“Johnny, Johnny why are we here?” Sara asked her voice shaky with confusion and building fear.
“Because, I wanted this moment to be special.”
“Johnny? You’re freaking me out. We are in a cemetery after midnight – and you’re not looking at me. Johnny, please…tell what’s going on?”
“I told you, tonight is special.”
“It’s Prom Night, I know but why are we… Johnny, look at me?”
Johnny turned towards Sara letting out a snarl – or what one might classify as a snarl and revealing that what had been the face of an All-American boy now had red eyes, a face the color of white frosting and red-tipped fangs that were so huge he couldn’t have closed his mouth if he wanted it.
Sara’s eyes grew huge, her mouth dropped open and she started to laugh hysterically.
“CUT!” a voice boomed and a man stepped onto the set of a makeshift cemetery, lights clicked and “Sara” stood clutching her stomach, and teetering on the three inch heels that wardrobe had made her wear, still laughing. “Cordelia, this is the tenth time this happened. We need to get this shot, could you possibly pull yourself together and scream next take?”
Cordelia inhaled deeply, trying to steady herself but under the now bright lights the ‘Vampire” before her looked even more ridiculous and she started to laugh even louder.
“Cordelia,” the director admonished, his short-temper evident in his voice and posture. “Perhaps you could explain just what it is that is so hysterical, and we could stop with this childish behavior and GET THE SHOT DONE.”
“I’m sorry,” Cordelia bit the inside of her cheek and forced her eyes away from the “vampire” standing next to her, rolling his ridiculous red eyes and crossing his arms. “I really am. I’ll get it under control.”
“What exactly is the problem?”
Cordelia sighed, her mind working over time for what exactly to say. Not like she could say that she knew first hand what vampires looked like and the bad make up job standing next to her was just comical for her handle. Going out for a horror movie had seemed like a good idea a month ago, but now that she was here to shoot being Victim Number One for the movie’s teaser, she was realizing that her first hand knowledge was actually more of a liability. She knew she should have gone for the surfer movie instead but had she listened to herself? No.
“I just think – well you can tell it’s contacts, and why does the entire turn red anyway, shouldn’t it just be the iris. Also what’s with the facial hair additions, and why is the make up so white. I mean vampires are pale. I get that, but they aren’t walking Flour advertisements. And it’s flaky and powdery – I mean look at it,” she motioned toward the deep pink prom dress they had her in that had the white powder from the make up all over it. “In other words, It’s just so fake that I can’t really get myself to feel scared enough to even want to scream in terror.”
The director was glaring at her and she felt her temper start to flare, he’d asked, if he hadn’t wanted her to explain her problem with the scene he shouldn’t have asked her.
“You think that doesn’t look like a scary vampire?”
“I know it doesn’t.” Cordelia said holding her ground but fighting the urge to roll her eyes.
“Well. You claim to be an actress, pretend it’s scary and scream your empty, pretty head off the next take.”
Cordelia winced and opened her mouth to tell the director just where he could go but one look into his pissed off face and she remembered she really needed the check and a movie – even a bad horror movie – on her acting resume. “I will. I swear.”
“Fine. Let’s take it from when Sara says: It’s Prom Night,” the director shouted.
Cordelia stepped back into place, took a deep breath and decided to pretend that the fake thing front of her was a real vampire, or Daryl Epps, or maybe that reptile demon that almost ate her once. She could do it, just picture the real baddies of the world and remember real fear. It was why she’d thought that a horror movie would be a piece of cake. Yep.
Oh god, the red eyes, the ridiculous fangs that made it so the actors could only snarl and growl – and badly too – the laughter flew out of her mouth again and the director’s scream of ‘cut’ was fresh with more anger; all directed at her. Cordelia felt her stomach fall, and a real fear started to gnaw through her, if she didn’t stop this she was going to get fired. Fired from a bit part in a horror movie of all things. She inhaled deeply and faced the director. “I’m so sorry, it won’t happen again, I promise.”
She was not going to lose a job over cheesy make-up.
Angel sprang to his feet, his vamp face taking over and he glared at the younger vampire in front of him who had grabbed the young woman again. The kid had knocked him on his ass – twice. And sure he’d been stabbed in the stomach by the kid’s lucky shot with a steel pipe, but there was no way in any hell dimension that Angel was losing a fight to some stupid cocky neophyte vampire.
“Playtime. It’s over,” Angel growled tackling the other vampire with full force, freeing the young woman from his grasped. “RUN!” He yelled at the girl, who just stood there staring but Angel paid no attention to the paralyzed victim. He had a kid to teach a lesson too.
A dusty lesson.
Cordelia, as the victim Prom Queen Sara let out a blood-curdling scream. Her inspiration the nightmare image of her, Cordelia Chase, getting fired from a horror movie that was more likely to go straight to video than any movie theater.
Angel dusted the vampire with relish and a smile. Of course, he’d pummeled the kid in the head and stomach with a lot hard kicks with his trusty hard leather boots before finally staking him. The kid had stabbed him and no neophyte, stupid vampire who couldn’t handle witty banter while fighting was getting the best of him. Turning toward the victim, he changed back to his human face and stepped toward her and it was then the woman screamed out to God and fainted. Angel caught her just before she fell into a puddle of something he was pretty sure wasn’t water or any type of natural substance
“You knocked out the victim?” Gunn said, getting out of his convertible as Angel came toward it carrying the woman from the alley.
Angel looked up at his co-worker and just glared. “She screamed and passed out. After I saved her.”
Gunn snickered. “Guess you were scarier than the vamp who wanted her blood.”
Angel chose not comment and shot his eyes from Gunn to the girl in his arms. “Help me get her in the back. We can drop her off at an emergency room or something. She’s fine, but we can’t leave her here and we aren’t taking her back to the hotel.”
Gunn stepped forward and together they managed to put the poor unconscious woman into the back of the convertible. Angel slipped into the driver’s seat and glanced at Gunn. “You call Merle?”
“Yep. He wasn’t happy we were going to be late. Said just because the blood-sucker smelled danger doesn’t mean we can miss appointments.”
Angel bit back a growl and started the car. “Whatever, the stupid parasite can wait for us. Caritas has a good atmosphere. Wesley call about the other case?”
“What, the one you and he think are monthly ritual sacrifices of some Chaos-worshipping demon clan?”
Angel gave him a what-do-you-think look, wondering if his night could get any worse and the sun had just set less than hour ago.
“Damn it,” Angel growled, realizing the answer was yes. He pulled out onto a main street, toward the nearest hospital. If they didn’t get a lead on how and where the Ycuchbn were luring the young women they were sacrificing, they’d never stop the monthly killings.
“English will figure it out. He’ll find a link, we’ll get to their nest or altar or whatever and kick some demon ass.”
Angel glanced at Gunn. “I don’t want more women dying.”
“I get ya, man, but can’t do much until Wes does his shriek of ‘Ah Ha!’”
Angel turned onto street the hospital was located too sharply, driving too fast in an attempt to keep his temper in control. It still hadn’t been a year since Darla had taken over his dreams, and his waking hours…making him obsessed with saving and then killing her. And in the end he’d done neither.
All he had succeeded in doing was nearly losing his soul by giving into the emptiness and had for a time lost the two people he called friends. Maybe Wes and Gunn had let him back in, but it wasn’t the same and might never be so saving a few women a night wasn’t enough. Angel felt like he had to stop all the evil he could find in the dark corners of LA. It was something to do, it was the right thing to do, and he could do it. He’d never forgive himself for his far past or his recent past, nor would he ever earn atonement but the he could at least do something. So, there was no way he was letting any demon cult continue to sacrifice young women every month during the new moon.
He slammed on the brakes and glanced at Gunn. “Take her in. I’ll wait.”
Gunn gave him a look but then just shook his head, as he got out, moved to the back and picked up the poor woman from the alley that had fainted from fright. “When I get back, I hope you’ve stopped driving like a crash test dummy out on a mission.”
Angel ignored him and closed his eyes and decided to breathe, hoping the inhales and exhales would calm him down, so he didn’t accidentally kill Gunn, or wreck his Plymouth.
Cordelia stood in front of her freezer, staring at the two containers mocking her from inside of it. Frozen low-fat yogurt or tasty yummy double chocolate fudge ice cream? She knew what she wanted, she wanted the ice cream, covered in chocolate syrup and whipped cream, and she wanted to eat the entire thing in one sitting.
Hadn’t she earned it? Putting up with a cranky director, a bad actor in the worst vampire make-up she’d ever seen – and she’d seen a lot of bad monster make-up since starting her acting career. Granted this had been the first part she’d gotten in a monster movie, because of her penchant to crack up at the so-called ‘horror’ fiends. Was it her fault she’d grown up on a Hellmouth? No. Her parents for some odd reason had chosen to live in Sunnydale. The why of that would always make her wonder? In fact she sometimes wondered if her father had worshipped a demon of some sort and Buffy had killed it, thus causing her family’s financial woes.
Cordelia huffed at herself, pulled the ice cream out of the freezer and finally closed the door. What the hell did it matter? She only wanted the movie because a rising star was the heroine of the piece. She was only going to be in it for two seconds, screaming and that was if she got lucky and didn’t cut her out. Even during the final three takes where she’d managed to scream at the end, with the last ‘scary snarl’ of the ‘vampire’ she’d ended up giggling. The fake teeth were so screwy, fangs on the top and bottom, they barely fit the actor’s mouth, and how the heck was he supposed to suck her blood? She shook her head and furrowed her brow.
“Be positive, Cor,” she told herself. “You will be in the movie, you will be victim number one. And you can claim to have done a movie that whats-her-face has done. Damn it what is her name? I never even get to see the movies with all the up-coming actors anymore, I don’t even know their names?” Cordelia slammed her mouth shut and stared at the still unopened canister of ice cream. “And I’m talking to myself. I’m going loony.”
On cue, as if agreeing with her statement her phone rang. Cordelia looked over at it and sighed. “Not answering it unless it’s a call back for a real movie, or a television series.”
“Cordelia? It’s Lisa. I just wanted to warn you, Darlene is on the warpath. Clients got upset you weren’t around; she couldn’t remember crap or find certain things. Pretty sure she blew a few deals. So she’s pissed at you, blaming you for her lack of people-skills. Does she even have Interior Design skills? Well, if I were you I’d show up early tomorrow and not leave until late. She was making noise again about not working things around an actress’s career.”
Cordelia closed her eyes and resisted the urge to scream. Once she was sure she wouldn’t scream or worse breakdown crying like a girl, she grabbed a spoon and took off for her living room with it and the ice cream.
Flopping down on her couch, she flicked on her TV and flipped stations until she landed on what looked like a cheesy movie of the week. It was better than nothing she decided, loading up her spoon with melting chocolate with chocolate chunks of fudge throughout, she smiled inhaling the aroma. “Come to me, baby,” she whispered to the spoon just as there was one sharp knock on her door.
Looking toward the door as it swung open; the spicy, expensive smell of her boyfriend greeted her a second before she found herself looking at his face. He smiled and gave her a quick wink. “Thought I’d surprise you.”
Cordelia smiled, telling herself that it was really sweet and the only thing better than chocolate had to be a loving boyfriend. This was good. “I’m glad!” She said, standing up from the couch.
Alec smiled again, put down his briefcase and met her halfway with a small kiss hello. “Is that ice cream?”
Cordelia winced. “I know I shouldn’t eat it… I just…”
“You should give up acting and then you could eat all the ice cream you want.”
Cordelia laughed. “Sure, you want to date a girl as round as the ice cream container herself?”
“I’m just saying that you don’t need to act.”
Cordelia bit her tongue. This was a normal argument between them, he just didn’t understand. No one from his social set, or her old social set did. “I do need it.”
“You need to get upset over auditions and eat too much ice cream?” Alec asked, looking back at her after hanging up his jacket in the closet. “Cordelia, sweetheart, I don’t think so. You could, you know move in with me. Get rid of this tiny apartment, in this questionable part of town…”
Cordelia furrowed her brow. “I’m not going to live with you, Alec. Don’t start that discussion up again…”
Alec frowned and he walked around her and started to massage her shoulders. “I just think it would be a good step in the right direction for us.”
Which means he doesn’t want to shell out the money for the ring, until he’s sure he’ll enjoy sex at all hours and sharing a bathroom with you, a voice in the back of Cordelia’s head told her. “Alec, don’t,” she whispered, falling into the trap of his hands. He was an expert at shoulder massage, she had to give him that.
“I could take care of everything, Cordelia.”
“I don’t need you to take care of everything, Alec. I have a job and my acting career.”
Alec sighed. “You know, I realize after your father’s problems that you had to become self-sufficient for awhile. But you have me now, sweetheart.”
“I already had a bad day, Alec. Must we fight?”
“I don’t want to fight,” Alec moved them both over to her couch and turned off the television. “What happened at the audition?”
“It wasn’t audition. It was a shoot. That horror movie I told you about.”
Alec rolled his eyes, and Cordelia had to fight the urge not to snort. Alec didn’t believe in anything he couldn’t see. Demons, Santa Claus, Easter Bunnies, God. He thought her going after horror movies was ridiculous, he didn’t understand the cult following that so many had at all. “What happened?”
“I kept laughing.”
“The vampire make-up was horrendous… they looked like white walking doughnuts and the teeth! There was no way those teeth could suck blood.”
Alec laughed. “Sweetheart, what do you know about monster make-up?”
Cordelia stiffened in his arms at the condescending tone in his voice. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“I just mean, what do you know about monster make-up?”
“I know plenty!” She shot back.
“About beauty and how to enhance it with regular make-up. But not make up for make believe creatures.” Alec touched her face. “I don’t mean to make you more upset, but really if you find it all so fake why do you want to act anyway? Live with me, Cordelia. Quit this silliness, quit that job where they give you nothing but trouble. I love you; I can give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of, that you deserve. You don’t have to take care of yourself anymore. Sweetheart, come on move in with me?”
Cordelia screamed and shoved Alec’s hands off of her and then she took off to her bedroom slamming the door closed. Once it was closed she looked at the doorknob and quickly locked it. What the hell was wrong with him? She’d asked him more than once to shut up about them living together. God, he’d been in the apartment less than fifteen minutes and how many times had he ignored her wishes. Who the hell did he think he was? Didn’t he get the fact she wasn’t going to live with him? It wasn’t a hard thing to swallow. He wanted her forever and ever, he had to go out and get her a ring… which she was seriously wondering about accepting now.
She sat down on her bed, ignored Alec’s calls and knocks on the door and held her head in her hands. This was supposed to have stopped, going to Sunnydale and remembering why she’d left was supposed to have stopped all the restlessness brewing inside of her about her life. But instead, instead it hadn’t helped at all. Sometimes it felt worse, like it was getting worse and worse everyday.
The most confusing thing of all was she hated her job, her apartment, and the acting was more of a frustration than a fulfillment but the idea of giving it all up made her feel nauseated. Alec would take care of her, he had a great apartment, more like a penthouse really – he had money, he would buy her anything she wanted, and he wasn’t so bad of a guy. He talked to her, let her whine and he was trying to help her feel better. So what was the problem?
“Cordelia? Sweetheart? Cor, come on let me in?”
She looked at the door, pictured Alec behind it, still in his three-piece suit looking like a model for a business magazine. He was perfect: good-looking, rich and like most men completely clueless. She should get up and open the door and apologize. She wouldn’t say yes though, but she should apologize for being so weird about it. Right?
Cordelia stayed on the bed.