Lilah stalked into the room where Cathy lay, she glanced at her on the bed but concentrated on Fred sitting in a chair staring at Cathy from just a few feet away.
“Did she buy it”? She asked without preamble, her face taut with anger.
“Yeah I think so, it looked that way to me”, Fred didn’t take her eyes off Cathy, Lilah didn’t notice but started to pace the room, frustration pouring off her.
“That stupid bloody fool, I told him to just take off with her and make sure she never came back if he didn’t want her dead”, she continued to pace, spinning on her heel when she reached a dead end. “But no he just couldn’t do that! He had to rub Angels’ face in it and then nearly got himself killed”. She ran out of breath and room again so stopped to stare at Fred.
“Why are you still looking like that and why are you staring at a dead body, I didn’t realise your kind ate meat”? Asked Lilah, fed up with little details messing up her plans.
‘Fred’ morphed into a pale grey, shapeless creature; it was quite small and very thin. “I’m a shape shifter Ms Morgan, it’s what we do”. There was a tiny whine in the voice that horribly, still retained Fred’s sweet Texan twang.
“Well stop it, it’s creeping me out – where is our little scientist by the way; you didn’t kill her did you”? She went on to ask.
“No, she’d just out of the way, but still alive”, it answered, then with a sly look in its fathomless black eyes, “It’s lucky you had a plan B to go to with the demon half breed out of the picture”.
Lilah took the compliment as her due, “I didn’t trust him and good thing too or otherwise we’d be in big trouble by now”
“Will he be willing to put her aside, just because she believed him capable of such ‘awful’ things”, it snickered at the description.
Lilah smiled a small smile too, “He’s a big wuss and would forgive her anything, no, that’s not plan B. Plan B is to make it look to the others like he killed her in a fit of rage or at the very least he’ll blame himself for her untimely death at the hands of vampires. Only it wouldn’t have to be vamps; they’re off the market on this one since the last stunt he pulled; but I’ve arranged it to still look like it”.
“Either way she’ll be gone forever, he’ll be inconsolable and alone again with no-one to turn to, and maybe finally he’ll be ready to embrace his darker side. What more could a girl ask for”? She smirked with a sudden intense feeling of satisfaction.
“What about the others, will they not intervene”? The shape shifter murmured in a distracted manner; it’s attention swinging back to the woman on the bed.
“They won’t know their cell phone accounts have all been blocked” Replied Lilah and then she noticed the continued preoccupation with Cathy.
“What are you staring at? It’s just a dead body” She was genuinely curious, this was not normal behaviour for shape shifters.
“There is something unusual about this one”, it replied, the fascinated gaze not wavering. “I cannot figure out what, but she is different and…it calls to me; I want to hurt her so bad and yet she’s already dead”, its black eyes looked up to Lilah as if seeking answers.
“Well don’t look at me” replied Lilah with a shudder, “I’ll leave you to it, do your worst or whatever bakes your cookies”, she left then going back to the hell she’d come up from.
The creature smiled then, rubbing its hands together in glee as it approached the bed. The bed hardly dipped with the slight weight and it laid a cold grey hand on Cathy’s cheek being careful to leave no mark, yet. Then Cathy’s eyes opened and she took a deep breath, her eyes latching onto the thing on her bed.
She’d known it was there even before she had opened her eyes, had sensed it even before the woman from Wolfram & Hart had arrived. She sensed something else too and only just managed not to dart her eyes to behind the thing and give the game away.
The creature gave a startled little shriek but then moaned in delight, “So I was right…” it never got to finish what it was going to say, before the sharp point of a sword was driven through its belly. Fred stood behind it, fire in her brown eyes and a red bruise on her right temple.
“Do you know what the hell is going on”? Asked Fred, bad temperedly.
“As a matter of fact I do” Said Cathy, swinging up off the bed and rubbing a crick out of her neck, now perfectly back in line with her spine. “We need to find Cordy”.
CORDY – HUNTING
She’d tried everywhere she could think of and was starting to get desperate too about the fact that she couldn’t get hold of any of the others, “What the frickin’ hell is going on, is there some kind of phone conspiracy or something”?
She jumped about a mile in the air when the phone box she was just walking past started to ring with an insistent shrill tone. She looked up and down the street, trying to see if there was someone lurking waiting for a call. She was alone, she looked at it quizzically and then thought, what the hell and picked it up.
She nearly dropped it when she heard Cathy on the other end, “What? Slow down OK, start again”. She stayed silent for a while, listening and then said, “Meet me at the coffee shop, you know the one that’s open 24 hours, OK see you soon”.
She hung up, feeling pissed as hell, “This is going to stop, I have had enough already”.
ANGEL – HUNTING
He was alone now having sent Lorne home; he just couldn’t bear to be around the demon at the moment. They’d got nowhere in the search for Cordy and the others had all stopped calling in, probably due to the fact that his damned cell phone wasn’t working.
He wasn’t giving up and unlike last time, never would if he had to track every fucking bus, train and plane out of this city he would find her no matter what and when he did… He stopped the thought, he’d find her first and then worry about making damn sure she never left his side again. He’d meant what he’d said in the hotel basement, even if he hadn’t quite realised it at the time.
He’d reached his limit, it had been different before; she hadn’t been his but this time she’d told him she loved him and he’d accepted it and no way was she taking it back; he didn’t give a crap what had happened since. He prowled the city, senses on alert always searching for her scent, or any small hint that she’d been close by.
He’d seen a woman who for just a second had looked like it might be her and he’d pounced, just before he reached the woman he’d realised it wasn’t Cordelia but he’d still given the woman a hell of shock, followed by a thrill by the look on her face as he’d walked away, too frustrated to be embarrassed.
“Where the hell are you”? His back was arched and fists clenched as he yelled it, scaring the hell out of people passing by. He was past caring; his hard earned self-control was stretched paper thin; that was why he’d sent Lorne away, because he had known it too.
CORDY – COFFEE SHOP
“I just do not believe this” hissed Cordy, leaning over the table trying not to be overheard, “Why does my relationship with Angel or lack of one matter so much to them”? She asked truly wanting to understand.
“What’s to understand” Replied Cathy, “It’s obvious you are a threat to them and the eventual turning of Angel back to their way of thinking”.
“How?” Asked Cordy, her hands in the air as she slumped back in the plastic chair, a picture of amazement and frustrated annoyance.
“Because when he’s in love with you, it doesn’t matter what crap they throw at him, he would just shrug it off. You’re his heart and they know that; without you he would be truly lost to them”.
Cordy just stared at her. She remembered the anguish he went through being in love with Buffy, they’d had so few real happy moments, was her relationship with Angel so different then? Then she wanted to smack herself, of course it was. They’d been friends first and then lovers, the happy moments were already in their memories in abundance. All they had to do to get through the bad times was bring ’em out and dust ’em off.
“OK I see why they might see it that way and maybe I even think it could be true. So what do I have to do to get rid of them”? She asked, despondently.
“You probably never will, but forearmed is forewarned and anyway you can handle yourself – and he can handle both you and himself”, Cathy grinned at Cordy and watched her blush; she’d done it deliberately to try and relax her.
They both sat for a while mulling over what they knew and trying to think of ways of ending the threat, at least for now.
“OK I think I might have a plan” Said Cordy, flicking a look at Cathy and gnawing on her full lower lip with sharp white teeth for moment before she sat up and continued, “You’re not going to like it but dammit if I’m going to take the risk I need to know for sure”.
Cathy gave a look back and took the bait, so delicately offered “Know what”?
“If he’s truly committed to me and not just the idea of being in love” She replied a determined look in her hazel eyes, “Yeah, yeah before you say it I know he says he is and I believe him mostly. But does he truly love me? I know better than anyone else that Angel loves to love, it makes him feel human and that’s important to him”, she stopped trying to find the right words to explain what she was thinking and feeling.
“I understand that as much as any human who’s not 250 plus years can, but that’s why I need more than words. I need to know”, she stopped frustrated at not being able to verbalise it properly; not surprising really it was something she usually avoided thinking about.
“I understand” Said Cathy quietly her hand squeezing Cordy’s on the table in support, “You want to know that he values you for you”.
Cordy shrugged and pulled a face, that sounded so cold and selfish but essentially it was true, “Does that make me a bad person”? She asked with a sideways and almost shy look at Cathy.
“Not at all, considering you’re the only one I know with a vampire for a lover, I’d say some reassurance above and beyond the norm is natural”.
OK that made sense reassured Cordy gave a big smile, and the plan seemed even more attractive now.
Some time later Cathy sat back and just stared at Cordelia in shock, shit that would take some guts, not to mention some serious risks considering exactly what was being proposed, thought Cathy. “Are you sure you want to do it that way”? Please change your mind!
“I’m sure” Said Cordy without any hesitation, now she’d said it out loud she couldn’t wait to get started, she was fed up of being manipulated and wanted to take back control of her life, starting now.
“You do realise that he may flip out completely and then where are you going to be”? Asked Cathy desperately.
“He won’t hurt me, not really” Said Cordy with certainty, sure of it in such a way that she couldn’t understand how she’d believed the lies earlier in the night.
“Look, you said it yourself, the things you value are the things that are most important to you; which to him are, his soul and I’m so not going to touch that one, kind of essential. But then there’s that damned noble streak of his that’s so important to him. I want to push him to see if that kicks in and he walks away from me; or if he drops it completely then I’ll know he’s really mine”.
She was so earnestly sure that she could safely manipulate him into revealing his darker side and letting it loose, on her. Cathy couldn’t think of a more insane plan even if she had a week to do it in, but still was there a better way? If this was what it would take for Cordelia to accept him completely, should she really try and stop her?
“OK I’ll help you, but let’s not forget the big death scene the dead woman had planned for you”. Cathy finally said and Cordy relaxed; she could handle that, but she needed Cathy’s co-operation for the plan to work on Angel.
“OK, lets get started we only have about three hours of nighttime left”. Cordy said as she gulped down the coffee and picked up her bag. “Are you ready”?
“Am I hell” Cathy muttered, but stood anyway, what was she getting into now?