Chapter Seventy Four
Spike gazed down at Drusilla’s serene face. It had been beyond easy to remove her from the equation regarding the upcoming fight between Angelus and the White Hats. Since no one knew about his return to health there would be no suspicion about the special powder he’d procured to knock his beloved out for what was promised to him would be almost an entire day.
Being prepared for either party to win Spike knew that should Angelus be victorious he could merely explain Dru’s absence as the result of one of her many spells. Drusilla was as viscous as vampires come, but there had always been a delicacy about her from the moment she was turned. It’s why she had been so damaged in Prague and it was why her sire would have no choice but to believe that she had truly been incapable of assisting him. After all, it was Angelus who had been responsible for her…peculiarities in the first place.
Satisfied with his plans Spike was content to sit and wait, finding himself in the unfamiliar and somewhat surreal position of actually cheering a slayer onto victory rather than planning her defeat.
Something flitted over Angelus’ sleep drugged mind. It was quiet, barely there even, but it niggled at him until it forced his heavy eyelids open. Concentrating he heard nothing out of the ordinary and was soon distracted by the gentle rising and falling of Cordelia’s chest that pressed her lush breasts against him so delightfully. Just as he was about to wake her and satisfy the need she was stirring within him the elusive noise returned, only this time it was louder and much clearer – the slayer.
Low growls interspersed with harsh obscenities broke the silence in the room as he threw on his pants and ran from the room. Exhausted from hours upon hours of unparalleled passion Cordelia’s only response was to roll over into the empty space that had been previously filled by her lover and slip further into sleep.
Rushing down the stairs Angelus could hear the clash of weapons as the endeavor to steal away his pet got underway. It’s not that the attempt wasn’t expected, it’s just that he hadn’t expected it so soon. As far as he knew the slayer and her little gang were still under the impression that Cordelia had left town in an effort to evade his reach. While a small part of him wondered how they had learned of her presence in town and the location where they currently resided, the majority of him was completely enraged that anyone, especially the second-rate slayer would try to steal Cordelia from him; to part him from his beloved Moonbeam. With a roar that shook the boarded windows Angelus burst into the vast living room and threw himself into the fray.
Green eyes clashed with gold as Buffy saw Angelus’ entrance. With graceful, fluid movements she maneuvered herself in between the incensed vampire and her friends. Their plan had been simple – strike while the iron was hot before Angelus got wind that they knew where he was, where Cordelia was. They attacked during the daylight, a plan with both advantages and drawbacks.
It was a given that they would encounter greater resistance in the form of Angelus’ minions who would be confined to the house during the day. But although the numbers would be against them they would have the benefit of an invaluable ally – sunlight. Not only would they be able to thin out some of the minions by stripping the windows of protection, a task being seen to by Willow and Jenny the latter who had been called into service around dawn as battle plans were being made, but it would also create a safe escape route preventing a lengthy and dangerous pursuit by the vampires left unharmed.
Angelus’ lips curled in a cold mockery of a smile as the slayer deftly avoided his first blow. Knowing it would take more than physical strength to defeat this opponent he began to attack Buffy where he knew her mystical abilities would not protect her.
“So, this is the grand rescue effort, eh Buff? Come to save Cordelia? How noble. Or is it?”
Buffy’s confusion at his words cost her as she slowed down just a fraction of a second and Angelus clipped her side with a spinning kick. Pushing herself back into a fighting stance she tried to screen out his voice, but even the knowledge of his intentions was not a sufficient defense against his tactics.
“Maybe it’s not that you want to save Cordelia as much as it kills you to know that I’ve finally found a real woman to lose myself in, to fill myself with, to love.”
It was the last one that struck Buffy harder than any physical blow could. He sounded so sincere that she was compelled to respond even though the logical part of her brain screamed at her that she was playing directly into his hands.
“Demons can’t love.”
Her voice was shaky, but it carried a desperate conviction that marked it unmistakably as a mantra she had repeated often, most likely in the dead of night as she cried herself to sleep.
With that pleasant thought in his head Angelus took another swing at the girl, missing with his fist but connecting with his words.
“Demons can’t love you. And honestly Buffy, don’t flatter yourself that it’s because you’re the slayer. It’s simply because you’re a bland and lackluster example of humanity who, if you weren’t by some cosmic accident the slayer, would be nothing but an obscure blur on the periphery of existence.”
“I couldn’t love you for the same reason that Angel, despite his redemption driven declarations, couldn’t. Because there is no you to love. You whine endlessly about the burden of being the slayer, but really, if you didn’t have that what would you be? You’d be nothing; nobody. You’d be a pathetic waste of space completely alone and utterly unloved.
Angelus laughed as Buffy struck out in a clumsy attack that was easily avoided and then successfully countered.
“Come now Buffy, there’s no reason to shoot the messenger. Let’s look at the evidence. You have Giles, who only gives you the time of day because he swore an oath to help the slayer. Then there was Angel, who we’ve already established wanted to be with you because it gave his life purpose, not because of any quality you might posses.”
Another thrust thrown and answered sent the slayer staggering back and into the edge of the stone fireplace.
“Let’s see; Xander and Willow? Don’t kid yourself that they care about your friendship. No, they were stuck in there boring, invisible lives until you came along and allowed them to fasten on to your slayerhood to give them even a smidgen of identity.”
“Of course there’s your mom. She adores you right? She spends time with you, even uprooted her entire life to bring you to Sunnydale. How sweet, so much love.”
“But wait.” He caught the punch streaking towards his face and twisted her around throwing her once more against the stone mantle. “You’re mom only started this bonding kick, this concern for your well being once you started getting into trouble while pursuing your “destiny”. It always comes back to that doesn’t it, Buff. In the end it’s always about the slayer never about the girl. After all, think about the one person in your life who knows nothing about your secret identity or the fall out – daddy dearest.”
Her anger creating bursts of adrenaline, Buffy was able to slam a foot into Angelus’ chest sending the taunting vampire back several feet.
Chuckling as if the lucky hit was of no consequence he continued with his cruel diatribe.
“Your dad has no clue that your the slayer. Not even the hints that your mother must be too blind or too stupid too see. And so truly he’s the only person in your life that deals with Buffy Summers the person and not Buffy Summers the slayer. He alone is the measure of your worth as a individual. And how does he see you? Oh, that’s right, he doesn’t. No, the one person who is completely ignorant of your staus as the chosen one wants nothing to do with you. Your own father can’t stand to waste his time with such a little nobody. He’s probably embarrassed that his genes produced a disappointing nothing as yourself.”
Tears blurred Buffy’s vision but hate drove her forward, her emotional agony forcing her to take the offensive no matter that she knew it was what the bastard before her wanted.
“So of course your threatened by someone as amazing, as absolutely, perfectly breathtaking as Cordelia. You need so desperately to believe that I can’t love because then you won’t have to acknowledge that she’s everything that you’ll never be and more.” With little difficulty he sidestepped both the powerful blows aimed his way and the uncovered windows and continued his verbal annihilation of the young slayer.
“She fits me so perfectly. But not just her body, Buffy. No, it’s all of her; her heart, her soul, her mind, every part of her is as enchanting as you are insipid. She brings me the kind of joy that you could only give someone by leaving a room.”
Finally seeing a flaw in his argument Buffy smirked at him lashing out with her own taunt.
“For all your endless blathering I think you’re forgetting something – I gave Angel perfect happiness.”
Expecting her barb to wound she was taken aback by the genuine laughter that filled the air around them.
“Oh please slayer; before he came to Sunnydale the soul had lived in sewers eating filthy rats to exist. Talk about someone with low expectations of life. Honestly, a decent bottle of hair gel was practically enough to give him the big happy. Angel wallowed in hatred of who he was and punished himself endlessly for things he could never change. His life was sad and pathetic and nothing but an endless attempt to pay for my illustrious past with his useless suffering. You weren’t some light in his darkness. You were just a convenient focus. You weren’t special and the only thing he cared about was what you are not whoyou are. It wasn’t your heart or your soul he cared about that night. It was about fucking a slayer so he could believe he wasn’t the dismal piece of shit that he was. ‘Cause if you really give it some thought he never got that elusive bliss from “loving” you. No, he only got it by screwing you.”
Catching her with a vicious backhand Angelus glanced around the room. Unblocking the windows had had the desired results and he could see the ashes of many of his minions drifting gently to the floor in the golden rays. But where the vampires had failed his human servants had stepped in and their ability to fight regardless of the light was slowly turning the tide in his favor.
Although, sadly, none of the slayer’s gang were dead, there were various injuries among them; most notably Harris and the watcher. The moron seem to sway slightly as blood streamed from a nasty but most likely superficial cut on his head, and good old Rupert appeared to be favoring one side probably do to a cracked rib or two.
It was clear to both the vampire and the slayer that this round went to the home team and a swift retreat was called for. Although loathe to leave without their imprisoned friend they would be of no help to her if they were slowly picked off in this unwinable battle.
Seeing Buffy catch her watcher’s eyes and signal a withdrawal Angelus couldn’t resist on last turn of the emotional blade.
“You know, slayer, if you’d only gotten here a few minutes sooner you could have seen first hand how much Cordelia pleases me.” A look of unmeasurable lust crossed his face at the thought as his features shifted back to the hauntingly familiar visage of “her Angel”. “Of course, if you stay a few minutes longer you’ll see the same thing.”
Smiling as his final words hit their mark he watched as Buffy cleared a path through his minions and servants alike practically throwing her friends into the relative safety of the sunlight before urging them to flee the humans who could follow and hurt them.
As they disappeared from his sight a burning fury swept through him at the thought of what they had intended to do, what they had intended to take from him. Choking on the rage sheeting off of him in waves he left the clean up to those still capable of standing and spun towards the stairs, leaping over the steps in two large bounds.
Although the door to their room was not locked Angelus shattered the wood with one powerful kick causing a boom to echo off of the stone walls and causing the sleeping young woman to jerk violently into wakefulness.
Before her head had cleared enough to even take in her surroundings she was pinned against the mattress by a large and livid vampire whose flaming eyes and lethal teeth ignited a terror in her that consumed all rational thought.
Grasping her arms tight enough to bruise, Angelus began to shake the girl below him as his fury poured over her.
“You will not leave me! I will never let you leave me! Do you understand me Cordelia?”
Caught in the vulnerable state of semi-wakefulness and completely at a loss for any explanation for what was happening all Cordelia could do was shake with fear as she slowly slid into shock at the picture above her of a seemingly berserk vampire in the grips of a terrifying rage and spattered with smears of blood.
Getting no response the out of control vampire shook her again until she looked as if she’d be physically ill but awareness returned to her eyes. Leaning down ’til his face was nearly touching hers his dark voice caressed her skin as they painted in her mind a horrifyingly monstrous picture.
“Do you know what I’d do if you tried to leave me, Cordelia? Can you even begin to imagine?”
“I’d gather all your friends, all your loved ones, anyone for whom you’ve ever had even the most fleeting thoughts of care and I’d dispose of them one by one. Oh, not a quick death. No, there’d be no mercy for even the least loved amongst them.”
“I’d start at the bottom and work my way up. Do you know how many bones rest in the human foot? 26. 26 bones, Cordelia and I’d remove every one. I’d slowly cut through the skin and muscles, peeling them back until my objective was revealed. Then one by one I’d pull them out tearing of the ligaments linking them and tossing them to the floor so they could watch the pile grow as we progress.”
“Providing they’d retained consciousness, and I am an expert at keeping my playmates awake, we’d make our way up the leg. How far do you think we could get before blood loss or shock got ’em? I think if I really applied myself I could at least manage to get a hip out.”
“We could make it more interesting you know. We could try to figure out before hand who the bleeders would be and who had the weak hearts. I’m betting Giles would last until every last drop of blood flowed out of his veins. But Willow? I think little Willow probably wouldn’t survive the first three toes. She strikes me as kind of fragile that way.”
“And you’ll be there for it all. Every slash, every tear all for your eyes. Every piercing shriek of pain, every anguished plea to stop all for your ears. Every precious moment of hideous agony all because of you, all that blood staining your uncaring hands.”
Pressing closer his lips moved to her ear filling her head with his whispered yet unalterable demand.
“Tell me you won’t leave me, Cordelia.”
Unable to grasp what had precipitated this grisly trek into violent insanity, Cordelia was unable to string together a coherent thought much less express one. Hysteria devoured her and her gasping sobs caused almost convulsive tremors to roll through her body.
Shaking her again until her head snapped back and forth uncontrollably Angelus bit out his demand for her absolute attention, for her answer.
“Tell me! Swear to me you’ll stay. Do you want them all to suffer? Do you want to see the floors run red as their life spills from the gaping holes I tear in their battered bodies? Answer me?!”
The last was a roar and it snapped Cordelia from her mute dread and propelled her into almost incoherent appeasement.
“I won’t. I won’t leave. I-I swear, I’ll never leave you, I’ll never go. I’ll stay just don’t – don’t -“
Forcing the words out between great, gasping sobs was causing a panic induced hyperventilation that was quickly depriving her of oxygen even as her terror was closing her throat.
Seeing both the truth of her words and the immense depth of her fright Angelus was more than satisfied. Easing to the side he pulled the petrified girl into a gentle embrace and began rubbing his hands in soothing circles on her back.
“Shhh, Cordelia. Shhh.” A soft rocking motion accompanied his tender words. “Hush, baby; you’ll make yourself sick. It’s okay now. You’re not leaving so everything will be okay.”
With light caresses and soothing words Angelus finally managed to calm the traumatized girl into a restless sleep as tears continued to slowly slipped from closed eyes.