia sucked in harsh lungfuls of air. As her breathing evened out she dimly heard Angelus continue his explanation of the evening’s plans.
“Now, since damaging your beautiful body just isn’t an option, ‘cause really, why should I suffer for your disobedience, we’re going to use Spike here as an object lesson.”
Cordelia glanced slowly back and forth between the vampire on the bed and the one in restraints. An incredulous look crossed her face at Angelus’ declaration.
“Let me get this straight; Spike gets hurt, and I get to lay here and relax? Where’s the downside here.”
A smile was her only answer as Angelus rose gracefully from the bed and approached the unconscious blonde.
“Let’s see if we can wake William up.”
And with that he reached down to a bucket on the floor and grasped the leather handle hanging over the side. Pulling on that handle he raised from the pail’s depths a long and rather nasty looking whip. With an expertise that bespoke of hundreds if not thousands of such sessions, Angelus snapped his wrist bringing the leather into painful contact with the blonde’s exposed skin.
Blinding pain caught Spike unawares, dragging him violently back into consciousness. His scream broke the silence as his skin split, revealing the muscle that lay beneath.
Satisfied with his handiwork, Angelus glanced over his shoulder to smile wolfishly at Cordelia.
“It’s the holy water presoak that gives it that extra something special. Only the best for my William, right boy?”
Angelus addressed the last to Spike as the leather again tore him asunder.
Approaching the bed, the whip dragging along behind him, Angelus sat next to Cordelia. Taking the face that had turned away from the bloodshed he turned it firmly towards his own.
“Pay attention, Cordelia. This is an interactive activity.”
Her entire body stiffened as she felt something cold and wet slither over her midsection. Pulling her face away from his grasp, she looked down to see a trail of Spike’s blood crisscrossing her stomach. Her disgust was magnified a hundred times over as Angelus lowered his head and began lapping the fluid from her skin.
His perverse enjoyment of the holy water that had caused Spike such agony would have turned her stomach further if that had still been possible.
Enjoying her distress as much as his granchilde’s powerful blood, Angelus moved back up to the head of the bed, once again caressing the silken skin of her face.
“Now here’s where you come in…Promise that you won’t leave me, Moonbeam.”
One of the things Angelus loved most about Cordelia was the unreserved expressiveness of her beautiful face. He groaned inside as he acknowledged just how truly besotted he was that he was enjoying her disrespect in gazing at him as if he’d suddenly lost all claim to sanity.
“Say it, Cordelia or I’ll carve your new friend up like a Thanksgiving turkey…Although with Spike it’s probably more like a Christmas ham.”
At that moment Cordelia saw exactly what Angelus was attempting with this little demonstration. He thought that she cared about Spike and he planned to use those feelings against her as he had with both Giles and Xander. And while she did like Spike it wasn’t even remotely the same so there was no way she was going to give Angelus any more of a hold over her than he already had. Besides, Spike was a vampire, he’d heal. Determined not to give in, she kept her voice light and airy as she answered.
“Well don’t let me stop you. I’ll just lay here quietly planning my next escape.”
This time it was Angelus’ eyebrow that ascended as he contemplated the challenge thrown down by the delicious brunette beside him. It only made hurting Spike twice as enjoyable.
Chapter Sixty Five
The three occupants of the large bedroom suite were in various states of disarray. The large, dark haired vampire was covered in spatters of blood, the splashes of color lending a macabre festivity to his pale skin.
The lithe brunette on the bed was taut as a bow string as shudders ran through her from endless sensual teasing as her body was covered in blood that was methodically removed by an enthusiastic tongue.
Unarguably in worst shape was the smaller, blonde vampire whose skin had been torn from his body so that his back was nothing more than the bloody tatters of what once was flesh. Even with accelerated healing, the pain had to be overwhelming to the vampire already recovering from massive injuries.
Angelus walked over to Cordelia again, touching her vibrating body but giving no relief.
“Do you have anything you want to say, Cordelia?”
The crushing sense of need beat against her nerve endings, but she stubbornly pushed it aside, knowing that no matter how her body cried out for his, no matter how her soul urged her to swear to stay in his arms forever, this was a contest of character she could not afford to loose. Taking a deep breath she steadied herself and fixed Angelus with a calm gaze.
“I do. Make sure you brush your teeth tonight; ‘cause you can forget your grand seduction plans if you come to bed with Spike breath.”
Brown eyes locked with hazel as the battle of wills finally came to a temporary end; and while Angelus had to concede this victory to Cordelia, he found himself strangely unperturbed by that admission. He wondered sometimes if she understood that in this game they were playing every successful gambit she executed merely succeeded in making him want her more.
Sure, she may have held him at bay this time, resisted giving him her promise, but in doing so she showed an even greater strength and determination than she had before. And really, that’s where Cordelia’s true value lay; in the endless interest and entertainment she brought to his life. Although he expected immediate obedience from those around him, her continued defiance only served to increase his fascination with her rather than dampen it.
So even when he lost Angelus knew that he really won, because both in her resistance and in her submission Cordelia was a glorious mass of endlessly intriguing contradictions that made his immediate future look imminently enjoyable.
He got his pet back, he got to beat the shit out of Spike, and he spent an hour licking blood off Cordelia’s breathtaking body. He definitely didn’t lose this round. So, whistling a jaunty tune, he rolled up his whip and left to make sure that nothing like the afternoon’s earlier events ever happened again.
Chapter Sixty Six
Hearing the steps in the hallway grow softer, Cordelia rose from the bed and crossed over to the wounded vampire left behind. Surveying the carnage that constituted the remains of Spike’s back, she reached up and snapped the manacles open. She’d been covered in his blood for over an hour, so she wasted no effort in baulking at the rivers of red that coated her as she helped ease his body to the ground. Stepping away from his crumpled form she spoke to him directly for the first time since her failed escape.
“Don’t say I never did anything for you.”
Despite the incredible pain sweeping like wildfire through his body, his head shot up as that statement filtered through the haze of his misery.
“Bloody bitch! He’s a funkin’ evil demon who tried to kill you and all your little friends; you couldn’t just lie to him???”
Cordelia laughed, but the sound was hollow in its complete absence of humor.
“First of all, you’re a fuckin’ evil demon who tried to kill me and all my little friends, so stop tossing around all those stones before you chip your glass house. Secondly, did that collapsing church break what little brain you have? I just saved your ass! If I’d promised to give up any future chance at freedom for you Angelus would be hauling your butt in here and beating it every other day.”
“Don’t you get it yet, Spike?” Cordelia questioned in a voice rife with tired resignation. “I don’t get to care anymore; not about anyone but him. And God I hate him for that, but honestly how long will that last when I’m all alone?”
“That’s what this was about.” She quietly informed her wounded companion allowing Spike a glimpse of the insightful mind behind the stunning face.
“My escaping? Sure, he wants to keep me here, but it’s like a game to him and my winning only turns him on; you saw that. And I’ll be paying for this victory for the next few days. But beating you? That’s about reminding me what happens if I try to divide my affections.”
“Do you honestly think I wanted to spend the last hour watching your insides become your outsides? ‘Cause I didn’t. But neither of us could afford a different reaction.”
A heavy sigh and a trembling hand pulled quickly through her hair were the only outward signs of internal distress that Cordelia allowed to show through her carefully crafted façade of indifference.
“So just remember, Spike; when my next chance to get out of this nightmare comes…”
She stood up straight and turned to the bathroom where the promise of finally being clean awaited.
“You owe me.”
Spike watched as the bathroom door closed behind the retreating form of his reluctant savior. He knew she was right. What she’d done had saved them both in the long run, even though they would both be paying that night.
Dammit! It drove Spike crazy that an ass like Angelus always ended up with the best women. At least this one hated him. But still, he had her. He was such a lucky bastard.
On the other hand he had been stuck with a soul for a hundred years.
But as Spike heard the tub filling in the other room, a picture formed in his mind of her standing against the will of Angelus, naked and defiant. His grandsire was right about one thing; the girl was magnificent.
As darkness began to submerge awareness an insane thought flitted briefly through his mind – Cordelia Chase might be worth a century with a soul. Then again…
And then everything went black.