Mercenary Hearts 12

Part 12

Giles Home.  (Sun evening.)

Everyone had now draped themselves around his lounge looking relaxed and happily sated after their much-needed food break. Glancing at the time, Giles felt relieved that he’d almost finished.

He began by explaining that the last bit of information had come directly from Wesley Wyndham Pryce, who had returned to the WC Head Office after the Faith debacle.

Although a portion of the Council thought his failure to control the new slayer were well below the required standards of a watcher, the higher-ups were less inclined to lose his innate research abilities, that were enhanced by his eidetic memory.

“It wasn’t entirely his fault,” Cordelia felt she had to stick up for young man. Although her little crush had ended on a gross note, he hadn’t been a bad guy.

“Maybe if he’d listened to Giles instead of acting like a self-righteous jerk, it might have panned out” Buffy reminded her.

Giles cleared his throat loudly as the two girls glared at each other. “Let’s get this done, shall we?” He watched them both deflate and was satisfied that they were now attentive.

“The gruesome team reigned unimaginable terror across Europe, until 1898, when all abruptly changed.” Giles stretched in his seat to ease the uncomfortable fullness in his stomach.

Xander rubbed his bloated midsection with a satisfied grin stretching his face. “Well we know they didn’t get dusted. Cos, hello? Still undead.”

Tara, who’d remained silent throughout the meeting, felt emboldened to ask “so what happened?”

Giles sighed. This was at the point where it became… muddy to say in the least. Time to wrap it up.  He apprised them of the bare facts.

The four vampires were rampaging through Romania at the time. Same old to them. But this time Angelus and Spike raped, tortured, and then horribly murdered two teenage girls of the ancient Kalderash Clan – Romani gypsies.

“These were not just any gypsies, unfortunately for them,” Giles gravely pointed out. “The clan was ancient and a force to be reckoned with, their prowess in magick unmatched. And the girls – twins, apparently, also happened to be the only daughters of the Elder – the extremely powerful Matriarch of the Clan.”

Some witnesses living in the surrounding dwellings had been interviewed by the governing bodies of the small town at the time. The residents were said to have seen a vast group of ‘Gypsies’ descending upon the mansion the vampires had taken over. 

After the sounds of loud yells and fighting, a slightly smaller group exited many favoring wounds they’d received. A dozen men half carried, half dragged two tightly bound and barely-dressed men.

They were followed out of the building by another two gypsies who carefully carried bundles wrapped in dark blue cloaks. One was said to have seen a woman’s bloodied arm dangling from the covering, and had assumed that the two hostages captured were responsible for at least two murders.

“What about the two other vampires?” Oz quietly asked.

“One assumes they made their escape through the back of the building,” Giles replied. “As we all know, Drusilla made an appearance not so long ago, and as for Darla… there were whispers of her involvement in the attempted Harvest, which,” he added, “isn’t that surprising since the Master happened to also be her sire.”

Silence filled the room for almost a minute before Xander asked “What do you think happened to Fang and Fido?” Willow snickered at his funny. Cordelia just rolled her eyes.

“Well, from the absence of accounts of their movements from that time, it was assumed that the vampires had most likely been tortured to within an inch of their unnatural lives and had then received stakes to the heart.” Giles replied. “But as we are now aware that Angelus and Spike survived, they somehow- incredibly, managed to escape their captors.”

****

The Chase Mansion. (Sun late evening.)

Cordy swore under her breath as she attempted to quickly shove the key in the lock.  The shrill sound of a phone could be heard even through the thick double doors.

Finally! Slamming the door behind her, she rushed across the darkened entrance hall to grab the phone.

Hi, this is the- Hey, Daddy.” Smiling on recognizing the caller, Cordy took a moment to catch her breath while she waited for his next words.

“Hi sweetheart. Called to see how you are. We’re in Milan at the moment.” God, she thought, they might as well be the Moon right now. After the grossness that was Giles lecture, Cordy had been jumping at every perceived sight and sound since she’d left his house.

She’d never missed them as much as she did right now. “I’m good. Milan, huh? I’m so beyond envious right now.” She plastered a smile on her face as if; by some weird phenomenon he’d be able to see it.

“Your mother wanted to pick up a few million outfits, and where better than here?” He joked.

“Haha, well, don’t let her bankrupt you, daddy ‘cos I don’t want you stuck over there forever… I miss you” swallowing the unexpected lump in her throat. Things had always been oddly difficult between herself and her mother, what with her being so self-involved- Hello? Where do you think I got it from?

But her dad… Although not as attentive as he’d been when she was a small child, he was still approachable, and easy to be around. When he was around, that is.

“Ditto. We’ve booked the flights already, so should be in Sunnydale by Friday. What’s that? Okay… your mother sends her love. And she asked if you want her to grab a few outfits?” Who does she think I am, Willow? She wondered tartly, before graciously declining the offer.

“Okay, I’ll let her know.” From the tone of his voice, she knew he was Grinning. Most probably, recalling the embarrassment of her mother raiding Cordy’s closet a few years back. “Look, I’m going to hang up now. The signal is crappy in this store. Love you, princess. We’ll see you Friday.”

“Love you too. Have fun. Bye Daddy.” With a sigh, Cordy replaced the phone and suddenly realized that she hadn’t even switched on the lights.

After a mini debate with herself over either settling in front of the TV for an hour or head to bed, she decided the latter. Dead bolting the door and activating the alarm, Cordelia walked quickly up the curving staircase and headed to her room- making a mental note to lock her bedroom door.

*****

Sunnydale University. Lunchtime (Mon).

Cordelia strolled into the library as if she owned it. Rupert Giles doubted that the young woman was even aware of the impact she made on the male students present as she gracefully made her way towards him.

The newspaper he held hadn’t prevented her from seeing him tucked away in a corner.

He’d witnessed a marked difference in her character over the past year- starting around the time of their Graduation. Although a definite softening of her rather… unique way of regarding everyone as lower than a bug to be stepped on, her tongue could still fluster him at times,  so he felt a little uncertain when she pulled out a chair at his table.  

*

“Hey, Giles. What’s up?” She sat down after placing her heavy purse on the table top with a relieved sigh. God, she seriously had to think about getting a backpack… only, eww. No thanks. I’d rather suffer. 

He looked up from his paper. “Umm, nothing much. Having a good day? “

“Not bad. It’ll probably destroy my reputation if anyone ever heard me say it, but I actually enjoy the Humanities class.” She’d dropped her voice – just in case anyone beyond their table was in earshot.

Giles smiled. “It simply shows you have a well-rounded view of the World. Nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Tell that to Aura.” Although her old friend had opted for a future including a rich husband and 2.1 kids, they still chatted on occasion. After the whole thing with Harmony-being-killed-by-a-vampire on Graduation day, it made you appreciate friends a lot more. Even if some reminded you of a time when you were just as shallow and stuck up as them.

It was one of the reasons she treasured her blossoming friendship so much. “I’m meeting Tara here, then we’re gonna decide what to do for lunch.”

“Not Pizza, I hope.” The amount consumed of that particular foodstuff on research nights made him sometimes wonder how his young charges weren’t leaning towards the plump side.

“God no” Cordy shuddered. I don’t want to end up looking like the elephant man”. Then her face lit up with a pleased grin. “Makes a change seeing you doing stuff like a normal person.”

“Well…” A slight hint of color tinged his cheeks. “I’m checking for unusual incidents,” flushing a little more when her eyes rolled. “And since we’re not having any luck on the sacrifice front, I’m also going through the Missing Persons column,” He frowned perturbed, “which is disturbingly long.”

“Hello? Monster Central here.” And they had a zillion creepy cemeteries to prove it.  “You so need a hobby.” Giles felt like a butterfly on a pin as she stared at him with a calculating gleam in her hazel eyes.

“There must be loads of normal stuff you could do. Healthier than sticking your nose in boring, smelly books all day. God knows what ancient germs are floating about in them.”

“I promise to look into it when demons and vampires finally decide to stop trying to end the world, or kill us”, Giles deadpanned.

Cordy let out a deep, dramatic sigh. She literally felt her good mood being sucked away by his depressing- but valid comment.

“Having fun?” Tara’s cheerful voice broke into her maudlin thoughts.

“I’m sitting with Mister Doom ‘n’ Gloom here. What do you think? – No offence,” she added with a small grin at his disgruntled expression and Tara’s stifled laugh.

“None taken. Good Afternoon, Tara.” A faint smile touched his mouth before he primly adjusted his glasses and went back to his paper. As if hinting, he lifted it a little higher until his head was hidden.

TBC

Califi

Posted in TBC

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