Mercenary Hearts 7

The chase Mansion

Collapsing gratefully onto her sumptuous queen-sized bed, Cordy sighed with relief. Tired wasn’t a strong enough word to describe how she felt right this moment.

Her hand absently rubbed her midriff as the sick sensation in her gut refused to disappear completely.

Tara had nearly died. Jeeze!

So had she. But at least Cordy had experience on her side. She may not be a slayer nor have witchy powers, but was, thankfully, fully aware of the real possibilities of things going wrong. Still, it was terrifying that it almost did tonight.

Guilt continued to fester as she recalled the last couple of hours. Up to now, Tara hadn’t accompanied the Scoobies in the field. Until now, she’d helped with research on the occasions Cordy hadn’t tagged along with the others on patrol. After all, what was the point of her self-defense lessons if she wasn’t going to try out her moves?

A thought popped in to consider asking Tara if she wanted to join… God, I’m like, taking over her life! First suggesting changes to her classes – and then asking her to take part in the moonlighting side of her life. Hours of browsing through pages of icky monsters. And here she was thinking of proposing yet another venture to curtail Tara’s spare time. Some friend she was… which brought her straight back to tonight’s close shave.

Cordy had hesitated to invite her along, mostly because she wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Tara was a gentle soul, and oftentimes it got pretty hairy out there.

Which was why she was asking herself now: why hadn’t she vetoed the idea as soon as the invite popped out of Buffy’s big mouth?  Her shoulders sagged. Because her friend had actually looked pleased to be asked. Okay, Tara wasn’t completely vulnerable – hello? Kick-ass Witch? But that didn’t necessarily mean she’d be prepared for such a frenetic scenario.

Her full mouth thinned as she recalled an earlier ‘episode’ in her car.

How could anyone even think that Willow Rosenberg was a sweet and gentle girl? Was she the only one that saw through her innocent comments? Pfft. Looked that way.

Tara had ridden ‘shotgun’ – much to Xander’s disappointment. He’d reluctantly joined the redhead and Oz in the back, sporting a major pout. Ten minutes later, Cordy dropped off Xander and Oz, which had left the redhead sitting alone in the back seat.

She pulled away from the curb to head on to the University Campus to drop the girls off.  Then up chirped Willow in a whiny voice. “Um, Tara?”  Her friend had glanced over her shoulder with curious eyes. “I… well; I just wondered why you didn’t, like, cast some kind of vanquishing spell against those demons?”

Tara had flushed a bright red and started to stammer as she attempted to respond.

That did it for Cordy, who’d instantly intervened. “What I’d like to know is -Why didn’t you?” she’d demanded hotly, making no effort to keep the acid from dripping off her tongue. “Hello? Not like it was your first time in the middle of a battlefield, huh?”

The instant surge of satisfaction on seeing the girl cringe into her seat hadn’t assuaged the fury that had gripped her, as she took in the still-mortified expression on her friend’s face. At least she’d had some pleasure seeing Willow get ripped by the bleached blonde vampire.  He’d noticed her hovering close behind Xander and Oz, doing nothing helpful and getting in the way to boot. Served her right.

Cordy blew out a frustrated breath. Why the hell did she even get involved with these people? And they had the nerve to call her a bitch! Would she ever learn?

Apparently not.

The whole situation they’d faced earlier been scary-crazy.  First the slow – in her opinion, reaction of Buffy to Cordy’s clinch with that demon. If it hadn’t been for that really hot guy – Vampire, she reminded herself abruptly, she’d have been toast.

It bothered her that the rational part of her brain understood that the Slayer couldn’t be everywhere at once, but still.

Cordy’s thoughts traitorously returned to the scene with the dark vampire. Did it make her a crazy person to admit that she’d been instantly attracted to him? Just the cool touch of his fingers as they slid along her cheek had sent her pulse racing.

Fair enough, she hadn’t realized he was a vamp until seeing him in action minutes later. It had also brought home to her just how ‘cool’ his touch had been. Initially, she’d put it down to the heat of the blush that had flared on her face. Life was so unfair sometimes, but she’d found that there was no point crying over spilled milk- or blood as this case might be.

You just had to move on with your chin firmly lifted in the air. Cordy just hoped she would succeed in taking her own advice.

Another issue had come up tonight. The figurative elephant in the room moment. Mister Hot-but-Unavailable had nailed Buffy like a bug on a pin. Talk about reality check. He was right.

It was stupid. Not just Buffy, but the whole group. As much as the girl got on her last nerve, she’d never actually asked them to go with at first. Willow and Xander had got into some pretty bad spots when she had said no in the past.

So down the line, there they were out in the field with the slayer, often forgetting the fact they themselves weren’t super power-ey when facing all kinds of monsters. Was she the only one who occasionally thought of the possibility of one or more not making it out alive?

Probably not, but what could you do? Hide at home when the sun went down, and hope to God you avoided being a chew toy?  Ignore the deaths that happened frequently on the Hellmouth?

They may only be vulnerable humans, but Cordy liked to think they did make a difference, however small.

Once the blinkers came off, it was impossible to put those suckers back on.

Back / Part 8

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