PAIRING: Cordelia/Angelus…sort of.
RATING: PG-13. Nothing you wouldn’t see on the show.
SUMMARY: Angelus is on the loose…again.
SPOILERS: No real spoilers, but the story is set some time in season three, before ‘Offspring’.
DISCLAIMER: Joss Whedon and Co. own everything.
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere. No permission necessary. Just drop me a note so I’ll know where to look.
NOTE: I know we all want an Angel of our own, but…
FEEDBACK: Yes, please.
Deana Downs clutched the book with ice numb hands.
A fire raged in the middle of her living room floor. It was hot and angry…and sapphire blue. And the only thing containing it was a circle, drawn in chalk, on the hardwood floor.
A gentle breeze wandered through the room. It ruffled her dishwater-blond hair, and made the curtains flutter.
Which wouldn’t have seemed so weird if the window was open.
“It’s working,” she gasped with wonder, and disbelief. And a little fear. She never thought it would work. Not really. This was all supposed to be a game. An innocent–well, desperate–game.
But it was working.
Blinking herself out of her daze, she forced her eyes back to the book. Her voice shook as she muttered the incantation artistically sprawled across the old, yellowing page. She just hoped she got the pronunciation right. Some of the words didn’t even seem like words. Not in any language she’d ever heard of.
With a nervous swallow, Deana held up a handkerchief covered with blood. His blood.
His blood wasn’t hard to get. One night, he staggered into that girl’s apartment. And he must have been hurt, because there was blood on the landing.
Deanna had scurried out of her apartment, quiet as a mouse, and soaked the blood up with a handkerchief. Easy.
Now, she hesitantly approached the sapphire flames. Holding her breath, she tossed the hankie into the fire.
The blaze consumed the handkerchief in an instant. It vanished like it had never been.
Deana couldn’t believe it. This wasn’t supposed to work. She hadn’t expected it to work.
Well, she did, but not really.
“H-have to f-finish,” she stammered. “Just f-finish.”
Her hands trembled so hard she nearly dropped the book. And she almost ripped the page as she turned it.
“From these f-flames,” she read, “bring forth life in the image I desire. Created from my w-will. Bound to my will. Master to the servant, and the s- servant will obey.”
The fire roared, drowning out the last few words. The flames shot up towards the ceiling, and star-white sparks danced around and through them. The wind that had drifted so lazily through the apartment, whipped into a frenzy. It tore at the curtains, at the newspaper on the coffee table.
Eyes wide, Deana staggered back. Too scared to think. Too scared to run. All she could do was watch.
Watch as the flames seemed to shrink in one themselves. To implode. And, as the fire shrank, it got brighter and brighter, until there was a flash of light…
With a startled cry, Deana dropped the book and covered her eyes.
A sudden, deafening silence filled the apartment, as loud, in its way, as the roar had been. The wind vanished, the heat disappeared.
Deana shivered, afraid of what she’d find. Slowly, she uncovered her eyes.
The fire was gone. In its place lay a figure.
A wave of dizziness crashed over her, and Deana’s legs collapsed. She sat on the floor with a painful thump.
“Oh, God,” she muttered. “Oh, God. Oh, God,” over and over again.
It was him. Lying naked in the middle of her living room floor, curled into a fetal position, and shivering even more than she was. His hair damp. His skin glistening with sweat.
And he was beautiful.
Deana stood behind him, running a towel through his damp hair.
He was sitting in a chair, a heavy quilt wrapped around him. She was glad he wasn’t shivering anymore.
But he was confused, just like the book said he would be. It was up to her to help him adjust.
“We need to get you some sun,” she babbled, afraid to let silence fall for too long. “I’ve always thought you were too pale. I guess that’s what happens when you work nights.”
He didn’t respond, of course. Just kept looking around, like he was trying to figure out where he was.
“But we’d have to be careful,” Deana continued. “You know, when you leave the apartment. We don’t want that girl to see you. Or any of her friends. They’d just ask questions.”
Thinking about it made a tremble rush through her. She hadn’t thought this through, had she? Yes, she’d gone to ridiculous lengths to perform a ritual that she found in some obscure book. A book of magic, as crazy as it sounded. She’d bought twice as much food as usual, like you do when you know you’re going to have a guest. She’d bought clothes for him to wear.
But she’d never really considered what she’d do with a mystically created clone.
Still, nothing could dampen her elation. Because it had worked! He was here, and he was hers.
And she didn’t have to be alone anymore.
Startled, Deana jumped. It was the first time he’d spoken. She hadn’t been sure he could.
Draping the towel over her arm, she walked around to face him.
He was staring at the floor, a confused frown on his face.
“You look like him,” Deana cautiously agreed. “Exactly like him. But you’re not him. More like a twin.”
A twin with the exact same memories. The clone had all of Angel’s memories, up to the moment he was created. But the book said they were faint, like a dream. And, every day, they would fade a little more. Until they were gone.
He looked up at her, his black eyes filled with questions. He was looking to her for answers, for guidance, just like the book said.
Because he didn’t have free will. He didn’t have a soul.
That part had worried her a little. Not having a soul couldn’t be good.
But he was the servant. He would obey her. He would do whatever she told him to do. And she wouldn’t let him do anything bad.
“Don’t worry about it right now.” She gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “I’ll try to explain later. Would you like to put on the clothes I bought you? They’re just like his. Maybe that will make you…feel better.” She shrugged, not sure of her own logic.
The clone looked towards the sofa, where the clothes rested. Black slacks. A black shirt. Even a black duster.
She’d always thought he looked so cool in his dusters. They made him look like the mysterious stranger. Handsome. Strong.
“Hungry,” the clone said, voice low and a little hoarse.
Deana squeezed her eyes shut and slapped her hand to her forehead. “Of course you’re hungry! I should have thought of that. And I bought extra food, too.” Smiling at her own foolishness, she turned towards the kitchen. “I’ll get you a nice, big…”
“Don’t bother. I’ll get my own.”
Suddenly, Deana was grabbed from behind. An arm as strong as steel wrapped around her waist. A hand clasped over her mouth, muffling her startled scream. Her head was wrenched to the side.
After that, there was just pain.
Angelus tossed the book on the coffee table. Leaning his head against the back of the sofa, he closed his eyes.
It was strange to think he’d been alive for less than a day. Half a day.
He remembered so much more. Two hundred and seventy years.
But they were faint memories. More like a life he’d imagined than actually lived.
The man who had actually lived those memories was at the Hyperion Hotel right now. Soul intact.
The clone gave it some thought. It should probably bother him that he wasn’t the original. That he was a copy, created by a woman who couldn’t *have* the original. But he didn’t care. All that mattered was that he existed. And with no soul to get in the way.
Angelus glanced at the body of the woman who had been his first meal. Deana Downs, according to her mail. His maker. His master. The woman who was supposed to have complete control over him. He shouldn’t have been able to *think* of killing her, let alone actually do it. But he had, without hesitation.
He wasn’t supposed to have any free will at all. Just a desire to obey his master. What had gone wrong?
“Screw it,” he said as he stood up. “I never did care much for rules.”
Angelus wandered around the apartment. He still felt disconnected. Not quite there yet.
Pausing, he closed his eyes. What was the last thing he remembered before he woke up, cold and naked, in the middle of Deana Downs’ living room floor?
He was at the Hyperion, doing nothing in particular. It was a slow day.
Wesley was going through a shipment of new books.
Gunn was cleaning the weapons. Again.
Fred was at the computer, pecking happily at the keyboard.
“Cordy,” he muttered, and a faint smile curved his lips.
Cordelia was bitching about a blind date she didn’t want to go on. But it was the brother of a friend, one of the few friends she still kept in touch with, and she had promised.
Angel hadn’t been happy about the date. The fact that she wasn’t all that happy about it either made him feel a little better.
Eyes snapping open, Angelus glanced at the clock. Her blind date was picking her up at nine. She’d be home soon, to get ready. Whether she wanted to go on the date or not, Cordy would give herself plenty of time to prepare. To look her best.
Which was always spectacular.
As he turned, Angelus’s foot bumped into Deana’s lifeless arm. Glancing down at her, he sighed. Now that he knew she was responsible for his existence, he kind of regretted killing her so quickly.
Frowning, he gave the matter some thought.
“No, I don’t.”
As she walked down the hall toward her apartment, Cordelia yawned. She was beat. Not that they had done anything today. Which was the problem. She was used to constant activity, one crisis after another. Boredom was exhausting.
She so did *not* want to go on this date tonight. But she made a promise. Back in the day, pre-Fred, Cordy talked Megan into going out on a date with Wesley. After his break-up with Virginia, the man seriously needed some…whatever.
Well, the two hadn’t hit it off, and time rolled along.
After so long, Cordy figured Megan had forgotten the debt. The woman had the attention span of…well, Swiss cheese.
But, as it turned out, she was waiting on her brother to pay a visit.
“Why should I waste you on just some guy,” Megan had asked, “when you’re perfect for Jack?”
Cordy got the feeling Megan expected wedding bells and a new sister-in-law.
Cordy just hoped Jack wouldn’t bore her to death. If she fell asleep in her soup, Megan would never forgive her.
Stopping at the door to her apartment, Cordelia reached into her purse for her keys.
And that’s when she felt it. That kind of skin-crawly feeling you got when you knew someone was watching you.
Scowling, Cordy peered down the hall.
Deana Downs’ door was open just a crack.
Cordelia sighed. Deana was the strangest girl. When she moved in, Cordelia went over to say a neighborly hello. Not only had she *not* been invited in, but Deana gave off serious “leave me alone” vibes.
So, Cordy left her alone.
Then, Cordy realized that, when one of the guys came over, Deana’s front door would open just enough for the girl to peak out into the hallway. It was weird. And gave Cordy the urge to yell, “Peeping Tomisina, much!!!”
Instead, whenever she caught Deana spying, Cordy would wave. And, immediately, the door would close with a quiet click.
Well, why fix it if it ain’t broke?
“Hi, Deana!” Cordy called. Pasting on a bright smile, she waved cheerfully.
But the door didn’t close. It didn’t budge an inch in either direction.
Smile fading, Cordy dropped her arm. For some reason, the fact that the door didn’t close seemed weird. Even a little creepy.
She suddenly realized that all of the lights in Deana’s apartment were off, and it was impossible to see inside. Who knew who was standing there, watching her. Deana’s brother. Or her crazy uncle. Or some weird guy she picked up at a bar.
Feeling uneasy, Cordy unlocked her door and hurried into her apartment.
Slowly, Angelus closed the door.
“Cordy’s home,” he said. Saying the words made a strange warmth flow through him. Warmth and…anticipation.
He glanced towards the corpse of his maker.
“I have to get ready. I want my first night with her to be…special.”
Cordelia came awake slowly, eyes fluttering open to take in the moonlit bedroom. Yawning, she lifted her hands above her head and stretched.
The lamp on the bedside table clicked on.
“Thanks, Dennis,” Cordy said. “You’re better than an alarm clock.”
She folded her hands across her stomach, and let her eyes drift half closed. Lying in bed felt so good. So cozy. She didn’t want to get up. Not yet.
“Just a few more minutes,” she decided. “I’ll still have plenty of time to get ready.”
She wondered what was going on at the office.
Well, Wes was probably cross-referencing his new books by now, which was his idea of a good time. Gunn would have abandoned his weapons for the Game Boy. Fred was still online, unless she had a sudden urge to invent a deadly device that looked just like a cuckoo clock. And, if she knew Angel, he had settled down to read some old, depressing book in whatever language it had been written in originally.
“Sounds like fun,” she muttered. More fun than she was going to have tonight.
Not that she didn’t like going out. Nothing beat a night on the town. But spending the evening with a complete stranger who she had never even met had no appeal.
With a soft moan, Cordy sat up. “This from the former dating champion of Sunnydale High.”
She should really try to be optimistic about this whole thing. Instead of expecting to have a bad time, she should just decide to have a good time.
With another yawn, she shuffled into the bathroom.
“Honey!” Angelus called as he let himself into Deana’s apartment. “I’m home!”
When there was no answer, he tsked and shook his head. “I guess she’s still in bed.”
Angelus closed the door and carried his shopping bags to the dining room table. His outing had been very productive.
First, he paid a visit to the occult store Angel Investigations used whenever they needed supplies. And he’d found exactly what he was looking for.
“I hope that girl appreciates all the trouble I’ve gone to for her.”
He took the stone out of the first bag and held it up to the light. It wasn’t all that impressive, actually. It looked like an ordinary rock that, for some unfathomable reason, had been painstakingly polished. Hardly worth the price he paid for it. Well, Deana paid for it.
But Angelus knew it was worth every penny.
He set the stone on the table and reached into the other bag.
His second stop was at a store that…well, that would make Wesley stutter and little Fred blush.
Grinning at the image, he began to remove his purchases. One look around the store and he knew what Cordelia liked so much about shopping. Everywhere he looked, there was some new toy he wanted for his very own. And he’d probably overdone it a little.
The shackles, of course, were a must. And these were padded, so the skin around the wrists and ankles wouldn’t get too bruised.
The blindfold wasn’t really necessary. Cordelia was going to know exactly who he was. But there were all kinds of fun things you could do with them. If you had the imagination.
The whip was purely an impulse buy. And this one was guaranteed not to break the skin.
There was more. And he couldn’t really imagine using half the things he’d bought. Then again…
“Who knew shopping sprees could be so much fun.”
But the real fun was thinking of ways to use this stuff.
Two dresses floated in midair, inches from her face.
“Um, that one.” Cordelia pointed to the royal blue.
Phantom hands draped the chosen dress across the bed. The reject glided back to the closet.
Cordelia grinned. Every girl should have a ghost. Dennis took loads of hassle out of getting ready.
The only shoes she had that matched the dress drifted over to the bed.
“Thank you, Dennis.”
Tightening the belt of her robe, Cordelia sat down at her vanity table. As she applied her make-up, Dennis started to sort through her jewelry box.
“Something silver,” she suggested. Other than that, she’d let Dennis choose. He had great taste.
Her pep talk from earlier was starting to work. Playing dress up always made her feel better. And, while she still wasn’t looking forward to tonight, she’d decided to make the best of it.
And who knew, right? Tonight could turn out to be more interesting than she thought.
Jack Clayton ran a nervous hand through his hair. He was starting to feel nervous. More nervous.
“I hate blind dates,” he sighed. They were always awkward, usually un-fun, and rarely lead to anything but a promise to never go on a blind date again.
But his sister could talk him into just about anything. And seeing the picture of Cordelia Chase had helped. A lot.
Jack took the stairs to the second floor. As he reached the landing, the door to the closest apartment opened. And a man dressed in black appeared.
“Oh, geez!” the man exclaimed, jumping a little. He put a hand over his heart. “Damn, you scared me!”
Jack, a little startled himself, took a step back. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean…”
“No problem.” The man donned an embarrassed smile. “I just wasn’t expecting…” He paused, a frown marring his intense brow. “Hey, are you here to pick up Cordelia Chase?”
Surprised, Jack nodded. “Um, yeah. We have a date.”
“I know. And I was supposed to give you a message if I saw you. See, Cordy had to run out for a sec. But she’ll be back soon. Ten, fifteen minutes.”
“Oh,” Jack sighed. This was just what he needed. “Well, I guess I’ll go wait outside.” He turned toward the stairs.
“Hey!” the guy grabbed his shoulder. “No need for that. Cordy felt so bad, she asked if I’d let you wait in my apartment.”
Stepping away from the guy’s strong grip, Jack shook his head. “I don’t think…”
“It’s no problem at all.” He waved towards the door. “Come on in.”
Jack thought about it for a second. He really didn’t want to sit in his car for the next ten or fifteen minutes. And who knew if this girl would be back that soon.
Besides, there was a reason he hadn’t wanted to go out tonight.
“Do you have ESPN?” Jack asked.
His prospective host grinned. “Couldn’t live without it.”
With a grin of his own, Jack nodded and walked through the door.
“Name’s Angelus, by the way,” the man said as he closed the door.
“I’m Jack,” Jack said…a second before his mind absorbed the name. “Angelus?”
“Unusual, I know. My, um, mother had some pretty grandiose ideas. She was heavy into symbolism and irony.”
“Oh,” Jack said. Shrugging, he looked around the apartment. And he noticed that the décor was kind of…well, feminine. From the peach-colored curtains, to the floral-print furniture. From the lace tablecloth on the dining room table, to the unicorn collection that occupied the bookcase.
Oh, wow. Was this guy…?
Not that there was anything wrong with that. It was just that…
“Hey, Jack?” Angelus said. He turned the deadbolt, locking the door.
“Yeah?” Jack said, eyes still scanning the room. Frowning, he turned. “Where’s the TV?”
“It’s over there.” Angelus nodded towards the corner. But, before Jack could look, his host grabbed his shoulder. Angelus lowered his voice. Like you do when you have a secret to share. “First, I think there’s something I should tell you about Cordelia.”
Feeling uneasy—the guy was a little too close for comfort—Jack tried to step back. But Angelus had a really strong grip. “Um, what *about* Cordelia?”
Angelus moved closer, until his face was inches from Jack’s. His voice lowered to a whisper.
George paused outside of Deana Downs’ door. He’d heard something. A strangled scream that cut off abruptly. And a pop, like a tree branch snapping in two.
Wondering what she was doing in there, the elderly man waited, listening for more. But no other sounds emanated from the apartment.
“Strange girl.” With a shake of his head, George went down the stairs.
Cordelia glanced at her watch. It was now nine thirty.
“Uh-uh. No way!” Folding her arms, she paced. “He is *not* standing me up.”
The lights flickered.
“Yeah, I *know* I didn’t want to go out with him. That doesn’t mean I want him to stand me up!”
Cordelia could almost feel Dennis shrug. Apparently, a woman’s mind was a mystery to all men. Even the dearly departed ones.
“Megan is *definitely* not going to hear the end of this. Her wonderful, amazing, fantastic brother is turning out to be a real…”
There was a knock at the front door.
Cordy blew out an exasperated breath. “It’s about time,” she said through gritted teeth.
Stalking to the door, she threw it open. Ready to let loose on her late date.
“Angel!” she exclaimed, surprise taking the wind right out of her sails. “What are *you* doing here?”
“Never mind. Just come in.” She grabbed his armed and pulled him through the doorway.
“Thanks. Didn’t know if I could get in on my own.”
Cordy was too mad to really hear what he said. “Can you believe it? I think I’ve been stood up!”
Angel frowned. “Your date was a no show, huh?”
Cordelia just threw up her hands. “And after all the time I spent getting ready, too.”
“Well, look on the bright side. Maybe he was struck down by a car. Or he slipped in the tub and drowned. Or some homicidal maniac broke his neck.”
Noticing the smirk on Angel’s face, Cordy gave him a funny look. She knew Angel’s sense of humor could be…unique. But…
“Ooh-kaay,” she said. Brow furrowed, she gave him a closer look. There was something different about him. “Are you alright?”
“I’m perfect.” His smile broadened. “Why do you ask?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. You just seem to be…”
The telephone rang. Cordelia decided to let the machine answer it.
“Maybe that’s him,” Angel suggested. “Full of excuses and apologies.”
“It better be.” She scowled. “If not, I’m going to make Megan’s life…”
((Cordelia?)) came the voice from the answering machine. ((It’s me. Angel. W-which you probably already…know. Anyway, I’m sure you’re gone already. But, I just wanted to tell you…we got a case! An actual case, with a client who wants to pay and everything. Nothing urgent, but I thought you’d want to know. So, call me when you get home. Um, okay. ‘Bye.))
Cordelia stared at the answering machine. Her heart did a sickening thud before it tried to pound its way out of her chest. A shiver crawled up her spine and, like a shock wave, raced through the rest of her body.
Cordy’s eyes widened with dawning horror. Slowly, she turned to face…him.
He watched her, a mix of curiosity and amusement on his face. Folding his arms, he leaned against the door.
“Come on, Cordy,” he said with a wicked grin. “Let’s have some fun.”
As the truth sunk in, Cordelia began to tremble. And her head. She couldn’t keep her head still.
She glanced from the answering machine, to the door, and back again.
“Oh, my God,” she whispered. “H-how? How c-can you…”
“Be in two places at once?” He grinned. “It’s a kick, ain’t it?” Pushing away from the door, he started towards her.
And Cordy did the only thing she could think to do.
Spinning around, Cordelia took a step towards the bedroom.
He was on her in an instant, his left arm wrapped around her waist, his right hand wrapped around her throat.
“Whoa, dejavu.” Angelus laughed in her ear. “This is the second time I’ve done this today.”
Cordelia shivered, goose bumps prickling every inch of bare skin. Gasping for air, she grabbed his wrist and tried to pull his hand away.
“Yeah, like *that’s* going to work.” And he squeezed tighter.
Little black spots danced before Cordelia’s eyes.
*Oh, my God,* she thought. *I’m going to die.*
And it didn’t seem real, because it was like all of those nightmares she used to have every single night, but not so much anymore.
She waited. Waited for him to snap her neck with one sharp jerk. Or to bury his fangs in her exposed flesh. The nightmares always ended one way or the other.
But he did neither. Instead, he rested his cheek against the back of her head. And she could hear him take a deep, unneeded breath.
“Mmmmm,” he purred, rubbing his face against her hair. “Do you know how good you smell? I mean, you should. The way the souled-wimp is always sniffing around you? Dead giveaway.” He took another breath. “Fear makes it better, though. Kind of intensifies your scent, you know?”
Cordelia blinked her eyes once. Twice. Those black spots were getting bigger and bigger. The edges of her vision started to fade.
“And this?” He gave her a little shake, making her cry out as his palm pressed against her larynx. “He thinks about doing this all the time. Too weak to do anything about it, though.”
Slowly, his arms slid across her waist, until his palm pressed flat against her stomach. “And the dreams…”
In one sharp move, Cordelia reached up and back, aiming her fingernails at his face. Clawing at his skin.
With a startled hiss, he reared back.
Raising her leg, she slammed her stiletto heel down on his foot.
He cried out in pain. His hold slackened…but not completely. Hand still around her throat, he spun her around to face him.
Yellow eyes glared at her. “That *hurt*, bitch!”
Despite her fading vision, Cordelia managed to give him her patented stare of death. “S’posed to,” she gasped. “Ass…hole.”
Fangs bared in an angry snarl, he shoved her away from him.
Cordelia slammed into the wall. Her head connected with a sharp THWAK.
The air rushed out of her lungs, and the world started to spin. Pain exploded, like a cold, white light, through her brain. Groaning, she slid down until she sat half slumped against the wall.
She almost passed out. In fact, all things considered, passing out would have been a good. But the visions had given her a high tolerance for pain. Automatically, she tried to move through it. To push past it.
“Dammit!” Reverting back to his human guise, he hunkered down in front of her. “Not smart.”
She barely heard him. Her mind was focused on one thing. Getting away. Which it looked like she wouldn’t be able to do on her own. She needed help.
“Dennis?” she said, a shaky whisper. The ghost had gotten stronger since Faith broke in that time. He could…
“Hey!” her captor exclaimed, making her jump a little. “Look at what I bought today.” He pulled a rock out of his pocket. “Doesn’t look like much, I know. But the guy I bought it from said it actually *neutralizes* ghosts.” He shook his head in wonder. “Can you believe it? I mean, it doesn’t work against really powerful—or really pissed—off ghosts. Just your more harmless, relatively weak ones.” A worried frown tugged at his brow. “Hey, you don’t think this could be effecting Dennis, do you?”
Cordy squeezed her eyes shut. No help there.
She felt disconnected from her body. She could feel it, but couldn’t get it to do what she wanted it to do.
Still, she managed to force her head up a little, to focus her eyes on his face. To smile with satisfaction when she saw the scratches on his cheek.
Head tilted to the side, he studied her. “God, you really are beautiful. I mean, I’ve been around a long time. I’ve seen standards of beauty change more often than I can count. But beauty like yours never goes out of style.” He grinned. “So, I’ll try not to damage the face.”
She flinched at the threat. “Go to hell,” she croaked.
Hands almost gentle, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Only if I can take you with me,” he said. And he ran one finger down her cheek.
Cordelia whimpered. She didn’t mean to. But the truth of her situation was sinking in deeper and deeper.
And she thought of all the people she would never see again. Wesley, Gunn and Fred.
“Let’s get this show on the road,” he said. Grabbing her under her arms, he stood up and yanked her to her feet.
It was too much. The swift movement. The sudden change in altitude.
The pain slammed into the back of her skull like a hammer.
As everything went dark, she sagged against him.
Angelus held her clasped to his chest. He liked how warm she was against his cold skin.
That was one good thing about humans. Their warmth. And their scent.
He rested his chin atop her head, closed his eyes, and breathed her in. He—the other one—did it all the time. He used to try to deny it. To pretend he didn’t try to stay within sniffing distance of her at all times. Then he decided it was a harmless pleasure and let himself enjoy. Now, searching out her scent, even in a crowded nightclub, filled with hundreds of hot, sweaty bodies, was second nature to him.
He used to wonder what she would taste like too. Not so harmless.
For hours, he would sit, and think, and wonder. And feel guilty for thinking, and wondering, and imagining.
Of course, now, he liked to pretend he didn’t have that particular craving. In fact, he pretended so well that he’d almost convinced himself it was true.
Angelus smiled. Well, he didn’t have to pretend. He was going to taste his fill. And live out some of the dreams he—the other one—tried so hard to forget.
Deanna Downs glared at the scene before. And the thing she’d created.
She could feel the other one who’d been trapped here for so long. Immobilized. Powerless. And so scared for that girl.
She could feel the stone. It tried to hold her down. To make her powerless and weak, too.
But she was too angry for it to touch her.
She could feel her time running out. Soon, she would slip away. Like Jack had. Only one thing had held her here this long.
She had to finish.
“This time,” she promised. “This time, I’ll get it right.”
Suddenly, Cordelia gasped. She reared back, almost jerking out of his hold.
Frowning, Angelus grabbed her upper arms. What was this?
Cordy’s eyes popped open.
“Hmph,” he huffed. “Didn’t think you would wake so soon.”
Or had she? She didn’t seem to be awake. Her eyes were glazed, staring through him.
He glowered at her. This was something…unexpected. And, at the moment, the unexpected wasn’t what he wanted.
“Cordelia?” he barked. And, when he got know response, he gave her a shake.
And she began to speak.
But they weren’t really words. They were like music, sung with two voices. A language. But not.
Suddenly, a phantom breeze filled the room. Tossed the curtains and ruffled Cordy’s hair.
A force moved between them. Pushed them apart.
As Angelus stumbled away from her, Cordelia started to fall. But, then, some invisible…something propped her up.
“What the hell?” the vampire exclaimed, suddenly uneasy.
When the sapphire mist appeared, surrounding him like wisps of fire, uneasiness turned to fear.
And Cordelia began to speak words he could understand.
“From these flames,” she began, her voice an echo, “bring forth life in the image I desire. Created from my will. Bound to my will. I am the Master, whom the servant will obey!”
The flames rushed at him. Into him. And burned beyond his undead flesh.
The force of it knocked him off his feet, and he crashed to the ground.
Finally finished, Deanna Downs departed. Leaving the pretty girls battered body.
And Cordelia Chase collapsed.
Cordelia woke slowly. Her mind focused on every ache. Every pain.
She moaned softly and opened her eyes…
In time to see the vampire rise to his feet.
“Oh God,” she gasped as the memories flooded back.
His head snapped around. Angry eyes bored into her.
New terror crashed through her, and she struggled to sit up. She didn’t know why she was still alive. But she wouldn’t be for long if she didn’t…
“What the hell did you do to me?” he growled. Stalking towards her, he reached out.
“Don’t touch me!” Cordy cried.
And he snatched his hand back, almost like he’d been burned.
Fascinated, Cordelia watched him. He seemed shocked by his own actions, staring at his hand as if it wasn’t his.
Growling, he reached for her again.
“Get back!” Cordy cried.
And, with obvious reluctance, he staggered away from her.
“Dammit!” he yelled.
And that’s when Cordelia had something very much like a vision. Only, without the pain.
She saw Deanna Downs in her apartment. Performing some kind of ritual. Saying something that made no since.
She saw herself, muttering the same nonsensical words. But with more confidence. More smoothly and lyrically than Deanna had earlier.
And she knew what it all meant.
Hurrying to Cordy’s desk, Angel answered the ‘phone.
Angel frowned. It was Cordelia. Her voice was faint. Shaky and uncertain.
“Cordy? What is it?” Angel demanded, feeling a panic that had become all too familiar. “What’s wrong?”
She’d had a blind date. And he’d let Wesley convince him not to follow her.
If anything had happened to her…
“Um, Angel,” she began. “I d-don’t…I…” She paused. took a deep breath. “I need you to come to my apartment, Angel. There’s someone here you have to meet.”