Part 7 – It’s the Thought That Counts
“You know something Lilah? You hold a very special place in my heart.”
Angelus wrapped his arm around her shoulder as he leaned back against the bed’s headboard. Taking a sip of his wine Angelus made a pleased expression. “Wow. A woman with good taste in liquor. This is an excellent white wine, mademoiselle. But what was I saying?” Angelus stopped in concentration.
“Oh yes, I was telling you of the special place you hold in my heart. You see, I’ve never hated a woman in all my life more than I hate you. Not even that peroxide slayer from a few years back. Although I must say, she does come close. After all, sending a fellow to hell doesn’t really promote endearment. Do you understand what I mean?” No sound came from Lilah’s mouth as she tried to scream.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Angelus said. “Although, she did have a nice rack. I may have to pay her a visit after I take over this city. Maybe make her my whore. Have you seen her lately?” he asked Lilah. “She isn’t quite as attractive now, I think. Lost a lot of baby fat, especially around the face.”
Lilah again tried to scream, but only a dry wheeze left her mouth.
“Would you like a drink? I’m sure your mouth must be dry.” Angelus pressed the wine glass to her lips. Most just trickled back out. “I’m truly sorry about this,” Angelus said, although the tone of his voice spoke to the contrary. “But I couldn’t have you screaming, so I decided to remove your vocal cords. Hope you don’t mind.”
Angelus laughed as Lilah’s eyes widened at that. “I also have another small confession to make,” he whispered. Angelus then slowly removed the white lace nightgown he’d dressed her in. Lilah followed his movements, but was too weak to offer any resistance. If she had the capacity anymore, she would have screamed in horror at what she saw.
Running the center of her chest, going from just above her belly button to between her breasts along her sternum, was a nasty network of sutures. The skin around the brown thread was a raw and angry pink color. For the first time since waking from her drug-induced slumber, she noticed all the tubes running from her body.
One entered her body at a small incision located below her left shoulder blade. Another ran out of her chest, inserted between the sutures lining her sternum. She could see the tubes ran back to a device sitting on the floor.
About the size of a water cooler, Lilah heard the distinct sound of a small engine running inside it. Lilah knew exactly what it was.
“Do you like it?” Angelus asked excited. “I first made one of those around 1864. I admit, it’s the product of a bored and overactive mind, but it remains one of my finest accomplishments. And also, the technology wasn’t as sophisticated back then. No internal-combustion engines and all that, ya know?”
Grabbing Lilah’s head so she looked directly into the yellow eyes of his game face, he asked, “Didn’t I tell you I could keep you alive for days through transfusions? I told you I had the experience.” Letting go of her head, Angelus tried to calm himself. Taking a sip of wine, he continued.
“Of course, back in those days, it only worked about thirty percent of the time. Even vampires didn’t really understand the concept of blood types.” Looking up to Heaven, Angelus mocked, “But thank God for the 21st century and donor cards. It makes blood typing so much easier.”
Angelus saw the questioning look in Lilah’s fearful eyes. “Oh, you’re wondering what the sutures are for? Hold on a minute.” Angelus jumped from the bed and ran to the kitchen, where Lilah heard the refrigerator open and shut.
When Angelus returned, he carried a Tupperware bowl covered in tin foil. “You know how I was talking about accomplishments I was proud of? Well, here’s another one. I tell you, I was doing this shit successfully decades before the Mayo Clinic or whatever could.”
Sitting back down next to her, Angelus slowly peeled back the tin foil. “It’s a human heart,” Angelus explained at Lilah’s horrified expression. “More accurately, it’s your heart. But don’t worry. Connected to that thing there,” Angelus pointed to his machine, “you can live a relatively long and somewhat happy life.”
Angelus then pulled Lilah close and kissed her passionately. “But then,” he said, “what would be the fun it that?” Taking one of the tubes in his hands, he pressed it together so no blood could flow.
Lilah tried valiantly to summon up whatever energy she had to escape, but Angelus held her tight. Placing butterfly kisses on her lips and eyelids, Angelus cooed at her, trying to get Lilah to be still.
“Just look at it this way, if Saint Peter compares my life to yours, you stand a decent shot at getting into Heaven.” Angelus smiled down at her as Lilah’s breathing slowed before coming to a stop.
“That’s my girl,” he whispered. Releasing the tube, Angelus decided to clean up his mess before taking a shower. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was well past dawn. That was fine by him, Angelus didn’t have any place to be until tonight.
With a sudden thought, Angelus went over to Lilah’s desk and found a phonebook. Flipping through the Yellow Pages, Angelus found the number he wanted.
“I’ll call them later,” he said aloud. “As for right now, I’m kind of hungry. I wonder what Lilah had in the cupboard?”
“This man steals beings souls?” Cordelia asked.
“I think so,” Willow said. “The necklace he wears. Each bead is a charm that encompasses the soul of each victim.”
Tara put aside a magic book before picking up the story. “Whenever humans had their souls stolen, they would fall into a comatose state. Unless the soul was return, the person spent the rest of their life in a state called soul-death. The brain and other organs kept working, but the essence that made them living beings was gone.”
“But Angel’s not human,” Cordelia said. She knew what Tara was saying.
“Yes,” Tara agreed. “With Angel, the soul wasn’t the dominant part of his being. The demon inside of him is, and it has a life of its own.”
“So this is good, right?” Fred asked. “We don’t have to do a soul restoration. We just have to find this man and his necklace, right?”
“Essentially,” Willow said. “When the bead housing the soul is shattered it releases the soul. The soul then finds its way back to the body that housed it.”
“Then I suggest we find this ‘fantasma’ fast,” Cordelia said. Her tone left no room for argument.
The ringing of the doorbell broke the tension in the room. Cordy got up from her seat and went to answer. Peering through the peephole, she saw a UPS man. Cordelia thought for a moment. She wasn’t expecting any packages. Opening the door, she greeted the man.
“Sign here, Miss,” he said as he passed the electronic clipboard. Cordelia quickly signed and took the package. “Have a nice day,” the man said.
Cordelia mumbled a farewell and shut the door. Taking the package into the kitchen, she set it on the table before retrieving a knife. She stared at the markings saying ‘Refrigerate Upon Opening’ and ‘Express Delivery’ in confusion. Slicing through the tape sealing the package, she unfolded the flaps. On top she found a note, and below, a Styrofoam container.
She pulled out the smaller Styrofoam container inside and cut it open as well. Opening the package, she dropped the knife it horror. “Come here!” she yelled to the people in her living room.
“What’s wrong?” Willow asked running into the room. The rest of the gang was right on her heels. Cordelia pointed to the box on the table. Looking inside, Willow had to run quickly to the sink so she could vomit.
“It’s a human heart,” Lorne said in shock.
Cordelia ignored the sickened gasps of the rest of the people. Instead, she opened the note. Written in blood it said:
WON’T YOU BE MY VALENTINE?