[This chapter and the next one will cover School Hard…then we’ll go from there. :-)]
Cordelia steeled her spine, she was in the backseat of her father’s silver BMW, and her father was outside trying to get a signal on his cell phone and swearing under his breath. As he walked he edged closer and closer to Restview Cemetery, making Cordelia wish she had night vision and had brought her ‘Slayer Purse’ with her instead of the fancy dress purse.
It was ‘Show Off the Trophies’ night, as she liked to call it. Her parents and herself would get dressed up, drive to the next town over and have dinner with her father’s bosses. Where he’d make comments about his gorgeous wife and beautiful daughter. Her mother would eat up the attention, and play her part to the hilt talking up her father – because she wanted him to be promoted to President instead of remaining Senior Vice President of the company he worked for. It meant more money. And more money would make both Patrick and Susan Chase happy. Cordelia would play the part too, year after year, feeling it was her duty to do her part to make her parents richer – it meant after all more money in her trust fund.
Only that had been last year. Last year before she knew about vampires, demons, and other Hellmouthy craziness. Before she’d opened her eyes – and now, now she loved her money but a tiny voice in her head kept saying. There is more out there. And right now Cordelia was terrified that more would be a vampire from the cemetery and they’d kill her father. She knew Buffy wasn’t patrolling tonight, she’d heard them discussing Bronzing it between Buffy working on stuff for student/teacher night. A slave job if there ever was one, it pleased Cordelia that Buffy was stuck with it, and thrilled she wasn’t on Snyder’s list.
She stilled her spine, again, and rolled down her window to see her father more clearly. He was now stepping into the cemetery and Cordelia just didn’t have a good feeling. In fact she felt panicked and she never panicked. It had to mean something – she’d felt panic only two other times in her life. Once while Marcy was stalking her before the May Queen dance and again when she couldn’t find Kevin before the end of the year dance. Kevin had been dead. Marcy had wanted to disfigure her, maybe kill her too – and her father was going too far in.
“Mom, stay in the car.”
“I’m certainly not getting out in this neighborhood, I can’t believe this, Mr. Barton is not going to pleased, he won’t care that the tire is flat.”
“We’ll charm Mr. Barton when we get there Mom,” Cordelia said, sounding amazing nonchalant to her own ears as she got out of the car. Hugging herself against a sudden shiver of cold she made her way towards her father, her nose scrunching up in disgust as her heels sunk into soft dirt when she entered the cemetery. “Great now my shoes are going to be ruined,” she muttered hurrying to catch up with her father. Did he think the tombs were going to boost his signal, she thought. “Daddy!”
Patrick Chase turned towards Cordelia, frowning and he shook his head. “Still no signal. We are switching to a better cell phone service.”
“Daddy, I think you should come back to the road.”
“There are so many trees, I thought the open space would help,” he pushed buttons. “Nothing. I suppose I could walk up the street a bit, this soiree is very important to my job.”
“We need to go back to the car, Daddy,” Cordelia said again.
“Sweetheart, don’t worry your little head.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Daddy, please. Car, now! And don’t patronize me.”
“I need to get a signal.”
“Well the dead people aren’t helping you get one, so let’s go to the road and give the asphalt another try.”
“Cordelia, go back to the car and if anyone you know drives by and you think their parents or they maybe able to change a tire, flag them down.”
Cordelia wanted to scream but instead she tried to count to five. Shouting matches with her father never went anywhere. He’d call her a bunch of endearments and make her sound like a vapid doll, and then he’d just completely ignore her. It was the status quo and that meant she had to figure another way to get him out of the cemetery. God, she’d stood in this almost exact spot playing bait for Buffy just last week – that meant that…
And there he was. A vampire and he rushed right into her father tackling him to the ground. Cordelia screamed at the top of her lungs until she ran out of air at which she realized the vampire had let go of her father and was looking right at her.
“Young blood. Thanks for letting me know you were there.”
“I was going for letting the Slayer know I was here.”
“The Slayer isn’t out tonight – everyone knows that.”
“Even dead bloodsuckers?” Cordelia asked, how did they know Buffy’s plans? “Are you sure? Who is your source?”
“The Anointed One.”
“Don’t like him much,” Cordelia said, glancing at her father, his throat seemed okay, he was on the ground which meant when he came too he wasn’t going to be happy about the dirt and grime on his suit. Of course, that was if he wasn’t distracted by her bloody death.
She started to step backwards. “You know I’ve been told my blood isn’t that tasty.”
“Smells tasty…all that fear,” and he was looming in and Cordelia screamed again only the vampire never touched her. by realizing her throat wasn’t being ripped out, she blinked and brought back her awareness of the cemetery just in time to see a ball of dust and Angel.
Cordelia flew to him and hugged him, then quickly stepped away her words coming out a mile a minute. “Oh God! You saved us, thank you so much, that was so unbelievably brave dusting that vampire. You could have died and do you need anything? I can buy you a coffee.”
“No, really, Angel, please. I mean that was so, well, heroic.”
“I’m not a hero.”
“Of course you are. I mean that pile of dust was a vampire, you’re just a guy,” Cordelia took a breath and then eyed Angel. “Why do you help out Buffy anyway? You aren’t like Giles right? A Looker?”
“Whatever,” Cordelia said dismissing him immediately when she heard a sound from her father on the ground. She felt suddenly nauseated and rushed over to him, kneeling down in the ground to grab his arms and help him up. “Daddy, are you okay?”
Groaning her father pulled her into a tight hug and whispered into her ear. “Sweetie, are you okay? Did that mugger hurt you, I tried to stop him.”
“I’m fine, Daddy,” Cordelia whispered back but she bit her tongue to help herself hold back sudden tears. Not in front of Angel, a voice whispered at her, you aren’t alone here. “Angel, he saved us. Scared the mugger off.”
“We’re going to have to report this first thing in the morning; this town is getting more and more dangerous. Cordelia, you stay with crowds when you are going out at night, right?”
Cordelia nodded and started brushing dirt off her father’s suit.
“Is this Angel?”
“Oh,” Cordelia turned back to Angel with a wide smile. “Yes. Angel, this is my father Patrick Chase. Daddy, this is Angel…” Cordelia’s brow furrowed. “What’s your last name?”
“And let’s see a hundred dollars is enough isn’t it?” Mr. Chase asked Angel, his checkbook already opened.
The look on Angel’s face as he faced the both of them made Cordelia uneasy. Had her father inadvertently upset him? Buffy would be insulted by an offer of a monetary reward, was Angel the same way? She frowned. “Daddy just wants to thank you.”
“I can’t accept any money. I was just near by and I heard Cordelia screaming.”
“Well we owe you our lives; the least I can do is write you a check. Is Angel your first or last name?”
“I won’t accept it.”
Cordelia shivered, Angel had such a weird look in his eyes, it made Cordelia both curious and nervous. Buttons were being pushed, what were they and why? She wanted to know.
Her father closed his checkbook. “Well, I tried. Thank you again, especially for saving my daughter. Now, where is my cell phone.”
“Oh. Angel, can you change a tire?” Cordelia asked with a smile, suddenly afraid Angel would just take off now that the rescue was over and her curiosity was piqued.
“Great. I’ll help you!”
Angel focused on changing the Chase’s tire and trying to clear his head. Cordelia still didn’t know he was a vampire. It bothered him. All of them knew except her and the questions she had asked tonight – they weren’t things he could easily answer.
Telling her the truth sounded great, maybe it was the right thing but he didn’t want her to scream and run away. And what other reaction would a normal healthy girl have? Buffy had even screamed, more because of shock and the fact she was The Slayer. But pure fear had rushed through her at the initial sighting of a demon before her.
He didn’t want to tell Cordelia, and he hated himself for it. At least he could tell himself he had hedged tonight because of her father, but it was just an excuse. And the man wanting to pay him for saving them – it had made his insides coil. The thought of all the people he killed and these people wanted to give him a reward? No, dusting a vampire earned him nothing. Nothing at all. Angel cleared his throat and started to finish up his job of changing the tire – and wondered if Cordelia had taken a breath since he’d started.
That was the other thing, it wasn’t easy to clear your head when Cordelia’s way of helping him was to ask a million questions about the tire changing process. He’d given her one-syllable answers the entire time, or just shrugged when he couldn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And she was still going.
“Yes,” he said, standing up, turning toward her and shoving his hands in his pockets. “I’m done.”
Cordelia smiled and glanced over her shoulder to where he parents stood on the other side of the street, still trying to get the cell phone to work. “Did he offend you?”
“The money?” Cordelia asked. “You did something huge – saving my life, his, it’s huge. He offered you money. I’m sure you hero types like Buffy think that’s…shallow, materialistic. Do you think you buy everything in the world, right?”
Angel stared at her. It hadn’t been that at all for him, but she was probably right about Buffy’s reaction. “No. He didn’t…um.”
“Why do you help out Buffy? Did vampires kill someone you know?”
Tell her. Don’t tell her. Angel opened his mouth and ended up taking Cordelia’s out. “Yes.”
Cordelia’s entire expression softened, something that was rarely seen and Angel felt horrible for his half-truth. It was lie no matter how he rationalized it and now she felt bad for him that people he knew had died horrible deaths. But he was responsible, he didn’t deserve pity.
“I’m sorry. Were you close to…who was it?”
“You don’t like talking about it. Of course you don’t and here I am asking who had the blood drained out of them because I’m curious. I’m glad Daddy didn’t offend you though, but you’ve been looking pretty angry.”
Angel looked away from Cordelia’s face, his eyes landing on the pavement underneath his feet. “It’s not him.”
“If you’ve changed your mind, you can still get the reward –”
“NO!” Angel said, his head snapping up and he saw Cordelia’s mouth open with surprise.
“Okay, okay. Don’t get all weird on me again. Geesh, if you weren’t so hot I might label you a freak.”
“Hot?” Angel looked at her, granted he had an inkling of what it might mean. He’d heard Buffy use it as well, but the specific definition went over his head.
“Yeah. Hot. Sexy, gorgeous. Salty goodness.”
That made sense, he thought, his ego starting to rise and he smiled. “That rescues me from being a freak?”
“Barely, if you keep acting so weird. Only so many points I can give you for it, Angel.”
Angel sighed and wondered how low Cordelia’s opinion would fall when she found out what he was, and just why he cared so much. “I’ll try to be less weird.”
Cordelia smiled and then frowned when her father called out for her. “We have called them, they know the situation, is he finished because we must get to the party, sweetheart.”
“He’s done, Daddy, I’m just saying thank you and goodbye.”
“Will he let me pay him for the tire?”
Cordelia glanced at Angel and he immediately shook his head no.
She shook her head at her father, then looked back at Angel. “Guess I have to go now. Time to be pretty and try not to talk too much. My mother says it’s unbecoming, but I get all these thoughts and questions.”
“I’ve noticed. Do you like spending time with your parents?”
“It’s okay. It’s not often…and I guess that’s okay. I mean, it’d be nice if it was actually family time and not, look good for the boss time. But it’s not often and it’s pretty cool to be left alone too. To be a teenager and all that. Like neither of them will make parent/teacher night I’m sure. Daddy will have to work, and Mom will probably be too…”
“Cordelia!” Mrs. Chase’s voice said as she walked towards the passenger door. “We have to leave, say goodbye to the handsome young man.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “I’ll see you around.”
“Thank you, again, for you know –”
Angel heard a noise behind them from the cemetery then, coming from behind a grouping of trees and he held up his hand. “Just go, now…” he muttered and started toward the noise without looking back.
All he heard was Cordelia huff at his rudeness before her brain caught up with him and she muttered. “More vampires,” before he heard the door open, close and Cordelia order her father to ‘drive already, you’re the one in a hurry.’ Once the car was gone, he moved quickly and took the path that put him behind the vampires he heard.
He wasn’t in the cemetery to combat, to kill, unless of course there were helpless victims in the vicinity. His reasons for being around were reconnaissance, to find out just what The Anointed one was planning, so he could warn Buffy.
“So, this chick stuck in the Goth period shows up after he dusted him… she was one weird vamp, man. I think this Spike guy called her Tru, or was it Dru?” One of the vampires said.
And with that Angel was gone from the cemetery.