No matter the exhaustion tugging at her, Cordelia just couldn’t sleep.
In the back of her mind was the compelling fear that she’d wake up and find herself back at the Mansion, in Angelus’ bed. Mouth drying up every time her eyes fluttered shut. Bolting upright and searching the room in a blind panic.
“Still home. Jeeze, Chase, get a grip!” The pattern continued for several hours until, with a muffled curse, she threw back the covers and headed for the bathroom- kicking the earlier discarded clothes with bitter anger and revulsion on the way.
A long hot shower. Change of clothes. Pulling her still-wet hair into a tight ponytail, she assessed herself critically in the floor-standing mirror in her room. A little pale; tired eyes, but not too bad considering, she thought hollowly.
Walking closer to the mirror, a hesitant hand raised as she tilted her head to better see her throat, she was amazed to find the marks; two smallish holes, weren’t that in-your-face. A little bit pink, but not how she’s imagined it would look. At the time, no matter how gentle Angel had been, it had still felt like stiletto knives having a deep poke around.
Unable to help the shuddering that ran through her just thinking about her time with the soulless vampire, her hand abruptly dropped, just short of touching the mark, and she swung round to search her closets for something to cover them up. Fingering a soft chiffon scarf, Cordelia imagined walking around with the jeans and soft grey top she now wore.
“Nope.” Throwing it carelessly into the depths of the closet and heading for her vanity table. “Perfect”, she muttered on finding the set of Chokers she’d bought on a whim. The silver-grey velvet one covered the marks pretty well, and blended with her top.
With a deep breath and a bracing internal pep-talk she strode to the door.
I can do this; I’m Cordelia Chase!
No one will ever know I’d folded like a cheap suit.
The home-made soup Rosa left her was delicious, as was the freshly baked bread, but still the weird ache in her belly made itself known. Not in an OhMyGoditHurtssoBad! Way, but still. But shrugging it off was easy compared with the rest of it.
Rosa had offered to stay over, but although tempted, it was getting hard to act normal, when that was the last thing she felt. The silence of the house made her antsy and abruptly Cordelia pushed back her seat, mechanically clearing the dishes off the table. Rinsing them under the tap and leaving them in the sink, she wiped her hands then wandered into the lounge.
Grabbing the remote she curled up on the couch and surfed channels mindlessly as her thoughts went into overdrive.
Five days … that first night ran through her mind like a stuck record. Then it suddenly occurred to her that the others must at the very least be wondering where she was. Her mouth thinned at the thought that no one- especially Buffy Summers, got a clue and considered storming Angelus’ mansion in an attempt to rescue her.
Well, duh! Not like she didn’t know where he lived! Okay, so they weren’t exactly best buddies, but it WAS Buffy’s ex-squeeze that had kidnapped her. It was also her fault he’d turned evil in the first place – and definitely her fault ‘cos she should have staked his evil ass before all this happened!
In fact, everything that had happened was Buffy Summer’s fault – and it stood to reason that she should have saved me!
The tears sprung to life, but no way in hell was Cordelia Chase going to cry. She was DONE crying … then Xander’s face decided to pop into her head. She shuddered in remembered shock and revulsion, with not just a little grief added for good measure. And the moisture spilled onto her cheeks.
Yupyup. All Buffy Summer’s fault.
A surge of uncertainty hit her as she recalled Angel telling her that they’d all died when the World was sucked into hell … which hadn’t actually happened. Why would Angel lie? Maybe he got hit in the head and imagined it all. If he’d got that wrong, who’s to say he wasn’t wrong about the rest of it?
Throwing the remote on the couch, she glanced at the wall clock: 10.15pm. “Well, there’s only one way to find out.” Mind made up, she headed for the lobby, automatically reaching for her keys on the side table – “Dammit!” Where the hell was her car anyway? It wasn’t outside. No way would they have left it by the entrance of the cemetery. Willow didn’t drive, so it had be either at Buffy’s or Xanders …
Only she wasn’t sure now if Xander was dead or alive! Going to his house to check was definitely not an option right now. If it turned out he was… anyway his dad would have kicked off if he’d noticed her car was left there. He’d have bullied Xander into dropping it off a hers.
Well, she could either stay where she was and drive herself crazy, or stick to the plan of action. Rubbing her face roughly to erase all signs of shed tears, Cordelia grabbed the phone and hit speed dial. “Hi, I’d like a cab please…”
The Rosenberg’s house was in darkness, which was of the good. Facing Willow’s parents without knowing what they knew or didn’t know was not something Cordelia wanted to deal with. Her car was nowhere in sight, but she’d rather find out where it was from little Miss Geek than confront the Slayer right now. Plus, if she was being honest, her car’s whereabouts was of a lesser issue than catching up on the five days outside Angelus’ lair..
She wanted answers, and she was going to get them. As for her own traumatic experiences, she was saying squat. Once opening that Pandora Box, Cordelia truly didn’t think she was up to closing the lid. And no way was there going to be any mental freak breakdowns in front of any of the Scoobies. Or for that matter, anyone. What happened in that room is nobody’s business but mine. That had been decided en-route to Willows; along with telling them she’d managed to escape.
There being no visible damage they could see – on the outside, anyway, plus hey, alive!. They were the last people on Earth she’d tell.
Their pity would kill any self respect she had left.
The balcony outside Willows room had a very convenient trellis alongside. Ivy instead of Roses was definitely a plus, and Cheer leading had graced Cordelia with strength and agility. Jeans had been a good choice.
The incessant tapping on glass of the woodpecker trying to get in and peck her to death finally woke Willow up. It took her a minute to realise that it had just been a freaky scary nightmare, but the tapping still continued. “Oh, Lordy!” Pulling the covers up to her neck, she peered at the windows with abruptly alert eyes. The dark shadow partially blocking the moonlight caused her fingers to clench around the sheet, pulling it a little tighter to her chin.
The faint sound of cursing in a female voice had her bounding to the window at the speed of light.
“Buffy! Oh, thank GOD!” She’s back! Willow staggered back from the open window in pure shock as she took in the features of the girl standing on the other side. “Cordelia!?”
A mildly pissed off Cordelia Chase stared back at her; brow furrowed and arms now folded tightly across her chest. One slender brow lifted as the young witch darted away to grab what looked like a water pistol from her bedside table; then gasped as cold water sprayed in her face.
“Willow! What the hell’s your damage?!”