Season of Solace. 63

63:     The Next Night  at the Mansion. . .

The setting sun had given Angel the freedom to leave the mansion. Though he had been tempted to travel through the maze of Sunnydale’s underground tunnel system in order to see Cordelia earlier in the day, there was no legitimate reason to do so.

Angel already knew that Buffy was suspicious about it. The look on her face, her actions and words had all spoken volumes to him. This was not going to be an easy secret to keep. Still, there was a part of him that enjoyed the thought of having Cordy to himself for a while.

Last night, the rain had kept Xander and Willow inside the mansion. Strangely enough, they had managed to get through several hours without talking about their case. Cordelia declared that she did not want to talk about the danger to her or ‘work’ on their night off. Angel was also pleasantly surprised that he only had to suppress the urge to rip Xander’s head off on one or two occasions.

By the time the rain stopped, it was also time for Cordelia to head home. Angel walked them all to their doorsteps, Xander and Willow living near each other and in the direction of Quincy Street. When Willow mentioned that they were going in the wrong direction for Cordelia’s parent’s house, both he and Cordy made quick excuses.

He had been thinking about her ever since he woke up and it was probably a good thing that the mansion’s old water heater tended to act up now and then. A cold shower was definitely on the agenda.

Cordelia’s day was ending while his night was just beginning. The few hours they got to spend together weren’t enough to satisfy him. She had been at school all day. He knew that there would be more questions. Buffy would have had a chance to talk to her, and perhaps Willow and Xander, too.

Then there was the dress shop. Faith had afternoon guard duty, and Angel was now on his way to relieve her for the rest of the night. Cordelia had invited him over to celebrate what she assured him would be Bev’s success at City Hall.

Angel’s anticipation of seeing Cordy again was acute. He wanted her in his arms, his lips on hers. Surely Bev would not mind it if he stole a kiss or two from her granddaughter.

As soon as Angel turned onto Quincy Street, the narrow street acted like a wind tunnel. Carried on the breeze was the unmistakable scent of fresh blood, a lot of blood.

Alarmed, Angel started to run. He was outside 21 Quincy Street in a matter of a few seconds. From the end of the drive, there was no immediate sign of trouble. The Plymouth was parked in its usual spot, and no sounds came from within the house.

He could see light coming from inside. The door was open. A bloody shoeprint marked the front stoop. Angel practically ripped the screen door off its hinges to get inside when he saw the two female forms lying on the floor.

One of them was still, but breathing. The other was very obviously not.

Fear and fury were written on his face as his eyes followed a trail of blood along the tiny grout crevasse between the hall tiles. It led to a larger pool that had spread thick and dark across the floor beneath her as she lay on her side, a large ornate dagger protruding from her chest.

Scene 64

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