39, 23, 59


AUTHOR: SCORCH (aka JUDE)
SUMMARY: And he thought he knew eternity.
RATING: NC17
POSTED: 14 Dec 2006
CATEGORY: HUMOR / SMUT
CONTENT/PAIRING: CORDELIA/ANGLEUS
WARNINGS: Explicit Sexual Content, Language
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES:
1) Impress, so very sorry this took so long, but I lost the disk it was on. I hope this makes up for the ridiculously long wait. Hope it doesn’t disappoint. It also might a week or two before an update, what with DoA and Christmassy stuff to do. Hugs and Snogs, S xxxx
STATUS: Incomplete


CHAPTER 1
Day 41…
It wasn’t often Spike found himself facing a tied up filly he had no intention of killing or hurting in any way.

It wasn’t often Spike found himself on a time limit.

It wasn’t often Spike found himself willing to pay said filly if she’d comply with his demands.

It wasn’t often Spike found himself writing out plans and taking notes.

“Stop bubbling will you, there’s a good girl.”

It wasn’t often Spike found himself comforting the filly he had tied up.

Well, excuse her if she found the situation called for it. Not like she could run away screaming, was it?

He rolled his eyes. Out of all the singletons of Sunnydale, he just had to choose this one. Like he didn’t have enough on his hands that he had to torture himself by picking the one woman in the land that had the tongue of a serpent. Saying that, his grandsire deserved no less. Especially since last year’s stupid plot to suck the world into hell.

Spike was sure he wasn’t the only happy camper that it didn’t work. He snorted. Like a statue was gonna come to life and swallow the Earth. There was more chance of a Martian invasion then there was of that happening. And idiot that Angelus was, had to go and try it.

Spike wondered what was next. Angelus hunting for Atlantis? He shook his head. He wouldn’t put it past his grandsire. He could actually see Angelus decked out in a pair of hiking boots, a Gortex anorak, and a pair of gators, ready to take on Everest, or wherever Atlantis was. Maybe if he was really lucky, his grandsire would wear a beanie.

He shook his head again. There were more important things than Angelus, and that was getting the tasty bit in front of him too agree to his plan. Not that she’d have much choice, of course. If she didn’t, he’d kill her. End of story.

Looking at her now, she seemed a tad stressed, and when he was stressed, he smoked.

“Want some?” Spike held out his cigarette.

She stared at him like he was nuts.

“Guess not. Listen.”

Pretty eyes rolled.

Oh yeah. The gag. “Not like you can do much else. Anyhow,” he took a drag. “You and me? We got business to discuss.”

Pretty eyes blinked. Business? What he could he need with her? Unless he wanted a barrister, in which case he’d have to go elsewhere. Her father didn’t specialise in vampirism.

“You an me have someone in common.”

Oh please. If this was about Buffy, she’d kill herself.

“See, Angelus and me.”

Oh God. Why couldn’t this have been about Buffy?

“We got a bet on.” He took another drag and yet again offered her some. When she glared, he shrugged. “If you’re sure. I stand to win.”

Win what? The award for being the most irritatingly evil schnoz the world’s ever known?

“It ain’t about the money, ya know. More important than that. Picture this.”

Oh dear God. He was gonna go down memory lane. Help her. Somebody, anybody, help her. Maybe she’d get lucky and he’d bore her to death.

“Me, three hundred years from now.”

Oh no. It was worse than she thought. It wasn’t memory lane he was going down. It was his future plans. If he said anything about two point four kids and a white picket fence, she was gonna cannibalise her own intestines and eat herself to death.

“Hearing his whiny voice you lost, you lost, ha ha, you lost.”

He had her there. Three hundred of years of listening to that would drive her over the brink. She sympathised and would have said so if she wasn’t gagged. She nodded instead. Poor Spike.

“Bad enough hearing his voice 30 minutes a day, let alone 300 years of it. This is where you come in.”

He must be mistaken. She didn’t come in anywhere.

“This bet. Involves a woman.”

Yeah well, she was not that woman.

“Not just any woman mind you, but a woman like you.” He took another drag, taking a second to savour the smoke before putting it out with his boot. “You know the sort.”

The sort? What kind of chauvinist was he?

“Legs up to here,” his hands waved around his neck. “Body like this,” his hands made an hourglass shape. “And bloody good tits. Drive a man mad, they would.”

What she wouldn’t give to yell at him. How dare he say she had good tits? That was so… so… Male. Urgh. Even vampires were men it seemed.

“Bet you’d give a right old tit wank.”

Oh God! Just who did he think he was?

“My Dru does. Not as hefty, mind you, but by heck. She doesn’t half know how to please her bloke.”

Forget the self cannibalising. The love struck expression was enough to make her choke on her own vomit.

“You an her would get on great.”

She could see the Christmas presents now. Dru would get a gift voucher for a year’s worth of therapy and she’d get an arm in a box. The seasonal joy was already getting to her. She could hardly wait.

“You two could have tea parties and the like.”

What did he think they were gonna do? Throw slumber parties where pillow fights would lead to female experimentation? God, perversion really didn’t discriminate between dead and alive.

“Anyhow.”

What was worse? Him thinking of female bonding, or the reason why he had her tied up and gagged?

“Angelus an me have a bet. He’s a bit active, shall we say. Got a lot of time to make up for.”

Now she was confused.

“Poor git’s had a soul half his existence. Like a leash, it is.”

The soul was more of a blessing where she was concerned.

“He fed off rats.”

She was not going to feel sorry for Angelus. He deserved getting cursed.

“Course that won’t make a difference to you. What with being a strong woman and all that.”

Flattery would get him nowhere.

“He wasn’t himself. Bogged down with all that guilt, trying to save all them people. Falling in love with a slayer.” Spike grimaced.

She agreed. How anyone could fall in love with a girl who wanted what she couldn’t have was sickening. She’d seen Buffy have a chance with human men and ruin it because they were too normal, she’d seen Buffy have a chance and ruin it with a man who was not normal enough. It was pathetic, really.

“Let’s just say he was sick. Not himself. We’ll both be happier if we think that way.”

She’d be happier if she wasn’t tied up and gagged.

“Since he lost that soul, he’s been sleeping his way through the demon world. Trying to prove he’s back and badder than before. You know, trying to prove a point and all that.”

Oh lovely. Way to get attention, Angel.

“I had a bit of business last week.”

Was this the same business he wanted from her? Cus if so, then he could go to hell.

“And Angelus brings this bird home. Quite a meal, she was. He didn’t share of course. Kiss n tell is more his style. Then if I had a bint like her, I’d kiss n tell, too. Anyways. There I was, trying to conduct my business all professional like, when he became God, quite loudly if I remember rightly. It ruined the moment. You can imagine, I’m sure.”

Only too well.

“This brings me to you. The bet is he can’t go forty days without a shag. He says he can, I say not.”

How, exactly, did this bring him to her?

“If I know my old sire, he’ll go the nine yards just to prove me wrong. I can’t be having that over my head. Here’s where you come in. You got the looks, the bod, and I’ve already said, the tits.”

The outrage was back in full force.

“All we need to do is polish you up some, get you out of the high school cheerleader clothes and into something decent. Putting you on his radar ain’t gonna be hard at all. Not with those pins of yours.”

She’d give anything to choke him to death. Pins? Pins? God. She wanted to scream for all the females on the damn planet. Pins? Just how rude could one vampire be? She’d also give anything to have the ability to tug her skirt down.

The way he was looking at her was really giving her the creeps. His eyes kept going from toe to waist and back down again, lingering where thigh met pelvis. Urgh. What a perv. Anyway, what was all this we stuff? Last she heard, he was the one with the bet.

“As I was saying. Get you in a skimpy piece of yum, put you in a place where he’s gonna notice, and I win. Sound like a plan? Does to me.”

Why couldn’t he be the one in a skimpy piece of yum and why couldn’t he be put in a place where Angelus was gonna notice?

“And if you don’t go along with it, I’ll kill your family and make you watch.”

Didn’t that put a whole new spin on things?

“Now. I’m going to be a good little lad and take that gag off. When I do, you’re going to say yes. Understood?”

She nodded. Didn’t have much choice really.

Spike got off the rickety old chair he was on and removed her gag, patting her on the back while she coughed.

“There, there pet. I got something here to help with dry throats.”

She watched as he slipped out a silver flask and wiggled it in front of her face. She couldn’t smell the liquid inside, but she heard it sloshing around. It could be anything from absinthe to vodka. No matter what it was, she was so not drinking it.

“Hmm. We have to do something about your girl scout attitude.” His head tilted to one side. “Or maybe not. Tell you what. You let me handle the details and you just show up on time, eh?”

Yeah. She didn’t think so.

He must have read her mind. “Remember that thing where I’ll kill your family and make you watch? That’s no joke, pet. Angelus maybe the original big bad, but I’ve learned a trick or two. Don’t you forget that. Had a kink on for railroad spikes, I did. Nice little toys. How I got my name.”

Spike blinked down at her. “You look a bit green around the gills. This’ll help with that.”

She opened her mouth, fully ready to let him have it when liquid started trickling down her throat. It burned. It really, really burned. Her eyes filled with tears and her head went to one side as she coughed up the disgusting whatever.

God, her throat was actually numb. “What the hell…?” She glared up at the vampire questioningly.

He beamed, pleased he had her approval. “My own recipe. Bit of Willie’s home brew whiskey, spot of brandy, and a smidgen of battery acid.”

Battery acid?

“Good, ain’t it? Keeps me warm an cosy on a cold winters’ night I can tell you that much.”

Battery acid?

“Now,” Spike took a drink of his own and she watched in amazement when his eyes rolled back in sheer delight.

Battery acid?

“Do we have a deal?”

Cordelia could barely talk around the sizzling sensation of melting skin and tissue in her throat, but she just about managed it. “Do I have a choice?”

Spike grinned. “That’s the beauty of it, pet. Neither of you do.”


CHAPTER 2
Day 40, the game begins…

She felt like a whore.

Black lace covered her from ankle to toe, with a slice of bare skin here and there.

She stared, dumbfounded, into the huge full length mirror at the dress adorning her body. Lace was the main course with black patent leather going from the bust to three inches below her ass, the straps belonged on a bra, and there was a slit which flashed part of her left thigh. It clung to every curve in a way that made her look like an hour glass with hands and eyes.

Then there was her make-up, which Spike had personally done.

She didn’t know what surprised her more. The fact he could apply mascara without her flinching or the fact he was an expert with a blending brush. A natural beige covered her entire eyelid while a metallic charcoal followed her eyebrow arch, and a smoky grey was on the lower part of her lid.

A light gold bronze had been dusted over the apples of her cheeks, tip of her chin, and middle of her forehead, while her lips shone like a freaking diamond. What scared her more than who applied was the way he’d applied it. He’d spent half an hour on the eyeliner alone, getting it just so he said, and then he’d gone on to spend another half hour on the eye shadow.

Her hair had almost gotten her killed. He’d wanted to add a blonde strand here and there. To add warmth, he explained as though he was Nicky Clark, but no. Blonde would be in her hair when Satan bought ice skates.

So, a compromise had rose.

Her beautiful, beautiful chestnut hair, her crowning glory. The same hair she’d been photographed for Sunnydale University fashion column was now highlighted with the odd strand of honey. He hadn’t used a store brand. He’d actually gone to a hair and beauty wholesalers for the proper stuff, including an intensive conditioner for her to use forty eight hours from now.

The fact she liked the few caramel strands scared the bejesus out of her. Creepy wasn’t in it.

The honey pieces really brought out her eyes, or so he claimed.

She felt like a whore.

“Come on then, ducks. Let’s have a butchers.”

Cordelia’s framed eyes rolled and hands made a choking motion. If only she was Buffy, then she could really hurt him. Speaking of the devil. How had the all important, all intuitive slayer not noticed anything was wrong with her today?

For heaven’s sake, she’d shaken her head when she said yes, she was fine, and had badgered Giles. Of course, they’d all been too busy to deal with her problems. Probably thought her problems revolved around a broken nail or split end.

Broken nail and split ends? Please. Who did they think she was? Willow?

She heard an irritated sigh. “I haven’t got all day.”

Funny. He just had an eternity.

Well, here went nothing.

Cordelia tucked her hair behind her ear, poked her tongue out at her reflection, and then eased out from behind the curtain. Silence greeted her and she wondered what was wrong. She checked everything. Wrinkles in the dress, a pinkie finger checked for mascara under her lashes, and tongue searched for something between her teeth.

There were no wrinkles, no mascara, and no stray bits of food. So what was wrong?

“C’mere, pet. Gimme a twirl.” He smirked through a cloud of scented smoke. “For good luck, of course.”

She did as told and twirled.

Hands clapped slowly, as slow as his eyes wandered over her. She wanted to take her dress off and strangle him with it. What a perv.

“Now that’s temptation if I ever saw it. My old sire’s going to have a rough night.” He inhaled, there was a pause, and he exhaled. “Having a hard time myself.”

Her shock and rosy cheeks went ignored as he nodded in approval. “You’ll do,” he commented after a moment of blessed silence. “You’ll definitely do.”

Spike had to admit he’d outdone himself on this one, and mentally thanked all the times he’d played Barbie dolls with Dru. The cheerleader didn’t half look good and it was all down to little old him.

Long legs were left bare just in case his plan worked and there was touching. Stockings had been considered, but since Angelus seemed to be going through a skin-on-skin fetish, the stockings idea had been postponed to a later date. Her long hair had been tweaked so those doe eyes of hers weren’t overpowered by dark brown.

Plus, the strong mix of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide would help drown out his scent.

After a lengthy debate, the decision had been made to leave it down so the natural waves could work their natural magic. The dress hadn’t cost much. Not a penny, as a matter of fact. Pretty cheap considering how deliciously helpful the sales girl had been. Well, delicious anyway.

All in all, the chit cleaned up nice.

Gee, thanks. Cordelia stood under the weight of his admiration, her patience waning with every passing second. So what if her family’s life expectancy was on the line. There was only so much she would put up with and waiting around for his say so was more than she could take.

“Hi there,” she waved a hand in front of his face. “Remember me? Cordelia Chase? The girl you’re blackmailing?”

She got his attention. Great. “Before you say anything, yes I know the giant black cloud over my head could open up, but can we please get this over with?” She wanted to go home, shower, shower, and shower again, then forget this ever happened.

Unfortunately, no such luck existed.

Blue eyes snapped up from the general direction of her buttocks and met hazel irises, and she didn’t like the gleam. It wasn’t a nice gleam and made her decidedly uncomfortable. She shuffled on her feet and skin prickled as a strange chill went down her spine.

She really didn’t like that gleam, and eyes subconsciously went to the door just behind him.

“You’d be dead before you moved an inch.”

Her brain waved bye-bye to the escape route.

“Glad we got that sorted. Let’s get down to it shall we?” Spike flicked the cigarette butt away, blowing out the last of the smoke in an unnecessary breath.

Cordelia couldn’t wait.

“Angelus will be sprawled in a corner, no doubt with his arm around a sweet piece or two and teasing me with a quick win.” He didn’t tell her what else Angelus maybe doing with said sweet pieces. “He’ll be bored out of his tiny mind. There’s only so much girl talk a man can handle before he blows a fuse.”

“Why didn’t you get one of those sweet pieces instead of me?”

He stared at her like she was an idiot. “Have you ever heard a pair of tits talk?”

“I’m listening to one right now.” Though the retort was mumbled, he heard perfectly.

Spike smirked. “Just answered your own question.”

She glared as much as she dared. “Look, I don’t know what you want from me. You say it’s to win a bet, but come on. All this trouble so you don’t have to hear him gloating?” She shook her head. “It doesn’t wash. What do you get out of it?”

“Nothing.” Except the fun of watching the high and mighty fall. When she didn’t believe him, “Honestly.”

“You’d sound more sincere minus the smirking and cackling.”

“Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“You’re already dead.”

“And you’re observant. Look,” another cigarette was removed from the packet. She was annoying him? Good. Show was on the other foot. “Angelus ain’t my favourite person and I’ll stake my life on the fact he ain’t yours, either. You play by the rules and we’ll both have a barrel of laughs at his expense.”

Then there was the added bonus of watching his grandsire suffer. Being around a hot bitch like her and not being able to a damn thing about it has to be hell. No better place for his old sire if you asked him.

“No doubt he’ll be expecting you to make a scene.” Off her look, “You know, the white hat routine.”

She was still confused. White hat routine? Spike sighed in irritation, struck a feminine pose, and raised his voice to a poor imitation of a woman’s. “You hurt anyone in here and I’ll get Buffy to beat you to death with your own arms.” His voice went back to it’s original level. “So you walk past and ignore him.”

Cordelia’s face remained blank as she listened to her instructions. That was it? Walk past Angelus and ignore him? “And you think that what? I look so hot, he’ll come running over to ravish me?”

Good point. Spike considered the options for a second. “Flash him one of them toothy smiles of yours.”

Okay. She was supposed to walk past Angelus, ignore him for a short while, smile at him, and then ignore him some more? “You’re pretty down with the light flirting. Why don’t you dress up and do it? He always did come across as sexually ambiguous.”

She wasn’t expecting the chuckle. “Oh pet, if only you knew.”

She winced. “That was just way too much information.”

An arched eyebrow was the response. “Don’t matter where you get it, as long as you get it.”

“Again with the too much information. Can we not talk about this, please? It’s giving me the creeps.” He was giving her the creeps. In fact, the last few hours was giving her the creeps. She shuddered.

“Let’s see it, then.”

Ah. The confusion was back. “See what?”

“A smile.”

Cordelia twitched one corner of her lips. Trying to smile when there was nothing to smile about was a lot harder than she thought.

Spike’s blue eyes rolled. “No. A smile. Like this.” Pearly white fangs flashed as his lips parted into an ear-to-ear grin.

She just knew she was in for a lifetime’s worth of nightmares. How scary could one vampire be? His smile fell back into his natural smirk and he waited impatiently for all of two seconds. “Well?”

She copied him. Spreading her lips as wide as they would go, and held it until told to do otherwise. Face ache, prepare to meet Cordelia Chase.

He shook his head. “No. A plastic smile won’t work. It’ll only antagonise him. Again. I want a nice smile. A smile that makes me all warm and cosy.”

A smile that made him all warm and cosy? Fine, fine. Cordelia took a deep breath and thought happy thoughts. She thought about Keanu proposing, she thought about a giant wedding that would make front cover of Vanity Fair, she thought about the litter of baby Keanu’s that would surely follow. Maybe three, no four.

A boy first. Keiran Reeve? Hm. Definitely had a ring to it. Then twin girls. Gabriella and Elizabeth, then another boy, Tristan. They would live in Hollywood Hills, with vacation homes in Monte Carlo and Dubai, and perhaps a little honeymoon place in the mountains.

All horrible, horrible thoughts of Angelus and Spike and their stupid bet were banished.

“Smile and a half, that is.” He wondered what she was thinking about. Probably driving a stake right through his pretty little heart. It’d be fun watching her try. “You turn that on my old sire and he’ll be melting into his deceptively large boots.”

Didn’t that just bring her down to Earth with a crash and bang? Cordelia resisted the urge to growl at him. Instead of doing something that may result in her untimely death, she bottled up the growing anger and forced that smile and a half to stay put.

“Now, run by me what exactly you’re going to do. Finalising the details and all that.”

“I go in, spot Angel…”

“Wouldn’t call him that, pet. Not if you want your throat intact.”

“I go in, spot Angelus, walk past while ignoring him. I wait a few minutes and smile, then go back to ignoring him.”

Spike grinned. “Excellent.”

Cordelia didn’t like this one iota. “Won’t this seem too rehearsed? Won’t he see straight through this? I mean, if he’s expecting a scene and gets a smile instead, won’t he click onto the fact it’s a set-up?”

“Don’t overestimate his intelligence. He did bunker down with a slayer.”

She had to smile at that. “If I die, I’ll kill you.”

“I’m shaking, pet. Let’s away, shall we? Don’t want to keep him waiting.”

*~*~*~*~*

The place wasn’t what she expected at all. Instead of rockish Goth music, there was a nice piano instrumental that provided the right amount of ambient background music. Just enough to fill pauses in conversation, yet quiet enough for people to hear each other. It was strangely relaxing.

The decor was just as lovely, with comfortable chairs that could swallow a person and tables that were large enough to give decent elbow room. It was nice and clean, no spill stains on the wood or cigarette butts crushed into the floor. There also appeared to be a dress code or something as every person in there seemed to be wearing their Sunday best.

Or maybe they were just strict on who they let in. Either way, Cordelia decided, it was certainly her kind of place.

She stood just inside the double doors, staring around at the huge room, taking note of every little detail. Right from the attractive wall lights that gave off soft hues down to the bits and pieces that gave the place atmosphere. There were paintings, decorative mirrors, the odd display cabinet filled with ornaments.

Oh yeah. She could see herself fitting in quite nicely here.

She was only about halfway when she started noticing other things. It wasn’t the fact people were staring at her, it was how they were staring at her. It wasn’t obvious staring, it was more like sly sideways glances that roamed over her figure. It was the fact every person seemed to have a wine glass filled with red wine. There were other things, too. Like the heavy drapes that hovered above large windows, and the making out going on in every corner.

Her stomach began to churn and her flesh was crawling with a realisation she did not want to make.

Oh God.

Spike had sent her to a vampire club, and the place was choc full of them. Family or no, she had to get out of here pronto.

Cordelia tried to keep her cool as she spun on her heel, wholly intent on making a mad dash before any of them decided she’d make a nice entree. She got as far as the bouncers when a cloud of smoke whirled around her face, making her cough and splutter as she came screeching to a halt.

Blue eyes pinned her in place while a smirk irked her endlessly. Asshole.

“Something wrong?” Like he cared.

Was there something wrong? Was there anything right? “No,” she swallowed, not liking at all how he was eyeing her. “No problem.”

He nodded. “For a minute there, I thought you were making a run for it.”

“No, I was just…” Doing that very thing. “Getting some air. You know, prepare myself for a barrel of laughs at Angel’s expense.”

The smile he gave her did little to comfort. “That’s my good girl. Be a shame if you were about to run. You’ve made a bit of an impression.” Spike gestured over her shoulder to the double doors.

She glanced behind her to see a small gathering of vampires, both male and female, watching her with more than simple interest. How flattering. “Great,” Cordelia muttered as she looked away. “Cordelia Chase, the flavour of the vampire week.” How lucky was she?

“Go on then. Your public awaits.”

Sure it did, and so did her own grave. She took a deep breath, gave Spike a similar smile to his, nodded once and went with all the dignity befitting a Chase back into the club, all the while pretending not to notice the hungry gawking coming her way. She guessed it was time to go find Angelus, ignore him, then smile, and ignore.

Find, ignore, smile, and ignore. What exactly Spike thought he was going to accomplish with those particular instructions she didn’t know, but whatever. Wasn’t like she could make a quick retreat now, especially not with him watching her every move.

Oh well. Here went less than nothing.

Hazel eyes turned to a hawk’s gaze and she swept what part of the room she could see, but there was no Angelus. There were only people, or vampires rather, who kept inching closer to her. Cordelia tried to keep the panic to a minimum and her paces at a casual speed, her head held high and she treated the occasional dead person to a swift nod.

God, they must think she had a death wish.

It was strange because here she was, right in the middle of a bunch of demons who’d have her for dinner, and she was feeling fine. The numbness was probably to thank for that, but hey. Numbness was better than screaming help me, help me, for the love of God help me, for which she’d either get laughed at or she’d get eaten.

She decided it was a tough choice and so split the money between them. Maybe she’d get lucky and they’d laugh themselves so silly, the fangs were rendered useless. Yeah, and there was a golden pig taking off from LAX every twenty minutes.

Cordelia shook her head. Now was not the time for a nervous breakdown. She had light flirting to do. Oh, she really hoped her parents knew what she was going through to keep them breathing.

Oh God. There he was.

Her target for the night, and he was doing exactly what Spike said he would be doing. Sprawled out in a corner love seat, with one arm lazily draped over the shoulder of a gorgeous leggy blonde, while his other arm was being warmed up by a gorgeous leggy red head.

She snorted in sheer disgust. She could see the dye from here. Oops. A hand went up to her own, newly highlighted hair. She couldn’t say that no more, even if all she had were four or five well placed streaks. At least her hair wasn’t dog butt dry and at least her legs were normal length, not looking like an airbrushed commercial for support hose.

Cordelia looked away. She couldn’t stand to see it no more. So what if he was dead. Did that mean a lower standard and less taste? Spike’s words about slayers and Angelus came to her, and she smiled. Her gaze once more drifted round the room to land on the bar. Since she was here, she may as well grab herself a drink.

Hell knew she needed it. She just hoped she could get served. Not that they had any reason to turn her down, of course, not when the main clientele were sans pulse.

She shot a look over her shoulder at Angelus to make sure he was still there, thankfully he was. It was like watching a spider. She hated the sight of them, but always had to know where they were. If she couldn’t see, then the little bugs could be anywhere. Inside shoes, clothes, crawling up your trouser leg, skittering down your sock…

Yick. She shuddered in a way that had her hair tickling her neck, so she brushed the strands away, taking a second to admire the tiny caramel tint. It really did look nice. Huh. If Spike ever decided to give up his wicked, wicked ways, he could always pick up a curling iron and he’d be set for life.

Although, the idea of finding him working part time in her favourite salon was enough to give her nightmares, so she pushed those nasty thoughts far away. Right. Drink.

How weird was it to have vampires part to let her past? Cordelia didn’t dare question it and kept up a slow saunter, purposely putting on a regal and confident act. Not a problem for a star actress in the making. She ignored the thousand eyes on her as she ordered her poison.

“A glass of the house white, please.” Her first words came out a little more shaky than she would have liked, but what else could be expected? Determined to make up for it, “And don’t water it down.”

The bartender gave her a look that made her feel guilty for saying that. Watered down wine in this place? There was obviously more chance of an alien invasion. He didn’t say anything. “Excellent choice, madam, and will there be anything else?”

“No, thank you. I, ah,” she really couldn’t be doing this. “I apologise for the water comment, I’ve just never been here before.”

“Quite understandable. Humans do not tend to frequent here without invitation or choice. It comes as a bit of a surprise, but no less welcome.”

A polite vampire? What were the odds? “I’m not here by choice, either.” Off his look, “But thank you for making me feel welcome.” He was still looking at her in a way that silently asked for an explanation.

Quick Cordy, think of something. Anything.

A broken car was lame and wouldn’t explain her dress. She went with the next best thing. “My date left me in the middle of nowhere, and most places keep the facilities for paying customers only.” That was pretty damn good if she did say so herself.

“Then it is the telephone you wish to use. That will be seven…”

“I’ll get the lady her drink.”

Cordelia sucked in a breath and froze. God. Angelus was right behind her. She could feel him looking her over, taking in her outfit and no doubt thinking she looked like a whore. The insane part of her wondered how much he was going to offer her for a night of passion, while the sane part of her wanted to ask for a vat of acidic holy water to dump over his head.

“Cordelia.” Her name was drawn out, his tone full of amusement. “This is a surprise.” He glanced at the bartender once and she watched said bartender walk away, hopefully to fetch her drink.

There was a pause that told her he was yet again looking her over. “A nice one, I must admit. Like the outfit.” She felt him lean closer. “It’s very you. New, am I right?”

This wasn’t in her job description. Spike never said anything about having to make conversation with Angelus. She never replied. Mainly because her vocal chords seemed to be in that Monte Carlo house. Damn them, and damn her brain for going on the fritz when she needed it most.

He chuckled. “You know, ignoring me won’t make me go away.”

Now wasn’t that just a challenge waiting to happen?

Her fate was sealed the second she turned to face him. Cordelia shrugged with a nonchalance she certainly didn’t feel. “If you can’t say something nice… Well, you know the rest.”

Vampires close enough to hear immediately stopped what they were doing and stared at her like she’d sprouted a third head. Of course, they went back to minding their own business after a sharp glare from Angelus, something she was glad for. Anymore staring and paranoia would set in.

He walked round her to relax against the bar, stretching his arms across the brass pole, and sighing deeply. “Of all the bars in the world, you had to walk into mine. Must be my lucky day.”

Yeah well, don’t count your chickens. “Why is that?”

She got a grin and a quick glimpse of pearly whites. “It’s not every day a guy gets too talk to a pretty lady.”

“You seem to be doing alright.” Angelus followed her line of sight to where he’d been sitting with Darlene and Stacey. Stacey had been alright, but Darlene left a bitter taste in his mouth. Drugs probably, cocaine or smack. Having not been to his liking, he’d given the red head to Carmine, who didn’t mind dabbling. “Watching me were you? Didn’t think voyeurism was your style.”

“It’s not. I was merely wondering who to pity. You, or them.”

“Then what is your style?”

Cordelia received her wine graciously. “Self preservation.”

He appeared to read a deeper meaning into that and nodded. “I like your style.” His eyes narrowed as he took a closer, more intense look at her.

Now paranoia really was setting in. “What?”

“There’s something different about you. I can’t put my finger on it just yet.” Angelus focused completely on the brunette, carefully running his gaze from the tip of her head to the bottom of her chin, taking in every little detail. She jumped when he snapped his fingers in victory. “Your hair.”

“What about it?”

“Pretty, but I preferred it without the honey. You’ll change it back.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’ll get rid of the highlights.”

Surely he couldn’t seriously be telling her how to have her hair? He was. He was being deadly serious. Where the hell did he get off telling her what to do with her hair? It was hers. She could have it however way she liked it. If he wanted to have chestnut hair, then he could dye his own. She was in half a mind to go all-out honey, just to tick him off.

“No, I won’t. I like them.” It hurt admitting that.

Contrary to his smile, “You misunderstand, Cordelia. It was a suggestion, nothing more.”

Didn’t sound like it, but she wasn’t gonna argue. Not when she was clearly outnumbered. That thought made her laugh. Without the club, she’d still be outnumbered. Not very comforting at all.

“Well?” Angelus tilted his head to her glass.

Honestly? “It’s delicious. Thank you.” There was no bitterness like a lot of wines had, and it left her mouth feeling nicely tingly. Refreshing was the word.

“My pleasure.” He relaxed further against the bar, glancing here and there as though he were a king checking on his royal subjects. “Care to tell me what you’re doing here? It is a little out of your way. Unless you often wander into these clubs.”

“Not especially.” Cordelia took a sip, and then another. “Bad date.”

“Left you stranded?” Angelus surmised. “What did you do… Or is it a case of what you didn’t do?”

He was handing the answers to her on a plate. Go him. “Something like that.”

He looked so dismayed in his fellow man. “I can’t think of anything more shocking. Me? I’d never leave a woman stranded.”

“No, you just eat them.”

“In more ways than one.”

“That was just crude.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend your delicate sensibilities. How are you getting home?”

Of all the questions she was expecting, that was not it. Cordelia blinked and glass paused an inch from her lips. “Pardon?”

Angelus smiled so serenely. “How are you getting home? It’s pretty far from your part of Sunnydale and walking wouldn’t be suggested. Who knows what unspeakable evil lurks around town at this time of night.”

Not much considering half of that unspeakable evil was currently housed in here. “Cab.”

“Oh no, no, no. Can’t have that. Allow me…” A quick click of fingers had the bartender there in seconds. “My guest needs a driver.”

“Let me know when you are ready, madam.” He was gone with a swift nod.

Cordelia couldn’t seem to stop blinking. What was up with the gentleman act? It was giving her the creeps.

Angelus chuckled at her expression. “What is it?”

“You had me worried for a minute. I thought you were gonna offer to take me home.”

He hissed in disappointment and shook his head, giving the impression of just how sorry he was he couldn’t take her up on that sweet little offer. “Another time perhaps.” Definitely another time. “In the mean while, how about you join me for another drink?”

She nearly choked. “I was gonna go home after this one.” Yes. Go home and max out her credit card on a very long stay at the Sunnydale asylum.

He tutted. “You’re not going to insult your host by not joining him for a drink and decent conversation?”

“And what exactly do you think we can converse about? Politics and current affairs?” She didn’t discuss those things as a rule. As far as she was concerned, politics was one of the main causes of war.

Angelus grinned. “How about human interest? It’s my speciality.”

Cordelia just bet it was.

“One drink. No harm, no foul. We can get to know each other better. Whaddya say?”

She didn’t want to know him at all, but there was obviously no way out of this, so she sighed in resignation as she delivered herself to Satan. “One drink.”

One and no more.


CHAPTER 3
Day 39…

The first thing she felt was softness and the next was a warmth only a luxurious bed could give. Shortly after that was a deep, throbbing pain beginning above her left eye, and she swore she heard her finger bones creak as she tried to move. An undisclosed amount of time passed before she attempted to open both eyes and she was so damn sorry she did.

What she saw was a brilliant white light that shot right through her brain, down her arms and into her stomach, making it churn sickeningly. God. She’d only ever felt like this once before and that had been the day she discovered the joys of her mother’s cherry brandy. Thankfully this time she hadn’t gone to sleep on a packet of half eaten chips.

One he’d said. One drink to honour her host. One and no more. One was what she’d agreed to, not…

How many had she drank?

Blurry eyes and a foggy brain vaguely recalled seeing six or seven glasses. Six or seven glasses definitely were not needed to honour her host. Six or seven glasses were only needed at boring occasions, like during a wedding toast or when your great aunt Betty started talking about the days when children were seen and not heard.

Her skin stretched far too tight for the yawn, bringing tears to her eyes, and she carefully eased onto her back. Slowly, the world around her came into some sort focus. The sheet under her was crisp cotton and that was nothing new, but it was the sheet covering her legs. It was silk, yet not the kind of silk she was used too. This silk was smooth and rough with pattern, and she could see out the corner of her painful little eye it was a gorgeous shade of burgundy.

It was safe to say she owned nothing like it. Was just a shame that thought didn’t stick long enough for her to question it.

Cordelia ran her hands up and down, ecstatic to feel the clothes on her body. One thing to be grateful for, she supposed. Her head came up off the softer than soft pillow and the rest of her soon followed.

A quite sound coming from her right startled her into moving her head far too quickly. “Oh God.” It was funny how someone with a hangover always held their head as though it would help. Steam came from a bone China cup and with it came the delicious scent of damn good coffee.

“You are alive. I was starting to wonder.”

Huh? “Spike?” She managed to tear her longing gaze from the magical potion on a nice nightstand. “What are you doing in my room?”

He chuckled. “You’re in the mansion.”

Oh. “What’s the mansion doing in my room?”

Again he chuckled and placed two tiny white pills beside the cup, then he grinned a grin that chilled her to the very core. Talk about a sight for sore eyes. “You went down a bloody storm last night,” he said. Even he’d been impressed with her little show.

She tried to blink away the remnants of her alcohol induced coma. “My life is complete.”

Spike rolled his blue eyes at her croaky, sarcastic tone. “Be a good girl and get those down. You’ve got company waiting.”

Cordelia’s face scrunched up as her location finally sank in, as did whose bed it was she’d slept in. She was in the mansion. In Angel’s bed. With a hangover and bed hair. Worse still, memory flashes were starting to creep on in there. There was the memory of that one drink leading to another and another, then she remembered laughing so hard, she cried. And, God, had she really dried her eyes on Angelus’ shirt?

She did the only thing she could and haphazardly ran a hand over her face. A little click was heard, then a light grey cloud floated past her eyes. A glare shot his way told him more than words ever would. “That’s disgusting.”

“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.” He inhaled and exhaled through a widening smile. “You didn’t half put that place in a buzz. Life and soul of the bloody party, you were. Even managed to get Karl to crack a smile or two. Quite a feat, that. A miserable old git if ever there was one.”

She was confused. “Karl?”

His cigarette paused an inch from his mouth. “The barkeep whose wine you insulted. You were lucky Angelus was with you. Who knows what might have happened if you’d been by your lonesome. No more booze for you.”

Yeah. She’d be at home right now, in her own bed, drinking her own coffee from her own standard ceramic cup. She’d also be getting ready to get out of bed and go meet the girls for a fun day of mind numbing, wardrobe increasing shopping. It sounded like heaven at this moment in time.

Spike watched the many emotions and thoughts cross her face. It was irresistible. “Could be worse. This bet of mine might not exist. You oughta think on that.” It got the reaction he wanted.

Those pretty eyes turned saucer size as she stared at him. “Excuse me?”

“The bet, love. It’s what kept your dignity intact, and dare I say your virtue. Shame that. You’d make a sweet addition to our family gatherings.”

She really wasn’t hearing this. Before She could reply to his statement, he blew out yet another cloud of smoke. “Sorry to love and leave, outstayed the welcome and all that. You’ll be right as rain after that pill.” Spike went to turn around, but paused. “Word of advice, pet. Know how you call him Angel?”

“Yeah. So?”

“Keep it up. He seems to like it coming from your mouth.” The look he gave said everything. “Not surprising, really. Not with them cock suckers. Hurry on up. Best not to keep Slap Happy waiting.”

Cordelia watched him leave the room, relief coursed through her veins when he didn’t slam the door too loudly. A moment or two passed and the silence went a lot in calming her overworked brain. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the throbbing, but no matter how much her head ached, there was no way was she gonna touch those tablets. Hell only knew what it was.

She stared at the spot where Spike had stood until she felt brave enough to look around the room. Obviously the sunlight was kept out by thick heavy drapes and so the room was actually quite dark. Angelus probably didn’t need light, what with being a vampire and all. Aside from that, it was a normal bedroom with a closet and drawers, a lamp, and one or two things here and there. No chains, torture instruments, or anything to suggest it was the private space of a homicidal maniac.

A sane person would be relieved, but she had to admit to being a tad disappointed. After the portrayal from Buffy, she expected Angelus to live in a medieval dungeon or something, and to find out different? Well, it was like finding out pots of gold didn’t sit at the end of a rainbow.

The one thing in the room which gave away a bit of the owner’s personality was the bed. It was a large four poster, the sheets matched the drapes, and it was oh so comfortable. It was a nice scheme she decided, very Edwardian, which wasn’t surprising given his age. Offhandedly, she wondered what he thought of chrome.

*~*~*~*~*

Her shoes were in one hand while the other held the wall for balance. She couldn’t hear any noise coming from the bottom of the stairs and so it seemed safe enough to go all the way down. Each step was taken with care and made as quietly as possible. It wasn’t in her best interests to disturb the man of the house, would it?

Sure tiptoes on concrete hurt, but she doubted there was any such thing as being too careful when in House of Vampires. Oh, blessed be the door to safety. Only twenty feet or so and she be good to go.

“Good morning, Cordelia.”

The deep, husky voice was directly behind her and it knocked her off balance. Hazel eyes went wide as she felt her foot slipped, shoes were dropped in favour of preventing serious injury. Hands grappled with the wall, nails scraped painfully down it, and it was only when she didn’t move an inch did she realise there was a strong arm tight around her waist.

“Careful now. These are steep steps. Can’t have you falling.”

Blinking, she glanced over her shoulder until she met a set of amused brown eyes. Her breathing had grown so heavy, so rapid with shock, she’d gone light headed. Or maybe it was just the fact he’d just saved her from an agonising stay in Sunnydale General.

He smiled calmly. “Say thank you.”

“Thank you?”

His chuckle vibrated right through her body. “Say that again without the stunned surprise.”

Cordelia shook sense into her brain, or tried to rather. “Thank you.” Knight in Italian leather he was not.

That chuckle turned into a laugh. “Shall we?” He nudged her forward, his arm never moving until they reached the bottom, and then he stood between her and the precious door. His arms were across his chest, his face held a sugar smile, and his hair was messy. It appeared as though he’d just gotten up.

“Sorry if I woke you,” she said, fully intent on persuading him too go back to bed so she could leave with all her blood. She flashed a quick smile and walked around him, pointing her bare feet towards the door, but a hand on her arm stopped her short.

This was it. This was where she died and it’d all be Spike’s fault. She hoped he was happy.

“Don’t look so scared,” Angelus removed his hand. “I was simply showing you out.”

“That’s alright. I can see myself…”

“You’re my guest. It wouldn’t be polite to do otherwise.”

She couldn’t help snapping, “Aren’t you Mr. Courtesy.”

Angelus grinned. “Wrong side of the wrong bed can be hell on the manners of a man.”

Whatever. Cordelia rolled her eyes as she stepped past him, shrugging his arm off in the process, and made once more for the door. She was almost there when his voice echoed around the room.

“You might wanna try going the other way.”

“What?”

“That door leads to the basement. The way out is behind you.”

She didn’t have time to feel like a fool before he was yet again holding onto her arm and guiding her in the right direction. “You haven’t been here before, so it’s understandable. Pity. You’re good company.”

Was that a compliment or an insult? Not only had he saved her from a broken neck, but now he was helping her out. Literally. Cordelia purposely didn’t think about any of it until the door handle was in her hand and turning.

“There’s a car waiting for you at the end of the drive. Don’t be a stranger, Cordelia. You’re welcome here.” He paused. “More than welcome.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for the car, and for not killing me. Let’s not do this again.”

Angelus barely had the time to dodge the yellow streaks as the door was opened and shut quicker than he could blink. He shook his head with an unneeded. It’d been a pleasant surprise to find her in his club last night, and more pleasant had been the consequences.

He was fairly sure she didn’t remember much more than going in and meeting him, but he did. He remembered half his club eating out of her hand while the other half wanted to eat that hand. They hadn’t, of course. Wouldn’t do to anger the owner by harming his personal guest. He also remembered her laughing hysterically at the mentioning of cookies and cream, then proceeded to dry her eyes on his shirt. Then there was the heart crossing, hoping to die promise she would go back soon.

The golden silence was shattered by the knowledge he wasn’t alone. “What do you want, wimple?”

“Tasty bit, that one.”

Angelus turned to face the blonde. “I was a good boy. Kept to the rules.” So good in fact he hadn’t even tickled a toe.

Spike licked his fangs in a manner that stated he didn’t believe a single word his grandsire said. “And what are the rules?”

“No sex for forty days.”

“And the rest.”

A dark eyebrow rose in question. “Rest of what?”

“Rest of the rules. Duh. No sex or anything sexual. No wanking, kissing, touching, sly little gropes in a darkened corner.”

“They weren’t part of the original agreement.”

“Change the rules, but not the goal. Keep em guessing. I learned that from you. Still think you can’t do it. Not with that piece of fluff hanging off your arm.”

Angelus remained unimpressed. “So you pay attention to the joys of life. Whaddya want? A gold star?” He didn’t wait for a reply, merely walked past Spike as though he was nothing. “And she wasn’t hanging off my arm.” Clinging on to save falling in those killer heels maybe, but not hanging off it.

A chortle sounded out. “Come off it, mate. The whole place was yapping about your bit. Most fun they’ve had all year, it was. Watching you play the gent. Amusing to say the least.”

“Amusing maybe, but I still kept to the rules. Didn’t even undress her.” Sure, he’d had a jolly good look at the sleeping beauty, but he hadn’t touched. That was a feat in itself.

He looked so smug, so pleased with his bit self it sickened Spike. “You wanted to.”

“No, I actually didn’t.”

The younger vampire stared at his grandsire like he’d gone insane. “Are you telling me your little winky didn’t get his hat on at all?”

Honestly? Yes, but where Spike was concerned? “Nope.” That one word was a prelude to Angelus leaving the blonde standing there staring after him with a mildly worried look on his face.

*~*~*~*~*

Cordelia had been having such a good day. First, she’d managed to successfully hide her hangover from her parents, then the shoes she ordered from Milan had arrived, and top it off, her father announced plans to build a Jacuzzi in the pool house. She just hoped he wasn’t going to do the actual building. Her mother would have a fit considering he’d been building a bookcase for the last two years.

The good day gone bad happened when she began to think about last night and how Angelus came across as a good humoured, well mannered, all American guy. He bought her drinks without expectations, made room for her at his table, had escorted her to the bathroom, and arranged a car for her. No matter what she did or which hot male model she forced into her brain, she couldn’t shake Angelus out.

Her day got worse approximately two or three hours after sunset and a knocking was heard coming from her balcony window. She knew who it was, so she made no effort to answer. She lay on her bed, MP3 player plugged in, and Bowie on loud enough to make her ears bleed.

“Not gonna get it. Not gonna get it.” She chanted, then forced her lips into a defiant smile invented by four year old brats.

The knocking became louder and louder, wordlessly stating if she continued to ignore it, the windows would be shattered.

“Alright! Alright!” MP3 player pulled out, feet shoved off the bed and stomped her way to the balcony, where a harsh yank had the curtain wide open and she greeted the little pissant with an annoyed glare. “What?”

Spike gestured for her to open the door, which she was so not doing. “Forget it, Blondie. I did what you wanted, it didn’t work. I’m home free.”

He didn’t agree. Instead of arguing through the barricade, he leaned against the window and lips pulled out a cigarette, his thumb continued to play with the silver petrol lighter long after he’d lit up.

Cordelia’s eyes followed the lid as it went back and forth, open and closed. She swallowed, brain seeing her home going up in flames and living in the dank squalors of Sunnydale motel until a new home could be found. She did what he had no need to ask and opened the door.

“We got a problem.”

“You mean you have a problem. There is no we in this.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, love. If you can’t get a vampire hard, then you got something to worry about.”

She blinked and wondered if she’d heard correctly. “I beg your pardon?” Why in the hell would she want to get a vampire hard? More to the point, why would she want to get Angelus hard? She didn’t want to be around him and she certainly didn’t want him.

Spike exhaled. “You heard me. If he don’t want to get your kit off, then it’s as much your problem as mine. First things first, we need to work on that attitude of yours.”

What the hell was wrong with her attitude? Cordelia raised an eyebrow, she’d had enough.. “So says the homicidal maniac darkening my door. Look, if you aren’t happy with me, then find somebody else. Burn down my house, kill my family and me if you want. I refuse to be your dog’s body.”

“Tell you what,” he stated in a calm manner. “How’s about I go to Angelus, tell him you were there last night doing recon for the slayer? Won’t be me to worry about. It’ll be him. You think you’ve seen him at his best?” He shook his head. “He won’t kill you, pet. He’ll destroy you piece by piece, take everything off you, make you beg for the mercy he don’t have. He’ll leave you alive just so he can watch you suffer.”

She knew what Angelus would do, had saw him do it to Buffy, and she’d been on the first wave of the clean up crew after what he’d done to Miss. Calendar. “I’m not whore Spike. Not yours and certainly not his. You want to win your bet? Do it yourself.”

“Didn’t say you were a whore, love. The likes of you couldn’t be a whore if you tried.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” She could be a whore if she wanted, and a damn good one at that. Cordelia stopped those thoughts from escalating.

“Takes a Porsche and a platinum credit card to get into your good graces let alone your knickers. Too good for mere men.” His head went to one side, face expressing a million different musings. A vampire is what she needed, and one with balls enough to keep her in place. Something to think on, that was.

“Whatever,” she muttered and decided not waste any more time listening to his senseless babbling. She went to close the door, but the lighter clicking yet again sounded out. She growled.

“Easy tiger,” Spike smirked. “Now, here’s the plan. We’re gonna get them highlights out…”

Not her hair again. “No, we’re really not. I like them. They break up the monotone.”

“I put them in, I can take em out.”

Yeah well, he’d have to catch her first. “That you did and my saying no almost got my throat ripped out. If and when I decide to get rid of them, it’ll be done by a professional hairdresser.”

“You saying I didn’t do a good job? I’ll have you know my Dru never complains.”

That should tell him something. Cordelia didn’t say that of course, Spike had been in Sunnydale long enough for even her to know how protective he was over the brunette. “Great. Go play with her.”

And hand his woman to his grandsire on a platter? No thanks. “You’ve got your thoughts on my Dru, I’m sure. What are they?” The genuine curiosity in his voice was extremely disconcerting.

“Scarily crazy,” she said without a moment’s hesitation.

“You know her maker. Angel. The same vampire who wined and dined your pal. Drove her mad, he did. She has the sight, she knew what he was going to do to her and her sisters. She went to a convent to seek salvation and all that, so he followed her. She went to the Father, telling him she was seeing the devil. Begged to be saved, she did. The Father told her she couldn’t be saved, that the evil she saw was her own reflection. Everyday he said that. Whispered it to her at night.”

Spike paused to let his words sink in, and then continued. “Worked her over good and proper. Poor chit didn’t know if she was coming or going. Now imagine what Angel will do to you, someone he knows. Far more fun to play with someone who trusted you, who had a bit of a crush on you. A word from me and down you go. You think on that pet, let me know what you decide.”

He turned and was seconds from leaving when he heard her voice, as tiny and soft as it was. “What do you want me to do?”

*~*~*~*~*

“Twice in two days,” Angelus grinned as he approached the cherry red Corvette, his own car parked a few feet away. “Must’ve done something good in a past life to deserve the pleasure.”

The hazard lights had been the first thing to attract his attention, then the make and model of the car. He figured a quick meal and a new car couldn’t be that bad a deal, and so had slowed down to offer his personal assistance. Unfortunately for him, the owner had turned out to be female and as laid down by Spike, nothing sexually pleasureable could happen.

Shame really. He was in the mood for a good fuck and feed. Oh well, there was always next time. It took a second for him to realise just which female owned the sporty number.

Cordelia glared at the vampire. “Good is debateable.” Since Spike had told her all about Dru’s turning, she hadn’t been able to think of Angelus in the same way. She’d known since last Halloween he was a vampire, but never really understood what that meant, even after all the times she’d baited a trap for others of his kind.

Angelus stopped and stared at her in way that had her checking for holes in her soul. “Ah,” he said with a forming smile. “Spike mentioned he bumped into you earlier. I gather he told you a little bedtime story. Need daddy to rock you to sleep tonight?”

She made a disgusted noise which simply amused him. “You’re gross. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to wait for someone with jumper cables.”

“What makes you think I don’t have jumper cables?”

“Your car has a break down, you’ll probably kill somebody and take theirs.”

He had the gall to look shocked. “And leave my baby alone? Any man worth his salt wouldn’t do a terrible thing like that. What else did Spike say?” He needed a good giggle to take away the urge to have her as a main course. It was all those dark waves floating around a creamy neck. Extremely edible, but she was the type of meal that had to be properly savoured, and that meant he’d lose in spectacular style.

Cordelia didn’t reply, she had no need as he chuckled and shook his head. “Lemme guess. I was going to do the same to you?”

“You know what they say about leopards and spots.”

Brown eyes twinkled with increasing amusement. “A good mind like yours would be a terrible thing to waste. Wimple’s favourite tale of woe is that. I’ve done other things too, you know. Enroled in the army, travelled the world a few times over, learned several languages, some demonic. More importantly, I can fix a car.”

Those confessions left her a little speechless for all of a split second. His achievements didn’t change who he was. “Yeah, you’re a real Superman.”

Women could be so infuriating at times. “Let’s take a look, shall we?” He was walking towards the hood of her car without waiting for her permission. It was popped, and what she saw was Angelus leaning away, swiping at a cloud of steam which threatened to burn his face off. She hoped it hurt some.

He peered round at her, an expression of hopelessness on his face. “I don’t think jumper cables will cut it.”

Cordelia figured she must be some sort of masochist as she just had to go see what Spike had done to her car. Not that she had a clue what she was looking for. She stood next to the vampire and sighed at the sight of steadily rising steam. “How come you know how to fix a car?”

Angelus shot her a sideways glance. “Knowing how to change a tyre can be a life saver.” There was another sideways glance, only this one spoke of common sense. “A young lady at the side of a quiet road begging for help is an easy target. You never know who might pull over.”

She pinned him with a pointed look. “Tell me about it.” Then they were seconds into sharing a smile when she realised just who she was sharing a smile with. Bonding with him was definitely not on her list of things to do before she died.

He rolled his eyes. “Human women can be so stubborn. You want help or do you want to stand around here, in the cold dark night, waiting for a white knight and fairy tale romance?”

She had little choice as the case maybe and so gave an answer she’d never give otherwise. Besides, it wasn’t like he could anything to her, right? It’d mean losing to Spike and she kind of guessed losing wasn’t in his reportoire. “Fine. Go ahead and help me.”

Angelus did nothing but smile in her direction. “No manners, Cordelia?”

Her teeth cracked under the pressure of increasing tension. “Please will you help me?” God, how much did that hurt?

“Happy too. You have a phone?”

Uh? “Yeah, why?”

“Can I borrow it? It’s not long distance, so don’t worry.” He caught the phone she threw at him, opened it and dialled. “It’s me. Corvette, red, license plate reads Queen C, belongs to a friend of mine… The works… A mile or so out of town, close to the junction. Great thanks… I owe you one.”

The phone wasn’t handed to her straight away. Angelus turned it this way and that as he admired it. “Must remember to get one of these.”

Cordelia blinked as she took it back. “That’s your help?”

“Calling for a tow truck is generally common sense.”

“Can’t have you straining something by fixing it yourself.”

“Your engine overheated and blew a gasket.”

She was going to kill Spike, and she meant really kill him. He was only supposed to leave her lights on long enough to eat the battery. She was so close to telling Angelus all about the plan to make him fail, but then remembered what she’d been told. If he knew she was in on it, then the chances of him getting angry at her were pretty high. Spike was so getting the bill for this.

“Right,” Cordelia had the decency to look a little sorry. “I knew that.”

Angelus nodded, and began the short walk to his car. “Sure you did. Coming?”

“Excuse me?”

“Your car is dead, either you’re staying here or you need a ride. Unless you plan on walking home.”

Didn’t take long for her choose. Stay where anyone or anything could get her, walk over a mile home, or hitch a ride with a known homicidal maniac who had a taste for blondes. “Ride please.”

She truly hated vampires and having one be her chauffer was beyond despicable, especially since he already had the passenger door open for her. Click clacking heels accompanied her to his car, where she stood blinking down at the leather interior. It was just like his bedroom in the way it was spotlessly clean and free of junk. All in all, the vehicle was well maintained, almost obsessively so.

“Nice,” Cordelia muttered, jumping when a cool hand touched her upper arm.

Angelus smiled oh so innocently. “Just helping you in, nothing more.”

The will to thank him didn’t really exist, but she said it anyway. “Thanks.”

She entered the car in the proper way. Bend at the waist, sit gently, and then slide both legs in. She could be so damn prissy when she wanted to be. “Comfortable?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Seconds later he was sat to her right, gunning the engine, and offering the use of the stereo. Frankly, music and a rescue would be too much right about now. “I prefer silence when driving,” Cordelia replied, careful to keep her eyes well and truly off of him.

“You’re not driving. I am.”

“I still don’t like music in a car.”

“I do.”

“It’s your car, you can do whatever you want in it.”

“I’m trying to be a gentleman by considering your feelings.” Angelus stated with a perfectly straight face.

“Shame you didn’t consider my feelings when you tried to kill me.” The words were out of her mouth before she had a chance to stop them. A sharp breath stung her lungs as Cordelia prepared to feel whatever punishment he saw fit to give. All she got was a long, drawn out sigh.

“Are you still going on about that? A guy does something wrong and he’s doomed for all eternity.”

“Something wrong? You tried to kill me!” She half screeched, turning to him with a wide eyed stare of disbelief. “How can you be so… Heh about it.”

A large grin covered his face. “How can I be so heh? Tell me what heh means and I’ll do my best to answer.”

“You know,” her hands wafted around, almost hitting him in the process. “It’s like you split milk or let the cows out.”

Angelus laughed more than he’d laughed in a very long time. How many years had it been since he’d engaged in verbal foreplay? Too many it seemed, as riling her up was simply irristable. “Take it as a compliment.”

Her mouth fell open adorably. “A compliment? Actually, don’t answer that. Don’t think I wanna know, if it’s all the same to you.” Only him could say attempted murder was a compliment and laugh about it. “You bruised my ribs.”

“I keep forgetting how fragile you humans are. Guess I need to be more careful in future.”

“Try being nicer.”

“Should’ve come to me. I would have kissed them better.”

Okay, that was it. “Stop the car.” She wanted out and she wanted out right that very second.

“We’re nowhere near yet.”

“I don’t care if we’re on the moon. Stop the car. I’ll walk home.”

“Don’t be stupid, Cordelia…”

“Stupid? I’m stupid? Excuse me if I’m finding being in a car with the great and powerful Angelus just a little bit intimidating. So yeah, maybe I am stupid for getting in here in the first place.” By the time her little rant was done, the car was still moving, and he was quiet but still wore a smile.

“I frighten you?” He asked, his tone just as amused.

“Hell yes you frighten me.”

Brown eyes darted to meet hazel ones momentarily. “I haven’t been around to frighten you.”

It was amazing how one comment could make a woman feel like a total imbecile. “You don’t need to be around me. You’re the reason I keep my windows locked and don’t swim at night.”

Angelus was yet again laughing. “Been thinking about me a lot, huh? Now that is a compliment.” She was priceless, absolutely priceless.

He was impossible. Before Cordelia had time to retort, he spoke. “Tell you what, princess. You can open your windows and go swimming on a night, I won’t harm one hair on your head. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Forgive me if I don’t believe you. You might get the urge to stop by one night and pay me another compliment.”

The vampire scratched his head, then rubbed his palm down his face in an attempt to stop grinning. The damn thing was making his cheeks ache. “How about a better deal? I accompany you one night, that way you can keep an eye on me. Make sure I don’t do anything complimentary, to you or anyone else.”

“You frighten me when you’re not there. I’m not about to willingly be around you, go swimming with you, just to make sure you don’t get Valentine’s on me. That makes no sense whatsoever.”

“Makes perfect sense to me. You get to know me, maybe you’ll realise I’m not so bad. Well,” there was that grin again. “Unless you piss me off. You have any plans to piss me off?”

Deceit had never been one of her favourite hobbies and as such, had never practiced it. She turned away to hide her frown as she lied through her teeth. “No,” she said, her voice strangely distant to her ears. “No I don’t.”

“Then you’re free to have open windows and go swimming.”

What could she say? “Thanks.”


CHAPTER 4
Day 38…
She wondered if she was seeing correctly, so she closed her eyes for five, and then opened them to stare some more. Her beautiful beautiful Corvette was sitting in her drive looking for all the world like the Cindy Crawford of the car world. Admittedly, the red colour had been a little on the dull and dusty side, but it was a deep ruby shade which shone like a diamond in the rough.

A closer inspection showed new tyres, windshield wipers, spotless windows, and an interior so sweet, she wanted to cry. Gone were the standard seats and covers, gone was her pink haired troll, gone were the chip crumbs and chocolate wrappers and empty soda cans. The only thing still there was the stereo and it seemed to be relatively untouched.

Cordelia could hardly breathe as she tried to figure out how much a do-over like this was going to cost her. Sure she could afford it, but lately she’d been trying to curb her spending. She wasn’t going to live with her parents forever and she couldn’t sponge off of them forever, either. She’d been good about it, too, even going so far as to check out the job section in the local paper.

A shaky hand opened the door and she got in, ran her hand over the polished dash and then opened the glove compartment. “Hello Mr. Bill,” she murmured at the sight of a crisp cream envelope with her name neatly written on it. It wasn’t what she thought at all.

Cordelia,

The penmanship was excellent, lines were straight and not over flowing, and the paper was not cream but not white either. Apart from that, it was the wax seal on the envelope which drew her attention. She traced the outline softly so there was no transferance, and her head shaking at the feel of an embellished A. Where did he get this stuff?

I took the liberty of personally delivering your car. I hope it’s to your satisfaction. No thanks necessary.

A.

If he thought she was going to accept all this done to her car and not pay him back, he was sadly mistaken. She didn’t want to owe anybody anything, much less him. It wasn’t just that he’d done this, it was the fact Spike was going to find out one way or another, and that was the last thing she wanted to happen. Well, apart from getting caught in a vampire-on-vampire war.

The note was folded back along the creases and she wanted so very much to crumple it up so it became unrecognisable, and it was annoying she couldn’t. Cordelia rubbed her face, her sigh escaped through the fingers still holding on to the envelope. She supposed she had a visit to make.

*~*~*~*~*

Angelus had been enjoying himself immensely. Watching Spike play tea parties with Dru was undoubtedly the most entertaining of his hobbies. Unfortunately a vampire in his position had places to go and things to do. Namely getting out the way while those two went at it like bunnies.

He was sure Spike was purposely having hourly sex sessions just to rub his nose in it. He didn’t know what was worse. Bumping into Mz. Chase or not being able to do a damn thing about it. Couldn’t seduce, bite, touch… Nothing, not even one measly freaking kiss. How in the hell had it gotten to this point?

That thing which came before a fall. What was it again? Ah, that was it. Pride, and pride made him refuse to lose. Besides it was only forty days and since two days already passed, with no withdrawal, he had thirty eight left to go. Not a problem, really. Not when Sunnydale seemed to be filled with less than stimulating action these days.

If it hadn’t been for that Chase girl showing up at the oddest of moments, he felt pretty confident he was going to win hands down. He may even go another forty days, just to prove a point.

It was that exact thought which had him reaching for his jacket and car keys. A good drive was precisely what he needed. If he couldn’t sate one male appetite, he’d sate another.

Angelus didn’t see Cordelia until he heard her yelping at his feet, and he looked down to find her square on her ass.

“Do you ever watch where you’re going?” Damn but gravel could be painful when stuck to your skin. She rubbed her palms free of small, sharp stones and hissed when they scraped her flesh a bit more. “I got your message.”

He was about to reply when a groan sounded out from somewhere behind him. He watched pretty eyes widen and glance around him before darting up to look back at him. His silence was all she needed.

“Don’t tell me,” Cordelia shuddered. “Do not wanna know. I came to say thanks for returning my car…”

Angelus shut the door just as another groan, this time female, cut in. “And you decided to ignore what I said.” Why should he be surprised? She was a woman and a human one at that. A pulse obviously came complete with selective ignorance.

“I want to know what I owe you.”

“Nothing.”

“Seriously Angel, how much?”

His lips twitched. “Seriously Cordelia, nothing.”

“A respray, new tyres and trims, seat covers etc cost nothing?” Oh God, what if he’d eaten the mechanic?

Her rising panic must have showed as his shoulders started shaking with laughter. “She lives to tell the tale and no, not a penny. You asked for help and I gave it.”

“I didn’t ask for all that.”

“I know. Here.” Angelus held out his hand and she took it without hesitation, then pulled her off the ground as though she was lighter than a feather.

“Then why?” Cordelia brushed loose gravel off the back of her legs, craning her neck to see the damage and grimacing at the sight of angry red scratches. They were so gonna hurt later. “Are they off?”

He had no chance to reply before she spun round to show him her thighs. A flash of tanned skin was just what he needed right now. Not. How was he supposed to stand there, staring at a set of neck crushing thighs and nothing? Easy answer, really. He couldn’t.

After all, helping a damsel in distress couldn’t be classed as sexually touching her, could it? Of course not. What kind of vampire would he be if he just let her suffer?

“Come here…” His smirk went unseen as he bent down to brush off imaginary stones, taking the time to inhale her perfume and steal a quick feel of the back of her knee. Oh, that was nice. Nice and soft and delightfully fragrant. Shame her dress was long enough to cover her panties.

“All done,” Angelus said as he stood straight, careful to wipe the smile off his face before she saw it. “Those are some nasty scrapes. You should see to them.”

She was going to do just that. “Well, I’ve said my thanks. So, thanks again. I’m leaving now.”

His head slowly went to one side so he could get a better view of the firm ass hidden by a simple green shift dress, but when she looked back at him, his head was where it should be and so were his eyes. She frowned, almost certain he’d been staring at her.

Cordelia put it down to paranoia. Never mind. “Bye,” she muttered, all to eager to get out of the increasingly awkward situation.

“G’bye.”

*~*~*~*~*

It was pretty late by the time she got back from the Bronze and she was just about to crawl under beautifully clean sheets when her phone rang. Normally she didn’t answer anonymous calls, but instinct told her she had to.

“Yabba dabba doo?” Hopefully, the person on the other end of the line would get the fact she couldn’t be bothered to yammer on at quarter to twelve at night.

“Word on the street is my old sire has a new lady love. Care to tell me how that came about?”

Cordelia didn’t know what was more shocking. Spike knowing her phone number, the fact he was calling her, or the question he asked. “How what came about?”

There was a sound of a hand hitting a forehead. “The fact he fixed up that sweet little number you got without an eyelash bat.”

Duh. “You made it break down where he accidentally found me, remember?” Ask a stupid question, she thought with a roll of her eyes.

Golden silence came from the other end of the phone and she hoped one of two things had happened. Either his phone died or he’d banged his head hard enough against a brick and decapitated himself. Unfortunately luck was not on her side.

“Oh yeah. Forgot about that. Blame Dru, pet. She’s the one who screwed my brains out earlier.”

Cordelia held her phone at arm’s length and stared at it in utter disgust. She shook her head, replacing the silver gadget to her ear when Spike resumed his conversation.

“That still don’t explain how your eau de insolence got on him. Explain.”

“I fell and he helped me up. It was all perfectly innocent.”

“No such thing as innocent when it comes to your Angel.”

“He’s not my Angel and yes, it was innocent. He brushed some stones off me, which is only right since he knocked me down. Again.”

Spike chuckled and she knew he had a smirk plastered across his face. “Trust me on this, love. There’s bugger all innocent when it comes to him and touching. Bet the sly git got happy pants off that. Now, onto the next port of call.”

She heard him light up and just had to ask. “How many do you smoke?”

He snorted in response. The amount of times he’d heard that one. “Enough to keep a smile on my face. Notice your windows are wide open.”

Cordelia was pleased her curtains were closed so he couldn’t see her surprise. “He told you about that?” What else had Angelus told him?

“Told me about what?”

She hated foot in mouth disease. “Nothing. You were commenting on my windows?”

This time it was Spike staring at the phone and it was in confusion. “Private conversations, eh? Going better than I planned. You should keep your windows locked, pet. Anything could get in.”

“Your concern is touching.” She mocked a sigh and patted her heart.

“Just looking out for my interests is all.”

“Yeah, sure you are. Is there a point to this conversation? If so, get to it. I’m tired and I get cranky when I’m tired.”

“You haven’t seen cranky till you’ve seen Angelus on a morning. Bear with a sore head, he is.”

“I can imagine,” and with any luck, she wouldn’t witness it.

“He ate a sales rep the other week. Don’t blame him. Pesky little buggers they are.”

Cordelia had to smile at that. Sure killing was bad, but there were always exceptions to the rule. “I hear ya,” she muttered and then forced her smile off her face, pretending she did not think affectionately on the evil ways of Angelus. Her head seriously needed looking at.

“Right, now for business. Tell uncle Spike all about the car ride home.”

“I can’t.”

“That good it left you speechless, eh?”

“No, there’s nothing to tell.” There was silence and she didn’t like it. “Hello?”

“Sorry about that, love. Took me by surprise is all. He kept his trap shut for once?”

“We talked, but nothing to leave a room stunned.”

“So there is something to tell. Go on then, I’m not a man to keep waiting.”

“You’re not a man.”

“Very true. Now tell me.”

God, he was like a dog with a bone. No in fact, he was worse than a dog with a bone. “Fine, fine,” she grunted out, feeling her tiredness waving bye bye. “He basically said I should learn how to fix a car so I don’t make myself an easy target. Satisfied?”

“That it?”

The incredulity in his voice almost made her snort out a laugh or two. “Yes. What did you think we were gonna talk about? Human interest?” It was, after all, Angelus speciality. Great. Now she was quoting. Not that there was anything wrong with quoting or anything wrong with admitting to having a good time.

She hated both vampires. Damn them.

“No discussing mutual mates or times gone by?”

“No.” They had talked about last year, but no way in hell was Cordelia going to tell Spike. It felt private or something, and if that wasn’t scary, she didn’t know what was.

“Huh.”

“I don’t know what you expected to happen from a twenty minute car ride. Is there anything else, because I’d really like too go to bed…”

“The plan for tomorrow is for you to…”

“No can do,” she said. “I have a game tomorrow night. It’s the playoffs and we’ve been working on a new routine since forever. I’m needed.”

“A bunch of nubile young fillies bouncing around in tiny tee’s and belts for skirts? Yum. My old sire will have a right hard time with that one. You leave the details to me. Sweet dreams and all that.”

Spike hung up before Cordelia had a chance to reply. She closed the phone with a shake of her head, stilk unable to believe he’d just called her in the middle of the night. She rubbed her eyes and sighed. She was too busy worrying about what tomorrow would bring to bother with being tired. Sweet dreams indeed.

Her gaze landed on the drawer housing her favourite swimsuit. “Why not?” She asked the empty room and moved toward it.

*~*~*~*~*

The water was delightfully hot and bubbly, making her tingle from head to toe. She relaxed against the edge of the tub, allowing her hair to dangle over the side, stretching out her legs and feet, fully enjoying the sheer sweetness of luxurious relaxation. Hell, even the low hum of the tub was soothing.

She’d missed this. Coming out here at one am when the rest of the human world slept had always been a hobby for her. It gave her the chance to gather her thoughts without interruptions or someone wanting something or a ride someplace. It was quiet, and quiet was the most biggest understatement of the century. The only thing missing was a glass of that wine.

Cordelia let her eyes close.

“Shouldn’t sleep in water. You could drown.”

She sat up with a shriek, her hands naturally going to cover her breasts as though she was naked. Sitting opposite her was Angelus and he had a seriously irritating smirk on his face. “What the hell are you doing here?” She hissed, sinking under the water a bit so he saw as little of her as possible.

“Bet you didn’t think I’d hold up my end of the bargain. Drink?” He held out a beautifully crafted crystal glass filled with white wine. He chuckled when she made no move to take it. “It’s not poisoned if that’s what you’re thinking. I brought it special.”

Hazel irises followed thick fingers as they tapped on his own glass. “I like your suit,” he said then grimaced. “How complimentary of me. Oops. We’ll just call it a slip of the tongue.” As if to prove a point, Angelus licked his lips slowly. “Take the drink, Cordelia. These things get heavy after a while.”

She did as requested and his smirk widened. “Now say thank you, Angel.”

How was it she felt like a parrot? “Thank you, Angel.” Cordelia felt the intensity as he watched her take a long, long sip and swallowed. Just like the first time, the wine was deliciously refreshing so she took another. “Nice.”

“Isn’t it?”

She said nothing for a while, merely stared at the vampire as he made himself quite at home in her hot tub. She could see his arms and shoulders, while most of his chest and the rest of his body was distorted by the bubbles, making the part of him to be dry was his hair. It didn’t appear to be in the usual spiked style, unusual for him. His skin was pale, but not as pale as she thought he’d be. His nails were clean and neat, no ground in dirt or anything like that, and there were no callouses. Well, none that she could see anyway.

Obviously, he took care of himself, which was odd for a man. She respected him for it.

The silence dragged on until she couldn’t stand it no more. “How did you know I was going to be out here?”

Angelus grinned. “What can I say? I got lucky.”

“Are you wearing trunks?”

“That’s a question for you. I mean it is your fantasy.”

*~*~*~*~*

To say Cordelia was on edge was an understatement. Having to constantly look over one’s shoulder every ten seconds kind of did that to a person. Especially when that person was checking every dark corner, nook and cranny for vampires.

Looking for vampires was a job belonging to a slayer, not a cheerleader. God, this whole situation sucked ass. She felt like a damn puppet with an ever growing nose, wooden limbs, and strings. Worse still had been that stupid, pathetic fantasy of Angelus popping up in her tub from out of nowhere. Sleeplessness had followed that small trip into insanity.

She hadn’t liked the fantasy and she certainly hadn’t liked not being able to forget her woes by sinking deep into the strong arms of Mr. Reeves. Why couldn’t she have a hero, huh? Didn’t she deserve one after all she was putting up with? She really wished someone would open their eyes and see what was going on, see how she was being controlled by a poor imitation of Billy Idol, but no.

She wasn’t Buffy or Willow or Xander, and so any problems she may have just had to be superficial. A part of her wanted too go to Angelus and tell him everything, then run like the wind before he broke her neck, but that wouldn’t work. Knowing her luck, Spike would catch her first and then she’d be in it. Either that or he’d get to Angelus first and spin it so she was the bad guy.

Anyway she looked at her mess, there was only one way out of it, and that was to go along with it and hope for the best. At least graduation was in a few weeks and she’d be able to get out of Dodge before things got bloody.

Cordelia figured she could get at least a few miles out of town before either one caught her. The funny thing was the more she went over the mess in her head, the less dangerous it sounded, but the reality of it was so very different, and yes she was terrified.

“Cordy?”

“Jesus, Harmony!” She jumped six feet when a hand clamped round her arm.

“Sorry,” the blonde looked at Cordelia like she’d gone insane, which she probably had. “The game’s about to start.”

Game? Oh yeah, the football game. Excellent. “I’ve been doing this longer than you,” she snapped. “I think I know how to keep time.” Harmony hadn’t deserved that and she felt terrible for it, but it wasn’t like she could tear into the cause of her current anger issues.

“Sorreee. Geez Louise, what’s eating you?”

Nothing hopefully. Cordelia took a moment and a good, long deep breath and let it out slowly. “Nothing. Sorry I snapped. It’s one of those days.”

The blonde nodded in sympathetic understanding. “I got some Midol in my locker if you want it?”

Oh damn it all to hell. She forgot she was due, but unfortunately she couldn’t take Midol. It gave her headaches that made PMS a walk in the park. “No, but thanks. I’ll just walk it off.” Please don’t let Spike have anything stupid for her to do tonight, she really wouldn’t be up to it. The dormitory effect never ceased to amaze her.

“No problem.” Harmony gave the brunette a pat on the shoulder. “Ready?”

She wasn’t, but what the hell. Activities like split kicks and pyramid apexes while wanting to curl up and die came with the territory of being captain. It was like the Tampon commercials. They always showed leggy models roller skating around, but never a woman heaving grocery bags into car while looking like a train wreck. Well, it was sort of like that anyway.

The show had to go on as they said. Stupid phrase, really. Whoever invented it needed shooting. Maybe she could get Angel to find them and bite them dead.

“Cheer up Cor,” Harmony giggled at the joke. “Maybe you’ll get a date with Danny after the game. It’s been months since you got dumped by Xander, so I’m sure everyone’s forgotten about it by now.”

Cordelia’s glare went unnoticed. “Thanks for the pep talk, Harm.”

“Anytime. Let’s go.”

So the game was played and won by the skin of the Razorbacks teeth, and much to her surprise, there was no sign of either Angelus or Spike, something she was severely grateful for. Just as Harmony predicted, the tiredness and cramps increased to the point where Cordelia had grown pale and was seen walking to her car with one hand holding her poorly tummy.

She hurried up when she felt someone behind her and almost had her keys in the lock when a sickeningly familiar voice spoke her name. She turned to face Spike.

“Quite a show you fillies put on.”

He’d been there and she hadn’t been able to see him, and hell if that wasn’t a creepy thought. “There’s a word for cretins like you.”

He just grinned. “Here I was thinking all you did was shake a pom pom or two. Backflips and all sorts of spins and kicks. Impressive.”

“Glad you enjoyed it.”

“That I did, pet. So did Angelus.”

Cordelia blinked, involuntarily looking around for Angelus. “How come I didn’t see you?” The fact they’d both been there really did a number on her mental health.

A cloud of grey smoke escaped when he chuckled. “A magician never tells his secrets. This is a perfect opportunity for you to show off your talents.”

Show off her what? She really didn’t think so and went to say just that.

“Well? What you waiting for?”

“For you to take a hike.”

For the second time in three hours, Cordelia jumped out of her skin when Angelus voice interrupted them. She watched him approach the blonde and expected to see vampire-on-vampire action. The disappointment was almost too much.

Twinkling brown eyes landed her and she was a little wigged out to see a smile in them. He’d probably been up to no good in an alley or something. Hopefully, he’d eaten Principal Snyder or Mrs. Gomer the math teacher.

“How are you, Cordelia?”

“Fine,” she murmured, her voice as distant as the hot tub fantasy, which wasn’t that distant at all. “I’m fine. On my way home.” Take a hint, she wanted to say, but chickened out.

“You look pale. Hard day at the office, dear?” Pearly white fangs appeared for a moment. Angelus brushed past Spike and she nigh on smirked when his shoulder accidentally-on-purpose hit the blonde. “Allow me.”

Cordelia froze when his fingers touched hers as he took her car keys and she heard him inhale. Was he sniffing her? He must’ve seen the look on her face as his grin came close to splitting his face.

“I was born in the age where men took care of their women.” The sound of central locking kicked in and the locks on both doors clicked up. “Get in the other side. I’ll take you home.”

She didn’t know what was more embarrassing. Having Spike witness this, Angelus sniffing her, or the offer to take her home. “No thanks. I’m okay.”

He wasn’t going to take no for an answer. “Driving while tired can be dangerous, especially when you’re not a hundred percent.”

“I’m not tired and I am a hundred percent.” Cordelia didn’t dare look at Spike for fear of what she’d see. There was something so damned humiliating about being watched when arguing with Angelus over driving her own car.

He simply arched an brow, his eyes dropping down to where she was rubbing her stomach. “Just get in the car.”

“No.”

“I can either put you in myself or Wimple here can do it. Your call.” When he got nothing, he actually had the nerve to try getting a hold of her.

“No touchy with the hands.” Cordelia was barely able to duck away and only just managed to escape being thrown over a shoulder. “Alright, fine. You can drive. What is it with you and the macho caveman heroitude? God.”

Angelus merely grinned some more. “What is it with you and sixties feminism stubbornity?”

There was an amused snort from Spike, who appeared to have been forgotten about. “She’s human, mate. Can’t expect much else.”

He was ignored in favour of a stare out between the elder vampire and cheerleader. “Get in the car before you catch your death.”

“That’s women for you, Spike.” Spike spoke in a terrible American accent.

“If it’ll shut you up.” Cordelia all but stomped round the car, her irritation disipating with every step. She really couldn’t be bothered to be annoyed. She just wanted to go home, take a warm bath, and go straight to bed.

“Preaching to the choir on that one,” the blonde’s voice returned to it’s normal cockney.

“Actually, I wanna get away from his conversations with the voices in his head. It might be contagious.”

She paused long enough to shoot an involuntary, humoured smile across the car. “God forbid,” then she stopped. A couple of meetings arranged by a psychopath did not best friends make.

Angelus seemed to have suddenly developed a talent for ESP, or a microchip that allowed him to tap into her brain waves. “I get that. Shall we?”

It was strange how two very different people could have a main goal in common that they’d do anything to achieve and in this case that goal was leaving Spike to the crows.

The vampire in question had no choice but to stand and watch as his grandsire shut the door, wiggled his fingers, and drove off. His eyes never left the empty space for a while and his thoughts began to tick over, his ears still replaying the odd rendezvous between his grandsire and the chit. Obviously Angelus knew something he didn’t and that didn’t sit well with him.

Spike toyed with his lighter for a few seconds, breathing in the lingering scent of the cheerleader when it struck him what the poof meant about her not being a hundred percent. How could he have missed it?

His chuckle started off small and low, then escalated into out and out laughter. The pretty bit was on her rag. Talk about perfect timing. No way in hell was his grandsire going to pass this opportunity to get a piece of this. All he had to do was wait for the inevitable and he’d win hands down.

*~*~*~*~*

Angelus flipped the silver packet up and down a few times as he chose between knocking and calling her. He shouldn’t be on her balcony and doing this as it was technically against the stupid rules. Nothing sexually pleasurable in anyway whatsoever, but he couldn’t let the lady suffer like that, even if it was temptation he didn’t need. Besides, he had to get his kicks somehow.

He mocked Spike in a high pitched tone. “No wanking, touching, kissing, sly gropes in the corner.” His voice returned to normal. “What a prick.” A couple of minutes passed by and he made the decision to knock. There was no answer and so he knocked again, but a tad louder.

He heard ruffling sheets followed by shuffling feet and finally a pale face appeared around the balcony curtains. The door was heavier than normal for her to open and it took two attempts for her to be successful. It wasn’t until she stood in front of him that he really noticed just how ill she must be, and damn if he didn’t feel like a jackass for waking her up at the ass crack of dawn.

She had bags under her eyes, her hair was messy and overly shiny, a fact he put down to the hormones.

Angelus leaned his shoulder against the wall and smirked. “It’s times like this I’m glad to be a man.” Probably not the best thing he could say under the circumstances and definitely not the greatest apology for waking her, but as he said. He was a man.

“What do you want?” Cordelia asked, her voice soft and whispery with sleep.

“Back in the day, women used pebbles to count down to their visits. Since there was no pills, they would lace their tea with all sorts of herbs to help.”

“Excuse me?” He’d got her out of bed to talk about visits and pebbles and tea and herbs?

“You’re menstruating…” He paused to take in a breath. “Or close to it.”

That effectively knocked her for six and all she could do was stare at him in total shock.

“You shouldn’t use tampons all the time, and especially at night. Think about it. A month’s worth of blood is being kept inside your body. The way I see things is it can only mean trouble.”

Cordelia blinked, unsure if this was another, freakier fantasy or if she was simply dreaming. So she did the only thing she could and continued to stare.

“You keep water by your bed?” Angelus had to look into her room for the answer as she seemed to have a cat on her tongue. He saw a glass and nodded in approval. “These are for you. Go get a drink and come back.”

Numb feet took her to the drink, a numb hand picked it up, and those numb feet took her back where numb hands reached for the offered silver packet and blinking eyes stared at it like it was a little green man from Mars.

“Sit,” he was careful not to snag her dressing gown as he ushered her into a chair, and then patted her head. “There we go.”

She could think of one thing to say. “Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Talk in the third person.”

“I honestly have no idea. Something I’ve always done. Does it bother you?”

“Would it matter if it did?”

Angelus paused. “I guess not. You know what they say about old habits dying hard. Probably harder after 245 years.”

“You’re 245?” Cordelia couldn’t quite come to terms with the fact the guy opposite her was two and a half centuries old, yet barely looked thirty. Amazing.

“Give or take a year.” His lips quirked up at the corners. “To think your grandparents weren’t a twinkle when I was a kid.”

She’d rather not think on that. “Yeah, weird.” A yawn broke out and brought tears to her already tired eyes.

“Take a pill, Cordelia. You’ll thank me for it.” Foggy irises glanced down to the glass and silver packet, then returned to witness him sigh in exasperation. “Women,” he grunted with a shake of his head. Too damn stubborn for their own good.

Angelus took the packet, popped one of the blisters, but paused before he gave her the small white pill. “You don’t have plans tomorrow morning, right?”

“No. Does it contain Hyocine? If so, I can’t take it.” Not that she was going to take it anyway. That pill thing could be anything.

His smirk gave her reason enough to suspect poison. “It’s not your everyday painkiller. Here.” The tablet looked no bigger than a snowflake in his hand.

Cordelia stared at it like it was death personified. She hated, really hated taking pills. Just the sight of them seemed to make her throat close up and made her gag. “I don’t think I can.” She could already feel it dissolving on her tongue. It was like a smaller version of hell.

The vampire watched her expression go from one of distrust to mild disgust to abject terror. He said it once and he’d say it again. “Women.” It amazed him how something so small could weild so much power. Even he hadn’t managed to keep that mouth shut through fear. Drastic actions were called for, it seemed.

Angelus closed his hand and put it out of sight long enough to push the tablet to the tips of his fingers, then leaned over to the brunette, making a point to stare down where her gown was wrapped tight across full breasts. “That rack is something to write home about.”

The second he heard her prepare to let him have it was the second he literally threw the pill into her mouth. He wasted no time in snatching the glass from her and nigh on pouring it down her throat. “Bullseye. Swallow, there’s a good girl.”

Something she had no choice in. Cordelia covered her mouth when she felt her esophagus rebel, her eyes glazed as she gagged and turned away to cough up excess water. A large palm gently patting her back had her glaring at the moron next to her.

The slap was less than a bee sting to him and a whole lot nicer. Blood, a sweet looking woman dressed for bed, and a slap. He seriously didn’t need this kind of foreplay. “That wasn’t so bad now, was it?”

“Are you nuts? I could have choked!” She yelled, using the ties on her gown to wipe her eyes dry. “Asshole.”

Angelus was exceptionally proud of himself, and it showed in the smug grin plastered over his face. “I’m disappointed. I never expected you to be so wimpy.”

“That right there is the difference,” Cordelia half snarled. “Angel wouldn’t have done that.”

Blah blah blah. “If I’d had my soul, I would have coddled you. Let you have a little cry on my shoulder and gave you all the sympathy a guy can give. You really want a guy who’s more of a girl than you?”

“What girl doesn’t want a sensitive guy?”

“Sensitivity and being a big fairy are two very different things. I did it for your own good.”

She made a noise of disgust and looked away.

He took the time to study her while she was silent, taking in the soft detail of her features. Full, nicely shaped lips, high cheeks, long lashes and hair that fainty smelled of tea tree. Her legs were in pretty good shape, which wasn’t surprising considering her earlier display of fitness. She could probably crush a man’s neck with her thighs and he definitely didn’t need to be thinking along those lines. Well, not for a couple of weeks at least.

As he continued to stare, he watched the pale colour slowly come back and watched the pinched expression of pain drift into one of relief. She suited relief much better than she did a permanent frown.

Cordelia pursed her lips in and out, keeping her face away in determination not to give him the satisfaction of knowing his little present worked. Her fingernails tap-tapped against the chair arm, her foot began to bounce and toes wiggled. All to his extreme amusement.

“No, I don’t think you would.” Angelus stated with an easy smile.

“Think I would what?”

“Want a lady for a boyfriend. You’re a man’s girl.”

“I…” A man’s girl? “Say what?”

“Come on, Cordelia. Don’t play coy with me. You know exactly what I mean.”

“I like a man who knows how to treat a woman. So what?” She ended on a huff.

“So nothing. That’s a good thing. Except for the finding of such a man. From what I hear, they’re pretty elusive creatures. Look at your track record.” Angelus gave a grin which spelled trouble. “Xander Harris, who went behind your back with Willow. That had to be kicker. Being the one left behind in the shadow of another.”

“Thanks for reminding me.” She said, her tone sarcastic and acidic. “You’re a real good friend.”

“All I’m saying is maybe a man isn’t for you. Not enough and far too normal. A man would bore you death in a week.”

“And you wouldn’t?” Cordelia’s face cracked into a sly smirk.

Angelus had to admit it. “I walked into that one, and no. I wouldn’t bore you in a week.”

“No, it’d just take two.”

He waited for her to realise the pill had worked like a charm, and when she fell silent with the hand on her tummy relaxing, she turned to him with arched eyebrows and forming smile. “Impressive.”

“I try. Go to bed and get some rest.” Angelus rose from his own chair. “Don’t forget what I said about Tampons.”

“I’m not even gonna ask how or why you know these things.” Most guys she knew wouldn’t dream of discussing periods for fear they’d die of embarrassment or something. Then again, as she knew, he was no ordinary guy.

“It’s natural and makes you smell nice, all womanly so to speak.” As if to prove his words true, he took a long, deep breath and exhaled with a sigh which spelled yummy. “Ripe for the plucking.”

It was difficult to pretend he hadn’t done that, but she managed. Barely. “Goodnight, Angel.” Cordelia went to go back into her room, but paused. “Thanks for the pills. Can you get me more next month?”

There was no answer and when she glanced over her shoulder to see why, he wasn’t there. The only sign he’d been there were the pills in her hand and the glass on the table. She shook her head.

“Weird.”


CHAPTER 5
Day 37…

For such a sleepless night, Spike had never had so much fun. He’d listened and sniggered as his grandsire restlessly pacing in his room, only stopping when exhaustion kicked in. The blonde rubbed his hands together in glee. He could see it now.

Angelus on his knees, tearfully begging for the bet to be forgotten about. Unfortunately, he had no mercy beccause, frankly, his grandsire brought it on himself.

He had to admit the chit had been a good sport, doing what she was told without too much of an argument. Though he’d had to threaten her into it, he still knew not to underestimate her. He’d seen her dodge vampires and demons alike when she’d been the honey pot, and her vebal defence was like whiplash. It was obvious there was more to Cordelia Chase than meets the eye.

It could either be a help or hindrance and if he knew his grandsire, which he did, he had to go with the former. However good the last few meetings had gone, Spike knew he had pull something a bit special out of the bag, but what?

Cordelia had been the damsel twice now and if he played that trick again, Angelus would get a tad suspicious about the why he’d become a one vampire rescue squad. Then there’d been the little show of pantie flashing and high kicks and the perfect timing of her rag. It’d definitely have to be spectacular if he wanted to top that.

A good smoke was what he needed. Make that a good smoke and a spot of tea.

He sat down, ignoring Dru, and helped himself to the tea she made for her dolls. God, they were rotten little things. Beady, glassy eyes always following his every move and chubby, porcelain little hands always reaching up. He shuddered, sure they were out to get him.

Ahh, the wonders of Marlboro. Did the lungs a world of good, they did. Spike tapped a black fingernail off the fancy table top and stared out into space, his thoughts centred around Angelus and Cordelia. He’d never had this much trouble when it came to cunning plans and wily schemes.

Since it was Saturday, his grandsire would be at the club and suffering blood from a whore, something he knew was detested. The great Angelus drinking from a whore? Unthinkable, but damn funny to watch.

Hm. Instead of throwing the bint into his grandsire’s path, he oughta throw his grandsire into her path. He managed it last night so it couldn’t be hard to do it again. Of course, it’d take some quick verbal footwork having to come up with the reason why Angelus should be in a specific place, at a specific time.

Cordelia seemed to be one for dancing. He’d seen her tear up the Bronze dancefloor once and he had to admit she had some yummy moves. A natural talent considering that body of hers. Angelus enjoyed her bouncing and flouncing last night, he’d probably enjoy it a whole lot more if she was decked out in something sweeter than a tight tee and mini skirt.

That was the plan sorted, now to figure out how to get his grandsire to skip the club and hit the dullest place in town.

Spike sat back in the horrid white chair and continued to be in deep thought. What could possibly tempt Angelus into going where the slayer hung out with her gal pals? This was a toughie. He supposed he could say Cordelia expressed an interest in Angelus whereabouts, that she offhandedly wondered if he was going to the Bronze.

Nah. It’d be much more fun if this happened at the club in full view of every Tom, Dick, and Drac in town. With the plan tweaked and the details forming, Spike got up and went about putting things into motion.

*~*~*~*~*

“Where did you get this?” Angelus asked, suspicious disbelief written across his face.

“Straight from the horse’s mouth.” Wasn’t like Spike was lying. When he filled the chit in on the night’s plans, she was more than happy to go along with it. Of course, that might have to do with the extra threats he bestowed on her.

“When did you see her to hear this?” He highly doubted she’d willingly want to be in his company.

“She popped by earlier when you were out. Mentioned being a welcome guest and all.” Again, it wasn’t an out and out lie. Cordelia had stopped by earlier, it just so happened earlier meant yesterday.

“She actually came?” The elder vampire laughed to himself. It seemed unrealistic, but he wouldn’t put it past her to show up when he was out.

Spike nodded and blew out a stream of smoke directly into his grandsire’s face. “Said something about treating you to a night on the tiles as thanks for being a knight with shiny fangs.” He made an effort to look as chary as possible. “You’re not getting some on the sly, are you? Can’t say as I blame you. She is a cutie.”

Angelus smirked. “If I was, you’d be the last person to know about it.” Spike would also be the last person to know how this fasting was beginning to get to him. Not a lot, but enough to make him ansty. He must’ve paced the length of North America last night. Her scent haunted him for hours after he’d left, and God, he wanted to test it out first hand, see if she was as tasty as she looked.

When Cordelia came to the window, he’d thought her pj’s were too short, but when she didn’t make an excuse for her poor nightwear, he gathered they were a type of thing she wore when she felt far from sexy. Her gown kept the pj top covered and he figured it was the same greyish purple colour as the bottoms. The male part of his mind naturally had no top under that gown, but hey.

Spike didn’t have to know that. Come to think of it, Spike didn’t have to know about the cold shower he had when he woke up this afternoon and nor did Spike have to know about the naughty, naughty thoughts he’d been having more of lately.

Thirty three days and he’d be able to do anything he wanted with that girl. If he played his game right, he’d have her signed and sealed and ready to be delivered by the end of this. Until then, he’d have to keep it in his pants and settle for being a boyfriend.

Huh. Boyfriend. Had quite a nice ring to it if he did say so himself. It’d been ages since he’d shown a woman a good time. Although it may take some convincing on his part, but that shouldn’t prove too much of a problem. He had plenty of tricks up his sleeve that would be handy to breaking her in.

Spike hated Angelus when he did this as there was no way to tell what his grandsire was thinking. A poker faced son of a bitch he was.

“Just so you know,” Angelus spoke with an easiness that didn’t sit well with Spike. “I haven’t done anything untoward with Cordelia or anyone else. In fact, celibacy isn’t all bad. It has it’s good points. Keeping ladies waiting keeps them keen. Makes them want it all the more.”

Not bloody likely, Spike thought and kept the smugness to himself.

Angelus cracked a few knuckles. “Guess I should return the favour.” It wouldn’t be polite to keep the lady waiting.

The blonde waited patiently for his grandsire to leave, giving enough time for Angelus to get at least halfway to Cordelia’s place before ringing her to give her the head’s up.

*~*~*~*~*

Cordelia was seething with rage, absolutely seething. Steam came out of her ears, her nostrils flared, and her teeth ground down so hard, she swore her jaw dislocated. She was shaking with it. God, she’d never been this angry in her life.

Spike, the stupid moronic vampire that he was, had given her ten freaking minutes notice that Angelus was on his way to pick her up. When she’d asked pick her for what, the reply had been to take her out. When she’d asked take her where, the reply had been to the club.

He had to be insaner than she’d originally figured. She couldn’t go into a vampire club, wouldn’t go into a vampire club, threats or no. If one vampire had known about her current status, then surely a whole bunch of them could, and she so didn’t want to be the talk of the place.

Besides, not five minutes ago she’d decided to pamper herself and had slapped on a very expensive, very blue face pack. Her skin was bluer than blue and it was all dry and wrinkly and not what any man should ever see. Which was why she was now in the bathroom, scrubbing her face furiously in the hope it would be gone by the time Angelus arrived.

Unfortunately, face packs didn’t have a time limit for nothing. The thing was practically impossible to remove and so she was trying the scraper from her hair removal cream packet.

“Oh man, oh man.” The words came out frantic and panicked. “This is so not happening. He can’t see me like this.” Didn’t matter if it was Angelus. She wouldn’t want anyone to see her looking like a frozen plum.

Cordelia rinsed once or thrice and intensely stared into the mirror. Most of it was off, so the towel would have to do the rest. She rubbed the rough flannel over and over her face, bringing a satisfying rosy hue to her slightly blue skin. Oh, thank God.

She nodded, somewhat pleased with what she saw staring back at her. She didn’t go back into her bedroom right away, instead she hid in the bathroom until the knocking on her balcony window got a tad impatient.

She hurried out, all the while recalling what Spike told her say word for word. The sight greeting had her bare feet screech to a halt.

The sunlight was gone, but there was enough light left for her to truly see him. His hair shone two shades lighter, his skin wasn’t as pale as she’d thought, and he looked damn good in dark brown leather and Cuban heeled boots. Then there were his eyes. On a night, they looked almost black, but now she saw shades of brown, hazel, and gold.

Then he smiled at her and she took a closer look. No, he wasn’t smiling. More like laughing. Why was he laughing at her? She’d washed her face free of blue gunk, so it couldn’t be that.

Paranoia had Cordelia hiding her face long enough to check her teeth for stray bits of food. Nope. Nothing there. Only one way to find out why his sides were practically splitting, and that was to ask. Something she figured would lead to utter humiliation.

Angelus rubbed a hand down his cheeks, smoothing his grinning lips into a straight, none amused line. “Hi,” he said. “You wanted me?”

“Huh?” She gave her head what she hoped was an inconspicuous shake. “Uh, yeah. I did. Want you that is. Not want, want, but want. I mean I wanted you to…” Talk about digging your own grave. All she needed were the deeds to a cute little plot in the black hills of Dakota and she’d be set.

The grin he tried to hide got wider and wider until she feared for his cheeks, but she gallantly continued. Damn Spike. She was so delivering that vampire to hell in a handbasket complete with an apple in his mouth. “You said that I was welcome and so I welcomed myself. And you said I was your guest so I thought I’d guest myself at the club.”

Off his look, “It’s that wine, ya know?” Trying to be cool when you’re making an ass of yourself was a whole lot harder than people thought. “Addictive.”

“You can thank Spike for that. He’s been working on it for just short of a century.”

“Spike made the wine?”

That amused Angelus more than he’d care to admit. “There’s more to us vampires than lowering the human population. We’re immortal, Cordelia. We have to make a living just like the rest of you lifers.”

“Lifers?”

“It’s what we call the ones with a heart beat and a pulse.”

“A heart beat and pulse?” The idiocy couldn’t be stopped, not when he was there looking all sunny and acting like Mr. Know It All. Why did she find that so attractive? Damn him.

Screw the bet. He had to touch her.

Angelus was prevented from reaching his target by a lack of invitation and the feel of that was a very poor substitute for what was inside her. He contented himself with drawing a heart around the exact spot where hers lay thumping. “A heart beat and pulse is what makes us remember what it was like to be human. That tub-thump, tub-thump, tub-thump? To think we once had that is fascinating.”

“How do you live without it?”

“How do you live with it?”

Cordelia felt herself grinning. “Touche.”

“So you wanted me?”

“I do.” She shook her head. “Did.” She shook her head again. “Does.” Damn it.

He couldn’t help himself. He just had to smile. “How about D, all of the above?”

“D will do. Anyway, I was wondering if it would be alright if I went to your club tonight.” Hell. She slipped up. She wasn’t supposed to know he owned it. Thankfully he didn’t appear to notice her slip of the tongue.

“I wouldn’t advise it. Not with you being the way you are.” He doubted even he could protect her when she was screaming eat me.

“Oh, okay.” Cordelia wondered if he was just saying that so he didn’t have to be around her. Uh? Why in the hell would she bothered about him not wanting to be around her? He was a vampire and not just any vampire. He was the same vampire who killed Jenny Calendar and nailed a puppy to Buffy’s porch.

“If being around me is so important to you, we could do something else. Watch a movie perhaps, or go out.”

Jenny Calendar, Jenny Calendar, Jenny Calendar. “You killed her.”

Angelus frowned in confusion. “Which one?” He’d killed a lot of hers over the years.

“Miss. Calendar. You killed her and she wasn’t just my favourite teacher, she was also a friend. Why did you do that? What did she ever do to you?”

“Apart from the attempt to return my soul? Nothing.”

“And the soul was a bad thing how? It would’ve made us safe from you.”

He laughed harder than he had in years. “There is that, I suppose. Lemme put it to you another way. With a soul, I couldn’t sleep with a woman. Emotionless sex yeah, but sleep and be with? Couldn’t have the pleasure of watching her sleep or wake up, couldn’t think anything about her except what she had under her skirt. It’s why I kept distant. Could you do that for eternity? Someone having you and you not having them?”

Have meaningless sex? “No,” Cordelia admitted grudgingly. “No I couldn’t.” Not that she’d had sex to make an informed decision, but never mind. He didn’t have to know that. “I don’t see why meaningless sex would bother you.” From what Spike said, it wasn’t bothering him.

“Because I’m a heartless, cruel, soulless demon? It doesn’t bother me at all, but there comes a time in a man’s life where he has to think about settling down, laying his roots so to speak. I couldn’t do that if I had a soul. The bliss would simply be too much.” The sarcasm came complete with a smirk she found exceptionally irritating.

“You don’t seem to be the settling type.”

“I can understand that since you’ve known me for all of two, maybe three years. I was with my sire for one hundred and fifty years, Cordelia. The only times I dabbled with other women was when she was there to enjoy the show.” Angelus smirk became one of total cheekiness. “Or if they had something I wanted.”

“You travelled,” she pointed out as she ignored the new piece of information. “You didn’t have a set home.”

“I do. It’s in Galway, Ireland. My home town. Travelling is well and good, but home is where the heart is.”

More new information to ignore. “You don’t sound Irish.” Okay, so maybe the ignoring thing wasn’t working quite so good.

He shrugged. “I lost it long ago. Still slip into it occasionally.”

Cordelia was so very tempted to ask him to say something, but didn’t. He seemed to read her mind. “Top of the morning to you, lassie!”

There was a pause as he waited for her response and it was one which made him laugh for the third time in less than fifteen minutes. “No offence Angel, but that was just weird.”

Angelus grinned and received one back. “Why don’t you finish making yourself all pretty for me while I think of a plan for our date.” When he grinned this time, she was treated to two rows of razor sharp shiny white fangs. “And if I were you, I’d wash your neck. It wouldn’t do much for your reputation to be seen with a white-blue neck.”

Oh hell no. She’d washed her face free of the gunk, but not her neck. She closed her eyes and wished for the Earth to open up and swallow her whole. The sound of him chuckling merrily accompanied her to the bathroom, where she slammed the door shut and sank against it.

Why her, Cordelia wanted to demand as her head banged off the door. How idiotic could one girl feel? And what was this date thingymajig? Didn’t Spike say Angelus couldn’t do anything involving sexual pleasure? She gasped in outrage.

Did that mean Angelus saw no sexual pleasure in dating her? He could damn well screw his date if that was the case. She was in half a mind to go out there and tell him that dating her was not only sexually pleasureable, but also lovely. She didn’t need him to tell her she was a lovely date, very charming and sophisticated and any man would be freaking lucky to snag a date with her.

She spun round, her hand ready to open the door when she stopped. She couldn’t very go out there and tell him what she thought as that’d mean confessing to something which would undoubtedly piss him off, and didn’t she say she had no plans to piss him off? She certainly had said that and she had no intention whatsoever of doing that very thing.

Then there was Spike to consider. As much as she wished she could defy him, she knew it’d only lead to tragic consequences, and though her parents weren’t perfect, she did love them and had no desire to see them dead or worse. God. It came to something when death wasn’t the worst thing to happen to someone.

Her thoughts instantly went to Angelus. He didn’t seem to mind being dead. If anything, he probably loved it. Cordelia’s face scrunched up with the realisation he suited death, which was strange cus hey. How could death look good on anyone? She genuinely couldn’t picture him as a human.

He said he was 245, and that meant he would have been alive in 1755 or there about. Did he have a girlfriend or was he engaged? Married even? What about his parents? What had they been like? She was dying to ask, but knew she never would.

Angel was never inclined for small talk and she figured Angelus was just the same. Then again, he had told her he was of Irish origin, so maybe he wouldn’t mind if she casually brought it up. Like earlier, there was only one way to find out and that was to ask.

Cordelia set about removing the rest of the face pack, got her outfit off the towel heater, and a soft moan escaped when her body absorbed the heat. There was nothing better than clean clothes right off the radiator. Ten minutes or so later and she found herself looking at Angelus, who’d made himself quite at home on her balcony.

His feet were propped up on the small table, his jacket draped over the back of the chair, and his hands cushioned his head. He appeared to be enjoying what remained of the daylight. Something which posed another question.

“Ask me.”

She jumped a little at the sound of his voice. “What?”

Angelus glanced around to shoot a smile in her direction. “I could hear the cogs ticking from here, Cordelia. Ask me. I won’t bite.”

“Except if I piss you off, right?” She felt her feet taking her out to join him and her butt sitting itself happily opposite him. “Okay. It’s still light. How are you…”

“Able to be here without firing up? That happens in direct sunlight. The sky maybe blue, but the sun has gone. It’s perfectly safe.” His smile turned sharp and edgy. “Worried about me, were you?”

“No,” Cordelia stated a bit to quickly. “Just curious. Do you miss it? The sunshine, I mean.”

Angelus head tilted to one side as he thought on that for a moment. “Sometimes,” he confessed. “But it can’t compare to moonlight. There’s more to see at night.”

“Pumpkin?”

She gasped at the sound of her father’s voice, her eyes going straight to the vampire. She never, ever wanted these two to meet under any circumstances. “Please, don’t do anything to him.” She whispered, her shaking hands gripped the table as she stood up to greet her dad. “Out here, daddy.”

Angelus lips cracked into an extremely large grin. She was so damn precious. He took in Cordelia’s father as he got up to greet him. It was plain to see where she got her looks. The man of the house had dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a shark like smile. He liked daddy instantly.

Her father looked the vampire over once or twice before turning suspicious eyes to his daughter. “You never said anything about company.”

Cordelia nervously laughed. “I didn’t know I was having company, either.”

“Shimmied up the trellis, did he?” Brown eyes went back to the vampire, who smiled oh so innocently. That thing had to go, as did her balcony. Come to thing of it, maybe he oughta put her under lock and key and be done with boys sniffing around his daughter.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us, pumpkin?” Her father asked, never once removing his eyes from an increasingly impressed Angelus. There weren’t many humans who could meet and hold his gaze.

She grit her teeth together. Was it too much to ask for him not to use that God awful pet name? “Daddy, this is Angel. Angel, this is my dad, Will.”

“Good evening, sir.” Cordelia nigh on had a heart attack when the vampire extended his right hand and the feeling grew when the shake was accepted.

“A hand shake says a lot about a man,” her father said as he kept shaking, squeezing his fingers a little harder to get the message across.

Angelus grinned at the man who obviously didn’t like men climbing up to his daughter’s bedroom. “I understand. Can’t be too careful, especially with strange men climbing the rose trellis to be in her company.”

Her father’s eyes narrowed. “Got kids, Angel?”

“None.” He knew what would be next. “Your daughter is very beautiful, sir, and I’m sure you’ve had to mention the shotgun once or twice.”

Cordelia’s face exploded into twenty shades of red. Could this get any worse? “You and mom ready to go?” The faster she got her father out of Angelus way, the better and less humiliated she would be.

“I think Elizabeth can wait a few more minutes.” This boy was lucky it was he who caught him on his little girl’s balcony and not her mother, who was fourth dan in verbal judo and was lethal with a slap. Elizabeth would simply crush his balls into the size of peas.

Angelus could hardly keep his amusement at bay at the next question to come his way. “You work, Angel?”

“I own a club on the outskirts of town. Asylum. It’s doing very well.”

Her father nodded. “Heard of it. My colleague’s daughters go there. Darlene and Stacey Fless, you know them?”

“I do, as a matter of fact.” The vampire paused long enough to shake his head. “Had to bar them for disobeying the rules.”

The boy had his own business and kept it clean. So far, so good. “What are your intentions toward my daughter?”

“Daddy!” Cordelia hissed, her cheeks now an unattractive shade of purple. What next? How big would the wedding be and where would they live? This was not her idea of fun.

“No, it’s alright.” Angelus assured her. “I find myself enjoying her company, sir. I’d like to see where it goes.”

Her father nodded again. That answer was far better than the one he got from her last boyfriend, the Harris kid, who squeaked out the fact he was in love with her and then went on to put his daughter in hospital after cheating with Ira Rosenburg’s kid. That boy was lucky he didn’t feel the business end of a personal lawsuit. Wouldn’t hurt to mention that to this one just in case he got any ideas.

“I own a law firm,” her father stated in a tone that had Cordelia throwing her hands in the air and turning away in exasperation. He pulled out a business card and gave it to his daughter’s boyfriend. “Take this.”

“You’ve been introduced,” she said. “Great, wonderful. Now if you don’t mind…” She began to usher her father away from the vampire at a speed which would have Alonso eating dust. “Have a good time in Paris, tell mom to spend lots, and don’t forget to bring me something nicer than last year. Bye.” Never had she been so glad her parents were on their way to a second honeymoon.

She was almost at her bedroom door when her father escaped her vice like hold and gave Angelus a look that clearly meant no funny stuff was to happen in his abscence. “I’m taking her mother away for a few weeks. I trust you’ll look after my daughter?” If not, Bessie could come out of her retirement display case for a round or two of target practice.

“You have my word,” and look after he certainly would. After all, it wasn’t right for a young woman to be alone in a town like Sunnydale. Anything could happen to her.

“And next time use the front door.” The warning was clear, concise, and made Angelus smile.

Cordelia felt like crying and almost did, but it was relief that kept the tears of humiliation at bay. Her father was now gone and she was left to do some serious damage control. She stood there, her hands on her bedroom door, and not daring to turn around to see the look which would surely be on the vampire’s face.

“He seems nice,” she heard the smirk accompanying the words. “If I had a baby girl, I wouldn’t be at all happy to find a strange man on her balcony. How rude of me to do that.”

“Can we not talk about this, please?” God, she hated begging, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

“Why not? I like the man.”

That got her facing Angelus and she did so with a scowl. “You like him. Fine. Lovely. That doesn’t mean we have to relive my torment. I’m asking you nicely, please can you let this go and pretend it never happened?”

He sighed long and hard, gracing her with a mock cringe. “I don’t know, Cordelia. See I told your dad I’d look after you and if I was to pretend that never happened, I’d be going back on my word. What would that say to him?”

“It’d say his daughter did not, under no circumstances, need to be looked after.”

“I think it’d tell your dad I have a big red dot on my forehead that screamed to be hit by a shotgun bullet.” He couldn’t remember ever getting interviewed by a lady’s father and it was simply too much to let go. Besides, one never knew when a good lawyer would come in handy. “I had an idea about our date.”

The swift change in subject threw her for a loop. “Date?”

“How’s about we sit here and do nothing? It is a nice night, it’d be a shame to waste it cooped up in a crowded theatre or watching a movie neither of us has any real interest in.” Angelus gave her a once over, just noticing the sweet little outfit she had on. Capri pants in the colour of navy blue and an old, stained paint shirt that did nothing to hide to curved figure underneath. Her feet were in slippers with leopards on the top.

He really should throw in the towel where the bet was concerned as the chances of him being around her lookinglike that and doing nothing about it were slim to none. Angelus knew then and there his interest had been truly captured. He hated her for looking so damn sweet.

He needed a distraction of some sort and the only thing he could think of was getting her away from her bedroom, and onto his turf. He’d feel more in control on his turf.

Cordelia glanced down at her clothes. No wonder he didn’t want to do anything. Who would want to do anything with a girl in a pizza stained shirt and four year old pants? “Sure,” she replied, her voice laced with involuntary disappointment. “Sure we can do nothing.”

Would she just stop that cutesy tone? “Or,” Angelus half purred as a large smile broke out on his face. “We could go for a drive in a really cool car.”

*~*~*~*~*

She didn’t know what she disbelieved more, the fact he’d done this or the fact she was sitting in the passenger seat of a jet black Ferrari F30. It had everything from a roaring engine and digital dash to miniscule trunk space, tinted windows and coffee holders. Christ almighty, she could feel the power vibrating on her ass and thighs, and the leather seat kinda stuck to her, but like she cared!

Who would care when blitzing around Sunnydale in a freaking Ferrari?

Cordelia managed to tear her gaze from the rapidly passing scenary to spare a look at Angelus, who was totally at home driving the super car. His eyes blazed with intensity as he stared out the windscreen and his hands kept a tight hold of the wheel. She had to smile.

If he couldn’t have sex, then he sure as hell could get off on a speedy toy. Men, she thought, they were all the same. Even though she really didn’t wanna know about the love life of her parents, she knew when her mom was out of action, her father made up for it by eating piles of steak. It was quite funny when she thought about it.

“Can I drive?”

The question threw him for a loop. “Pardon?” She did realise how powerful this car was, didn’t she?

She rolled her eyes, sure he clearly heard her. “Can I drive?”

Angelus coughed and shifted in the seat. Not only did he not want to reliquinsh the pleasure of being in control of the little stunner, but he really didn’t know how good a driver she was, and someone who wasn’t used to raw power behind the wheel could mean trouble. Very expensive trouble.

Her jaw dropped a tad as she stared at him. “I own a Corvette, remember? I can handle it. Come on Angel, please? I’ll go super slow and be extra careful.”

A Corvette had some decent torque, but it was a far cry from a Ferrari. “Going super slow can be just as dangerous as going super fast.”

“I’ll stick to the speed limit. Promise. Please Angel? Pleeeaaassseee?”

If there was one thing he hated more than a begging woman, it was a whiny, begging woman. He gamely tried to ignore the voice, but it was on the fourth please that he cracked. God, could she not use that pitch? “Alright!” Angelus half growled and eased up on the gas, expertly steering the car to the side of the road. “Just stop talking like that. You’ll burst the ear drums of bats.”

That pitch was her secret weapon. Cordelia shrieked and bounced up and down, her hands clapped once or twice in delight. “Thanks. You’re a doll. Ha!” She couldn’t believe she was about to drive a Ferrari. How cool was this? “I can’t wait for school on Monday,” she babbled happily. “Everyone is gonna be sooo jealous. Ooh! We have to go past Starbucks in town.”

He graced her with a sideways glance. “You’re such a show off, you know that?”

“Damn skippy. Now get out so I can get in.” Following her drill sergant like order, she giggled like a kid at Christmas. “Hurry! My hands are itching.”

“You can drive stick?” He had to be sure he wasn’t letting himself in for turning into an instructor.

“Duh,” Cordelia scoffed, now leaning over him to open his door for him. Her eagerness left her ignorant to the slow licking of his lips as her perfume played hell on his senses. She smelled so good. Fruit and blood. How sweet could a lady be? “Corvette, and sometimes daddy lets me drive his Mercedes convertible.”

Angelus picked up on the half truth immediately. “Only when he’s not there to say no, right?”

“Exactly. Come on, move!”

He glared down at the brunette crawling into his lap. “If it was anyone else ordering me around, I’d snap their neck.” Satisfaction appeared when she froze. Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last as his warning went in one ear and out the other.

“If I’m gonna die, then I’m dying happy. Move!”

He simply had to laugh. “A girl after my own heart.”

Cordelia jumped into his grave the second his right leg left the car. She set about adjusting the seat, the mirror, and making herself right at home. She took a moment to gather her thoughts before revving up, much to his annoyance.

An annoyance which was chased away by the overly large grin seemingly stuck to her face. “Ready?”

“How small are you?” Angelus grunted, using his feet to push the seat back. What was it about passenger seats that made every man miserable? Oh yeah, the woman driving. “Just drive, would you?”

“Okay!” She didn’t need telling twice and the car pretty much tore back down the road.

He gripped the door handle and swallowed a tiny piece of his stomach. “Why are we going this way?” Hadn’t they just come up this way?

“I want to get a better look at the boots in that shop we passed. I can do that now I’m on the right side.”

What? He giggled. “Boots?” She was in a Ferrari and she wanted to see boots?

“Yup,” Cordelia shot that grin his way. “You have your cars and I have Manolo’s. I swear I saw half off.”

What else could he do apart from let her get on with it?

Now that it was Angelus sitting back and doing the studying, he was able to relax a little. Well, except for the crazy ass, high speed corners she made. He had to admit she looked good behind the wheel of a Ferrari. She was certainly a girl after his own heart. Unless she was waving out the window, probably at someone she didn’t know.

“Check me out! I’m in a Ferrari!” She sang merrily with a rhythmic jiggle of her head. “This totally rocks.”

He didn’t get a chance to make a noise of any sort, not even an agreeing grunt. “Hey, how much money do you have on you?” The completely random question had his eyebrows rising.

“Sorry?”

“How much money do you have on you?” Did he use money, or did he kill the sales person and take what he wanted? “Can you get credit?” Credit would be better.

“Why?”

“I have an idea.” Cordelia turned off after she went past the boots. “Trust me. You’ll thank me for it later.”

Angelus had no choice but to go along with whatever was in her mind.

*~*~*~*~*

A short time later found him staring down in sheer fascination at the numerous gadgets on display. There were the standard black and silver, but also red ones, pink ones, and ones with flowers on the front. He leaned in to get a closer look, the smile on his showing just how interesting he was finding the phones. They came with everything apparently. Games, internet, and something called Bluetooth.

“What’s Bluetooth?” Angelus asked as he moved to the next case.

“You can send stuff like ringtones and pictures for free.” Cordelia replied with a grin and followed him. “What about this one?” She pointed to a black flip phone, but thought twice when she saw it was pretty much pants.

“Oh.” He honestly had no clue about any of this. He glanced at the one she mentioned and was inclined to agree with her shaking head. The one beside it looked better. It was a matt silver, sliding mechanism, and bigger buttons. “I like this one.”

Critical hazel eyes checked it out. “Um…” She looked at the specs. “No. Not enough memory and the brand sucks. We should stick to Samsung. They have the corner of the market at the moment.”

“Yeah?”

“I have a Samsung. Great sound quality, excellent signal and memory. Plus, it’s loud so you can hear it if you’re someplace noisy.”

“I’d hear it anyway.” Off her look, “Vampire.”

“Oh. Right.” She forgot about that aspect of his persona. “Over here are the contract phones. C’mon.”

Angelus allowed, yes allowed, himself to be dragged to where phones weren’t in glass cases. His eyes lit up when he found a nice little black one that had neither a slide or a flip. “I like this,” he said and picked it up, turning it this way and that to get a view from all angles.

“No,” Cordelia took it off him before he got attached. “The problem with these styles is you can accidentally knock the key lock off and call Alaska without knowing it. See that button thing in the middle?” He nodded. “It’s not a button, it’s the navigator. You’ve got large fingers so it’d annoy you in the long run.”

He grinned. “Been noticing my anatomy, have you?”

She shook her head in exasperation. “It’s hard not to notice them when you can’t keep them off me.” She paused. “That didn’t come out right.”

“On the contrary, Cordelia. It came out just fine.” That grin of his didn’t seem to be leaving any time soon. “This one? It flips, it’s a Samsung, and it says it has eighty thousand killabytes, whatever that means.”

“Lemme see.” She flipped it open and had a play around with it for a moment before putting it back down. “That’s a girl’s phone. It maybe blue, but it can tell when you’re gonna ovulate and tells you what fragrance suits your personality.”

The vampire raised his eyebrows. “Why don’t you get one?”

“Can you not mention that in public, please?”

“Why not? It isn’t like you’re the only woman who gets it. Nothing to be ashamed of.”

“My fertility cycle isn’t my idea of good gossip. We’ll not talk about that if it’s all the same.”

“Bad gossip for you, a delicacy for me, but it’ll be our little secret if it makes you happy.” Angelus whispered the last few words and made a show of zipping smirking lips.

“You’re an ass.” Cordelia didn’t get a chance to reply as she was moved onto to the next model.

“There’s this one,” the black model was held up. “Quite manly looking, dontcha think? Very me.”

She was so not going to boost his ego by answering that one. “No.”

His sigh was more of a growl as he nigh on slammed the phone back into the holder. “It slides, has good memory, and I’m assuming you can use it to make calls. So what’s wrong with it?”

“No Bluetooth and for that amount, you want Bluetooth.”

Angelus glanced down at the price. “No. For that price, I want a gold tooth.”

She couldn’t stop the grin if she tried. “Good point. Ooh, here’s one. Black, flip, and it’s got everything you need in a phone. Have a look.”

He took the shiny gadget out of her hand, turned it round, flipped it open and flipped it shut. “I like it. How does it look?” Angelus flipped it back open and struck a pose, then pretended to have a conversation much to her amusement. “I’d like to make an order for delivery, please. One honey with brown hair and hazel eyes, a portion of fries on the side and O-pos to drink.”

Cordelia took the phone off him before he got carried away. “Dork.”

“Excuse me, do you need any help?” Mr. Bryce approached the couple he’d been watching for a while.

Angelus bluntly replied, “No.”

She quickly amended that. “We’re looking to buy this one,” and handed the phone in question over to the sales man.

Bryce scrunched his face up. Despite the fact it was one of the best-sellers, he saw an opportunity to make a solid amount of commission if he played it right. “I wouldn’t reccomend it.”

“Why not?” The vampire asked with a frown. Cordelia said it was a pretty decent piece.

“We’ve had many complaints about it.” It was so far from the truth, it was ridiculous, but these two didn’t need to know that. “Very unreliable.”

Angelus glanced at the brunette and saw her eyes narrowing. “Isn’t this a Samsung?”

Bryce nodded. “It is and usually they’re top notch, but there’s always exceptions to the rule. This is it.”

“We’ll take our chances, thanks.” Cordelia went to take the phone back, but the man put it to one side. “Hey, I want that.”

She was ignored, something which simply pissed the vampire off. “This is the D900,” and held up a model that may have been God’s gift, but was ugly to look at. “Top of the range. It’s got everything from a 3 mega-pixel camera, Bluetooth version 2, GPRS, video phoning, and has an excellent memory.” That was if you bought a memory card to go with it.

Angelus snorted. “Can you make calls on it?”

Bryce flashed an arrogant, toothy smirk at him. “Of course.”

Cordelia really didn’t like the tone. “You’ve been very helpful, but we’ll stick with our first choice. Thanks all the same.”

“Or there’s this one,” Angelus found himself staring at a shiny silver gadget no bigger than his fingernail. “Again, it’s top end…”

“I left my microscope at home.” This Bryce person was seriously starting to grate. His teeth were overly white and shiny, his hair was greased to the eyeballs, and he was frankly far too smarmy for his own good.

The man chuckled and put the phone back. “I can see you like a handful. I’m not one for fragile pieces either.” His eyes made the grave mistake of straying to Cordelia and his lips made a graver mistake of smirking. He definitely wouldn’t mind tapping that ass or getting a good handful. “How’s about this one? Sony Ericsson. Very popular with our male clientele.”

Angelus knew exactly what Bryce was thinking and it really didn’t go a long way in getting his good opinion. “Apologise to her.”

Cordelia’s face now sported a little embarrassed smile. “I’m sure it was a misunderstanding…”

He didn’t agree with that. “There’s no misunderstanding. He knows exactly what he said.” A set of flashing orbs never left the sales man. “Don’t you?”

“Ignore him, Angel. We’ll go to a different store.”

The vampire’s gaze landed on her. “You’re letting him talk to you like that?” She didn’t let him talk to her like that and it frankly irritated him she made allowances for an ugly suit with a pretty smile.

“I’m used to those comments. Been putting up with them since puberty.” Her voice went to a high pitched mimic, “Cordy’s got boobies, Cordy’s got boobies. It’s not a big deal…”

“Yeah, it is a big deal. I can rip his head off.” And he could, too.

“Oh God! Can you just not do this, please?” At least not in front of her. Visions of bloody hair and clothes raced through her mind as she scoured her brain for something to distract him before he literally ripped the guy’s head off.

“Do what? Stand up for you?” Angelus once more looked at the assistant. “I said apologise to her.”

Bryce sighed. Some people just didn’t have a sense of humour. “I’m sorry if you took my comment as more than was intended.”

It wasn’t quite what the vampire wanted. He wanted a nice, genuine apology, not one that sounded like it’d been squeezed out of a Barbie doll. Angelus feigned a sympathetic grimace “I’m not feeling the sincerity. Apologise again, and this time, make it nice.”

“Leave it.” She tried unsuccessfully to defuse the escalating situation by tugging on the vampire’s shirt sleeve. “I’m used to comments like that. Really Angel, he’s not worth the trouble. It’ll be more of an insult if we go someplace else. He won’t get the commission he desperately wants, his average will go down, we’ll complain and get a mark on his name or possibly fired. See? Much more fun.”

“My idea of fun involves me crushing…”

Oh hell of hells. She was really starting to panic now. Cordelia tugged harder on Angelus sleeve, but to no avail. She could see the store turning into a blood bath. “Red doesn’t become me,” she said with a plastic smile, hoping she’d get through to the vampire before he got them locked up for first degree homicide.

Angelus shrugged her off and got in Bryce’s face, letting the man know just how unhappy he was. “I said apologise.”

“Is there a problem?” Mrs. Clark, the manager, saw the beginnings of what would be a losing battle for Bryce and intervened.

“Yeah,” the vampire spoke up. Cordelia wanted fun? Then fun she’d get. “This dickwad made a comment directed at my wife’s chest.”

The word wife floored the cheerleader so much, she was rendered speechless. What in the hell did Angelus think he was playing at?

Mrs. Clark turned to the sales man. “Is this true?”

Bryce shifted uncomfortably. “I showed them the Samsung E500 and stated the customer liked a handful after he said it was too small.”

Angelus chuckled at the pathetic attempt he made to look innocent. “You missed the part where you looked at her.”

The manager blinked at Bryce, who defended himself. “I may have glanced at her.”

Mrs. Clark sighed, resigned to yet again cleaning up one of her employee’s mess. “I’ll deal with you later, Bryce,” she stated simply and smiled to the couple. “If you’re still interested in purchasing a phone…”

“Yes we are.” Cordelia poked her tongue out at the ex sales man, linked her arm through the vampire’s, and followed the nice woman who was so going to give them a great deal. “You’re still gonna hurt him, aren’t you?” She whispered when the manager was sorting out the paper work.

“Oh yes.”


CHAPTER 6
Day 36…

It was amazing how pretty Sunnydale looked from the top of a hill. The twinkling lights and stars, trees looking almost black, and the grass was a little bit wet. If it wasn’t for the sound of eating, slurping, and wrapper rustling, it’d be nice and peaceful.

After yesterday’s adventure to the phone store, she hadn’t been surprised to find Angelus on her doorstep two hours ago, his hand holding up a set of keys and his mouth making a deal. She clued him in on the wonders of modern technology and he’d buy her whatever her little heart desired, which is why she was sat on the hood of his car, food and phone in hand, and he was next to her watching intently.

“Now press send, which is this button right here.” Cordelia instructed around a mouthful of cheeseburger.

Angelus did as told and pressed the send button, then waited for a few seconds until her phone signalled the arrival of his message. “Cool.”

“Isn’t it?” She asked with a grin, and took a sip of Coke to wash down her bite. “So what did ya send me?”

“Read and see.”

Okay. She picked up her phone, pressed the button to view, and laughed at the word Hi. “Back atcha.”

He grinned. “We’ve covered the basics. Calling, texting, Bluetooth, how to set my ring tone. I think that’s everything.”

“It’ll get you through for now. Don’t wanna overload your brain by delving into voice mail and net access. Bite?”

Angelus leaned away from the vile thing before it went up his nose. “I’m not one for fast food.”

“Unless they’re running for their lives?”

“Exactly.”

Cordelia’s smile was fully returned with an added flash of fang. “Now gimme. I’ll send you some stuff. A friend of mine makes their own tones so we don’t have to subscribe to companies that charge $3 a week for total crap.”

He handed her the phone and moved to lean against the wooden railing, crossing his legs at the ankles. She was perched on the hood of the Plymouth, her legs crossed and shoes off. He watched her fiddle with his new toy, pausing occasionally to take a sip and bite.

The skirt she wore ended at her knees, long enough to keep things to the imagination but short enough to let a man know what he was missing. Her shoes were heeled and studded with fake jewels while an ankle bracelet brought a shiny, eye catching twinkle to her skin.

She hadn’t bothered with her hair, choosing instead to let the waves ride loose, and it was only then he noticed just how long her hair really was. The chestnut shade looked black all bar the odd streak of honey, which was steadily growing on him. She didn’t have any perfume on and so he was able to fully smell her, and God, it was sweet.

“Pick a name,” she said, knocking him out of his intense study.

One came directly to mind. “Angel.” It may have been a tad more sentimental than he was used to, but women were suckers for that kinda stuff. Happy pictures of puppies and kittens, firemen holding said puppies and kittens.

Cordelia shook her head. “Can’t you be a bit more original?”

A wolfish smirk curled his lips up at the corners. “Eval Kneval?”

She rolled her eyes in response. “How about Sammy? Samsung? Geddit?” Lord, she killed herself sometimes.

He looked positively insulted. His phone would be called Sammy when Satan bought ice skates. “Sammy is a girl’s name.”

“And Angel isn’t?” He returned her sneer. “Where’s the excitement you’re infamous for, huh? Where’s the attention snaring, eye catching, nightmare giving ideas?”

“Impiety,” Cordelia suggested, shoving that home truth to the far reaches of her brain. She totally didn’t want or need to deal with that right now. “Impiety would be a good name for you and you get a cute nickname, too. What more could a man want?”

He was so not impressed. “Don’t even think it, Cordelia.” Her mouth opened, ready to let it fly. “I mean it.”

She closed her mouth, looking away to hide her mischievous smirk.

“Don’t you dare. Say that and I swear on all that’s holy, I’ll bite you.”

“Alright,” Cordelia bit her lower lip in an effort not to cackle in his face. “I promise I won’t call you imp.”

Angelus paused for a moment before pinning her with a look that wasn’t at all nice. “You’re sick.”

“You’re such a goofball,” she rolled her eyes and flicked a piece of bun at him, sniggering when it bounced off his ear. She didn’t get a response. “You shouldn’t feel ashamed for liking it. Imp is a cute nickname. Very you. So you in fact, I may put that under your number.”

“I don’t like it, it’s not cute, and it certainly isn’t me.” The vampire graced her with another glare. “And I will suck you dry if you call me that again.”

She sighed and shook her head. “If it makes you feel better, we’ll stick with Angel.” Of course he didn’t have to know she was gonna have Imp as his caller I.D.

Angelus arched an eyebrow. “Why does that sound like an insult?”

“It’s not so much an insult as it is boring. I mean, your name? I thought you were more adventurous and exciting than that.”

Angelus wondered where she got her ideas from. “So,” he said as he leaned against the wooden railing and crossed his legs at the ankles. “Exciting, fearsome, infamous, large and manly hands. You really do think about me a lot, dontcha?”

Apart from every thirty seconds of every day? “Not specifically, no.” God, the lie had to be loud and clear, didn’t it? With any luck, he’d let it go.

He chuckled. “Of course you don’t.”

Cordelia sighed. “You’ve made a pretty big impression in the years you’ve been here, so yeah I think about you.” She may have confessed to that, but no way in hell was she gonna confess to what her thoughts revolved around. Especially not when that damned fantasy wouldn’t leave her alone.

“Like what?”

She shrugged. “Some good, some bad.”

“Guess that’s to be expected considering what you’ve been taught about me.”

“Not only taught,” she reminded him in a quiet voice. “You’ve proven yourself to be a hands on psychopath.”

Angelus had to give her that point. “Never order anyone to something you’re not prepared to do yourself. Yeah, I can be a bastard when I wanna be. Comes with the vampiric territory. I’ve been pretty sweet to you, haven’t I?”

She took another bite of her burger, but the taste seemed strange now. “Yes,” she replied, “Yes you have, and it’s weird. Not bad weird, just confusing weird, Like I don’t know how long your boy scout behaviour will last before you turn on me.”

“What makes you so sure I will turn on you?” He shot her a sly smirk. “Then again, there’s nothing to assure you otherwise, except for the giving of my word.” It was pleasing to see her start to fiddle with the burger wrapper as she realised she was out in the middle of nowhere, with a vampire who had the keys to her only way of escape.

He chuckled again. “Relax, Cordelia. You’re in good hands.”

“Would you?”

“Turn on you? Don’t know, but arentcha excited to find out?” He was.

She rolled her eyes at his overly giddy tone. He could be such a kid. “Yeah, real excited.”

Angelus neither asked or said anything more in favour of standing there, quietly watching as she finished her food. He’d never saw any real fascination in humans eating, but most humans didn’t tend to eat in pattern. Two bites were taken and followed with a drink which lasted exactly five seconds. Five more seconds would pass and she’d repeat until it was all gone. It was incredibly amusing and oddly attractive.

It also made him hungry. “We should get you home.”

Cordelia frowned. “But it’s only… Wow, it’s almost midnight. I’m so glad my folks are gone else a grounding would come my way.” She hadn’t realised it was so late.

“Get in the car, Cordelia, and be quiet.”

For reasons unknown to her, she did as told and they spent the entire journey in an odd sort of companionable silence. Every so often, she’d glance across to see him tensing, until finally he pulled up in her drive.

“Okay,” she said with a sigh. “What’s eating you?”

There was a pause. “What would you do if I did turn on you?”

Cordelia pursed her lips as she thought about that. “Pray you have a change of heart? Really, I don’t know Angel. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to, um, hurt me. Why haven’t you?”

Angelus smiled, but said nothing. Good question. “Goodnight and sweet dreams. I’ll stop by later. You know, just to make sure you haven’t burnt the place down.” He got out of the car to open her door and walk her up to the house.

“Door to door service,” she commented with a little laugh. “Quaint.”

“I try.”

She stood there, thinking if he’d been any other guy this would be the time where she stated how good a time she had and waited for a kiss. As it happened, he wasn’t any other guy and she wasn’t waiting for a waiting for a kiss or two.

Angelus fought the chuckle threatening to erupt and cleared his throat, thoroughly enjoying her discomfort at the situation. “You should go inside before you catch your death.” Or before death caught her. He took it upon himself to fish for her keys and opened the door for her, giving her an encouraging little push. “Go.”

The word “Wait,” was out of her mouth before she could stop it.

He stopped and glanced over his shoulder questioningly.

“You can have a coffee if you want.” Her parents weren’t home, therefore no one she had to fear for except herself and she really didn’t think there was cause for that.

The vampire turned and walked back the way he came, never halting until he towered over her. He leaned down so his lips hovered dangerously close to hers, so close he felt the yelp of surprise more than he heard it. He watched her eyelids flutter half shut and her mouth part ever so slightly, and it was all he could do to keep it in his pants.

“Tea?” Cordelia whispered. “Earl Grey? Darjeeling even?” Was he ever gonna end the torment and kiss her?

He was seconds off doing what she begged when the first throb of arousal burst in his cock and he hissed out the pleasured pain. Damn it. Damn her. Damn fucking stupid bet. “Hungry. Need to feed.”

“Hungry?” Her nose touched his chin, hair tickled the lower part of his cheek, and he was inching forward for more. Just a little bit closer, a little higher, and her lips would be on his. The intensity, the midnight chill, his presence… All had her nipples hardening and a soft moan escaping. Please, for the love of God, would he just freaking kiss her already?

“Ravenous.”

Angelus leaned his hands on the barrier and bent down so his fangs brushed her throat, the hunger pushing him to the point where all it’d take was the closing of his jaw and she’d be all his. He needed blood and she had plenty of the stuff, surely it couldn’t be held against him if he took just one little sip, but would that be enough? He knew it wouldn’t.

He had to leave before he fed from her, had to leave before he did something stupid like fuck her right there in the front lawn.

“Angel.” Cordelia knew it was wrong to push higher so those fangs pricked her skin, but she couldn’t help it. They tickled and felt nice scraping against that sensitive little spot just above her jugular.

It wasn’t until warm little hands gripped his shirt that he realised just how close he’d come to breaking the rules. Anger brought on by growing hunger had him spitting fire at the cock tease. “Are you nuts?” He snarled, shoving himself away from her. “Don’t you know anything?”

“What?” The crash to Earth was dizzying and even shaking her head didn’t clear the fog.

When Angelus looked at her, his face showed nothing but sheer fury. “You really are as stupid as you look.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I mean really.” He sneered in an ugly way. “What kind of idiot offers their throat to a vampire?”

She was confused. “I didn’t…” Oh wait, yes she did. “I’m sorry.” Hadn’t he been into it as much as her? Obviously not if his attitude was anything to go by.

“What were you trying to do, huh? See how far you could push me before I snapped?” Angelus made a noise and slapped his forehead. “And look who I’m asking. The head cheerleader. You’re so fond of nicknames. Why dontcha go find out how you got yours.”

Cordelia frowned, the comment stinging more than it should. “Why are you being like this?”

“Being like a vampire?” He laughed a laugh that did little to ease her discomfort. “You didn’t seem to have much of a problem with it a minute ago. In fact, it got you all hot and bothered under that pretty skirt of yours. There were you were, saying my name all whispery and sweet, hoping I’d give it to you.”

She stood there and let him go at her all the while feeling whatever she felt for him disappear in an instant.

“Jealous Buffy got there before you? After all, you were more than ready to open those legs. Just think if it had been you. I wonder about my soul. Probably still have it. Let’s talk Buffy. I mean wow. She was a real pro. Good enough to screw the soul right outta me.”

“Now you on the other hand,” this time when Angelus towered over her, it wasn’t to indulge in a little romance, it was to stare down at her through flashing golden eyes. “You couldn’t even keep a guy interested long enough for to him want…”

The slap shouldn’t have been a surprise considering his words and actions, but it did, and it surprised him enough into shutting up. Cordelia did it again when he opened his mouth. “Stay away from me,” was all she said before going into the safety of her house and softly closing the door behind her, leaving him unable to do anything but listen to the sound of a single sniffle before it all went quiet. She hadn’t even bothered to switch on the hallway light.

“Damn.” He kicked at the loose gravel and swore when it bounced off his car bumper. “Damn.”

Angelus ran both hands through his hair, pulling on the spiked strands when the frustration got too much to handle. He doubted she’d listen to him anymore tonight, but he had to try. He barely resisted the urge to use his stupid head to knock on the door. “Cordelia, open up. I just wanna talk to you.”

He got nothing. “I know you’re there.”

Not even a curtain twitch. “I’m not leaving until you talk to me.”

He got a response this time, only not a one he wanted. It was the faint sound of feet walking slowly up the stairs and when he heard it, he knew he wasn’t going to get anywhere with her tonight. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t the only stubborn one.

It didn’t take long for him to be under her balcony, and it took less time for him to be outside her bedroom window. He was about to knock again, but a better idea came to mind. Angelus took out his phone and called her.

The mobile phone you are calling maybe switched off. Please try later.

He clicked end, then tried again and got the same message. “Damn.” Looked like it was back to manual labour. “Cordelia, I know you can hear me. I was out of line, but so were you. You offered yourself to me on a silver platter for God’s sake. Was I supposed to feed off you and sign myself up for a dusting?”

Angelus paused as his brain ticked over. “Unless that’s what you want. My untimely death on your conscience. I suppose you can’t be blamed. I have been a little naughty.” He sighed when he got less than nothing. “You’re pissed. I understand. I’m gonna go cosy up at home, give you time to cool off.”

He drew the shape of her bed on the window exactly where it would be inside and then rubbed his fingerprints away. “Goodnight, Cordelia.”

*~*~*~*~*

Sat on her bed with eyes full of unshed tears, she listened to every word he spoke and ignored them all. Cordelia had believed when he said he wouldn’t hurt her. She would not make that mistake again. The thought that made her laugh.

Angelus was right about her being an idiot. Yeah well, no more. He could kiss her ass for all she cared. Spike, too. Her parents were gone, therefore Spike had no-one or nothing to hold over her head and if her own life became the next target, then she’d simply pack up and jet off to take her father up on the offer to join them. All in all, she was home free.

A quick swipe of fingers under eyes was all that was needed to dry her eyes and she got off her bed, fully intending on peeking out the window just to make sure he got the message to go away. Thankfully there was no sign of the vampire on her balcony. Good. Great, in fact. It meant she could finally get some decent peace and quiet without worrying over late night visitors and unwanted phone calls.

Cordelia went into the bathroom to go through her nightly ritual consisting of face washing, teeth brushing, hair combing, and skin care. She took extra care tonight, just to make sure to clean every inch of her skin free of him and his own personal brand of friendship. Friendship? Ha. That was a laugh and a half.

How could she have let her guard down again and whatever happened to that old saying about once bitten, twice shy? God, she really was a fool. Well no more. From now on, Cordelia Chase was so not gonna let any man get to her, vampire or no.

She glanced down as she spat out the toothpaste and got the shock of her life when she looked up to see Angelus staring back at her in the mirror, one shoulder seemingly leaning against the door frame. She ignored the figment of her imagination.

“You really think you can ignore me?”

Yes, she certainly could and it wouldn’t be at all difficult.

He chuckled and shook his head. “Poor, poor Cordelia got her feelings hurt. I’m a bad, bad boy. You should punish me. Tell me off maybe, or slap my hand.”

She ran her fingers through her hair, raking out the few tangles ready for combing and putting up.

“It’s funny isn’t it?” He asked casually. “How you take the moral high ground when it comes to yourself, but in reality you’re doing something so much worse.”

A single tear fell, which made him laugh right in her face.

“It takes a few dull threats to get you near me, and then it takes a few dates arranged by Spike for you to fall for me,” he said in amusement.

Cordelia fixed the loose ponytail in the right place and continued to ignore him, even as his voice was now directly in her ear. He was wrong, she wasn’t falling for him at all.

“If you aren’t falling for me, then why do you hurt so much?”

She pushed past the imaginary vampire and began to remove systematically remove her clothes.

He gave a long, slow whistle of appreciation. “Mm-ummm. Man, you’re sweet. If it hadn’t been for this bet, I’d have had you screaming out your first orgasm by now. Such a pity.”

The sheets were pulled back, she climbed in, and they were pulled over her head. When there were no more comments, she figured sanity had returned and it was safe to pull them down.

Nope. He was still there, except he was now lying on her bed next to her and propping up his head with a hand. “I know, I know,” came the arrogant tone. “You could get used to this. Can’t say I blame you. I am a good bed partner, or so I’ve been told.”

Cordelia growled in annoyance and yanked the covers back over her head. She was rapidly approaching the end of her tether.

“Try all you want, it won’t make any difference.”

Great. Now he was actually under the covers.

“Humour me and ask me why.”

“If I ask, will you go away?”

“Cross my heart.”

She sighed. “Why won’t it work?”

His smile was almost sympathetic. “Because I’m in your head. Your Jimminy Cricket, so to speak. Spike threw you to the wolf and in your deceit, you grew to like him, but you can’t tell the truth because you know what will happen. Bye-bye me and bye-bye life. My, my. This is quite the pickle you’re in. Couldn’t do better if I tried.”

Determination overrode the sadness she felt. If this wouldn’t work, then she’d find a way that would.

He sighed in exasperation. “Cordy, Cordy, Cordy. When will you learn? I’m in here now and I’m not going anywhere.”


CHAPTER 7
Day 35…
Five missed calls was what she had when she eventually switched her phone back on. Three from her parents and two from him. She had the urge to delete his name and number, but if she did that, then she’d never know which number to ignore. Not just that, but every time she tried to delete it, her finger simply refused to push confirm.

Cordelia finally gave up after the eleventh time and threw the stupid thing to the opposite end of the bed, where it remained for most of the morning. She was too busy to care about something she paid through the nose for. Too busy going over and over last night as she tried to figure out what went on with him.

Sure she should have realised what she was doing, but he was right there with her. Then he’d gone and said things which hurt more than she cared to admit. Maybe she was slightly jealous Buffy got there first, but so what? She was also jealous Colin Firth had a wife with sultry looks and a Phd. That didn’t mean anything.

There was way more to it than that. There was the bet that was slowly destroying her life and what remained of her sanity, which wouldn’t last long if them damn fantasies kept occurring. He might be a figment of her imagination, but he was right. She had no right to be moralistic when she was the one doing the deceiving. Besides, what if the bet hadn’t existed?

She could be lying dead in her bed right now and no-one would know until her rotting, bloodless corpse was found by police responding to complaints of foul odour. Well at least one good thing would have come of it and that’d be she wouldn’t have died a virgin. The thought made her smirk, the bitterness tasting vile.

Cordelia pretended she never looked at her phone shining temptingly at the edge of her bed and walked right on past. It wasn’t there, it didn’t exist, and it would have worked if the tone she assigned to him hadn’t sounded out.

Like she was gonna answer it. “Pfft.”

The damn thing kept ringing until she was forced to decline the caller and switch it back off. “I’m not talking to you,” her voice was weak and soft to her ears, so God only knew what it’d sound like to him. Probably weepy and whiny, and that was so not her.

Her chin remained in her palm for a short while before she forced herself to move. She better lock those balcony doors. She paused before she reached them as she thought about the late night conversations. They weren’t going to be happening again.

Boredom hit fairly quickly after that and she found herself pottering about the house in the hope of finding something to do. Unfortunately, there was less than nothing. Since she had no plans, she may as well take the opportunity and have a day of quality alone time. Maybe hit the mall and treat herself to a nice new dress or new shoes, or even go to Mancini’s for a ridiculously unhealthy dessert.

Cordelia glanced at the kitchen clock and blinked when she saw it was only noon. It seemed much later for some reason, but never mind. At least she had enough time for some decent retail therapy and an ice cream, maybe even a movie. According to the Sunnydale Ledger, the weekend matinee was Bridget Jones Diary and if anyone needed a dose of Mr. Firth, it was her.

*~*~*~*~*

Chocolate ice cream smeared with hot fudge sauce had never tasted so good and so bland at the same time. It was definitely an unsual experience, she thought and shoved another spoonful into her waiting mouth, letting it melt on her tongue before swallowing. She stared at the empty chair opposite her and her lips tilted down.

Without wasting another second, Cordelia all but shovelled more ice cream into her mouth. This stuff was supposed to make people feel better, not worse. She silently scoffed. Not like she had anything to feel bad about since she hadn’t really done anything wrong. Well, that’s if her attempt to be bitten wasn’t taken as anything wrong.

Suddenly her treat didn’t seem so nice. Maybe she shouldn’t have done that, but then he shouldn’t have said those things. Then there was the bet to consider. Would he have bitten her if that didn’t exist? If so, then what else would he have done? She couldn’t really blame him, not when it was her offering a coffee. He probably wouldn’t anything anyway, not when she couldn’t even keep a human interested.

What must he think of her? Something told her she really didn’t want to know, but she guessed vampire whore would be as good a description as any he could come up with. Cus God knew that’s exactly what she was. A vampire whore.

That fact took what remained of the tasty sauce and turned it into a sickly pile of cold, sticky she mashed her spoon deep into it, then tried to make a smiley face in an effort to cheer herself up. As expected, it didn’t work as the smiley face came out less than smiley. It had two eyes, a nose, and a mouth with a small set of fangs made out of the chocolate flakes.

Great, just freaking great. The rumours about him was true. There really was no escaping Angelus, and at that moment, she truly hated him. Hated him for being a jackass, hated him for being Buffy’s ex, hated him for giving her car a tune up, hated him for not biting her, and hated him for being honest. What he said about her not being able to keep a guy was entirely true and more than once those words had brought tears to her eyes.

She hadn’t asked to be cheated on and publically humiliated, but never mind. It happened, and she had to deal with it. Her friends had taken the chance to dish out a good dose of grief. Cordelia couldn’t blame them. What kind of girl ditches her friends because of a guy? A dumb one. She recalled wondering if she was really a natural blonde and the brunette thing was just artificial intelligence. At least that way she’d have an excuse for being so foolish.

How much of an idiot was she?

“Don’t mind me, pet. You carry on wallowing.”

So miserable she was that she didn’t even bother to be shocked by his presence and nor did she look at him in greeting. “What do you want Spike?” She really wasn’t in the mood to play any of his games.

“A bit chit chat is all,” he replied. “Imagine my surprise when your Angel walks in last night with a fistful of bruises. Gave some poor demon a right old hiding, he did. “Got one in turn, mind you.” He paused and she knew there was a big, giant smirk crawling over his face.

“So much for cosying up at home,” Cordelia mumbled. “Is he okay?”

“Right as bloody rain.”

“I wasn’t worried about Angel.”

Yeah, sure she wasn’t. He let her live in denial for a time and then spoke again. “Wonder why.”

“How should I know? I’m not his keeper.”

At the morose tone, Spike slowly nodded, his lips pursed up as he studied the brunette. “I want the whole story,” he said in a tone she’d never heard. “No fibbing now, pet.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it, now or ever.”

“How’s about I ask nicely? What went on to turn my grandsire into the Terminator?”

“You like the Terminator?” Easily distracted, thy name is Cordelia Chase.

“Arnie sporting a pair of Ray Bans? A classic is that.”

Sometimes she had the strangest conversations with people. “You need help.” She would say the same about herself, but she doubted there was a shrink out there with a long enough life.

He snorted out a laugh that was entirely genuine. “So says the girl who shoved her way to the front of the Bridget Jones queue.” She glared and received a chuckle for the the trouble. “That Mr. Darcy, eh? Quite the bit of totty, ain’t he? Tall, dark, handsome. Like your Angel come to think of it.”

Would he just stop that? “He’s not my Angel.”

“Oh no?” Spike’s head tilted to the side as he continued to look at her. “Then explain to me the reasons for last night’s little tizzy.”

“Ask him.”

His eyebrows rose at the dull, dreary tone. “Come on then, let’s have it shall we? What did he do?”

Cordelia gave the truth of the matter. “Nothing.” That’s what Angel did. Absolutely nothing except throw out a few harshly honest sentences.

“And nothing makes you cry.”

She did look at him then, surprise all over her face. How did know she’d had a few tears?

Spike tapped the side of head. “Vampire.” When she showed no signs of telling him anything, he sighed and shook his head. Encouraging her, “I’m all ears, pet.”

God help her, but she needed someone too talk to and it wasn’t like she could talk about this to anyone she knew, was it? Half of them would laugh her out of town and the other half would have her committed faster than she could blink. She took a deep breath, left her spoon in the ruined sundae, and exhaled with a sigh.

The abject misery on her pretty face had him wondering what the bloody hell went on between them.

“I tried to get him to bite me.”

“Say what love?”

She continued as though he never interrupted. “I don’t want to do this anymore. You can have back the hair you highlighted and the dress and shoes. Find somebody else to do this and leave me out of it from now on.” Deceit had never been a favoured hobby of hers and less so lately. Especially since the person she was deceiving had done nothing to hurt her. Combine that with the fact he would probably do a lot worse than hurt her when he found out.

“Hold your horses.” Spike was still stuck on her previous statement. “You tried to get my grandsire to bite you?”

Cordelia casually shrugged in an effort to downplay the situation. “He didn’t, so it’s not really that big a deal. He didn’t touch or kiss me, either. You still have a game to win.”

He fell silent for a moment or two and sat forward in his chair, blinked once or twice, and then sat back. “You pal around with a slayer, yes?”

“Used too.” Off his look, “I got made redundant.”

“Did you learn bugger all about vampires?”

Her chin lifted up in defiance. “I know about vampires and their penchant to be evil.” She also knew their penchant for being horrible to girls who offered their throats from them to drink from. Angel was right. She was nuts.

“Back in the day,” Spike said after a few minutes of silence. “Your Angel didn’t drain his victims straight away. He’d bite them and leave a mark, just so people would know he’d been there. He took the property of others you see. Caused all sorts of problems he did.”

There was a pause as his eyes strayed to her dessert. “You eating that?”

“Be my guest,” Cordelia pushed the bowl towards him.

He dipped a finger in and licked it off with an mmm of appreciation. “Anyway,” he continued after a large mouthful. “Biting was his signiture piece. God knows why. Every vampire could bite. Wasn’t like he was the only one with a set of fangs and a lust for blood, but Angelus? He made it an art form. Matching sets and all that. Neck, breast, thigh… You get my meaning, I’m sure.”

“You’ve heard all this and that courtesy of the watcher. Angelus is an infamous little bugger, ain’t he?” Spike watched as a tiny smile broke through her wall of misery. “He weren’t the only big bad to walk the face of the Earth. Plenty of others who could take him down a peg or two, believe me. There was this chit. Bonny little thing, she was. Titian red curls, big green eyes, freckles. Belonged to a vampire named Alexander.”

“Your Angel was like a bitch in heat when she was around. So were a few other men, I can tell you. Not me of course. My Dru is more than enough.” He paused long enough to sigh as images of his little princess floated through his brain. “Anyway. Angelus brought out the big guns one night and when he snuck into the chit’s bedroom, Alexander was there.”

This time when he stopped talking, it was to watch intrigue flash in hazel eyes and Cordelia kept silent until the waiting got too much. “Well?”

Spike let out a low whistle. “So there was Angelus, drunk as a skunk and muttering about how he’d give her the world and all its glory. What a bleeding hiding he got. He barely managed to come home before day break. Blood and bruises everywhere.”

“What about that girl? What happened with her? Did she want Angel?”

Was it him or was she getting into the story? He shook his head. “Not in the least. Been in love with Alex since he bought her at the cattle market.”

“Cattle market?”

“Slaves,” Spike explained much to her disgust. “It was different in them days, pet. Vampires and lifers, what we call…”

“Hearts and pulses, I know. Angel told me.”

“Did he now?” Wasn’t that interesting? “Vampires and humans had an understanding of sorts. We got em away from traders and off the streets, gave em homes and jobs and protection, they provided blood and day care.”

Cordelia took into account the times he spoke of and nodded. “Sounds like a pretty good deal. So this girl loved Alexander because he saved her or something?”

“Textbook case of hero worship. Not that old Alex was bothered, of course. He had a piece of pretty to warm his bed. Angelus was angry to say the least. Not only did he get a foot up his sorry arse, but the bit never gave him a second glance. Sulked for weeks, he did. The point of my story is if your Angel couldn’t have what he wanted, he’d get a tad irritated. Like last night for instance. Not that I know the details, of course, because the little birdie hasn’t told me yet.”

That got her attention. “What?”

Spike smirked. “You offered up your throat and he couldn’t take it.” His smirk widened into a chilling grin. “Makes you wonder, don’t it? What would have happened if it hadn’t been for his pride. This chat of ours wouldn’t be happening because those pins of yours would still be wrapped round his waist. Congratulations pet, welcome to the first stage of infatuation. Lucky you.”

When Cordelia didn’t respond with a heart felt protest or screaming for the slayer’s help, and so he took a good, hard look at her. He didn’t need her to reply as the answer was written all over her pretty face, and God was it ever priceless. She was falling, actually falling for the ponce.

His lips curled up into the largest smile she’d ever seen on a man. “The Prom Queen and the Vampire. Bloody rich this is. He win you over with his charming personality and animal magnetism? Or was it the angelic smile and big brown eyes that did it?”

She remained quiet, letting him think and say what he wanted. “Was it the goodnight kiss? Or the goodnight kiss you never got.”

When emotion flashed through her eyes, Spike knew what exactly what happened. It took less than two seconds for him to explode into delighted laughter and clapped his hands. “You made a play for him and his pride got in the way. Tell me the rest and don’t leave sod all out.”

Cordelia had absolutely no intention whatsoever of telling him anything, but seeing his fingers curl round the wrist of a waitress made her think twice. “Finished Cor?” Lucy asked, her cheeks flushed with a light blush caused by Spike’s show of deceptive affection. She tried to pull back, but he tightened his grip.

“Yeah,” the cheerleader replied as she held the vampire’s gaze. “That’s all, thanks. Can I have the cheque, please?”

“Sure.”

Spike spoke up when he let Lucy’s wrist go. “It’s on me.” His attention returned to the brunette. “Where were we? Oh yeah, you offering yourself up as a midnight snack. Remember now, details.”

She waited until Lucy left until she said anything, and even then she only said what she was comfortable with. Everything else was private. “We went shopping the night before last for phones and yesterday I showed him how to use it. He took me home and I made myself the dish of the day.” Real intelligent considering Angel wanted nothing from her.

“What did he do?” He flashed a cheeky smirk. “Or what he didn’t do as the case maybe.”

“Nothing,” she said. “Nothing at all.” The more she realised Angel wasn’t into her, the angrier she got at Spike for forcing her into this. “And you know what? I’m sick of you shoving him down my throat, so why don’t you go find someone more his type because it’s not fair.” Not fair on her or Angel.

“Tell you what, pet. How’s about I make you his type? Easy done. Turn up in a set of stockings and suspenders, killer heels and a sign saying take me, I’m yours. You’d be set for eternity.”

Cordelia truly didn’t care if he slaughtered the Sunnydale population and made her watch. Her pride and dignity wouldn’t allow her to sit there, and basically take every joke he could think of. “Do what you want, Spike. I’m going home. A place you’re not invited.”

He let her get all the way to the store exit before he spoke up. “Your Angel coming round, I take it. No other reason why I’m not welcome.”

She paused and slowly turned to face him, and she was visibly shaken to the core. “Excuse me?”

“You invited him in for a coffee, right?”

“I didn’t say come…” She caught herself just before she finished that sentence and quickly amended, much to his amusement. “Those words. I said he could have one if he wanted.”

Spike mused over this for a second, wondering how he could spin this in his favour. “Therefore, he could come in if he wanted. You gave an invite and left the ball in his court.” She didn’t quite give an invite, but she didn’t need to know that. Mind games always were a favourite past time of Angelus.

Cordelia was visibly startled. “I didn’t say the words.”

“Offering a coffee and leaving it to his discretion? It’s as good as, love.”

The worry on her face was better than a movie and he was oh so pleased to be the one to put it there. He just wondered if she worried because Angelus might be in her house, or because Angelus might not be in her house.

She had one more question before she ran home to make sure her house was as empty as she left it. “How did you know I was here?”

Spike shrugged casually. “A filly with a healthy credit limit? Don’t take a genius really, does it?”

Whatever. Cordelia shook her head at his reasoning, but didn’t argue in favour of getting away pronto.

*~*~*~*~*

Being told someone could be in your house was usually enough to push the brain into overdrive. Every little noise, every shadow that crossed the window had her jumping. It got to the point where she was pacing restlessly and checking locks more than twice. Not that a simple lock would keep Angelus out if he wanted to get in, but they gave an extra sense of security.

The TV and radio was off, lights were switched on in the kitchen, living room and the upper landing, but she was still nervous. She couldn’t stop herself from glancing outside at random intervals, and if she didn’t know better, she would say she wanted him to come round. She didn’t want him to visit, because that would be stupid. More stupid than thinking they were something they clearly weren’t.

It wasn’t like Angelus would visit anyway, not after her idiotic display of desperation. God, even thinking about that made her hang her head in shame.

What was that? It sounded like someone was in the back yard. Cordelia was quick to peek out the window and she scoured what she could see, but there was nothing. She nibbled her lip and was about to sit back down when she heard it again. Again, she glanced out, and again saw nothing.

“It’s just your imagination, Cor,” she said to herself as her heart started to race. “Nothing there.” Nothing, nothing, nothing. She had to focus on something other than her crazy brain. There had to be something good on TV and if not, she’d just grab some popcorn and throw in a DVD.

Before she went for the popcorn, she checked the phone and sighed when there was no sign of a text or call since earlier. She wasn’t popular today. Oh well. Right, popcorn and DVD…

There it was again. The noise from outside. On closer inspection of the noise, she figured it sounded like feet crunching grass, and frowned. She was all alone and feet crunching grass wasn’t what an all alone girl wanted to hear. Especially when said feet could belong to a vampire who had an open invite to her place.

She paused before she overreacted. The last time there was footsteps outside had been when Xander tried too get her to forgive him by badly reciting the many reasons why he was an ass and why she shouldn’t forgive him. If that was Xander out there, she was gonna freaking kill him.

Cordelia marched to the back door, unlocked it and triggered the burglar lights as she flung the door wide open. “You may as well give it up, Harris.” She shook her head when she got no reply. “It’s not gonna work.”

The lack of response was beginning to creep her out. “Go home, Xander.” She got a reply this time and it was in the form of something being thrown into her pool, the splash echoed through her ears and she quickly slammed the door shut, locking it a split second later. If she wasn’t nervous before, she certainly was now.

Wait a minute. The security lights weren’t on until she opened the door, so that meant no-one was out there, right? Right. The pool thing was probably a frog or some other animal. It really was just in her imagination and God was the thought ever comforting. Now that was sorted, she could get on with fixing popcorn and choosing the DVD.

Cordelia was halfway to the microwave when a stone hit the window, and she swallowed. Just her imagination, nothing more. She was fine with that until another stone hit, then another and another. She out of the kitchen faster than lightening and into the living the room, cell phone in hand and finger ready to dial.

Minutes ticked by and there were no more noises, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She figured going straight to bed was better than staying up and watching movie, so she set about turning off the lights and triple checking the locks, only fully relaxing when silence continued.

She was at the top of the stairs when another stone hit the window. This time the window in question was the front room, which was a hell of lot closer to the front, and consequently her. Without waiting, Cordelia flipped her phone open and called.

“Angel?”

“Thought you weren’t talking to me,” came his silky smooth voice.

“I think there’s someone at my house. I’m scared.”

“On my way.”

Shaking, she sat down on the top step with no choice but to listen and watch as the front door handle twisted and rattled. She was eighteen, nineteen in a few months, and all she wanted to do was act five and go pull the duvet over her head. Five minutes passed before the handle went still and five became ten when the stones finally stopped.

In total, fifteen long horrible minutes went by until there was a proper knock on her door, bringing with it a familiar and welcome voice. “Cordelia? It’s me.”

Just to be sure, “Angel?”

“Yep.”

The front door was clicked open in seconds and she stood there, staring up at the vampire through big doe eyes. She figured he saw she was shaking like a leaf and so didn’t bother making an effort to hide it. Cordelia had never been so glad to see anyone in her life.

He leaned against the frame, arms crossed over his chest. “You okay?”

“Did you see anyone?”

“Yep.”

Cordelia attempted to look behind him, but he blocked her line of sight. “They gone?”

Angelus grinned. “Yep. You might know them. One tall, kinda scrawny with dark hair, and a couple of blondes, all wearing Razorbacks shirts.”

She nodded. “Yeah, I know them. They were probably looking for a party since my folks are away. Harmony and the others were probably with them and undoubtedly laughing at me. Nice friends I have, huh?”

“Not all nice, I hope.”

There was something in his voice that made her start to smile. Looking up at him with the other night in mind and saying with complete honesty, “Not all nice.”

An awkward silence fell and she shuffled waiting for him to speak, but he didn’t. He simply kept on looking at her with an expression she couldn’t read. It remained quiet for quite a while and it got on her nerves, forcing her mouth to open but she didn’t have the guts to actually speak, so he got there first.

“Done my job,” he said at length. “I’ll see ya around.”

It took the time for him to open his car door for her to gather enough courage to say something. “My feet hurt.” Cordelia blurted out and wanted to smack herself. Something didn’t mean anything. “I’ve been on them all day and they hurt. My feelings hurt, too.”

“And?”

“And I can either let you go or I can get over it, and we can watch a movie.”

Angelus narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “What movie?”

Cordelia was gonna say Flashdance, but figured he’d run a mile. “Poltergeist or Psycho maybe. Not sure.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Haven’t you had enough scares tonight?”

“I wasn’t scared.” Terrified yes, but not scared.

“Sure about that?”

“Not much, anyway. So you coming in or not?”

*~*~*~*~*

Poltergeist was paused while she made a sandwich under the vampire’s careful supervision, and he watched in amazement at the amount of stuff she put in it. She was an oddball when it came to food. Not only did she eat it in a meticulous way, but also making it. He wasn’t complaining, of course, it was too much fun watching her.

Two jars containing yellow and white substances were dumped next to her plate, then came tomato slices, a packet of honeyed ham, and lettuce. Following the fridge raid came the cupboard raid, and she brought out bags of salted chips and roasted nuts. Good God, where the hell did she put it all?

“Mmm,” Cordelia munched on a slice of simple bread and butter, the crumbs going everywhere possible. “There’s nothing better than real butter.” She told him matter of fact. “You hardly get that anymore. Normally it’s low fat margarine that lowers cholesterol. Or supposed to lower cholesterol. That’s not margarine. That’s gross. Like low fat mayonnaise.”

Angelus went to say something, but a raised hand prevented him. “I don’t care what people say. That is not mayonnaise.” Her little snack was finished and she set about doing the actual sandwich.

Firstly, a good layer of mayonnaise was smeared from edge to edge, then ham was placed in there, followed by lettuce and some tomato, and another slice of ham, and she finished with a bit of mustard. Secondly, she buttered another two pieces of bread and repeated until she had two sandwiches big enough to feed five hundred.

“Hungry are you?” He asked, his lips twitching up at the corners.

Cordelia took a moment to get past the moment, which wasn’t hard as his question brought up a refreshing wave of confusion that chased away remnants of arousal. “What’s wrong with my sandwich?”

“You have half your fridge in there.”

“I like my food,” she explained as she began to put things away. “Besides, I need a good diet cus of my activities.”

“Like?”

She seemed a bit taken aback that he wanted to know about her activities, but answered him nonetheless. “Tennis, swimming, cheerleading, dancing, and running from scary hell beasts.”

Angelus chuckled at the last one. “I used to be quite the hunter when I was human.”

It was irresistible. “Nothing new there, then.” She glanced at him and they shared a smile. “What did you hunt?” Normally when someone told her they hunted, she’d tear their heads off for hurting poor little animals, but it was different in those days. He probably hunted to feed his family or something.

“Birds, rabbits. Basically general game. I’d sell the meat at market, or give it to ma for cooking.”

“What about now? What does a vampire do for fun during sunny hours of the day?” He didn’t answer right away and she wondered whether or not she’d crossed a line, and so she went to apologise. “I don’t mean to pry… Okay, I do mean to pry. But you don’t have to tell me.”

“Not much to tell, to be honest.” Off her surprised look, “Really. I mean it’s not like I can go for a romantic stroll along a beach, is it?”

He had a point. Cordelia’s face scrunched up for a moment. “I doubt that’d be your thing even if you could. You’re not that kind of guy, I think. A romantic stroll would make you wanna puke, or bore you to tears.”

Angelus was inclined to agree. “Are you one for holding hands on a loved up stroll?”

She thought for a moment. “I will admit to being a sucker for the occasional show of romance, but anything OTT will have me running for the hills. Give me a competitive bowling game over sharing straws any day. Back to your daytime hobbies. Don’t you play cards or something?”

“I do, but it’s usually to take money off Wimple. I tend to favour art if I’m bored. Drawing, painting. My current preference is charcoal.” He noticed her looking at him with a strange expression on her face. “What?”

“Nothing,” Cordelia shook herself out of the daze his reply put her in. “It’s just I never really pictured you having a creative flair. What kind of stuff do you draw?”

Wasn’t she just full of surprises? “Whatever is on my mind,” he replied and got warm, sweet smile for it. Pretty.

“Ahh. The free spirit of an artist. Is it true all artists border on insanity?”

Angelus made a show of touching his ears, a move which had her smile growing into a full blown grin. “Completely. I gave the slayer a gift once. Wasn’t appreciated.”

Cordelia fell quiet at the mention of the slayer, not wanting to acknowledge the small surge of envy. “I heard, and I got a by-play of what you did with Miss. Calendar.” Suddenly, his artistic abilities didn’t seem so fetching. She tried to change the subject, but found her brain took on a morbid fascination with his talent. “Do you…Never mind.” What kind of sick person was she?

“Ask me.”

Alright. She’d ask. “Do you draw what you’re going to do first, or do you wait till after you’ve killed them?” Sick, sick, sickedy, sick.

He wasn’t sure what surprised him more. The fact she thought about it, or the fact she actually asked. “I confess to liking still life portraits.”

“Oh.” She had nothing to say to that. “I guess it’d be hard making things look exactly like a picture.” Huh. Guess she did have something to say after all. She really shouldn’t be talking like this, or getting it either. Agent Starling she was not.

“There is that, I suppose.” Angelus struggled hard to keep the smirk off his face. He’d never known anyone like her. It was refreshing. She was refreshing. “There’s also no complaints about sitting still for hours on end.”

He watched her lips purse inward as she valiantly tried not to chuckle at the morbid joke. “Bonus,” Cordelia managed.

“Dancing is a form of art. What’s your preference?” He could see her decked out in a tutu and pink slippers performing Giselle for an awe-inspired crowd.

Though she reluctantly found his humour appealing, Cordelia was thankful for the subject change. “I don’t have any set style. My favourite as a child was tap, mainly cus I could make a lot of noise without being told off by my folks. I moved on to gymnastics when I was about nine or ten, and from there to summer school where we studied everything about dancing.”

She went to stop there, but Angelus encouraged her to continue purely so he could watch the way her eyes lit up and her hands make gestures. “How to portray emotion through body language and facial expressions, how to make the audience feel like they’re the ones performing, what muscle each step used, how to correct mistakes. We got eight hours of theory a week covering all that, and the rest was the physical aspect. I loved the choreography classes, not that I was any good at coming up with dance routines, but I loved it just the same.”

“You’re head cheerleader, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

Pointing out, “Who choreographs the routines?”

Cordelia felt her face grow hot at the obvious compliment. This was better than getting a drawing any day. “I do. Well, Harmony and I work together. As dumb as she is, she’s good at what she does.”

Angelus grinned at the blushing brunette. “You seemed pretty good to me the other night.”

“Glad you enjoyed it. Now, lemme cut my sandwich so we can finish the movie before I lose my nerve. That clown is out to get me, I just know it.”

He had to give her credit. She knew how to defuse a situation admirably. “Sure he is,” Angelus solmenly agreed.

“Ass.” Cordelia slid a knife from it’s holder and he frowned when he saw her start sawing through the doorstopper on her plate. He snatched it out of her hand before they ended up in the emergency room, stating a missing finger as cause for concern.

Hey!” she exclaimed. “You could have chopped my arm off snatching like that.”

“Not before you did,” Angelus said simply. “This is bread you’re cutting, not wood.” She blinked and he gathered she knew next to nothing about cooking or sandwich making whatsoever. “C’mere, gimme your hands.” One was placed on the top of the sandwich and the other was given the knife.

It came to something when he had to invent excuses in order to touch a woman.

When Cordelia made no move to give him her hand, he rolled his eyes and took it himself. The metal was slightly warm from her palm, and when he curled her fingers round the handle, she felt it had cooled some where his had momentarily been. She edged closer to him so it’d be easier and less dangerous to learn, and when he moved behind her, she wished she hadn’t.

How much torture could one person do to themselves? Huh. That sounded like something he would know.

Angelus leaned down, smirking when he heard her heart start to race. “Move your hand like this…” He tightened his hold a bit and smoothly slid the knife down. “See how we don’t need too much pressure for the blade to do the work?”

“Uh-huh.” See how she didn’t need to pay too much attention to learn?

He repeated the move slower this time, squeezing her hand a little harder. A tiny step forward had his chest so close to her back and his cock brushing up against her ass so lightly, she thought she imagined it. “Just like that, Cordelia. Nice and smooth. There’s my good girl.” The entendre worked like a charm.

She gripped the knife as her skin rippled with goosebumps as praise was whispered breathlessly in her ear. Her bra felt rough on her hardening, sensitive nipples, and closed her eyes tight in an attempt to shut down.

“Concentrate, Cordelia. Can’t have you injured.”

“Right,” she swallowed. “Concentrating.” Yes she was concentrating. Concentrating on not taking his attentions as anything more than intended. He was only showing her how to cut bread, nothing more.

The sandwich was now cut in two perfect halves and Angelus nodded in approval, then moved to stand beside her, the smile on his face going unseen.

“Are we gonna watch the rest of the movie?”

He nodded and then paused before helping her with the food. “Are you really gonna eat all that?”

She glanced at him. “What?”

“You have two pieces of fruit, chips and peanuts, two sodas, plus a sandwich that could fill a hippo.”

“Oh,” Cordelia averted her eyes from his and cleared her throat as she got a little uncomfortable. “I, uh, don’t have any blood so half is for you. In case you got hungry.” The last word came out on a timid whisper as last night once again ran through her head.

“Look at me.” She did and got treated to an intense black gaze that both chilled and burned. “A ten course wouldn’t stop the hunger.” That gaze of his honed in on her throat, and he smirked when her heart once again picked up speed. “And you have plenty of blood, but don’t worry your pretty little head. I’m not one for junk food.”

It a good few seconds for it to sink in that he’d just insulted not only her food, but also her entire being. The cheek of him. She insulted the one thing she could think of. “What’s the average fang size these days? Half inch?” Not the greatest of comebacks, but it would have to suffice since she was still offended on behalf of her cells. ”

Angelus didn’t look at all impressed. “It’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it.”

Blunt white teeth pinched her tongue. “Yeah, but you’ve gotta have something to use.”

His mouth opened and and closed a few times, giving her time to leave him standing to think about the insult to his vampiric manliness. She was such a fucking minx, and God, was it a serious turn on. Seconds passed before he trailed after her, his arms and hands full of her food. “I could show you how much fang I’ve got. Pick a vein Cordelia, I dare you.”


CHAPTER 8
Day 34…

It was around 8 am when Cordelia woke up, instinct had her reaching out for him, but all she found was an empty space where he had been. She yawned long and tears welled up in her eyes, her jaw cracking as it drifted off into a sigh. Blinking, she sat up and realised she was no longer on the couch, but in her bed and still in her slob clothes. She sighed again, this time with an affection which she ignored.

How weird it was that he was gone and still she could smell him. She put that down to the fact she’d used his jacket as a blanket last night. Oh well, she couldn’t slob in bed all day. A good stretch had her feet poking out from under her sheets and her toes spread wide, vaguely reminding her of chicken feet. She snorted. Chicken feet indeed.

The carpet was cool, but her warm skin welcomed it, and she hummed with delightful relief. Another yawn hit and a rather odd noise came with it. “Shower,” Cordelia muttered through it. “That’ll wake me up.”

She point her feet in the direction of her en suite, stripping as she walked. Her top coming off first and then her bra, pausing long enough to shimmy her pants down and kicking them up to be caught. A free hand raked through her hair and fingers wiggled out some of the tangles, nails scratching in a pleasant way.

Angel didn’t need to leave. He could have loaned some of her father’s clothes and had the use of a lovely power shower complete with a massagery head thing. She didn’t know what the plumbing was like in the mansion, but she figured it couldn’t be that good since it looked like it’d been built in the Iron Age or something.

Her panties were the next thing to come off and she had all clothes ready to be dumped into the laundry, thus allowing her to dive straight into a delightfully hot shower. She had pondered over whether or not a tub might be better, but they usually sent her into the arms of the Sandman. Nah. A shower would set her up for the day.

“One, two, three, four, tell the people what she wore,” she sang in an upbeat and perky voice. “It was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow polka dot bikini that she wore for the first time today…”

Her impromptu song ended when the bathroom door was pulled wide open and Angelus made to step out. Her jaw dropped and she stared at a set of dark, dark brown irises that stared back at her, watching as her gaze lowered down to a muscled neck and broad shoulders. His arms were gently sloped with relaxed biceps and triceps, while his forearms were taut.

Her lower lip wobbled a bit as she went lower to a wet, naked chest and small male nipples, hard from the sudden drop in temperature. A whimper escaped her throat when she followed the muscle lines down to where his pale skin went disappeared her favourite canary yellow towel. She couldn’t stop staring no matter how hard she tried.

Her body clenched and shut down, her eyes glazing over as it got too much to handle. Something inside her dropped, forcing a rush of hot liquid to trickle down her thighs. She didn’t see the look on his face that said he knew, as she couldn’t seem to stop staring there.

Angelus face split into a huge smirk full of arrogance. His gaze dropped to where a neat triangle of curls hid her pussy from view and he licked his lips. She was getting so wet, he could taste her on his tongue and it was a delicious prelude of things to come.

It was only when the towel moved that her vocal chords kicked in. “Oh my God… Get out!” Cordelia managed to shriek. “Get out!”

She wanted him to get out? “Okay,” and he made to step out of the bathroom.

“I mean in. Get in!” She practically slammed the door in his face, then she leaned against the door and had no choice but to listen to the deep, humorous chuckles coming from inside.

While she was busy dying of humiliation, the vampire was busy savouring everything she had to offer a man. Full breasts sported beautiful baby pink nipples that hardened under his intense focus. They led the way down to a trim waist and flat stomach that flared out into a set of hips designed specifically for his hands.

They were really good hips, but still had the essence of youth, and God, was it ever a sight for sore eyes. Of course, he hadn’t seen her long enough to see it all, so his brain filled in the blanks and he felt the first flicker of arousal. He had one word to describe her and that was sweet.

Considering he hadn’t seen a naked female in, oh, over a week, she was exactly what he needed. Angelus glanced down at his erection and let out a laugh. Few women could get him excite him with looks alone. Trust her to be one of them.

He slid the towel from around his waist and used it to dry off a bit more since he doubted she’d appreciate a wet floor. While he did this, he continued listening to her fast breathing and faster heart, letting the arousing sounds do what he couldn’t. He also thought about pride. Mainly, his pride and how it was the sole reason why she wasn’t in here, getting screwed till she bled.

Now he was in another world entirely. A world where she stared up at him through teary eyes and begged him for it, a world where she was tight and wet around him. A world where his cock was coated in a warm, copper liquid that came with pain and pleasure.

She’d bleed him for him, he knew that. He’d make sure she did.

It was this which brought home the realisation that it wasn’t pride or the bet that kept her virtue intact, but reality. Sure, he could out there now and take it whether she wanted it or not. In all honesty, that sounded like a pretty good idea and he considered it for a moment or two. He doubted he’d get much resistance on her part, what with her being all juiced up.

Breaking her in like that was one hell of a fantasy and so damned tempting, but he had an agenda and that agenda was to get her round to his way of thinking. She wasn’t quite ready yet. She was still flighty around him, though the impression she gave was to the contrary.

Although she couldn’t be that wary of him. After all, he was the one she called when she got scared last night. Paying those kids to throw stones was a stroke of genius and he stored the idea away for future reference. Still, Angelus wasn’t so foolish to believe he’d fully won her over, but he had plenty of time to deal with that little problem and then he’d have what was fast becoming his favourite obsession.

Until then, he’d wine and dine her, play the boyfriend, the friend, the damned boy scout before he got to play the lover.

The towel was once draped over the railing; he pulled on his pants and ran his hands through his drying hair, the smirk on his face never left.

He exited the bathroom and entered an empty room. Well, empty except for the shapely lump hiding under the duvet. He shook his head, and moved to stand next to her bed.

“Hm,” Angelus said in a very dry, very sarcastic voice. “Where could Cordelia be?”

The only reply he got was a huff from the shapely lump.

“Is she in here?” He noisily opened the top one of a six drawer set, offhandedly glancing along her CD collection. “Nope, not in here.”

He still got nothing.

“Guess I’ll have to check this drawer over here.” Angelus walked to the nightstand and picked the top drawer again. He pulled it open without a thought for her privacy. “Well, well, well. What do we have here?”

He plucked the journal out of its home, turning it this way and that as he studied the swirly purple pattern. He flipped it open to the first page, and then spoke in a voice full of mockery. “First day back at school…”

Cordelia didn’t believe he was going through her diary. He wasn’t that stupid and so she stayed right where she was.

He continued without a care in the world. “First day back at school after spending an entire summer in Hawaii with aunt Sylvie. God, that woman makes Santa look miserable.”

Her eyes popped wide open. Either his imagination was extremely good, he had x-ray vision, or he really was reading her diary.

Angelus flipped to another page. “My parents have booked a skiing trip to Aspen for next year.”

Oh God. He was reading her diary. She was just about to yank the covers from over her head and snatch it back when the pages rustled again, and again he began reading aloud.

“Angel is such a dumbass, I mean really. His girlfriend practically ditches him for another guy and what does he do? Runs back with tail between his legs when she bats an eye in his direction.” His grin went unseen.

Cordelia cringed, rethinking the plan of coming out of hiding. If she wasn’t mortified before, she certainly was now.

“Interesting perspective.” Angelus scanned the contents of each page until he came across one that really stood out. “Can’t write too much because it hurts to move. I’ve never been so humiliated in my entire life. I loved him, I really did, but he threw it all back in my face. I hate him. I hate them. I hate seeing them shove it in my face just how stupid I was not to have noticed anything.”

Angelus didn’t need to be a genius to know she’d been writing about the Harris boy and his affair with the witch. He made a mental note to talk to the boy about how to treat a lady. He skipped back on the off chance he missed something about him. “What else has she written about me, I wonder.”

“I hid in a dumpster, can you believe that? Turns out I was hiding from Angel…” He glanced at the shapely lump. “Deja vu. There I was heading for my car after the game when I heard these creepy footsteps behind me. I did what came naturally to an unaccompanied vulnerable young woman on the Hellmouth and ran. Way to show Angel your trashy side, Cor.”

“You were certainly dirty,” he said with a chuckle and continued to read. “To save me the trauma of totally reliving the nightmarish night, I almost lost my head to a zombie and got set on fire. Xander Harris saved me. Yes. The same Xander Harris who said the world would be a better place without me. Of course, his niceness didn’t last as he blew me off when I went to say thanks for saving my life.”

He paused and frowned. What the hell did she see in a dick like Harris? God, it hurt to think about that. Thankfully her eyes had been opened to what a moron Harris was. His thumb slipped out and he lost his place, so he flipped it to a random page with the header notes at the top. Angelus frown turned to one of confusion, then intrigue, and finally complete amusement.

According to this particular note page, Angel loved Cordelia Chase ninety two percent, and Angel loved Buffy Summers ten percent. How in the world had she come to that conclusion? A wicked smirk crossed his face. “If only Angel saved me. I wouldn’t hesitate in showing my gratitude to that gorgeous hunk of a man. I swear, he’s so hot, I can’t stop thinking about him.”

Wait a minute. She never wrote that. “Gimme that.” Cordelia shoved the duvet off her head as she sat up and tried to snatch her diary back, but he held it out of reach and kept on reading.

“He’s just a big ball of vampire sex,” Angelus dodged another grabbing attempt. “If he knew what I thought about him, he’d blush.”

“Stop it!” She jumped up on both feet, using the height provided by the bed to come closer to saving her thoughts from a mad man.

He held the diary upside down and away from her as he continued. “I go all of a flutter when he looks at me and, oh, I wanna pin down that body of his and just ravish him for all eternity.”

“Give it back!” Cordelia jumped up and he responded by moving further from the bed, so she scrambled around only to get her feet caught in the blankets. She wobbled at the edge of the mattress, and then felt herself falling.

He wasn’t quite quick enough to catch her and she landed face first on the floor, the impact making her teeth cut painfully into her lower lip. “Owfa,” came the muffled response. “Ow.” That hurt.

The scent of blood filled the air, sending his senses into a spin and he took a deep breath designed to tamper down the urge to taste. Angelus kept hold of the diary as he knelt down to help her sit up.

“Ow.” Cordelia gripped his arm with one hand and gingerly touched her lip with the other, hissing at the sudden shot of pain. “Ow, ow, ow.” That really freaking stung.

“You okay?” He asked, his fingers cupped her cheek and tilted her face to the side. A tiny trickle of red coming from her lower pout. She must have bitten her lip as she fell. “You’ve burst your lip.”

That would explain the stinging. “Great… Ow!” Okay, so smiling wasn’t such a good thing to do with a burst lip. She ducked her head down as she lifted the hem of her top up to dab away the blood, grimacing at the nasty sensation. “Damn. Gone?”

Angelus nodded, a smirk still on his face. “So, I love Cordelia Chase ninety two percent. Wanna tell me how you got that?”

He was immensely pleased to see a glorious red blush stain her cheeks. Oh well, in for a penny, in for pound. “Actually, you love me ninety three percent. Angel loves me ninety two percent.”

“I’m waiting.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes and took her school bag out from under her bed, then opened it. A pad of paper was pulled out, as was her pencil case. He took a good look at said case, eyebrows rising when he saw the many signitures scrawled all over it.

“What?” She asked as she popped the case open to retrieve a pen.

“Just looking at the names…” Angelus copied her and rolled his eyes, then slapped his forehead. “I forgot I was dating the Cordelia Chase, Mz. Popularity.”

The word dating wasn’t noticed by either of them.

“Ass. Here, watch.”

The pad was flipped to a clean page and she began to write her name, then the word loves, and then the name Christian Bale. Who was Christian Bale? He never got the chance to ask.

“We start with the L’s. He has one L and so do I, so that’s two.” The number two was written on the line below. “I have an O, but he doesn’t, so that’s one O.” The number one was written next to the two. “There are no V’s in our names.” Zero was written next to the number one. “There are three E’s… See where I’m going?”

Angelus nodded. “Okay,” Cordelia continued after pausing to lick her wound, something he really wanted to do. This bet was cutting into his social life.

“Now you add the numbers until you get two single figures. 2, 1, 0, 3, 2.” She looked to see if he was following. “We add the 2 and 1 to get 3. Next, we add the 1 and 0 to get 1. 0 plus 3 is three, then 3 plus 2 is 5.”

“Let me.” He took the pen and pad from her, and began to do it himself. “3, 1, 3, 5…” He added them up. Four, four, eight. “Eight, twelve. That means eight plus twelve, right?” Off her nod, “Which means you love Christian Bale twenty percent.”

“Well done!” Cordelia clapped as she ignored the fading sting to smile at him. “Your first crash course in teenage stupidity and you get a gold star.” Her smile drifted into one of sheer amusement. “I love you more.” She realised how it sounded. “I mean with the ninety three percent compared to twenty percent.”

His grin was huge. “You love me more.” Off her look, “You said it yourself. Ninety three compared to twenty. You must love me a lot.”

She ignored that. “Lemme do you.”

It was irristible. “I’m right here, baby. Do me if you want.”

Her already pink cheeks turned a lovely shade of red. “Not like that, dumbass. Who do you like?”

Angelus treated her to a smile that would make Romeo puke. “You.”

“Stop it,” she said and hit him with her pen. “Who do you like celebrity wise?”

He thought for a moment. “I met Lauren Bacall at Bogie’s birthday party. She was pretty sweet.”

Cordelia blinked. “You met Lauren Bacall? As in the Lauren Bacall?” She shook her head. “Okay, Lauren Bacall it is.” She wrote it down. Angelus Loves Lauren Bacall. “4, 0, 0, 2, 1. You work it out.”

He took the paper and pen, adding up the way she instructed. 4, 0, 2, 3. He followed it through. 4, 2, 5.

Angelus looked to her to see if he was doing it right. “Uh-huh.,” she said. “Four plus two is six and two plus five is seven. So…”

“I love Lauren Bacall sixty seven percent. That means I love you more, and it also means I love you more without a soul than with.”

He had no idea what he did right, but whatever it was put a smile on her face and made her avert a set of twinkling eyes. He said it many times before and he’d say it again. Women.

Cordelia shrugged off the tingly feeling. “I’m gonna take a shower. You play and think of something for us to do later… Unless you have plans, of course.”

He’d need to feed, but other than that, “No plans.”

“Great. Now help me up. My leg has gone all weird.”

Angelus stood, easily picking her off the floor as though she weighed nothing. Her dead leg caused her to stumble a tad and she grabbed a tight hold of his arms so she didn’t fall again. Her mouth fell open when her fingers barely covered half his arm, and she couldn’t stop stealing a quick squeeze if she tried. His muscles were thick, but not overly so, his skin was smooth and not horribly stretched, and he had no protruding veins like a lot of body builders.

Cordelia found her eyes focusing on his pectorals and oh so innocently slid her groping little hands up over his shoulders, and down to said muscles. Angelus stood there, letting her explore, his arrogant amusement going unnoticed as she stole yet another sly squeeze.

“Am I the first man you’ve touched like this?”

She numbly nodded. “You like it, don’t you? How I look?” She was close enough for him to feel her nipples tighten against his chest, and it was sweet little sign of arousal. “Yeah, you like it.” He grinned. “You like it ninety three percent.”

He just had to go and ruin her mood. “Oh, shut up. I’m going in the shower.”

“Take my advice and have a cold one.”

Cordelia slapped him, her face expressed disgust at the arrogant attitude. He merely grinned and gave her a small shove backwards, which caused her to shove him in return. “I could so kick your ass.”

“Of course you could. Go make yourself pretty for me. I’ll fix you breakfast. Any requests?”

Her eyes lit up at the mention of food. “Maybe some bacon and eggs, please? Not too crispy and not too runny. Ooh, with toast and butter. Lots, and lots of butter.”

Angelus shook his head. “Leave it in my manly hands.” He walked past her while turning her in the direction of the bathroom, only to have her stop him short. “What?”

“You never told me you had a tattoo,” she accused. “When did you get it? Did it hurt? How much was it? Did you design it?” He felt her staring at it and though he couldn’t see her face, he knew she was drooling over it. “That is sooo cool,” she said in an awed tone. “I want one, but daddy would have my hide. I want my navel pierced too, but…”

“Daddy would have your hide,” he finished for her. “I got it years ago before I left Ireland, it cost nothing, it didn’t hurt too much, and I got the design from the book of Kells. As for daddy, why not get one in a place he’ll never see?”

Cordelia took that into account as she walked back round to face him. “Like on my butt or something? I don’t think I could have some strange guy stare at my ass for hours on end.” She watched as he thought for a few moments.

“What if it wasn’t some strange guy?” Angelus asked as the idea began to take shape in his head. “I wouldn’t mind staring at your ass for hours on end.”

“Um…” She blinked once or twice. “You’d give me a tattoo?” He nodded. “I don’t know. Would it hurt?”

“Your ass is a muscle, so yes. It’d hurt. You don’t have to get it there, you know. You could always get one on your lower back, but that would also hurt since it’d be on your spine. You can get something to dull the pain.”

She was quiet and fingers fiddled with the hem of her top as she pondered his offer. “You’d really do that?”

“If you trust me enough and if you really, really want one. Remember it’s for life, Cordelia.”

“What would you do?”

She seemed to have made up her mind. “Go take a shower, leave the details to me.”

*~*~*~*~*

Three hours later saw Cordelia and Angelus sitting in a sunlight free part of the kitchen. He was in deep concentration over sheets of paper and coloured pens, while she watched with increasing fascination. She could hardly believe that not only was he designing her a tattoo, but he was also going to be the one to put it on her. The decision had been mutually made to have it on her lower back and not her ass.

His design was an artistic mix of sharp lines and gentle curves coming out of a really cool shaped sun. There wasn’t much colour in it yet, as he hadn’t been able to choose which bit should be what. Apparently, the colours she wanted weren’t right for her personality, something which she huffed at, but let him continue nonetheless.

“I’m not a big pink fan,” she quickly said when he picked up the pink felt tip.

Angelus rolled his eyes in frustration. “Can you be quiet, please? I’m trying to work here.”

“Sorry, but I’m not. What about lilac? A dusky, kinda greyish-purpleish lilac? Like the colour you get at twilight.”

He paused, imagination creating the colour she described and he pictured it as the gradient between the black, grey and white. “That would work,” he said at length. “That’d really work. Good choice.”

She preened under the praise and airily replied, “I try.”

Angelus swapped the pink for the light purple pen, made a test bit at the top of the page, then went over the shading with a dark grey before making a few light strokes with the light grey. He definitely liked it. “Are you sure you want me to do this?”

“Yeah!” Cordelia exclaimed enthusiastically. “I can’t wait. The girls are gonna be so jealous of me.”

He stopped and spared her a serious look. “You’re not doing this for that reason, are you?”

“Not at all, the envy is a bonus. Honestly Angel, I’ve wanted a tattoo for ages.” She tried to find a way to explain why. “I feel normal, you know? One of the crowd. I guess I just want something to set me apart from everyone else, something that makes me distinctive so to speak.”

“I get that. And the navel piercing?”

“Oh that’s just a fashion accessory.”

He shook his head, but chuckled and continued to draw. “What would you get?”

Cordelia shrugged. “I dunno. Butterfly or dragonfly maybe, but my cousin warned me not to get into that trap.” Off his look, “My cousin only wears butterflies or dragonflies because they all look good.”

“Ahh,” he said in understanding. “The safe option. I’m familiar with that myself. Do me one favour.”

“What?”

“Don’t buy any crosses.”

Cordelia laughed and gave him an assuring pat on the head. “No crosses, I promise. Hey, could you do that? Pierce me, I mean?”

Angelus graced her with a sideways glance, a sly gleam burned in his eyes. “Already told you to pick a vein.”

Like she was gonna do that. “How about one that’s not mine?”

“Why? What’s wrong with yours?”

“Nothing if you like coffee… Speaking of, you want?”

“Coffee or a vein?”

“Coffee, dumbass. Nice try though. Milk and sugar?” She moved away from him and toward the coffee maker, taking a second to decide between java and Kenyan. She choose the strong Kenyan for a change.

“Milk, no sugar. I’m sweet enough.”

Her patent eye roll went unseen as she got on with the business of fixing the drinks. “That was a pretty nice breakfast you whipped up this morning, Angel. Dare I ask how a vampire learned to cook so good?” If he said what she was thinking, she’d run screaming for the hills.

Angelus glanced up from his drawing. “I’ve picked up a few things over the years.”

Cordelia brought out two cups, subconsciously designating one specially for him. “Like?”

“Tattoo design for one.” He held up the finished product and shook it, watching as she all but screeched in excitement and raced to his side so she could take a good, hard look at it.

Her eyes were wide and filled with total delight, taking in every single detail. The colours, the lines, the sun… It was perfect. “This is gorgeous. I mean seriously gorgeous! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” She ended with another screech, then he found himself with a set of slender arms being flung round his neck and a pair of warm, soft lips pressing noisily against his cheek.

He was so surprised at the outburst that he didn’t react and his arms hang limply by his sides until she started bouncing up and down. Not having a Goddamn clue what to do with this, Angelus slowly returned the hug. How had he never realised just how tiny she was?

His hands were bigger than her waist, his arms were practically doubling over, and he had to hunch down. This hugging thing was nice, really nice, and got nicer when her hands smoothed over his shoulder blades. Before he had a chance to really enjoy it, she pulled away, but not far enough for his arms to fall from her waist, and he saw exactly how happy she was.

“Can you do it tonight? Please? I’ll do anything you want. Please?”

Angelus looked at her clasped hands and pleading hazel eyes. “Sure. Piercing too?”

“Yeah… Um, I mean if it’s okay by you.” The smile on her face was the one she used when she wanted daddy wrapped around her pinkie.

He struggled to keep the knowing smirk to himself. “Best get them both done at the same time. You finish the coffee while I go call Karl, tell him to set things up in my quarters at the club. I have to stop by, so we’ll do it there.”

Cordelia screeched again and again her arms were thrown around his neck. This time, she pretty much squished him and smooched his ear lobe. “I owe you for this. Tell you what. I’ll get my beauty stuff out of retirement and see if I can’t work on these callouses.”

“You didn’t seem to think I needed work earlier.” He grinned when she glared. “You don’t need to thank me for something I offered to do.”

She remained silent for a while to get her thoughts in order. She did need to thank him, but not for the things he’d done for her. How could she say that without it sounding stupid and him laughing at her? She couldn’t think of anything, so she kept it simple. “Yes Angel, I do.”

Angelus watched as she went about finishing with the coffee, his eyes constantly straying to her lower back and the point where her ass curved out. A look of pain crossed his face at the image of grabbing tight hold of that piece and turning it delicious shade of red.

He had one thought, and that was the bet was getting old.

*~*~*~*~*

She’d been fine all day. Had been fine when she walked into the club, fine when other vampires stared at and talked about her, fine he took her to his private quarters, fine when she removed her shirt, and fine when he sat her down in a armless plastic chair and facing away from him.

It was when she heard the buzzing from the tattoo instrument that she hadn’t been fine.

Cordelia bravely tried to control the terrified shaking and squeezed her eyes shut in an effort to picture herself elsewhere, like a place free from tattoo needles. She was absolutely crapping herself as she prepared for the worst pain ever. Worse than a rebar sticking through her gut, worse than getting hit by a thousand ton arctic truck, worse than being eaten by a shark.

The pain dulling spray wasn’t going to work and it was going to be so bad, she’d faint or start bawling like a baby. Ohgodohgod. She so didn’t want to look like a total idiot by crying for mommy and sucking her thumb.

“What’s going here, then?”

A nervous hazel eye inched open to see Spike standing there with a large glass of amber liquid in his hand.

“I’m getting a tattoo and my belly pierced,” Cordelia said with a half smile. She couldn’t quite bring herself to be nasty, not when one of her dreams was about to come true.

“Well, aren’t you just the rebel. Let’s have a look at it.”

Before she could point to the picture, Angelus spoke up. “What do you want, Spike?”

“Curious is all. Heard my old sire had himself a tasty bit back here and came to see what all the fuss is about.”

“Go be curious away from me,” was the short response. “I’m busy.”

Spike chuckled. “Come off it, mate. It’s not every day you drag a filly to your bat cave. You’ve never had a filly in here.” Oh yeah, this was going to go in his favour.

Cordelia shot a wide eyed stare at Angelus. “You’ve never had a woman in here?”

A golden glare went Spike’s way. “No.”

“Why not?”

The blonde answered. “If he did, the filly in question would be getting ideas of grandeur. Ain’t that right?”

“Grandeur?” Cordelia’s confusion made Angelus smirk.

“Since Darla and the Master are dust, I’m House master.”

“Oh,” she grinned. “And the idea of being tied to the Big Kahuna is delicious, I take it.”

“Something like that,” Spike let his grandsire off with a simple version. He watched her face screw up in fright when the buzzing got louder when Angelus took it close to her back. Poor chit. “Get this down you, pet.” He handed her his drink.

After her last encounter with his brew, no way in hell was she touching that. “It’s fine.” To her great embarrassment, it sounded as though Pinky and Perky had taken up residence in her vocal chords.

The vampire shook his head at the mule, but it was Angelus who spoke. “If you’re scared, Cordelia, I won’t do this.”

Wasn’t that just a challenge? “No, no,” she said and fully opened both eyes. “Thanks Spike.”

He was amused to have the glass snatched out of his hand, more amused to see her down the contents in one, and severely amused to see her try not to make faces at the awful burn in her throat. “An acquired taste is that,” he told her.

“Really?” Cordelia snapped, then her tongue kind of wiggled as she blahed. She glanced behind her at Angelus to give him a nod. “I’m ready. Can we get this over with, please? My arms are starting to cramp.”

“That’s my girl.” He grinned. “Tell me to stop if it gets too much. Now, try not to tense up and sit as straight as you can. If you’re staying Spike, make yourself useful.”

“Okay. Sitting straight and not tensing.” Buried under all her terror was a sliver of excitement, like the kind of excitement a person got before they went on their first rollercoaster or drove a car for the first time.

Angelus caught Spike’s eye and gave him a nod, then took the needle to her skin.

“So,” Spike spoke casually. “How’s school been these days?”

Cordelia glared at him. “Fine,” she said through gritted teeth. “It’s fine.” Fine, fine fine.

“Exams coming up soon?”

“Do you mind not talking? You’re giving me a oooh…” Her retort was sharply cut off when sudden vibrations went right through her. It wasn’t so bad. In fact, there was a strange tickling sensation and she fought the urge to giggle.

Spike’s grin was filthy. “Good with giving oooh’s, if I do say so myself. Just ask my Dru.”

“Do you have a tattoo?” She relaxed a bit when she felt Angel’s thumb stroke her skin. That was nice.

He shook his head. “Had my eyebrow done in the seventies.”

Hazel eyes rolled. “Lemme guess, a spike right?”

“How well you know me.”

“You’re simply predictable… OW!” Damn, that hurt. What the hell was he doing back there? Playing Knickknack Paddywack on her spine? “Geez Angel.”

Angelus ignored the complaint. “Stop tensing,” he chided. “Spike, go get my lady another drink.” He paused and gently wiped the blood from her skin, then resumed his work.

“No,” Cordelia denied. “No more drinks. That one was quite enough, believe me.” She hissed and bit her lip when the stinging increased. Tickling sensation her ass. It was more like a thousand pinpricks all happening at once without any reprieve.

Spike ignored her. “Name your poison, pet. This place has the lot, including arsenic. I’m sure you won’t be shelling out.” If he could just twist this a little more, he could get more than a win out of it. “Ain’t that right?”

“She can have anything she wants.” Angelus was too busy concentrating to pay much attention to what was being said.

“Hear that? You can have whatever your tasty little heart desires. How’s about some bubbly?”

She jumped when the needle ran over a seriously painful part of her spine. “Ow, yes. Whatever. I don’t care. Ow! Damnit!”

Angelus gave her a moment of relief when he took the instrument away to mop up the blood that was now starting to flow a tad more. “Calm down, Cordelia,” he advised.

She took a deep breath and tried to slow her heart rate down. A minute or so passed before he got the go ahead to continue. “Just keep going. I want it over with. Angel?”

“Yep?”

“If I ever decide to get another tattoo, you have my express permission to knock some sense into me.”

He chuckled. “I wouldn’t give you another one, anyway. Only another fifty five minutes to go.”

“Only?”

The banter faded in Spike’s ears as he watched the look in his grandsire’s eyes. There was more going on here than met the eye. He’d just have to corner the cheerleader and wring it out of her.

While he took his thoughts with him to get the requested drink, Angelus never once let his focus slip, not even when his soothingly trailed up her side or when her sports top strap slid down her shoulder. He kept working and re-checking every inch just in case a miracle happened and he made a mistake.

With Spike gone, Cordelia felt the atmosphere between her and Angel get thick with a tension she couldn’t quite name, and her hands gripped her arms as her skin prickled with heat. The needle buzzed over her back, but it wasn’t as bad since she’d gotten used to it.

In fact, it was getting strangely relaxing, and relax she did. It wasn’t long before a slow, deep breath left her and she was humming.

“That good?” Angelus asked, his voice a husky shell of its normal tone. Christ, any harder and he’d be busting out of the seams.

“Uh-huh.” She felt the fingers of his free trail constantly up and down between each pause of the needle. Her eyes were beginning to close, and she wondered how that could happen during a tattoo.

With her in nothing but low riding pants and a sports top, he had a first hand view of her trim waist and tanned skin, and just how soft it was. She had a few freckles here and there, plus a tiny beauty mark above her left hip. Nothing more was said, leaving only a quiet buzz and her humanity to fill the room.

There were only a few weeks left. He’d be fine. He could hold out a few more weeks. At least, that’s what he told himself.


CHAPTER 9
Day 33…

Cordelia woke up with a huge grin and threw the covers off, not caring one iota about the rush of cold air that hit her body. She did, however, care about the sudden sting on her lower back and she hissed when the skin around her tattoo pulled tight. He’d warned her about that and gave her some cream too apply to the surrounding area, drumming into her head not to put it on the tattoo directly.

The sting went as quickly as it came, and she was once more miss happy sunshine. She tugged her jammie top up and gave her belly a little jiggle, grinning like an idiot when the steel bar responded with a jiggle of its very own. Two itty bitty purple stars tickled her skin and her grin widened when she flicked it, watching the gems twinkle.

Angel wanted her to have red stars, but she demanded on the purple as it would match the shading of her tattoo. He did get his own way with the jewels. She would have proper amethyst or nothing at all. Not that she minded having the genuine article of course, but the tattoo and piercing were free. If she added up everything he’d done for her over the past week or so, including her car and burger, he’d shelled out well over $200 dollars on her.

Her dad was the only other man to spend that much on her in under a week.

Cordelia frowned as a good dose of guilt began to weigh heavily on her chest. She was already deceiving him, now she was spending his money. How horrible a person could she be? The worst part of it was Spike being right in what he said.

Any good feelings she had went flying out the window at Concord speed until they disappeared in a puff over a distant horizon. She wanted to tell Angel, but how would he react? She had an inkling her head would either roll or become prettily mounted on his bedroom wall. Things wouldn’t be so bad if that pesky Cupid had her alone, but he hadn’t, and now she was falling fast for someone who would turn on her the second he discovered her deceit.

If she got him really, really drunk before confessing, the blurry vision might come in handy as she made her escape. Not that she deserved to escape his wrath, not after letting him spend so much money on her and repaying him with lies.

She couldn’t keep doing this to him. Evil wretched vampire or no, he didn’t deserve to be treated with disrespect by a money stealing, dishonest harlot, because that’s exactly what she was. A lying, cheating, good for nothing woman who was no better than an average whore. No, she decided, she wasn’t a whore. Worse than that, she was a wuss for letting Spike threaten her into this.

Cordelia knew she should have gone straight to Buffy or Giles right away and made them listen, not let them brush her off with less than a hand wave. Better yet, she should have told Angel the first chance she got. Sure he probably would have yelled a bit, maybe lost his temper too, but she didn’t doubt who would come off worse, and it wasn’t her.

She had to tell him and she had to tell him soon.

*~*~*~*~*

“Nice design, that tattoo,” Spike said through a cloud of smoke, the smirk on his face increasing as Dru continued to pet and stroke his hair. “Wonder how you came up with it.”

Angelus drank the rest of his coffee and pinned the blonde with a harsh glare. “Good imagination,” was the abrupt reply. He sat down, toying with the empty mug and finding himself staring out into space. After he took Cordelia home last night, he’d been so damn hungry, he’d nigh on inhaled a few good meals. It hadn’t really done anything to sate his appetite as those meals hadn’t been quite right.

Eyes too dark, hair too short, too tall, wrong blood type, not to mention the lack of tattooes and belly bars.

He glanced at the wall clock. Eight thirty it read and he sighed. She had school today, which meant he was gonna be bored out of his skull having Spike and Dru rub his nose in it.

Spike silently watched his grandsire’s distant expression and kept his smirk inward, only speaking when Angelus started to tap his fingers against the mug. “What’s the plan today, then? Your bit popping round for a cuppa tea and quiet chat?”

The elder vampire slowly blinked, but said nothing in favour of coming up with a plan. He supposed he could always wait for her to finish school, or he could go lurk around Sunnydale High, watching and waiting for an opportunity to snag her for some fun. It really didn’t matter what they did, anything was better than hanging round here.

“Oh that’s right,” Spike slapped his head, faking a bad memory. “Got school. Don’t that put you at loose ends?” He chuckled when he still got no response.

The sound of a car pulling up outside sent both vampires into silence, but it was Angelus who reacted. He was up and opening the door before Cordelia had a chance to knock. Her back was to him at first, giving him a lovely view of his excellent artwork. A purple slide clipped her hair back, her shoes were a rich plum, and knowing her as he did, he figured her underwear would be a pale shade of lilac.

“Cordelia,” he greeted and moved back a few steps before her shadow unblocked the sun. “This is a nice surprise.” His eyes blinked when she turned around to face him as her hands were full of two large black bags.

“It certainly is,” Spike’s interested, smug voice went ignored. “Not often take out delivers itself.”

“Not to be rude, but you coming in?” Angelus made a dramatic gesture for her to enter, his eyes never leaving the bags.

“Oh, uh. Thanks.” Cordelia inched in at the side so he had enough room to quickly close the door before light got in. She felt two sets of eyes on her, one pair was a brilliant blue and the other was a set of intense, hypnotic green that held an essence of insanity. She gulped and scooted closer to Angelus when Dru trailed her hand down her neck in a very suggestive manner.

The vampiress purred, holding her gaze as she leaned over to whisper something in Spike’s ear. She giggled childishly and covered her mouth, but not fast enough for Cordelia to miss the lip lick.

Okay, that was creepy. Cordelia shook her head and immediately got to the reason why she was here. “We need to talk.” She wasn’t gonna let Spike intimidate her into silence.

“What about?” Angelus asked.

Spike narrowed his eyes as a certain sense of dread started to well up. “A filly wanting to talk can only mean one thing, mate.” He began to hum the wedding march, much to the amusement of Dru.

At this, she glanced at the blonde and saw his meaning. If she told Angel, right here and in front of them, about what was going on, she doubted she’d ever see him again. If she did, it’d probably be to watch as he prepared to slaughter her.

“Shut up, Wimple.” Angelus half growled, then turned his attention back to a blushing Cordelia. “So talk,” he grinned wickedly. “Unless he’s right.”

“What?” Cordelia looked to him and saw the cheeky expression. “No. God no!” She laughed, feeling her face get slowly redder. “No. Definitely not.”

She nervously fiddled with the hem of her top and tried hard to keep her courage, but felt it slipping when his dark eyes silently asked if she was okay. “I was gonna ask if you wanted to, um…” What the hell was so hard about asking him out? She’d never had this much trouble before. “Remember that thank you thing I mentioned?”

“A thank you, eh? Hear that, poodle?” Spike tapped Dru’s nose in an affectionate gesture and earned himself a lick on the cheek. “The Prom Queen wants to show daddy her gratitude.”

“She will show daddy lots of things,” she half sighed. “Like a ring of roses, my Spike. They all fall down.”

Angelus cocked an eyebrow at Cordelia’s reaction to his childe’s dreamy prediction. “She has the sight,” he explained with a smirk. “Dru, honey. Come see Cordelia.” Then he stood back to watch the sparks fly.

She froze on the spot as the vampiress all but glided over to her, having no choice other than to let Dru take her in. “Hi?” What the hell else could she say? Porcelain fingers touched her hair, a nose came close to her cheek, and lips practically brushed her skin. The vampire stroked her neck from front to nape as she walked in a slow, graceful circle around her, and Cordelia was visibly shaking by the time Dru was done.

“Ooh, I like her. Pretty little thing. Likes to play with dolls and soldiers. On the cusp, she is. Torn in two. Reaks of humanity, tainted by the slayer.” She hissed, and Cordelia leaned away with a bewildered look on her face. Dru pleaded with her sire, “Take it from her? Make her sweet.”

Spike shook his head and got up to remove Dru from the bit. “Come on now, there’s a good girl. Let’s leave daddy to his lady love.”

“She’s not well, my pet.” Dru took a final look at Cordelia as she was led back to the couch.

“Course she ain’t,” the blonde agreed. “She’s with him.”

Angelus rolled his eyes, tossed his mug up and down, then lobbed it hard at Spike’s head, where it bounced with a sickening crack. Cordelia’s jaw dropped at the slew of curses that followed as he smacked a hand over the large cut above his eyebrow. She’d never heard of half the things he said, but figured they were meant to be insulting.

Dru was giggling even as she licked up the blood with a soft, low purr of delight.

“You were saying about the thank you?” Angelus asked as though he hadn’t done anything. The only sign saying he’d commited an act of violence was the self satisfied smile on his face.

“Feel better?” Cordelia asked, helpless to stop her own lips from curling up at the edges. That was pretty funny if she said so herself.

“I actually do.”

“Glad to hear…”

Her words were cut off by a Spike shaped blur flying past her eyes and what reached her ears was the crunching of a spine against a wall. It took a second or two for her to realise Spike had tackled Angelus, and another second later she realised a full scale vampire war had kicked off right in front of her.

A powerful punch to the jaw sent Spike staggering back, Cordelia screeched as she jumped back out the way of blood spatter. Wide hazel eyes had little choice but to watch Angelus receive an equally hefty smack and she felt the pain as though it was her face on the receiving end.

She barely had enough time to yank Dru out the way as an unnaturally strong kick had Spike heading in the vampiress direction. Hopefully, this would be the end of things, but unfortunately it wasn’t. Spike got up as fast as he was sent down and just about missed getting Angelus in a headlock.

“Oh my God!” Cordelia shrieked, dragging Dru as far away from them as possible. “Stop it!” She yelled, but to no avail.

Angelus tried to run Spike head first into a wall, but the blonde ran up it and used his grandsire’s body to perform a damn cool somersault, thus making Angelus connect with the poor wall.

“Ouch,” Cordelia winced when she saw the blood trickling from his nose.

The retaliation was worse. Angelus slammed his palm high and hard directly into Spike’s chest, and she was sure she just heard bones break. “Son of a…” The younger vampire wheezed in agony.

His grandsire merely laughed, but it was cut off by a fist smooshing heavily into his chin, sending his head snapping to the side. God, this was so much fun. Angelus face changed and he turned on Spike with a serious fury burning in his eyes.

Cordelia was about to try stopping them before they totally trashed the place, only thinking better of it when Angelus grabbed Spike by the throat and threw him halfway across the room. She wasn’t entirely sure what was more captivating. How much they could take or the raw power both exuded. It was no question a huamn would have instantly died in the first three seconds and she extremely glad she wasn’t the target of their anger.

When Spike picked himself up, his face was also demonic. He took a moment to dust down his shirt before barrelling into his grandsire at the speed of light. They both landed hard on the couch, effectively breaking one side of it, and rolled off it, making her peer over it to see what happened next.

Angelus had a hand in his face, while Spike was getting his ear pulled. It would have been amusing if it wasn’t for the blood and bruises littering their flesh. God only knew what their bodies looked like.

The whole place was an utter mess with bits of wood and plaster here, pieces of clothes and blood there. Basically, all that was left were two bloody, beaten vampires lying side by side on the floor and harshly breathing unnecessarily.

Sure Cordelia had seen fights before, but that was when Buffy had been there. She’d never truly seen a full on brawl between two vampires, and she had absolutely no idea what to do. Should she do something to help or stand there and do nothing, letting them get it out of their system? Not that they had anything left by the looks of things, but one could never be too careful in these situations.

She also had no idea why, but she looked to Dru to see what she would do, and frowned when the vampiress was cowering in a corner with hands slapped over her ears, singing softly. For some unknown reason, that really pissed her off. Just how insenstive could men be?

Cordelia dumped her bags on the floor and stomped round to where they lay, not giving a crap about her own hide as she leaned down and snagged the pair of them by the ears. “Get up,” she snapped and dragged them up. “You over there,” Spike was shoved to one corner, “And you come with me.”

“That hurts! Gerroff!”

“You’ll be in a world of hurt if you don’t do as you’re told.”

The elder vampire started to laugh at hearing his grandchilde get a sound telling off and received sharp nails digging into his injured ear. “You be quiet.”

This time, it was Spike who laughed and he got a swift kick to the shin. “Ow! Bloody bint.”

“Look at yourselves,” Cordelia yelled before Angelus had a chance to start up again. “You’re covered in bruises and…and blood, and poor Dru is terrified! Your mothers would be ashamed of you.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Spike muttered, a line of red falling from the corner of his mouth. “He ate his.”

She paused for thought as her brain digested that slice of info. “Believe me when I say this,” she took a deep and calming breath. “I don’t care. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, surprises me anymore.”

Defending himself, “Weren’t my fault.”

“And I suppose it was a different Spike who became a demonic cannon ball?”

“He started it,” Spike bit out. “He threw a mug at my head.”

“Well duh,” was Cordelia’s easy reply. “But that didn’t mean you had to carry it on. Now. I’m going to take Bash Street Angel here upstairs while you sit there and think about what you’ve done. Is that clear?”

She arched an eyebrow, never once letting up with the lecturing tone. “I’m waiting.” Her foot began to impatiently tap. A minute or so went by until she got the pleasure of watching a century old vampire shuffle his feet like a kid and sullenly mumble out an answer.

“Yes, mum.”

“Can you be trusted to look after Dru?”

“Yes, mum.”

“Good. Angel, upstairs now.” Cordelia never bothered to walk slow or let up on her grasp of Angelus ear as she made him follow her, the only time she stopped was to pick up her bags before taking him up the steep flight of stairs. Somewhere in the back of her mind lay the reason why she had originally come for.

*~*~*~*~*

“Take your shirt off and sit,” she ordered and began to open one of the bags.

Angelus did as requested, but with great difficulty as his body was in a fair amount of pain. Unfortunately for him, his groan of suffering pretty much went ignored for the most part, and he was made to watch as various bits and pieces landed on his bed. Creams, packages of tissues, and what looked to be some decent torture equipment. Strange shaped scissors, sharp thin sticks of wood, a white plastic thing with an orange tip, cotton wool, and really odd long thing with a silver bit.

Cordelia finally looked at him and her eyes turned to saucers. His entire torso was covered with ugly shades of blue and purple, and his face wasn’t much better either with stains of red contrasting with his pale skin. “Oh my God!” She felt her resolve to punish slipping, and try as she might, she couldn’t stay angry at him, especially not when he was looking at her through the best set of puppy eyes she’d ever seen.

So much for school, she thought as she unscrewed the wild yam. “This will help the bruising,” she explained in a soft tone.

Angelus hissed and flinched when the cold cream was oh so carefully smoothed over each injury before lovely little fingers massaged it into his aching muscles. His groan was lacking in agony, while his torso relaxed a tad under the caring touch of her. “What is it?”

“Wild yam. It’s great for sore muscles and bruises. Comes in handy after a rousing game of dodgeball.”

“Smells nice.” He cranked open a gold eye in time to see her fighting off a smile. “What?” He asked as if he didn’t already know.

Cordelia shook her head, discarding the cream in favour of the antiseptic wipes. “Do you always fight like that?”

“Usually it’s much worse. Once I stuck a stake in his…”

“And that is really something I do not need to know. Turn your face to the side.” He did, wincing when she dabbed the antiseptic over the cuts. “Sorry. I’m trying to be gentle.” She could say complete honesty that she never wanted to see Angel in this state ever again. The more she thought about the fight, the less funny it became.

Angelus noticed the change in her demeanour. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”

“Nothing, just thinking.” The antiseptic wipes were put down and she pulled a few cotton wool pads out.

“Penny for em.”

“Hate to tell you this, but I’m not that cheap.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Alright. One whole dollar and dinner tonight.”

Cordelia paused in her treatment and glanced at him. “A whole dollar and dinner? You really know how to push the boat out.” She saw he wasn’t going to give up until she spoke. “Fine. Don’t say you weren’t warned. I’ve seen you have fights before, for and against Buffy, even then you held back, you know? You never fought like you just did and it scared me. Well, not scared me because I was in danger or anything, but scared because I was wrong about you.”

She took a deep breath as she tried to get her thoughts in order. “I only ever saw the consequences from one side, if you get that. I didn’t even know vampires could bruise for God’s sake! I guess seeing you bleed makes you more…”

“More?” Angelus encouraged.

“Touchable,” she said after a second and averted her face from his intense stare. “More real, like you’re not bulletproof. You can get hurt and it scares me.” Scared her that he could die just like the rest of the world.

He let her words sink in and broached it with all the subtlety befitting a vampire. “Bulletproof, huh? That’s a big ideal, and I can’t say I’m not flattered. Guess all that heroic rescuing of you did some good after all. So,” he grinned and winked. “Exactly how touchable am I?”

Cordelia pinned him with a glare. “Touchable enough for a beating if you don’t quit winding me up.”

“That’s half my fun.”

Yeah, and didn’t she know it? “Just try to stay out of trouble for a day or two till these heal, okay?”

Angelus leaned on his hands and took a good, hard look at her. There was a gleam in his eye that she really didn’t like. He watched her silently as she finished up tending to wounds that were already in the first stages of going. “Tell me about this thank you.”

“Oh, that. I wanted to see if you wanted to go out later, my treat. Bowling maybe or whatever, plus I brought my stuff to give you those treatments.”

“If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you were falling for me.”

*~*~*~*~*

Cordelia felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a ten ton arctic truck. She closed her eyes and wondered if this was another one of those crazy fantasies she’d been having. Opening them told her that no, it wasn’t a fantasy, and Angelus was waiting for a response with an arrogant, all-knowing smirk on his face.

“You’re as deluded as you are psychotic,” she said, despite so evidence to the contrary. If she was falling for him, then he’d be the last person to know about it. “Get a grip, Angel. Falling for you? Pfft! Yeah, right.”

He chuckled in a way that made her want to smack him. “Of course you’re not.” There was a pause. “Hey Cor?”

“Um-hm?” If she concentrated on her equipment, she wouldn’t be have to look at him.

“We slept together the other night.”

“I kind of figured that out by myself, what with you borrowing my shower and all.” When she did get the balls to look at him, it was with a smile which clearly said whatever.

There was another pause. “You snuggled.”

What? The handful of stuff she held hit the floor and her head snapped up to stare at him in surprise. “I so did not.”

Angelus kept on smirking. “Yep. Had to do the hug ‘n’ roll. Man, you can’t half cling.” He hadn’t done any such thing of course, but she didn’t need to know that. The early morning hugs had been quite enjoyable if he did say so himself. Having a hot woman wrapped tight was a man’s wet dream come true.

Cordelia glared. Clingy her ass. “You make it sound like I’m some sort of…” She waved her hands as she searched for an appropriate term. “Serial snuggler or something.”

He laughed to the point where his battered ribs hurt, and he coughed. “Don’t be too hard on yourself. I mean, who wouldn’t wanna snuggle me?” He gave a casual shrug. “Plus it’s expected since I am the only man to share your bed.”

“You know that how?”

“You telling me you’ve slept with another man?” This time, it was his demeanour which changed as he pictured her with someone else. Those hands holding another man, those legs over another man’s hips, her cheek against another man’s chest. It was safe to say he didn’t like it one little bit. “Who?” Angelus asked, his tone like raw silk.

Cordelia took in his tensing posture and knew now was not the time to joke at his expense, but she frankly couldn’t help herself. “Careful there, Angel. You’re starting to sound a little jealous.”

“Not jealous,” he warned lightly. “There’s been no sex.”

She frowned a tad. Why was he so irritated if he wasn’t jealous? “No sex,” she confirmed quietly. “Contrary to popular belief.” She shook it off and finished putting most of her stuff away. “I gotta get to school…”

“Stay.” Off her look, he pointed out, “You’re already late, so why not skip and stay here?” He persuaded with an easy smile. “You can do the thanks you’re so desperate to give.”

Cordelia thoughtfully chewed on her lip and checked her watch. He was right. She was running late, and knew from experience how everyone would look at her when she walked into class. Besides, she had little specs of blood on her top.

Angelus saw he was wearing her down. “Come on. Be more fun.”

Her shoulders twisted back and forth, and mouth started to curl at the corners. It would be kinda fun to play hooky with him.

“You know you wanna.” He just needed one more incentive. “I’ll throw in lunch.”

Why was it every time he wanted her to do something, he mentioned food? “You must think I’m a pig,” she commented. “Alright, I’ll stay, but you’ll have to call in for me.”

Angelus grinned and held his hand out. “Phone.”

*~*~*~*~*

Cordelia bit into his pillow as she shook with laughter. Tears trickled down her face, snorting and honking when breathing got too hard. She couldn’t believe the spiel he was spilling to Principal Snyder about why she wasn’t at school. He’d been at this for the last ten minutes and hell if the novelty wasn’t going any time soon.

“She said it was the mystery meat that caused the poisoning,” Angelus said, his voice low and gruff with menace. “I will be having the school and its kitchens thoroughly investigated by the department of health. If they find so much as one bit of dust, so help me God I will crucify you.”

Oh God! What she wouldn’t give to see the look on the Troll’s face as he got ripped a new one by who he thought was her father.

“A settlement, you say?”

She slammed the pillow over her entire mouth to stop the giggles being heard. A settlement? The vampire certainly had talent.

“Are you putting a price on my daughter’s health?” He glanced at her and winked. “That makes this apology less than satisfying.”

“How much?” Cordelia mimed once she dared take her gag away.

Angelus rolled brown eyes at her predictable response. “No,” he growled into the phone. “I will not settle until her illness has been justified.”

She yanked on his sleeve. “How much?”

“Not your fault?” He snarled. “Is it not your school, your employees? When my daughter goes into your building, I fully expect her to be cared for by your people.” He glanced at her when she waved a hand to get his attention.

“Daddy is gonna donate new computers for the I.T classes,” Cordelia mouthed. Just a bit more ammo to use against the creature from the black lagoon. “And has six work experience positions a year for the business students.”

“You do want those new computers now, don’t you? Good, we’re getting somewhere.” She could only imagine how red Snyder’s face was at this current moment in time. Angelus grin got increasingly bigger. “I see. I see you offering a poor monetary compensation to cover up the negligence of hygiene on school premises.”

She watched a dark eyebrow rise. “That’s better,” he said. “There will still be an investigation, but how shall we say, a bit more leniant.” With that, he flipped the phone shut and sighed in pure satisfaction.

Cordelia waited patiently for all of two seconds for him to tell her the deal. “Well? What did he say?”

Angelus shrugged. “Oh, nothing except for a two thousand dollar out of court settlement for you being poisoned by the mystery meat.”

“Come again?” Did he just say a two thousand dollar out of court settlement? He had to be kidding, which was funny because he didn’t look like he was kidding. “Two thousand dollars out of Sunnydale High? For nothing? God, I love America.”

“And the best part?”

“What’s better than two thousand dollars?”

“You get the whole week off to spend with daddy.” He grin was completely perverted and she made a noise of disgust.

“Gross,” Cordelia scoffed, changing the subject before he got started on those issues. “So an entire week in the company of yours truly, huh? I’m such a lucky girl.”

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”

“And the most fun.” She grinned. “Righty then. Let’s get down to my thanks. I’m gonna need a few things.”

“Like what?” Angelus asked, as he watched her reopen one of her bags and began pulling various instruments out.

“Warm water in these…” She held up a bucket of sorts and a small bowl. “A robe for you, and plenty of towels, warmed if possible.”

“What the lady wants,” he replied, admittedly a lot more than a little intrigued. He left her to get her stuff ready while he fetched what she asked for, ignoring the overly curious gaze coming from Spike as he passed by him on the way to where he kept his linen.

By the time he got back, his room was filled with all different aromas, and she was coming out of his bathroom, drying her hands. She’d taken the time to change her top, now she wore a white blouse with a watch attached to the breast pocket, while her hair had been tied into a messy bun.

“I have what you asked for, they’re not warm though.” He said, wondering why she bothered to get changed at all.

“No matter,” Cordelia waved that off. It was time for her to get professional. “If you’d like to get changed into your gown?”

Since he already had his shirt off, Angelus toed off his shoes and unbuckled his belt, shamelessly sliding his pants down his legs until he kicked them into a heap in a corner. He chuckled when she quickly turned around on seeing he wore no underwear. “I’ve seen yours, so it’s only fair you get to see mine.”

Well, it would be fair if she was looking, but she wasn’t, and he shook his head. God, she was such a priss.

“You can turn around now,” he said with much amusement. “Where do you want me?” He loved double entendres. They made the world turn round.

“Um, how about in that chair? I’ll start with your feet and legs, then work my up so you won’t need to move later.”

Angelus did as requested and sat down, his eyes never leaving Cordelia as she went putting two towels over one shoulder and bringing the bucket of warm water to him. Once they were in place, she fetched a black purse like object from the open bag, then came to kneel at his feet, and God, the submissive position tightened his balls right up.

She tested the water temperature with a finger, then plucked an emery board out of the purse. “Toe nails should be squared to prevent ingrowing,” she explained with a smile. “This won’t take long.”

No sooner had she finished with his right leg than she put it into the warm water, and left to soak while she worked on his other leg, getting each nail neat and tidy. Angelus watched it all in increasing amusement. “You actually like doing this to people?”

Cordelia grinned up at him. “The perfect hair style doesn’t mean anything if your hair is dirty, just like a gorgeous pair of open toe slingbacks with dry skin.” She paused long enough to comically shudder at the thought. “It’s what I can’t understand about Buffy. I mean, she has the time to stake a vampire or two, but doesn’t have the time to discover the joys of moisturiser. I told that girl plenty of times how to do her hair, but did she listen?”

She shook her head. “No, because looking nice is shallow and she is anything but shallow.”

He frowned at the way she hid from him. “That hurt you, didn’t it?” There was no need for an answer. “Want me to kill her for you?”

There was honesty enough in his voice to make her eyes drift up to meet his and what she saw had her chest constricting tight round her lungs. “Don’t ask someone to do something you’re not prepared to do yourself.” A smart reply, if she did say so herself.

“Cordelia,” Angelus smiled in his own charming little way. “You wouldn’t need to ask.”

Oh, and didn’t that make everything fine and dandy? “Why didn’t you? I mean, you had the opportunity to do it last year.” She put the emery board down and placed his left foot in the warm water, leaving them to soak for a moment while she picked up the long thing with the silver bit at the end. “This is a foot rasp,” she explained, “It’s designed to remove the loose, dead skin cells from the foot.”

That didn’t sound so pleasent, but he let her continue nonetheless. After all, it was her treat. She eased his right foot out and pat him dry with a soft towel, then placed his heel on her knee and over a large piece of tissue.

She was amused to see his toes curl in response to the ticklish sensation. “Okay,” Angelus tried to yank his foot away from her. “You can skip that part. I didn’t care enough about her to kill her. It was more fun to ruin her life. I went to give her flowers once.”

Cordelia’s mouth thinned into a tight line. Jealousy made it easy to ignore the fact he had ticklish feet. She held up baby powder and a bottle of almond massage oil. “Take your pick.”

“Oil me up, baby.” He guessed this was a good part and wiggled his cared for toes accordingly. He was expecting a little stroking, maybe some fondling of his digits, but not the feel of her fingers kneading his calf from ankle to knee. His eyes fluttered and he groaned low in his throat. Oh yeah, that was good. So very, very good.

“You gave her a picture and flowers? Seems to me like you did care about her.” She knew him both by reputation and personally, and knew his way of bestowing affection was giving gifts of the gruesome kind. Flowers and pictures classified as gruesome gifts, right? What the hell did Buffy do to deserve flowers and pictures?

Oh yeah. Buffy tried to kill him right back.

Angelus opened his eyes when the pressure on his legs became less enjoyable. He was about to mention it, but the green tint to her skin stopped him short, and he smirked. “Jealous?”

Completely. “As if!”

He chuckled and shook his head, letting his eyes close once more.

She repeated the massage motions at the back of his leg, then the front. The pressure increased as she worked up and decreased downward, the rhythm never once faltering. His muscle relaxed under her touch, his head rolled back while he succumbed to one of life’s luxuries. It was definitely something he could get used too.

Angelus had no idea how much time passed before she was done, and opened his eyes when she shook his sleeping limbs into waking up. Demanding, “Why’d you stop?”

Cordelia beamed, having got the reaction she sought. “Arms now.”

“You can skip the nail filing and go straight to the massaging. Oil please.” There was nothing like being direct.

She giggled and blushed. “Sure.” The pedicure stuff was pushed to one side, she got between his knees, and began doing to his arms what she’d done to his legs. Except this time, he had the added effect of her warm breath brushing through his robe and over his chest, making it so damn erotic.

Angelus focused darkening eyes on the girl and smirked at the sight of white teeth scraping her lower lip. His thighs opened wider, pulling the robe apart a bit more, and making her breath stick in her throat as she realised he was getting off on this. His nostrils flared. God, her body was responding to his and he hadn’t touched her yet.

She was like a freaking Geisha sat there tending to him, hair tied in up like that and mouth slightly open.

He watched her hands slide down his torso, tugging his robe open to get a better feel. He felt nails trail softly lower until she reached the base of his cock, her big doe eyes blinking up at him. “Can I, Angel?” She asked, her voice all whispery and cute. “Can I?”

“Yeah, you can.”

Her sweet mouth wasted no time in swallowing him whole, her tongue playing hell on the tip, and a warm little hand cupped his nuts as she sucked him into oblivion.

Angelus grunted and shoved his hips up high, making her take more than what she could, and took great pleasure in feeling her moan shoot down his hard shaft. “That’s it, baby. Suck it good. Yeah.” Fuck, this was so fucking hot.

“Angel,” she breathed round him and he knew she was creaming her panties. Bitch probably wanted to be screwed good, and he’d be more than happy to give it to her. Hell, she’d get it whether she wanted it or not.

The sensation of lips on cock was heaven after a week of behaving, and he was determined to make it last as long as possible. He squeezed the thick base between thumb and forefinger, all the while not disturbing her clever mouth. “You love watching me get it up, dontcha? Love having me nice n hard. Gets your panties all wet.”

“Angel,” she said again, and much louder this time.

“Angel!”

Angelus snapped his eyes open and the world slowly eased into focus, his chest rising and falling heavily. He glanced dazedly at the pretty brunette, noticing the bright pink flush to her cheeks and shy smile on her face. Where did the cock sucking go?

Cordelia bit her lip, no longer bothering to be irrationally jealous over Buffy and her gifts. She’d just gotten something so much better than a bunch of flowers and a picture.

Still, she tried to be professional, tried to ignore his hard excitement, but couldn’t. Her gaze kept straying there and every time it did, she felt a throb deep inside when she clenched tight. No need to see his face to know he could smell her. Her nails scraped down his skin, leaving streaks in his pale skin, and she took hold of his arms. She wanted to see him, not with a towel or anything else, but really see him.

She didn’t wait for him to speak. “You, uh, fell sleep.”

What? Asleep? He gave his crazy head a damn good shake and took a deep, unnecessary breath, looking down his waist and seeing solid evidence of one seriously good fantasy.

He chuckled out a single response. “And you say I’m deluded.”

There had been one thing stopping her from doing what she wanted, and that was not letting Spike have an easy win.


CHAPTER 10
Day 32…
Cordelia opened her eyes when an ache spread along her back and up into her neck, where it disappeared into a strange sort of numbness that made her sit. Well, try to sit. A heavily muscled arm draped over her stomach prevented that and the arm under her head was obviously the cause of that weird numb feeling in her ear. Thankfully, he’d given her an old shirt so she didn’t have to suffer the discomfort of sleeping in her clothes, but even that didn’t make a difference when it came to sleeping for way too long.

How long had she been asleep? If the aching spine was anything to go by, she’d been in the arms of Hypnos forever and a day. She had to move before it consumed her entire body. She got headaches when she lay in bed or slept too long, and not just any old headache either. They were the kind of headaches that needed a horse tranq to cure. Horrible.

Unfortunately, her horse tranqs were in her other pants, and that meant she had to get up.

She tried to lift his arm from her waist, but it was a lot heavier than she thought, and so she tried to inch under the tiny gap she made. Cordelia ended up half on her back and half on her right side with her fingers uncomfortably curled into her palm. Easing that hand out from under her amazingly bony waist, frowning when Angel shoved the arm from under her head to down by her ass.

It wasn’t the nicest of positions, but at least she knew who did the snuggling, and it sure as hell wasn’t her.

Cordelia had no time to gloat as he turned to face her and his other arm evilly crept up to drap over her ribs, and it was at this point she realised he looked like the corpse he was. He chest didn’t move with breath, nor did his nostrils flare or lips move. His skin was pale and all bar a few minor cuts had practically healed from his earlier tizzy with Spike.

As much as I’d love to stay and stare, I have to get up.

She took a leaf out of his book and went with the tried and tested hug ‘n’ roll. It took some ingenius manourvering for her to get him to go with the flow, but as his body moved, his arm followed. Now she found herself in an extremely compromising situation. She had a knee practically between his thighs, her mouth inches from his, and her breasts crushed against his torso.

If he woke up to see her sprawled over him, who knew what he’d think. He’d probably make out like she was some sort of pervert trying to take advantage.

She tried to slide down so she could duck under the the loop made by him. Shuffling down the body of a man while trying to ignore the feel of his skin on her cheek was pretty damn awkward, but she gave it her all.

Aw man, Cordelia thought as her face became smooshed by his abdomen and resisted the urge to take a bite out of Angel purely because the chances of him biting back, and a hell of a lot harder, were fairly high. Oh, ew. She drooling, actually drooling on his gut, but it couldn’t be helped when ab upon ab kept her mouth open.

A little bit further and she’d be free.

She was halfway down that little bit further when a cough got her attention and hazel eyes glanced up, his amused expression distorted by her lashes. She tried to smile, but that motion had her tongue on him. It was also at that point where she realised just how far down she really was.

Her chin was touching his pants and her grabby little hands were on his belt. God only knew what this looked like to him. Please, please don’t let him say anything.

Sadly, the forming smirk was a clear indication he had no intention of letting this go. “Want some help?”

Cordelia felt her face beginning to burn and shook her head.

“I’m only asking cus that belt can be a handful…” Angelus frowned when something cool and unpleasent trickled down his stomach. “Did you drool on me?”

She was only able to move when he did and the first duty was to use her sleeve to wipe her mouth and his skin dry. “Sorry,” she sheepishly explained. “But my mouth was busy with your muscle.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Really?”

“I didn’t mean that. What I meant was I couldn’t close my mouth and my tongue came out and I licked you.”

“So, your mouth was open and you were licking my muscle?”

Was it her or was it going from bad to worse? “Yes?” What else could she say?

“Oh.” Try as he might, there was no getting away from the laughter bubbling up as the sight of her face turned a pretty shade of purple. “Far be it from me to stop you. Please, continue.”

“Can we just pretend this conversation never happened? Great. Thanks.”

Angelus ran a hand down his face to smooth away the smirk. “I dunno, Cor. Your tongue was on my muscle. That might take some forgetting.”

“Then try,” Cordelia snarked, the embarrassment getting to her more than she cared to admit. Or maybe it wasn’t the embarrassment getting to her as much as it was the urge to go ahead and continue. In an effort to both change the subject and wipe that smirk off his face, she made a show of looking at his mahogany wall clock and gasping out in exaggeration.

“Is that the time?” Innocent eyes met sparkling brown ones that held much amusement. “We’re definitely too late to hit the town. I can’t believe I slept so long.” She could believe it considering her hours of happy nap time had been constantly interrupted by vampires, but she didn’t say that.

It seemed she didn’t have to. “I’ve been keeping you up past your bedtime,” the smirk returned to his face in full force. “What would daddy say?”

She was silent for a moment, which said more than words ever would. “How is it you can make everything sound perverted?”

Angelus gave a graceful shrug. “Everyone needs a talent. Now, about our date. We can go tomorrow. You mentioned something about bowling?”

The way he said it made her realise just how stupid it sounded. Who the hell would offer to take a two hundred plus year old vampire out for a game of ten pin and french fries? Especially one who was obviously educated and well travelled. God, she felt like a dumb child and she didn’t like it one little bit. “We could go to a restaurant or a movie if you prefer.”

He frowned. She wasn’t looking at him anymore and the excitement flushing her cheeks was gone, leaving her mouth turned down at the corners and fingers plucking at the sheets. “What?”

“Nothing, really.”

He clearly didn’t believe her. “What?” The tone was not to be ignored.

Cordelia held her head high and met his inquisitize gaze with dignity. “Bowling, Angel. It’s a kids game. Not one for old people like you.”

Both of Angelus eyebrows reached his hairline. “Old?”

Oops. “Yeah, because being two hundred and fifty makes a spring chicken.”

“Two forty four, not two fifty, and I am not old.” He paused long enough to treat her to a genuinely petulant pout. “Cheeky wench.”

Outrage washed away any and all idiotic feelings she had about her date idea. How dare he call her a wench? “I am so not a wench!” Cheeky wench indeed. Jerk.

He grinned. “You’re just trying to get a reaction.”

Cordelia’s jaw dropped. “I am not.”

“Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.” Angelus only held back the laughter because it’d annoy her more. “I know a wench when I see one, and you my dear, are a wench.”

She had two choices. One was continue the argument and come out a sore loser, and the other was concede victory in favour of saving grace. Anyone with half a brain would choose the latter, but not her, and the reason was simple. Her brain had a direct connection to a mouth that just wouldn’t stay shut.

Cordelia’s lips curled up into a smirk to rival his. “Not got your bus pass yet?”

Angelus blinked once or twice. “You do realise you’ve just insulted a vampire in his remote home, in a remote part of Sunnydale, right?”

“And you just insulted a bitchy brunette in a remote home, in a remote part of Sunnydale. You may be able to bite me dead, but I can make you sing second soprano.” The sentence ended with a huge tongue pulling that had his mouth forming a tight line as he tried not to laugh.

“Oh yeah?” She wasn’t strong enough to beat him at a finger wrestle and she knew it, but to have her get in his face was a serious turn on, and he told her so. “Do you have any idea what you’re like for me?” He asked with a smile.

Cordelia frowned in confusion. “No?”

One look at her pretty little face was enough to put an end to his valiant effort, and the laugh which escaped his throat was deep, husky, and sent a wave of warmth all the way down to the place between her legs. His nostrils flared as he caught the light scent of increasing arousal and purred out delight.

“Oh honey,” brown eyes flickered gold and rolled back. “You’re a rush.”

God, he could smell it, could smell her.

That warmth spread up to her face, turning her cheeks a rosy red, and melting the hazel into dilated pupils. There wasn’t much point in denying what he already knew. A rush? Was that a compliment or another insult? Not that it mattered at the moment because her wenchless status took pride of place.

Cordelia allowed Angelus to partially cover her body, careful to make sure he didn’t touch her at all, and inconspicuously slid her hands under the closest pillow. “I guess every OAP would say a teenage girl was a rush,” then the pillow was brought down on his head.

The blow took him by surprise and he found himself glancing into a pair of mischevious eyes that blinked innocently back at him. “What?” She asked, plump lips now smiling.

“Butter wouldn’t melt, would it?” Angelus quizzed as he sat up, removing the pillow with one hand while using the other for balance. “I’m not butter.” The pillow collided softly with her face.

He must have thought he’d won if his chortling was anything to go by, but as far as she was concerned, he’d won nothing but a death sentence. She grabbed the other pillow on the bed and caught him so off guard, he fell to his back, and she giggled in delight. “Ha!” She yelled, her voice full of glee. “Mess with the best, die like the rest.”

Cordelia’s pillow hit him three times more before he reacted, but when he did, it was with force enough to send her face down onto the mattress. If it had been a human male, she’d have run for the hills for fear of domestic violence, but he wasn’t. The look on his face served to remind her she wasn’t dealing with his soul or a highschool boy, she was dealing with Angelus.

Angelus was a soulless vampire who was simply playing and he, or it, didn’t scare her in the least. It should, but it didn’t.

His laughter raised her heckles and encouraged her to add a bit more violence to her retaliation so that he got some of what he gave, and her pillow smacked off his head. Before he had a chance to get her back, she gave him another hefty wallop, and this time it was to his chest.

“Whassamatter, old man?” Cordelia taunted. “Tired?”

“You minx,” he half snarled. “You little fucking minx!” He smashed his pillow off her head and got one in return, so he did it again, but she stopped the second assault with hers.

“Neenur, neenur, neenur! You didn’t get me!” She sang, using his momentary distraction to slam her weapon against his back, forcing his robe to come looser yet she cared not. She saw the move coming and blocked it with her pillow, giggling at the surprised look on his face.

This time it was Angelus to use the momentary distraction to his advantage, and he was able to get a hit in, but wasn’t prepared for sudden retribution, which his jaw suffered. His pillow went down, time and again off her face, making her need to use physical contact in order to stop his attack. Her legs went around his waist and her hips came up off the bed so she could use weight and momentum to flip him over onto his back.

She was winning, actually winning against a vampire. How cool was she?

Cordelia smooshed her pillow on any part of him she could. Face, head, and chest all received the same treatment until he’d had enough. Two large hands curled tightly round her wrists, thick fingers squeezing in a manner that caused her to drop the weapon, and Angelus held her naughty little hands behind her back. She didn’t go down without a fight and struggled and squirmed on him, her legs kicking out and going to either side of him.

He laughed merrily, knowing enjoying something this much was against all the rules, but what the hell. He sat up and expertly locked her wrists in one large palm, leaving the other free to smack a pillow off the back of her head. She shrieked in frustration, her feet pushed hard on the mattress, unbalancing them both. The pillows went asunder, the sheets were beyond rumpled, and he was totally on top of her while her arms were painfully locked under their combined weight.

It was only by some miracle that she managed to roll them over, but sadly there was no more bed to break their fall.

Angelus grunted when the corner of his nightstand scraped across his ankle bone, leaving angry red scratches in its wake, and she hissed out an ow when her head collided harshly with the floor. Despite the discomfort of having what felt like a ten ton truck land on her ribs and a baseball bat to her skull, Cordelia laughed.

God, she’d never had a pillow fight since she was a kid. How could she forget how much fun they were?

He, on the other hand, was suffering the effects of two full, soft breasts and tightening nipples cushioning his chest. He looked down into brilliant hazel eyes and shifted ever so slightly just so she’d know what their little tizzy did to him. Slowly, her laughter died into the occasional hiccup, and her hands formed loose fists that came to rest on his shoulders.

“De ja vu,” Angelus murmured, noting this was an exact replica of last year in the cemetary.

Cordelia stared up at the vampiric face. “I’m inclined to agree.”

“Wasted time and opportunities,” he said, replying to her smile with his own.

She bit her lip as her fingers splayed out on broad shoulders, the motion slid his robe down and allowed her to touch his throat. It was thick with muscle and still with death, yet she swore she could feel a pulse below the skin. Her nails made a slow trail down to the part of torso visible, the pectorals flexing under the exploring little touch.

“What are you thinking?”

Cordelia shrugged. “Wasted time and opportunities, I guess, but there’s no sense rehashing things, right? Lemme up.” She pushed unsuccessfully at his body in an effort to remove him from a mildly aching breastbone.

Angelus grinned wickedly as he read between the lines. “The answer is yes and it wouldn’t have taken sex to do it.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Why did it have to be him who could render her speechless with a single sentence?

Cordelia blinked up at him, her lips and brain unsure what to say in response, so she just lay there feeling yet again like a deer caught in the headlights until words finally came to her. “I don’t know what you mean. Would have lost what? Your sanity? News for you, old man…”

Angelus laughed, effectively cutting off the insult before she got a chance to finish. He got off her and held a hand out while hooking a thumb into the robe belt, purposely tugging on it to draw her eyes down to where a hard line lay hidden by silk. “You know exactly what I mean, Cor. If we’d gotten together, then that soul of mine would have gone bye-bye in weeks, not the year and quick rut in the dark with her.”

Her already flushed cheeks got redder and eyes tried to look everywhere but there. Slender fingers fiddled with the hem of her, his, shirt, while toes curled into the thick carpet as she shuffled on her feet. It wasn’t nervousness she was feeling, but her own feelings.

A part of her wanted for him not to say things like that, but another part of her wanted to hear it. God, how jealous could a girl be, she asked herself. “Why? I mean, how can you say that when you don’t know for sure?”

“I do know for sure,” he replied with a grin that said it all. “Think of this last week, Cordelia.” He watched her face and every expression washing over it, then watched a coquettish gaze come his way. “Now imagine a year of it. Not even a year. I’d bliss out after a month.”

“You can say that now,” she pointed out. “But could you say that with a soul?”

“If I could get the guilt trip to stop long enough to form a complete sentence, you mean?” Angelus shrugged, enjoying prolonging her curiosity. “There wouldn’t be time to say it. The soul woulda been gone like that.” He snapped his fingers.

Cordelia frowned in confusion. “I don’t understand. Sure, you and her had a miserable relationship, but it made you both happy. So why me and not her?”

“You like my club, yes?” She nodded. “Buffy didn’t know I had a club. I never went to it, but it was there, and that’s an example. How could I bliss out from being with someone who hid me and who hid away from me? She didn’t care to know me, didn’t care to see past what was the Romeo to her Juliet.”

“She does love the drama,” she said with a smile. “That doesn’t mean you would have lost it with me.”

He had to concede it was a fair point. “Okay, another example, one that your brain can absorb.”

“Ass.”

“I try,” Angelus shot her a wink. “She screamed when she found out I was a vampire. You, on the other hand, said ew and walked away. Not the greatest of reactions, but better than a terrified scream.” He paused. “Ew, Cordelia. You called me ew. Why would you call me ew?”

The look she gave was full of incredulity. “Duh. Walking dead guy.” She stopped and shuddered. “Ew, and that still doesn’t explain why it would take sex with her and not me.”

He rubbed his forehead as he sighed in exasperation. “Let’s try it this way, shall we? I’m soulless but you’re in my home, my bedroom, have slept in my bed, and remained unharmed. Ever wondered why? More to the point, have you even thought about it?”

Her confusion gave way to honest goodness puzzlement that made him chuckle and shake his head. “Yes and no,” Cordelia began to sort through the many thoughts buzzing round her brain. “I did question it, you, at first, but then I stopped because I like you… Oh.”

“A week is all it’s taken. I repeat, imagine a year of this.”

Angelus once more watched the show of emotions flash over her face, dropping her mouth open, and leaving her silent. It only served to remind him of just how good he was when it came to mental manipulation, especially when it concerned a woman like Mz. Chase, his very own sweet femme fatale.

“So,” Cordelia said when the silence between them began to grate on her nerves. “Since we can’t go out until tomorrow now, what are we gonna do to kill time?”

*~*~*~*~*

“Can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

“I didn’t talk you into anything. I’m not the fanatically curious one.”

There was a pause. “Did you just call me crazy?”

“You were the one who wanted to come up here just to see the,” his voice became a high pitched mimic of an eight year old girl, “Big princess tower.”

“You could have said no. This is your house, remember?”

“And what? Have you whining in my ear until I die of boredom?”

“Whining? I do not whine.”

“You’re a woman, aren’t you? It’s in your job description.”

“Excuse me!”

“Shouldn’t that be my line? After all, you’re the one not moving on this stairway to hell.”

Cordelia glared at the outline of the vampire, her hazel eyes spitting hate caused by burning feet and stupidly high heels. “You want me to move? Fine. I’ll move.” She began to stomp her way up more stairs, her heels sounding like thunder in his ears as they smashed off the concrete. “Am I moving enough for you?”

“God, you are such a whiner.”

“Did you just say something? I can’t hear over my moving.” She ignored stinging pain in favour of slamming her feet harder off the ground. Unfortunately, aching ankles and feet put a quick stop to the loud show of defiance, much to his relief, and she paused to catch her breath. Her mouth opened in preparation to speak, but was cut off.

“Before you say it, I didn’t put a gun to your head and force you into those shoes.”

“I wasn’t going to say that.” Okay, so maybe she was going to say that, but that didn’t mean he had to know.

It wasn’t so dark on the stairwell that she missed the arching eyebrow. “So what were you going to say?”

The shoes in question clacked once or twice more as she shuffled in an effort to kick start the quick thinking part of her brain. “I was going to say it was your fault you chose this dumb, drafty hellhole of a castle to live in.”

“Just because I chose to live here didn’t mean you had to demand the ten cent tour of the highest freaking tower!”

He had her there. Damn him and his point proving skills. “I repeat, you could have said no. You do know what that word means, right?”

Angelus resisted the urge to tear his hair out with his bare hands. “I know exactly what it means. I’m not the lunatic.”

“Yeah, well. I’m rubber, you’re glue.” The petty insult ended with a hefty sigh that came complete with a urgh for added effect. She crossed her arms, pursed her lips, and waited for his next move, which was something similar to hers, except his gaze was far more homicidal.

They stood there and stared, each wanting the other to back down and admit to whose fault it was they were halfway to dropping dead. Seconds, maybe longer, passed before they simultaneously looked away, one grouching out sighs and the other grinding forming fangs. God, he’d never wanted to bite someone so much in his entire vampiric existence.

The silence grated on her nerves more than the walk up the steep, winding stairs. She blew out a puff of air and decided damage control was obviously down to her since he was too stubborn.

“Help me take my shoes off?” She asked, purposely making herself out to be a distressed damsel.

“Won’t they just stick to me?” So he sounded like a petulant kid, sue him.

“I didn’t mean to call you glue. Honest. You’re more of a big ball of gum… Or something equally sticky and fun to play with.”

That got the beginnings of a smirk. “Exactly how much fun?”

Cordelia absently twirled loose strand of hair as she regarded the vampire, feeling her face heat up under his intense attention. He had been a few steps or so behind her, but was now up close and personal. He was so close, she could see flecks of gold lighting his wicked eyes and heard the breath exhaled on a deep purr. His lips were incredibly pale, even in the dark, and teeth were white and sharp.

He wore no cologne and all she could smell was the delicious combination of leather, midnight, and something she couldn’t quite place. It was strange mix of musky heat and natural masculinity, and it was oh so good. She leaned a little closer, eyes fluttered when light stubble tickled her nose and lips. She could almost taste him.

“Don’t know.” She managed, her effort to pull back stopped by a curving wall behind her. “Never played.”

Angelus grinned a shark’s grin and bent down. “Hold my shoulders,” he said, not once removing his gaze from her face. “Right foot.”

Cordelia obediently raised her right foot, feeling his fingers skim over her skin to loosen the thin strap, then felt him slip off her shoe. The second it was set aside, he took the opportunity to trail a fingernail from toe to heel, drawing random patterns until he reached her ankle.

“Ya know,” he began casually. “Back in the day, seeing a woman’s bare foot was enough to cause scandal of the worst kind. They had these white stockings covering every bit of skin imaginable.”

“If we were caught, you’d have to marry me to save my reputation,” was the reply and it came with a pretty little smile that fell into one full of curiosity. “Did you ever marry?” She hoped not and then felt like a jealous wench, but taking it back only made her feel a whole lot worse. Just because he hadn’t known her then didn’t mean Angel didn’t deserve to have a wife if he chose. Still, the thought of him and that had her pouting.

Angelus saw her expression and winked lasciviously. “I wasn’t dumb enough to get caught. Left foot.”

“You’re an ass.” She obeyed and offered up her left foot, her eyes twinkled as she watched him lavished the same small amount of affection on her toes, wiggling them when his exploring finger reached a sensitive spot. Off his look, “The tootsies tickle on that one.”

Helpless laughter echoed round the stairwell. “Tootsies?”

Cordelia shrugged. “Tootsies sounds better than tootiepegs or toes.” Her foot was placed back on the step and now that she was sans heels, she was a few inches shorter, and her breath caught in her throat. His hands were now on her calves and her skirt fanned out around his shoulders, making it so all he’d have to do was stand to push her skirt up to her waist. It was enough to hit her where it hurt, not mention enough to make her fantasies take flight.

She was sure it wouldn’t be too much trouble for him to stop the damned teasing and get it over with. Oh wait. It was Angelus. He got off on torture.

His eyes darkened, lips furled into a half smile as he slowly rose, letting his fingers slide up her legs. Angelus ground his teeth when a rich scent of arousal replaced the musty hall air, and he purred. How easy it would be to keep going and touch her, easier still would be deflowering the virgin whore right here on the stairs. He knew she was ready for it. Hell, he could fucking taste she was ready for it, and it killed him to think he’d deny himself a sweet treat in favour of pride.

Cordelia found her mouth wasn’t working and she blinked in answer to his question. “Wanna keep going?”

Was there anything better than rendering a woman speechless? “Sure,” she croaked. God, all he’d done was remove her shoes and she’d gotten wet. Talk about desperate.

Angelus gave her a little shove and picked her shoes up, dangling them from his forefinger. “You do know there’s nothing up here, right?”

“Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see.”

He shook his head. “C’mon then, Snoop. Only a few more flights to go.”

She resumed the walk, now a tad less painful, and grumbled out a sigh. “Next time I decide to take a hike…”

“Knock some sense into you. I’ll be happy too, believe me.”

“You didn’t have to come along.”

He snorted. “And let you scurry around every nook and cranny in my home?”

Hazel eyes rolled skyward. “I wouldn’t go in the west wing.”

“Why? What’s in the west wing?”

Cordelia came to a halt so suddenly, Angelus was inches off unbalancing her. “You do know Beauty and the Beast, right?”

He scoffed. “Of course I know Beauty and the Beast. Girl exchanges her freedom for that of her father. Goes to live with a prince transformed into a beast because of his arrogance and they live happily ever after… Are you calling me a beast?”

“Oh my God! You’ve never seen Beauty and the Beast! And no, I’m not calling you a beast. I was referring to the Disney cartoon where the Beast forbids Belle from going into the west wing?” There was absolutely no recognition on his face or in his reply. “That’s it. You and me? We’re having a movie-a-thon, starting with Beauty and the Beast.”

Angelus started to laugh incredulously. “You think I’m gonna watch Disney? You really are crazy.”

“Why not?” She challenged and yet again resumed the stair climb. “Afraid you’ll like it? Or maybe you’ll cry? Oh, sorry. Men don’t cry. They just get something in the eye.”

“I take offence to that. I cried once.”

That bit of info stopped Cordelia dead in her tracks for the second time. “You cried? As in actual tears? When, and more importantly, why?”

“Ask that again without the surprise.”

Her face fell into a frown as she realised how that must have sounded. “I didn’t mean to imply you’re a heartless ass with no feelings, it’s just… I can’t comprehend what it took to make you cry. So what did?” It had to be something major.

Her thoughts were on her face and Angelus smiled. “Ballet.”

She’d be laughing if she wasn’t so shocked. “Ballet?” Cordelia asked, her voice full of disbelief, and she had to stare at him to find any trace of fibbing. There was none and that meant he was truly, madly serious about this. “You cried at ballet?”

Angelus arched an eyebrow. “I thought you liked a sensitive guy.”

The grin she gave was smugly victorious. “You said it yourself, Angel. There’s a difference between sensitive and being a big fairy.”

“You’re not funny, Cordelia. You think you are, but you’re not.”

“I know. I’m hilarious.”

He graced her with a look of pure disgust. “Did you take classes in being a pain in my ass?”

“Nope. It’s a God given gift.”

She was such a little minx. If it was anyone else back chatting him like this, they’d be dead faster than they could blink. Huh. Maybe that’s why she got away with teasing him. Because she wasn’t afraid of him no more. Well, not much anyway. Or maybe he just liked to be insulted. After all, vampires were notorious masochists and he was one of the biggest.

Or maybe he simply liked the way her tongue got pinched with her teeth, the way her eyes and smile turned cheeky, the way her shoulders swung back and forth. Aw hell. He just liked her snarky mannerisms full stop. No doubt about it, Cordelia Chase was trouble of the best kind, and in order to keep her type of trouble was to give trouble right back. Of course, he’d have to ease her in slowly when it came to his games, but he had the time and he definitely had the energy.

Now all he needed was the right moment to put the plan into action.

Angelus looked to the ceiling for help. “First she wants a tour, then she complains, then she insults. Women,” he grunted out in exaggerated frustration. “Never understood em.”

Cordelia watched him, knowing the show was for her benefit, and felt kind of smug about it. She’d bet twenty big ones Buffy never got to see his goofy side. “Could you be anymore of a goofball?”

“Do you wanna vomit?”

The conversational banter ceased long enough for them to share a smile. He held her gaze until she blushed and looked away. Oh yeah. It’d be no chore easing her round to his way of thinking.

“Not really. Can we go see the tower now? My feet are getting cold standing around here.”

“I got the cure for cold feet.”

He winced when her shriek of surprise went right through him, rattling both his sensitised ears. It took a second or two for the vibrations to die down and he was able to get her settled in her new place against his chest. “Okay?”

For her part, it was all she could do not to stare behind him at the very long, very hard concrete ground. If he fell…

Cordelia gulped and clung a little tighter. “Fine. I’m okay,” and she would be as long as she didn’t look down. Focusing all her attention on Angelus and trying to keep the instinct to snuggle well and truly buried, she offered up a pretty smile. He carried her as though she weighed less than nothing. Impressive and quite attractive if she did say so herself.

“Has your name always been Angel?”

“Liam,” he replied, his voice sounding a little odd. “My human name was Liam. I was twenty seven when I died.”

“If you’re uncomfortable talking about it, we don’t have to…”

Angelus chuckled. “I’m not uncomfortable. Merely enjoying the opportunity to feel you up.” God knew he needed it. The whole situation was starting to get to him, really get to him. He was awake all hours of the night, tossing and turning from back to front while being smothered in her scent, and those massages she gave were the icing on the damned cake that was his permanent hard on.

She may not be menstruating, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t smell it on her, because he could. It was mixed with tangy, tasty sex and baby lotion, and there was no escape for him, and it was scratching its way through his sanity like nails on a chalkboard. All he wanted to do was make her pay for what she was doing to him.

There was no question she’d pay and pay dearly, but not yet.

The rest of the hike was spent in comfortable silence, with only the sounds of her heart and breathing to shatter it. Every now and then, Cordelia would shift her head so she lay resting either on his shoulder or his cheek, allowing him to lose a bit more of what remained of his sanity and will power.

His fingers brushed the soft underside of her breast and he grinned like a wildcat when she snatched in a deep, shaky breath. It wasn’t a sexual touch, he was simply readjusting his hold, but it was enough to get nails digging into his skin.

Angelus did it again, this time adding the smallest amount of pressure that had her eyes fluttering, and fingers flexing around his neck. He felt something stir in his gut when her lips graced an almost unfelt warm smooch to his jaw and his hand involuntarily squeezed that little harder as a reward.

Damn if she wasn’t soft and round, a perfect fit for his hand, and he’d bet anything she was tipped with teeny, tiny rose buds. Probably taste of raspberries or strawberries. He could hardly wait.

“Cordelia,” his voice like fine grains of sand broke through the intensity surrounding her, and dewy irises glanced through dark lashes.

“Uh-huh?”

“We’re here.”

Disappointment washed over her face, turning her pretty mouth down at the corners. “Oh. Guess that means you hafta put me down now.”

God, being a bastard never felt so good. A cheery smile brightened his face as he set her down, making sure she wasn’t going to collapse before fully letting her go. “Move a sec. The door’s a bit hard.”

“Not the only thing,” Cordelia muttered, not caring whether he heard her or not. She did as requested and stood to one side, her eyes growing wide with the eagerness to see the room.

Angelus used a broad shoulder to shove the door open, and when he did, the stench of a musty, unaired room hit them both equally. It was rank, reminding her of sweaty feet and him of week old corpses.

He shot her an unpleasant look, “Shall we?”

“Yes,” came the coughed croak. “We shall, and tomorrow we shall be investing in some air freshener… Or maybe a demolition squad.”

He paused before entering the room, hiding his smile behind a malicious look. “You do realise you’re in a remote part of a remote house, in a remote part of Sunnydale with a soulless vampire, right?”

Cordelia rose to the biting challenge. “Completely,” she replied and met his gaze with a humoured one of her own. “And do you realise you’re in a remote part of a remote house, in a remote part of Sunnydale with a girl who’ll kick your shiny little tush if you don’t let her past?”

There were many reasons he wanted to bed her and that was just one of them.

*~*~*~*~*

It took Angelus a good few minutes to find a light switch and a good few seconds to see there wasn’t one. There was a tiny, rectangular window allowing enough moonlight in for Cordelia to comfortably find her way around, and see what was in there. A few boxes were over by the far wall and a one or chests of some kind closer to her.

The room itself was huge and round with cold, grey concrete walls that went right up into a high point. Probably the spire, she figured, her head rolling back so she could look way up. As she twirled, she followed the spiraling brick work, and eventually decided that the room as a whole was cool. Literally and figuratively. “This the room with the gargoyles outside?”

“No,” he replied. “That’s two doors down on the left.”

He got a sneer for his sarcastic trouble. “Very funny.”

“I thought so.”

A grin was shared and held before she broke away as a sharp something cut into her shin. “Ow!” Cordelia glared at the vampire, one hand rubbing the sore spot. Why did little cuts always hurt more than big ones? “I thought you said there was nothing in here.”

Angelus shrugged. “Because there isn’t.” Well, nothing he hadn’t already seen.

“Does that look like nothing to you?” His little smile was apologetic enough, but did nothing to ease her irritation. “Ever heard the words look out, Cor, there’s something in front of you? Or how about the shorter version, watch where you’re going? Geez.”

She huffed in a manner which had him choking back the chuckles. “I could have had anything stuck in me.”

“If you’re that hung up on being pierced, I gotta coupla choices for you.” The fang flashing smirk gave it all away and hazel eyes rolled, but her lips cranked up at the edges.

“You’re such a perv, you know that?”

“No other way to be.”

Angelus watched as Cordelia knelt down on the dusty, dirty floor and tried with all her might to open the trunk. He heard her huffing and puffing, saw her face scrunch up when she kept failing her task, then heard the muttered curses. A minute or so went by before she swallowed her pride.

“Are you gonna help me open this thingamabob or are you just gonna stand there?”

A sigh accompanied his footsteps as he closed the distance between them, all the while grumbling about bossy brunettes and their crazy ideas of entertainment. He knelt down next to her, and with a one handed yank to the lid, opened the trunk that gave her so much trouble.

Cordelia would have said something about his showing off, but she was too enamored with her new toy. Without wasting time or caring about what may or may not be inside, she dug both hands and rummaged around like bargain hunter at an antique’s fair.

“What, uh, are you looking for?” Angelus asked, helpless to stop himself peering into the trunk.

She paused for a second. “I’ll let you know when I find it,” then went back to rummaging, leaving him with nothing to do bar watch her.

Moonlight thread her hair with platinum, a beautiful contrast to the dark chestnut strands, and her face looked like fine silver porcelain. Her lashes created wispy shadows below her eyes and cheeks held an ethereal glow, which merely added to the effect.

Then there was her scent. Her sweet, intoxicating scent. Arousal, remnants of blood and sweat. Everything was in perfect synchronicity, and it was delicious.

He wasn’t sure how long passed before he spoke. “Cordelia.”

“Yeah?” She looked up from her treasure hunting, not expecting what she saw.

“You’re a rush.”


CHAPTER 11
Day 31…
“Well?” She asked, smiling as she twirled a twirl that had her skirt flirting round her thighs. The skirt was dark blue with white daisies embroidered around the hem, and was a pretty compliment to her white short sleeved blouse that came complete with dark blue daisies embroidered on the edges. Her outfit looked nice, beautiful even, but seemed wrong somehow, almost childish in comparison to her personality.

“Looks great,” Angelus commented. “If you were about to compete in an Olympic tennis match.” He paused. “Well, apart from the pink rollers in your hair and fluffy slippers on your tootsies.” Tootsies. God. She was such a girl.

Her happy smile faded and she glared at him, wholly unimpressed with his statement. “Okay,” Cordelia said as one hand became planted on a hip. “First I looked like a walking bruise, then a humanised yellow submarine, and now a Wimbledon wannabe. Tell me, oh Swami of Donna Karen, what should I wear?”

He sighed in relief. “I thought you’d never ask.”

She watched him enthusiastically get up from where he was lounging on her bed, enthusiastically push her out of her own closet, and more enthusiastically go through her wardrobe. Her eyebrows reached unprecedented heights as he began to mutter to himself, his hands busily throwing various garments over his shoulder, accompanying his actions were occasional hums of approval or disgust.

Two piles began to form behind him with the one on the left growing higher than the one on the right. It took a few seconds for her to realise the left pile was what he disapproved of.

“These?” Amgelus held up a tailored pair of pinstripe pants and matching jacket. He shook his head. “Nice, but not for our date.” The pants landed on the right. “Dresses are nice…” An emerald green dress made of silk was next up for inspection, but no. Apparently that was too, “Formal. A sweet, sexy little number, but formal.”

Cordelia’s jaw hit the floor as the one-off Valentino went sailing through the air. What the hell was he doing? Didn’t he know how much that cost? “Hey!”

He heard her complaint and didn’t give a damn. A pale yellow top came up with a pair of red leather pants. Since his back was to her, she never saw his eyes turn to bronze. “Take these and put em to one side. You’ll wear them for me later.” The outfit landed next to the right pile.

“If I wore them tonight, this problem would be solved.” She snatched the outfit out of his hands, carefully laying them out on her bed until she could get a clothes hanger from her closet.

“True,” Angelus agreed and shot her a look over his shoulder before turning back to the task of picking out what she was going to wear. “Then my opinion would be pointless, dontcha think?”

She made a choking motion with her hands, only stopping when suspicious eyes came her way. “I think you should hurry up and pick something for me to wear cus I’m not getting any younger.” God, he was so infuriating.

He shook his head. “Patience is a virtue.”

“One I really don’t have or ever plan to have. I wanna go out, Angel,” Cordelia half whined. “We haven’t been out in forever and I’m bored.”

This time, it was him making the choking motions, but unlike her, he didn’t hide his frustration. He faced her with no expression whatsoever. “Ever thought about buying less clothes?”

She stared at him like he was insane, wondering if he was serious. A second passed and she started to laugh. “That was a good one, Angel. Really. The best one I’ve heard all day.” Less clothes. Ha!

Angelus expressionless facade didn’t falter, not that she cared of coursed. “Next thing you’ll be telling me is I need a smaller closet.”

He glanced around at the closet in question and turned back to her with an arched eyebrow. “Well…”

Cordelia swiped his shoulder. “Oh you!” She sighed through her chuckles. “Where was this humour when you had the soul?”

“The blonde flushed it down the toilet.”

“By blonde, I assume you mean Buffy. She certainly has a knack for it.” Her voice came out with a little more snap than she intended.

“You can say that again.”

“She certainly has a knack for it.”

Brown eyes met hazel ones and grinned identically. “Anyway,” Cordelia took another dress off the railing, holding it up for his inspection. “What about this one? It’s both stylish and practical, made of a soft cotton blend so it’s keeps you warm and cool at the same time.”

Angelus critically eyed the garment. It was pretty, he had to admit. the colour was pale, not blue or grey, but somewhere in between, and it reminded him of an English spring morning. He mentally put the dress on her and licked his lips at the delicious picture she posed. He could imagine matching hair clips holding her dark curls off her face, allowing him to admire her throat whenever he chose, and her mouth would shine with a flavoured gloss while long, dark lashes fluttered coquettishly at him.

She followed his tongue as he traced fangs and bit his lower lip, bringing a spec of blood to the surface that he lapped up without hesitation. She clutched the hanger, swallowing as she pictured him lapping up her blood in just the same way. It got a little hard to breathe as he took a step towards her, then another and another, only stopping when her back was right against the far wall in the closet, the hanger encased in a white knuckle grip.

With him directly in front her and blocking most of the light, Cordelia saw how pale he really was. Incredibly odd, if she said so herself. One moment he didn’t seem so pale and the next he put Casper to shame. His eyes were almost as black as his hair and the contrast to his skin was unnatural yet natural. Then there was his features. Sculpted cheeks and jaw went well with his mouth, despite an uneven lip line, slightly large nose, and his forehead. His ears weren’t too small or too large, and there were no signs of him ever having them pierced.

Angelus arched an eyebrow when her head tilted to one side, hazel irises adorably studying what seemed to be every inch of his face. “I am a handsome fella, aren’t I?” His mouth curled up wickedly as a rosy blush crept up her cheeks.

“Meh,” she said airily, fully realising he could murder her for this, but there was no fun in playing safely. “Seen better, seen worse.” There. See how he liked that. She had the urge to stick out her tongue.

His jaw dropped a tad in disbelief. She wanted to see worse? Fine. He’d show her worse.

Angelus took great pleasure in watching her jump when he snatched the dress out of her hands and shoved it onto the railing, leaving Cordelia with no barrier between her and worse. His palms slammed heavily off the wall behind her, not caring about the plaster flaking onto the floor or the prints that would be left. “How’s this for handsome?”

She was afraid and wasn’t ashamed to admit it, but that didn’t stop her from squaring up to the vampire, and she did so admirably, all the while watching in fascination as his humanity slowly turned demonic. Ridges of bone and cartilege made his jaw prominent, and forced blunt teeth into two rows of lethally sharp fangs, while obsidian orbs spun with gold and caramel. She’d seen him up and close before, but never this personal, and to say it was an experience was an understatement.

Determined to be intimidated as little as possible, Cordelia coolly smirked and rose up on tip toes so she could whisper in his ear. “Definitely an improvement.”

Then she had the opportunity to see a vampire resemble a guppy and the urge to laugh in his face almost irrisitable. Almost, that is, but she managed. Barely.

Her words were a good, hard blow to his ego, and he couldn’t stop from gaping at her as he struggled for a reply that would send her to her ass. He had to give the cheeky witch kudos for her nerve. “You… You…” He spluttered.

“Wench?” Cordelia offered helpfully.

Kiss or kill, Angelus tried to decide which punishment she deserved. Kiss or kill, kiss or kill. God, he’d never been so confused. Maybe he should toss a coin and be done with it. “Minx,” he breathed on a growl, but got no further.

Since she was still on tippy toes, she was able to trace the outline without the trouble of stretching, and she did. Going from one temple to the other, then to the middle of his forehead and down his nose, only stopping the exploration when she reached his Cupid’s bow. “Can you have fangs without the bumpies?” She asked quizzically.

Huh? Okay, first she wasn’t screaming for her life or begging for mercy. Sure she was afraid, which was expected, but she was more concerned on taking him down a peg or two. Secondly, she was poking his face left and right and asking questions. Never in his existance had a human been so unaffected. One look at her face told him that no, she wasn’t unaffected, but she wasn’t running away.

It amazed him into silence and unable to do anything bar let her have her way with him.

“Well?” Cordelia demanded. “Can you have one without the other?”

Angelus blinked himself out of the daze she put him in. “Never tried.” A finger to his right cheekbone told him to do that very thing. He focused on retracting his fangs while keeping the rest, and it was pretty damn difficult, so he tried pulling back the ridges on his upper face while keeping his fangs. The answer to how it looked was written on her amusing expression. “That weird?”

“Yeah,” she said with a grin that quickly became a wince as she prodded his forehead.

“What?”

“Just thinking how a painful a headbutt from you would be.” She paused, visualising those boned ridges smashing some poor schmuck’s nose wide open. “Ouch.”

He chuckled. “Happened to me once,” he told her. “Not by another vampire, but a demon by the name of Boone.”

“Really?” Cordelia’s eyes went wide with a thirst for knowledge. “Tell me everything and don’t leave anything out.”

Angelus took the dress back off the railing and grabbed her hand, taking the opportunity to accidentally rub his thumb over the flimsy flesh hiding her pulse. Mmm. Tasty. “Juarez,” he led her out of the closet, fully aware she was hanging off his every word. “Back in the twenties,” he began. “Got into a fight with a demon named Boone over a pretty little bag containing a lot of money.”

His voice turned reminscent as memories of the good old days ran through his head. “His kind has steel hard coils that come down to curl around their hands when in a fight.”

“Wait a minute,” Cordelia tugged on his hand to get his attention. “You got into fistycuffs with a steel-handed demon over money?”

“Well, that and the pretty little green eyed senorita holding it.” He caught her eye roll and grinned. “I used to be a cocky son of a bitch…”

“Used to be?”

He threw the dress on her bed and graced her with a vicious glare. “Do you wanna hear this or not?”

The wench merely plopped her ass down, thoroughly entertained by her insult. “I’m alllllll ears.”

Angelus narrowed his eyes in suspicion before continuing. “So there I was, bowing to the masses and ready to take the maiden’s hand, add in the gloating a victor should rightfully do, and you got yourself an easy target. I had time enough to shoot Green Eyes a smile before one of those steel coils came smashing into my face.” He let out a low whistle. “I gotta tell ya Cor, it fuckin hurt. A lot.”

Cordelia could well imagine.

“I went down. Head off cobbled stones, blood flowing, and aching like a bitch. It was his turn to gloat and gloat he did. Right over me. Offered to give me a gracious death with a quick kill.”

“Nice of him. So what happened next? Did you get up and kick his ass, or did you say night-night?”

“Boone may have some handy talent in battle, but even he can’t take a swift kick to the nuts.” She giggled. “He got one of my size twelves right in there, and that was enough to startle him into giving me time to shake off the stars and get up. He got a fist to his jaw, I got one to my gut. He got a nice introduction to a wall and I said hello to a table. We fought for three and a half hours.”

“Then what happened?”

“The sun came up.”

She waited for more, but it never came, and this time it was Cordelia resembling a fish. “And that’s it? The sun came up? No I won he lost, or I drove a shiny sharp object straight into his heart and laughed while he choked on his own blood?” He smiled and shook his head. “Exciting,” Cordelia muttered sarcastically.

Angelus glared once more. “It was exciting.”

“Lemme guess, you shook hands and lived happily ever after. Yeah. Real exciting.”

“It was exciting!”

“You think that if it makes you feel better.”

When no reply came, she glanced up through eyelashes to see him stood with one hand on his hip and shaking a finger in her direction. The silence lasted until he found the words he was clearly searching for. How dare she question him? “I’ve done exciting things. I have.”

Cordelia simply couldn’t help herself. “What did ya do? Dream them all?”

Angelus found himself back at his earlier dilemma. Kiss or kill, and right now, he was leaning towards kill. “Alright, I’ll make you a deal. I win tonight, you take it back and say, loudly, that I am the most exciting person you’ve ever met. You win, you still loudly say I’m the most exciting person you’ve ever met.”

There was a pause lasting a split second before humorous laughter bounced off her bedroom walls, the vibrations made her bed shake and gasped breaths had her belly aching. Her arms wrapped round her sides as if to stop herself from coming apart at the seams while hot tears leaked from tightly shut eyes. He had no choice but to stand and watch and wait until she regained control.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, Cordelia’s chuckles faded into hiccups and sniffles accompanying the occasional sigh. “You may not be the most exciting man I’ve ever met, but you’re certainly the funniest. Unless you were being serious about those stakes…?” One look at his face was answer enough. “Which you obviously were.”

“No, really?” Acidic acid fell from his tongue as he tried not to find her hysterics at his expense attractive, but he just couldn’t seem to hold onto even feigned irritation. Slowly, his unimpressed expression melted into his own personal smile. “I was being serious. Although I could be persuaded to change my mind…”

“And how could I get you to do that?”

Wasn’t that a loaded question?

Angelus thought for a moment. “I’ll think of something.”

She smirked. “I have no doubt. Now, my dress and I are going to get acquainted while you keep your snooping paws out of my stuff.”

“You’re only saying that cus I found your first journal,” he pointed out smugly. “David Hasslehoff, Cordelia?” He clacked his tongue in dismay. “And here I thought you had taste.”

He barely managed to dodge the slipper being thrown his way, a move that only served to enhance his good humour, and his chuckles accompanied her into the bathroom. She wasn’t in there for more than five seconds when he made the decision to offer his help and it took a few silent steps for him to reach the bathroom, where he carefully laid his hand on the door handle, easing it round in a way that made absolutely no noise whatsoever.

Angelus pressed his ear to the smooth grey wood, listening as outfit number three hit the floor. He couldn’t remember her putting any underwear on before her little floor show and that meant in one more moment, she’d be naked as the day she was born. Sweet. Yep. There went her top.

Grinning, he shoved the door wide open and found her resting against the sink, inspecting her nails and completely dressed. His gaze dropped down and discovered a set of small towels on the floor, obviously what she dropped on purpose. When his attention made it back to her face, he found a set of hazel eyes blinking oh so innocently.

“Is there something you wanted?”

Kill, he decided, definitely kill.

*~*~*~*~*~*

At first, Angelus had been quite content to walk beside her, his attention on the different games machines and listening to Cordelia describe how to play them. Then the contentment disappeared when his attention began to notice men, of all ages, looking at her in a way that really didn’t sit well with him. His hand slid down and into hers, and he tugged her a little closer to him, sending each male a promise of death.

Holding her hand didn’t last long purely for the reason when men looked at her, they followed her arm down to where his claim was evident and kept going until her legs were the main attraction. Angelus bit back his fangs and removed his arm, much to her confusion, and placed it around her waist. One guy dared to ignore it and he had the fucking gall to smile at her, but a flash of gold quickly sorted that out.

Of course it didn’t matter if it had sorted it out as the guy’s face was already commited to memory and the death warrant already signed. Still, that didn’t stop Angelus from tugging her closer into his side. A good move, he decided happily. Not only was the message loud and so very clear, but he also earned himself beautifully blushing cheeks and a huge smile. Yep, it was a damned good day to be him.

“I still can’t believe we got all dressed up to go bowling,” she was saying and he tore his intense gaze off a man old enough to be her grandfather. “I feel more ready for a five star restaurant.”

“I like my women to look pretty for me.”

Cordelia arched an eyebrow at him, inching further into him so her shoulder brushed against his. “Women?”

She got an irritating smirk in response. “What’s that game over there? The one surrounded by a million kids.”

“Oh, Mz. Pacman. Start playing, you’ll still be here this time next year. My mom spent thirty dollars on it when we came here for a birthday party. Daddy had to threaten the existance of her credit cards to make her stop.” Cordelia’s sentence was cut off as she longingly the teddy bear machines and ten cent slot machines, and felt the urge rise. No. She must be strong. She would not cave. She could and would stay far, far away from them.

Angelus nudged her while following her line of sight, sighing when he saw the stuffed toys. “Please don’t tell me your one of those girls.”

“What do you mean? Those girls?”

“Ya know. The ones who force their boyfriends into winning them a bear.”

“No, but like I said. I’m not adverse to the occasional show of romance, and if said show of romance involves the winning of a cute, cuddly kitten with black spots, far be it from me to turn it down.” She turned away so he didn’t see her amusement. A soulless vampire on a date with a girl who liked stuffed kittens. Poor thing. “Don’t worry your little head, Angel. Your street cred is perfectly safe.”

“Oh, thanks.”

He received a pat to his arm. “You’re welcome. Okay, the lanes are this way. Let’s go beat you.”

“I think you mean let’s go beat you.”

Cordelia gave an unladylike snort. “No, no. I got it right the first time.”

“Riiight.” Angelus drawled, going between memorising faces and inventing new torture methods. Sure, some of the old stuff was definitely good, but times change. One couldn’t always live in the past. Plus, there was only so many times the Chinese water torture could be done before one got bored.

She let him dwell in denial and dropped her left hand down to cover the one resting peacefully on her belly, and simply relaxed into him to enjoy the leisurely stroll towards the lane she’d booked before leaving the house. This was nice, really nice. Sharing the odd smile with her date and swapping the occasional witty remark all the while leaning her head on his right shoulder.

They reached the desk that gave out the shoes, and when Cordelia went to pay, Angelus curled his fingers around her wrist. “Me.” He looked to the sales girl by way of an order not to take the offered money. “I’m paying.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes at the macho display. “I said my treat and it does exactly what it says on the tin. My treat. Though you may wanna rethink the hiring of shoes. God knows how many people have fungal infecions.”

“Either way, you’re not paying. I was born in the age where men took care of their women. I want to pay, or should I say I will pay. No arguments.”

She stood there, letting his gaze bore heavily into hers, and hearing only one word out of all that. Not the one that stated she was his woman or the word that stated he’d take care of her, but the last word of his second sentence. “Women?”

He knew he’d won when she relented and put her purse away. “There’s my good girl,” he praised, rewarding her good sense with an affectionate smile and condescending pat on the head, to which she replied by batting his hand away.

“You’ll ruin all your hard work.” Angelus was definitely not like other men. He’d fixed her hair, helped out on what to wear, and merrily took part in a hearty discussion over what made better sheets. Satin, silk, or hundred count cotton. He even confessed to owning an Italian leather duvet, but wouldn’t tell her how much it cost. He didn’t need too, she was quite able to guess.

A noise of disgust came from Cordelia’s right side and they both looked over at a girl with dark blonde hair dressed up in a khaki skirt, clashing pink top, and sparkling winkle picker shoes. “It’s girls like you who give the rest of us a bad name.”

“Excuse me?” Cordelia demanded, taken aback by the hostility in the stranger’s voice.

“Allowing a…a man to pay for you,” the blonde looked down her nose at the couple and sneered. “You probably get him to open doors and pull out chairs.”

“What if I do?”

“I don’t fight for equality for girls like you to mess it up.”

Angelus chuckled, garnering the attention of both females. “See how she cleverly averted the use of the word screw? I imagine such an implication of phallus shaped activities being banned from her limited vocab.”

“And see how I’m not caring?” Cordelia grinned.

“Tell me,” he asked the intruder. “What’s your opinion on cucumbers?”

The sales girl choked on her own saliva when she heard the man’s question and she couldn’t stop from looking at the blonde girl. Free bowling, free cheesy fries from Ben, the cute guy who worked in the Food Court, and conversations like the one in front of her. Plus, it was good money for the least amount of responsibility. God, she loved her job.

Angelus was still chuckling as Cordelia dragged him towards their lane, not stopping until they were where the balls were kept. “Let the games begin.”

*~*~*~*~*

Intense concentration filled hazel eyes as the ball came up to mouth level. A breath was inhaled then slowly exhaled and her fingers prepared to let go at the perfect time. She took a step back, bringing her right foot into position, her hand swung back and was held for a second before the ball began it’s journey down the lane. Anticipation had her watching as it rapidly raced towards the intended target, her joyful jumping and shrieking accompanied the demolishing of nine whole pins.

“Yeah!” Cordelia’s fist hit the air and she flexibly spun in a circle, facing an unimpressed vampire. “Let’s see you beat that.”

Angelus crossed his arms over his chest. “Difficult, I’ll grant you, but not impossible.”

She waved the words off with a flourish. “All talk, that’s what you are, pal. Allllll talk and no action.”

“I’ll give you action, little girl.”

“Then step right up and do your worst.” She sniggered happily, moving aside so he could stalk past her without knocking her shoulder out of joint with his petty behaviour.

He was getting so damned sick of her smug jeering and her glorious smirking and sneering. It was clear the wench so needed to be taken down a peg or three and it was clearer still he just the vampire to do it. Angelus snatched up the heaviest ball like it was a feather, shooting her a death glare as he approached the lane. “Let the master show you how it’s done,” was all he said, and made a show of getting a strike with one single look at the pins.

Cordelia’s smugness disappeared into an open mouth as the entire bunch of pins went crashing to the ground. “No fair,” she accused, but was ignored.

Angelus plucked his second ball and repeated his prior actions, except this time his attention was heartily focused on the enraged brunette. “I believe that beats your nineteen. Or would floor wiping be a more accurate description?”

She snarled as she breezed past him, anger and humiliation seeping out of her every pore.

Ah. There really wasn’t much better than a spitting hellcat. Well, not in his world anyway. “C’mon, Cor,” came his happy-happy voice. “It’s just a game. It’s not the winning that…” Eyes pelted him with hazel fire and dared him to finish that sentence. “No, no. Winning definitely matters.”

“I hate you.” Cordelia hissed and snatched up a ball so hard, her fingernail cracked. “Damnit! Look what you made me do!” She held up her wound for the world to see. “You owe me an OPI manicure.”

Two large hands clutched a dead heart. “Aw.”

“You know what you are?”

Crikey, she was hot when she was furious. “What am I?” He asked with a smile of appreciation.

“A jerk,” Cordelia seethed. “A big, giant evil jerk.”

Angelus made a show of scuffing his shoe on the floor and painting the picture of blushing boy with his first Playboy. “Aw shucks, and I thought you hated me.”

“Argh!” She grabbed handfuls of her perfectly styled hair, yanking it up and looking half mad. “The only reason why I’m not pummeling you into the ground is because you’re bigger than me! Besides, who’s to say your prowess isn’t simply beginners luck?”

“Beginners luck?” He questioned with a smirk. “In other words you’re a sore loser.”

“I am no sore loser! You’re a…” Cordelia’s hands flapped around. “Sore cheater. Yeah. Sore cheater. A big, giant cheating evil jerk.” Because cheating was so obviously what he did. He used his vampire thing to get those strikes and that was cheating. In fact no, that wasn’t cheating. It was beyond cheating.

“Any more compliments and I’ll start to blush.”

Angelus wondered if she was going to throw the ball at him. “I’ll make you blush alright. With humiliation.” Her heels made a horrendously loud clacking noise that went right through him as she stalked past, purposely brushing his shoulder with hers.

She could barely see through the red haze of rage and only just managed to throw the ball in a straight line, where she watched it roll down the aisle and crash dead centre. She watched, as did a few other people, the middle pin teeter momentarily before going down and taking with it the other nine. She blinked, unsure of whether or not she got an actual strike, but the small sound of applause confirmed it.

Cordelia’s shriek of glee echoed through his ears and her jumping up and down nigh on registered on the Richter scale. She clapped her hands as she spun to face Angelus, her face full of sheer joy. “Did you see what I did?”

“I did.”

“My first strike of the day! Whoohoo!” She half bounced, half skipped up to him, her arms going round his neck and he guessed he was expected to return the gesture. Not much of a hardship when he thought about it and wasted no time in picking her up by the waist, arms squeezing the right side of painful, and he swung her round. He must have done something good when Cordelia planted a sloppy smooch to his cheek.

“I got a strike! I got a strike! Go me!”

He got a hard on. Go him. “That you did,” Angelus put set her back on the floor, watching as she flounced to the balls, his gaze entirely focused on how her dress moved around her form, enhancing the firm ass and toned thighs. Sweet.

“You a master?” She scoffed lightly. “Puhlease.” Unfortunately the excited happiness drove away not only her rage at his cheating techniques, but also her concentration, and her ball missed by a mile. “Damnit!”

Before Angelus had a chance to resume gloating, a strange voice came from behind him. “Well, well, well. Team Chase is in the place and losing,” a dark haired man stated with a smirk. “Wonders will never cease.”

The only thing stopping the vampire from snapping the intruder’s neck for insulting his girl’s bowling skills was Cordelia’s cool reply. “Mr. Nevis,” all traces of excitement and anger replaced by a wall of nothing. Angelus was severely impressed.

She walked up to Nevis, her steps calm and measured, and arms crossed over her chest. “Angel, this is Mr. Bryan Nevis. He plays for my father’s rival firm. Mr. Nevis, this is Angel, my…”

“Boyfriend,” he finished for her just so the message got across that she was unavailable.

Nevis glanced between Chase’s daughter and her escort with an arched eyebrow. “Your dad know this?” He wouldn’t be surprised if not. Will Chase wasn’t exactly the most easy going person when it came to his offspring.

Angelus came up to Cordelia’s side. “Will represents my club.”

He did? Cordelia blinked at not only the free use of her father’s name, but also the whopping white lie that fell with ease from the vampire’s lips. Desperate to stop any interraction that would lead to either Nevis losing his head or her downfall through embarrassing childhood stories, “Great seeing you, Mr. Nevis. I’ll be sure to give your regards to my dad…”

Nevis broke into a genuine smile, and Angelus had the pleasure of seeing his lady blush and turn into mush. The man was handsome. Greying streaks contrasted with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. Plus, he did resemble Will Chase, and knowing Cordelia was a daddy’s girl at heart, gave way to the fact he was looking at her first ever crush.

Oh, she was going to get so much grief over this, he’d probably have to run a mile from her wrath. How fun.

“Tell him I’ll gonna clean up at the next tourney,” Nevis said, then made the bad mistake of ruffling her hair.

Cordelia’s mushy feelings disappeared in the blink of an eye and Angelus waited for the bloodshed. “I’ll tell him you’re looking forward to having your ass kicked.”

Nevis laughed a laugh that shook off all genuity. “You’re dad’s about as good as you.”

“Excuse me?” The spitting vixen was back in full force. “That’s it. You and me? We’re on. Team Chase versus Pig Pushers. Oops. Did I say Pig? I meant Pig.”

The man’s gaze went between her and her boyfriend. “You two against us?” He gestured to the guys behind him, who were obviously the rest of Pin Pushers.

“Damn straight and We,” Cordelia’s broken fingernail pointed to first herself, then to Angelus. “Are going. To wipe. The floor. With you.” Each word punctuated with menacing steps that had her right in Nevis’ face.

“I wouldn’t wanna make a little girl cry.”

“Little girl? Cry?” Cordelia pretty much had steam coming out of her ears. “I’ll show you cry. Angel, scrap our game and set up a new one. We got a game to win.” She followed the vampire so she could whisper out a strategy. “You know how cheating is wrong?”

He nodded, a grin forming. “Yes.”

“You use whatever vampire thingies you have and cheat. Cheat your little dead heart out. I want them to hurt. I want to crush them into itty, bitty pieces. I want this game to be legendary. Understand?”

“Just to be clear on this. You want me to cheat?”

“Exactly.”

Angelus chuckled and drew her attention to the fact she was now in his face, her hands gripping his shirt collar and slightly shaking him. He glanced to where Pin Pushers were working on their own strategy, hearing every word they were saying. “Okay. That Graham guy is up first, with Derek second. Since Graham looks like a wimp, you can take him.”

Off her look, “Not saying your a wimp, of course.”

Cordelia suspiciously narrowed her eyes. “Riiight. Okay, good plan, but Nevis is mine.”

“You wish,” he said with a smirk and got himself a snappy little punch to his arm. “You have got to stop flirting with me, Cor.”

She grabbed a ball, growling with frustration as she went to walk away from him, but paused. “If that’s flirting, what would you make of this ball saying hello to yours?”

“I always said I’d marry someone I respected.” His words were clean, cut, and so dry, they left his mouth arid.

She was unable to anything bar blink. “You’re weird, Angel. I like it.”

“Ninety three percent. Now stop distracting me and get ass kicking.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

He stood over her, his eyes taking in every minute detail right from flickering eyelids and crinkling nose, down to the way she tucked one hand under her chin and the other on the pillow he’d been using. Her fingers stroked the soft cotton and head snuggled further into it while her body seemed to curl around it. A tiny little hum escaped her parted lips, and he could almost feel her breath as it warmed his cheek.

Angelus glanced toward the window, a frown on his face as hunger increased. He needed to eat and soon or else he’d be munching down on the pretty thing sleeping in front of him. Not that he’d mind having a taste of course, far from it in fact, but it’d be much more fun to fuck her first. Besides, it was kind of interesting to see if she’d willingly let him bite her. Probably not, at least not at first anyway, but it sure would be fun to try.

He stifled a chuckle. Her inane curiosity definitely gave him the advantage, especially if he put a romantic spin on it, and made it sound oh so good. He could make it completely painless for her, but where was the fun in that? Painless just wasn’t his style and he figured she knew that by now, hell she’d more or less said it herself. Oh well. As much as he’d love to stay and stare, he needed food. Lots of tasty, rich, hot young blood.

He was seconds from using the front door as promised when a tired voice came from the bed. “Angel? Where are you going? It’s almost three am.”

Angelus slowly turned round to see Cordelia rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand. “I’ll be back soon,” he said. “That is if you want me to come back…” He purposely let the sentence drift off, giving her time to think on her answer.

“Why wouldn’t I? Where did you say you were going again?”

“I didn’t, but nice try. Just got some things to take care of,” and some pretty brunettes to sate my appetite. God, he got hungrier the more he looked at her. The scent of her blood wasn’t as strong now, yet it was enough to have him zeroing in on all the places he could bite. Throat, wrist, thigh, breast. They all looked so damned delicious, so inviting, he was hard pressed to ignore it, but ignore it he did.

Too much, too soon, and all that. He needed to play her just right or she’d have his guts for garters… And wasn’t that an interesting thought?

“What things? Want me to come?”

Did he ever. Angelus massaged the nape of his neck and sighed, deciding honesty was the best policy in situations like these then he’d get the added bonus of watching her realise exactly who it was she’d opened up her home too. “I’m hungry, Cordelia,” he said, his voice coming out on a husky growl. “I want blood. Need blood.”

Half asleep or not, she wasn’t stupid. He was going to hunt, feed, drink, whatever he called it. He was going to kill somebody. What could she say to that apart from nothing?

“I’m not Angel,” he said and intently watched her face for something, anything, that would tell him she thought otherwise, but found nothing. “I won’t live off pigs.”

Momentarily distracted, “You drank pigs’ blood?”

Angelus had to smile at the disgust in her voice. “Used to eat rats,” then he out and out grinned when he saw her cheeks turn slightly green.

Cordelia comically shuddered, unable to stop herself from asking. “Didn’t you get hairballs? No, don’t answer. Don’t really wanna know.” She took a deep breath. “It’s three in the morning, the sun will be up soon, and I don’t want your ashes on my doorstep.” Or anywhere else. Like in an urn on Buffy’s mantal.

“Why? The clean-up crew on vacation?” His grin disappared when he saw genuine worry in her eyes.

“Just… Be careful, okay?”

Angelus walked back to the bedside and gently pushed on her shoulder, signalling for her to lie down. When she complied, he tugged the sheets up under her chin, watching as she snuggled down under them. She made the bed look so warm, so damned inviting, he was tempted to get in there with her. “Go to sleep, Cor. I won’t be long.”

Cordelia gave a small nod. “Promise?”

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes purely because she was truly worried. “Promise.”

*~*~*~*~*

For once, Sunnydale was quiet, and Angelus found himself searching high and flipping low for a good meal. All his hard work paid off when he came across an intoxicated couple fraternising in the park close to Restfield. Their giggles didn’t last and were fast replaced with screams that were music to his ears. To make it so much better for him, the little lady was a pretty brunette, and though the height, the eye colour, the figure, the scent were all wrong, he made do.

The guy faired worse since he was the one about to stick it to the girl. Sure, she may not have been Cordelia, but that was what he saw.

Cordelia spreading herself wide for someone not him and God, it made him so fucking furious. Angelus wondered if she knew where they were heading. Probably. She wasn’t stupid was his Cor, she wasn’t naiive either. She had to know that they were going to end up in his bed with her begging for whatever he decided to give her.

He felt his cock flex as he imagined holding her down, her thighs legs open, her mouth saying that delicious little word. Please. Please, Angel, she’d say with tears in her eyes, I’ll do anything you want.

Anything, he’d reply. Get on your knees and beg. Say you’re sorry, Cordelia. Sorry for the hell you’ve put me through, sorry for the tight little dresses and sweet perfume. Sorry for making me hard and giving nothing, sorry for…

“What do we have here, then?”

Startled, Angelus spun on the intruder with growl, his hand going straight for throat. Squeezing the windpipe nicely and not realising who he was doing it too, he threw whoever it was into the trunk of the nearest tree, feeling satisfaction at the sound of crunching bone. It was only after the fog cleared from his head that he saw Spike laying in a heap.

Angelus smiled oh so happily. It couldn’t happen to a better vampire. “You’re out past your bedtime.”

Spike grunted as he picked himself up and dusted himself down. “Getting a bit ansty in your old age. Not got the bit?”

“No, and it’s none of your business where she is.”

Black tipped hands were held up in surrender. “Just curious is all, mate.”

“Don’t be.”

Spike chuckled, watching the direction his grandsire was going in. “Wouldn’t ruin her beauty sleep to go hunting, eh? Can’t say as I blame her. It is a bit of a blood sport, ain’t it?”

Angelus stopped and rolled his eyes heavenward. Why him? “Did you not hear me when I said it’s none of your business?”

“Come on, mate. What happened to the days of old where we’d knock back a few after a good kill?”

Cordelia wasn’t the only intelligant one in the relationship. Spike didn’t see the knowing smirk curling up his grandsire’s face and nor did he see the gleam burning in tigers’ eyes. Angelus wiped away all expression before turning to the blonde. “What do you really want, Wimple?”

“A bit chit-chat is all, nothing untoward where your girl Friday is concerned.” He slipped his cigarettes out of his pocket, flipping the packet open and closed before taking out his lighter. “You’re covered in her, mate. If I didn’t know any better…”

“Don’t worry your ugly little head, mate. I’ve been a good boy.”

Spike’s snort of disbelief had anger rising up in his grandsire’s gut. “Course you have. That’s why the brunette population of Sunnydale is depleting. Cassie Laycroft, five foot three, takes a size five shoe. Head cheerleader for Palmdale. Jennifer Stiles, five-two with a size four. Head cheerleader for Palmdale after Cassie’s life got cut tragically short. That’s only two of them.”

“Whaddya want? Guilt?”

“You’re getting obsessed.” There was a pause as blue eyes studied Angelus. “No, not obsessed. You’re cracking,” Spike exclaimed with victory in his voice. “You’re getting what you want. Sating that appetite with paltry pickings. You could forfeit, you know?”

This was starting to sound like the conversation that started the whole thing. “You still think I can’t do it, don’t you?” Angelus laughed a hearty laugh that echoed through the park. “You always were an idiot, Spike. Forty days was the deal and I’m sticking to it. If only to see you as the loser you are.”

“No need for name calling, mate,” Spike said. “Only got your best interests at heart.”

Sure he did and Angelus was the queen mum. “I’m touched. Now if you’re done boring me…” He didn’t wait for an answer before walking off, leaving the younger vampire staring after him with a smug smirk on his face.

Angelus ground his teeth together as Spike’s words went round and round his head, the truth of them hitting harder than he’d admit. A kiss was all it’d take from her and he’d be done for, he knew it and Spike knew it. No. He wasn’t weak. He could go the distance.

He would either win this dumb ass bet or he’d die trying.

*~*~*~*~*

Angelus got back to Cordelia’s place and found the lady herself in the kitchen, a steaming mug in her hand and nails tapping loudly against the table while her eyes blazed with growing anger. The robe she wore tied tightly around her waist, her legs were crossed, and the left fuzzy slipper moved up and down. He knew that look. He was in trouble and he figured they were about to have a talk about his feeding habits.

Shoulders squared, he braced himself for the oncoming storm. Honestly? He couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say about it. Probably something along the lines of you horrible monster, how could you kill a human? Or we’re over, I can’t stand you because you’re evil?

“What time do you call this?” She asked, arching an eyebrow in silent demand.


CHAPTER 12
Day 30…
His eyes stared at the back of her head, following the strands of dark hair down her neck and shoulders, going lower until he reached the hem of her midriff top where tanned skin met with her shorts. The pale pink fabric rose up and skimmed the curves of her ass, and he grinned as he traced the soft contours of toned thighs and a trim waist before continuing down a set of long, shapely legs that ended in sock covered feet.

He arched an eyebrow. What the hell was she doing wearing his socks? Most women would steal shirts or sweaters, not socks, but then Cordelia Chase was definitely not most women. He watched her feet bounce up and down, her toes occasionally coming into contact with his thigh, the warm material of his socks tickling his skin.

She laughed when Stan started to sing about blue ridged mountains in Virginia in a high pitched, girly voice. A hand curled round, fingers rattling the packet of jelly bears. “You want?”

Why not? Angelus snagged himself a few and popped a couple into his mouth. It wasn’t the taste of bears rolling round his mouth, but her. Apparently, no-one got their hands on her jelly bears and lived. “Delicious.”

Hazel eyes glanced over at him. “Try eating them with fangs and see if the jelly sticks to them.” The look he gave was way more entertaining than Laurel and Hardy, and she snorted. “Spoil sport.”

“They’re fangs, Cordelia, and the purpose is not for testing the sticky factor of shaped jello.” He paused and she didn’t need to be looking at him to know he was eyeing her throat. “I could demonstrate what they’re for.”

“That’s okay, Angel. I wouldn’t wanna put you out.”

Angelus smiled so helpfully. “It’s no trouble. Really,” he stated as sincere as possible. “I’d be more than happy to show you the purpose of fangs.”

“Ass.” One of her bouncing feet collided with his leg a little harder and he grabbed it, holding it still long enough to pull the sock off, exposing her toes which were unusually free of polish. “Of course you’d be willing to get snack happy with me. What vampire wouldn’t?”

“True,” his grin didn’t fade as she flopped onto her back, giving him a pretty view of her top tightly wrapping her full breasts and a prettier view of her very delectable, very biteable neck. It hurt to know he was denying himself and her all the pleasure a little pain could bring. “You definitely weren’t employed as bait because of your impressive screeching talents.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it. Xander said…” Her face fell into an expression of both hurt and anger, and damn if he couldn’t wait to have that little chat with the kid. “It doesn’t matter what he said.”

Angelus watched her shake it off and a bright smile lit her face as she sat up. Nicely done, he thought and filed away how easily she shoved the whelp out of her head despite bearing the scar he gave. His gaze dropped to the scar in question. It was still quite red and he could clearly see where the stitches had been.

On noticing what he was looking at, she self-consciously placed a hand over it since her top was a tad too short to tug down. He frowned and reached out to pull her hand away. She tried resisting, but a slight squeeze stopped her, and she allowed him to continue. “How far did it go in?”

“All the way.”

It went through her? Taking in the position and size of the scar, he guessed how close she’d been to losing a kidney and possibly having her spine injured. “Show me.” He thought back to when he’d done her tattoo, but couldn’t recall seeing the exit wound, and the angle of it explained it.

“There’s nothing to see, really. It’s fine.” It wasn’t fine, but never mind. It wasn’t like clocks could be turned so she wasn’t made to look a fool.

“Cordelia.” His tone brooked no argument and the hold on her wrist tightened somewhat, leaving her in no doubt he’d see what he wanted one way or another.

“Alright, alright,” she muttered in exasperation, shifting herself 180 degrees; offhandedly realising he had no intention of letting her wrist go. “God, you’re such a bully.” This would teach her not to get involved with a guy who got off on the misery of others. “Satisfied?”

Angelus didn’t reply, merely kept looking at the scar that went in a diagonal line starting just above her kidney and ending an inch or so below her lumbar vertebrae. Fuck, she could have been paralysed. Was he satisfied? Not. One. Little. Bit.

His fingers uncurled from her arm and he traced the raised skin, watching how the muscle twitched in response to the gentle touching of wounded nerves. It could take years for damaged nerves to fully heal and chances were they never would. Did Harris have any idea how close she’d come to a fate worse than death? Probably not. The brat was so high on his own crap to give a damn about his girl.

Well, one kid’s sorrow was another man’s song, and what a song it was.

While she had her back to him, he took the time to check on the tattoo, and saw it was doing fine. It was almost scabbed over completely and that meant she was in for a hellishly itchy time of it for the next week. Angelus slowly moved his finger down, careful to avoid the picture itself, and followed the outline from left to right, his lips quirking higher each time her back flexed.

Knowing she was ticklish was amusing and filed away for future reference, but it didn’t do anything to quash the rage he felt towards the boy. Oh, he was going to have so much fun at Harris’ expense. He doubted subjecting Harris to a few endless hours of torture would get the point across, and figured he was too dumb to comprehend a conversation. Angelus simply decided he had to get creative.

He’d been far too silent for her liking, so Cordelia turned back to face him, and graced him with a look of total boredom. “Are you done?”

Angelus wasn’t fooled by her show. A finger under her chin prevented her from averting her gaze. “I’m not laughing,” he said. “He was the idiot, not you.”

“But I ignored my friends then ditched them. For a guy. A stupid, dumbass guy who found redder pastures. What kind of girl craps on her friends for a guy?”

One of the most important points when seducing a woman like her knew what to say and when to say it. “The kind of girl willing to take a chance,” a slick smile appeared and widened when she shot him a look of disgust. Not one for pretty words was his Cor. “I wouldn’t give you the time of day if you were anything like her.” The distaste on his face and in his voice was unmistakable. “I wouldn’t have complimented your ribs.”

“My ribs and I thank you,” came the sarcastic reply and her tone softened as her eyes warmed in response to his cheeky wink. “Thank you, Angel. Seriously. Besides, it’s not as if he’s vampire enough for me, is it?”

Angelus mouth split into two rows of pearly white teeth. “My sentiments exactly. Now that we’ve wasted most of Way Out West, what’s say we go out and have fun? I’m sure there’s someplace we can raise hell.”

Cordelia paused for a second. “You don’t mean that literally, right? Cus you tried to do that last year.”

“I did, but as you can see, it didn’t work. Never could understand why. I did the sacrifice, the blood rites. Hell, I nigh on coated the damn thing in blood and naddda.”

“Don’t tell me it was virgin female,” she rolled her eyes at the unfairness of demon rituals. “Anyway, I’m glad you screwed up. I’d still be with Xander if you hadn’t. Hellish thought.” She shuddered comically.

He didn’t hear her for the fact he was thinking about Acathla. “Admittedly, it was a crazy idea, but I’d just like to know why it never worked. And it was a male virgin.”

“You found a male virgin?” She got a look and replied with a sheepish grin. “Sorry. It’s gonna bug you until you find out, isn’t it?” She got a slow nod. “Okay, at the sake of my own sanity, whose blood did you use? Yours or his?”

“His. Wasting my hemoglobin on something that may or may not work is not my style.”

“God!” Cordelia scoffed in disgust. “You demons are all the same. Want hell to break loose but won’t spill your own to do it. To think half the human race is terrified of you people.” Her rant finished with a loud, huffy sigh that had him chuckling quietly. “Was the sacrifice needed?”

He gave another nod. “Had to prove I was a warrior.”

“And what better way to prove that than to slaughter some poor schmuck you picked up after club hours. Bet she didn’t put up a fight.” She got another look, “Sorry,” she grinned sheepishly once more, and paused to pop a jelly bear in her mouth. “Continue.”

Angelus rolled his eyes. “In order to prove I was worthy, blood had to be spilt, hence the guy.”

“A male virgin. Sheesh.” She got yet another look of irritation. “Sorry! You have to admit they are a rare species. So, you were the one who wanted to unleash hell yet you used his blood to open sesame?” Her face fell into a confused frown that crinkled her forehead. “Maybe you used the wrong virgin? Maybe you needed a girl.”

“Didn’t matter as long as the cherry was intact.”

“How did you know his was?”

“Good Christian boys would never partake in immoral activities out of the marital bed.” He paused long enough to grin and it was a nasty, wicked grin which showed the predator hiding beneath his relaxed facade. “And…”

Cordelia was quick to put a stop to the sentence. “That description will suffice. Didn’t you torture Giles to get the information?”

“Yep. Don’t think he appreciated my warm welcome. He said I had to do the ritual in a tutu.”

She couldn’t help it. Laughter shook her body and the bed, and it kept going despite receiving a hateful glare. “You’d be so cute in pink and frills.”

“I will bite you, Cordelia.” Didn’t matter if she was sniggering at the mental image of him in a pink, frilly tutu, she was still laughing at him and no-one else. At least it was him she was thinking of while making that sound. “I didn’t get the chance to use plan B since your pal the slayer crashed the party.”

“Something which I’ll be forever glad for.”

Angelus leveled her with an unimpressed stare that did nothing to lessen her giggling. “I wouldn’t worry your pretty head. Hell would never let you in.” It was all too easy to imagine her bombarding Lucifer with incessant questions. Satan would either end up insane or quit the place entirely.

“What?” Cordelia asked when his smile came accompanied with a shake of his head.

“Visualising you in hell and pitying Satan.”

“Ass. So you never got the chance to dig through Giles never ending brain to get the whys and hows, which brings us back to square one. Why didn’t it work when you did everything…” A megawatt light bulb went ping. “You did do it wrong. You used the guy’s blood, but it wasn’t him wanting to open hell.”

His gaze snapped up to meet hers and realisation dawned on him. A girl more than thirty decades his junior had just figured out why Acathla never worked. Wanting to know how she came to the conclusion, “What makes you think that?”

She shrugged. “You had to do all the work by proving you were a warrior, you had to do the ritual, so why wouldn’t it be your blood needed to finish it? It seems pretty logical to me. Think Sherlock Holmes. Eliminate all the impossible, then no matter how improbable, must be the answer. Or something to that effect.”

“Process of elimination,” Angelus surmised. “You are genius. Next time I wanna raise hell, I’m picking your brain.”

Cordelia froze, the fact she’d just helped him unlock the keys to an apocalypse turning her blood to ice. Her heart started to race and her face lost all colour as she looked at him through panicked eyes. There was no point trying to hide her nervousness since his expression told her he could hear every heavy thump inside.

“You’re not going to try it,” there was no question in her voice. “You can’t.”

He chuckled. “I’ve got no plans to suck the world into hell so you can sleep easy. Though it would be interesting to see if you’re right. You up for a wild ride?” Angelus purposely injected a fair amount of seriousness in his tone, just to see what she’d do.

She squeaked. Literally squeaked a squeak that would put Mickey Mouse to shame. She didn’t dare move or breathe until a deep, husky laugh bounced off the walls, and it was only then did she click on to the fact he had absolutely no intention whatsoever of opening hell.

“You jackass!” Cordelia hissed, rewarding his evil joke with a punch. “Don’t do that to me! Geez Angel, are you trying to give me a heart attack?”

God, he could be such a jerk sometimes.

She was just too easy. His grin never faltered and nor did the gleam in his eyes. Suddenly, his own light bulb lit up. “Lemme take you shopping,” he spoke in a way that was an offer she couldn’t refuse. “I know a nice place where I can wine and dine you.” Oh yes. Fun was going to be had.

Her jaw dropped. “You want to go shopping? With me?” Was he nuts? Didn’t he know shopping was her profession? Her calling even?

“On the condition you let me pick your clothes.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Surely she misheard.

“I’ll take you shopping if and only if you let me decide and pay for what you’ll wear for me.”

“You’re not confident at all, are you?”

Angelus good humor faded into a small warning that came complete with a squeezing of her ankle, and it was loose enough to let her know he’d do a lot more, a lot worse, if she didn’t adhere to what he wanted. “You don’t dress for anyone else.”

Cordelia’s eyes went to the hand holding her, feeling not the warning, but the thumb now rubbing slow circles around her heel. “No, she said quietly. “I don’t dress for anyone else.”

As if the tension never appeared, he smiled at her, happy he got his own way. “Good, because I’d hate to be the guy trying to take your attention from me.”

When he wanted something, it was obviously best to sit back and enjoy the ride. “Nothing crazy or anything,” she told him. “Oh, and I’m allergic to itchy stuff.”

“I know just the thing. First, I gotta go get cleaned up cus I doubt you wanna be seen with a guy in day old leather pants who goes commando.”

She flinched. “Okay, that is just the grossest thing I’ve ever heard. Pick me up in an hour… Or you could wait while I get changed and we can go together?” He raised his eyebrows in question. “It’d be easier, that’s all. Since your place is closer to the mall, you wouldn’t have to walk only to come back.”

“Sounds good. I’ll wait while you get pretty. Mind if I use the phone?”

“Knock yourself out. Won’t be long.”

Angelus let her foot go and watched her smile before hopping off the bed, and heading towards the bathroom, his gaze going to her feet. “Hey Cor? Can I have my sock back?”

He got a tongue instead of a no.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Angelus waited patiently until he heard the shower be switched on and picked up the phone, then waited until Karl picked up.

“Good evening, sir.”

“I want some reservations made at Havana’s restaurant. One for me and Cordelia, and the other for a Mr. Alexander Harris and Miss. Willow Rosenburg. Make them for around ten thirty.”

“Certainly, sir, will there be anything else, sir?”

“Yes. I need you to contact Mr. Harris with the information he’s won a late supper for him and Miss. Rosenburg. Charge the cheque to my account.”

“Of course, sir. Would you like the private alcove, sir?”

“Always so formal,” Angelus rolled his eyes. “I like the way you think. I want Cordelia to have the works.”

What passed for amusement filled the man’s voice, which was no more than a small lilt in his accent. “Indeed, sir.”

“Expect a bonus this month, Karl.”

“Very good, sir. Will that be all, sir?”

“No, let Marie know to expect Cordelia in an hour or so. Tell her to have blue velvet in a size eight with a 34 D bust and size 35 shoes.” He paused. “And if you tell anyone about this, I’ll…” He was cut off by a clipped tone full of offense.

“Discretion is my business, sir.”

Angelus grinned. If there was one thing nobody ever did, it was insult Karl’s professionalism. “Appreciated.” He hung up and rubbed his hands together gleefully. God, he loved that man.

Wandering to Cordelia’s vanity, he proceeded to rummage through her make-up collection, picking out this and that. If he was going to have her in blue velvet tonight, then minimal make-up was the best choice. A light blue-grey shadow and a slightly tinted lip gloss along with a rose blush and a pretty little hair clip would do the trick.

Anymore or heavier shades and she’d be gaudy with her features overpowered, and he doubted she would want to look like a painted doll, especially in front of the Harris prick.

Not that she was going to know they were there, of course, it’d ruin the whole thing if she knew. She’d get all paranoid and wouldn’t relax for fear something bad was going to happen, and that simply wouldn’t do. He wanted her to be at ease, to be comfortable with him, to allow herself to be openly courted by him. It was going be a lovely night, he decided.

After all, revenge was a dish best served cold, and Harris was long overdue for a shot of cold, harsh reality.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Less than two hours later saw had Cordelia twirling in front of a flawless, wall length mirror situated in a huge changing room that held a small table and a glass of wine in the corner. The dress he wanted was a blue so dark, it appeared black, and it fit like a glove. The shoulder straps were thick, the hem reached the floor, and the heart shaped neckline curved over her breasts. The built in bra had her chest up instead of together and it left her with a figure sought after by most of the female population.

Her feet were encased in a pair of shoes that came complete with an easy three inch heel, rounded toe, and a soft shine to the silk material. She didn’t care to guess how much the outfit was going to cost. Yes, her family was financially comfortable, but God, this was probably worth at least three months’ allowance.

She stared at the mirror and saw nothing except a deceitful bitch who was happy letting him have his way as a means to ease her guilt. She’d never been more disgusted at herself. A tear trickled down her face, the sight made worse with the lack of mascara residue, and she cursed the invention of the waterproof stuff. Aside from her knowing all about the bet and being secretly manipulated by Spike, there was no evidence whatsoever that she had any part in the downfall of Angelus.

Angelus. The soulless vampire who had no idea he was being set up by the woman who was half in love with him. The thought made her sick to her stomach.

The sound of the changing door opening swiftly changed her thinking and her attention immediately went to Angelus, whose face went from smiling to frowning at the sight of her tears.

“Cor?”

She wafted a hand around her face to cool down. “It’s nothing. I’m fine, really. Just a little overwhelmed that’s all.”

His confusion was palpable. “Overwhelmed? Why?”

“You. Me.” Us. “This dress.” Cordelia sniffed and wiped under her eyes just to be sure. “I don’t deserve any of it.” Least of all you.

He scratched his head. “What?”

“I’m bad!” She half yelled, hoping against hope he could read between the lines. “I’m a horrible, horrible person, and here’s you. A vampire with a kink for all things evil and that’s the worst part of it because I’m evil and you,” her finger pointed at him. “Don’t like it when people are evil to you, right? I mean, if someone pisses you off or something.”

Angelus didn’t know what was more amusing. The fact he’d heard more sense from a brick wall or the fact she was now pacing back and forth in a way that had her dress rippling over her body in a very delicious way. “I thought you didn’t have any intentions of pissing me off.”

“I didn’t and it’s not really my fault when you think about it.”

Think about what?

“Then they left, which gave me a way out. Or at least ample stalling time, but did I do anything to stop it? No. I just carried on and let it get way out of hand, and now I’m trapped. Trapped!” She emphasized with her hands. “You trapped me.”

“I trapped you?”

“Yes!” Cordelia’s voice had risen so high in volume and pitch, the bats in Africa could hear her. “You with the mechanical skills and the let’s go shopping, Cordelia, and I’m buying.”

Women. Angelus sighed, not pretending to know what she meant, and walked up to her, calming her down with a soft touch to her face and hands. “You ever amputated someone just to see which limb bled the most?” Ahh, the memories.

She turned green, visibly flinching from the image he painted. “No, and gross.”

“You ever broken a neck and left the body in their lover’s rose petal covered bed?”

“Can’t say I have.”

“Did you massacre your way across half the European continent?” Cordelia shook her head and Angelus smiled. “Then you’re not evil.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“I’m not just saying that. You’re not evil.”

Whining, “But you don’t understand.”

“I don’t understand because you’re not making any sense!” When she said nothing in response, he pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “Look, Cordelia, what is going on? Be truthful.”

Truthful? Ha. Once over she was never anything but truthful, now she doubted if she’d know truthful if it fell out of the sky and bit her on the ass. “You’re going on and I don’t know how to deal with it.”

“Deal with what? Me? You’ve been dealing with me just fine.” The smirk on his face worked to make her more frustrated.

Risking what dignity she had left, “I like you, Angel,” she confessed and averted her eyes so she didn’t have to see him mock her. “More than like. I know you have alternative eating habits…”

Angelus forced her to look at him. “I like you, too. You want a picture? It’s yours. You want flowers? Yours. You want me to try and kill you? Fine.” He paused to visualise the scenario. “That’d be kinda fun, actually. Getting what you want is a perk of keeping me happy, and you keep me happy.”

Did he have to be so nice? She paused long enough to realise how that sounded. Thinking his ideas of killing her was nice? She knew he had alternative wooing ways, but God, how twisted was she to take it as a compliment? “Stop being like this,” she muttered with a pout. “You’re making me feel like a bitch.”

“Sorry to bear bad news, but you are a bitch.”

Cordelia laughed through her tears. “Flattery will get you nowhere.” Damn him and his big, dumb womanising charm. If he hadn’t been so clever with his words and knew how to deal with a train wreck of a woman, she would have told him everything.

Angelus grinned in total amusement. She was so easy. “C’mere.”

She found herself enveloped by two muscled arms and held against a solid chest, relaxing at the feel of a hand trailing up and down her spine. She sniffled into his collarbone, offhandedly complimenting his cologne. Didn’t take long for her arms to curl round his neck as she fully leaned into him, lapping up all the attention a soulless vampire could possibly bestow on a woman.

The silk of his shirt felt a little rough on her nose, the fabric perfectly skimming taut muscle, and God, it was so damn nice. He smelled so good. Cool spicy maleness combined with leather and wickedness all wrapped up in a tight package of death and destruction. Creamy eyelids fluttered shut as she allowed herself, for one moment, to feel as though she were truly his.

Cordelia totally relaxed into him and soaked up every bit she could manage, breathing him in and out, letting his presence flow through her like warm water, her ears listening to each murmur he made. His voice was always smooth, always deep, always hot. Cognac, she thought. He had a voice like cognac. Her arms curled round and under his, slender fingers dug through the shirt and into his skin, gently squeezing the toned contours she found.

Angelus could not have been more amused if she’d danced a jig, and when she lightly moaned, a tension known only to men replaced the amusement and left him hardening. The moment she felt the erection against her stomach was the same moment her lungs ceased working and she froze, helpless to the sudden hot rush between her thighs. Her walls crunched tight, making her body all too aware of how unfulfilled it was.

“Angel.”

He had to move away from her. His eyes went to the small table thoughtfully. No. Couldn’t do it. Had to move away from her. It was just big enough and with some strategic replacing, would be nice and sturdy, but no. He was stronger than this.

Was it him or did her hips just roll?

Shaky, unneeded breath escaped his throat as he waited and waited, but felt nothing bar her light shaking. God, he was imagining things, and the next moment was filled with more than just her shaking.

Confused and far beyond dazed, Cordelia pulled back to look him in the face only to see him silently laughing. She arched an eyebrow. “Angel?”

“Ah hell,” Angelus chuckled, pulling her back to press a kiss to her forehead. “You kill me.” Without hesitating, he hauled her up and over his shoulder, spinning round fast enough to earn screams of delighted surprise. She held on for dear life as he went round and round and round, making stupid childish airplane noises all the while. His laughter joined hers and he had to admit the impulsive moment was enjoyable.

For her part, all she saw was both the whirling floor and the image of being held up high by an invisible person, and to say it was disconcerting was an understatement. Dizziness crawled over her and she was forced too beg to be put back on the floor, which he happily did.

Her eyes snapped open, and on realising what she was doing, immediately detached herself. She stepped away and turned round to hide her burning face, making a show of fixing the simple low ponytail at the side of her neck. God, she could still feel him there. Could feel him spinning her back to see him.

He set a very exhilarated cheerleader on the floor, keeping hold until she pulled herself together. “You are a crazy…” She didn’t get to finish.

“Flattery will get you a dance after dinner. You ready to go?”

“Dancing?” Cordelia quizzed, her face flushed pink and smiling wide. “I didn’t know you danced.”

His expression was smug. “The Macarena is beyond me, but I can Waltz with the best of them.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

The second they entered Havana’s was a split second before they were personally seen by the manager, who greeted them with a hand ready to be shaken, and a smile wider than the Amazon. To say Cordelia was taken aback by the reaction was an understatement, but she bore it with all the grace and dignity of a queen.

“And you, miss,” the manager addressed her with the same massive smile. “Is this your first visit to our quaint restaurant?”

“It is, but it seems very lovely,” she replied.

The manager clasped his hands together happily. “Oh, it is, Miss, it is. May I recommend the smoked salmon soufflé? It is divine. Why, my very own mother gave the chef her very own recipe. I grew up on it. Absolutely delightful.”

She slowly nodded. “I’m sure it is delightful.” Smoked salmon soufflé wasn’t really her thing, but whatever.

“Yes, well, allow me to show you to your table.” He glanced at Angelus and he instantly became the epitome of manager. “Everything is as you requested, sir.”

“Requested?” Cordelia smacked Angelus arm to get his attention. “What does that mean? What did you request?”

Angelus was only too happy to show her. “Only this…”

Leaving the manager a few steps behind, he led his girl past intrigued eyes, and towards a romantically lit alcove big enough for two. Her eyes grew huge. There was a vase with two perfect calla lilies, two napkins folded into swans, and two chocolates on the starter plates. The chairs were comfortable cushioned without being overly large, the lighting was perfect, and well, everything was perfect.

It wasn’t pretentious or over the top, it was just right.

“The phone call,” Cordelia turned on Angelus in amazement. “This was the phone call you made. You did all this while I was in the shower.”

He wasn’t expecting the soft kiss to his cheek and never before had raspberry gloss felt like ambrosia. Replying with a stroke of his thumb to her full lips, “You’re welcome.”

“I don’t know what to say except thank you, Angel… No.” Cordelia’s happy expression fell into a light frown. “Angelus. Thank you Angelus.”

“Angel is fine, but I appreciate the sentiment. Come, sit.” He pulled a chair out for her and pushed it back in time with her bending knees. Stroking her hair, “Okay?”

She blushed and nodded, then watched him sit opposite. “A bottle of your finest champagne. Charged to the account of Aurelius, thank you.” He was well aware that six tables away sat her ex-boyfriend and his whore, he was well aware they were watching every move made and well aware they were listening to every word spoken.

Two beautiful hazel eyes peeked through darkened lashes. “You didn’t need to do all this, Angel. Not for me. I woulda been happy with a pizza, movie, and a 99 cent bottle of Cola.” She grinned sheepishly. “Probably more so.”

He had to laugh. “I doubt a pizza would fill your belly,” and then felt a swift kick to his shin. “And what a lovely belly it is. Smooth, tanned…”

“Marked from a rusty rebar.”

Angelus added that to his list of compliments. “Marked from a rusty rebar.”

Cordelia blushed. The way he said it made it seem less like a scar and more like something to be proud of. “Do you have any scars?”

“One,” he said to her amazement.

“I thought vampires couldn’t scar. What happened?” It must have been something terrible. “If you don’t mind my asking, of course.”

“Mary O’Donnell broke my heart. Right here,” he looked the picture of a man torn as he gripped his chest.

A packet of sugar was thrown at his head. “Dumbass. Mary O’Donnell, huh? She musta been a piece of work.”

Angelus grinned at the jealousy lilting her voice. “I was nine and she chose Ian Connors over me. Can you believe it?”

“No?!” Cordelia expressed exaggerated shock, her petulant jealousy forgotten. “Really?”

“Yep. Ditched me right in the middle of the village.”

“You must have been crushed. How ever did you cope?”

“I killed him two days after I was turned.”

She would not laugh. She would not laugh. She would not… Oh, what the hell. Her giggles attracted attention from a near-by table. Seeing she was gathering looks, Cordelia schooled herself admirably. “And Mary?”

“Left her to it.”

“Probably the best course of action given the circumstances.” She choked back more giggles with a cough. “So, Liam, huh? Tell me about Liam.”

Angelus reply was interrupted by the manager arriving with the champagne. “Your champagne, sir, miss. I’ve personally seen to it there is extra ice in the ice bucket. My mother always said if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing yourself, and mother is always right. I’ve no doubt you will enjoy your drinks as it’s a bottle of our finest Cristal.”

Cordelia’s mouth went dry. Cristal? That champagne went for a thousand dollars a bottle. Ohgodohgod. There was a thousand dollars worth of champagne no more than a foot from her. What in the hell was Angel thinking? Flowers, a private table complete with chocolate, not to mention a full outfit.

He was supposed to be evil and soulless and he was supposed to doing nasty, evil and soulless things to her. For crying out loud the glasses were so chilled, they steamed, and that meant they were pure lead crystal.

“Angel,” she breathed, her hands nervously running over the table top. “It’s too much.”

Angelus gaze sharply snapped to meet hers. He saw past the eye shadow he requested and the dress she allowed him to buy. He saw past what everyone else thought was the be all and end all of Cordelia Chase. He saw a woman who laughed at and with him, he saw a woman who refused to let one bad experience rule her life, and he saw the woman who wasn’t afraid of anything, least of all him.

For God’s sake, she’d nagged and nagged until he promised never to feed after three am just so he’d be home well before sunrise. She’d laughed at jokes she shouldn’t have laughed at, she listened and learned, and hell, she wanted him. Him. Not the soul, a soul wannabe, or anything like that. She wanted him, Angelus, and that was something he’d never experienced except with Darla.

Darla had been his sire and so that was to be expected, but Darla had thrown him out when she discovered he’d been ensouled, but Cordelia? He recalled one night in the Bronze when she’d come talked to him only to be brushed aside like she was less than nothing. Angelus cursed the soul he no longer had and mentally vowed to hunt down and methodically kill each Gypsy he could.

If the Gypsies hadn’t cursed him, then Cordelia wouldn’t have been abandoned that night.

“No,” he said, his husky voice belied his nature. “It’s not too much.” Next time, he was going to have flowers carved out of solid crystal and a heart on her plate.

Unaware of his thoughts, Cordelia smiled as she touched his fingers. “We’ll agree to disagree, but since you’re paying, how about giving me a glass?”

“My pleasure.” Angelus took the bottle from the bucket and began twisting the cork. He joined her laughter when the fizzy liquid burst out, coating his hand and the floor in froth. He played the perfect gent, pouring hers first and then his, replacing the bottle back into the ice bucket before picking up his glass in a manner belonging to royalty. If he was the Master of Aurelius like he said, then he was sort of like royalty. Well, in the vampire world anyway.

He held out his glass to her. “What are we drinking to?”

That one was easy. She returned the gesture and clinked her glass against his, the tiny noise serving to widen her smile. “The best bowling duo that ever lived.”

He thought back to the night before, sniggering at the memory at the helpless defeat of Pin Pushers. “We did good, didn’t we?”

“Good?” She asked loudly. “We didn’t do good. We cleaned up. We wiped the floor. We waved bye-bye to their dignity. We were the hankies they wiped their tears with. We…”

“Won?”

“For instance. Daddy was so happy when I told him. You get a free legal consultation and a few hundred business cards to put in your club.”

Angelus innocently glanced towards both Harris and Rosenburg, who sat a few tables behind away and saw them looking their way. Obviously, they weren’t missing a thing. Good. He treated Cordelia to an all-out smile. “I like Will. He seems a very smart man.”

She nodded as she swallowed. “He is. He married mom… Ooh, you haven’t met my mom yet. She’s great. A little unhinged, sure, but great.”

He gave her a slimy smile. “She gave birth to you, so she must be great.”

“That,” she said with a laugh. “Was sick. Smooth, but sick.”

“Sicker than figuring out how to unleash hell?” He saw the horror cross the faces of Xander and Willow, and grinned. Again, he turned his attention back to Cordelia.

“Hell doesn’t have a patch on that comment.” Cordelia took another sip of her champagne. Her thousand dollar champagne. “Tell me about Liam. What were you like?”

Angelus twirled his glass between his fingers, his gaze focused on the plate in front of him. “I was a rogue. A loveable rogue with a mean right hook.” Brown eyes peered through dark lashes, his mouth quirking into an odd sort of smile. “My mornings were with my horses.”

Like all young women when they have something in common with the current beau, she clung onto that piece of info like a lifeline. “Ooh, I love horses,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. “A Palomino named Keanu. He has the manners of a prince and the lashes of Marilyn Monroe.”

He chuckled. “I had six or seven. Couple of fillies, two stallions, and one gelding after Sprite got the better of him.” A wince of sympathy flashed across his face. “Took a hoof right to the nuts… Poor bastard.”

Even she had the decency to recoil. “No, definitely not pleasant. That was your mornings, now what about your days? I keep seeing you chasing leprechauns for their gold or something.”

Angelus shook his head. “Where your mind goes, I wonder. My days were spent in the taverns and my evenings with a whore or two.” He just had to add, “Often for free, of course.”

Cordelia gave a grave nod. “Of course, cus you’re just so handsome and well built that they simply couldn’t resist.”

“If you’d bothered to look, you’d know for yourself.” She turned red much to his pleasure. “Front of the queue when it came to endowment.”

An elegant brow rose high as disbelief showed brightly on her face. “Uh-huh, that’s why you got named Scourge and not Long John.”

He only just managed to turn his face to the side to avoid splurting champagne all over her. He coughed and patted his chest, gaining attention from both the surrounding tables and their little audience. “You do realise you’re talking cock in a classy joint, right?”

It was her turn to splurt champagne. “Yes,” Cordelia wheezed and wiped her mouth while ignoring what his naughty mouth did to her. “Yes I do, and I’d be grateful if we changed the subject.”

“If you’re sure…” Angelus checked on the two spies, merrily noting the pallor of one face as it looked at the dark haired boy. Oh yeah, she knew Harris look of lust wasn’t for her and though she had the wolf, she still wanted that extra slice of pie which told her she was worth something, to ease her own insecurities and immaturity. And the whelp, well, only one word fit his expression, and it was that of loss.

Lost hope, lost lady, lost what he deemed unimportant. Xander had lost out on something sweet and he knew it. God, misery was so beautiful sometimes.

“Oh yes,” her voice brought him back from self congratulating thoughts. “A subject change is highly welcome. How’s the weather been lately?” Cordelia asked casually as though they hadn’t just been discussing his genital size.

He grinned wickedly. “The weather has been pretty hot, wouldn’t you agree?”

Her face told him she was not impressed. “Do you have to twist everything I say?”

“No fun if I don’t. So the weather isn’t hot?”

If this was how he wanted to play, fine. She’d play. Might not win, but she’d give it a damn good go. “There have been some cool spots that kinda ruined the moment.”

Ah, mental games. His favourite. “Cool can be good. Refreshing.”

“Is that so?”

Angelus leaned forward, purposely making the intimacy much louder than his voice, and he smirked inwardly when something broke inside a set of green eyes. That smirk appeared when she leaned in, ready to listen to whatever male gibberish he was about to come out with. “No sticky, sweaty hands pawing you in a dark closet. No hot, gasping breaths in your ear. No hot-blooded teenage dickwad who’ll cave at the first sign of an easy lay.”

Determined not to let a heavy conversation ruin their evening, “And,” Cordelia continued with a smile of her own. “No need to remove the sheets in a heat wave… Lucky ass.”

He chuckled. “Definitely a bonus. I told you about Liam, now what about Cordelia Chase?”

“Ah,” she said. “I spend my mornings…”

“Waking up next to me.” His gaze caught hold of two wide, shocked green irises surrounded by shoulder length red hair. Christ, he was having so much fun and he didn’t even need to resort to violence to get his kicks.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “I used to spend my mornings having a quick workout before school, my days were spent in school, and my evenings either studying or Bronzing it with the girls.”

“Say the word and a quick workout is all yours.”

“You do quick?” Her tongue clacked in disappointment.

Angelus eyes burned. Challenging, daring her to finish that sentence.

“Shameful. Really shameful.”

“A word of advice, baby. Watch that smart mouth of yours. It’s gonna get you into trouble one of these days.”

“Trouble isn’t so bad, so long as it’s good trouble.”

He grinned. “I get that. Personally, I prefer the bad kind.”

Cordelia’s crinkling nose played hell on his senses. “Thought you said I wasn’t bad?”

“No, I said you weren’t evil.”

“So I’m the bad kind?”

“Very, very bad.”

The purr in his voice, the look in his eyes, the inviting smirk all served to make her squirm, and squirm she did. She was bad trouble and he preferred bad trouble. She didn’t get a chance to say anything in response as three men in white shirts arrived at their table, the sound of violins coming soon after. Stunned, Cordelia stared at Angelus as though she’d never seen him before.

He sat back, fully enjoying how his evening was turning out so well. Two birds and one rock. Perfect. “Yes,” he repeated. “Very bad indeed. I believe I promised you a dance.” She watched, speechless, as he rose out of his seat and held out a hand for her to take. “You Tango?”

Cordelia grinned. Could she Tango? “Bet your ass I can Tango.”

Most of the restaurant had fallen silent when the first notes of the Tango hit the air, now there was a silence that came complete with romance brought on by intrigue and a young couple about to entertain them. A few feminine giggles were heard, but were quickly muffled by hands over mouths as their eyes followed the pretty brunette being led to the small floor by her handsome young man, the band close behind.

They watched him take the lead with no resistance, watched him gently curl his fingers round hers, and watched him stare down at her with the deepest of love in his eyes. Sighs came from around when she sweetly blushed and shyly averted her gaze. They had no way of knowing the handsome young man they admired so much was a soulless vampire who had manipulated an unknowing woman into hammering out a wicked piece of vengeance on her ex.

Angelus paused before starting the dance and Cordelia frowned in confusion as he knelt at her feet, gasping in utter shock as he tore a long slit up her left leg, exposing a fair bit of her left thigh. Didn’t take much to understand why, and she laughed gaily.

“Shall we?”

Since they’d never danced together before, it took a few moments for them to find their feet, but when they did, it was with style. She had a good background in all things dance and that came through with each step she took. He, on the other hand, had an unnatural grace and strength that came from being a vampire. He was able to guide and mould her body with ease, holding her perfectly steady at every dip and turn.

They moved with an intimate intensity only found in passionate lovers. His fingers traced her spine, her teeth bit her lip. His eyes smoldered with heat, her chest heavily rose and fell. The audience was captivated, and two people in particular had no choice but to see what gave nobody pain but themselves.

Angelus danced Cordelia back to their table, his eyes glancing to the flowers in the vase, getting the message across with a sly wink. Securing him arm at the base of her spine and minding the table top, he dipped her at the correct angle for her to trap a lily between her teeth. He lifted her back up and wiggled his eyebrows, then leaned in to take the flower from her.

They paused for a single second. It was the closest thing to a kiss they’d experienced to date. No, he thought, closer. “Ambrosia,” he whispered just before his lips touched hers and stole the lily. Raspberry gloss tinted his mouth with a soft shine, leaving his cock with a burning ache. It was over all too soon for his liking, but any longer, and he’d be sucking her lungs through her mouth.

Now for the finale.

He spun them round so when it was time for the full body split, she’d see them. “Ready?”

Cordelia gave a small nod and hoped against hope she didn’t slip a disc or something. God, she hadn’t danced like this since her father’s dinner part a year ago. “Just hold tight.”

“I can safely say that won’t be a problem.” His right arm locked round her waist and he brought her right hand to his cheek, smiling when her fingers grazed his jaw and mouth as she executed one of the most erotic moves known to mankind. Her left leg slowly bent at the knee, ran up his torso, and she hooked her ankle over his shoulder. As if that wasn’t enough, she leaned back, showing complete trust in her partner and his capability to look after her.

It was a fantastically difficult position to hold, but she smiled through the discomfort, and after a moment, the whole place erupted. Applause came from every table, barring one, and every corner.

That was the very instant she opened her eyes in time to see Xander Harris leaving his table at a very fast pace with Willow Rosenburg hot on his cheating heels.

*~*~*~*~*~*

His pants were folded and neatly lying over the back of her dresser chair, his shirt and jacket on top, his boots placed under her bed while he flopped lazily onto the mattress. One hand cushioned his head, the other tapped against his naked stomach, the boxer shorts he wore rode up tight in places that should have had her immediate attention, but didn’t. His eyes tracked the quiet babe in the blue dress as she dropped her earrings into the jewelry box.

The rest of dinner had gone swimmingly, with nice chit chat and laughter, one or two toasts to the greatest dancers and bowling team ever. Yet when they left, it was in an eerie, uncharacteristic silence that left him with the knowledge she’d played the part of romanced woman to the max.

It was frankly unnerving. He liked her much better when she was talking his ear off. “I don’t know why,” Angelus spoke up with thought in his voice. “But I’m getting the feeling I’m in trouble and not the bad kind.” Or the good kind, as it were.

Cordelia didn’t say anything, merely unclasped her necklace and placed it onto a small hanger in the box. “Oh?” She said at length. “Can’t imagine why.” Her ring was slipped off and dropped into the ring drawer.

He sat up, draping his arms on his knees. “I don’t like guessing games.”

She glared at him with hellfire in her eyes. “And I don’t like being used or manipulated.” How ironic it was she was the manipulating one in this farce of a thing they had. “I’m not stupid, Angel. I know you got them there, don’t know how, but you did, and you used me to make a statement.”

Angelus studied her for a minute. “Course I got them there. You think they’d get into Havana’s on their charms alone?” He sighed when she didn’t laugh at his comment. “I did this for you.”

Her voice was laced with something more than disbelief. “Me?”

“Yes, you. You didn’t really think Harris would get off after hurting you.” Off her blank look, “Oh come on, Cordelia. He drove a rebar straight through your gut. Not personally, I grant, but as good as. What kind of boyfriend would I be if he got away without a scratch?”

“Colour me dumb, but I don’t get it.”

“He almost killed you. You take the high ground and live by the old saying living well is the best revenge. I don’t.”

“No, you live by the old saying piss me off and I’ll rip your head off. So that poses the question of what you were hoping to do. Corner him and actually rip his head off?”

“Honestly?” Angelus asked and she nodded. “No, but a few nasty hours did cross my mind, and still does if the truth be told. Then there I was. Sitting with you, seeing what he did, how it’s healing, and it got me thinking. Humans physically heal.” Most of the time.

Cordelia blinked. “We do,” was all she could think of.

“Right and if I didn’t kill the prick quick, the chances of a slayeresque rescue would be pretty high. My time would be wasted, he’d be pampered by hot nurses, and it’d all be for nothing. With me so far?”

Not really. “Uh-huh.”

“Since basic English is beyond his comprehension, I doubted a chat would go well, thus my decision to get creative.”

She blinked again. “Creative how?”

Angelus beamed, the pride at his little plan evident. “I wined and dined you while sticking it to your ex at the same time. Cool, huh?” He paused. “I should write a book on vengeance.”

“Yeah,” Cordelia dryly stated. “I’ll watch this space. Let me get this straight. You took me to dinner, bought me an entire outfit, danced the Tango, and somehow arranged to get them there to what? Witness me dallying with the town psycho? Way to say you lucked out on this one.”

“If I told you, you woulda been all uncomfortable and not flirty, and that wasn’t the reaction I was going for.”

“So what was?”

He rolled his eyes. She could be so damned dense when she wanted to be. “Think about it, Cor. I wanted to shove it down his throat you’re mine and in doing that, made Glinda aware of how she’d never really measure up. Having you look like a frightened bunny wouldn’t give the right image. They’d probably attempt a dramatic rescue and our dinner woulda been ruined in more ways than one.”

Angelus glanced at her. “Plus, the look on your face when you saw em was priceless.”

She could imagine. “Was that what tonight was about? Getting one up on Xander?” The thought cut her deeper than she’d ever admit.

“No. It was an opportunity for a little romance. Just cus I’m a soulless bastard doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life.”

Quick to reassure him, “That’s not what I meant, Angel.” Cordelia took a deep breath. “All I meant was…”

He gave her an easy grin. “I know whatcha meant. Your female mind got insecure about my motives and it hurt to think you weren’t the focus.”

Her face burned a brilliant shade of red as he nailed her exact feelings. The asshole was too good at this. “So what? It’s wrong to want to be the main attraction in my guy’s head?”

He didn’t just chuckle, he laughed out loud. “Oh honey, you kill me.” Angelus had a talent of being able to go from relaxed and cheerful to deadly serious in an instant. “You have absolutely no worries about being anything but first.”


CHAPTER 13
Day 29…

It was strange, she decided. Waking up with a man she’d only known for eleven days. Stranger still was not feeling strange waking up with a man she’d known for eleven days, and even stranger still was waking up with a vampire she’d known for eleven days. She sat there, her eyes never leaving his face, and she watched as ridges flickered on and off while he dreamt.

She had to force her mouth into a thin, tight line to not laugh when his forehead wrinkled, straightened, and wrinkled again, and his nose did this funny little wiggling thing, reminding her of Bewitched. As amusing as it was, it was also incredibly cute. Who’d have thought evil personified would enjoy a simple lie in?

A quick glance to her clock told her that no, one thirty in the afternoon couldn’t be classed as a lie in, but what the hell. After last night’s dinner and dancing, he deserved a little treat. A quiet snort escaped as she thought about last night. What made him do that? More importantly, why would he do that? It couldn’t be just because of her or because he could. Why should the reasons bother her? After all, she did get something out of it.

More than something. She got the chance to show Xander Harris just what it was he lost and she’d be damned if it wasn’t done with taste. Knowing Angelus was to thank for that made the guilt on her shoulder multiply by a thousand. She shouldn’t have been so horrible to him when she discovered he’d planned it all. Not that she’d been completely horrible, but she had been standoffish, and that was enough to warrant an apology.

Although, an apology wouldn’t go a long way to say she didn’t mind. How could she mind when he’d ignored his violent instinct to get creative? Easy. She couldn’t.

Cordelia smiled to herself when his nose yet again wiggled, making his skin appear to slide over the brow ridges. Unsurely, she reached out and combed her fingers through the spikes, feeling the softness tickle her palm. She kept going and followed his features down to where his jaw curved into his chin. Her thumb brushed over his lips. They were oddly warm. Huh.

Carefully so she didn’t wake him, she kept up the exploration, and swept her digits across his mouth as a whole, noting his lower lip was slightly fuller than the top. He had a small Cupid’s bow and the corners of his mouth seemed permanently quirked upward. His jaw was well defined, with good lines that led into sculpted cheeks and an overhanging forehead. Then there was his body.

Broad shoulders, muscled arms, toned abdomen that rippled with underlying, unnatural strength. She didn’t have see him move or fight to know what lay hidden inside him. He had a presence that commanded attention and more than once she had to resist the urge to cower from it. What good would running do? He’d catch her before she took the first step. Plus, a shy retiring creature would probably bore the life out of him.

There was no doubting it. He was a beautiful man and it wasn’t hard to see why he was given the name Angel.

As quietly as possible, she got out of bed, and headed for the place that housed her camcorder. She grinned wickedly as she pressed record and went back to the bed, zooming in on his face all the while wondering if vampires showed on film. Obviously they did since his face was on the screen. She knelt on the mattress, trying to cause as little disruption as possible, and pointed the lense directly on him.

Cordelia bit her tongue so she didn’t laugh and wake him. With her position and the zoom, she could see his nostrils flaring and lips flickering. Giggling quietly, she lay on her side and using a free finger, lightly poked his nose. A half growl half snore escaped and it was so damn amusing, she did it again and this time, she got a full on snarl and snapping jaws no more than an inch from her digit.

She shrieked in shock and snatched her hand back, only barely avoiding his fangs. “Damnit, Angel!” She snapped, clutching her finger as though he really had bitten it. “You scared the crap outta me.”

Angelus laughed, not hiding the fact he took great amounts of pleasure in her fright. “Serves you right.”

“I wasn’t doing anything bad!”

“And recording me while I slept was what?” He asked with an arching eyebrow.

A blush slowly crept up to stain her cheeks a deep red as she realised that yes, she was recording him while he slept. “I-I…” What kind of pervert was she?

“You what? Wanted to see if a vampire showed on film?” Angelus knew why she was recording him and it had nothing to do with scientific experiments, but he couldn’t bring himself to let her off so easily. Not when it was so much fun to give her a sound guilt trip. “Or were you just wanting something to humiliate me with?”

“No!” Cordelia yelled and hid the camcorder behind her back. “I don’t have an ulterior motive in mind. Honest. I just wanted too…” What the hell did she want to do with the stupid camcorder? “Never mind. I’ll turn it off. Sorry.” Why she was saying sorry she didn’t know, but what the hell.

She could be so damn easy when she wanted to be. “Cor, I’m not really angry. Show me what you got.”

Cordelia pulled away from him and made the agonising mistake of stretching a little too much. A sharp, tearing sensation shot up her left thigh as the muscle twitched and flexed painfully, making her grasp her leg in time to feel the cramp tighten into a nasty knot. She dug her fingers into her skin in an effort to ease the burning pain as it shot up and down her leg.

“Damnit,” she hissed and began to work out the cramp with gentle stretching that didn’t work.

“That’s what you get for playing the contortionist.” Angelus replaced her hands with his, trapping her knee between large palms, the motions made the sheets slide down his body. Unfortunately she couldn’t care less at this particular moment in time. “Keep your foot as straight as you can.”

She nodded and it was only the fact of not wanting to look like an idiot that kept her from crying. Small, slow circles were used to relax the muscle, and he kept it up until he felt the tension gradually decrease, then he increased the pressure, sliding his fingers high up her thigh and down past her knee. Her skin was so soft, so supple, it was hard to believe how toned her muscles actually were. Not surprising when he took her dancing into consideration.

He watched as both her legs and body responded to the sensations, her head rolling back with closed eyes, weight on her elbows, a little moan of relief and pleasure sounding out.

“Magic,” Cordelia sighed, unaware of the direction his thoughts were going. “Magic fingers.”

Angelus smirked. “Of course they’re magic fingers. They’re mine.” He pushed her pajama shorts a little further and exposed more of her thigh to his gaze, and he stared down. The skin there was far too flawless for his liking. God, he wanted to bite her, and it didn’t take much to imagine his face between her legs, his fangs slowly slicing into her femoral and his mouth filling with her blood.

Hunger rolled through him and his fingers squeezed harder, his balls tightened at the sound of pleasured pain as her back arched. He couldn’t stop going higher if he tried. The heat pouring off her burned his knuckles as they skimmed the velvety edge of her, the tips of his fingers brushing down and sending a wisp of air over her cotton covered clit. Far too close to temptation, so he pulled back, lightly stroking newly manicured nails to her knee, his gaze never once leaving her face.

Cordelia gripped the sheets and bit her lip as the last of the painful cramp was eased out by his Royal Wonderfulness. She held still for a moment or two, not wanting to move in case it happened again. Although, it might worth it if she got another massage.

Angelus took her foot and began to rotate it clockwise at first, then anticlockwise, ensuring any and all tension was gone before he moved it up and down. “Better?”

“Uh-huh.” One hazel eye cranked open to stare at him. “Who said you could stop?” She wiggled her toes invitingly, stopping when he didn’t bother to resume his delightful pampering. “Spoil sport.”

“Do I look like a slave to you?”

She grinned. “Yep. A big evil slave made just for me and my wicked ways.”

Didn’t she have any idea how deliciously possessive she sounded? One look at the impish, cheeky expression was answer enough. “That humour of yours doesn’t amuse, Cordelia.”

“So you always smile when you’re not amused?”

Angelus immediately wiped the smile from his face and glared at her with as much hatred as he could muster. After two hundred and fifty years of practice, was quite a lot, yet his effort earned him fluttery lashes and a snort of laughter.

“You’re right,” Cordelia said through a grin. “Your humour has mine eating dust.”

He sneered and she was just so damned pleased with herself that fantasies of snapping her neck ran through his head, but if he did that then who would he have to play with on these warm, warm nights? His gaze roamed from her pretty eyes to her feet and back again. She looked so innocent sitting there with her foot in his lap, her figure hidden by soft grey cotton and a coquettish smile on her face. Killing her would be a serious waste of a good lay and decent blood. Instinct had his attention going straight to her throat, where watched and listened to her heart pulsing blood round her body, and took an involuntary breath.

His tongue trailed slowly over fangs, felt them slide deep into that delicious skin, tasted the rich spicy flavour as he drank her down. His fingers would find that sweet spot inside and he’d make her come over and over before fucking her into oblivion. It hadn’t been a fortnight since he’d known the touch of a woman, but it felt like an eternity, especially when there was one ready and willing right in front of him. God, he hated Spike.

Something in his expression must have changed because her laughter turned into a sharp gasp and her posture tensed, her eyes widened and a hand went up her throat, her own instinct being that of protection. Cordelia’s breath hitched and thighs locked together, blunt teeth bit down on her lower lip and drew blood. Gripping the sheets with her free hand, she turned away from him, the intensity in those obsidian eyes of his a bit too much.

Angelus reached out and made her look at him, and damning the bet, he leaned forward and stole a taste. It was supposed to be just that. A taste. It didn’t stop there and he practically devoured her. Pushing his tongue past her lips, strong fingers grabbing a fistful of hair, tugging her head back and to the side, he dominated the kiss. It was over as quickly as it begun, leaving her little to no time to appreciate his skill, and he left her mouth bruised, reddened, swollen and silently begging for more.

“Cordy,” she heard him moan.

“Huh?” Cordelia blinked away the haze and touched her lips. She wasn’t bleeding, her hair wasn’t tangled in his fingers, and most importantly, he wasn’t kissing her.

He was staring at her in amused confusion. “See any little green men on your trip to outer space?”

She did the only thing an embarrassed woman could do and kicked his leg, but a nasty throb in her toe clued her to the fact that kicking a vampire with an amazingly bony shin was not a good idea. Ow. “What?”

“I said are you gonna show me the tape or not?” A wicked glint appeared in those hateful eyes of his. “What were you thinking?”

The brilliant red blush rapidly covering her entire face was answer enough and his lips split into a large grin that showed all his pearly whites. “Nothing,” Cordelia lied while trying not to look at him. “Nothing at all.” She half threw the camcorder at him in a desperate attempt to change the subject. “Here, see for yourself. Press the red button to stop recording, then the square one next to it for playback.”

Genuine curiosity filled Angelus as he retrieved the gadget and did as instructed, watching it intently. How long had it been since he’d seen his reflection? Too long if he couldn’t correctly calculate the years. His sleeping self was on the screen and an odd, quiet growling sound came from the speakers. He blinked. Snoring? That could not be him snoring, surely.

Brown eyes filled with abject horror met her hazel ones. “It’s impossible,” he said in disgust. “I do not snore.” He was dead. He didn’t breathe and therefore did not snore.

Cordelia gave him a sympathetic pat. “Yep. It’s kinda cute in a weird, loud and clear way.”

Angelus was once more thrown into the land where his hands were throttling the life out of her and he was laughing merrily. Cute? “Souless vampire, Cor.”

“Yeah, but you’re a cute soulless vampire who snores like an overworked freight train.”

“At least I don’t cling.”

Oh no? “I beg to differ.”

He glared at her. “Keep yapping and you’ll be begging.” Yes, begging for her tongue and vocal chords to remain intact, not to mention retain the right to live.

The warning on his face mirrored his tone, but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect on her because she simply smiled. “Oh please,” Cordelia said, purposely turning the word please into a plea. “Can’t you come up with a better threat? I mean really. I thought you were the Big Bad, or was that all talk?” So questioning his evilness may not be such a good idea, but she just couldn’t help herself.

Angelus eyes narrowed, a glimmer of danger lashing out at her. “How ’bout I punch a hole through your heart? Or maybe I should just rip out your organs, one by one, in alphabetical order. Sound fun to you?”

Okay, so questioning his evilness really wasn’t a good idea. She blinked and digested the offers. “Can you really do that? Punch a hole through a heart with your bare hands?” First off, totally gross. Why anyone would wanna stick their hand into blood and guts was beyond her. Secondly, were vampires honestly that strong? She knew Buffy had a bunch of enhancements, but to be capable of doing something like that was, well, she couldn’t comprehend having so much strength at her disposal.

He nodded, a smile lighting his insulted expression and faked a punch to her chest, stopping when his knuckles applied the slightest pressure to her heart. “Got boring when the novelty wore off, but yeah. I can do that. I’ll show you sometime.” He wondered what she’d make of getting a heart for Valentine’s Day. Heh. He made a mental note to find out.

“I know this isn’t something I should be interested in, what with me being a human and all, but being able to do that?” Cordelia shook her head. “I can’t imagine it. On the plus side, moving furniture must be a cinch. As for proving it. I’m quite happy to take your word for it.”

Was it her or did he look disappointed? “If you’re sure.”

“Very sure.” Her shudder went from head to toe as horrid images invaded her, traumatising her poor brain. “Anyway, speaking of brutal workings. I need to work this cramp out. Not to mention the unholy amount of badness I’ve ingested the last few days. God,” Cordelia grimaced and a hand went to her face, rubbing up and down her cheek. “I can feel the calories clogging my pores as we speak.”

Angelus disappointment was rapidly replaced with intrigue, the male gene in him automatically drawing up blueprints for the many positions her body could get into. His head involuntarily cocked to one side and his lips curled up into a filthy smirk, his gaze focusing in on her breasts and his mind filled in the blanks. It was all too easy to conjure up pretty pictures of her doing all sorts of things. Bending, stretching, splitting, arching, bouncing, and dancing. Dancing while bending, stretching, splitting, bouncing, and arching.

“Lead the way, baby.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Whatever he was expecting was not what he got. Instead of an arousing show that put his wettest dream to shame, he got something that would make the Sugar Plum Fairy run screaming. Yes, there was stretching and bending and arching, but by all things hellish, it was disgusting. That was without taking her choice of music into consideration. What the hell was that noise anyway?

It was a God awful dancy thing with a high-pitched, squeaky voice which sounded like the Chipmunks on crack.

He watched her arms rise above her head and slowly go back down in perfect sync with her breathing. Sure, the rise and fall of her breasts was quite a nice view, it didn’t detract from what she called a workout. The tight lycra outfit was a nice touch, but not nice enough to sway him from the… Thing she was doing. For God’s sake, she was using the tiniest hand weights known to man. A tin of baked beans was heavier. Then the stretching was over and done with, leaving him horrifically watching while she marched on the spot, a happy little smile on her face.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the whole damned family. What the fuck was she doing? Did she even know?

Angelus continued to stare, his jaw on the floor, as Cordelia went from marching to the small step in front of her. She stood on it, then off, then on and off. He counted ten repititions before she switched rhythm. Her left foot followed her right, which then went down to the other side of the step, her left foot yet again following.

“Oh yeah!” She shot him a larger than large smile as she yet again did ten reps. “I’m feelin the burn.”

Burn? The burn of what? Boredom? Uselessness? Stupidity?

He was finally able to speak when he caught sight of a fine sheen of sweat on her brow. How on Earth could that bring her out in a sweat? She did nothing bar march on the spot and walk a mile without getting anywhere. “What,” he tried, hearing his voice come out slower than a snail. “What exactly are you doing?”

She stopped. “What do you mean? I’m working out.”

Angelus giggled hysterically. “Is that what you call it?”

A frown appeared on her sweating face. “What’s wrong with it? It gets the job done.”

“The only job that’s getting done is making you look like Tinkerbell on fast foward. That is not a workout. That’s something you’d see on the Teletubbies!” As if that wasn’t insult enough, “And you’re sweating. You’ve done nothing and you’re sweating, Cordelia. Sweating!”

She fully got down from the step and glared at him. “Of course I’m sweating. I’ve been busting my ass for the better part of half an hour.”

He couldn’t help it. Laughter bubbled up, filling the room with the deep, rich tone which came complete with aching chest and ribs. He clutched his stomach as he doubled over, tears leaking from the corner of tightly shut eyes. Busting her ass. He gradually stopped, but giggled the instant he looked at her damp face.

“What’s so funny?”

“Busting your ass,” Angelus managed, laughter interrupting every other word. “I beg to differ, honey. You have absolutely no idea what ass busting is.” He wiped his eyes free of tears and looked at her with a mirthful gaze. Cordelia stood there, the perfect image of outraged female with her hands on her hips, megawatt death glare, and tapping foot. Ah hell, she was too damn sweet for her own good. Even if she knew less than nothing about working out.

She gasped at his audacity. “I’d like to see you do this.”

“And I’d like to see you do a real workout.”

A shaped brow arched and hazel eyes challenged him. “You do mine, I do yours?”

“You can do mine anytime you want, princess.”

Cordelia shook her head and rolled her eyes. She was to used to his unique way with words to blush. “So what does one of your workouts consist of? Decapitating, blood sucking, or petty squabling with the Bleached One? All three?”

“Depends on my mood. Seriously Cor,” Angelus said with a huge smirk. “If you think Elle got a body like that by marching on the spot, you are sadly mistaken.”

She simply said, “Show me what ya got, Vampire,” and paused long enough for something to pop into her head. Her smile went from insulted to a large, beaming, and heartily amused grin. “What do you get if you cross a vampire with a snowman?”

Angelus stepped up to the challenge and stood in front of the step. This oughta warm him up for a real workout. “I have no idea.” He was just about to get with the programme when he heard the answer.

“Frostbite.”

His foot hovered an inch above the step and turned a set of deeply unimpressed brown eyes her way. “That doesn’t dignity a response of any kind.” Her mind was, he decided, a strange place and he had absolutely no desire whatsoever to play games with it. Who knew if it was contagious.

“Oh come on, Angel,” Cordelia’s grin didn’t falter. “It was funny. Admit it.”

Frostbite indeed. “It was funny alright, but for the very wrong reason.” His foot finally hit the step and the other quickly followed, only to land back on the floor, again followed by the other. Angelus repeated the move over and over and over, looking more and more bored with each repition. She watched it all, simultaneously amused and irritated that it was clearly doing nothing for him. “Yeah, Elle really got a body like hers doing this.”

He glanced at her, feeling an overwhelming sense of victory at her pouting expression. So overwhelming he was hard pressed not to giggle merrily in her face. Guess the May Queen didn’t like to be proved wrong, which was too damn bad since he loved to be right. Just so she knew exactly how pathetic her ideas of working out were, he began to show off by increasing his speed and changing the rhythm.

Cordelia crossed her arms as her grin fell, her eyes watching the blur that was his feet as he moved on and off the step with alarming alacrity. It got to the point where he seemed to be stepping, skipping, and jumping. “Okay,” she yelled, half in disgust and half petulantly. “Okay, I get it. You don’t have to be so mean about it.”

“The words you want are,” Angelus jumped down and all but levelled her with a devastating smile. “You’re right, Angel, my workouts are useless.”

Still determined not look like a total idiot, “They’re not useless.”

A dark eyebrow rose. “So what benefits do you get out of this?”

“A toner butt, firmer thighs, and stronger calves.”

He snorted. Stronger calves? Yeah and he was the king of Siam. Angelus shook his head and flipped the step with a swift kick, easily catching it with one hand. “You want stronger leg muscles and a tighter ass? C’mere.” She followed him to where he placed the step close to the nearest wall, gesturing to it with a small nod. “Place your toes on the edge and use your hands to balance on the wall.”

Cordelia did as instructed, but not before she shot him an exaggerated sneer. “Rest and balance. Got it.”

“Now, rise up on your tip toes.”

“Ow!” She yelped when a burning sensation went from heel to the backs of her knees and thighs, and she glared at him. “What are you trying to do to me?” That freaking hurt!

His smile was so damned smug, she wanted to wipe it off with her sneakers. “Lower.”

“No!”

Angelus shrugged. “Stay like that if you want. I’ll just be over here, enjoying the show of you torturing yourself.”

God, she really hated him sometimes. “Fine, fine,” Cordelia grumbled. “I’ll lower.”

“Do it slowly.” He watched critically and intervened the second he saw her back arching. Placing his hand at the base of her spine, he pushed until her posture straightened, and her feet were flat, her leg muscles shaking a little as they took all her weight. “Repeat.”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to prepare herself, and once again rose up on tip toes. Christ, she could actually feel her calves working, could feel the muscles moving and responding under her skin, albeit painfully. Her nails slightly dug into the wall as she lowered, careful to keep her back straight and shoulders squared, but relaxed.

“Good,” he said. “Eight more and this time, hold for five before lowering.” He wanted to see exactly what her limits were for the simple fact he was sure she was capable of so much more than this lightweight excercise. Taking his hand off her spine, Angelus stood back a bit to see everything, and it was a far better show than what she was previously doing.

He could now see how her pants clung to her legs, could see the toned feminine muscles rippling seductively as she worked them up, could see that same muscle moving when she brought them down. Her ass was another matter altogether. Two firm cheeks were nice and round, looking like a perfect fit for his hands and his hands alone. Cordelia and tight ass called to the nastier side of him, and he was unable to stop himself from taking a little teasing treat.

Angelus closed the tiny distance between them and put both hands on the wall, using his body to effectively cage her in. She had such small hands compared to him, soft and delicate with a little gold ring on the fourth finger of her right hand. Didn’t take much to get him imagining those small, soft hands wrapping tight around his cock.

Then there was her scent. Sweet and sour, a little tart at the back of his throat, but so very pleasent. He made a show of inhaling deeply, exhaling directly on her neck, causing her to falter slightly. “Five more, Cordelia,” he whispered, his nose not quite touching her flesh. God, she smelled so good. Of him and her and sweat.

Cordelia rose up and motion made her ass brush ever so slightly against him, her eyes snapped shut and nails dug harder into the wall, hissing when a different set of muscles clenched tight. She lowered, yet again feeling him behind her. He was harder, bigger, than the first time.

“Four more.” The intensifying scent of arousal taunted him, enticed him into sampling more than this weak excuse for sex. He moved a bit closer, placing his hands so his fingers brushed hers. “Good,” he purposely groaned in her ear, “Good girl.”

She moaned, partly in pain and mostly in need. “I’m hurting, Angel.” She wanted to stop, wanted the aching to stop. Wanted him to make the aching stop.

“Where, princess?” He asked, his voice no more than a wicked whisper. “Where are you hurting?” He knew where, but wanted to hear it fall from her mouth. “Don’t stop,” he hissed. “Three more, Cordelia. Finish it.”

Oh God, oh God. It wasn’t just her leg muscles he meant, but that other place. The place that ached and burned and felt full of two weeks’ worth of sexual tension made worse with every touch of his cock. Cordelia rose, feeling that place crunch down on emptiness, and held until a bad, heavy throb started deep. She lowered and glazed irises watched his fingers push hard on the wall. So it wasn’t just her. Good.

“Good?” She croaked.

“Very good,” Angelus breathed. “Good girl. Two more.”

One was completed, but the last was postponed by the scraping of two dangerous fangs on her throat. Her lungs ceased to work and she froze, naturally fearing something much bigger than she, but helpless to prevent the tilting of her head which exposed every damn thing to him and whatever he wanted to do to her. It was a ticklish sensation, but not the kind of tickle that made a person laugh and pull away, it was the kind of sensation that made a person hum and tingle with pleasure, and this time he wasn’t yelling at her for it.

Christ, all he’d have to do was apply the slightest pressure and he’d be inside, feeling all that hot rich blood coating his tongue and filling his veins with sex and sweetness. The little whore wanted it, he knew, wanted him to give in and do it. Ahh, what the hell. Since she couldn’t see, Angelus smirked and bit down just enough that she’d feel tiny pinpricks, and let go.

So shocked she was at the feel of him biting her that she lost her footing, quite effectively setting them both off balance. Cordelia only just managed to push away from the wall so her head was okay, but on doing that, she went the other way entirely and landed on the floor with a loud shriek. Angelus dodged her and saved his ribcage, and grinned when he found himself staring down at a very dazed, very star shaped brunette.

He arched an eyebrow and folded his arms across his chest, “Now that’s busting ass.”

The response he got was a rather impressive growl.

*~*~*~*~*~*

This time, the astonishment was all hers and none of it was horror. Cordelia stared in awe around the mansion basement. Basement. Ha. That was a laugh, if ever there was one. Wall to wall weapons, ranging from daggers and swords to dual bladed axes and throwing knives.

“Wow.” She turned in a circle, her eyes going up to the centre of the ceiling where a punching bag hung, and then she looked at the wooden dummy sitting in the far right corner. The weights closely resembled truck tyres while a odd metal contraptiony thingy reminded her of those old stretching machines used in the days of yore. If he thought she was gonna be using anything in here, then he was in for a quake sized shock.

“It must’ve taken years to collect all this,” she said in a voice filled with amazement.

“I’ve had the time.” Angelus walked over to join her where she stood by his prized piece. He picked up the smaller samurai from the top and slid it out of the scabbard, watching how her eyes went wide at the sound of the razor sharp blade slicing through the air. “Got this set for free after I did a guy a favour. See the hilt?”

“Hilt?” Off his look, she shrugged and confessed. “I know less than nothing about weapons.”

“The handle,” he graciously informed her. “It’s made of onyx. Hand made and designed specifically for me. Beautiful, don’t you think?”

Honestly? “The weapon thing? Not really getting to me. Sorry.”

He grinned. “Can’t change a tyre, no interest in weapons… You’re such a girl, Cordelia.”

“And not ashamed of it. Can I hold it?” Maybe it was stupid to ask a vampire like him to give her a weapon and maybe it was stupid be around this stuff with him, but she couldn’t help herself. There was a certain appeal to being her with him, seeing more to what she figured she already knew.

“Careful, it’s sharp.”

The blade swished as he handed it to her, hilt first. “No kidding,” she murmured as she held it up to get a better look. Cordelia’s breath hitched as she felt the weight bear down on her wrist and had to use her other hand to steady the sword. Though it was the smallest one, it still managed to make her fingers look tiny and the pure black shade made them appear ghost white.

“Easy there.” Angelus was quick to stop her from dropping it when her wrist gave way under the weight. Hell if she didn’t feel damn good to him. Her skin was as soft as the other day, more so in fact, and his entire palm wrapped right round the fragile joint. It took everything he had not to take the opportunity to have a good feel. “Let me.”

Cordelia froze as he got behind her, his free hand guiding her to safe distance from the rest of the set. The hand went from waist to her left wrist and he closed both round the hilt, his voice calm and deep and soothing in her ear. “Follow my lead.”

His eyes snapped shut for a second when her felt her body inch back a bit, bringing her ass close to his cock. He heard the slow, exhaled breath and the almost inaudiable oh. Bringing her here had been a bad, bad idea.

Angelus moved carefully and at a tempo right for her. He was pleased to see she effortlessly followed his motions, her hands went in perfect time to his, her shoulders went into line with his, and even her hips managed to go with the flow. He used his body’s natural sway to ease her round, then followed with a low swoop, and he grinned when she flinched at the slashed air.

“Good,” he praised. “Keep going.”

He copied and again, she went with him until it got too much and she was out of breath. “Now that,” Cordelia’s grin was huge, “Was cool.” Her palms were sweaty, she was shaking, and her arms felt like jello. She’d hardly done anything and it seemed like she’d just run a marathon.

“You okay?” Her whole body was trembling.

“Uh-huh.”

Her cheeks were all rosy and puffed out with the size of her smile, her eyes were shining and she looked completely irrisitable. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to bring her here after all.

“I’ll put this away. Feel free to have a look around.” Angelus turned away to do two things. One, put the samurai back, and two to wish he could bash his head off the wall without raising suspicion. He set about wiping the fingerprints off the hilt and blade with his shirt, all the while tuning his hearing into her pulse and heart beat, allowing him to have some form of pleasure.

“Hey, you have crossbows.” Him having crossbows didn’t sit right with her, not when it was what she used to dust vampires.

“Got stakes somewhere in here.”

“Ooh,” Cordelia picked up one of the crossbows and studied it with a relatively untrained eye. Was it possible for a crossbow to be cute? Cus this one was. “This one is ten times smaller than the ones Giles lets me use.” Jokingly pointing it at him, “Stick em up.”

He rolled his eyes and shook his head, too concerned with making sure the hilt was sparkling to know her hands were as untrained as her eyes.

She fingered various parts of the crossbow, touching the tip of the arrow and what she assumed to be the safety catch, then watched and listened in horror as it clicked, sending the arrow out of the bow and into him. Oh God, oh God. Blood started to run and it was staining his shirt and she was too stunned to do anything to help.

Angelus snarled and vamped as every nerve he had burned, agony shot through his back and chest when his legs gave way under the pain of being impaled. All his weight bore down on bent knees, his fingers and nails scraped off the floor, and his snarls faded into heavy gasps that showed just how much pain he was in. “Pull. It. Out.”

Cordelia’s numb hands instantly dropped the crossbow, numb feet took her to him, numb lips yelled for Spike, and numb eyes glistened with unshed tears. She tried, really she did, to remove the arrow, but more blood escaped and she just couldn’t do it. This time, she screamed for Spike, but there was no answer.

She gave one final tug, feeling her stomach and heart jump at the sound it made when it came free. She threw it to one side and helped Angelus to ease onto his side, her palm pressing down on the wound she did and more tears fell when cool, red liquid seeped between her fingers. “So, so sorry. God Angel, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean too hurt you.” Didn’t mean to shoot you.

Despite his circumstance, he managed to choke out a laugh that forced blood from his mouth, horrifying her just that bit more. There was no time to react before he brought her head down and bit into her throat, not hesitating to take what he needed to heal. Cordelia’s scream was music, her hands fumbled with his shoulders and body shook, the knowledge she was being bitten increased the fear coarsing through her.

Christ, she was terrified, honest to God terrified both of and for him. Pain, suffering, guilt, excitement, fear. He tasted it all, but there was something else, something so much sweeter than those wicked emotions and it got stronger the deeper he bit. Angelus smirked against the supple throat, even through the hell he was in, and slowed his lips down, making the sucking almost gentle.

No longer was his bite desperate, no longer was the pain in her throat, instead all she felt was a kiss. A gentle kiss that left her dizzy and weak, a kiss that could very well mean her death, but she didn’t particularly care. All Cordelia cared about were the lips enticing her blood from her to him, the arms now holding her steady, and low purrs vibrating right through her.

It was almost as though he was a part of her, like him drinking her in was something strange and lethal and good. God, it felt incredible and that was before his tongue licked a line of fire up her jugular. Her breathing changed from sharp and harsh to soft, subtle puffs that warmed his cheek and made him wonder if that would be how she’d sound when she climaxed.

Angelus slowly, reluctantly, pulled his lips and teeth from her neck, using his tongue to capture each and every last drop until a final kiss sealed the two tiny little holes. His eyes went from gold to brown and ridges straightened, and though his senses were on a fucking hellish rollercoaster, he was grounded enough to see the rapture on her beautiful face.

“Delicious,” he murmured, pushing her damp hair to one side and away from his bite mark. “You are fucking delicious.”

Angelus leaned closer to her. “I want more.”


CHAPTER 14
Day 27…
She looked so pretty in his bed.

Chestnut hair artistically arranged on a pillow, her face pale from blood loss and skin oily from dried tears. Her pouting mouth parted, the slow and even breaths pulling his shirt tight over full, pert breasts, revealing a teasing hint of cleavage. Her neck beautifully shaped and slender with gentle, sloping curves leading down to her shoulders.

He slowly moved her head to the left, his thick fingers tracing those gentle slopes and curves until her flawless skin rise up into a bruised, reddened bite mark. Brown eyes flashed black, reflecting the smirk forming on his face as he vividly recalled sinking his teeth right into her. His ears still heard sound of fangs piercing flesh, still heard her lovely scream of pain before she breathed out the pleasure, still heard how her heart had pounded heavily enough to crack a rib.

Those sounds would stay with him for a long, long time.

Sure the bite had been done out of necessity, but he’d still bitten her and that was all that mattered. Ends justifying means and all that crap. She belonged to him now. After all, possession was nine tenths of the law. Not that she hadn’t belonged to him before the biting, of course, but never mind.

She’d belonged to him the day she walked into his club when she drank and laughed with him, slept in his bed, and everything else. His little bite merely sealed the deal.

Angelus combed his fingers through her hair and shifted to place his knees at either side of her hips, his thighs taking the brunt of his weight as he straddled her, his nose capturing all the joys of her new scent. He’d enjoyed her scent before. Lillies and roses and sun warmed honey made for an intoxicating combination, but now…

The honey was gone, replaced by his, and now she smelled of them. Night and Day. Black and White. Masculine and Feminine. All different sides of the same coin and all perfectly suited.

Fuck, she wore him well.

Unblinking, he stared at her with demon’s obsession in his eyes, his gaze leaving that pretty, pretty bite to focus on her face. He relaxed his thighs to lean on her a bit, just to feel her body heat crawl through him.

Almond shaped hazel eyes hidden by flickering, creamy lids and framed with dark lashes. A lovely little mouth, defiant chin, and high cheekbones sporting a soft, rosy flush despite blood loss. Smooth skin barring a beauty mark and pixieish ears that held two tiny jewelled studs.

Angelus followed the breadcrumbs, his touch going lower and lower until he reached the top button of his shirt. He opened it, exposing more of her cleavage for his viewing pleasure. He couldn’t be blamed for being an opportunistic pervert.

Not after spending the better part of the night with her wrapped around him.

He thought of it and groaned, feeling his balls tighten as arousal hardened his cock. He was helpless against the softness of her panties and pussy, and helpless to stop his hips inching higher. God, it’d be so damn easy to slide his fingers down and rub her lucious clit raw.

He gripped her wrists, moving them above her head, squeezing enough to start the motions of waking up. He watched those creamy lids fluttered open, showing off her glazed and dazed hazel irises. He listened to her heart pick up speed and change in rhythm.

It was a wonderful tune and one he could contentedly listen too every morning.

“Angel?” Her voice was everything sleepy and husky.

Angelus swept a thumb across her mouth, inwardly smirking when she closed her eyes and pressed a little kiss to the digit.

Cordelia sighed a sigh full of relief and guilt, and grew slightly dizzy when she reopened her eyes a tad too fast. Though she was suffering the after effects of both almost killing him and his bite, she could see there was something not quite right. Like he was… Different.

She hissed when she felt a painfully sharp sting in her throat. Her hand came up to soothingly hold the bite. “Ow.”

A dark eyebrow arched in mild bemusement. He pulled her hand away and traced the sore flesh, purposely pressing on the punctures from his two main fangs. “Most people don’t prod a vampire bite seventeen hours after they get one.”

She beautifully flinched from the pain and arched away. “Most people don’t normally survive a vampire bite. Certainly not one of yours… And has it really been seventeen hours?”

He nodded briefly, removing his hand just so he could openly stare at it. It was a pretty good bite in his own humble opinion. Each fang had left an imprint so deep, they would all leave a scar, it was perfectly situated and curved up with a nice outline to define the shape. No doubt about it, there was no mistaking it was his bite, and the longer he looked at it, the more proud he became.

Cordelia shook her head as much as she could without getting woozy. He was such a vampire. She tried to push him off her so she could sit, but her arms were oddly light and she didn’t have strength enough to move his finger let alone his entire self. “Lemme up.”

Angelus went to do just that, but paused for thought. If he got up, then she wouldn’t be vulnerably at his mercy, and therefore he wouldn’t have a chance to play with her for a while. “No.”

No? “Come on, Angel. Seventeen hours is a long time to lay down. Let me up.”

A smirk slowly tilted his mouth up. This was a delicate moment and if he wasn’t careful or played it right, she’d treat it as a game. Not what he wanted at all. “I said no,” he feigned deep thought. “Or maybe you misheard.”

She frowned and it was beautiful. “I heard you, now let me up before I get all achy.”

Her wrists once again captured and pinned, by one large cool palm, above her head, his fingers flexing strongly around the slim joints. She was blinking up at him now, her mouth set in a loose pout, and the shirt good n tight over those perky tits of hers. Yep, this was definitely a nice place to be.

Angelus smiled as he shook his head. “Nah-ah,” he chuckled when a her pretty hazel eyes flashed with annoyance and not fear. Guess he had to put some effort into this little game. He squeezed her wrists that bit tighter, enjoying her sharp gasp of pain. “Feeling trapped in our relationship already, Cor?”

Cordelia searched his face and eyes for any clues he was kidding around, but there was nothing except hellish intent. So this was where he turned on her. Not that she expected anything else of course, at least not after shooting and almost killing him last night. She closed her eyes to prevent him from seeing the hot tears welling up and somewhere in her brain, she heard Buffy’s voice.

One dead vampire is one less to worry about.

Yeah, well, that vampire just happened to be the one she was head over ass for. The same vampire who was excercising his every right to punish her for the sheer stupidity she’d shown at treating a weapon as a toy. Seventeen hours obviously wasn’t time enough to deal with the fact she’d almost killed him.

He watched in amused confusion as her eyes glistened with tears and sad resignation while her head gave a tiny nod. Still there was no fear, only a bittersweet tang that came with goodbyes. Christ, the scent of it was so damned strong, he could freaking taste it.

She spoke before he had chance. “I’m sorry, Angel. I could’ve come to you any time, I should have come to you the first chance I got, but…” She shook her head and ignored the salty liquid trickling down her cheek. “No, there’s no excuse. I fell and I was scared.”

Angelus one thought centred around the word huh.

Cordelia smiled through her tears, preparing to take whatever he was going to do like a woman. “You’ve been, well, you’ve been you to me and I like it, so I won’t fight or resist or scream… Unless you want me to scream, then I can. Had lots practice.”

Ooohkay. This really wasn’t how his game was supposed to go and to say he was confused was an understatement. The only thing he could make out of her nonesense was the fact she liked him and wouldn’t put up a fight while he tortured her, but that couldn’t be right. Just to be sure, “You fell for me so you’re going to sit back and take me torturing you?”

She nodded and exhaled what could very well be one of her last breaths.

Forget the first game, this one was so much more fun.

His grip on her wrists tightened almost unbareably and he smirked at the flash of pain that crossed her face. There was still no fear. She was either stone cold insane or a secret sadist. If the latter, then wow. He’d hit the jackpot when it came to a human woman.

Making sure her gaze never left him, he let go and got off the bed, taking slow and measured steps to one of his cabinets and purposely opened it in a way that made it creak. Her heart rate turned faster when his hand showed off a small, lethal dagger with a strange black tip.

Cordelia ceased to breathe and quickly tried to cover up her moment of weakness, but it was no good. God, she’d never seen anyone express so much evil with so little a smile. She started to shake. Guess taking it like a woman was a lot harder than she thought.

Angelus casually strolled back to the bed, turning the dagger this way and that, showing off every inch of the shiny silver blade. “This was made for me years ago. Press this button here,” he did and some part of the hilt clicked open. “Perfect for pouring poison inside. When used, the tip leaks said poison straight into the blood stream. Kinda like a scorpion’s tail. Cool, huh?”

She wasn’t sure if he wanted an actual answer, so she remained quiet.

He crawled onto the bed, keeping the dagger at her eye level and watched as the hazel disappeared into two saucer sized pupils. She was barely able to stop from flinching when the cool blade touched and slid up leg, going high enough until she felt it pricking the elastic of her panties.

She swallowed back a thick lump of increasing terror and reminded herself she deserved this for being such a deceptive, vindictive bitch who’d kept her mouth shut because she liked him. Like? Ha. Like didn’t begin to describe it no more and since she was living her last, she was going to damn well admit, at least to herself, that she loved him.

That’s right, her brain yelled at an imaginary Buffy Summers, I’m in love with Angel. So there.

What the hell had Spike turned her into? She vowed to come back as a ghost and make him suffer.

Angelus was having a ball. Straddling her, teasing her, frightening her… It was such a fucking turn on, even if he wasn’t entirely sure about why she was letting him play.

He dragged the blade further up, scraping the very tip all over her pussy, right from her tight little hole across those puffy little lips and purposely circled her lovely little clit. She gasped, her wide eyes fluttering at the cool cool contact.

For crying out loud, what was she thinking? She so could not find this a turn on. It was wrong. Really, really wrong. Right. She was being punished. Must remember that. If only it wasn’t Angel doing the punishing, then she’d be properly scared, but it was and she just couldn’t stop from reacting to him.

He increased the pressure, but only for a second, and moved so the dagger was under the bottom two shirt buttons. Another second passed and the blade sliced through the shirt like it was thin air.

Cordelia watched as he brought the knife up and held it directly over her heart and closed her eyes, struggling with everything in her to keep the hot stinging tears from falling. She didn’t want to see him do it, then there was a sensation of excruciating nothing.

She waited, waited some more, and then waited some more, but felt nothing bar the torn shirt graze her skin. Cranking one glistening eye open, she watched and listened to him slam the dagger straight into the wall, sending bits of plaster tumbling down around her head.

Angelus was smiling a crooked smile and shaking his head in disbelief. “You,” he started, his voice laced with equal disbelief. “Have to be the craziest dame I’ve ever met. What possessed you to think I was gonna torture you?”

Uh? “You mean you’re not?”

His brows touched his hairline. “You want me to hurt you?” His previous thought about her being a closet sado masochist came to mind and he couldn’t stop the grin if he tried.

Why was he smiling at the thought of her want… Oh. Cordelia was only to quick to answer. “No. I don’t want you to hurt me, but why aren’t you going to hurt me?”

“Why are you expecting me to hurt you?”

Hello. “Didn’t I almost kill you?”

“Wasn’t it an accident?”

Her lips slightly flickered and she gave a teeny tiny shrug. “I don’t know,” she paused and he was ready to claim victory in their new game. “Do you know if it was an accident?”

Scheming little bitch tricked him. “Were you serious when you held me hostage?”

“What if I had been serious?”

“Shall I demonsontrate the consequences?”

“Haven’t you already given a taste of such consequences?”

“Didn’t you like the game?”

The sheer incredulity in her voice was not fake. “That was a game?”

He looked so damn proud of himself that she struggled not to giggle. “Yep!” Angelus exclaimed with all the jubulence of a five year old and it lasted until he realised he’d just lost the round. Miserably.

Cordelia finally let go of the headboard and stroked his jaw while she laughed quietly. “I really am sorry, Angel.” She glanced at his chest, seeing no signs he’d been shot seventeen hours ago. There was nothing to say how close she’d come to killing him.

God. She really had almost killed the man, the vampire she loved.

Angelus shifted so she could sit up and found himself with little choice as her slender arms curled around his neck, her lips cheekily stealing a sly kiss from his, smirking when he immediately tensed. She guessed the resident evil of Sunnydale didn’t do spontaneous displays of affection.

Keeping one hand on his shoulder, she used the other to dry her eyes before pulling back to gaze up at him with more than mild amusement. She didn’t bother fighting the urge to grope him or the urge to smile at him. Her hands went from his shoulders to chest, where her fingers splayed across pale pec muscles. “So no punishment for Cordy?”

“Does Cordy deserve punishment?”

“How can you make punishment sound like a reward?” It was one seriously uncanny talent.

He grinned down at her with all the wickedness in him. “I make it that way. You’ll appreciate it when I get my hands on your pert little ass.”

Wasn’t that just a world of possibilities? Cordelia unconsciously licked her lips when something inside her clenched. “Sure of that?”

“Princess,” Angelus groaned at the light arousal emanating from her sweet place. Seemed like he wasn’t the one who saw the potential in a solid spanking. Lowering his voice to a whisper, “I’ll make sure of it.”

“I’ll look forward to it,” she said, trapping her tongue between her teeth and trailing her nails down his stomach until she felt the waistband of his pants. She arched an eyebrow, “Hundred percent silk says a lot about a man.”

It was his turn to arch a brow. “And flirting says a lot about a woman. A woman, I might add, was ready and willing to let me do whatever my evil heart desired.” A bubble of laughter escaped his throat. “You’re either crazy or guilty. Since you’re dating me, you can’t be crazy, so my guess is guilt.”

She tried to make a joke of it. “Yeah cus dating a soulless vampire just screams common sense.”

“It does when that soulless vampire is me.”

Cordelia sighed on seeing her remark get no reaction other than a bland egotistical comment. “You could have been dust and…”

“I’m no foolish fledgling, Cordelia. I know it was an accident so there’s no need to get your panties in a twist.”

Was he serious? “No need to get my… My panties are not in a twist. Don’t you get it? I almost killed you!”

“Gods, woman. Get a grip!” He yanked her hands off him lest her nails dug out his intestines.

How dare he tell her to get a grip? “I was scared, Angel. You were bleeding and the arrow wouldn’t come out and then it did and then you bled some more and it went everywhere!”

Much to his pained ears, she didn’t stop there. She went on and on, her voice getting more and more panicked, the story getting more and more elaborate until it sounded like she’d been sent in by Buffy to assassinate him.

Angelus rubbed his forehead, sighed, and slapped a hand over her mouth. It had to be impossible for a human to talk that much, that quickly, without pausing for a breath. He ignored her glare. “I’m going to take my hand away and you’re going to be quiet, okay?”

Cordelia nodded, but the second his actions mirrored his words, she opened her mouth, forcing him to replace his hand.

“Yes, you shot me, and yes there was probably a lot of blood, but I bit you. We’re even.”

She shook her head and shook off his hold. “You only bit me out of need, not…” Not desire, she wanted to say, but fell silent instead.

He fought the kiss or kill urge and took a few moments to deal with increasing irritation. “Desparation or desire. Doesn’t bother me.” He forced her to meet his deceptively serene gaze. “And we both know that’s what matters.”

She saw the threat for what it was and tough noogies. “What matters is you not being a pile of dust on the basement floor. So go ahead, glare and threaten me all you want. I’m glad for it. I just wish you’d bitten me under better circumstances.”

Angelus frowned. Surely she couldn’t be that distraught over a little accident. He was a vampire, but not just any vampire. The very vampire that had terrorised her friends last year before growing bored. The vampire who pinned her to the ground and whispered to her everyfuckingthing he wanted too do to her. For her to be concerned enough to cry then she had to have a damn good reason.

“What circumstances would better ones be, Cordelia?” The insant he asked was the intant she froze and gave him all the answers he needed.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The sixty four thousand dollar question was how humiliated could one girl be?

Cordelia had a fair idea and God, the feeling wasn’t at all pleasent. She groaned into her hands, sinking so deep into the tub, the water came up to her chin. Her nails lightly scratched her head as she raked her fingers through her damp hair, her legs straightened out and she lay against the side, relishing the cool feel of it on her back.

It was a nice tub, she thought offhandedly and popped her big toe onto the shiny silver faucet. A dark plum corner unit that was large enough for a six foot plus vampire to comfortably laze in it for hours. More importantly, it was large enough for her to comfortably laze in it for hours and why she never kne he had it until now was totally beyond her.

Sure, she had an en suite bathroom that comprised of a fitted power shower and sink with excellent water pressure, but it was nothing compared to this and neither was her parents’ en suite bathroom. The wall lights gave off a relaxing glow similar to a few candles and she guessed they were dimmers, the floor was marble and the walls were a deep shade of berry that seemed to soothe.

She took it back. It wasn’t just nice, it was heaven, and no matter what happened from here on out, she’d risk life and limb to comfortably laze in the tub for hours more.

Cordelia sighed and rolled her neck, this time stretching her arms across both edges while the little girl in her giggled like a maniac. All she needed was a good sized bottle of bubble bath, her favourite Tigi haircare products, a trashy romance novel and she’d be set forever.

Not to mention it’d take her mind off her current embarrassing situation.

Seconds before sending her to get pretty for him, he’d used a solid ten of the cheesiest pet names just to make her react. Baby, honey bunny, sugarplum, muffin, love, darling, kitten, sugar, dumpling, and dollface. Then came his personal brand of pet names, which were by no means cheesy, and those were used to make her blush.

She’d tried fighting back by coming up with her own, but unfortunately her mind didn’t have over two centuries worth of experience, and so her names had been less than pathetic. It hadn’t helped when each time she came up with something she thought half decent, he’d preen and proudly display himself like a farmer’s prized peacock.

It’d gotten to the point where she seriously considered shooting him again, but that idea went as quickly as it came. She didn’t think she would ever pick up another crossbow let alone use one, and definitely not around him.

Cordelia slid her ass along the bottom of the tub until her hair was able to float. Christ, she could practically swim in the thing and the feeling was glorious. Huh. There was a mirror on the ceiling and it was a perfect match to the huge one covering one wall. Why on Earth would a vampire, a creature with no reflection, have mirrors like that in the bathroom?

Maybe there was no answer, maybe he just liked how they looked, or maybe he was right and old habits really did die hard.

She smiled up at her own reflection, watching how her hair responded to the ripples caused by her arm movements and got the reason why. Angel had them for reflections alright, only not his own. They were in place so he could happily perv over whoever he had in here with him.

She remembered when he’d had a soul and been with Buffy. How many times had she been in here, doing and thinking the same things she was? How many times had Angel watched Buffy on those mirrors?

Cordelia sat up and began to rub herself down, making the task more business than pleasure, then squeezed out her hair. The quicker she was out, the better she’d be.

Her body was half out the water when the door flew open, the sudden commotion making her jump out of her skin.

“Jesus, Angel!” She shrieked and sank back down, the mirrors and Buffy Summers taking second place to restarting her heart. “Could you not do that, please?” Both arms went directly across her chest and a leg came up to hide the rest. Did he have no shame?

“Missed you too, babydoll.” A box of what appeared to be toiletries was held up. “Thought these might come in handy,” and tossed the box her way, amused to see it land in the water and not in her hands.

“Do you mind?” She managed to inch her body round so the side of the tub covered up the important parts.

Angelus gave a smooth smile. “Why bother hiding?” He asked. “Already seen it.”

Cordelia felt her face flush with heat. “Not completely.”

“No,” he said, his eyes drifting up toward the upper mirror which gave a lovely view of her ass. He grinned, “Not completely.”

She followed his line of sight and her scowl deepened. “Are there no limits to your perviness?”

His gaze still hadn’t returned to her face. “Not really.” Now that was one beautifully tight little ass. All wet and curvy and so very, very biteable.

Cordelia rolled her eyes, once again shifting so her tush was fully submerged, thus bringing his attention back to her. “That’s more like it. What’s in the box?”

“Toiletries pour femme courtesy of Dru.” Angelus leaned against the doorframe and folded his arms. “Thought you might be in need of something sweeter than my stuff.”

She picked up the box with one hand while using the other to keep from flashing him. “Alterna,” she stated, impressed. Obviously the vampiress had taste and good taste at that. “Not bad at all.”

“It beats her phase of using virgin’s blood to bathe in.”

She cringed, wishing she wasn’t in possession of such a vivid imagination. If they weren’t being sacrificed to Gods and demons, they were used as hygiene products. Poor virgins. She certainly sympathised. “That’s really comforting.”

His face split into one of the largest grins she’d ever seen. Didn’t take a genius to figure out the scenarios her brain had cooked up. “Don’t be so worried, honeydew. She grew out of it in the late 1900’s.”

“I’m not worried,” Cordelia protested halfheartedly while wondering how she could pass herself off as a hooker, an experienced hooker at that. Maybe if she bleached her hair and wore a trashy red lipstick…

“Of course you’re not worried.” That’s why she was probably conjuring up ways to lose her cherry without actually losing it.

“I’m not!”

Angelus chuckled. She could rather adorable when she wanted to be. “I’ll be ordering brunch…”

Did he mention food? Hazel orbs quite literally sparkled and her stomach growled at the thought of sustenance. “Mmm. What we having?”

Fuck adorable. Adorable didn’t cover it, not when she was lounging in his tub and looking at him with those bambi eyes of hers. “Something to tickle the taste buds pink.”

Sounded good to her. “Great, now get out and lemme bathe in peace.”

He was about to leave the room when her voice stopped him. “Angel?”

He glanced over his shoulder, silently questioning the tiny slice of hesitation on her face. She drew patterns on the tub edge. “The mirrors?”

“My private rooms are just that, Cor. Private.”

“I know, but what about…”

Angelus smirked. “I was too guilty to splash out on the luxuries of life. My previous apartment consisted of a few necessities. Hardly enough room to swing a cat let alone have something this sweet.”

He made it sound so empty, so cold. Her head crinkled up the thought of someone like him, even with a soul, living in a place like that. Not knowing what to say to the confession, Cordelia simply nodded and offered up another smile.

“Enjoy the rest of your bath, baby. I’ll come get you when brunch arrives.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Angelus jogged down the steep stairs, his face stuck in a permanent grin. He never knew a human could blush so much. The deep red hue had gone from the tips of her ears all over her cheeks and disappeared down the front of his shirt. How amusing it was listening to her defensively babble on about how she didn’t even like him let alone love him, about how Keanu was the only man for her.

Yeah, and there was gonna be an influx of peace loving Martians arriving at JFK in half an hour.

She couldn’t lie to save her life and she certainly couldn’t lie to him. She loved him. Ninety-three percent in fact.

As reward for the sheer entertainment she’d given him, he was going to splash out on a hearty brunch for her, complete with a half fat latte with a dash of walnut syrup. It wasn’t just because she’d entertained him with her particular brand of affection, but for the simple reason she needed to replenish what he took last night.

A nice variety of cold meats and bread and other good things had to be ordered, plus a small tub of iron pills that wouldn’t hurt for her to take, aversion to tablets or no.

He paused on the last step and cocked his head to the side. Maybe flowers would be a nice touch. Roses? Nah. Not for Cordelia. At least, not for Cordelia today. Not lillies, either. Tulips? God no.

Daisies popped into his head as did the image of her wearing one in her hair and the picture was so pretty, he decided that yes, daisies was the right choice. Now that the brunch menu and flowers were sorted, all he had to do was find his damned phone. He recalled the last place he’d been downstairs was the basement and to the basement it was.

Angelus took a moment longer to move as a faint, toneless noise came from his rooms. He winced and felt fairly grateful he’d left when he did. He pushed off the bottom step, not bothering with politeness as he brushed past Spike, who glanced upwards with an identical wince.

“Bloody hell, mate.” When had his grandsire taken up the cat killing hobby?

Expressionless brown eyes landed on the blonde. “Bloody hell what, Wimple?” Just because he thought Cordelia couldn’t hold a note didn’t mean anyone else could.

Spike held up his hands, one of which gripped the cellphone Angelus wanted. “Surprised to see you is all. Looking for this?” The phone was flipped up and caught. “Dru found it in that dreary dojo of yours this morning.”

Angelus snatched it off his grandchilde and securely stuck it in his back pocket, offhandedly wondering how many long distance calls had been made on it. “That it or was there something you wanted to bother me about?”

The younger vampire made a show of inhaling deeply before smirking. “Been getting your fangs on, mate? Can’t say as I blame you. Not with the bit you got.”

Angelus grin turned sharp, edgy. “I really hope you mean that respectfully, William.”

Ooh. The human name. He’d be in trouble if he wasn’t careful. “Course I did. Never cut another vamp’s grass. Care to tell me how half your body weight in blood got on the basement floor?”

“She shot me.”

“Ain’t that the sign of true love.” Spike snagged his smokes and lit one up. “She shot you, you bit her. How’d she taste? Like spice I bet…” Suddenly, he was seeing a dozen Tweety Pies flying round and round his dizzy head, each one chirping out it’s own rotten chirpy song.

Walls were surprisingly hard, he thought dazedly as the back of his skull once again met the solid surface. A strong scent of blood had him making the correct assumption that the chit and her blood supply was off conversation limits.

Angelus watched with twisted satisfaction as his grandchilde struggle unsuccessfully to remove the grip from his windpipe. It did more than make things worse, it made Spike’s throat become the home for both large palms that squeezed hard enough to force blood to turn Spike’s unnaturally pale face red. He wasn’t done, wouldn’t be done until he drove the message home.

His fingers all but crushed Spike’s windpipe into shards of cartilege as he spoke in a low voice. “Ask that again,” Angelus ground out through gritted fangs. “Please ask me that again.”

Spike tried fruitlessly to remove the increasing pressure from his throat before his head was squeezed off. “Alright, alright,” he coughed up blood and brought his hands up in submission. “Ease up.”

Angelus slammed Spike’s head off the wall one more time on basic principle and let go, smiling as though nothing happened. Now that was fun. He rubbed his hands together. “Glad we understand each other. Get someone to clean up the mess in the basement, I don’t want her to see it.” What was it he was going to do before being so rudely interrupted?

Oh yes. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I got brunch to order.” Since he was already getting her food, flowers and coffee, he may as well go the whole hog and get her a piece of pretty, but what?

He turned back to Spike who was still crumpled on the floor grasping his throat. “What’s classed as complimentary pieces for women these days? I would give her a heart, but I’ve done that way too many times. Not special, you understand. Any ideas?”

He got a harsh cough as a reply. “Never mind,” Angelus said and began to pace back and forth. “Jewellery doesn’t appeal. I need something symbolic, something that shows my regard. Something that says respect, you know?”

Spike stared at his grandsire as though he was insane, which he obviously was. What the bloody hell had the chit done to him?

Angelus came to a sudden halt when a metaphorical lightbulb went ping above his head. “Of course,” he exclaimed and smacked his forehead. “Why didn’t I think of that before?” His head shook from side to side. “I really worry about me sometimes.”

The blonde’s expression of abject terror went unnoticed as his grandsire continued to be more concerned on making a good impression with gifts and brunch. He wondered if Cordelia knew exactly what she’d gotten herself into. Okay, what he’d gotten her into. Actually, no. Cordelia had gotten herself into a whole world of obsessive trouble. Weren’t his fault.

He may have put the two together, but it wasn’t like he could be fully blamed, was it? Getting his grandsire all fluffed up was entirely her own fault, though he’d give his right arm to know how she did it. Obviously words were long overdue with the bit.

Brown eyes gleamed with self congratulation, pride, and so much childish excitement, he was practically bouncing. “Would love to stay and chat, but I really don’t wanna. Man, she’s gonna be thrilled.” He really couldn’t wait to give it to her.

Spike watched in fascination as his grandsire quite literally flounced off towards the part of the mansion housing one ugly arse rock. Words definitely needed to be had with that girl.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Can I have a hint?”

“No.”

“Not even one itty, bitty hint?”

“No.”

“Is it breakable?”

“No.”

“No it’s not breakable or no you’re not telling me?”

“No I’m not telling you so stop asking.”

“Can I wear it?”

“No.”

Disappointment washed over her face. “Oh. Is it at least pretty?”

Angelus rolled his eyes. “Do you ever shut up?”

She grinned. “No.”

“You’re not funny, Cor. You know that?”

This time she giggled. “No,” then gasped when he nipped her throat, biting her lip at the feel of him rubbing his nose against the mark. “Ease up there, Nibbles. It’s still sore.”

He smirked and pulled away. “I know, and if you don’t let up on the pet names, I’ll make your boob job public knowledge.”

Cordelia’s jaw hit the floor. “I have not had a boob job!”

“You know that, I know that, but no-one else knows that.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

His giggle was everything wicked. “Wouldn’t I? I’m soulless, remember? I’m evil.”

She paused and he felt her mouth curl up into a smile belonging to film noir femme fatale. “What was your human name again? Lianne?”

“Liam.”

“No, no. I’m certain it was Lianne.”

Angelus glared at the back of her head. “I’m all man, Cordelia.”

“You know that, I know that, but others don’t know that.” She paused again. “Could a vampire have a sex change? I mean if Liam did become Lianne, would the healing thingy you people have make it grow back?”

Her mind was an incredibly scary place to be. “Just because we heal better than humans doesn’t mean we have the talent of regeneration. So we’re clear, Liam will never be or ever was Lianne.”

Cordelia gave a careless shrug. “If you’re sure…”

“Yes. Very sure. Start walking, Cor. I’m getting bored.”

In other words he couldn’t wait to give her the present. “Relationships are give and take, you know.”

He saw where this was going. “Lemme guess. I give and you take?”

She grinned. “Exactly. Everybody wins.”

Angelus couldn’t stop his mouth from turning up into a smile identical to hers. “I’m still not telling you.”

She resisted the urge to stamp her foot and huff. “Oh come on, Angel. Please? I’ll act surprised. Like mega surprised.”

There was only one way to deal with a woman when she was in this mood. Bring on the guilt trip. He sighed in resignation and stopped guiding her forwards. “You’re not the easiest person to surprise, Cordelia. I mean what do you get the woman who has everything? I wracked my brain for ages trying to figure out what to get you. If you don’t want to be surprised, then I’ll tell you.”

Her pout belonged in the Guiness World Records. For crying out loud, he could feel hope for getting one teeny tiny clue fading out of the eyes hidden by his hands. “Alright,” she puffed out eventually. “You win. I’ll take the surprise. Just one last question then I’ll be quiet. Promise.”

“Ask away,” Angelus directed her to where he’d set up an old, small table that held the food he ordered.

Cordelia grinned sheepishly. “What is…” She was halfway through asking when the scent of ambrosia rose up and filled her nose like gassy heaven. Oh God of Gods. “Is that coffee?”

“Yep! Half fat latte with…”

“Walnut syrup. Angel?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you,” and it was terrifying just how true that statement was.

Chuckling, Angelus moved her into a position.which would ensure she’d get the full effect of all his hard work. “Of course you do, sugarcube. Now I’m gonna remove my hands, but keep your eyes closed until I say.” He waited for her to nod before actions copied words. “Stay.”

Cordelia scowled. “I’m not a dog,” then listened to a click that was closely followed by a quiet hiss. Hm. A lighter perhaps? Her arm tingled at a sudden, soft wave of heat. Curiouser and curiouser. “Can I look yet?”

“Not yet.” He adjusted the scarf into a perfect red bow and stood back to admire it all. A perfect intimate candle-lit brunch for two and the perfect present made the whole thing perfect. He’d really outdid himself this time.

She felt him come up behind her and shivered at the feather touch of his cheek brushing against hers as he leaned down to whisper, “Now.”

It took a second or two for the fog to leave her eyes clear enough to see what was right in front of her. A dark little table held a feast consisting of croissants, spreads, various cold meats, fruit, cheese and crackers, coffee, juice and other good things. In the very centre of the table sat a beautifully arranged bouquet of large daisies with multicoloured petals, and next to them was a deep red candle flickering happily. “Oh. Oh wow. For me?”

“It’s certainly not for Spike.”

“Dumbass.” This was the second time he’d treated her to breakfast, but it was just as nice as the first time. Cordelia lowered her gaze lest he see and read and know the emotion in them. She may have admitted to herself, he may know the strong liking she had for him, but she wasn’t ready to have him know just how deep that liking ran. “This is beautiful, Angel. Thank you.”

She was so gonna have to think of something for him.

Angelus rolled his eyes. How could such a perceptive, observant person miss the present itself? “Don’t get all female on me. It’s only breakfast and this isn’t the present.”

It wasn’t just breakfast, at least not to her. Hold on. Did he say this wasn’t her present? “What?” Hazel orbs snapped up to meet his. “There’s more?”

The sheer surprise and disbelief on her face was absolutely stunning. She was so damned expressive, it was unreal. “Look to the right.”

Look to the right? Okay.

Cordelia turned and her forehead crinkled up into a confused frown. There was a large, grey statue sporting a vibrant red silk bow below its wide open mouth. Her brows touched her hairline as she took in the detail. Two stone, pointy fang like teeth came out of what passed for its lower jaw, its eyes were grey and cold in its emptiness, and there was a seriously creepy air about it that chilled her to the bone. She swayed, watching those lifeless eyes followed her every move.

She slowly walked round it, tracing the intricate pattern on its sides and back, her head tilting to one side so she wouldn’t miss a thing. It didn’t have much of an ass, she offhandedly noticed, or much of anything bar a strangely powerful presence and that it had in abundance. She had just one simple question. “Not to be rude or anything, but what is it?”

Angelus grinned wildly. “It’s Acathla.”

Say what? Her head peered round to stare at him. Acathla? “Acathla as in Mouth to Hell Acathla?” He could not, absolutely could not, be giving her Acathla. No way could he be giving her Acathla.

“The very one.” He went to stand next to her, his chest puffing up with manly pride. Her face was priceless. “Surprise!”

He was! He was giving her the key to hell. She cleared her throat so her words didn’t come out in a croaky noise that expressed her exact feelings. She wasn’t sure what those exact feelings were, but never mind. “I’m certainly surprised. Very, very surprised.”

He smiled happily. “None of my other ideas seemed right, ya know? Too cliche, overdone, not special, not you or us. So then I got to thinking about the night we went to Havana’s and how that clever brain of yours figured out how to make Acathla work…”

Cordelia sucked in so sharp a breath, it stung her lungs. “Please, please tell me we’re not going on a wild ride.” Aw hell.

“And delay our breakfast by a hundred years? Perish the thought.” Angelus gave her a crooked grin. “What do you think?”

“I think it’s unique.” His face fell into slight disappointment and boy did she feel like an ungrateful bitch. “A good unique,” and unique it definitely was. How many other girls could say they’d been given the key to a hell dimension? She frowned as she thought about it some more. Dimension was another word for world, right? So he’d given her the key to another dimension, a hellish one yes, but still another dimension and that meant he’d given her a world.

She blinked, her brain trying its damndest to absorb the fact he’d given her a world. And I thought thousand dollar champagne was too much. “I understand, Angel,” and she truly did. Her lips curled up and up and up until all her white teeth were on show. “Thank you.”

Cordelia returned to the front of the statue, her eyes staring up at its freaky face. “So what was supposed to happen when it opened? What was supposed to open?”

“His mouth, and as for what was supposed to happen… Well, I was hoping for a big swirly hole and big gale force winds.” Angelus answered and watched her rise up on tiptoes to peer inside said mouth, a little huh. “Aren’t you going to unwrap it?”

It was wrapped? Oh yeah. The bow. “Oh, uh. Sure.” For some reason, nervousness rose up as she touched the red bow, feeling it come loose and slide like liquid silk through her fingers, tickling her skin. Shock and horror washed over her face as she watched herself drop it, only his reflexes managed to save it from the cold ground.

“Allow me,” he whispered, thouroughly enjoying the amazing emotions flashing in her eyes. He folded it in half and keept three fingers in the loop, then placed it artistically round her neck, and threaded the two loose ends through the loop. “There you go, gorgeous.”

She smoothed it down and watched how the rich shade contrasted with her tanned arms and his dark crimson shirt. It was beautiful. Soft, soft silk in the most vivid shade of red she’d ever seen. She was so gonna wear it everyday. She vowed to treat him to something special, but what? She’d have to think on it. “I really don’t know what to say, Angel. Thank you. Especially for Acathla and the scarf. I’ve got the perfect dress for it.”

He beamed, pleased his idea for a gift worked. “I just knew you’d love it.”

To save them both, mainly herself, from a truly embarrassing emotional moment, Cordelia swiftly shook off any and all girly feelings, sure he’d either laugh or wave it away. “Can we eat now? I’m starving.” God knew she’d need food for thought.

Where the hell was she going to put it?


…TO BE CONTINUED…

THIS APPEARS TO BE AN UNFINISHED STORY


 

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