Angel rubbed his temple in confusion. This, guy- Sandefer- had just entered his home, telling him to stop looking for Cordelia because he did not want to die. He had to be a raving loony! Drusilla had been crazy, but that was expected and often funny. Sandefer did not amuse him at all. “So let me get this straight. You want me to stop looking for Cordelia because you don’t want to die?”
“Yes,” he nonchalantly agreed, “That’s correct.”
Angel leaned forward, his hooded gaze inquisitive. “Well, just you telling me to stay away from her is an open invitation for me to kill you.” He smiled at the idea. He couldn’t help it. But to his surprise, Sandefer merely smiled back at him.
“I know, it’s a little confusing, but allow to assure you that it will make sense once I explain myself.”
Fair enough. “For your sake I surely hope so.”
It had been two whole days since she had arrived in Japan. Two whole days of resting and meditation. And frankly- she tired of mediation!
Her daisofu, Jun Yoshino, had finally taken pity on her, seeing her tired and weary from outside of his home. Tradition aside, he had succumbed to his role as a grandparent, and had welcomed her into his home. That didn’t necessarily mean that after a nice bath and some rest (and Momiji’s cooking), that he was going to let her off the hook that easily. Sure enough, the next day she was back in that temple. Meditating.
And he wonders why I’ve abandoned Buddhism, she thought. Meditation, humming- it was so not her thing. It’s boring!
Not only that, but he still had told her how he knew she had fought a vampire back in Sunnydale. Banging her foot against the base of her futon in frustration, Cordelia let out a howl pain, when her big toe collided with the wood base. “Son of a bit-!”
She’d forgotten about that thing!
“Why don’t you go ahead and tell me what Cordelia has to do with you dying,” Angel suggested. “After all, you did say you couldn’t stay that long.” That of course, came out a little more snide than he wanted, but- what did he care at this point.
In all of this, Sandefer’s expression had remained calm and collected. The man seemed to be made of ice, his Crayola gray eyes void of emotion. “Very well, Angel.” Sandefer leaned back in his seat, preparing for his tale. “My current form of employment, is that of a eradicator. Actually a mercenary by trade, but I prefer eradicator.”
“Why not just go by ‘killer’ or ‘murderer’?” Angel did not like were this was going. Eradicator and mercenary.
“Sounds more sophisticated.”
I’ll by that, Angel thought in agreement.
“Anyway,” Sandefer continued, “I’ve recently been hired by an extremely powerful man. He’s virtually untouchable.” Gray eyes still unfathomable. Didn’t this man have any expression?
“Part of my job was completed two days ago, when I eliminated two targets.”
The two women from Sunnydale Airport. This was definitely tied to Cordelia.
This time there was emotion. It was fear. He’d just seen Angel’s eyes flash their demon yellow. “Before you decide to rip my throat out with those fangs that are, without a doubt, itching- allow me to continue.”
“Japan can bite my ass! Japan can bite my ass!” Cordelia sang to herself, as she rummaged through her drawers for a pair of black lycra pants. If she was going to channel her inner-self again for the umpteenth time since her arrival, she was going to be comfy.
Oh, course she really didn’t mean that about Japan, but the futon had hurt her toe and it was in Japan.
Pulling on a red tank top, Cordelia hobbled over to the vanity table and looked into the mirror. Her bruises from the Master were gone. Completely. This was not normal at all! But it’s a good thing, she thought happily to herself. Pain didn’t seem to last long with her anymore, and the proof was with her toe. It had stopped throbbing. She knew this was a benefit from her slayer-ness and to be honest- Bonus!
“I like slayer healing! La la la!”
“Oh, don’t worry,” Angel growled. “I’ll let you finish.”
“Much obliged.” Nothing really seemed to faze this man- expect of course the prospect of dying, which was somehow tied to Cordelia. “So,” he continued. “I’d just completed the first wave of my assignment, when my- employer informed me of what was next on the list. I want you know, that I had no idea what was going to transpire or what would soon be required of myself and my associates.”
Now this was getting interesting, Angel decided, as he reached over for his glass of blood. He figured the guy wouldn’t mind, as long has he was not feasting on him.
“And because of the fact that I did not know, I’ve come to warn you. For my sake. Granted, that’s highly selfish, but you’re looking at an assassin for hire. And I work for good money.” Sandefer shifted around, as if trying to get comfortable with his words. “If you or any of the others, tied to Buffy Summers, continue in your investigation of Cordelia Chase’s whereabouts, actions will be taken.”
“What kind of actions?”
Meeting Angel fully in the eye, Sandefer elaborated, “At this moment, my associates- eradicators as well- are tracking six individuals who are closely tied to you.” He gave a small smile, cocking his head to the side. “They are, Jennifer Calendar, Rupert Giles, Alexander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Joyce Summers- and one, Buffy Summers.”
She was, for the first time since that awful day in Sunnydale, in a good mood. Her face was back to it’s unblemished perfection, and she was away from her parents. She knew neither Jun nor Momiji would contact them at all. It was liberating.
Cordelia grabbed her white tennis shoes, and slipped them on, humming another tune as she tied her laces. Going to the mirror again (she still did not believe the reflection), she flipped her chestnut curls in buoyancy and bounced out into the hallway. It was almost dinner, but Jun wanted to talk to her first.
Maybe her old-fashioned jiisan was finally going to spill the bananas about what was going on with her. You can’t just tell a girl you know something and then not deliver. It was rude.
If his blood wasn’t already cold with lack of body heat, it would have turned to ice in his veins. “You’ll have them marked for execution?” He quietly asked, his hard gaze never leaving Sandefer’s.
Nodding in confirmation, “Yes, and they will be killed if you continue your search for the Slayer. You see,” he said, his voice solemn in his confession. “Should either one of them be hurt by any of my team, I know you will hunt me down and kill me. Had I known that we would be involved with acquaintances of Angelus, I’d have never taken the job. Your reputation precedes itself.”
He’s afraid of me, Angel realized, trying to control the sinister smiling twitching at the corners of this mouth. He found that notion profoundly satisfying.
“My employer knew that you would eventually be led to the airport and would question around about the Slayer, so he wanted anyone who had close contact with her eliminated. So, I was brought in immediately to handle the ‘problem’ of the ticket agent, Sybil Warner, and the gate coordinator, Gillian Richards. I’ve done these kinds of jobs for years, so I never questioned what the motives were or who these people were. It was because of the history of this town, that one of my associates did a little investigating.”
“So your employer, wants Cordelia’s location to remain hidden?” Angel gripped his glass of blood, not even noticing that the glass was cracking. “Why?”
“I have no idea,” Sandefer replied. “All I know is that he has gone to great extent to make sure her whereabouts continue to be unknown.” A bitter smile appeared on his face. “He has even gone so far as to alter our contracts.”
Contracts. “What do you mean?”
“We’re killers for hire, Angel, and we are contracted out to do our jobs. And we’re very good at it. But this is the first time we’ve ever been contracted by someone with a knowledge of magicks.” Sandefer’s face darkened with worry and curiosity. As if he had a mystery to solve with no clues to aid him. “We don’t know who he is, but he has assured us that should I fail in deterring you away from Cordelia’s location, steps shall be taken. In fact they are already underway.”
“And these ‘steps’ are to kill Buffy’s friends?” Angel didn’t like the grim smile creeping on Sandefer’s ordinary face. Grim was bad.
“They’ve already been targeted,” he said quietly, his crayon-gray eyes finding an interesting spot on the floor. Taking in a shaking breath, Sandefer brought his gaze back to Angel’s. “Four of my best agents have already been assigned to track Alexander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Joyce Summers and her daughter, Buffy Summers. If you pursue Cordelia Chase they will executed without hesitation. My job was to come and inform you.”
Finally losing his measure, Angel’s glass of blood burst under the unrelenting pressure of his fist.
“I do wish you could see your face, Angel,” Sandefer laughed. Genuinely laughed! “It is a terrible fright. I know who and what you are. That is why I have come with my purpose, in that I don’t want to die. Even if I tried to call them off, they cannot withdraw because of their contract. It’s the spell, you see? The contract we agreed to forbids us from defecting against our employer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t warn you.”
Rip is throat out! Gorge on his blood, make him crawl in agony… Angel could feel his fangs tingling, his eyes turning gold with hate and blood lust. He wanted nothing more than to let go, to be the demon he truly was. To show him what he could do and how long he could make it last!
“And I know, should any four of those individuals die by our guns,” Sandefer continued, cocking his head to the side at the shift in Angel’s expression. He knew the vampire was on the verge. “-you will stop at nothing to destroy us… Angelus. Jennifer Calendar and Rupert Giles would be next on the list. So, for the sake of those people walk away. My employer is more than protective of Miss Chase, he’s possessive. He’s been tracking her for years, and he will know if you continue your search.”
“What’s to stop me from killing you know, Sandefer?” Angel gritted out, heedless of the blood dripping down his hand. There was glass imbedded in his palm, but he felt nothing. “Cause I could do it. Real easy. Pigs blood hasn’t been too filling lately.”
Sandefer smiled pleasantly. “He’ll be checking in soon. If I don’t answer, the killing will begin. It’s really very simple, Angel. Kill me, they die. Track Cordelia Chase, they die. And once again, if they die, I know you’d find me and kill me. Endless circle of death, that can be prevented only by you.”
Angel knew this man was right. They had another player who was three steps ahead of them. And if he, Giles, and the others didn’t back off soon, Buffy, her mother and her friends would be as dead as the poor girls from the airport. And he didn’t even want to think about what Sandefer’s ‘employer’ had in mind for Cordelia. “You’re going to have to give me something. I need to know if she’s safe, if she’s alive!”
He considered this for a moment, as if trying to weigh his options. Just as long as he doesn’t go after her. “Well, I wasn’t informed that I could not tell where she was. You’re just not supposed to go to her. Now, you must promise to send no one after her. Absolutely no one, and I’ll tell you. Agreed?
“Fine.” He figured it was something, just knowing where she was.
“She’s safe, most likely happy. She’s gone to Japan. I’ll not tell you where exactly, but that’s where she’s gone.”
“Odd, isn’t it? From what I’ve heard about the girl, one might have figured France or Italy. Fashionville. But no- she’s gone to the home of the samurai.” If Angel didn’t know any better, judging by the faraway look Sandefer got in his eye, it seemed as he was slightly curious in finding her, too.
Not his slayer. My slayer. For once Angel found himself in accord with his demon. In fact, he really liked the idea.
“Now,” Sandefer declared, with a satisfied huff. “I’ll be on my way.” Finding his footing, he began walking to the door, a slight prance in his stride. “Wouldn’t want to keep him waiting. Who would have thought being late for a phone call would prove fatal to some people?”
“Hey, Sandefer. It may not be me that kills you one day, but I promise you will die.” Angel turned in his seat, not bothering to get up. The smile on his face was pure Angelus.
The years had made him a smart man, a genius by many standards. He knew Death, and he saw it the vampire’s eyes, that his time would come. “Maybe. But not today or anytime soon.” And with that, he opened the door and walked out.
He gets one more day extra of life for not slamming the door. Angel grinned in sinister amusement. “He never said I couldn’t track down his ‘employer’, now did he?” He didn’t like hearing that his man was possessive over Cordelia. Didn’t like it one bit.