All he had to do was take it. Take the blood from the trembling young thing in his grasp and fill his hunger. Fill it with the sweet yet salty blood, pungent with fear and clear with youth and purity. Yes, yes, this was what he needed, the flesh in his hands was the only thing that could sate him. The need hummed inside of Angel more instinct than thought, a force from the deepest depths that whispered to him that this was the way to the satisfaction he craved.
He growled the anticipation inhaled with his nose deeply and started to pierce the frail skin of the girl’s flesh. A cacophony of noise, scents and memories flooded his senses. First it was the scent of the blood, in the last deep inhale it went beyond it’s virgin pureness, beyond the health of the girl and became unique, earthy, flowery and familiar. The sense of familiarity was coupled with her scream, her scream was loud, terrified but informal, pleading, with knowledge that astounded him.
She screamed. “Angel! No. No. No. Angel?” her last shout of his name tentative and insecure.
Instincts still held him though, instincts clamped a hand over her mouth without tearing his own mouth away from her neck.
“Usually, I enjoy the screaming of my name, baby, but right now I want you to shut the fuck up.” Her voice, her knowledge of him, her familiar scent unsettling him, sending up images and visuals he didn’t understand.
He licked her neck, tasting the beads of blood the pricks his fangs had made left behind. Heady, sweet but not too sweet the perfect elixir but he pushed her harder against the surface behind her and inhaled more deeply. He’d been denied the taste before, he’d been denied the decision to turn this writhing body under him that was fighting and still whispering his name.
He knew her. He’d wanted to turn her, for a brief second he remembered now. To taunt, to torment The Slayer but doing it in front of her to shatter her mind and laugh all the way… Yes he’d wanted to use this girl to taunt The Slayer.
Buffy. The Slayer had a name. Her name was Buffy.
Instinct and hunger pulled strong still but Angel felt his grasp on the woman against the car loosen. His mind whirring, who was she that he’d decided to use her as a pawn, decided she’d be a pawn he’d turn? Memory told him it was a whim but a whim he’d liked. It would have hurt, Buffy, fragile small Buffy that a part of his mind wanted him to hate and the other part of him screamed that he loved. Nothing felt clear. Was he still in hell?
He’d been in hell. But there was flesh, against him tempting his bloodlust hot and heated and afraid. He pulled back, kept his hand against the girls mouth. She was fighting, her teeth blunt against his hand to try to free herself, to scream, he felt as if he would usually laugh at the sass, at the strength, and relish breaking it down as he drained her all the more. And then he felt nauseated. He growled, he needed the blood why wasn’t he taking her blood?
Her eyes were wide, hazel, fearful but he felt no recognition despite the familiar scent and a flash of memory of staring into those eyes, laying on top of the body pressed against him ready to bite, turn, and use for his pleasure and Buffy’s pain.
Pain. Buffy, a sword fight and torment and then he was back. Back and starving. His felt his face shift, to its human form his mind trying to figure things out, knowing now he couldn’t, wouldn’t bite this young girl for a million reasons but he still wanted too. He moved closer to her again, scenting her neck, lapping up more beads of blood with his tongue and then he stepped back, letting go of her, his knees buckling out from under him.
It tasted so good, so right, but no it was wrong. It was what he couldn’t have because? He couldn’t remember but he knew. He was certain, he couldn’t have her blood. And yet, he was on the ground the taste of blood in his mouth, shaking, dizzy, lost in a haze of hunger and with knowledge that contradicted survival. Angel looked up and realized he was staring into the wide eyes of Cordelia Chase.
She stood still, plastered against a car and stared at him, her hand on her neck where he’d pricked her skin. Tiny pricks, small as paper cuts but bleeding steadily still. He could smell it, still taste it on his tongue, on his lips, it was a layer over his teeth, Cordelia’s blood. He looked down and away from her, he couldn’t move all he could do was shake. He didn’t even know where he was or how he’d gotten there. What had he done? What had he been thinking of doing?
Blood. The word, the instinct, the need. It screamed into his head again and he vamped out and growled. Cordelia screamed, he saw her jump but she couldn’t move and neither could he. Blood. It was what he needed, wanted, and there was more nearby, more than just hers. Animal blood. Animal blood was what was okay, a voice whispered against the harsher whisper tempting him to spring up and take Cordelia’s.
“Blood,” Cordelia whispered and she was staring at him. Angel nodded, wondering if he’d said something out loud but he started to fall, fall into the hum of her rapid heartbeat, she was so scared – it was exhilarating – her hand had moved away from her neck. Blood against her throat, blood on her fingers… Blood.
No. Not hers.
And she took off, ran past him but he could hear her heart, the thrum of it reminding him of what she offered. Cordelia was nearby, she hadn’t run away.
She’s close. Chase her, grab her, take what you need.
Move. Leave. Get far away from her, away from her blood.
Two choices that were both right, both of them instinct, both of them torturing him in his mind in harsh whispers. Angel was struggling and trying to get to his feet without thought to which path he would choose. Would he turn away from the scent of Cordelia or run toward it? Would he take her or let her go?
He made it to his knees but faltered, his hands hitting the pavement hard scrapping the skin of his palm. The pain stabbed him, first dulling and then heightening the pangs of hunger pricking through him. Hunger the very thing that had driven him toward Sunnydale, to this parking lot. It would, could drive him after Cordelia, to treat her like prey and take her despite the whispering instinct screaming at him not too.
Angel started to try to struggle to his feet. He would turn away from her heartbeat. He would. He couldn’t. God, it was so loud and it felt like it was getting louder, tempting and tempting him to chase. What was the fool bitch thinking? Why hadn’t she run to Buffy, told her to get her stake ready? Why hadn’t she run as far away and as fast as she could.
Louder and louder it came. A fearful heartbeat coming toward him instead of trying to run away. Angel spun, it was his hunger, it was the temptation and he wanted to fight it but he didn’t remember how. He would stand and he would stalk her. Grab her. It wouldn’t take long she was so close. In fact she was right there.
He blinked. Cordelia kneeled; pale, wide-eyed, a smear of blood on her neck, and the sound of her heart a siren call under her breasts, right in front of him, her own knees on the pavement. She stared at him and her hand came toward him, shaking and in it was a quart of red blood.
“I agree. You aren’t taking my blood. Animal all the way for you.”
Her voice was shaky, unsure, she looked terrified and ready to run. To really and truly run but she held the quart in front of him. He stared at her but then grabbed the blood, drank it down…
It wasn’t enough. But he looked up and she was holding another one. He stared and grabbed again, and thought he heard a distinct sound that sounded both like a snort of disgust and a sound of relief.
He finished and hoped she had more. “More?”
“Yes.” She moved and grabbed another quart out of a large cooler. Handed it to him, her eyes seemed smaller, her heart rate was slowing.
“You are stupid, little girl,” Angel whispered, draining the third of blood.
She flinched. “Buffy told Willow her spell worked,” she whispered. “Of course, Buffy also said you went to hell.”
Cordelia flinched again, then laughed the nervous laugh of someone terrified. “This can’t be real. Can’t be real… I mean what, did hell spit you out? Was your soul too good for them? Because I got say you seem evil enough for it to me…” Cordelia stopped with a gasp, jumped to her feet and kicked the cooler toward him.
“On that note. I filled this thing with ice and all the blood I could find in the butcher shop, why I don’t know and really am going to try not to over-analyze.”
Angel had moved on to a packet from the cooler and watched her as he swallowed mouthfuls of cow’s blood. She took more steps away from him, backwards, and then stooped down and picked up a garment bag from the ground. She started to turn but kept one eye on him and that’s when he realized her shirt had been torn and it really hit him that smear of blood on her neck was his doing.
“Cordelia,” he called out. His voice was low and it cracked, the animal blood she’d given him clearing his head enough for him to know which voice, which instincts he wanted to listen to.
She didn’t stop moving but she nodded at him.
“Sorry,” and Angel felt weak and ashamed, that word was too small and it had no power, he’d nearly killed her. He would have. He knew it. She’d be dead right now if she hadn’t gotten blood out of the butcher shop. He didn’t understand why she had, what had driven her. But it saved her life and he knew she had only herself to thank for that.
Cordelia didn’t respond to him, she just got herself into her car and had driven away in a flash. He closed her eyes. She’d go to Buffy, wouldn’t she? Or Giles? Maybe by sunrise he’d be dust.
Paper thin cuts dripped a small amount of blood, adding to the dried layer of blood marring her neck. She fingered the area around the cuts and felt half-relieved Angel had sliced instead of bitten, but it didn’t quell her fear that the tiny cuts wouldn’t stop bleeding. Wouldn’t stop staining her neck with the rusty-pink crust that covered more than half her neck and glared at her from the bathroom mirror.
She turned on the hot water tap, then she took off her ripped and ruin blouse, and winced at the frayed ends of the expensive soft silk as she tossed it into the trashcan.
Cordelia shivered and crossed her hands over her chest for a moment then looked her reflection in the eye. A scared little girl stared her back with mussed up hair, running make-up and blood covering her neck. Cordelia didn’t recognize the person looking back at her with familiar shaped eyes and that had to be fixed. She grabbed a towel and dunked it in the hot water. The water burned but Cordelia didn’t care, it was the only way to clean off the touch of near death. She soaped up the towel, tilted her neck and began to roughly scrub.
Her neck scrubbed cleaned Cordelia stepped into a hot shower and found the bruises. A large hand sized bruises on her right hip and her upper arm, Angel’s hands. He’d grabbed her tightly and pinned her hard against a car, he memory was a blur but there was the evidence. They wouldn’t wash off, she’d have to wait for them to fade, wait for them not to hurt at the slightest touch but before then she could clean off her skin. Of the fear and helplessness that had filled every pore, she had to clean it off because it didn’t belong.
She felt raw from scrubbing, from the too hot water, from being assaulted when she stepped out of the shower and ignored the towels hanging nearby. She went to her closet, she opened it and pulled out her favorite towel. Large, yellow and soft, it’d be the most comfortable against her skin. It’d be safe against her bruises and keep her warm from the constant shivers even the hot water couldn’t stop.
Wrapped in the towel Cordelia left the bathroom. There was her bed, with her school books waiting for her. She’d had homework to do, she remembered and it made her start to shake. Breathing in deeply she took a step forward but her eyes fell on her answering machine. It blinked. She had a message. Xander had said he would call, hadn’t he? Xander. Sweet, loyal, funny and lame. Her sweet and safe Xander. She started to shake more, her heart rate speeding up and her lungs felt like they were closing. Cordelia gasped for a breath and closed her eyes.
She wanted to listen to Xander’s message. Hear him say a bunch of normal and silly things that a boyfriend should say to his girlfriend. It would be so simple and so normal but she couldn’t take the step. She hadn’t had a normal night, she hadn’t had a normal night in a long time since she’d opened her eyes to the demons of the world. Her night had been more abnormal than her normal abnormal and ultimately confusing…and Xander was sweet, safe and loyal but not where she needed to turn.
Cordelia fought to breathe and tried to step to her bed. It would be soft, she could sleep, she’d knock her books to the floor. She’d sleep and then she’d face the questions that were the consequences of her night. Cordelia faltered, she fell to the floor, shaking and suddenly hot. Her heartbeat had sped up like it’d been in the parking lot. Grabbed, pinned, her neck sliced open – tears stung her eyes and she moved herself against the closest wall, pulled her knees under her chin and started to rock.
“It will be okay,’ she whispered once, to herself, then Cordelia let go and began to cry.
The sun rose and found Cordelia’s uncovered windows, creating a room of bright yellow and waking her mind. She hadn’t slept, and she’d run out of tears, but she hadn’t been able to stop remembering, or stop thinking about Angel.
Through the night, her knees still tucked under her chin and her own arms hugging herself tight, Cordelia had run through the entire situation a million times.
First her fear, her helplessness, and the certainty she’d be dead if Angel hadn’t suddenly pulled away from her. That was why she’d cried. Sobbed, rocking and hugging herself until she got sick of the sound of her own sobs. Then she swallowed them back, stilled her rocking but found it still hard to breathe, and forced herself to focus on her breath. In and out, she focused on her breathing and told herself that she hadn’t died. She hadn’t died, and she’d taken control of the situation. She’d smiled wryly at that – control of a situation with an obviously insane and hungry vampire, if that wasn’t an oxymoron she didn’t know what was. Yet, she’d gotten the blood, she’d handed it to him and then she’d run. A slice on her neck, a few bruises, a bit of a fright – those were getting off easy in the face of Angelus.
Cordelia knew that, which brought her to the third conclusion. It hadn’t been the soulless version of the vampire she knew in that parking lot, she’d seen his soulless half. He’d never have gotten off of her on his own accord, Angel had let go and fallen broken to the ground. He’d been talking to himself and muttering one second about wanting to kill her and the next about how no, he wouldn’t, no not human, not Cordelia. She knew, she’d recognized the soul within him because he’d recognized her as someone he knew.
Fear still spread throughout her, her muscles were taut and she could still feel his hands pressed into her, where she knew bruises were gaining more ugly colors. But confusion became the strongest emotion rushing through her as she sat awake, hugging herself for comfort and strength, against the wall. Buffy had killed him, she’d said so, Buffy said she’d had to impale him with a sword and send him to hell to stop Acathla from swallowing the whole world. How was it possible he was here in Sunnydale?
And as the sun brightened her room, reminding her that there was a day to live, this thought was in the front of her mind and the back of it. But her eyes started to blink and she realized she had to move. She stood up slowly, stretching her legs and letting the towel fall to the floor.
Instantly she investigated the bruises on her arm and hip, and frowned at their ugly appearance blotching and marring her skin. Then her hand slipped up against her neck, the spot where he’d sliced into her felt tender and raw. She feared it would be bruised too, ugly and marred and impossible to hide from prying and un-understanding eyes. Seconds later she was in front of the mirror, breathing in relief, they’d healed like ultra thin paper cut. Thin cuts, slices, that only if you knew they were there could one see it. Cordelia sighed, this was good, this meant that only those she chose to tell would know about her night.
She’d get to pick and choose how much to share, and how much to leave out. Cordelia Chase didn’t over-share, she reminded herself. She frowned realizing she’d have to tell someone about Angel. Giles. She’d tell Giles first, then the rest of them, Buffy, Xander, Willow and Oz. Giles would tell the rest of them, well maybe she’d tell Xander, Cordelia frowned at the thought and stepped out of her bathroom to look at the time.
It was later than she’d realized, she was running late, she squealed and started running around her room. She couldn’t miss cheerleading practice, and she needed another shower. And the decision was made: shower, dress, go to cheerleading practice, and tell Giles about Angel. The other thoughts running through her mind she’d worry about later – much later.
Xander grinned, near maniacally, as he watched Cordelia kick her legs nearly over her head through the fence that blocked him from walking across the field for a much closer view. He heard a few other boys nearby make a mention of his girlfriends legs, and how she could high kick for them anytime and he grinned.
“Yep, that’s my girlfriend,” he said, too loudly but he didn’t care. “My girlfriend!” he repeated when the two guys talking, football players, looked at him. Xander grinned. “All mine.”
“Enjoy it while you can, it won’t last, Harris.”
Xander shrugged, deciding to ignore the jock, he knew nothing about Cordelia. Few people did and he was one of the few who knew there was a bit more to her than high fashion pumps and great legs. But what great legs they were, he thought, ogling her again. Until the one of the jock’s voices permeated his thoughts and ruined his plans to get Cordelia alone in a closet.
“And then I’ll get my hands on that delicious body and do things to her your amateur hands could never had dreamed of, Harris.”
Xander spun around and glared at him. “Don’t talk about her like that, that’s my girlfriend.”
“What Harris?” the guy laughed. “Going to defend her honor, or have your pal, that freak, Buffy do it?”
Xander started to see red, first they were talking about Cordelia like she was a piece of meat and now they were bringing Buffy into it? He lunged at the jock, only to have himself immediately pulled off and corralled into the High School.
“Picking fights first thing in the morning, is not good for your health, Xander,” Buffy said.
Xander felt like all the air had been squeezed out of him and he was flat balloon on the ground being trampled on. He was now sandwiched between Willow and Buffy walking down the school hallway; this was not good for his already bad reputation. “He was saying things. Things about Cordelia. And you, I might add…and damn it Buffy you did it again. You made me look like a wimp that needed to be saved by a girl!”
“What? I didn’t hit anyone, I just grabbed you off of him. I saved him, from you. I made him look like a wimp.”
“Yep. One jock, looking like a total wimp,” Willow agreed, as they came to a stop by Buffy’s locker.
Xander let his head hit the locker next to Buffy’s with a hard thud. “No, no, no. You girls don’t understand…that’s…ugh. I’m going to be the laughing stock of the school today.”
“And this will be different from yesterday because?” Buffy asked.
Willow stifled a laugh and then patted him on the back. “You are still dating the head cheerleader.”
Xander smiled. “True, true. Cordelia was looking mighty fine too, all glowy and kicky in her tiny skirt. Yep, that’s my girl and soon she’ll she sidling up to me all soapy and showery-fresh and we can go to a closet where…” but as usual Buffy interrupted him when he got to the good part of his fantasy.
“So, last night I didn’t get to patrol. Mom and her bonding stuff…but tonight I definitely have to or Giles will probably threaten to have babies or something. So what about it guys, you two, me, Mr. Pointy?”
“Mr. Pointy?” Scott’s voice interrupted them and he glanced at Buffy questioningly.
“Oh, I, uh…” she glanced at Xander for help and Xander smiled brightly.
Yes, he was Xander and he would now save her from having to lie to keep her Slayer status a secret. Though, he was of mind to think maybe Scott would be okay with being told. He seemed like a straight up guy, worthy of Buffy’s time and affections.
After all he didn’t make Buffy seemed like a crazed obsessed girl who only talked about her boyfriend 24/7 like Angel had. But the best part was Scott didn’t drink blood. Yep, two things that made him an okay guy to be dating your best friend. Like Oz, sure he was a werewolf, but he went into a cage. He was housetrained. Plus he was good to Willow. Scott was like Oz, less the werewolf thing and the guitar, Xander decided.
“Her invisible friend!” Willow suddenly said, interrupting Xander’s train of thought and making him realize he’d forgotten to save Buffy, and Willow had just possibly made it worse.
“What?” he said in chorus with Scott.
“Sure. Buffy, she has this invisible friend, from when she was little. I mean she doesn’t have him now. But his name was Mr. Pointy-Finger. She just says Mr. Pointy for short and she had a dream about him last night and she was just telling us about how it was her, Jay Leno and Mr. Pointy doing a skit about pilgrims on national television…” Willow trailed off and stepped behind Xander to hide her flaming red cheeks and whispered. “Why didn’t you say something before I did?”
Xander looked from Willow to Buffy, and shrugged before looking Scott straight in the eye. “Never ask a girl if she had any good dreams, you find things out about them you never wanted to know.”
“And things they didn’t want you to know,” Buffy added turning to Scott with a smile. “I swear I haven’t thought of Mr. Pointy-Finger since I was seven years old.”
Scott smiled. “It’s okay, I think it’s kind of cute really. All of us have tales of things from when they were kids. Which is why you will never meet my mother.”
Buffy smiled. “So, what brings you by my locker.”
Xander watched smiling as the two of them continued to talk. Yep, Scott was a good guy, made Buffy smile instead of worry. He needed to get to know him better. Maybe more triple dates like they’d had last night, he could talk Cordelia into it, wasn’t like her friends ever wanted him around. Least she could do was continue to be nice to Buffy and Willow since they were nice to her.
“We should get to the library, tell Giles our plans to patrol, before he yells at me,” Buffy said a moment after Scott left. She then grabbed his arm, and soon Willow latched onto his other arm.
“I’m so sorry about the whole invisible friend thing, Buffy, I don’t know what…”
“It’s okay, I think he really did find it cute. Way to help me score points.”
“I like him. He’s a good guy,” Xander said, making his thoughts known.
Willow and Buffy shared a glance and giggled, dropping his arms and walking into the library ahead of him.
“What? Don’t you appreciate my opinions. I bet Cordelia would…”
They laughed louder and Xander opened his mouth stammering for another retort. He didn’t get to think of one, because Giles walked out from the stacks with a worried look and way too many books in his arms.
“There was a terrible attack in town last night – it doesn’t look good at all. Buffy, the article is on the counter. I’m going to need all your eyes. Xander, doesn’t Cordelia have first free as well? Go get her quickly, Willow as soon as he can I want Oz in here, I’m afraid this might take a lot of research…”
“Was it a vampire?” Buffy asked.
Giles looked up. “I’m unsure at the moment.”
“Unsure?” Buffy echoed.
“Xander. Cordelia, please.”
Xander looked at Willow, then Buffy, they both looked as worried as he felt at Giles seriousness and he turned on his heal. As the doors to the library closed behind him he heard Buffy rapidly firing questions about how one could be uncertain if an attack was vampires or not.