75: Outside The Factory, Westside, Sunnydale
“This is Spike’s car?” Cordelia’s face scrunched in disgust as she pointed out the beer bottles littered just inside the back window. “Gross! He’s disgusting.”
Angel kept his opinions about Spike to himself as he led her around to the other side of the car. Pausing at the passenger door, he decided that it was time to put a halt to her random comments about her dress, tea with Dru and Spike’s choice of transportation. She had not said a thing about her grandmother yet.
Maybe it was Cordy’s way of avoiding the pain, but Angel figured it was better to face the truth sooner than later. It occurred to him that she might not know what happened. Deciding that he could deal with her pain and the tears— if he had to, Angel touched her cheek so that she turned her face to his.
As gently as possible, Angel explained that Bev had died during the fight with the demon. Cordelia held on tight to her crossed arms as Angel’s hands rested on her shoulders. He could see her fighting the tears until finally the battle was lost. One tear streamed down her cheek, soon followed by another.
“I’m so sorry,” he choked on the words as she flung her arms around his waist to press her moist cheek against his chest.
Tears dripped onto his shirt as Cordelia sobbed, “Bev’s dead because of me. She didn’t deserve this. She only got in the way to save me.”
Angel wrapped his arms around her holding her close. He pressed his lips to her hair, one hand soothing as she stifled the tears, the other anchoring her to him. All the while, he felt his anger stirring again. Cordelia had been through so much already. Someone was going to pay for this and he did not care what had to be done to make it happen.
He continued to hold Cordelia even after the tears had stopped, for his own sake as well as hers. It struck him that he thought he had lost her tonight. That if not for Dru’s interference, the crosathnam would have taken her back to be a sacrifice for some demon god whose identity was still a mystery. The chances of discovering their base of operations and getting to Cordy in time had not been good.
They had become friends, gotten close, ventured into doing things together, and to each other, that for everyone’s sake could go no further. He felt things for her that he should not. For that reason, he would not put a name to his feelings. They were all tangled up with his wants and fears.
Just thinking of his desires made him taut with tension. Those lustful thoughts had no place being in his head right now, not with Cordy being so vulnerable, aching with loss and traumatized by the events of the night. Angel lectured himself against thinking with his cock and not focusing on the situation.
He needed to contact Giles with the news that he had found Cordelia. The others would be worried and waiting to hear about the outcome of his search. There was the business of ensuring Cordy’s safety to deal with, something he had to do even when all he wanted was to wrap her up in his arms, or spread her out beneath him.
Cordelia obviously sensed his conflicted emotions. “What?”
One look at her puffy, red eyes and stained cheeks and Angel wanted to erase all traces of her tears. His dark gaze dropped to her parted lips wanting them under his. Yes, his mouth on her, everywhere, the thought lit fire to his groin making him hard. Tasting her tears, her inner heat, her sorrow, were almost too tempting to resist, and Angel had no intention of taking advantage of Cordelia just to sate his demon’s need to taste her pain.
“Get in the car,” his clipped words sounded almost harsh.
Back at the Factory. . .
Spike’s head lolled back against the chair, “That was brilliant.” He ran his hand through Drusilla’s soft black hair as she rested her cheek against his thigh.
Licking at her lips, Drusilla savored the taste of her lover. “Will you be as happy as my Angel when I am gone?”
“Bloody poof,” Spike began only to catch that last part of the question. “Gone!”
Drusilla rose to her feet, forcing Spike to crane his neck to see that a dark glint had replaced the sexy spark in her eyes. She snatched Miss Edith off the table and turned dismissively, walking away at a casual pace. Spike stumbled out of the chair and tucked himself back into place, only half-zipping his jeans before following.
Before he could catch up, she was already inside their makeshift bedroom having slammed the door in his face. Spike jammed his hands onto his hips as he stared at the door trying to figure out how best to handle this.
Anger and frustration roared inside as Spike grappled with his feelings recalling that he had just followed her all the way to Brazil and back. Hell if he was going to just let her say something like that without an explanation. She was in one of her moods now and that took careful dealing if he wanted to get anything out of it.
Hitching up his pants as they rode low on his hips, Spike reached up to rap his knuckles lightly against the door. “Dru, baby, let me in.”
Bev’s House, 21 Quincy Street, Eastside, Sunnydale
The body was gone, but the blood spot remained. Buffy tore her eyes away from it for the hundredth time. She could not sit and wait like the others. The need to go patrolling was making her antsy.
Giles and that new guy were playing grown-ups, standing off in the corner talking about it all as if they actually had control over the situation. Talking about Faith’s arrest, Giles commented, “I should stop by the station tonight.”
“Perhaps I should do that,” the new Watcher stressed. “It is my duty.”
The nod that followed came reluctantly and Buffy could tell that Giles was having a hard time relinquishing his own sense of responsibility over Faith. How was he to know she would turn into a grandma-killer? Even as she thought it, Buffy felt a strange sense of wrongness. Faith might have confessed to killing Bev, but it was an accident.
Trying to put herself into Faith’s shoes, Buffy imagined how terrible she would feel. She actually felt sorry for both Faith and Cordelia, one hauled off to the hoosegow and the other missing.
“I should be doing something,” Buffy’s loud interruption of the somber discussion taking place. She looked toward Willow and Xander for support, but they both sat staring back as if she was acting out at a funeral.
Xander stood slowly, releasing his hold on Willow’s hand. “You don’t think I feel the same way? We all do.”
It was not the same at all, Buffy wanted to argue. “Angel left me behind. I should have been with him, stopping the demon, or Dru, or whoever it is that’s behind all of this.”
Holding his arms open, Xander offered her a hug that she gratefully accepted. Willow joined in, “Hey, I need some huggage, too.”
Waiting for their little group to break apart, Giles commented, “This has been a difficult evening for all of us. I suggest that you three—”
The sound of the phone cut off his words. Being closest, the newcomer picked up the receiver, “Wyndam-Pryce here.”
Wesley! That was his name, she recalled as soon as she heard the rest of it. Buffy held her breath as she listened to the one-sided end of the conversation.
“Excellent,” Wesley nodded. “Might I inquire— oh, I’ll inform the others. Yes, that is a relief.”
Giles was holding his hand out for the phone while Buffy leaned closer to ask, “Was that Angel?”
“Did he find Cordelia?” Xander bumped into her on his way forward.
Continuing on, Wesley gestured a thumbs-up to Xander. “Yes. No, I’m afraid the police decided to press charges….The city morgue, I’m afraid…No, Mr. Giles is right here….Oh? Oh! Certainly.”
Wesley handed the phone over to Giles. “For you.”
“That was Angel, right?” Buffy grabbed his elbow to get his attention. Giles had told them that he had given Angel his cell phone with instructions to call when he had news. What was unclear was whether Giles knew Angel planned to leave without her.
“Yes, that was Angelu— Angel,” confirmed Wesley while brushing out the wrinkle she had made on his suit jacket. His chin hitched up a notch. “Your friend is alive and well.”
Xander let out a, “Whoot!” Willow squealed and Buffy simply sighed in relief. Then she noticed Giles was putting the phone down. She had completely missed out on his part of the conversation.
“Oh no!” Willow gasped before Buffy could question him.
Giles asked, “What is it, Willow?”
“Cordelia can’t come home to a big blood stain,” she pointed out the nasty spot of congealed blood. “We’ve got to clean it up. Quick! We need Comet or Ajax or—”
“Donner and Blitzen?” Xander quipped feeling too relieved about Cordelia to let that one slip by.
Clearing his throat, Giles told them, “We can’t touch anything. This is technically a crime scene. Frankly, I’m surprised the police allowed us to remain here.”
“Probably thought it was a cut and dried case,” Buffy shrugged. Besides, this was the Sunnydale P.D. they were talking about.
“No matter, we won’t have to be concerned about Cordelia returning tonight,” he informed them. Buffy sensed he was about the say something she would not like. “It has been decided that it would be safer if she remained at Angel’s place rather than come home.”
Buffy did not think that was necessary. “What about my house?” The crazy offer caused ringing gongs to sound in her head, but it was better than the alternative.
Hedging a bit, Giles tugged at his suddenly too tight tie. “I suggested that option, but Angel tells me that Cordelia feels more comfortable about remaining at the mansion.”
“Oh?” Buffy’s voice went down an octave. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Without knowing any of the dynamics involved, Wesley offered a suggestion, “Perhaps she preferred not to place your own family in danger considering what has happened to her grandmother.”
True, Buffy had not thought of that. She certainly did not want some big ugly demon barging in on her mom in the middle of the night. She suspected something different in Cor’s motives, though. Wesley Hyphenated Watcher had a lot to learn about Cordelia Chase if he believed she was not thinking about herself when that decision was made.
“I think I should patrol,” Buffy turned to Giles again. “Y’know, go see what’s happening …around town. Maybe I can sniff out a clue or something.”
“Rather than patrol,” Giles had other ideas, “I was hoping you three would gather some of Cordelia’s belongings and drop them off at the mansion.”
How convenient. Buffy answered so swiftly, “Okay,” that Giles barely had time to finish speaking.