Faint Heart. 8-9

Part 8

Spike was in a damned good mood! – Made a change to feeling inwardly insecure when thinking of, or being around his great miserable Wank of a Sire.

Some would say it was disturbing and strange in the extremes at how openly happy the blonde vampire seemed to be about the miraculous recovery of their new Boss’ Seer – especially as her so –called friends on the other hand, appeared almost morose and anxious about the very same fact.

Spike was far from altruistic in his joy – his reasons were pretty much clear to him: with the brunette awake and on her feet, Angel would be torn in his affections; especially where the Slayer was concerned. He’d heard all about the ex-cheerleader from little Fred who, on the odd occasion would join him and share a bottle of wine or two gradually becoming rather prolific where the ‘Seer and the champion’ were concerned. She was pretty sweet, spending a lot of time on him and his initial ‘ghostly’ problems – but it hadn’t stopped him pumping her for information on Angel’s love life ‘After-Buffy’.

He would tune out her maudlin whines of “I’m such a terrible friend to poor Cordy” and “I’m gonna visit her tomorrow”, and instead eke out of her the long pathetic story of the moron’s growing feelings for brunette “before she went all evil on us- and now he doesn’t even mention her”.

He’d kept a mental self-flagellating list of every taunt and put down his Sire had made since he’d arrived in L.A. – partly to inconceivably aid himself in his effort to put Buffy Summers behind him for good. It hadn’t so far worked. But now…

Grinning bitterly, the blonde vampire promised himself, that even if his feelings for the Slayer were left forever unrequited, that bastard would never get a foot in that particular door again!

Making his slow and meandering way towards Angel’s office, Spike whistled merrily the tune ‘Not Man Enough For Me‘ changing the words to suit in his head as he went along…

***

“Y’know, you can pretend I’m not here all you like, but who do you think you’re kiddin’?” Angel dipped his head lower and continued doggedly with the pretending.

Spike let out a dramatic sigh and strolled over to the larger vampire’s desk, perching on the edge directly opposite and leaning in.

“Have to admit being surprised; you and that delicious brunette – always were a sneaky bastard.” Spike paused; then went in for the kill.

“So…did this juicy little snippet come up in conversation when you bumped lips with the Slayer?” he grinned, satisfied when the dark vampire’s head finally snapped up. “I ‘m guessing Little Girl Friday didn’t take that oversight on your part too well; that is, if she knows-” his words were abruptly cut off by a large crushing hand wrapping around his throat, but the sneering grin remained.

“Stay out of my business.” Angel released and pushed at the same time, causing the blonde to sprawl backwards onto the floor.

Picking himself up and smoothing down his leather duster, Spike then planted his hands wide on the desk edge.

“It IS my business when you’re playin’ Buffy. You come waltzing in, pickin’ up from where you left off- mackin’ and spoutin’ puke-sick declarations… you’ve always been a selfish, petty bastard, Angelus” he growled, straightening up; “Just couldn’t stand the thought of me an’ ‘er together, could you?”

Angel rubbed his tired eyes, and then looked up, forcing a sneer onto his tight lips. ” You two together? If it wasn’t so hilarious I might just have pitied you, Spike – still always wanting what I have. You don’t seriously believe Buffy could ever love you? You’re pathetic.” Both heard the lack of conviction in his tone, but Angel couldn’t stop the flow of words; they’d become a bad habit.

“I might not be worth anything, but I was honest about my feelin’s – and I didn’t lie to her; not where it counted, anyway. Look at you – running around like a blue arsed fly trying to get back in the little chit’s good books,” Spike paced the floor in front of the desk, “then sitting there in all your reflected glory, spouting on about how you deserve the love of another woman!”

Throwing himself into a chair he checked his chipped black nail polish; keeping an eye on the silent vampire -then went for the jugular. “Can’t wait to meet up with ‘er again. Been a while… lot of catching up to do.”

Spike was out of the door before Angel, vaulting over his desk, could grab him, and he continued running until brought up abruptly and pinned to the wall in the relatively empty corridor.

“You go near her and I’ll fucking kill you!” Angel snarled, panic shooting through his head at the easily imagined ‘catching up’ Spike had in mind.

At best, Cordy would stake him; at worst, she’d never trust him again. Since that was already shaken to the core, Angel knew without a doubt that it would be over permanently.

“Oh, is she your property then?” Spike wheezed past the constriction on his windpipe; ” I figure the chit has summat to say about that- don’t look like the sharing kin- FUCK!” his face morphed in reaction to the pain of Angel’s knee connecting with his groin, and fell, curled up on the floor as soon as the pressure from his throat was released.

“Keep away from her, or I will kill you- eventually” Angel warned with a growl, turning away and pushing past his secretary, who’d stood watching, her mouth agape.

“Blondie bear!” Harmony rushed forward as soon as her boss had entered his office, dropping to her knees and grabbing Spike’s arm.

“Get off, you stupid bint” Spike snarled, yanking away from the concerned Vampire and staggered to his feet; groaning under his breath as hot pain streaked from his groin and down his shaky legs.

As he hobbled down the corridor, his mind was already planning his first ‘social call’ to the luscious brunette; the satisfied smile still hovering on his pain-filled face…This is gonna be so much fun!

***

“A CV?” Yeah, sure- I’ll get back to you real soon. Nice talking to you to, Jed, bye.” Cordelia couldn’t hold back the heavy sigh at yet another, though less unpleasant turn- down. At this rate, she’d never find employment! Way to feel valued!

Hi Angel, I know we really can’t stand to be even in the same city right now, but how about writing me a reference? You know, the usual stuff: Office skills, unusual ‘foresight’, a penchant for turning evil, seducing bosses sons and trying to take over the world…” “Yeah, right!” Cordelia mumbled sulkily as she rose from Angel’s old chair an exited the office.

She hadn’t seen the pain-in-the-ass vampire for two days now, and, after a sobfest that lasted way too long for her liking, Cordelia began her rounds of Job hunting by phone. After several wasted ‘discussions’ with a couple of Employment Agencies, Cordelia had braved the outside world and ventured out to grab some newspapers- who would have known the Petty Cash tin had been overlooked in their mass exodus?!

It pained her to realize that she was, indeed, destitute- which also brought home again the fact that she needed Angel’s help to survive right now. And it sucked- big time!

The ‘Hellhounds’ still lurked, and she also could have sworn she’d spotted Angel’s old black convertible lurking about on both nights- but having decided that as long as he wasn’t suicidal enough to enter the building the tongue would continue to be bitten down- and no; she wouldn’t lower herself by running outside screaming at him to stop and go stalk one of his chippies cos she so wasn’t impressed.

***

Angel hit his forehead off his desk one last time for good measure. He would never learn to keep his stupid big mouth shut.

Not only had he gone to town with every snide comment he could think of since Spike had appeared at Wolfram & Hart regarding the Slayer, he’d now compounded his stupidity by continuing with it. His pathetic need for one-upmanship made him wonder again at his decision to run this place since he was struggling to even get his personal life into any kind of order.

His skin broke into a cold sweat at the thought of Spike and Cordelia bumping into each other. For the first time, Angel was intensely relieved that Cordelia had refused point blank to step foot into the place since she’d left.

If he’d have had his way initially, she would now be ensconced in his penthouse apartment – but not, unfortunately, his bed. That wasn’t something he should think about at all- not that  it had entered his head the other night!

It was a good thing one of them had the sense to stop before it got out of hand, cos he’d been beyond caring – his groin hardened with the hot memory of those snatched moments of unbelievable pleasure…the warm soft weight of her breasts in his hands; the burning heat of her tight, lush body beneath his -he could still taste her in his mouth and…

Shrugging off a world of bitter frustration, Angel pulled his thoughts back to the newest worry that plagued his every waking moment: the incredible amount of crap the other vampire had on him.

Blackmail didn’t even enter Angel’s head- not Spike’s style. No, the bastard would relish telling Cordy every damning word.

Groaning aloud, he again slammed his forehead off the desktop: “stupid, stupid…

***

Eve took a deep breath, planted a soft smile on her face then opened Angel’s office door.

Angel didn’t bother to move his eyes from their broody contemplation from the view of Los Angeles. It still felt weird sitting in the full light of day- sometimes he worried that the initial crawl of sick fear that used to grow in his gut each time he entered a sunlit room in this building, had dissipated to such a degree that he’d forget what he was- he’d already began leaving his drapes open when he slept.

The first time he’d woken bathed in the rays of the midday sun, his panicked reaction sent him tumbling onto the floor beside his bed tangled in the covers; a film of fear-sweat coating his body. Now he wondered how long it would be before he forgot altogether and walked out into the sun like an idiot.

“So how’s the little woman?” Eve’s sickly sweet voice broke into his thoughts, and, stifling a sigh of annoyance, he swiveled his chair and face her.

“Eve.” The vampire’s abrupt response and the cool rake of brown eyes that she was sure held a tinge of distaste made her struggle not to squirm, then those eyes flickered, showing polite enquiry.

As Angel regarded her, he recalled the last time they’d crossed paths, and the queasy sensation that curled in his stomach sent his body forward until his forearms rested on his desk. First things first: Just get it over with, Dumb ass! his mouth quirked in irony as his inner monologue ended up sounding like a certain annoying brunette.

“We need to discuss the…. events that occurred during Lorne’s weird little party,” he began, ignoring her enquiry regarding Cordelia, groaning inwardly when a faint flush filled her face. Is she batting her eyes at me? his horror grew by the second as Eve attempted a sultry pose that left him feeling repulsed. “I just want to apologize for, you know- “

“Don’t apologize, Angel – it wouldn’t be the first time something like that’s happened to me.” Eve cut in, moving closer and hitching her skirt to perch on the edge of his desk. Angel instinctively sat back.

“What?” he couldn’t hide the shock at her almost casual dismissal of something that was, more or less rape. Hell, he definitely felt violated- and to top it all, she now sat there intimating that is wasn’t even a one off occurrence in her life – as if it was acceptable?!

“Its okay, really- “

“No- It really isn’t” Angel cut in abruptly, half wishing he hadn’t brought it up. Eve smiled coyly, leaning forward and making a point of reaching across him to retrieve a discarded pen.

“I didn’t mind, Angel; in fact…”Angel swallowed down the bile that rose to his throat at her openly hungry expression, ” It was something I kinda hoped we could…do again sometime?” Eve jumped, startled when the vampire shot to his feet and almost stumbled in his haste to put space between them.

“Look, Eve, I’m really- flattered and, well- it’s not something I-“

“The curse! I know that’s a problem” Eve cut in, straightening and taking a step towards him, “- but I’m sure with our resources we could-“

“No, we couldn’t.” Angel finally found his balance and was determined once and for all to make his feelings clear on the subject of any kind of relationship with the rather insipid woman. “The curse isn’t a problem in this instance- and I definitely have no interest in you that way; at all.”

Eve stiffened at the insult- he may not have meant it as one, but that’s the way she took it regardless. Bastard! pulling herself together with remarkable ease, she slid a knowing smile onto her still-flushed face.

“Oh god, silly me- I forgot all about your feelings for that little blonde Slayer.”

“Buffy?” Angel’s momentary confusion had Eve dipping her head. She smoothed down her skirt, her smile vanishing for a second before transforming into a soft, disappointed moue; obviously, his affections were centered entirely on the Seer now, which didn’t bode well for her OR the Senior Partners. ” Who else?” Noting the tight line of his mouth, she shrugged her shoulders lightly.

“Everyone here knows about your one True Love. How remiss of me. -Enough of that, anyway; I actually popped in to ask how you’re old Secretary is holding up?” Changing the subject brightly and enjoying the play of emotions that ran across his darkening face.

Angel’s eyes narrowed with the dawning realization he was being played. He instantly re-evaluated his earlier opinion of the woman and made a mental note to be more alert when she was around.

“Cordelia is a lot of things; ‘secretary’ doesn’t even begin to describe her place in my life. Plus, she’s none of your concern.” He didn’t bother to hide the menace in his voice and was satisfied when she swallowed hard, her plastic smile wavering slightly as she nodded and walked towards the door.

“I’d better get back to the grind. Angel.” Eve opened the door, nodded again and exited quietly.

Angel sagged, leaning heavily against his desk, Eve’s words ringing through his head: ” Everyone here knows about your one True Love… “Just great!”

***

As soon as the door closed behind her, Eve’s smile fled. She ignored the ‘hi’ thrown her way by the vacuous blonde vampire now sitting at her station; phone in one hand, lollipop in the other, and stalked down the otherwise empty corridor.

Something had to be done about that brunette fly in her ointment. Already the vampire seemed to be paying attention to things- and looked close to retrieving parts of his anatomy he’d seemingly lost at about the same time of his ‘precious’ Seer’s possession. Jabbing the call button of the elevator viciously, Eve fumed over the fact that the undead bastard had managed to make her feel humiliated.

No one did that and got away with it! All she had to do now was figure out a way to both get rid of that woman in a none-suspect way, and make the vampire eat his words.

With the real love of his life out of the picture- and the Slayer’s noticeable lack of communication, who would be most qualified to sooth his wounded heart? A small smile of anticipation crawled across her face, only dimmed by the fact that a way to do so evaded her right now. The doors to the elevator slid open, and her eyes lit up on seeing who slouched inside.

“Spike! What a coincidence- I was just looking for you; let’s talk revenge.” Stepping into the lift with the bleached blonde, she pressed the button and turned to face the openly suspicious vampire…


Part 9

Cordelia placed the receiver back in the cradle softly, biting her bottom lip; her lovely eyes turned inward with conflicted thoughts and emotions.

When the phone had rung, she’d been torn between answering it in the hope that one of the ‘we’ll be in touch’ companies hadn’t been fobbing her off after all. While a large part of her was both worried and annoyed that it might be Angel- either trying to make up, or, horror of horrors, asking her to clear out of the hotel.

After shuffling from one foot to the other, staring at the phone like it was a venomous snake, she’d growled and grabbed it before she could change her mind.

Hearing Fred’s nervous voice on the other end had left Cordelia speechless for a few seconds with shock, the renewed surge of betrayed anger – and, if she were completely honest, a little twinge of relief. Worrying and ranting about the inevitable confrontation with her former friends and colleagues was not really that productive, she knew; it really was time to either cut all links to her old life for good- or swallow some of that bitter bile and face the fallout.

After several long minutes where the younger brunette rambled almost incoherently, falling over her words as apologies and excuses fell from her lips, it crossed Cordelia’s mind that if she didn’t know better, young Fred had been at the happy juice.

Hell, if I’d known she’d be ringing, I’d have been tempted to chug down a Cosmo or ten myself she thought dryly realizing as Fred continued to ramble [more than usual], that she definitely had to thank prior ‘Dutch courage’ for the call.

By the time the call ended, she’d agreed to the girl coming over later that evening.

***

Fred sat looking at the phone pensively. She’d literally felt sheer terror on dialing the familiar number, and that fear had multiplied when her old friend had finally answered. With a little help from more than a few glasses of wine, along with a few wise, if blunt words from an unexpected ally, Fred had at last pushed aside her misgivings and made the call- after several hours pacing and staring at the darned thing.

And it had turned out way better than she thought it would- and not unlike one of those invasive enemas she’d read about- purging almost all the toxicity that had been eating away at her since the brunette had awoken. Her apologies had been, somewhat warily, accepted, and she’d even got an invite.

Okay…Fred herself had begged to visit and Cordelia had acquiesced- but still; bridges were hopefully well on their way to be mended and hopefully strengthened with a lot of help from better quality material which included those new carbonized girders that were favored nowadays and that also increased the safety levels by – she halted her inner rambling monologue and jumped out of her seat, already wondering what to wear:

“I wonder what Cordy’ll think of my new look?” No more jeans and Tees for her!

***

“Whisky?” Eve set up two tumblers and began to pour the rich amber liquid generously in each. “This bottle’s from a Limited edition of 600 bottles; each bottle is actually signed by Peter Gordon, the great-great-grandson of Scotland’s Glenfiddich distillery founder, William Grant- good stuff.”

Spike merely raised an unimpressed brow.”Forget the Hans Offringa review. Don’t need its bloody life story.” He snatched the glass from the blonde, throwing back the contents and then holding it out for more. “Not as good as GlenMorangie, but it quenches the thirst.” Eve couldn’t help but show her surprise.

First rule of the book: never underestimate the intelligence of the enemy.

He raked cold blue eyes down her too-thin frame, “What’s with the sudden interest in good ol’ Spikey, hmm? – cos I gotta tell you, love; you’re not exactly rise-worthy,” for the second time that day, Eve felt humiliated color flood into her face.

Biting her tongue hard, she instead forced a cool smile on her face, dropping her eyes briefly to hide the momentary venom. “That isn’t why I wanted to see you; this is purely business- that will, hopefully conclude things to both our satisfaction.”

“So you’ve got a bone to pick with the prick; can’t say I’m surprised.” Spike grinned openly; pleased she’d picked up on his turn of phrase. A bit of the old verbal riposte could be almost as fun as getting your knuckles bloodied.

“And you haven’t? He led me on- got what he wanted…” Eve couldn’t keep the genuine bitterness out of her tone as she gave the ‘woman scorned’ spiel; “and then I get thrown aside like so much trash whilst he’s sniffing around another piece of ass.”

“A bit of magic caused a lot of shagging- end of story. Angelus gets a break from his left ‘and for a bit, that’s all- back doorin’ usually comes a bit later in a budding relationship.” Spike turned to the mini bar and put down the empty glass, grabbing the bottle instead and taking a long swig. He was still smirking when he lowered the bottle.

He hated Angel with a vengeance- had done since he’d been turned- but he knew whose side he’s be on if it came to a smack down with the whiny little bitch and her corrupt company-from-Hell. But at the same time, he wanted payback, and he was curious as to what exactly Satan’s Toady wanted from him.

“So where do I fit into all this revenge gig? Want us to pretend I wanna shag you too- make him all jealous? – cos there are two little snags with that; lack of interest on the his side, and a matter of taste on mine.”

If a stake had been handy, Eve knew she’d have dusted him before he’d finished his scathing sentence; regardless of the consequences- but her real need for his interference right now was more important than her desire to kill him.

“Like I said- Angel is playing with the affections of quite a few women, and I don’t think that’s acceptable; me, the Seer…The Slayer-” she bit back the satisfied grin at the instant stiffening of his lean frame, finally feeling a modicum of control.

“I heard on the grapevine that you wanted to personally welcome Miss Chase to the land of the living- I think I could be of some service there.” Spike’s eyes narrowed astutely, pinning her with a deeply intent blue gaze, his interest finally peeked.

So that was her little game…! Spike shrugged and softened his features. As long as they weren’t talking about killing the chit, he was all for it-

“How? You’re not the only one with an ear to the door- Peaches had to beg his cutie for an invite into his old place after she’d moved in,” he smirked at the memory of hearing that one; “and you- well, the chit has every reason to hate your guts- more than she probably would’ve already done anyway” he added snidely, enjoying the small signs of hatred, anger and threatened violence in her insignificant little face and body since he’d entered her apartment.

“I’ve already discounted direct intervention” she returned coldly, inwardly wondering how the hell he’d managed to stay undead for so long; who could possibly like such a crass, sneering…. ” – And have an idea that might just work- if you don’t mess it up! You aren’t known for your subtlety” Eve dropped all pretence of friendliness and got down to business…

***

“What the hell is all this?” Angel just stared at the thick pile of papers in his secretary’s arms, figuring that if she hadn’t been a vampire, her legs would have buckled with the weight.

“Sorry, Boss, but what with that really wild party and Cordelia waking up – argh!” Harmony squealed in delight, then almost as quickly frowned, “even though she hasn’t been by to say hi yet- but I can deal…anyway,” she caught Angel’s impatient look and cleared her throat;

“We’ve got a backlog of stuff that needs checking over, signed, blah blah – hope ya didn’t have anything planned for tonight – or tomorrow either, cos you sure got your work cut out for ya!” Harmony plonked them directly in front of the glowering vampire and made her escape. “See you Monday, boss!” she threw back before ducking out of the door hurriedly.

Angel’s annoyed glare left the closed door and dropped back to the mountain of paperwork. After a few seconds, he blinked, a combined growl and grunt escaping him as he weighed his options.

Actually, he’d had plans; well, if you could call spending another fruitless night sitting in his furtively-hidden car arguing with himself about whether or not to enter the hotel… with a heavy sigh, he grabbed a pen and reached for the top file.

“Fight the good fight, help the helpless!” he muttered under his breath, scanning the first of many pages of neatly typed documents…

***

“Um, hi…” Cordelia looked up from her desk where she’d been sorting out the drawers; finding her stash of old Cosmopolitan magazines and an assortment of makeup. Her eyes bugged for a second as she took in the reed-thin figure hovering at the entrance.

“Fred! – What are you wearing?!” she attempted to soften her exclamation of horror with a smile as the young Texan’s cheeks flared with color.

“It’s kinda what I wear at the- um, place where I work now,” remembering belatedly that Cordelia hadn’t been too impressed with that particular bomb shell either.

“I didn’t feel comfortable in jeans in that place- but then again, I don’t feel that comfortable in these clothes either; but there ya go.” Fred tugged ineffectually at the thigh high skirt she wore, attempting to cover her gangly knees.

She’d always admired Cordelia’s taste in clothes…although after she came back with the Pylean Warrior, her outfits had changed from chic to rather dour in Fred’s rather limited view of fashion. Way too old for a girl not that much older than herself- but she had to admit that Angel’s Seer had been able to carry off the type of stuff she herself was wearing with a lot more finesse.

Cordelia had obviously dug out some of her ‘pre-vacation’ clothes and she looked a little more like her old self.

The low-riding jeans complimented by a sheer, feminine blouse over the top of a cotton thin-strapped tank top; her two-toned longer hair pulled back into a loose ponytail. Talking about loose: “You’ve lost weight,” Fred finally announced, after her very thorough inspection; making a mental note to bring a hair color with her next time she visited. wow! So much for the best care! Fred cringed as she recalled Lilah’s promise- and how they hadn’t even checked to see if she’d been sincere!.

“Coma’s and liquid diets must do that to you” Cordelia shrugged off-handedly and ignored the other girl’s small flinch, “- are you gonna stand out there all day” she added softly; her brow rising when instead of walking further in, she looked even more uncomfortable. “I get that you might be having second thoughts about coming, but I promise I’ve already eaten.” She joked lightly.

Out of all of them, Fred was most likely the only one Cordelia found hardest not to forgive. That could have been either because she hadn’t known the girl as long as the rest- even Gunn- and the thin edge of insanity that, to her, had never really completely left the Pylean refugee.

“No! It’s not that- and, ha! I know you wouldn’t really eat me, cos of you not being a Fred-eating Demon; or at least I don’t think anyone said anything about you being one-although we never did find out what kind of half demon you were; not that we actually researched it much; in fact, not at all, really, but I’m almost 100% sure- well as sure as I can be-and I know that’s not saying much really, because I’m just me; but I’m pretty sure that you’re not … I’m rambling again, aren’t I?” she blushed a fiery red and grinned shyly at the rather dumbfounded brunette.

“Anyway, that’s not why…” Fred bit her lip and looked furtively to her left, causing Cordelia’s sharp eyes to narrow suspiciously.

“Oh, God, don’t tell me you’ve brought that stupid, vampire with you?!” Her back straightening even as she folded her arms across her chest defensively. Fred blushed yet again and shifted uncomfortably.

“Angel? No- not exactly” she hedged.

“You got the ‘vampire’ bit right, love- but change ‘stupid’ to smart and sexy, and who do ya get?” a vaguely familiar cocky voice pierced the quiet outside; a rougher version of the English Wes spoke. Cordelia’s eyes and mouth widened in disbelief, and then her lips tightened into a thin line of fear and suspicion.

Spike?

Part 10

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