Dead on Arrival


AUTHOR: SCORCH (aka JUDI)
SUMMARY: What if Vamp Cordy ends in BTVS season 3 reality, co-existing with Buffy, Angel, Cordy, Xander, etc like Vamp Willow did at the show?
RATING: NC17
POSTED: 24 Dec 2005
CATEGORY: AU / ACTION-ADVENTURE / ROMANCE
CONTENT/PAIRING: Vamp!Cordy, C/A, C/Aus, hints of B/A, C/X
WARNINGS: Explicit Sexual Content, Violence, Language
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES: See Challenge Criteria at the end of the story.
STATUS: Complete


Part 1:
There was something about Sunnydale that she simply loved. Maybe it was the hellish power it held, maybe it was the green green grass of home, or it maybe the fact it was full of clueless idiots just begging to be eaten. Perhaps, white fangs gleamed in the moonlight, perhaps she it was because she ruled it.

Whatever the reason, Cordelia loved the Hellmouth.

She hadn’t always loved it of course, but that was way back when she was human.

She sighed unnecessarily. That seemed so long ago now. “A lifetime. Literally.” The vampiress muttered continued her muttering and nightly walk through the cemetery. Those days were thought of with a fondness rare in her kind.

Going on holidays to some far off place, lazing in the sun, dining in overpriced restaurants where the dishes wouldn’t fill a five year old. She recalled having to be in before dark, always carrying holy water and stakes, and wearing plain clothes.

Cordelia chuckled as she ran a hand through waist length chocolate hair. She’d lived as a human for a long seventeen years, which by Hellmouth standards was a damn long time. Then, on the fateful day of September 23rd, the House of Aurelius came knocking and bringing with it her sire and companion.

Ahh, her companion. The little man who better be waiting for her at home, with a hot cup of tea and some dinner ready for her return. She smiled at the thought. Her poor companion had lost out when he took too long in turning her. He’d spent a good six months chasing her, lavishing on her his particular brand of affection until she’d cracked.

Then, after he’d gotten what he wanted, he made the mistake of leaving in order to make arrangements for her welcome to the family. After he’d left, her sire had quite literally come knocking on her door and that as they said, was that.

Her companion hadn’t found out until the next day, when he arrived at the clan House only too find her sibling placing flowers in her hair. According to her dear Darla, Angelus had gone ballistic and started tearing the place apart before the Master had booted him out onto the streets, making him stay there until he learned his lesson.

“Never leave treasures laying around Angelus,” Cordelia mimicked the continuously stated advice. “If a jewel is bright enough, then it will dazzle.” She giggled. Poor Angelus, what he must have gone through.

More to the point, what he was having to go through again. First he had to give way to Darla, and now he had to give way to her. It was his own fault, he should have turned her when he had the chance, not procrastinated like the lazy ass he often was. Of course, if he had acted correctly, then that meant he would have thought.

“Heaven forbid.” Cordelia shook her head in sheer bemusement. Damn, she got such a kick outranking her companion. Her, an ex cheerleader and year old vampire, outranking the Scourge of Europe. Just thinking about it made her snigger, particularly as there was a heirachy clause he didn’t know about.

Once a lower ranking vampire mated with one directly sired by the House Master, then the mate would automatically be equal. Naturally, it was more to her advantage that this tidbit was firmly kept from his ears. It amused her to no end how he remained clueless about that, especially after living for so long. Then again, Angelus wasn’t known for his love of vampiric customs.

He tended to prefer simplicity over complexity, and vampiric laws could be extremely complex. Most of the laws went over her head, but never mind. She was just a year old, what could anyone expect? A Harvard degree in the ways of the undead?

She stopped and frowned. Something wasn’t right.

This was Restfield cemetary, in the heart of the Hellmouth. She could navigate her way around this place blindfolded, she’d been here so many times. Every night in fact. It had some of the prettiest headstones and the oldest graves in Sunnydale, not to mention it housed her parents’ graves.

“Poor parents,” Cordelia wiped an imaginary tear from her eyes and sniffled. She had no sympathy for them whatsoever. People would do silly things like try to fleece a vampire out of a few big bucks. Still, as a dutiful daughter should, she regularly put fresh flowers on the graves and kept the grass tidy.

So yes, she knew Restfield cemetery better than anyone, and she would know when something wasn’t right. It was a little too quiet, too peaceful, it didn’t feel like it had last night, or the night before. There was a tranquillity that hung heavily in the atmosphere.

It was unsettling.

The vampiress picked up her pace in order to hurry back home. Angelus always told her to trust her instincts, to get out of places that didn’t sit well, and Restfield wasn’t sitting well at all.

Huh, maybe if she was lucky, she might find something sweet and cute for her sibling.

*~*~*~*~*

“Want me to walk you home?” Angel asked Buffy, his voice void of everything but the tiniest bit of hope. They hadn’t gotten much done in the way of relationship issues tonight, what with having to trap a demon and listening to a certain person complain. God, his ears were still ringing from the high pitched shrieking.

Buffy smiled prettily and basked in the security of Angel. She’d love it if he walked her home, but she hadn’t told her mom he was back yet. It wouldn’t make for happy time if her mom found her and Angel on the porch. “No, it’s fine. You need your rest.”

“Still haven’t told her, have you?” The vampire cleared his throat after the question, a noisy plea for her not too lie to his face.

The slayer bit her tongue and looked away, studiously taking in the few stars on display. “I need some time, you have to understand that.” She knew for a fact her mom would have a fit if and when she found out Angel was back.

“You’ve had time.” A whole month to be exact.

Buffy’s eyes hardened. “My mom’s only just found out I’m a slayer Angel, what am I supposed to say about this, about us, about you? Hey mom, you remember Angel, right? He’s the vampire that tried to suck the world into hell, but don’t worry. He’s back, with soul, and is trying to make up for it?” She shook her head. “She’d freak.”

Maybe Buffy was right. Maybe it was for the best if Joyce was kept in the dark about him being back. After all, it wasn’t just her daughter who’d had an up close and personal encounter with him, sans soul. Angel shuddered, thankful nothing had happened to Joyce Summers apart from a little emotional trauma.

“Look,” the slayer stated when he remained silent. “I just… My mom will need some more time. Ineed more time. I haven’t come to terms with this myself.” Deceptively fragile hands rubbed the chill from her arms. “It’s so surreal. Having you, standing there in front of me, after months of believing you were dead.”

How did she think he felt? There was definitely a reason he was back, but what? Did he really have a destiny? Was it here, in Sunnydale, with Buffy? Or was it somewhere else? The world was a big place, yet it seemed to get smaller everyday.

“… I wanted to die that night.” Buffy said with a far off look in her teary eyes. “My mom had kicked me out, I was expelled from school, and had no place to go.”

How sad. He’d spent a decade or so in a hell dimension. It wasn’t hot, as expected, it was fine for a while. Then he’d started feeling safe, like maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad. Then he’d learned the hard way that a person makes their own hell. Whatever he’d done soulless, whoever he’d hurt, all of it had come right back on him ten times over.

The cracking of necks, the draining of blood, the heat of melting flesh… All done to him, by him. Of course, it ended when he got out. Well, the physical aspect of it did, but the nightmares? The nightmares plagued him hour after hour, leaving him numb and hollow.

“Look, it’s late already and I have to go. See you tomorrow for patrol?”

Angel nodded. “Sure.” He had nothing else to do.

Buffy’s smile was dim, almost strained, but still got his attention all the same. “Great. It’d be better if I meet you here. Giles and the others… They’re not too comfortable around you yet.”

No doubt they needed time, too. The vampire resisted the urge to lock himself away and hibernate for the rest of his existence. How the hell did he have the nerve to face people after what he’d done?

“Goodnight Angel,” the blonde was saying. “Sweet dreams.”

The vampire watched her leave and didn’t shut the door until she disappeared. He was tired, so very, very tired. Days, weeks, he didn’t know how long he’d gone without sleep, but apparently it was long enough too stop him listening to his girlfriend.

A hand scrubbed his face in a way to wake himself up, sadly it didn’t work and he was left feeling raw. Stubble lined his jaw, bags were probably under his sunken eyes, and he was sure he’d give a ghost a run for it’s money.

Angel’s shoulders sagged and he massaged the nape of his neck, trying to ease the tension built over hellish years. Sleep. That’s what he’d do tonight. Drink that bottle of whiskey left by Spike, get somewhat drunk, then pass out on the king sized bed he’d purchased when sans soul.

He was so lost in his own self pity, that he failed to hear the opening door.

Soft cool hands slid across his eyes and blanked out the dim light, a firm yet supple body closed in on him from behind and a moist lips pressed against his cheek. Rose scented perfume shrouded him and a slender leg eased between his. “Hi honey, I’m home.”

Angel didn’t have time to jump out of his skin before he was spun around and kissed senseless.
Part 2:
Cordelia melted into her companion’s strong body and was more than eager to let the son of a bitch have his wicked way with her. She moaned when his tongue delved into her mouth and she fought for equal dominance. Her nails raked down his neck and the vibrations of his deep groan tickled her pink.

Angel was too shocked to actually think. There was a brunette attached to his lips, attempting to suck the life out of him while… “Oh God!” He squeaked when a hand cupped his balls and gave them a healthy squeeze, and his body traitorously reacted.

He was being sexually assaulted in his own home!

Part of him thanked every God known to man, part of him wondered how many men would pay for this, while the sane part struggled for the other parts to gain some semblance of sense before it got out of hand.

And into hers.

Angel grasped a set of curved shoulders and pushed the rapist away from him, while at the same time trying not to lick the taste of strawberries and cream from his lips. A crazy little chuckle escaped him as he blinked away the shock. It didn’t take long for him to pick up on the fact his attacker was a female vampire.

He reacted on instinct and a solid fist caught the vampiress’ head, sending her heavily falling to the floor with a groan and a thump. Angel watched as the curvy figure limply rolled to the side and came to a dead stop. Unfortunately, the mass of thick waves obscured her face and her identity, so all he could see was the hour-glass build of her body.

It was obvious there was familiarity, otherwise she wouldn’t have barged into his home and stuck her tongue down his throat. He cautiously inched forward, just in case she was faking the injury, and gently brushed some hair away from her face. As he did so, he frowned at the sight of an angry purple bruise already lining her cheek.

She maybe a vampire, but that was no excuse to hit her that hard, particularly as she obviously meant no harm.

Angel shrugged. Just one more sin on the list. His eyes glanced down at the outfit adorning the very lithe body and decided it should be illegal. Dark brown leather pants perfectly skimmed long legs and a fluffy cream sweater hung from one contoured shoulder. She, whatever her name was, looked so touchable, that he just wanted to softly stroke the well-fitting top.

“Pretty.” He muttered and went back to moving her hair so he could get a look at her.

He looked once, twice, thrice, and then blinked slowly as he rose to unsteady feet. Panicked breaths made his chest rise and fall, and his hands became sweaty. Angel swallowed as he realised he was staring down at the unconscious and dead body of Cordelia Chase.

*~*~*~*~*

“Alright, alright.” A very tired Giles yawned his way to the door, all the while cursing the existance of evil and damning his duty. There were times when being a watcher was extremely inconvenient. A hand scrubbed his stubble shadowed face and he yawned again.

The knocking grew louder and more insistent. “I’m coming!” Giles yelled and fumbled with the key. When the familiar voice of Angel drowned out his battering, the watcher fully and quickly woke up. Surely the vampire wouldn’t dare come here without good reason, especially having received a heavy warning not too.

The door was flung open, from both sides, and Giles shot daggers at Angel. “You do realise it’s 1 am, don’t you?” Anybody human would have trouble being polite at having been disturbed in the wee hours of the morning. Particularly when you had work at eight the next day.

“I need you too invite me and a friend in.” There was something in Angel’s tone that rang warning bells in the Englishman’s stomach. Before Giles could issue an invitation, the vampire had took off back down the garden path. “You might wanna get some restraints.”

He knew for a fact Rupert Giles was going to throw a fit.

“I invite you in.” Giles left the door open in order to get his robe and slippers. It didn’t more than a few minutes and he was back in the living room, facing the vampire’s hunched back. “Would you mind telling me what is going on?” It was 1 am, the pleasantries could sod off.

Angel didn’t say a word and simply moved to one side, bringing the vampiress into the watcher’s view. “That answer your question?”

*~*~*~*~*

“Everyday is a winding road…” Cordelia sang off key and out of rhythm as she took each swipe of the brush with care and attention. There was no point to nail art if it was screwed up. Three strokes and that was another nail done. She wiggled her toes and watched in satisfaction as the light bounced off the vivid emerald shade.

This colour went perfectly with her new mules; the cream and green complimented each other just right.

Her hair was wrapped up in a large fluffy towel and her favourite fluffy robe was snug, keeping her warm from the chill outside. Pampering was just the thing after a night of playing bait. God, it had taken ages to get all the mud and grass off her skin, not to mention out of her hair.

“You’re welcome.” Cordelia mimicked the vampire. He hadn’t even apologised for winding her when he’d tackled her, he probably hadn’t noticed. Too caught up in the woeful eyes of Buffy Summers to give a crap about anything or anyone else. Oh well, at least she had a beautiful blue bruise to make a point of being careful.

“Ack!” She elevated a good foot off the bed when her phone rang. Who in their right mind would call someone at 1 am? Ooh, they were so going to get a piece of her mind. A newly painted hand snapped out and grabbed the receiver, “Make it quick, I’m not nocturnal.”

“Cordelia?”

“No, I’m a figment of your imagination.”

“…”

The brunette sighed in disgust. There was only one way too handle a prank caller. Cordelia placed two fingers in her mouth, curled her tongue, and blew hard. The shrill noise echoed off the walls and she winced, even as she wished to see the look on the caller’s face. Bet he wasn’t expecting that.

The watcher swore loudly and held the phone away from his ear until the decibels decreased. Annoyance marred his face as he realised the cheerleader was perfectly fine.

Still, just to make absolutely sure, “Cordelia, it’s Giles…”

Her eyebrows shot up in shock. “You’re the dirty caller?”

“Dirty… Never mind. Are you at home and alive?”

“Hello! Did you not call me at home, where I answered? I’m alive and kicking, Giles. If that’s all?” Damn, she couldn’t reach her feet to take off the toe divider, she’d have to stretch. She easily doubled at the waist and plucked the white foam from between her toes, grunting a little as she straightened.

Giles fell silent. “Have I, um, have I called at a bad time?” He severely hoped not. The girl was barely legal!

“What?” If possible, Cordelia’s eyebrows rose higher as she read between the lines. “NO! I was pulling the spreader out.”

If she had been face-to-face with the Englishman, she would have seen the tips of his ears turn red. “Spreader?” The question was squeaked and lilted with concern.

“Oh for the love of…” She sighed again, and this time in pity. “Toe spreader. Ya know, to make sure the nail polish goes on the actual nails. Anyway, why did you wanna know if I was alive and kicking?” Last she checked, she hadn’t faked her own death. Geez, wouldn’t that be fun?

She could attend her own funeral, steal the freebies, and run off with her own life insurance. Brilliant! Cordelia grinned and sniggered at the thought. Everyone would be bawling and she’d be living it up in Barbados. Or somewhere really exotic, like Thailand.

“Just checking, no harm is there?” The last thing they needed was Cordelia Chase meeting Cordelia Chase. Who knows what might happen. Particularly if the dead one was from the future, or alternative reality. To say that could be dangerous was an understatement.

“No, I suppose not. It’s just weird ‘cus you’ve never called me after patrol before. Anyway, I gotta go. G’night Giles, sleep tight.”

*~*~*~*~*

Giles shakily replaced the receiver and slowly turned to face Angel, his face blank and voice toneless. “She’s fine.”

The vampire would’ve been able to hear the whistle in Canada. “I gathered,” was the dry response. “What do we do?” His ideas ran out the instant he laid the body of Cordelia Chase on the sofa. Now, his brain was running on empty.

“According to myth and legend,” Giles began to rub his glasses, “Everyone has a doppelganger. A person who looks exactly like you. Perhaps this is Cordelia’s doppelganger. Her vampire doppelganger.” It was the best he could come up with at 1:10 am. Besides, any other possibilities made his head spin.

A blind man could see Angel wasn’t impressed in the least at this explanation. The disbelief was evident in the way muscular arms crossed and brown eyes dulled with lack of amusement.

“Look,” Giles ceased cleaning his spectacles lest he rub them away. “Instead of us going back and forth, debating every possible answer, why do you not simply wake her up?”

Angel’s gaze went between the vampire and watcher, then back again, and never once did the hesitation leave his eyes. He wanted to ask why Giles never offered to be the one who woke her up. Having personal experience of vampirism and being rudely awoken from unconsciousness was not on his list of favourite things.

When Giles never moved, Angel unnecessarily sighed and closed the small distance between himself and the couch. He knelt down and refused to look at the lips that had been firmly attached to his. Thick fingers curled round soft shoulders and he gently shook her.

“Hey,” he couldn’t call her Cordelia for some reason. It didn’t seem right. “Hey,” he stated louder and shook harder. Part of him wished she would never wake up. The whole situation was crazy, but her presence here was even crazier. Fuck it. This Hellmouth was driving him crazy.

The vampiress never responded, and Angel took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled as his patience began to crack. “Come on, wake up.” This time when he shook her, it was done none too gently and she sleepily moaned.

Where the hell was the truck? More importantly, where was the truck driver? That man could cause some serious damage if he wasn’t careful. God, that man had just signed his death warrant. Nobody, and she meant nobody, shoved her head into a swamp and got away with it alive. No, it didn’t feel like a swamp, it felt more like someone had dipped her head in a vat of fog.

No wait, make that glue. She tried to move her head and God almighty! Thunder ripped through her skull and almost tor her brain in two. How much had she drank last night? Last time she had a hangover of epic proportions had been her first birthday, and Angelus had taken her to Vegas for the weekend.

It’d taken a good six days for them to leave. Three days of non-stop partying, all night fucking, exotic food, and three days for recuperation. Even the money they’d won in the casino hadn’t been able to sooth the headache. One thing was for certain, Cordelia now knew for sure vampires could still get bitching headaches and they really weren’t fun.

True they didn’t last very long, but they didn’t half hurt.

The attempt to comfort her head with her hand was unsuccessful, and she scowled in annoyance. What had that truck driver done to her? He probably decided to live out his sexual fantasies and had her tied to some ratty bed, in a flea infested truck stop someplace. Oh well, more fool him. Men would do stupid things like pick on ladies who could perform circumcisions with their hands.

“Aw hell.” Cordelia moaned grumpily. Where the fuck was Spike when a hangover cure was needed? Not that he’d give her a cure for free, oh no. Apparently, his hangover cure was worth a whopping $20 to friends, and $40 for his sire’s little woman.

Little woman? Ha! She’d little woman him. Well, she would once this headache fucked off someplace else.

Angel heard the slurred murmur and instantly gave the waking vampiress his undivided attention. He watched as a hand was prevented from reaching her head, then listened as she grumbled something about a little woman. It was more than disconcerting to seeing Cordelia Chase as a vampire, but hearing her speak? Somehow, hearing her voice made it nightmarishly real.

That truck driver had enough time too “Kiss your balls goodbye,” and the truck had enough time too, “Hope it’s fire retardant.” She could get her vengeful little paws on TNT and wasn’t afraid to use it.

Eyebrows belonging to Giles and Angel rose high in surprise. The vampiress may have the face, voice, and body of Cordelia Chase, but she certainly didn’t have the cheerleader’s attitude. Still, this was no time to debate the differences between the two. After some battling glances, it boiled down to Angel to make another try at communication.

He cleared his throat and earned a sarcastic roll of blue eyes in reward for a job well done. Angel replied by way of a blank stare that got across what he was feeling. “Hello?” He resisted the urge to ask if she came in peace. God, this was freaking him out.

A single hazel eye cranked open and locked with a wide chocolate one, and then the vampiress sighed in relief and muttered a name. “Angelus.” Thank God he was here. That meant there was no trucks and drivers, just a splitting hangover. “Thank God, I thought I was gonna end up with blood stains under my nails again.” The relief increased until it was almost palpable.

The use of his soulless name made Angel visibly start and he shared a confused look with Giles, who refused to react at all.

Cordelia once again tried to move, but fully came round when the restraints clinked together and chaffed her wrists. “Huh?” Her brow furrowed and she glanced down.

At first, both males expected a violent outburst or something of the kind, but a slow smile spread across her face and foggy hazel eyes turned sultry. “So this is how you wanna play it tonight? I can deal with that.” Chains and Angelus always went well together, particularly if he was the one in them. Still, did he have to use metal? He of all people should know how she felt about sore skin.

No matter what the fabric or who was tied down, she was always up for a little rough and tumble with her companion. It was her idea of a good time.

Cordelia purred, a rush of arousal dampened her core and a pink tongue rolled suggestively over blunt teeth. “Please let me go?” Sure they had an eternity, but why waste time?

If possible, Angel’s cheeks burned and he quickly looked away from the saucy vampiress. It was pretty clear this was not going to go according to plan. Perhaps restraints wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Much to the horror of Giles and Angel, the vampiress’ eyes turned teary. “Please?” She tugged her wrists and whimpered, her lower lip popped out into an incredible pout. “I’ll do anything you want if you let me go.” Fun was always promised when he got all domineering and controlling; she got wet just thinking about it. Maybe she should tell him the rule, just to see what he would do.

With any luck, he’d spank her for not telling him sooner.

Giles’ face exploded into ten shades of deep red while Angel could only gape. She had to be shut up and fast, before she said something potentially lethal.

Angel did the only thing he could and covered her mouth with his hand. Unfortunately for him and the watcher, it didn’t have the desired effect. The vampire felt Cordelia inhale his scent, which was closely followed by a breath of cool air, and he was helpless to stop the impossible blush spreading across his cheeks.

“This isn’t what you think.” Angel stammered, pleased his voice came out as steady as it did.

The vampiress arched an elegant eyebrow, purring her reply in a voice that sounded out a million and one erotic thoughts. Unsure of what she said, Angel removed his hand too allow her to speak. “Hmm,” hazel eyes roamed the restraints and another slow smile appeared. “You, me, chains. Of course this isn’t what I think.” Her twinkling gaze stated the contrary.

“Lord help me,” Giles muttered and resisted the urge to turn away.

“No,” Angel yet again stammered, “It really isn’t what you think.” Or want, he mentally added. It wasn’t what he thought or wanted either. “I’m not sure, but…”

Cordelia looked at him with an irritated scowl. “Why are you talking like that?” Angelus had the odd quirky habit, but none of them included nervous stammering. It was disconcerting.

He frowned. “Like what?” He was talking the way he always did, if not more.

“Like a teenage boy with his first Playboy,” was the answer. “All stammers and nervousness.” Angelus apprehension was so strong, she was choking on it. Cordelia tried to sit up but the restraints tying her down prevented it.

Yes, she remembered now. She’d gone home, surprised him, and got hit for her trouble. Angelus never hit her, apart from one tiny slap, but she’d deserved that. Every young vampire thinks themselves invincible and she had been no different. Then when she’d gone after Jorgan herself, Angelus went nuts at her for putting herself directly into danger.

Still, that was a slap, not an out right punch which left her unconscious. Cordelia narrowed her eyes at Angel and asked the question he didn’t know how to answer. “What’s going on?”
Part 3:
The sound of Cordelia’s laughter bounced off the walls of the apartment and couch cushions shook with the vibrations. Tears leaked from the corners of tightly shut eyes and her jaw began to ache. Lord, her sides were splitting.

Giles and Angel stood impassively, just watching as the vampiress descended into hysterics. Neither was at all impressed.

Slowly, her laughter began to subside and the giggles drifted off into a calm sigh. Unfortunately the second she looked at Angel, the laughter started right back up again to the point where Cordelia was doubling over in order to stop her gut from exploding.

“I tell ya,” she wheezed through a cough and directed her words to Angel, “Life with you is never boring Angelus. Stop kidding around and lemme up.” When Angel did nothing, “C‘mon, lemme up…” Seeing he had no intentions of letting her loose or ending the game, the vampiress schooled her features into a seriousness she didn‘t feel. “Okay, I’ll play.” Alternate dimensions indeed!

A tiny snort managed to break her face and Giles shot her a warning glare. “Alright, alright,” Cordelia cleared her throat, “I’m fine now. Really. Please, do go on.” She was amazed Angelus could keep a straight face, but then he was known for being a drama queen.

Angel opened his mouth and yet another giggle sounded out. Immediately, his jaw was snapped shut, and this time it was him who glared. He’d had enough of her carefree attitude, her laughter, and her referring to him by that name.

He knelt down and shiny eyes gauged his every move, a spark of wariness crept in and replaced the merriment of moments before. His face was mere inches from hers, but she didn’t flinch. “I’m going to talk, and you’re going to listen.” He knew what place she had in her clan. It didn’t take a genius to see she was the darling. The one that could do whatever she wanted, when she wanted, and all with her sire’s blessing; whoever that was.

Yeah well, this wasn’t her world, and he wasn’t her sire.

Cordelia nodded once, her mouth still fighting off a grin. “Okay.” She copied him and leaned forward just a tad, so her nose touched his. She had an urge to cross her eyes and pull a face, but she doubted that would have gone down well. Instead, she focused on the vampire in her face.

He was as handsome as ever, she thought. Dark hair and dark eyes, muscles, all topped off with a wicked personality. She scowled. He wasn‘t right. There was something about his eyes that gave her the creeps. Angelus usually gave her the creeps anyway, but not quite like this. It was like…

She couldn’t describe it, but he wasn‘t right. Plus there was the small matter of a soft feminine scent surrounding him. It was very light, but there nonetheless. The Angelus she knew would only have her scent, no-one else’s. He wasn’t stupid enough to go there.

Angel watched her expression go through a myriad of emotions, until finally her features became blankly set. It was only the flickering of a plush pout that gave away any underlying emotion. “We’re telling you truth. This isn’t your world.”

“This is Sunnydale?” Cordelia raised her eyebrows in question, then rolled her eyes at her own idiocy. Duh, of course it’s Sunnydale. Where did she think she was, Disneyland?

Angel nodded. “Obviously not your Sunnydale. If you don’t believe me, ask him.” his head nudged towards Giles, who could no doubt explain this far better than he could.

The watcher had never once taken his eyes off the vampiress; still not able to comprehend he had a vampire Cordelia Chase, in restraints, on his couch. At 2 am, no less. He had strong suspicions he was not going to be able to get back to sleep tonight.

“Charmed,” the vampiress drawled without a hint of amusement in her voice and dismissed Giles like he was yesterday’s news. What would she want with a human? Ooh, dinner.

She grinned wickedly and returned her stare to the man, who was now registering the hunger written in flashing amber orbs. “Who‘s the after dinner mint?” A pink tongue swept over her lower lip and she cheekily smiled, giving the watcher a glimpse of deadly fangs.

“Rupert Giles,” was his stiff introduction.

“Mmm, Rupert,” the vampiress purred as though it was the sexiest name she’d ever heard. “Ru-pert, Ruuuperrrttt. Rupert. Hm, I like it.”

Giles ground his teeth together and pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping to ease the stress induced headache. That vampire was, in a word, aggravating. “It would be in your best interests not to make an attempt at harming anyone.” He would see her dusted quicker than she could blink

“Is that right, Shakespeare?” Cordelia shot him another grin, this time there was no hiding what she thought of him. A quick fix for the hunger burning in her stomach.

Angel interrupted what was sure to follow. “You better do as he says, or the chances of you getting back home will be slim to none.”

Now Cordelia definitely knew this wasn’t her Angelus. He wasn’t even up for having a little fun at the Brit’s expense. Worse than that, he was taking sides with the human. This one was no fun at all.

She relaxed back into her comfortable prison, her gaze darted back and forth between them, and her mind contemplated the possibility of it being the truth. Only one way to find out. “Prove it,” she brazenly dared. “Prove this isn’t my world.” She doubted she’d believe it until she saw some solid proof.

Prove it? That was easy. “You’re a vampire, correct?” Giles asked and got a cutesy smile as confirmation. Now that he thought about it, perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to mention she was human in this dimension. Who knew what might happen if they met up. He tried a different tactic. “Who sired you?”

Angel visibly tensed as dread bubbled up in chest. His scent wasn’t just embedded in the vampiress, it was all over her. His scent clung to her like a second skin and mixed potently with hers. He deeply inhaled and God, it was delicious. He imperceptibly shook his head to get those thoughts firmly out of his head.

“The Master,” Cordelia stated and proudly puffed up her chest. “Aurelius.” She grinned at Angel, who felt simultaneous surges of relief and an unexplainable bolt white hot anger.

“The Master sired you?” Angel spoke slowly. Why hadn’t Angelus sired her? How’d Angelus fuck up?

“Uh-huh. Direct descendant of the Master aside, it was still your fault. If you hadn’t lived up to your reputation, you wouldn’t be in this mess.” Cordelia shrugged and relaxed, simply wallowing in Angelus’ reaction. At least there were some things that never changed. He still got pissed off when she mentioned her sire.

That was a thing. “Where’s my sire?” He could take care of this situation easily, she figured, especially with his contacts in all things supernatural.

Angel and Giles exchanged a look Cordelia didn’t like, and she slowly shook her head. Oh no.

Oh hell no. That look didn’t mean what she thought. It couldn’t.

Giles beat Angel to it. “The Master was killed at the Harvest.” At least he had the grace not to add anything else to that sentence.

“No!” No way would her sire let himself get dead on her, not when she needed to get back home. That was if these people really weren’t lying about the whole alternate reality thing. “He’s kidding, right Angelus?”

He truly hated to be the one who shot down her hope in flames. “I’m sorry, but it’s the…”

Cordelia looked away and for a second, Angel and Giles worried she might cry. “Wow, that really sucks,” she shrugged and turned back to them with a smile. “Guess this means Darla’s Da Man in this world… I can live with that.” Boy, could she ever.

Oh yeah, the House of Aurelius would totally rock with her and Darla as it’s two beautiful rulers. Cordelia was already dreaming of the changes they’d make, like staking that little snot Jorgan while he slept. The House parties, the mandatory gift giving from the men to their women…

It would be glorious, totally glorious! Of course, they would also use their feminine wiles to take total control of the Hellmouth. Wouldn’t that be something? Teach those vampiresses-don’t-make-good-rulers sexist, chauvinistic berks at the Summit a lesson or two.

“Yeah, about that,” Angel scratched the back of his head. He never thought he’d hear Darla be referred to as Da Man, but then again, he never thought he’d live to see Cordelia Chase as a vampire either.

“What about that?” She questioned, not at all enjoying the way he nervously fidgeted. If he was trying to tell her Darla was dust too, then that would mean she was the House Master.

Oh God. Cordelia’s eyes widened in pure panic. Sure, she’d often fantasized about what it would be like to have the throne, but that was just fantasizing! She wasn’t ready for this kind of responsibility; she was only a year old.

Angel and Giles exchanged confused glances as the vampiress started whimpering about heaven helping her.

“This cannot be happening to me!” She yelled to the ceiling, despair and alarm filled her increasingly shrill voice. “What did I do to deserve this? I don’t scare children like Spike. I don’t hurt cute little animals. I paid my taxes when I was alive…” Off Giles and Angel’s disbelieving stares, “Okay, okay. My parents paid the taxes when they were alive. But I am a good person.” Well, as good as vampires got, anyway. No one year old vampire deserved this.

She could already feel the weight of the world crushing her sweet spirit, and she knew the world wouldn’t be satisfied until it squished every last drop out of her and left her an empty shell. “Angelus, you have to do it. I renounce my title. You can do the work and take the credit. I’ll do what I’m told and promise to be a good little girl if you just do this one little thing.”

Angel cautiously eyed Cordelia as terror had her breathing hard and fast, with her pleading face coming ever closer to his. “I’ll even bribe Spike to get new quarters far, far away from ours. You do the ruling, and I’ll just be me. Deal?” Her head began to frantically bob up and down, while her mouth seemed to be stuck in a desperate smile.

They had to have a deal, or else her life was gonna be over. No wonder her sire was permanently demonised, all this stress must’ve worn him to the bone. Cordelia vowed to treat her sire to a weekend away at a health spa when she got back. She was sure he’d appreciate a ton of pretty girls fawning over him. Besides, he was way overdue for a manicure.

“Ruling?” Angel, completely unaware of the vampiress’ thoughts, scratched his head and exchanged another confused look with the watcher.

“Ya know, you sit on high and dish out orders to the commoners? Of course Aurelius’ throne will be mine, what with being a direct descendant and all, but you could have one made special.” The vampiress positively beamed. That was sorted out. Now if she could only get out of these damned restraints, then all would be right with the world.

Angel had no idea what too say to her, “Uh, sure?”

Cordelia breathed out a hefty sigh of relief and lay back. “Thank heaven. For a minute there, I thought you were gonna dump all the responsibility on my softly curved shoulders as punishment.”

Unlike Angel, Giles did know what she meant and didn’t hesitate to interrupt. “Do you mean to say,” his walk was thoughtful and a finger tapped against his lips. “That in your Sunnydale, you would rule the Order of Aurelius if the Master and Darla perished?” There was a part of him that took great enjoyment out of watching Angel having to take orders from Cordelia Chase.

“Yup. Cool huh?” She paused long enough to send a wink and a smile to a severely unimpressed Angel. “Well, it would be cool if I was ready for that. I can’t stress enough how much I’m not. I’m more the…” Cordelia pulled a thoughtful face and searched for the word she was looking for.

Angel helped her out. “Spoilt childe?”

Cordelia grinned. “For instance,” and earned herself a half smile in return for the honest admission. “Hey!” The vampiress exclaimed when Giles rolled his eyes. “It’s not my fault Aurelius dotes on me, and it’s not my fault Darla and I are the life and soulless of Sunnydale.”

Angel’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “The Master actually allows you to call him by name?” He’d never known any vampire in the Order who was given the right to do that. She must be something really special.

“Only when he’s not around to hear it.”

Angel’s flickering lips threatened to turn into a proper smile. It wasn’t hard to know why Cordelia was the sweetheart. He’d stake his life on the fact she had the Master wrapped round her pinkie. So did Darla apparently, but that wasn’t anything new. “We’re not lying to you,” he said and her expression quickly wiped away any smile that might have appeared. “This really isn’t your world.”

The vampiress fell silent before a hopeful glance was directed to Giles. “He’s kidding, right? I mean, I know I’m taking this as a joke.” Cordelia’s voice was kept as steady as she could make it. “A really, really sick joke, but you’re being deadly serious, aren’t you? I’m not in Kansas anymore.”

Both Giles and Angel had the decency to genuinely sympathise with her plight. Neither could understand how she must be feeling; thinking she was going home and ending up in another dimension. The whole thing was preposterous and a bit more than frightening. “I’m afraid not,” the Englishman soft-spoken voice did little to soothe her. “If you agree to our terms, we’ll do all we can to return you home.”

“God,” Cordelia breathed unnecessarily, “I was only supposed to be gone for an hour or two. Go visit my parents’ graves, pick up some munchies, and go home. That’s all.” She shrugged. “Guess that won’t be happening for a while. Angelus is gonna be so pissed.” Pissed wouldn’t be in it.

She knew without a shadow of a doubt he’d tear the world apart looking for her and wouldn’t stop until he did. There was a good chance her Sunnydale wouldn’t be standing when she got back.

Giles immediately snapped to attention. “What?”

Cordelia shrugged again. “I was in the mood for something exotic. Like Thai or Indian. American tends to clog the pores.”

The men were too caught up in the bombshell of what she had been doing to care about what she wanted to eat. Was Cordelia an orphan in this dimension? Neither Giles nor Angel knew, and both felt equal amounts of shame at the revelation.

She saw the expressions and rolled her eyes. “Relax boys, I didn’t see any dearly departed Chases…Oh my God!” The restraints didn’t stop Cordelia from bolting upright and scaring Giles in the process. No wonder Restfield hadn’t felt right. “I didn’t see them. There were no graves. I knew something was wrong, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Angelus always tells me to listen to my instincts and if something doesn’t feel right, then get outta Dodge.”

Good advice, Angel wanted to say, but couldn’t because of the vampire who gave it. He scowled. This whole thing was getting confusing. Before he could say anything, the vampiress’ gaze intently focused on the watcher.

“Wait a minute,” suspicion clouded her voice. “Why would you be worried about my parents? Don’t deny that’s what you were thinking. If you were worried about Ma and Pa Chase, then does that mean there’s a me here?” There was only one word to describe it if there was another Cordelia.

Cool! She’d always wanted a twin.

Slowly, Cordelia’s face went from extreme curiosity to excitement. “There is, isn’t there?!” Her gaze darted from Angel to Giles, and back again. “There’s a Cordelia Chase in this world, too! Ha! If my hands weren’t cuffed, I’d be clapping. Who’s my sire? Is it the Master still, or is it you?”

Dazzling hazel eyes came to rest on Angel’s dark brown ones and, “No. I’m not your sire.” The hope faded into chestnut strands as she hid her emotions with her hair. He felt like a first rate bastard, but he couldn’t lie to her. That kind of lie would undoubtedly come back to bite him on the ass.

“Oh,” Cordelia nodded in acceptance and wondered who her sire was. “If it isn’t you, then who is it?” If he said Spike, there was gonna be trouble.

Angel got the impression that she wanted to be sired by him. Why would she want that? Why would anyone want to be sired by him? More to the point, why would she wish to be sired by him, when she was a direct descendant of the Master? He couldn’t help but feel flattered.

“Perhaps,” Giles suggested, “The less known about the you in our dimension, the better.” Just the thought of clashing dimensions was enough to give him nightmares. “This is not my area of expertise by any means, but I know enough to realise it has the potential to be catastrophic.” Heaven only knew what could happen if the vampiress met up with her human self.

Time, space… Everything had the possibility to fold or unfold. This situation needed to be treated with the utmost care and every step taken with extreme caution.

For now, however, “It’s late, so may I suggest we all get some rest.” Well, as much as they could given the circumstances. “I trust you will be comfortable on the couch.” It wasn’t a question.

“Hold up there.” Cordelia glanced from one man to the other, “You don’t really mean to give me the couch, do you? Because that’s just wrong.” It was wrong, not very gentlemanly, and downright rude. Men these days.

Giles looked at the vampiress. That was what he fully intended on doing, but the way she said it made him feel like an insensitive berk. “I do have a spare room…” Even if she got the spare room, there was no way was he going to undo those restraints.

“I’ll take the couch,” Angel firmly stated and received a grateful smile from the watcher. Leaving just didn’t seem right.

“There’s no way I’m gonna be untied, is there?” Cordelia tugged on her bound wrists for good measure.

“Not in the least,” Giles replied with a smirk, “Nice try.”

“Well?” She asked expectantly.

“Well what?” Came the simultaneous response from both watcher and vampire.

Cordelia rolled her eyes and wiggled, drawing their attention back to the fact she was restrained, and thus unable to move. “I can’t go anywhere without help.” Her head shook in disappointment. “I don’t know about men in this world, but in mine men don’t leave their women helpless. Which one of you strong, virile specimens of masculinity is gonna sweep me away to the guest room? Unless two of us are sharing?”

Giles visibly blanched and once more burned red. Angel hid a smile. “I’ll take her to the guest room. Make sure she’s…”

“She is the cat’s mother. I have a name. Say it with me. Cor-de-le-ah.”

Angel’s smile was replaced by an irritated grimace. “I’ll take Cordelia to the guest room, make sure she’s secure.”

The vampiress watched as Giles remained expressionless in face of her cheeky wink and grin. She wiggled until Angel slid a well muscled arm under her shoulders and another under her knees. He lifted her up as though she weighed nothing.

Cordelia stiffened as the female scent surrounding him began to surround her, too. It might not be her Angelus, but he was close enough. When she wiggled this time, it was in effort to escape the disgusting smell of vanilla. Her shoulder collided painfully with his sternum and upper rib cage, her legs were long enough for her heels to crack off his pelvis. God, it was choking her. “Put me down. I want him to take me.”

Sickening. Truly sickening. She was nearly gagging on it.

Angel struggled to deal with the squirming woman and shot Giles a look, who in turn looked intrigued. “That’s a quick change of heart,” the Englishman commented without a trace of censure.

“He stinks of her. Whoever she is. I don’t want that smell on me. Put me down or I’ll scream.”

Giles tensed dramatically as Angel averted his gaze from the accusing blue eyes now staring daggers at him. “It’s only a short walk to the guest room, I’m sure you can deal with perfume until he puts you to bed.”

Cordelia was no longer playing nice. She was no longer being calm, rational. She no longer wanted to be anywhere Angelus. The smell, the vanilla, was weighing down on her senses and bringing a warming rage to her heart. She wanted to twist the head clean off the slut’s neck and use it as a bowling ball. How would he like it if she was caked in another man’s scent?

She opened her mouth, stuck it right next to Angel’s very sensitive ear, and screamed.
Part 4:
“So,” Willow smiled as Buffy pushed open the library door with her back. “How did things go with Angel last night?”

The slayer paused for a second before blowing out a deep breath and sagging against the hard, wooden door. “He agreed to give me some space. He knows how hard it is for me to accept him back after….”

The red head nodded understandingly, then gave the blonde a sympathetic pat on the arm. “Just give it time. Apparently it’s the world’s greatest healer.”

“Thanks Will,” Buffy sighed again and glanced towards Giles, who was busy yanking books out of a large hold-all and throwing them onto the floor in a messy big heap.

He was muttering under his breath about dimensions, doppelgangers, and vampires who could squeal like electrocuted pigs. One book after another joined the increasing pile and he still had yet to realise both girls had approached and were now watching through widening eyes.

Buffy shot a worried glance at Willow and got a confused shrug in return. She knelt, speaking softly as though she were talking to a wild animal. “Giles?”

“Gah!” The watcher jumped a mile, possibly shedding his skin in the process. “Must you do that Buffy?” He demanded in breathless yet chastising tone. Giles patted his pounding chest and sat back on his knees, taking off his glasses to make for the hourly massaging of his forehead. The damned headache had been present since that infernal shrieking.

“What are you doing?”

Giles swallowed thrice at Willow’s question. He thought and fast. “Oh uh, I received these books this morning. They were supposed to arrive here, but they came to my house instead. I must have a word with the courier about correct addresses.” There. That was a decent enough lie.

Heaven only knew what their reactions would be if they found out about his vampiric house guest. Of course, they’d have to be told eventually, but he had hopes of holding out until he had all the facts.

Or at least, a few of the facts.

Buffy frowned. It was possible that books would be delivered to the wrong address, it had happened many times before, but that didn’t explain why he was throwing them onto the floor. “And you’re taking it out on books?” The same objects Giles probably treated better than his own mother. It just didn’t stick right with her.

“You’re better off not knowing. Believe me.” Thankfully the mumble went unheard, unfortunately the book titles didn’t go unseen.

Willow grinned as she picked up a tome entitled “Dimensions of the World? Cool. Is it about other dimensions? Cus there’s this theory where every time a person makes a decision, another dimension is formed where that decision is the opposite. Like if I chose to wear a red sweater today, in another I’d choose blue.”

“Sliding Doors,” Buffy remarked with a grin. “In one universe, Gwyn missed the train, and in the other, she caught it. That guy was a total sleaze.”

“And she was blind not to see it coming.” Cordelia breezed through the double doors and paused long enough to raise an eyebrow at the mess on the floor. Nothing surprised her anymore when it came to the people who lived in the library people.

Everyone looked at the brunette.

“What? I’m right and you know it. First off, he buys her flowers, which we all know is a classic sign of male guilt. Then she plays at being the strong, confident woman and confronts him about her suspicions. Any decent, non-scummy guy would instantly quash those feelings with a show of love, or better yet a Tiffany’s bracelet. Does he do that? No. He makes her feel guilty. Thus pushing what he’s feeling onto her. It’s like a weird form of reverse psychology.”

Buffy had to smile. It wasn’t often that she and Cordelia agreed on something, but that didn’t mean it was impossible. “Didn’t Xander give you flowers last week?”

Cordelia blinked, the confusion remained a moment or so before realisation dawned. “Oh, you mean those daisies stolen from his back yard? Yeah, he did, and I’m still trying to get to the bottom of it.”

While the slayer and cheerleader bonded over men and their ways, no-one noticed how pale Willow had grown. She bit her lower lip, her green eyes saucer wide with anticipation, were anxiously darting from Buffy to Cordelia and back again.

If Cordelia had gotten to the factory a few minutes earlier, she would have walked in on why Xander was flower giving.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Giles house had a far different atmosphere to that of the school library.

Cordelia, who hadn’t been able to sleep, was pacing the length of the living room, impatience evident in every silent step she took. Her thumb bounced off her lower lip and golden orbs eyed the phone. “Why hasn’t Rupert rang?”

Angel resisted the urge to knock either himself out, or her. If he knocked himself out, he wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on her. If he knocked her out, he wouldn’t have to watch the way dark brown leather pants shaped her ass every time she moved. Maybe he should knock them both out. “Give him time. It’s only 9:45 am. He’s probably just gotten a chance to open a book.”

Those golden eyes left the phone and landed on him with all the rage a master vampire could wish for. They narrowed dangerously. Angel was sure he felt a bead of sweat trickle down the back of his neck. He tugged at the collar of his shirt.

That vampiress was pretty damn scary.

“He started at 9. It’s now 9:45. 45 minutes after he started. He would’ve had a chance to open a few books by now, don’tcha think?”

“We’re talking dimension travel, not exactly your typical holiday package.” When Cordelia didn’t laugh at his attempt at sarcastic humour, “I thought it was funny.”

She merely arched an elegantly shaped eyebrow and made a noise that sounded remarkably like urgh. Angel pretended not to hear that. It was too similar to the noise the real Cordelia Chase made. It didn’t seem right to hear it spoken by a vampire, even if it was her in a way.

“You’ve never made an effort to laugh at my jokes, so why should I laugh at yours? I don’t take double standards from Angelus, I’m not taking them from you.” Cordelia wrapped her arms around herself, trying to ward away the reality before it truly set in. “All I wanted was to visit my parents’ graves, go get dinner and go home. Instead, I wind up in here. A place where I get restrained, cus hey. Nothing says welcome to the neighbourhood like rope burns.”

Angel remained unmoved by the rant. He knew better than most that taking a sympathetic stance with a vampire could only lead to trouble. “You’re not restrained now,” he pointed out.

“Only because the sun has got his hat on. God I’m bored. Doesn’t Rupert have Monopoly or the Game of Life? Better yet, doesn’t he have a phone call to make?”

He groaned in frustration and gave serious thought to knocking her out. It wouldn’t take much. Just a quick slug to her head. Definitely not much at all. Angel worked out some of the tension building up at the back of his neck when she spoke again, only this time her voice was softer, more feminine. He glanced up in time to see the vampiress with a tiny smile on her face.

“Angelus gets tension in his neck and shoulders too.”

Frankly, Angel didn’t want to hear about Angelus or what they had in common. “Oh,” was all he could think of to say.

Cordelia rolled her eyes and gave communication one more shot. “He gets massages every other week. Says it relaxes him, that it helps him deal with the trauma of being infamous. He gives as good as he gets, of course.” Her tiny smile became bigger. “Darla says that he only returns the gesture cus it’s the only way he can get me to sleep with him.”

Angel didn’t want to hear about Darla either. Especially since he was the one to dust her in the first place. However, he wasn’t quick enough to stop her from speaking again.

“My sire hates him, but says he’s good for me.”

He couldn’t imagine being good for anyone with a soul, let alone without one.

“Spike says Angelus is only good to beat up.” Cordelia saw the look of incredulity on Angel’s face. So he wasn’t an emotionless, cold hearted dickwad. He really didn’t appear to like hearing about his other self. Hmm. This could work to her advantage. “Not that he could, but Spike does like bravado. I love watching them throw down. Especially over Dru. Spike gets so protective over Dru, but Angelus can’t seem let go of his little girl. She means so much him, and it can’t be easy knowing your childe is screwing…”

This conversation had gone on long enough. “Okay, I’m gonna call Giles.”

Cordelia kept her victorious grin inward as she thanked Angelus for teaching her how to exploit weaknesses.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The second Giles heard Angel’s voice on the other end of the phone, he kicked his office door shut, and pulled down the blinds. Slayers, his in particular, were known for extreme curiosity and eavesdropping. With a little luck, Buffy would take notice of his Do Not Disturb sign.

“Please, tell me you found something?”

Giles’ eyebrows rose at the vampire’s voice. He didn’t think that level of desperation existed. “Yes, actually. The 55 minutes I’ve been here was the amount of time needed to research dimension travel and how to do it.”

Did Angel just grind his teeth?

“Nothing, huh?”

Were there tears in those words?

“I’m afraid not. Unfortunately, I have guests to attend presently, and have no time to be bombarded with questions I have no answer for.”

“Buffy?” This time, Angel’s tone was tense, almost croaking with… Fear?

“Who’s Buffy and what kind of name is that?”

Suddenly it all became clear for Giles as he heard Cordelia in the background. Although from the loudness of her voice, she didn’t seem to be that far in the background. “Angel, I’ll call when I can.” Then he hung up to leave one vampire to deal with another.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

School had finished, the sun was almost gone, and two library tables were covered in books and copious amounts of notes. Still for the combined efforts of Buffy, Willow, and Xander, nothing concrete or useful had been found. Headaches were beginning and not just at Sunnydale high.

Angel had lost track of how many aspirin he’d taken over the course of the day and was now tallying up the amount he’d have to pay. Cordelia on the other hand, seemed cheerful enough. She was on her knees, hands clasped, and staring out the window trying to see some difference between her world and this one. She kept chatting about people and things he didn’t care to hear about, she kept asking questions he didn’t know how to or want to answer, and…

And she kept moving in ways no woman should ever move.

The worst of it was with her having Cordelia Chase’s face, body, and voice, Angel couldn’t help but picture the Cordelia Chase he knew.

The Cordelia Chase he knew didn’t have a body with tight curves and full breasts, right? She didn’t have a smile that big and pretty. She didn’t have an ass that should be illegal. Then there were the eyes. Of course the eyes of Cordelia Chase didn’t have the golden glow that came with vampirism, but surely she didn’t have large, expressive ones that could entice a man to sign over all his worldly belongings.

Right? Right.

Now that everything was back in perspective, Angel found the lingering headache had miraculously disappeared. Amazing, really.

“Is your Cordelia alive?” Cordelia quizzed as if she suddenly thought of that scenario. “Are you together? Is that who the vanilla smell belongs to? Though I can’t imagine me choosing to wear vanilla. Too sweet for my tastes.”

“I don’t know. She’s not my Cordelia. No, we’re not together, and no that’s not who the vanilla scent belongs to. That is none of your business.” Oh look, there was the headache again. Angel squeezed the bridge of his nose, and vowed to ignore whatever she asked or said next.

“Why not?” Cordelia asked as she turned away from the window and starry sky. Trying to get this Angelus to talk was like pulling teeth. “Why aren’t you and Cordelia together? If she’s anything like me, I can’t imagine you not wanting her.” Her plush pout quirked up. “Unless she’s the one without the wanting?”

“There’s no point in answering. You’re never going to meet her.” So much for ignoring her. But he did say, “She is like you, or you’re like her. You both talk.”

“And you don’t listen to a word she says, which is probably why you don’t know about her parents, and definitely explains why you two aren’t together. If you aren’t gonna spare a few obviously precious minutes to speak, why should she?” Cordelia shook her head, then shrugged. “As you say, it’s none of my business, and I’m never going to meet her.” She paused long enough to look quizzical. Why is that?”

A light anger began to churn in his stomach. She hadn’t been here for 24 hours and she already thought she knew everything. Well she didn’t. “Just because you and Angelus are the couple of the century,” and he used that term loosely, “Doesn’t mean it’s the same here. Different world, different people.”

“You think? Lemme ask a question.” Cordelia climbed down and sat with a bounce next to him. “If the woman you worshipped, say the owner of that vanilla perfume, disappeared. Would you tear the world apart looking for her?”

Angel didn’t answer immediately, didn’t know how to answer. What would he do if Buffy disappeared?

“Okay, lemme rephrase. If your one true love disappeared, would you move heaven and earth to get her back?”

Again, he didn’t know how to answer. Yes, he’d move heaven and earth to get her back. He would turn the world upside down until he got her back. But that was him dreaming. The disappearance would no doubt be part of his punishment, just one more thing to let him how much of a bad boy he’d been.

Cordelia intensely studied the emotions washing over his face. This really wasn’t Angelus. Yes, he looked exactly like her companion, and yes they had the same mannerisms, but Angelus would have answered that question instantly. “Wow, someone really did a number on you. What was it? Caught the lady love in bed with your best bud? Oh wait! You caught her with her best bud? Or maybe she caught you with your best bud…”

Angel snapped. His head sharply turned to her and a burnished bronze gaze held the vampiress in place, not only that, but also managed to stop the incessant chatter.

She was off the couch and standing opposite him, hands on hips and eyes slanted with warning. “Listen here Cowboy. You don’t get to threaten or intimidate me in any way.” Cordelia bit out with a growl. “You’re so lucky my Angelus isn’t here.”

Angel gave a chuckle and felt himself turn bitter from it. “Or what, he’d kick my ass?”

The vampiress smirked. “No, he’d just do to you what he did to the last guy who thought he could scare me. I’m a year old, not a fraidy cat, but nor am I delusional. If you and I went for it, it’d be over before it even started. Besides, my kicking your ass wouldn’t help my chances of getting home, would it? Now don’t you have something to say to me?” She arched a brow expectantly.

What? Oh. “Sorry.”

“Sorry for what exactly? Threatening me or the fact it didn’t work?”

Angel frowned at her, but Cordelia didn’t change her expression, and he was beginning to feel increasingly guilty. Her cheek still held a small bruise from his fist. Genuinely this time, “I’m sorry.”

That put a smile of satisfaction on her face. “That’s better. Now, where does Rupert keep the food? I would be starving to death, but ya know…” She flashed her fangs. “Already a done deal.”

He had to admit to being curious about her turning. He knew the Master was her sire, but there were so many questions. She seemed to have a close bond with Darla, something Angel found to be extremely debateable. He’d spent 150 years with Darla and he’d learned she hardly liked herself half the time, let alone anyone else. Then there was Angelus.

Angel recalled only too well the night he, as Angelus, had pinned the human Cordelia to the ground. A few exquisite seconds of having her hot, svelte body shaking under him was enough to leave him hard and needing to come. Her fear tasted like a fine French wine and he’d been drunk on her for days after. There were times when he could still smell her, still taste as she slid down his throat.

There were reasons why Cordelia Chase was used as bait and it had nothing to do with her inhuman ability to scream loud enough to wake the dead. Long legs and good breasts combined with an attractive scent and youthful innocence made her the quite the catch.

He guessed someone had seen the potential and pursued it.

He was sure he was going to regret asking, but he just had to. “How did you meet Angelus?” Please, please don’t let her say…

“My parents,” the vampiress beamed. She loved to talk about this.

Angel blinked a few times, and then a few times more. “You’re parents introduced you to Angelus?”

Cordelia shook her head. “Like Ma and Pa Chase would marry their only child off to a vampire? Get serious. Daddy was doing business with Jorgan, some little snot who thinks he owns the world. Anyway, this and that happened, and Jorgan had my folks killed. Don’t gimme that look. They had it coming. Sure in our world, Jorgan isn’t anything more than a nuisance, but to a human? He is the Big Bad. It’s not him, but the rest of the House of Boogers.” She paused long enough to shudder, adding a tiny yick for effect.

“Word got around that Heiress Chase had a ton of info on the wheelings and dealings of Jorgan and Angelus was sent, courtesy of Aurelius, to get it. God knows I tried to resist, but when that boy of mine turns on the charm… Well, you are him so you know.”

Oh, he knew all about the charms of Angelus.

Cordelia thought about it some more. “I’m not sure of the exact point where I caved, not that it matters. The outcome was never going to be different.”

“Why could it not be different?” Even as he asked, Angel knew why not. With this Jorgan after her, and no doubt countless others, her life was over. It was Cordelia’s parents who had the protection, not Cordelia herself. That thought sickened him. Obviously Jorgan was young vampire and everyone knew the younger generation had no respect.

“It was either Aurelius, Boogers or some bottom dwelling toad with bad breath. I got the better deal. Even if Angelus lucked out when it came to the crunch. He really needs to learn patience is not always a virtue.”

“This Jorgan,” Angel began as the wheels in his head started turning. “He an enemy?”

“More a pain in the ass, but whichever word works for you. Why? You think he’s the one responsible for sending me here?” Now that she thought about it, it was possible. It was no secret Jorgan had been after her for whatever reason and it was certainly no secret there was no love lost between him and Angelus. “For such an idiot, he does have a lot of contacts. No thanks to Ma and Pa. I hope he is the one responsible. That’d give Angelus good reason to dust him.”

“Why would he send you here? What could he gain from it?”

Cordelia took a deep unneeded breath, exhaling after a few moments. “Angelus is always in control, even if it doesn’t seem like it. He plays a game, the rules change, but the goal is the same. He’s good, but has one major weakness. His temper. When he sees red, that’s all he sees. There’s no bigger picture and the goal waves bye-bye. He’s likely to suck the world into hell rather than use his brains to get the job done. Angelus can be a loose cannon at times. Exciting? Sure. Not good for the rest of us? Definitely not. See where I’m going with this?”

Yes he did and she wasn’t wrong. Angel knew when he lost his temper, he never thought things through, and people he cared about tended to pay the price. As Angelus, it was so much worse. It still didn’t make sense considering what Angelus seemed to care about wasn’t there to pay.

“Okay,” Cordelia figured sharing a little bit of information with Angel wouldn’t harm anyone. Not like he knew anyone from her world, was it? “Aurelius has been offered to be part of the Summit. He needs someone to take the throne. Darla could do it standing on her head, but Aurelius has his eye on Angelus…”

Angel finished it for her. “No Angelus, no House Master.” Thus leaving Aurelius open to attack. Even with Darla around, if the Master never had an official predecessor then it was up for auction so to speak.

“Precisely. If this is Jorgan’s fault, then that means he’s gunning for the House. Oh man, he is so gonna get his ass kicked.” Like it wasn’t bad enough he’d had her holed up for three days in his poor excuse for a dungeon. What kind of dungeon came with blow up furniture and a DVD collection of Transformers cartoons?

“I’ll contact Giles, tell him to look into witchcraft, spells etc etc. Maybe we can get you home soon.”

Cordelia grinned cheekily. “Keen to get rid of me, are you?” She watched as Angel suddenly resembled a deer caught in the headlights. She held up her hands. “I was kidding.” Well, sorta. He did seem to be pretty uncomfortable around her. Now it was her turn to get curious. “Why are you so nervous around me?”

She watched Angel’s back tense and shoulders square. “I’ve been honest with you and answered your question. Least you can do is answer mine and just as honestly.”

“In this world, you’re human. I can sleep knowing that.”

“So you care about me, well, the Cordelia from this world? Glad to hear it.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Giles had been dodging Buffy’s suspicious gaze for most of the morning. He’d grown to be an expert in evading subtle questions and he was more of an expert at changing the subject. He could see her patience waning as each second of ignorance passed. The ringing telephone came as a blessing and he couldn’t answer it quick enough.

Turning his back on the slayer and speaking in a very quiet voice, “Angel?”

“Yeah, it’s me. Cordelia and I may have hit on something. A vampire, Jorgan, from Sunnydale, her Sunnydale, could be behind this. Look into the witchcraft side of things for any spells or incantations. I’ll go over her last few steps, see if we can figure out the exact point when she crossed dimensions.”

“That certainly gives me a place to start. Well done.” Giles rubbed his forehead and squeezed the bridge of his nose, the tension headache slowly began to dissipate under the possibility of sorting this mess out.

The phone was fought over and Angel was the victor. “I’ll take her to the cemetary after dark. If she walked through, maybe she can walk back.”

The watcher nodded then realised it couldn’t be seen. “In the meanwhile, I’ll keep researching.”

“Please do that.”

Giles had to smile at the sheer amount of pleading in the vampire’s voice. “I will patrol with Buffy, keep her from going to that part of the graveyard.” He hung up and prepared himself to tell more lies about why he was having Buffy, Willow, and Xander look up spells on dimension travel.

He straightened his sweater and coughed, wondering if they would believe he was looking for an extreme adventure holiday.

*********

Later that evening…

It was a lovely night, Angel noted offhandedly. The stars were out, there was a pretty silver crescent moon that made the wispy clouds look purple. He studied them for a moment before centring his gaze on the vampiress. The red marks caused by the earlier restraints were gone, and though the bruise on her cheek was also gone, he still felt like a jackass for hitting her.

As Angelus, he’d done worse than hit a woman, but Cordelia was the first he’d hit since he’d had a soul. He felt sick at the thought of raising a hand to her, even if she was a vampire.

“Okay,” the silence was effectively broken by her dulcet voice. “I just walk?” She highly doubted that just walking would get her where she wanted to be. Why couldn’t there be an SLK Mercedes with a white knight to take her home?

Angel ignored the dubious expression. “Worth a shot.” He hoped she didn’t end up somewhere like hell. She wouldn’t last three seconds there. A smirk appeared. She’d probably have Satan himself down on one knee, offering her his kingdom.

The vampiress nodded and rubbed her palms together. This dimension hopping did test the nerves. “Here I go.” Cordelia began to walk, slowly, unsurely, between the graves of Mrs. Morgan and Mr. Greeley. She bit her lip and glanced over her shoulder for one last look, “Nice knowing ya.”

Her smile thawed the solid ice around Angel’s heart. “It’s been fun.”

Cordelia nodded. “Let’s not do it again.” And he grinned.

“Definitely not.”

She resumed walking, taking each step with extreme caution. She really didn’t wanna end up in the middle of Antarctica. She got closer to the graves and closed her eyes. God, please let this work. She wanted to go home. One, two, three more steps and she waited for something to happen. Whirly lights, a hefty wind. Anything to let her know just walking had worked.

One hazel eye and then the other cranked slowly open. They suspiciously darted here and there, seeing nothing but graves, grass, trees, and crypts. Cordelia looked over her shoulder and saw Angel. Maybe it was Angelus. “Angelus?”

There was so much hope in her eyes that he hated to disappoint her. He swallowed. “I’m sorry.”

It hadn’t worked.

*******

Buffy followed Giles like a lost puppy. She had no choice. Every time she suggested about where they should go, he dove right on in there and suggested the exact opposite direction. It was really starting to grate on her nerves.

She was slayer. She was out here every night, slaying demons and vampires, making Sunnydale safe for the general public. Shouldn’t she know where the action is? She shook her head.

Giles had been acting weird all day. Throwing books into a messy heap, stuttering and stammering about why they were researching dimension travel. Then there were the constant phone calls he’d been making. Why would he phone home when there was no-one there? Unless there was someone there.

Had Giles gone and got himself a lady friend he hadn’t told her about? Hmm. This called for some serious investigating. She knew it was wrong, but she couldn’t help but want to look out for him. Especially after what happened to Jenny last year. Buffy couldn’t begin to imagine how he’d felt.

She knew how she’d felt. She’d waited too long to kill Angelus and Jenny Calendar paid the price. Not just Jenny, but other innocents suffer because of her weakness and willingness to believe there was still some of Angel inside, but there wasn’t.

Where Angel had made her dreams, the monster made her nightmares. The look in his eye when he’d said what he did would haunt her for a long time to come.

Buffy knew Angel understood that she needed time too come to terms with the fact there was something evil living under his skin. Not just that, but she still saw the sword sticking out from his chest as she killed him. God, the sound it made as she drove it home was sickening.

She needed time and he had plenty of that.
Part 5:
The problem with light colours was they never stayed light for long.

Cordelia held up her fluffy cream top in disgust. Grubby wasn’t in it. Even if it wasn’t dirty, she still wouldn’t wear it. Wearing the same thing two days in a row really wasn’t gonna happen.

She threw it on the bed and rolled her eyes. God, this was a nightmare. Like it wasn’t bad enough having to use Rupert’s toiletries. She smelled like a man, and with dirty clothes, she felt like a teenage boy.

Cordelia couldn’t stand it anymore.

She left the guest bedroom, hollering, “Rupert!” Louder and sharper, “Rupert!”

Where the hell was that man? He was supposed to home an hour ago. Anyone would think he was trying to disregard her.

The vampiress was a hurricane as she stormed through the house. The cream bra, also grubby, barely concealed full breasts as they rhythmically bounced with every move she made. “Rupert!” This time, Cordelia bellowed it out. If there was one thing she hated, it was being ignored. Ah screw it.

Cordelia wasted no time in barging into Giles’ bedroom. She was sure he wouldn’t mind her borrowing a shirt, given the fact she desperately needed something clean to wear.

The closet door was thrown open and she stopped short. She stared, blinking, into her own private hell. This couldn’t be the only things in here, surely.

“Tweed,” she shoved aside a handful of hangers. “Tweed, and oh! More twee… Hello! What do we have here?”

A dark brown leather waistcoat was held up for inspection. Had Rupert auditioned for the Village People or something? She wondered what else was in the closet of Rupert Giles. That could wait until she found something she could wear because gross clothes were definitely not her style.

The vampiress looked as though she were about to cry as she tugged the waistcoat over each arm and stood there. This must be what depression felt like.

For a start not only did it not fit, it sagged and made her breasts disappear. Then it draped over her hips and poof! Her curves were gone, too.

Dressed in a waistcoat worthy of 80’s pop icons and gay ones at that. It belonged to man not Angelus. She was hungry enough to eat two, not one, but two whole humans, and her hands had been tied for over twenty four hours. This had to be one of the lowest moments in the life and times of Cordelia Chase.

The last time she’d felt so alone had been when her parents were killed. Sure, they hadn’t been the most affectionate people going, but they fed and clothed her, protected and taken care of her. A lot more than what some children got.

Like Angelus for instance.

He never openly talked about his human days, but from the bits and pieces he did say, Cordelia figured Daddy had been a bit of an ass.

Thinking about Angelus brought a pang to her dead heart and tears to her eyes. Her lower lip popped out into a pout and arms came up to wrap around her body in an effort to ward off the chill brought on by strangers and an equally strange place. She really wanted to go home.

Cordelia sniffed out a laugh and sucked up her pout. “God! What would Angelus think if he could see you now, huh? Stop being such a cry-baby and pull yourself together. You’re an Aurelius so damn well act like it.” She wiped her eyes free of the tears that threatened to fall and squared her shoulders. She had to find something to take her mind off things.

What was Angelus doing now?

******

A bruised and battered Spike limped out of the holding cell housing an unconscious Angelus.

“Well?” Darla demanded impatiently.

He’d smile if he could. “I’m fine, thanks for asking.” A painful cough sent a shot of agony through Spike’s throbbing, burning chest. No doubt he had a broken rib or two. Bloodied, swollen skin pulled tight as he gamely tried that smiling thing. A hand with broken knuckles brought up an empty syringe for all to see.

The Master nodded in satisfaction. “Excellent, young William.”

Darla tapped her lower lip with her thumb nail, anxiety seeped out of every pore. “Carmen said the sedative would last eight hours at the most.” Before Angelus woke up and went on yet another rampage.

“Bloody great, that is.” Spike choked on his own blood. “Eight sodding hours before I get beaten to a pulp.” Badly blackened eyes glanced down. Torn shirt, the red colour enhanced by the sticky red liquid. “Again.”

“At least it’s eight hours free of Angelus way of finding her.”

The Master would scowl if he could. “Yes. While his passion for my sweet Bella warms my heart, his behaviour is doing more harm than good.”

Darla grabbed hold of Spike’s destroyed shirt to keep him upright. “We need to find her, Sire.” Or else Angelus would be the death of them all.

Aurelius placed one clawed hand on the shoulder of each vampire, ignoring the bone crunching sound coming from Spike. “Indeed we must. William, you have earned the right to do as you wish. Choose from my private collection if you please.”

“Great!” Spike’s teeth were crimson as he tried yet another smile. He could do whatever he wanted. Looking at Darla, “Let go pet, there’s a good girl.”

She let go of his shirt and shared with the Master the sight of a passed out Spike.

With Angelus safely sedated, it was time to get Drusilla and extract information out of Jorgan by any means necessary.
*****

Giles couldn’t believe her, really he couldn’t. She’d not only invaded his privacy and gone through his entire wardrobe, including the drawers, but she’d thrown half of what he owned in the bin. All that remained were three or four shirts and a few pairs of dress trousers. On closer examination of his near empty closet, he noticed even his comfiest shoes were missing.

If he was in his right mind, he’d dust her for this.

“Well?” Cordelia’s beaming face looked up at him. Her hands gave a flourishing gesture around the bedroom. “What do you think?”

What did he think? He tried to move his mouth to answer, but couldn’t. His jaw seemed to be glued to the floor.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to say anything,” she said and gave him a pat on the arm, pearly white fangs gleamed from between plump lips. “An eye for an eye, you know. Not only are you helping me get me home, but you’re letting me stay. For free, I might add. No need to thank me for something I was happy to do.”

The look on his face was priceless.

Giles numbly stared down into two stunning eyes the colour of liquid gold. They were large, expressive, and framed by dark lashes that fluttered so prettily. Those eyes were set in a face with sculpted cheekbones, a full mouth, and a button nose that wrinkled when she smiled. He couldn’t be angry when she was only trying to do something nice.

A lesser man, an ignorant man, would easily fall prey to this woman.

“Yes,” he heard himself say. “An eye for an eye, as you say. I will certainly help you get home.” The sooner she was gone, the better. Today’s heavy research would have nothing on tomorrow’s.

Now that his closet had been taken care of, she could fully concentrate on getting clean clothes that not only looked good, but also fit. There was one single person on this planet she’d trust with such a task and that was Cordelia Chase.

********

Angel was late in getting back to the watcher’s house, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to return so soon. His head was quiet for the first time since getting back from that place and he was reluctant to give up the peace. It wasn’t just the vampiress, it was Giles too.

Whether the Englishman knew it or not, there was blame and condemnation in his eyes every time he looked at Angel. Giles had a right to feel like that. After all, Jenny had bled suffered a broken neck at the hands of Angelus. He hadn’t drunk and that in itself was an insult. He wondered if the watcher caught that. Probably.

The vampiress, Cordelia, was a different matter altogether.

Staring him in the face was what he would have done if he’d gotten the chance. He gave a half hearted laugh. It seemed not even her Angelus had gotten the chance. That was something which had been bugging him.

Angelus did have the chance, so why was the Master Cordelia’s sire? She mentioned patience wasn’t always a virtue. Since when was he patient about taking what he wanted? The only thing he could think of was if Angelus wanted to do it right, complete with a white lace veil and calla lilies.

Was it possible Angelus…

Angel shook his head. There was no use going over and over something he didn’t or wanted to understand. He wondered how he was going to look Buffy and human Cordelia in the face, knowing that what he’d wanted to do had been done, even if in another world.

He tiredly scrubbed his face and let his head fall back against the couch, letting the silence wash over him. No crickets were outside, no traffic, no people tempting him. It was golden. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay and wallow in the safety. He needed to get back to Giles and face his demons.

In more ways than one.

*******

No sooner had Angel walked into the watcher’s house than he was greeted by two shaking hands gripping his jacket collar. The eyes of a madman stared at him through glasses that sat askew on a flaring nose. He blinked at the Englishman and wondered what caused such terror.

The vampiress sashayed out of the guest room and into the living room. Angel looked and then looked again, and his mouth dropped open. The reason for madness now on full display in Giles’ living room.

Most vampires were deathly pale, but not her. Her skin was sun kissed and complimented the cream bra barely covering her breasts. Full, round, and pert. Angel couldn’t stop himself from following the dip caused by exceptional cleavage and he came to a toned, flat stomach that held a tiny red jewel. A trim waist flared out into a set of hips designed to be passionately gripped.

Oh yeah. He knew the reason behind Giles madness. He was halfway there himself.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Cordelia nodded solemnly. “A fake tan that doesn’t transfer. I’m right there with ya, believe me.” She glanced down to examine the bra and Angel’s saucer sized gaze tracked every move her fingers made as they adjusted glittering straps. Gold orbs darted up in excitement. “Did you bring me food? Cus I am famished.”

Huh? What did she say?

Angel swore he could see strawberry nipples beneath that cream piece of nothing. Without hesitating, he pulled away from Giles, stripped off his jacket, and all but flung it over the exhibitionist. He hung on for a moment to make sure the point for her to cover up sank in. A sigh of relief came from behind him and the vampire whole heartedly agreed.

“Aw Angel, I missed you too.” She hadn’t, but never mind. Cordelia returned the surprising hug with one that enabled Angel to get a first hand feel of exactly how soft those full breasts were. She shot Giles a confused look that wasn’t returned.

He moved away like she’d burned him. “Yeah,” Angel’s voice was a high pitched squeak that Giles would have laughed at. “Blood. Right. Right inside pocket.” Thank God he told her before he’d put his hand inside. Lord only knew what he might have touched.

Cordelia frowned. How could he put dinner in a pocket? She fumbled around until she felt a cold plastic bag and frowned some more. What was dinner doing in a plastic bag? She pulled it out and held it far, far away from her. “What the hell is this? Cus it certainly isn’t human.” It wasn’t even warm.

“Pig’s blood.”

“You expect me to drink bovine juice?” The vampiress paused to take a deep, unneeded, calming breath. “I get the no hurting people rule. I get take-out, you get the vacuum cleaner, but pig’s blood? You do know you can get human on tap, right?” God, this was disgraceful and definitely not one of her more shining moments. She took a deeper breath, but it still did nothing.

Giles and Angel merely looked at her. They were obviously not going to get her something decent to eat. Great.

The disgust was evident as Cordelia’s attention went from them to the bag of bovine. Poor little pig. At least vampires were humane when they wanted a quick bite. “I’ve been taught to respect my hosts, so bottom’s up.” She gulped to prepare herself and vamped out.

Angel was mesmerised as the vampiress tore into the blood with her fangs. In that one single moment, she completely changed into something Angelus could only dream of. The pretty shade of gold was replaced by a dazzling bronze that melted, her brow became prominent and all her classically beautiful features were enhanced.

A hum of feigned delight escaped her throat and soft noises made him wonder if that’s how she sounded when swallowing other, more palatable liquids. Cordelia pinned him in place with a look of sheer pleasure as she fed and he couldn’t help but think she was fantasizing about eating him.

Oh God. Oh God.

Beautiful, human Cordelia down on her knees, her smart ass mouth sucking him deep while he fisted handfuls of chestnut hair. This was not what Angel needed.

What Angel needed was to get out of this house and fast. He was two tenths of a second from using every bit of supernatural speed he had to make a quick getaway when her voice entered his ears. He bit back a groan of frustration. How the hell had Giles hung onto his sanity?

“There’s one problem taken care of. Sorry if I don’t show my appreciation by not belching. Now onto the next.” Angel unwillingly focused glassy eyes on Cordelia, whose skin was now flushed pink with borrowed blood. Her arms were behind her back, the position did nothing to decrease the voluptuousness of her breasts. “I need clean clothes, and not just outerwear.”

“I would just turn my panties inside out, but a teenage boy I am not. It isn’t as if I can turn them back to front either, thongs are only meant to go one way.”

Giles face burned a deep ruby red only matched in colour by the traces of blood lingering on the lips of the vampiress.

Angel was wrong. The last thing he needed was the image of Cordelia Chase, either vampire or human, in a thong. Quick to save both himself and Giles, “I’ll get you some clothes.” Or a burlap sack

*******

Two of the most annoying things in life were people hanging up the second you answered the phone, and the other was someone knocking whilst you were in the bath.

Cordelia, determined to ignore the incessant rapping on her window, ducked under the water and relished in the heat soothing her math frazzled brain. It wouldn’t be anyone important. Probably Xander hoping for an early evening macking session

Well, tough. He could wait until their date. She was a girlfriend, not a set of lips with no personality.

Unfortunately the knocking got louder. Not even the powers of honeysuckle and Mr. Martin could drown it out.

Irritation burned bright in hazel eyes as Cordelia climbed out of the tub. Her robe was grabbed and yanked on, a towel snatched and hair expertly wrapped.

“Alright! Alright!” She snapped loud enough for her voice to carry over Mr. Martin and through the double glazing.

A single eye peeked around the thick curtain. Surprise didn’t cover how she felt when she saw Angel standing on her balcony. The surprise quickly faded to resignation. He looked increasingly impatient, better not keep him waiting. Hoops hissed and she pulled the curtains aside and unlocked the door.

Angel rocked back and forth on his heels. Now that he was here, he had no clue what to say. Especially with her looking at him like he was handing over her death warrant. It didn’t help that he had been with the vampire version twenty minutes ago. Nor did help that he, as Angelus, had jerked off over her.

“Hi.”

Cordelia remained unimpressed. “What is it?”

“What’s what?”

“Vampires? Slime demon? Something with lethal claws?” Off his blank look, “That’s why you here, isn’t it? To hook the bait?” She could feel the hook seeking deeper into the back of her neck.

Angel didn’t know how to answer that. Didn’t any of the others see her about anything else?

“Well? Do I pencil in another bath tonight or not?” God, What was it with him and words? Was he allergic or something?

The yellow fluffy robe was the first thing he noticed, and the second was the matching yellow towel wrapped round her head. Her skin was shining and wet, and she smelled of honeysuckle. Honey. That was the colour of her eyes. Big honey eyes that swirled with hues of gold and green. Her lips were free of lipstick, but were a natural beige that complimented.

Without make-up, all her features were on full display, and that included a little beauty mark. She looked so much prettier without the mask, Angel thought, but never said. Her neck was slender and shapely, and thankfully free of bite marks. Ears were smaller than he thought, but cute nonetheless. His gaze dropped lower and he sucked in a breath. Her robe was parted, allowing him to see a teasing hint of cleavage that made him thank God for women.

When Angel’s gaze roamed over her body, Cordelia rolled her eyes and pulled her robe tighter. She wasn’t entirely comfortable having him look at her like that.

Not since the night he was on top of her. Even now, one whole year later, she still felt him between her legs. Was it cheating to masturbate over it? Or was it just sick?

Angel noticed her move. Oh hell! He was staring.

His mouth shakily opened and closed, eyelids rapidly blinked, and his childish stammering came back in full force.

“S-sorry. I-I-I…..” He hadn’t stammered like this since he discovered sex at the ripe old age of 13. Angel let out a laugh. He was the 245 year old vampire who had threatened to do more than kill her, and he was the terrified one.

Cordelia exhaled a long deep breath, and leaned against the balcony door frame. “Take your time, I’ve got all night.”

His lips pursued into a smile. “I haven’t been this nervous since Mrs. Haverston approached me when I was 13.” Angel wasn’t prepared for the smile he got. It was beautiful. Perfect white teeth appeared between a plump, pouting lower lip and a perfect cupids bow.

“13, huh? And a married woman at that. What Xander wouldn’t give to be you.” The words came with that beautiful smile, so he took no offence. Besides what she said was true.

“Is that a compliment or an insult?”

If possible, her beautiful smile widened to a point where he feared it would crack her face. “How about a bit of both?”

Suddenly, what nervousness he felt disappeared. Angel looked at his feet, then back to her. He blamed the attraction on the vampiress. Speaking of the she-devil, he had something to take care of. “I need some clothes…”

It took less than a second for Cordelia to slip into business mode. “You’ve come to the right person.” She paused. “Can I invite you in?”

Angel understood. “I’m not evil.”

She beamed and he wondered what he was looking at. Cordelia or the sun.

“In that case…” Cordelia gestured to her bedroom. “Come on in. First, we need to take some measurements. Then we’ll see what season you are.” She looked him up and down as though he were a newly discovered species. “I’m going with winter, or possibly spring.”

It took him a second or two for him to realise she was sizing him up. Quick to correct the misunderstanding, “It’s women’s clothes I need…”

To say she was surprised was an understatement. Cordelia just about managed to stop her eyebrows from hitting the sky. “Well, uh, that does put a spin on things.” The middle of her nose crinkled up as determination set in. “No problem of course, at least not for me. If I can’t fix you up, then my name’s not Cordelia Chase.” A tailored suit would go great. If he was going that way, then he’d need something to minimise those shoulders.

This was fun!

What? “No. No!” A tiny laugh stunned him as much as her. Angel grinned and looked away. “Not for me, but thanks.” He didn’t want to appear ungrateful.

Was it wrong of her to be disappointed? Cordelia gave a silent nod and also averted her gaze. Of course he wouldn’t want to play dress up. What was she thinking?

Guilt must be second nature to him. Why else would he feel like an ogre for not wanting to dress up as a woman? Angel shot her a consoling smile. “Sorry.”

The brunette sighed and moved aside to let him into her room. “What exactly do you need?”

The question went unanswered as her bedroom stole his full attention.

A rich peach covered her walls, the shade one that made him feel warm all over. A dark grey hearth and antique mantle piece, made from a dark cherry wood, surrounded a fake fire and was matched by the furniture carefully arranged here and there. Two nightstands were placed at either side of the four poster bed and the small lamps emitted a soft glow that enhanced the decor.

It was so very different to the ones belonging to Buffy and Willow. It was a testament to the mature taste of the brunette.

“This is nice,” Angel commented and took a good look around, catching his eye were two paintings hanging close to the bed. He walked over to better examine them. “To Cordelia,” he read “Happy birthday. Love Alex.” Only then did he notice the silver winged angel in the painting was Cordelia.

A strapless dress clung to her upper body and fell in a silver waterfall to pool at a dainty set of bare feet. Lazy waves of dark hair tumbled around her face, tiny brushes of white reflected the dazzling blue lightning flashing all around her. Angel traced her face through glass, imagining he could feel the textured strokes under his fingers.

This Alex was obviously very talented and Cordelia Chase was an excellent model. Angel wondered if Xander knew she’d posed for another man. The boy would probably demand equal rights and perv over her. He resisted the urge to pull a face for fear of inciting her wrath.

“Alex is the boyfriend of my cousin, Holly. As you can see, he specialises in fantasy art. The girl in the other painting is Holly, but that’s a copy. She has the original.”

He glanced at the other portrait and the first thing he saw was a head of titian red hair that fell in thick ringlets around a pair of creamy shoulders. This one was vastly different from Cordelia’s. This one was done in various shades of green, right from emerald to mint, and contrasting shades of bronze, the theme being that of a woodland sprite.

Angelus couldn’t have done better if he tried.

“I’ll take your endless staring as a compliment.” There was a pretty pink haze on her cheeks, but he couldn’t be sure if it was from his admiration or her hot bath. “You want a soda or coffee?” God bless friends who got cool presents like mini-fridges and hot drinks machines. Cordelia sent Angel a pointed look. “I don’t have your preferred poison. Not many visitors of the undead variety.” The smile was everything coquettish. “Sorry.”

The vampire gave her painting a final look and turned to face the real life version. Or one of them, anyway. “No, thank you.” He really should get the clothes and leave. Giles was probably halfway to a coronary by now.

Cordelia nodded. “Again, what do you need?”

Right. Clothes.

Clothes needed for the vampire version of the young woman stood right in front of him. Aw hell. It just occurred to Angel that he knew what was covered by her fluffy bathrobe. Flashes of gorgeous skin ran through his head and caused him to groan out loud. “Uh…”

Cordelia’s eyes rolled in exasperation. Men. “What size is she?”

Oh thank the heavens she misunderstood that groan. Replying, “Your size.”

The brunette nodded. If this girl was palling around with them, then skirts weren’t gonna cut it. “I have some pants and practical yet stylish tops. Does she need underwear?”

Angel paled. Did he look like he needed anymore imagery? “Yes, please.”

“Okay. So pants, tops, bra and panties. What size bra?” Cordelia blushed a little, her gaze unconsciously drifted down. She hoped this girl, whoever she was, hadn’t been at the back of the queue when breasts were given out.

Somethying inside Angel clenched tight, his hand wanted to rub away the uncomfortable ache forming between his thighs. His voice was husky when he spoke next. “Your size.” Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“That explains why you didn’t go to Buffy.” Her blush deepened to a hazy red.

He pretended not to notice the slight shake to her hands as she got what was requested.

*********

Thirty minutes later saw the vampiress unnecessarily stood in front of the mirror, turning this way and that. She knew there was nothing to see, but as they said, habits were hard to die. She still caught herself breathing sometimes.

Angelus comfortingly told her those quirks would fade after a few decades.

Cordelia craned her neck as far as it would go in an effort to see how her ass looked. These pants were really, really nice. They were a dark shade of red and were made from a luxurious form of material that simply spelled designer. The top was a pretty cream with thin straps and a hem that touched her waist.

Red and black. Angelus favourite colours. Not his favourite garments of course, skimpy pieces of nothing were more to his tastes when it came to her.

She had this one dress, if it could be called that, and it was a rich vibrant cerise. It was a babydoll and barely covered her ass. She didn’t wear it often. Certainly not around her sire. Heaven forbid he saw her in that.

He’d have a fit.

Angelus seemed to like it. If like could be described as being pinned, face down, on the bed and being fucked hard from behind then yes, he liked it very well indeed.

Again, thinking about her companion and sire sent a wave of longing crashing through her. She stared harder at the mirror, hoping for a miracle and she could see them through it. “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” Cordelia sighed and gave up on the hopeless venture.

They only existed in fairytales about princess and hell knew she was no princess. “Thank God for small mercies.” A princess wouldn’t last ten seconds in her world.

Voices from the living room brought the vampiress out of her reverie and she glanced in the direction of the door. That pig’s blood had nowhere near sated her hunger. She needed something with a bit more substance, like a cute guy with large muscles and convertible. Besides, she had someone to thank.

Cordelia knew that in order to get a decent bite, she’d have to get from under Rupert’s thumb. She wouldn’t have minded having a traditional English meal, but then her chances of getting home would drop to sub-zero. There had to be a way to get out.

Her eyes darted to the curtains blocking out the moonlit night and grinned. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Part 6:
Oblivious to the vampiress’ great escape, Angel and Giles sat opposite each other, turning page after page, praying they’d find a spell to send Cordelia home. Neither would look at the other for fear what happened earlier would be discussed.

The sight of Cordelia Chase, semi naked, was a bit too much for Giles considering the one he knew was like a child to him. The one thing he didn’t want to see was her in nothing but a pair of skin tight leather pants and a bra that barely fit. She was just eighteen years old. She shouldn’t be wearing such things. Neither should the vampiress, come to think of it.

She was just an eighteen year old with fangs. She could get into just as much trouble, if not more, than the human version. Rape was horrific and shouldn’t happen to anyone, even if the woman could kill a man before he could blink. There were just as many male vampires more than willing to do such a thing and with Cordelia looking the way she, the situation wasn’t impossible.

Giles gave an incredulous smile. Here he was worrying about a vampire. The same vampire apparently partnered with Angelus, one of the most brutal monsters to walk the Earth. He should be more worried about her getting loose on Sunnydale.

Angel’s thoughts were far, far different. He was having a hard time separating the two brunettes. The vampiress was hell with breasts and the human was not much better. He’d seen one dressed like an insatiable housewife and the other like she was waiting for her man to come home so she could seduce him into signing over everything he owned.

He hadn’t missed Dean’s voice, nor had he missed the sweet scent filling the air, and he certainly hadn’t missed how she blushed when he commented on her body.

Angel swallowed a frustrated groan and scrubbed his face with his hands, willing away the visions running rampant in his imagination. He was not Angelus and therefore had no right to think of the vampiress this way. He wasn’t Cordelia’s husband and had no right to picture her seducing him.

“Stop it.” Giles didn’t look up from the spell book. “I know what you’re thinking so just… Stop it.”

Another spell book was slammed shut, picked up, and slammed down on the table. Angel glared at the watcher. “You weren’t the one who had to ask Cordelia for underwear.” He squeezed the bridge of his nose and tried to wash away the images of what Cordelia looked like beneath that robe.

That shut the Englishman up. “Quite right.” It was a good thing, too. Giles already felt like a dirty old man. Breasts and creamy under garments kept appearing behind his eyelids. He felt sick.

That vampiress had Cordelia’s body. Or Cordelia had the body of the vampiress. Either way, it did not give him an excuse to visualise her half naked. She was barely legal for God’s sake! Not to mention being a student at the very school he worked at.

Angel blew out a breath, letting his head fall back enough to roll his shoulders free of tension. One of those massages Angelus got wouldn’t be half bad right now. Great. Now his brain was overrun by images of Cordelia rubbing her delicate little hands all over him. He really didn’t need that.

“Angel,” this time Giles did look up. “Get out and kill something.” Adding under his breath, “Kill something for me while you’re at it.” He suddenly saw an opportunity for redemption. “Why don’t you take Cordelia with you? This is a stressful for her, perhaps a bit of air will do her good.”

The vampire ground his jaw together so hard, the bones crackled. Damn the man. “I wouldn’t feel right leaving you to do all this reading alone.”

Giles waved it away. “I appreciate the sentiment. However, I believe far more work would get done undisturbed.” Come to think of it, there hadn’t been any disturbances for quite some time. Over an hour to be exact. He was expecting Cordelia to waltz out of the guest room and ask she looked, complete with indecent twirling and naughty smiles.

His eyes suspiciously darted towards the closed bedroom door and narrowed. He really didn’t trust that vampire as far as he could throw her.

Angel followed the line of sight. “What?”

“She’s been in there an awfully long time.” The watcher rose from his seat and headed for the room, intent on dragging her out of there. His instincts were starting to scream something was wrong and he’d learned a long time ago to listen. He couldn’t open the door fast enough and really wasn’t surprised to see the window open, and room empty.

Giles knuckles turned white as he gripped the handle. “And we thought she was a problem before.”

*******

The music from the live band bounced through the Bronze, the heavy beat enticing people onto the dance floor with their respective others. Cordelia smirked. Or their mistresses.

The Bronze back home was nothing like this. In her Sunnydale, Aurelius owned the Bronze, and the only humans in there were the ones begging to be bitten. This Bronze was looking to be a lot of fun.

She wondered what Angelus would make of it. Cordelia shuddered and not just in pleasure. She knew what he’d do in a place packed with people. The words mass genocide came to mind. That boy of hers could be hellishly gross when he wanted to be. He had to learn some self control if he was going to be House Master.

She took a deep breath, taking in the sweet scent of humanity. It washed over her like a warm rain of deliciousness and a slow hunger burned in her stomach. God, these people really knew how to work up an appetite. Her eyes glowed gold as she scanned the crowd, looking for a yummy piece of flesh. Oh, and of course, the other Cordelia. These pretty things just had to come from her.

The vampiress stepped back from the dance floor and began to make her way through the throng of food, a rhythmic spring to her step and eyes sending vicious glares to the ones who dared bump into her. It didn’t take long for her stomach to start growling in response to the increasing hunger. It’d be ridiculously easy to simply pick one up and munch on it. As much as she’d dearly love to do that, she had business to take care of and an identical face to find.

Cordelia paused to tap her upper lip thoughtfully. “If I was me, where would I be?”

“Talking in the third person now?” A startlingly familiar voice came from behind her. “Not enough room for the voices in your head?”

The vampiress spun round only to be shocked into perfect stillness when her eyes landed on the one and only Xander Harris. “Xan? Thank God you’re here. I thought I was in this dump alone.” Cordelia flung her arms around him and squeezed hard, too happy to see a friendly face to acknowledge the fact he was human.

Stunned at the show of over-the-top affection, Xander could do nothing but return the hug. She must have left home without a coat. “You’re cold.” Wow. She was squeezing really, really hard. As in hard enough to break a rib. “Yeah. Okay, okay.”

Oh God. A chilling fear ripped into him as he wondered if she’d found out about what happened at the factory and if she really was trying to break a rib. He froze and his breath became a thick lump in his throat. She wouldn’t pretend to be nice if she was going to hurt him, right?

Right. She’d do more than hurt him. She wouldn’t kill him, either. Cordelia would simply make his life a misery by rubbing his nose in what he threw away like yesterday’s news. Xander didn’t have time to contemplate things more than he already had as she yanked away from him, a look of total confusion on her face.

“What the hell is this?” Cordelia snapped, her eyes wandered up and down his body. “Why is your heart beating?” She sniffed the air around him. “And why do you smell human?” It left a bitter taste in her mouth and the desperate need to feed began to fade. “And why do you smell like mould?” That could be his socks, but she didn’t think so.

“Hey!” That was his cologne. “Say what again?”

“You’re human, with a heart beat. Why and more importantly, how?”

Xander blinked. “I can see how humans might be weird to you, but I was born this way.” There was something so very wrong this picture.

Cordelia gave him a look of disgust. She knew why Angelus loved to torment him. “A comedian you are not.” Looked like she wasn’t gonna get anyway with words. Oh well. There were other ways that, if returned, Xander’s head would be rolling into a big ball of dust.

The vampiress never hesitated in backing the boy up into a darkened corner where she was sure they’d have privacy. Her palm cracked the wall as she slammed it perilously close to his head.

“What the hell…”

Her face was mere inches from his and the look in her eye soon shut him up. Cordelia drank in the humanity even as her confused brain tried to sort out the messy situation. She couldn’t stop her face from changing. So what if it was Xander, he was still human wasn’t he? Therefore he was as entitled to be eaten as much as the next person.

“If I ignore the mould, you smell good enough to eat.” Cordelia’s eyes were shut so she didn’t see the expression of sheer horror and heart break cross his face. She leaned in close enough to brush her mouth over his jugular and dipped her tongue out for a taste. It was Xander Harris, but it was a human Xander Harris. How fun!

The cool feel made Xander choke in revulsion as he unsuccessfully attempted too come to terms his girlfriend was now among the undead. He heard a low purring growl as her lips opened and the tips of lethal fangs scraped down his throat. He was numb to feel the terror shaking his body and too stunned to feel his pants turn wet.

The smell of urine had the vampiress pulling back in disgust. “Please, tell me you didn’t just piss your pants.” Cordelia stepped back a few steps and stared at the teenage boy not daring to move, breathe, or anything else for fear she’d chow down on him. “Oh come on. I’m not that scary…” She stopped when an all too familiar scent caught her attention.

Looked like she wouldn’t have to hunt Cordelia down after all.

Xander watched as her human facade fell back into place and that mouth gave a killer smile, golden eyes now dazzling as the irises swirled with hues of burnished bronze. She disappeared, leaving him to the sound of blood racing through his ears at the speed of light. A quaking hand came up to grasp his neck to make sure she really hadn’t bitten him.

He had to tell Buffy and Giles.

He would tell Buffy and Giles the second his legs remembered how to move.

*******

The only word Angel could think of was stupid. Stupid not to keep an eye on her. Stupid to let himself be distracted. Stupid to borrow clothes off Cordelia for Cordelia. He should have known the vampiress would go looking for the owner who shared a scent so familiar to hers.

At the same time, Angel knew approaching Buffy was a big no-no. The slayer would have asked and asked, not stopping until she had every detail. He couldn’t imagine the reaction of Buffy if Cordelia started talking about Angelus, much less Darla and the Master. One vampire had bitten her mother and the other killed her.

Angel gave his head a shake. He needed to concentrate on tracking the vampiress. While it was easy to follow the sweet scent, he couldn’t afford to confuse it with his Cordelia.

He ignored the man who snapped watch it and picked up the pace. With a bit of luck, he’d get to Cordelia before the vampiress did. Horrible visions of another vampiress had his chest constricting tight. Angel prayed Giles didn’t give in and send Buffy the 911 call. It was doubtful she’d stop before staking Cordelia, and he didn’t want to see her dust.

He definitely didn’t want to see Cordelia dead.

His boots practically squeaked as he came to a sudden halt, his mind now focused on a dress he’d seen hanging off the handle of Cordelia’s wardrobe. The prepared outfit, the pampering bath, make-up ready to be applied. Oh fuck.

Cordelia was going out on a date with Xander.

This really spelled trouble.

If the vampiress found Harris before Cordelia, Harris stood a good chance at seeing, first hand, how determined vampires got their information. She’d probably picked up a few tricks from Angelus. If Xander was with the vampiress, Angel could only hope she’d make it quick.

His pace sped up into an outright sprint towards the Bronze.

*******

Only one human had so far suffered at the hands of Cordelia and that was some guy who thought she was a piece of ass. A quick meeting with her fist soon took care of that little misunderstanding. The people who witnessed the violent display rapidly moved out of her way.

The vampiress, used to such attention, ignored the crowd as she walked past them and headed for the ladies. She heard the whispers, saw the looks of lust from males and envy from the females. Cordelia wondered if the other Cordelia got behaviour like this.

Probably.

That was a thought. What was she going to do once she was face to face with Cordelia? It’d be weird seeing herself for the first time since she was alive. Only pictures and portraits taken and drawn by Angelus kept her from totally forgetting what she looked like.

Cordelia wasn’t that bad to look at… Who was she trying to kid? She was gorgeous and she knew it. If she wasn’t, Angelus wouldn’t be into her as much as he was.

Still, knowing it and seeing it were two different things. She missed putting on her own make-up and styling her own hair. In a nutshell, she missed her reflection. Ooh! Maybe she would take Cordelia home with her.

Naturally Angelus would be off limits, but the vampiress knew plenty of powerful, handsome vampires that would jump at the chance to have their own Cordelia Chase. That girl would be well taken care of, she’d see to that.

Unless, a mischievous smile appeared, Angel could be persuaded to cross over to the dark side.

For any of that to happen, she first had to find Cordelia, and as the vampiress was now stood outside the restroom, the inevitable meeting would be happening sooner rather than later.

*******

Buffy had just equipped her trusty stake and donned her jacket when the front doorbell began to ring. “Mom, door,” she yelled as she tested the pointy weapon against her fingertip. “Ow!” Yup, sharp enough.

Silence answered her. Her mom must still be in the bath.

Just in case it wasn’t anyone she knew, she securely tucked the stake into an inside pocket and went to stop the bell from being buzzed to death. She was a few steps away when the ringing ceased and desperate pounding began, as did the voice of Xander Harris.

“Buffy! For God’s sake, open the damn door. Buffy!”

The petite blonde went into overdrive at the panic she heard. The door was reached and opened in a split second. Her eyes turned to saucers at the state of him.

She wasn’t the only one with wide eyes, but she was the only one not shaking in her boots. “What’s…” If he’d been hurt or threatened in anyway, she’s dimply go and hurt the thing right back.

Xander spared a few precious minutes to replace the air he’d used in blasting all the way from the Bronze. Running came in handy when a man had wet pants to brag about. “It’s Cordelia,” his voice bordered on tears.

This didn’t surprise Buffy in the least. If anyone could get into spectacular life or death situations, it was Cordelia Chase. Resigned to yet again coming to the rescue of the cheerleader, “What fine mess is she in now?”

Xander never blinked as he dropped the bomb. “She’s been turned.”

The he stood and watched while Buffy freaked.

*******

Twenty minutes later, after Mrs. Summers had been strictly told not to invite Cordelia in under any circumstances, Xander was accompanying a scarily silent slayer to Giles’ house. There was nothing either of them could say that would make things easier or different.

Buffy had never been so glad to see the steps leading up to her watcher’s place. All the way here, her brain had been trying to assimilate what Xander said. Cordelia, her sort of friend, was now a vampire. She mentally berated herself. Cordelia was an enemy now, not a friend.

Angelus had taught her a lot about looking for things she wouldn’t find, like the humanity only a soul could give. No way in hell was Buffy going to give Cordelia a chance to ruin her life.

The first opportunity that came along, that vampire was dust.

Xander was the one who burst through the door first with Buffy hot on his heels, the slamming of the door against the wall rudely jolted Giles out of his nervous pacing. A single glance at their faces was all it took for him to figure out one or both of them had seen the vampiress and raised the alarm. From the appearance of the boy, he was guessing he was the one.

So much for keeping Cordelia a secret for a while. Oh well. He’d better get explaining before Angel returned with the vampiress.

The slayer spoke, not giving Giles an inch to speak his piece. “It’s Cordelia. She’s…” Buffy’s throat thickened to the point where it got too tight for more words to come out.

Xander finished for her. “A vampire. A walking, talking vampire. The kind that eats their friends and family.” He’d bet his allowance Angel wasn’t Angel, but Angelus, and was pretending to be Angel so he could get revenge by killing them all.

“No, she isn’t.” The Englishman stated. As expected, he was entirely ignored.

“I saw her, okay? She was talking to herself when I went up to her. She asked some really weird questions right before pinning me to the wall and…” His hand gestured to his face, which had crinkled up in an impression that would have been comical at any other time.

Giles still didn’t manage to get a word in edgewise.

Buffy took up the pacing where her watcher left off. She needed something to take the edge off. “Xander, you call and warn Willow. Giles, you stay here with him and keep watch. I’m gonna go to work.” She bit her lip, never did she think she’d have to kill any of her friends.

She really had to get a new gig.

“Cordelia is not, and I repeat, is not dead.” I hope, Giles wisely kept that thought to himself and tugged on his shirt collar. Was it getting warm in here?

Xander’s fingers ceased dialling and Buffy paused her purposeful walk to the door, all attention centred on the older man.

Giles continued. “Now that I have your undivided attention, perhaps I can speak…”

Buffy kept her voice low and steady. “What’s going on? And why do I get the feeling this has something to do with the unexplained research you’ve had us doing?” She also wanted to ask why she had a bad feeling about this.

Annoyance at being interrupted flashed in intelligent blue eyes. “I suggest you take a seat.”

Giles then proceeded to tell all.

*******

In order not to be seen right away, the vampiress hid in a cubicle and patiently waited for Cordelia to leave the one next door. She leaned against the door and inspected her nails, mentally praising the fact she was dead. If she was dead then she couldn’t be infected by the grubby walls.

“Don’t they ever clean in here?” Cordelia grumbled and imagined her sire’s response at seeing the Bronze in such a state. He’d have a fit.

“Tell me about it.” The response had excitement rising in the vampiress. “This place is a serious health hazard.”

How cool was this? Their voices were exactly the same.

The vampiress inhaled deeply and listened, eyebrows shot sky high when she heard the heart beat and her jaw hit the floor. Holy fuck! Cordelia was human! That explained why Rupert wasn’t in any hurry to talk about the girl. And she thought a human Xander was fun.

“You here on a date?” The vampiress carefully gauged the girl’s voice, listening for anything that might of interest.

There was a noise that sounded like a huff. “Where have you been for the last ever? Did you miss the memo stating I’m with Xander?” Or supposed to be as it were. She’d been here for all of half an hour and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of her boyfriend. He was probably off helping save the world with Buffy and Willow. Again. She wondered when Xander was gonna wake up and realise she was alive.

“Oh my God!” The vampiress mouthed as her brain threatened to explode. She, Cordelia Chase, was dating Xander freaking Harris? The same boy who proved he wasn’t ready for big boy pants? Something had to be done about that and fast.

“I’m new in town. You know how it goes.”

“If I were you, I’d be quick to leave.” Sunnydale held nothing but an overflow cemetery that had a grave with the name of the next poor schmuck unlucky enough to get caught up in hellishness.

It sounded as though she knew about the darker side of life. The vampiress chose her next words carefully. “So I’ve heard. Tell me, is this town the Viper Room of weirdness?”

There was a pause. “Then you know.” There was no accusing tone, merely a statement of fact.

“You could say that.” A flushing toilet was heard and the vampiress pushed away from the door, barely able to wait until she could look Cordelia in the eye. “I’ve had a close encounter of the dead kind. Tall and dark. Good shoulders.”

“You’re talking about Angel, right? Don’t go down that road. He already has an owner.” The sound of another door opening was music to the vampiress’ ears. She moved to do the same.

What did she mean? “An owner?” She said it as though Angel was a puppy.

A tap was turned on. Almost time to make her presence known. “Buffy,” Cordelia stated. “I wouldn’t go there if I were you.” She would have gone there at one point, but not now. She didn’t do sloppy seconds and plus, she didn’t fancy being the dish of the day for Angelus.

Now this was intriguing. Buffy, the name mentioned over the phone. “Miss. Vanilla,” the vampiress mused. Definitely intriguing.

“The very one. According to her they’re, air quote, over.”

“You don’t believe it?” The vampiress opened the door and leaned her shoulder against the doorframe, her darkening eyes roamed over the body of Cordelia Chase. Gorgeous dress, classy hairstyle, good shoes. All in all, 7 out of 10. 3 points were taken off for being overdone.

Nice, she decided after a moment, very nice indeed, if a little unpolished. That couldn’t be helped, not with her status as human. Cordelia would blossom under her guidance. She just needed a little push in the right directions. Away from the princess get-up and towards hotness, then away from Xander and towards Angel.

“I’d believe Christina is the next Madonna before I’d believe that. You obviously don’t know Buffy Summers.” Cordelia paused. “Lucky, yet not. Where that girl goes, dark forces follow. She’s still pretty handy to have around.” Like in case of an impromptu demon attack.

The vampiress grinned. Didn’t seem like there was any love lost between this Buffy girl and Cordelia. “For what? Extra flavour for your non fat triple latte?”

She saw a responding grin in the mirror, then she watched as Cordelia bent at the waist with a groan about something being on her shoe. The vampiress raised an eyebrow. Didn’t this girl pay any attention to her surroundings? She could be talking to another vampire. One who wouldn’t think twice about chowing down on her.

“One of these days, I’m gonna pay Rosie to come and clean these floors.”

The undead one stared into the empty mirror, waiting for Cordelia to stand upright, and fill it. “It oughta be condemned.” How long was it gonna take before the girl looked round to see whose company she kept? Her patience was beginning to wear pretty thin.

Okay, her patience was totally gone. Cordelia rolled her eyes and reached down to grab a handful of chestnut hair, ignoring the shocked shriek she forced the girl to her feet. “Oh relax and quit squealing, would you? God. How did I never realise my voice was that annoying?”

“What next?” Cordelia hissed, “Name calling?” If it was a fight the bitch wanted, then a fight she’d get. Let it not be said she was a coward.

The vampiress yet again rolled her eyes, this time in amusement. “I didn’t come to fight. It’s to say thanks for the pretty.” She pushed the human away from her, maybe a little too hard if the sound of a body colliding with plaster was anything to go by. Cordelia winced. “Don’t know my own strength it seems. Sorry.”

“What the…”
Part 7:
Cordelia’s eyes opened and opened wide. Standing right in front of her was a mirror image of herself. She blinked, but the girl was still standing there.

She looked to the mirror and saw nothing. She glanced back at the other Cordelia, who was grinning like the cat who got the canary. Again, she turned to the mirror and yet again saw nothing. This was definitely a joke.

She focused on breathing steadily in and steadily out, taking great care to pump enough oxygen to her brain. “Okay,” she laughed, fake as it was. “Fun time’s over, guys. You can come out now.”

Honey eyes darted here and there as though she were expecting someone to jump out, shouting “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!”

When nobody did, Cordelia flung open one cubicle door after another until she’d checked all four. The vampiress simply stood watching in amusement. She was just too damn adorable yelling a victorious “Ha!” Each time she pounced on an unsuspecting door.

She really should tell the poor stunned girl what was going on, but she couldn’t seem to find it in her heart to do that. It might be wrong and a tad cruel of her, but really. How often was it a person got to see themselves acting like a lunatic?

The vampiress only intervened when Cordelia checked the small trash can for a hidden camera. “As fun as this is, you’re barking up the wrong tree. It’s not a joke or a trick.”

“You’re right. It’s more like a nightmare.”

“Don’t put yourself down.” The vampiress paused for thought. “Although low self esteem does explain Xander.”

“Hey!” Cordelia yelled, her voice a high pitched squeak full of hysteria. “I do not have low self esteem. Look, one of us is obviously cracking up and I’m guessing it’s me. So I’m just gonna go get some serious help. Possibly electrotherapy.”

The other Cordelia took pity on her. “You’re not hallucinating. The craziness is still up for debate, but no-one’s perfect. Well, almost no-one.” Her grin said it all.

The lock on the bathroom door proved no match for Angel’s foot as he booted the door open. Both vampiress and human jumped a mile, identical screeches pierced his ears. He saw Cordelia, the one in the summer dress, and had her protectively behind him before she could blink.

Angel warned the vampiress off with a glare.

“All this for little old me?” Cordelia dramatically clutched her chest and sniffed. “I’m touched. Really. I might even cry.”

“Angel?”

He felt a tugging on his sleeve, but didn’t acknowledge her with a look. “You okay?”

The Cordelia behind him pressed closer and Angel shivered at the warm feel of two soft breasts cushioning his back. Did she have to do that? As if the images in his head weren’t enough.

If only he hadn’t left his jacket at Giles place. Damn. This was not the time to get distracted.

“Angel, are you listening to me?”

He scowled at the smirking vampiress. “You certainly have his attention.” She could smell a faint trace of musky masculine arousal, and he knew it.

There was only so much a girl could take. A struggle ensued between Angel and Cordelia as he tried to keep her behind him and she tried to escape.

“Your ass is in my stomach.”

“Believe me, I know.”

“Then move. God!” Cordelia shoved her way out only to be greeted by the sound of laughter coming from…

Figments of imagination weren’t supposed to laugh and friends weren’t supposed to protect you from said figments. Figments were supposed to last a few minutes while a decision was debated, not stand there in full glorious techni-colour and wearing the pants Angel borrowed. Wait a minute. Unless figments came with replica wardrobes, then that girl, the no reflecting version of herself, was definitely not a figment.

Snapping, “Will somebody please tell me what the hell is going on here?”

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Buffy’s reaction was worrying, but how would Cordelia react to hearing she was the honey of Angelus in another world? Angel never took his eyes off the vampiress. “The best thing for you to do is…”

“When you have a twin staring you in the face, then you can dictate about what’s best.”

Vampire glared at cheerleader, who levelled a gaze of equal intensity right back. Deep brown eyes narrowed and a shaped eyebrow rose. The lock down showed promises of lasting all night and probably would have if a long, exhaled breath hadn’t ruined it. Well, at least one thing on her agenda was going to be relatively easy now that Cordelia was on Angel’s radar.

“What?” The human demanded when she saw the other Cordelia fanning her cheeks.

The vampiress rolled her eyes. “I guess I’ll have to bask in my sweet success later. What do you wanna know?”

Cordelia rubbed her aching head with numb fingers. “Alright. If this isn’t my imagination, which it obviously isn’t, then the Hellmouth is going crazy. My idea is we should go to Giles, and I can’t stress this enough, now.”

“Oh yes! I can’t wait to tell Rupert all about my little adventure. Oh, and one more thing? Xander?” The vampiress shook her head in dismay. “That boy has no control.” She received two looks. One of confused disbelief and one that clearly said nice going.

“Let me get this straight…”

*******

“Let me get this straight,” Buffy spoke slowly just to make sure the words in her head weren’t the ones that came out of her mouth. “You knew about this and didn’t tell me?” Her icy blue stare bore holes into her watcher’s head.

Giles removed his glasses to meet her head-on. “Given the possible consequences, I thought it best not to involve you.”

“What about other consequences? Like her killing you while you slept?”

“She needs my help to get home, Buffy. I doubt she’d kill me.” Not physically in any case. Mentally, however, was a very different matter.

The slayer stared at him as though he was a strange animal. “She’s a vampire! How you can trust her…and before you bring up Angel, he has a soul. He’s different.”

Xander snorted. “Yeah. So different he goes evil when he…” A solid glare stopped that sentence short. He rolled his eyes and placed his forehand in his palm. He was still trying to come to terms with the fact a dead version of his girlfriend went to eat him and he peed. Peed! He hadn’t peed his pants since he was six and that was watching Dr. Who and the Daleks.

“I don’t trust her,” Giles responded tiredly. “But I honestly believe she wouldn’t do anything to harm her chances of going home. Besides, Angel has kindly been here to make sure she stays out of trouble.”

The atmosphere in the house dropped to below zero as Buffy’s head spun with the knowledge that not only had Giles betrayed her, but Angel had been in on it too. “Angel. Right.” She’d deal with him later. “What if something happened to you both and she’d gotten loose on Sunnydale? Did you ever stop to think about that?”

Who would have had to do the clean up? Her. That’s who. Plus what if, God forbid, there’d been a nasty accident and she’d staked the human? There was so many things wrong with this that it was hard to focus on any one problem.

Buffy sighed. She could see both sides of the situation, yet could only think about hers. It might be a little unfair and self-centred, but what else could she do? It was only last year when she sent Angel to hell, and to think of having to kill a friend, or someone who looked like a friend, was a bit too much for her to take in right now.

Cordelia and her weren’t close by a long shot, but she was still there. She still gave her time to help make the world a safer place and though the brunette would rather die before admitting it, she had a heart and a good one at that. Buffy grinned inwardly. Besides, she gave great advice.

There was a thought. “Am I to assume Cordelia doesn’t know about this either?” The slayer grimaced. Perish the thought.

“She does now.”

All occupants in the room jumped as the door opened to allow Angel, who had an iron grip on Cordelia, and the other Cordelia into the living room. The vampire pushed the vampiress in first, just to make sure she didn’t pull another escape.

Xander quivered and a humiliated blush spread across his face when the golden orbs of Cordelia immediately landed on him. He swallowed, thankful for the look of assurance he got from both Buffy and Giles. She wouldn’t be able to have him for breakfast.

The slayer did a double take. Hearing about this wasn’t quite the same as seeing it. It was only the clothes they wore and the hair. The vampiress had hair down to her waist, Cordelia’s went to her shoulder blades. They were otherwise completely identical.

Weird.

“Hey Rupert, did ya miss me?” Cordelia gave him a sly little wink which earned her a response in the form of an unimpressed glare. “I gotta say the Bronze isn’t what I thought it was gonna be.”

“The Bronze never is,” the human cheerleader mumbled as she numbly sat on the couch and let her face flop into her hands. A few breaths came from her and slowly, eyes peered up over her fingers. She offered a sarcastic smile to everyone. “Hi.”

Buffy gave the girl as much sympathy as she could. “Hi.” Trying to make Cordelia feel better, “I like your dress.” She couldn’t begin to imagine what was going through the other girl’s head.

The vampiress studied the pretty sundress. “I don’t know. I’d suggest something in red, perhaps velvet.” When Angel narrowed his eyes at her, she knew she’d hit on something juicy. It appeared there was wasn’t that much difference between him and her Angelus. Talk about working in her favour.

Cordelia’s face didn’t change. “Yeah, I’m sure what I’m wearing or should be wearing is the topic of the day. Thanks.”

Buffy pursed her lips in defeat. She tried.

Giles braved the front line when it looked as though no-one else would for fear of losing their head. “How are you, Cordelia?”

Her reply was, “Which one?”

The Englishman sighed deeply. “I can see how this might be…”

Hazel eyes hardened. “Do you?” Cordelia stood and met his gaze. “Because I really don’t think you do.”

The vampiress leaned close to Angel, whispering. “Hold onto your britches.”

Angel didn’t look at her in an effort to ignore her, but that made the rest of his senses lock on her. The scent of Cordelia mixed so intensely with his, the soft perfume that was beginning to fade, the feel of her slender arm in his hand. “Quiet,” he said as much to her as himself.

“Sorrreeee.” Cordelia huffed in return. “I was just gonna offer some insight, but hey. If you’d rather think I’m the problem here, then go right ahead.”

He looked at her. “You don’t think you’re the problem?”

She held up her hands. “Quiet!”

“What I don’t get is that I’m strong enough to put myself on the line for your little quest, yet you don’t think I’m strong enough to hear about this?” Cordelia didn’t snap even though every inch of her was screaming with anger.

Giles was wrong to worry about Buffy’s reaction. “It wasn’t about what you would be able to handle. The risks of you and her in the same room, at the same time, let alone face to face, might have caused catastrophic consequences.”

“Then how about you telling me to lay low for a couple of days, huh? It’s easy. Here, I’ll show you.” The cheerleader’s voice dropped to a mockery of Giles. “Cordelia, may I have a word with you? You see a girl, looking a lot like yourself, has arrived.”

Her voice resumed it’s normal tone. “Really? How?” It dropped back down again. “That is what I intend to figure out, but in the mean while, may I suggest you refrain from doing anything outside of school in case you see her and the universe is destroyed?”

The cheerleader stopped herself before she went on a crazy tirade. She took a moment to count to ten, then continued. “You underestimated me, Giles.”

“And therein lies the problem.” The vampiress sighed out. When everyone looked her way, “I could have told you that. Aurelius does that to me all the time. He thinks that cus I’m the youngest, I needed to be treated with kid gloves.”

Xander raised his hand. “Is it just me or was that a scarily accurate impression of Giles?”

Cordelia rolled her eyes and performed a curtsey full of sarcasm. “And for my next trick…” She found a new target to vent on. “By the lack of reflection, I’m guessing you’re dead.”

Cordelia grinned cheekily. “As a doornail. Cordelia Chase of the Order Aurelius at your service. Nice to meet you.”

“Charmed.”

Raised eyebrows came from Giles and Angel, who recalled the vampiress saying the exact same thing, in the exact same tone. It was amusing, in a chilling sort of way.

The cheerleader nodded. “This is freaking me out.” She didn’t have a clue what to think. The whole situation was surreal.

Giles glanced at the clock, noting it was pretty late and figuring tiredness wouldn’t be helping an already tense moment. “May I suggest you all go home? This will be better dealt with in the morning when we all have clear heads.” Then he could have a word or two with Cordelia about her actions, which could have ended very badly.

“Oh, my head is very clear.” Cordelia bit out as everything began too get to her. “Let’s face it. Not that much to deal with, is there?”

“Only finding a way to return Cordelia home. No, not that much to deal with at all.” The watcher breathed heavily. “Perhaps I did underestimate you, and for that, I am sorry.”

She stared at him for a moment only to find she couldn’t hold onto her anger when faced with such a nice apology. She still tried to fight the forgiving smile worming its way across her mouth. “Make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Giles blushed. He couldn’t help it. “You have my word.”

The vampiress smirked when she saw Angel look away. “There’s just something about a distinguished gentleman and proper speaking that gets me right here.” She patted her dead heart softly, watching as the dark haired vampire gave her a blank expression.

Quick to have the night end before it blew up into something more, “Angel, would you mind taking Cordelia home?” Giles didn’t want her driving. Her hands, though balled into fists, were heavily shaking.

Angel nodded. “No problem.” What was a problem was the fact it wasn’t a problem.

*******

The drive to Cordelia’s house was silent, only the noises from outside kept it from being deathly so. She’d spent half the time looking out of the window and the other half with her knuckles pressing into her forehead. Soft, even inhalations were followed by calming exhalations.

Angel wanted to offer some form of consolation, but he didn’t have a clue what to say or do. He cast a sideways glance at her, not able to gauge anything for the strands of chestnut hair falling freely down her face. “Hey.”

“This explains how you knew my size. Keep that to yourself, by the way.” That was all the small talk she was in the mood to make. She knew it wasn’t Angel’s fault. Hell, it wasn’t anyone’s fault the vampiress was here, but she couldn’t bring herself too be nice to him.

He’d never known her to be so quiet. Come to think of it, he didn’t know her at all. The words of the vampiress came back to haunt him. If you aren’t gonna spare a few obviously precious minutes to speak, why should she? He frowned.

Angel spoke to her earlier, but only because something was needed. His frown deepened. It wasn’t a nice feeling. Before he could say anything more, she beat him to it.

“There aren’t any other little details you’re keeping from me?” Cordelia asked.

A few minor details, but he really didn’t want to be the one to tell her that the vampiress was deeply involved with Angelus. On one hand, it wasn’t his story to tell, but on the other, he didn’t want her to find out by a surprising chat with the vampiress.

Angel settled on saying what he thought. She seemed to place value in honesty. “I don’t know if I should tell you.”

She nodded. “I get that.” There was a small rustling sound as she opened her bag and dug through it, sure she had a spare comfort candy bar in there somewhere. The smell of chocolate filled the Corvette and he watched out the corner of his eye as she bit into it, moaning lightly in appreciation.

“So, she’s a vampire.” Cordelia stated in a much sweeter tone. “Who do you think made her?” The look on his face told her he knew. “Well?”

Angel said nothing. Didn’t know how. “Well what?”

She swivelled around to face him. “Who is it?”

“The Master.”

Cordelia took a moment to let that sink in. “The Master would be the one who rules the family, right?” The surprise he felt at her knowing that showed. “I do my reading,” she said lightly. “Know thy enemy. The Master is dead in this world, does that mean there’s no ruler?”

Angel smiled. “No. The Master dies, then the next in line is called unless a different vampire has been appointed. I am.”

Disbelief came with a smile he was happy to see. “You?” Off his nod, Cordelia shook her head. “Somehow that doesn’t come as a shock. I figured with the kind of vampire you are, you would have had your own.”

“The kind of vampire I am?” What did she mean by that?

She shrugged. “You know, the kind.” She didn’t want to say what she wanted, as she didn’t know how he’d react to hearing the name Angelus. She wasn’t frightened of him anymore, well not really, but she was cautious. Not for him hurting her, but more for revealing things he would use against her.

Now Cordelia felt like a first rate, hard hearted bitch. The way she made it sound was as if she didn’t trust him, and hadn’t he proved he was a-okay?

Dark eyebrows rose at the avoidance. “Say it,” Angel urged. Everyone else walked on eggshells when he was around, he couldn’t stand one more person doing it. “Don’t I qualify for the same honesty you demand from me?”

The candy bar was lowered and Cordelia’s expression grew serious. “I’m talking about you. Angelus seemed so dominant that I can’t imagine you living under anyone’s orders but your own.”

He was expecting anything but that. “I’m not sure whether or not to take that as a compliment.” Angel’s mouth quirked up.

She appeared thoughtful. “I’m not sure if it’s meant to be one, but whatever. Not like I know you well enough to make a sound judgement. Tell me.”

The vampire definitely wasn’t expecting that and nor was he expecting what followed. “I know you made Drusilla, who made Spike. I know you were made by a woman, Darla I think the book said. If you’re the ruler now, then this Darla is dust.”

The more she talked, the more uncomfortable Angel got. He shifted in the driver’s seat, hands tightened around the steering wheel, knuckles cracked in sequence as old memories were unintentionally brought up. Speaking lowly, a soft growl lit the words. “I killed her.”

Drove a stake right through the heart of his own sire. God, he couldn’t help the betrayal that rang through him. She may have deserved it, but she was his sire. Still family.

Cordelia blinked away wide eyes as her mouth mimed a whoa. “That’s intense. From what I’ve read, there’s a pretty big bond thing between…”

He cut her off through not being able to hear anymore. It still got to him when, late at night, he saw the look on Buffy’s face when she came to kill him after thinking he was the one that bit her mother. “Cats, Cordelia. Remember what curiosity does to them?” Though there was a lilt of humour to his tone, there was an underlying warning that she took notice of.

Attempting to lighten the atmosphere that tensed up dramatically in the space of a few short minutes, “Yeah, but satisfaction brought them back.” Accompanying the wise words was a cheeky little wink that threatened to make him tell her every sordid thing he ever did. “I digressed. So Cordelia, the dead me, is sired… That’s the right term… By the Master. What else can I look forward to hearing?”

When she said look forward to hearing, it sounded like she was planning to see the vampiress again. “I don’t think it’s such a good idea for you to see her.”

“No? Because I do.” The cheerleader’s expression was so easy to read. Big doe eyes were shining with something akin to hyperactive excitement and her lips kept twitching. “If it was another you, with a totally different existence, wouldn’t you wanna know about it?”

Honestly? “No, not really.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “That doesn’t surprise. I’m not you and I want to take this chance. Let me rephrase. I’m going to take this chance.”

“Determined little thing aren’t you?” Angel took a second to debate once again over whether or not to inform her of the vampiress companion. He should probably tell her, but there was a sick part of him that wanted to see the look on her face when she found out it was Angelus.

What would she do? Only one way to find out.

She always prided herself on being a pretty good judge of moods. So when the vampire’s face turned unreadable, she had to ask. “What is it?”

Angel, whose mouth was suddenly very dry, found himself rethinking the idea to tell what he knew. One word did it. “Angelus.” Off her confusion, “Angelus is her… Companion.”

The only silence in the car was of the half eaten candy bar hitting the floor. Her jaw opened, then closed, and then opened once more. Head tilted to one side and her mouth went back to the closed position. She stayed like that for a short time and Angel wondered if she was okay.

Cordelia hadn’t been a vampire when she first met Angelus, but he figured that might be too much information for the cheerleader right now. He kept quiet on that.

“Oh.” Angel heard the embarrassment in the clearing of her throat. When she spoke next, her voice was a bit too husky for someone who was horrified. “When you pounced on me, you said you were gonna turn me, do more than turn me.”

The quiver in her voice made him swallow.

She was going to ask why her, he knew that. He also knew he would never, ever answer that. How could he tell her that he’d wanted to bleed her in every way? How could he tell her he’d wanted her to die? Angel closed his eyes.

Hands pinned smaller ones to the bed, body caged by his, legs held wide by cuffs on her ankles. Neck arched invitingly, breasts rubbing against his chest. Plump lips damp and salty with sweat, eyes squeezed tight shut and unable to open, not even for a second. Orgasm closed around him in hot, heavy waves that left him soaked. Sliding into her so very easily, his cock hot and hard for her, because of her.

A cruel mouth whispering the same words over and over and over. “Die for me, Cordelia.”

Angel handed her the keys to her car and popped the door open. “Goodnight, Cordelia.”

He didn’t hear her reply or see her staring after him as he walked away.

*******

He didn’t go back to Giles or the mansion. He wandered around the streets of Sunnydale, ignoring both vampires and ignorant people who unknowingly walked among the living dead.

Angel kept to himself. Breathing when people looked his way, warning when vampires got in his personal space. He reflected on what he’d said to Cordelia. Had he frightened her? He hadn’t meant too. Didn’t know why he’d told her.

Was it just to see how she’d react? Didn’t think so. Maybe he wanted one person, one measly person to not look at him as though he was a monster created by Satan himself.

And telling her she’s with the very vampire who nearly killed her last year is the way to do that.

Angel shook away the voice that sounded like Xander and concentrated on the cracked pavement. His thoughts were a jumbled mess, flitting from one to another at the speed of light. He got like this sometimes, the feeling of being pulled in two very different directions. One half of him wanted to bring the world to it’s knees and one half of him wanted to disappear, become untraceable.

Neither the vampiress or Cordelia were helping. They were making it worse.

Both of them a physical representation of the two halves. One was a beautiful vampire with eyes like liquid gold. Resourceful, smart. A direct descendant of the Master. She saw Xander and went straight in for the kill, no time for pleasantries and how do you do’s. She just went for it.

Evil. Perfect.

Angel sighed. Incredible. The equal of what lay chained by the soul.

The other was human with eyes like Bambi. Just as beautiful, just as smart, just as resourceful. Angel wryly smiled. She saw Xander and went for the kill, only with words.

An attraction to her, them, was natural. A man would have to be stupid not to find her, them, beautiful.

God help him.
Part 8:
Giles wasn’t sure what possessed him to bring the vampiress to work with him. Probably the fact she couldn’t be trusted to stay on her own, even in the company of Angel. Possibly more so, given who she was with in her world.

He glanced at the brunette sitting casually at a table. She had her nose stuck in a book and was currently thumbing through it at a pace too fast for her to be reading. She’d been fairly quiet this morning, something which he wasn’t sure if he was glad for or not.

Golden eyes shot up and Giles looked away, missing the sly smirk that appeared. “I was a good girl last night.”

The watcher jumped, then sent a scathing glare her way. “I doubt Xander would agree with you.” He’d truly felt for the teenage boy who showed up with Buffy in wet pants. Lord only knew what he’d been thinking when Cordelia had gone to eat him.

“Look at me,” she leaned back in the seat and away from the book. “Do I look like I could cause nightmares?” She held a finger up before he had a chance to answer. “Be very careful how you answer that.”

Giles had to smile. He hid it behind the guise of cleaning his glasses. Vampire or no, women were women it seemed. “Tricky.”

She gave a breezy sigh. “I have my talents.” Cordelia then proceeded to settle into a pattern of watching him.

He could feel her eyes on him, could see the blood lust in the way she licked her lips and scented the air. Didn’t like to think of the fact she could turn on him in a split second and he wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.

She may look like Cordelia, may speak like Cordelia, but she wasn’t Cordelia.

She was dangerous. He had to remember that and not be led to think otherwise by a friendly countenance or a familiar smile.

A pause hung in the air and Giles once again looked her way. “Do you really think you can get me home?”

He wanted so very much to pass off the heart felt emotion as false, something a vampire would do to get what they wanted, but he couldn’t. Whether or not it was because that emotion was on the face of Cordelia, he didn’t know. It was just too genuine to ignore.

Giles mentally cursed and penned it as a one off. He offered a sympathetic smile. “I’ll try my best.”

She continued to watch him for a moment. “You’re different to other humans. Half of them run screaming at the first sign of a demon like me. Not you, though. I don’t get any fear from you. Why is that?” A gleam sparked in those eyes of hers.

He wasn’t sure if it was a teasing gleam or something more sinister.

“Are you trapped in a false sense of security perhaps? Thinking I won’t kill you because you’re my ticket home?” Cordelia’s intense study never let up. “No. That’s not it. I don’t know what it is, but I like it.”

“Thank you.” Giles didn’t have a clue what else to say. “While on the matter of your getting home, how about lending a hand in researching? The more eyes, the faster you leave.”

She laughed, the sound a pretty mockery of Cordelia’s, yet no less nice to hear. “So keen to get rid of me? And here I thought I was the perfect guest.”

The jury was still out on that one. “Tell me Rupert, how is it a mild mannered librarian moonlights as an expert in all things unnatural?”

Did she have to purr his name like that? Giles coughed, pushing that thought to the far recesses of his mind. He placed the invoices down and sighed. Though he’d been fully expecting her to ask, it didn’t mean he wanted to answer it.

Cordelia eyed the man as he slowly lowered himself into a chair opposite her and smirked to herself. He wasn’t so easy that he could sit next to her. The thought gave her comfort. Still a badass.

“I am a watcher.”

“Watch what?”

He took a deep breath and ploughed on. “Buffy is a slayer…”

The vampiress face scowled. “As in a vampire slayer? The girl born with everything needed to destroy all that is evil?”

Giles could nothing but his watching job as Cordelia flung her head back and laughed. It was a genuine, hearty laugh that came from the very stems of her dead chest. It was a lovely sound, something he didn’t hear too much of from Buffy, Willow, Xander, or Cordelia.

He took pleasure in hearing it.

“Sorry!” She gasped and stared at him through shining eyes. “Oh my!”

Speak of the devil. Buffy had been on her way to the library to check in on Giles, make sure he hadn’t been slaughtered in his sleep by his house guest. The closer she got to the library, the louder the laughter became.

She opened one of the double doors and peered round to see a Cordelia fanning her face, grinning like a Cheshire cat. “What’s so funny?”

The vampiress was up and half dragging the slayer into the room before anyone could react. Buffy found herself placed in a spot where slivers of sunlight were just out reach.

“Okay, hands off.” She easily jerked her arm out of Cordelia’s hold and moved back a step or two. Arms folded defensively, “Care to tell me what that was?” She wouldn’t go with her gut instinct and dust the vampiress, who she was guessing it was, because honestly? There was nothing violent about what she’d done.

Cordelia clapped her hands, her grin never faltering. “So this is a slayer? An actual slayer? But you’re such a little thing!” There was something akin to wonder in her gaze.

Buffy raised an eyebrow at her watcher. “Been telling my secrets?”

“I can’t believe they really exist! I always thought slayers were just something older vampires use to scare the younger ones, like the Boogeyman.”

A manicured finger poked the slayer’s shoulder, causing Buffy to frown. What was she talking about and why was she suddenly feeling like a science project? It was disturbing. She yelped in shock when the vampiress ducked down to seemingly check her ass.

“Spike says he’s killed two, but come on. It’s Spike.” Like that was supposed to explain it all. “Spike says he can kick Angelus’ ass and do you believe that?” Off the slayer’s blank look, “Exactly. Huh. Since you exist, then Spike isn’t lying through his fangs. Damn. There goes another five dollars.”

Cordelia’s face fell and a heavy, defeated groan escaped her throat. Forlorn eyes focused on a silent Buffy, “Unless…” A light bulb pinged to life above her head. “This stays our little secret. Spike doesn’t have to know that I know.”

Buffy’s head was spinning enough to make her stomach churn. Any questions she might have had regarding Angelus and Spike went away as she asked the first thing that sprang to her mind. “Boogeyman?”

Even Giles had to smile. It was certainly a unique way to describe a slayer.

“Sorry,” the vampiress grinned sheepishly. “Boogeywoman. Honestly? I’m glad you’re a girl. Woman power and all that jazz.” She never let up on her studious staring of the slayer. “So, can you do loads of cool stuff? Like leap from building to building in a single bound?”

Uh? “No…?” Buffy looked to Giles as though to ask if that ability was something she could look forward to acquiring.

Disappointment washed over Cordelia and for a second, one tiny stupid little second, Buffy felt rotten for not being able to. Then golden eyes lit up. “You’ll be fast, right? More than your regular gal?” She got a nod, “If we had a race, who do you think would win?”

This vampire was insane. That was the only explanation. Anyway, there was business to attend, and she didn’t feel comfortable discussing it in front of Cordelia.

“Giles, can I borrow you for a second?” Buffy glanced to the small office.

The vampiress sighed. “You do know I’m gonna be able to hear you, right? Not just you mythical creatures that come with added extras.”

This time the sigh came from the blonde. It was annoying when other people were right. If the vampiress wanted to hear strategies for taking out a nest of vampires, then fine. “I got word there’s a small nest of vamps hanging down near Oak.”

Giles was all business. “Shouldn’t take too long. Perhaps,” his gaze slid to Cordelia. “You could be of some use.”

“No,” the brunette mused, “No I don’t think so. I may all up for a free view of her in action, but I’m not killing vampires. Would you kill humans or another slayer?”

“I’m with her on this.” Buffy wouldn’t be too comfortable having her there. She’d be too busy worrying about whether or not the vampiress would turn on them to do her job.

Cordelia beamed, happy someone understood her position. “That’s two out of three Rupert, you lose.”

The Englishman set his gaze on the vampiress, who was trying to hard to hide behind an innocent veneer. “I’m afraid you’ll have to suffer the company of Angel tonight.”

“Actually,” Buffy began. “I was kind of hoping Angel could come along.”

“Guess I’m hanging by my lonesome tonight. You think Cordelia would be up for Bronzing it?”

“Cordelia will be accompanying us.”

Cordelia raised a single eyebrow at the surety in the man’s voice. “Since she’s not here for you to ask, how can you be so certain?”

There was a look exchanged between Buffy and Giles that she really didn’t like. Just as Angelus told her, she went with her instincts, and clung on like a terrier with a bone. “Unless one of you is telepathic, then you can’t know what Cordelia is gonna be doing tonight.”

The watcher straightened his shoulders in preparation for whatever reaction would come their way. “Cordelia helps us when it comes to things like this.”

“And how does she do that?” Cordelia asked in a not so friendly tone. She really didn’t like where this was going. “She doesn’t have the slayer’s abilities, I’m sure. So in what way does she help?”

Buffy met the hardening stare of the vampiress. “She’s bait.”

“You use her to lure out vampires and demons who, I know from personal experience, wouldn’t think twice about killing her?” Suddenly, these people didn’t seem so cool. “Why not use Xander?”

Giles, recognising the glint in his slayer’s eyes, jumped in to keep the peace. “Cordelia chooses to do this. She isn’t forced.”

The vampiress didn’t believe that at all. “You might not,” her gaze strayed to the blonde, “It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see why she’d feel she had to.” She shrugged. “Easy solution to the brewing tension. Use Xander.”

No-one spoke and the Englishman felt it his duty to defuse the atmosphere. “That would be acceptable and it would free up someone to, for lack of a better term, keep an eye on you.”

“Giles, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Buffy’s arms once again went across her chest. She didn’t want either Xander or Willow in the firing line. Cordelia had been bait countless times and was used to it. The cheerleader knew what to do if anything went wrong.

Yeah, the slayer thought, scream.

Cordelia didn’t bat an eye. “Why not? If being used as fish food is good enough for Cordelia, then why not Xander?” She was beginning to get an idea of how things ran around here, and if she didn’t like it before, then it was tenfold. The whole thing left a slimy taste in her mouth, much like the bovine swill from last night.

Buffy wasn’t fond of the expectant look coming from her watcher. “Because it’s just not.”

“Xander is indispensable and she isn’t?” The vampiress suggested like she was suggesting a lunch menu. “Cordelia is not being bait tonight. I won’t allow it.”

There was too much of a challenge in that one sentence that the slayer couldn’t ignore. “You can’t dictate what she is going to do, just like we can’t.”

“Oh no?”

This is exactly what Giles was afraid of and he had no idea how to put a stop to it.

Buffy shook her head, a smirk turning up the corners of her mouth. “No.”

The vampiress met the icy gaze and didn’t falter under it. Quite a feat for a year old vampire. She gave herself a mental pat on the back. Leaning closer to the blonde, “Over my dead body.”

“I have no problem with that whatsoever.”

Cordelia may only be a year old, but considering the vampires she was around day in, day out, she was pretty damn handy when it came to brawling. If the blonde wanted a tumble, then that’s what she’d get.

The two didn’t have time to take it any further as Giles stepped in the instant he saw Buffy’s hand slide down to her waistband and the small stake she kept there. The vampiress was the closest one to him.

“Now, now,” he reprimanded. “There’ll be none of that. You,” he directed Cordelia to a darker side of the playground, and Buffy to the other.

The slayer couldn’t resist smirking triumphantly at the brunette. “I’ll go see Cordelia after she’s done with gym.”

Yeah well, Cordelia had other ideas about the night’s activities.

*********

“She’s a vampire?” Willow asked as she sat back on the bleachers. “Wow. I mean that’s… Wow.” She couldn’t imagine what a vampire Cordelia would be like.

Xander levelled a dry look at the red head. “That’s one way to put it.” He fell silent, his eyes staring out over the field, watching as the cheerleaders and the jocks practiced. He saw Cordelia laughing and joking around with the few girls who hadn’t totally written her off because she was dating him.

Willow followed his line of sight and shame had her head hanging low. “We have to stop. I don’t a good mistress make.”

He didn’t look at her. Couldn’t.

She pretended not to notice the way his little finger brushed hers ever so slightly. Gulping, she snatched her hand away when the brunette glanced their way. Willow bit on her lip. Sure they hadn’t kissed since last week, but that was no excuse. Cheating was still cheating and she couldn’t believe she was the other woman.

Couldn’t believe Xander, her crush for a long time, was cheating on Cordelia Chase with her. A horrible, horrible part of her took enjoyment out of it, but the sane part knew it was so very wrong and would blow up in their faces.

Cordelia went back to doing what she did best, leaving Willow to wallow in the guilty pleasure of secretly holding hands with a taken man.

********

The second the watcher’s back was turned, Cordelia silently slid out of the chair, and subsequently out the library. One glance around the hall of Sunnydale high, she figured it wouldn’t be that different to the one in her world.

“Time for a walk down memory lane.” She straightened the clean clothes dropped off by the other her this morning and set her feet in motion, her boots quietly clicking against the floor. The positions of the lockers were the same, classrooms were the same, and on seeing Mr. Trent and shuddering, the teachers were the same.

Except for the bald man with the big ears making his purposeful way towards her. The vampiress looked him over in disgust. He had principal written on every pore.

“Miss. Chase, why are you not on the field?” He demanded.

Thanks for making my life easier, she thought. “Because I was looking for you, sir.” Oh yes. She could play the naughty little school girl when she wanted. Cordelia licked her lips sensuously. Angelus would be so turned on right now.

Principal Snyder sneered at the brunette. “Well you found me.”

“Yes,” Cordelia purred, sidling up to the troll of a man, walking her fingers slowly up his third rate suit. “Now what did I want you for?” Certainly not dinner.

He grabbed her wandering hand for fear someone would see and think there was something untoward going on. He hated these little brats, he definitely wouldn’t touch one. “Don’t waste my time.”

She smiled, head tilted back, and nothing but sweetest of looks was on her face. “I seem to have lost my way. Would you mind telling me where the locker rooms are?” The scent of arousal coming off of him disgusted her. She made a mental note to have a few words with him later.

Snyder narrowed his eyes. “You know very well where they are, Miss. Chase. Don’t think you can get away with everything in life just because you’re beautiful.” he had no qualms about punishing her.

Cordelia rose up on her tiptoes, placing her mouth inches from his, and trying not to recoil from the stench of garlic. Later was now. “Lemme give you some friendly advice…”

If there was anyone around, they would have heard a squeal of pain come from the principal as the vampiress took a very firm hold of his nuts. “Keep this in your pants and away from me, or I’ll destroy you. I’ll take everything. Your wife, job, these…” She squeezed harder and his eyes rolled back into his head. “There won’t be enough of you left to be identified. Am I clear, sir?”

Her answer was a slavery nod. “Not good enough. Am I clear?” Rage swelled inside and Cordelia just had to give him one last thing to remember her by. Nails dug easily through the third rate pants and into the sensitive skin. She didn’t stop until the satisfying scent of blood filled her senses and only then did she let go.

Snyder hit the floor, unable to feel the agony as numbness set in. The last thing he saw before he completely passed out was the vamped out face of Cordelia Chase.

The vampiress nodded and wiped her hands free. “Now, the locker rooms.” She glanced down to see him out cold. Oh well. She didn’t need his help anyway.

Once more, she set off on her quest to find herself. It didn’t take long. Just a few more rights, one left, and voila! She was outside the locker room where Cordelia would be washing away the yucky smell of sweat and grass stains.

There were some things she really didn’t miss about cheerleading.

A couple of hunky dory jocks in sweaty shorts walked past and her appreciative eyes followed the bounce of a firm ass. Of course there were plenty of things she missed.

Not long later, Cordelia was stood outside the girls’ locker room and was staring fondly at the familiar door. Ahh, the good ol’ days of sharing showers and trading dirt on who was doing what or who was doing whom.

Another memory, so less innocent than the last, cropped up and her fond expression melted into a pout. Angelus had cornered her in here once. It was a pleasant memory. One full of sweat and cold water and thick fingers sliding between her legs as she’d stood frozen, unable to do anything but let him do what he wanted.

She hadn’t climaxed. Being too full of terror had seen to that. Then he’d relaxed her a little, working those thick fingers up and down her sore muscles, easing out the tension brought on by dodgeball and him. After that, she’d been putty in his hands.

“Mental note,” Cordelia murmured as she pushed the door open and peeked inside. “Return the favour.”

“Hello?” The vampiress called out and sauntered into the wash room. There were a few girls here and there, but none worth her attention so she continued to browse the showers totally ignoring the stunned looks she got.

What? Hadn’t they ever seen twins before?

And there she was! In all her terry towelling glory.

Cordelia leaned against the tiled wall, eyes offhandedly inspecting her nails as she listened to the other her block out the silly conversations going on around them.

“Afternoon, sweetness.”

The cheerleader shrieked and spun on her heel, a hand slammed to her chest in an effort to stop the sudden coronary before it started. Annoyance shone in hazel eyes. “God! What are you doing here?” Cordelia could only imagine the gossip spreading round about her.

The vampiress merely grinned. “Do I need a reason to see my long lost twin sis?”

Both heard the silence that fell in the locker room. Oh God. Cordelia Chase had a twin!

Cordelia stifled a frustrated groan. “How did you escape this time? Melt and float under the library doors?” She figured Giles would have cuffed her to the railings or something.

“Nah. I snuck out. I give Rupert five minutes to notice I’m gone, then another ten to track me down, and then thirty while he debates whether or not to rush in here to make a dramatic rescue. Whaddya say? Ten bucks?” She really should cut down on her gambling. Heh. Made life interesting.

The vampiress smiled to end the sentence and the cheerleader, startled at the similarity, gave a tight-lipped one in return. “Why are you here?” Unconsciously, Cordelia’s gaze drifted round the room full of humans and gulped. Soulless vampires and humans didn’t go well together.

“Relax. The only person I’d eat in here is you.”

That made her feel so much better.

“I’m here because I heard something I didn’t like and to tell you that you’re not going to do it.” It would be plain and simple if she wasn’t telling herself what to do.

A raised eyebrow was the expected response. “And what’s that?” Cordelia had a feeling what the vampire was going to say and tough. She had a game tonight and no way was she going to blow it off. This was the game that decided if Sunnydale went to the championships.

“That you’re demon chow.”

“If it makes you feel better, I’m not. I have a game I’m not missing out on.”

That pleased the vampiress immensely. She beamed at her counterpart. “Great! I’ll come and watch.” Maybe then she’d see what Angelus found so fascinating about her bouncing around in a rhythmic manner.

This made Cordelia laugh a little. “Like you don’t have anything better to do.”

“Actually I don’t. Even if I did, I’d still go. You’re me, or I’m you. Whatever. We’re cosmically joined at the hip, so to speak.”

“That’s one way to put it,” the cheerleader muttered and then she sighed, looking at the vampire who was so much like her, it was scary.

Now that a rapport of sorts had been built, the vampiress could concentrate on building up another. “Angel was hot on your rescue last night.”

Cordelia, a bit bewildered by the sudden change in subject, merely shrugged and tied her towel tighter. “He’s like that. Someone’s in trouble, its Angel to the rescue. Kinda like Superman without a hint of spandex in sight.” She paused as an image of Angel wrapped in blue and red flashed through her mind.

The vampiress seemed to be on the same wave length. “Don’t go there.” Angelus and spandex? She shuddered, face set in a comical cringe.

Likewise, Cordelia got the mental image, and also shuddered. “So you and Angelus, huh?” So many questions wanted to be asked, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted the answers. Angel walking away was enough to keep her awake for most of last night, she didn’t particularly need to know much else.

It was a simple case of wanting to know. Big difference.

The vampiress, naturally clueless to Angel’s curse, innocently beamed and looked incredibly proud of the man she bagged. “Uh-huh, and have been for over a year. He’s great. Not many men these who know how to treat a lady, ya know? Angelus is freakishly telepathic that way. It’s unnerving. I mean I didn’t even need to remind him of my birthday. All two of them.”

Cordelia knew all about the lady killing charms of Angelus. “I can believe it.” After all, he’d made her scream.

“There’s one thing I don’t get.” Reel the brunette in, get her talking, and boom. The first phase of her scheme to get Angel and Cordelia together would be well under way.

“What’s that?”

The vampiress made sure to look suitably confused. “Angel. He’s different to mine. Really different. Doesn’t smell right.” She inwardly scoffed. And Spike said she couldn’t act worth a damn.

That might have to do with the fact she was actually confused about that.

Cordelia averted her eyes, unsure of whether or not she should say. The only difference she could think of was Angel’s soul. “Talk to him about it. As for the smell… Well, maybe you could direct him toward Valentino.”

“That, right there, is the problem. I can’t talk to him about it, because he changes the subject.” The vampiress fell into genuine thought mode and stood, fingertip on lower lip, staring out into space. “I could ask Buffy,” she didn’t get an eyelash bat, “Or Giles.”

Cordelia bit her lip and the vampiress kept the cheering to herself. Bingo. Looked like she was a humanitarian when it came to the watcher man.

“Or not. Look,” the cheerleader glanced around to make sure no-one was listening. Unfortunately, the sight of twins meant everyone was watching and listening. She grabbed the arm belonging to the other her and dragged her to a cubicle, where Cordelia locked the door and leaned against it.

The vampiress was all ears.

“Angel has a soul. He gets happy?” Cordelia’s voice was a high pitched whisper. “He loses it and we pay the price. He almost killed me!”

The vampiress’ eyebrows rose at the sheer amount of disbelief on the girl’s face. “Back up a sec, sweetness. Angelus tried to kill you?” Operative word being tried. What did the berk do to screw up this time?

“Yes. God! His fangs were right there.” Cordelia pointed to her throat as though there would be two evil bite marks marring her skin.

“Well, that does change things.” Not. “Tell me, in detail, what exactly happened.”

Cordelia took a deep breath. “Okay. Willow…”

The vampiress cut her off. “Willow? As in geeky little red head who thinks leather looks good on her?”

“Yeah, why?” The cheerleader took one glance at the other her. “There’s a Willow in your world too? And leather?” Cordelia wasn’t sure if she should be afraid, or very afraid. Seeing Willow dressed as a hooker at Halloween was bad enough.

“She’s a vampire. Does this mean every vampire in my world is a human in this one?” The vampiress eyes widened to large proportions. Did this mean Dru and Spike were humans in this world, too? She had to ask. “Are Dru and Spike human?”

Cordelia could only take one thing at a time. “Willow is human. She lets her mother dress her. Nuff said. Now about Spike and Dru?” She’d tried her hardest to ignore those two existed, but it never worked. Not since she’d read up on Angel’s past.

Angelus had been a grade A bastard and Drusilla, forever a child, had learned the hard way. The worst thing was Cordelia could see the art in it and the fact she could, albeit only a little, churned her stomach.

It wasn’t something she liked to dwell on too much.

“Spike and Dru are totally tight. Seriously.” The vampiress solemnly nodded. If she talked about them, then maybe she could information in return. If, God forbid, she couldn’t get home, then maybe she could hook up with those two. “He dotes on her. He even got her a baby once. It was so sweet. I almost cried when I heard about it.”

Cordelia had words for that which had nothing to do with sweet. “No, they’re not humans, they’re vampires.” At the expression demanding more, “Bad, bad vampires. They had this whole thing with an arm in a box.”

An arm in a box? “That sounds like Spike,” the vampiress smiled fondly. “Always trying to make life exciting for Dru. She’s so lucky. I know women whose companions don’t move from the couch. So engrossed in their CNN they forget they have a woman to take of.”

Cordelia nodded in full understanding. “I totally get that. Like third world countries can’t take care of themselves.”

“I know.” The vampiress, completely disinterested in third world countries and self help, immediately changed the topic. “We digressed. Back to Angelus. What did he do?”

“As I was saying before you interrupted…”

“I interrupted? You were the one who mentioned Willow. What did you expect me to do? Ignore it?”

“Well yeah. What’s more important? My being killed or Willow?”

The vampiress had to give herself that one. “Good point. You were saying?”

“Willow, Xander, and I were out with Buffy. I was baiting the trap…”

“Not something you’re gonna do ever again.” The vampiress saw the look Cordelia gave and apologised. “Sorry. Continue.”

“Buffy was sick and Angelus threw me to the ground.” Cordelia paused, expecting the vampiress to say something, but she didn’t. “He said he was going to kill me,” and then some.

This was the first time she’d talked about that night, and it was harder than she expected it to be. Wasn’t sure why. Maybe it had something to do with the forming erection she’d felt between her thighs. Wasn’t right to be thinking about it.

“Uh-huh, and what else?” The vampiress knew Angelus. He was like a book, only she was too scared to turn the page. He would have done more than threaten death, especially with a girl who was just his type.

Cordelia fell quiet. She wasn’t comfortable repeating what Angelus wanted to do to her, and definitely not to his companion. “He wanted to, um, do stuff to me.”

Oh this was good, this was so damn good. “So he went for you, not Buffy, Willow, or Xander?”

Cordelia nodded. “He was on top of me when he said what he wanted to do.”

The romance was almost too much for the vampiress. She resisted the urge to explain how Angelus showed his interest and went with something a lot more subtle. “He wasn’t gonna kill you, sweetness, at least not in the way you think.”

The cheerleader gave a sarcastic sneer. “And what other way is there to kill a person?”

“They call it le petite morte in France.”

That shut Cordelia up for all of five seconds. “Like he was gonna do that. No, he was going to torture me and kill me dead.”

The vampiress shook her head. “If he was going to kill you dead, then he would have done it the first chance he got. You got him hot, and I’m guessing from the red hot blush on your face he got you hot right back.” A filthy grin spread across her face.

“What really happened? He got hard and you got wet?” Off the deep rouge now on Cordelia’s cheeks, “Oh come on. It’s you you’re talking too. I bet he touched you. Am I right?”

Cordelia, not willing to hear anymore, schooled her features into blankness and tugged on her towel. “You maybe me, or I maybe you, whatever. It doesn’t give you the right to delve into my past like you know everything.”

The vampiress took no offence. She’d say the same thing. “Just tell me what Angelus said to you, cus I know he opened that big mouth of his.” Whatever it was must have been a doozy. She shook her head. Angelus may know how the fairer sex worked, but when it came to sweet talk? He was about as much use as a chocolate soldier.

Cordelia looked down to where her fingers worried the edge of her towel. Those words still haunted her dreams and nightmares. “He said I was going to be his, whatever that means.”

“It means you would have been his prize possession.” She simply smiled and had left the cubicle before anything could be said.

Not that the vampiress needed to say anything else, as she’d done what she’d set out to accomplish.
Part 9:
It was a nice night once again in California. A few stars sparkled here and there, a couple of wispy clouds provided a pretty sight, and the smell of death was in the air. Slightly damp grass crunched under feet and low hanging branches were swiped out of the way. Graves that were so familiar, yet not, were walked past and glanced at by the vampiress, who subconsciously thought of her home cemetery.

“See?” Cordelia threw an arm around Buffy and Angel, hugging them both closer to her. “Problem solved. Cordelia gets to cheer and stays in the safe compounds of Sunnydale High while I be bait.”

Yes, Buffy thought, problem solved. She looked behind to see Xander following with Willow. A smile she wouldn’t admit too flickered at her lips. Xander had been keeping a lengthy distance from the vampiress all night. If it wasn’t for the terror that crossed the boy’s face every time he saw her, it would be amusing.

Angel’s eyes fluttered as he felt Cordelia’s breasts, yet again, brush up against him. His teeth ground down and he responded to the slayer’s questioning stare.

“I gotta admit, I thought this patrol thing would be more exciting ya know? Full of demons and fiends and vampires. So far there are only two vampires and one fiend.” She cheekily grinned and her eyes darted over her shoulder at Xander, who blanched and looked away.

An irritated Buffy shrugged off the arm, a breath slowly blown out between clenched teeth. “There might be more if you actually did your job.”

“What am I supposed to do again?” They’d told her and sure she remembered, but it was just so fun to annoy Buffy. She was so easy.

The slayer rubbed a temple with a stake holding hand. “Walk away from us and look like prey.”

Prey? The vampiress paused in mock thought. “That would be acting like a human, right? All vulnerable and open to attack? Like what Cordelia would be if she was here.” That still got her. It was a good thing she arrived when she did or who knew what the other her would be made to do for these people.

If only Angelus was here. There’d be none of this at all.

What she said got to Angel more than he cared to admit. “That sounds about right.”

Cordelia slowly nodded. “Oke doke, here I go. Demons of the Hellmouth prepare to say hello to me!” She let her arm fall from the vampire’s shoulder and began to lazily stroll ahead of them, singing tunelessly. “Food, glorious food. Hot humans and kitties…” So she was doing it on purpose, but someone had to make them see how wrong it was to use Cordelia like this.

Angel ignored the point being made. It was bad enough being part of the group who allowed the cheerleader to do something so dangerous. A lot of things could go wrong. He shouldn’t allow it, he knew this, but didn’t know how to say it.

It’s simple you moron, a side of him said, Cordelia’s not doing it. How hard is that?

Yes it was true Willow and Xander accompanied Buffy on a regular basis, but neither actually advertised themselves as bait. As food. An easy meal that came with the delicious taste of innocence and beauty, one that wouldn’t be able to fight back too much.

You went for her. Shouldn’t that tell you something? He felt sick.

Angel watched the vampiress continue walking and singing words that churned his stomach. He stopped, just staring at the hypnotic sway of curved hips for a second then dragged himself away from seeing his Cordelia doing that.

“Angel.”

A deceptively fragile hand clasped his arm firm enough to get his attention. He looked down into unsure eyes as Buffy nervously shifted her feet in the dirt.

“It’s wrong,” Angel muttered. Now may not be the best time to speak his thoughts, but when would there be a best time?

“I know.” Buffy glanced away to stare off into the distance. “It’s just…” She took a deep breath, arms came up to hold herself against the night’s chill. “When Xander first said Cordelia was dead, I couldn’t help but realise how short life is. Especially around here.”

Wasn’t that the truth. “We shouldn’t be doing this.”

The blonde looked over to where Willow was respectfully averting her eyes to give them what privacy the graveyard afforded them. “No, we shouldn’t, but what else can we do?” Patrol was really all they had.

What?

Off his confused look, “I was talking about us, Angel.”

“Oh.” What else could he say? Was there a them anymore? He wasn’t sure there was. Not knowing what to say had the vampire remaining silent.

“I miss you.”

Angel’s jaw twitched. “I really don’t think this is the right time.” He couldn’t see the vampiress and all he thought of was what if it was Cordelia baiting the trap? Anything could have happened to her.

Buffy’s frown was a sure sign she didn’t agree. “Then when is the right time? We don’t get to spend any time alone lately. Not since she arrived. You’re always at Giles’ place with her. I think this is a good a time as any.”

“She needs to get home, Buffy. I want to help her.” He needed to help her. More importantly, he needed her away from him. It was getting harder not to wallow in the scent of Angelus mingling so sweetly with hers. The temptation to do something stupid was almost irresistible.

“Yeah, get her home. To Angelus.” The slayer’s face became unreadable as the name left a bitter taste in her mouth. “She won’t talk about that. Says it’s none of my business.”

Angel was inclined to agree with the vampiress. “It isn’t.”

Ice burned his flesh as she gave a harsh glare. “He’s with her. Angelus is with Cordelia, and you say it’s not my business.”

“Her world is different. There’s no slayer in her Sunnydale, no-one to protect her from…” From who? Him? There was a slayer in this world and she still hadn’t been able to prevent him from affecting Cordelia. Angel looked down at Buffy in serious confusion. What was she more upset about?

Cordelia being with Angelus, or the fact Cordelia was dead?

That didn’t comfort Buffy in the least. “Why her? What’s so special about her that Angelus couldn’t resist?” She didn’t want to admit it, but the thought of them together, in even another world, cut her to the quick.

“I don’t know.” If that wasn’t a lie, he didn’t know what was. “I really don’t think we should be discussing this right now.” Or ever.

Yeah well, tough. She wanted to talk. She wanted to understand what Cordelia had that she didn’t. Angelus made her life a misery, and yet the vampiress acted as though he was the world’s most perfect boyfriend. Why hadn’t Angelus loved her?

Angel saw what was coming and was quick to stop it. He outright refused to indulge her need for an unrealistic fantasy that if there had been a Buffy in Cordelia’s world, that he would be with her.

“This isn’t our business, Buffy.” End of story.

She thought differently, but she didn’t get a chance to say that as one moment Angel was standing in front of her, and the next he was gone.

**********

The vampiress heard every word of the slayer’s conversation with Angel and shook her head in disgust. They were enough to make her stomach churn. Thank God Angelus wasn’t here to see himself behaving like that. Was Angel a vampire or a flipping mouse?

She was starting to have second thoughts about getting Cordelia together with him, sure the cheerleader deserved better than some guy who was too scared to speak his own mind. It was really sickening to see what a soul had done to him. Besides, wasn’t he supposed to be protecting her?

Cordelia blocked out the rest of the conversation, concentrating on attracting a demon or a vampire. Maybe if she waved her arms around. “Hello! Evils of Sunnydale, hear I am! Come get me!” She did a little jig and still got nothing.

“Oh come on. There has be someone out there willing to eat me.” She rolled her eyes and sighed. Damn. She was getting nowhere fast. “I’m a young hottie whose main goal in life is to be swept off my dainty feet by anything evil.”

This had to be one of the most boring things she’d ever done. How the hell had Cordelia kept her sanity? The vampiress had new found respect for herself.

Ooh! “I spy with my little eye something with big and slimy, and bonus! Wicked looking claws that could probably do some serious damage.”

Cordelia’s eyes darkened to a deep bronze as she began to tail the demon.

Now. There was only one way to get a demon to attack a vampire, and that was if the vampire attacked the demon first. She sighed. They hadn’t even taken her vampirism into account. Stupid, really, especially for a bunch of supernatural experts.

A smirk to make Angelus proud appeared as she slipped into predatory mode, tracking the demon easily without being noticed. It was easy to understand why her man sometimes went after demons. They were much harder, therefore much more fun, to play with. She just may have found a new hobby.

Cordelia stepped out from behind a tree and put herself directly in its path. “My God. I’ve seen some ugly things in my time, but you?” She let out a low whistle. “Yikes.”

That was all it took to get the attention she wanted. It stared at her with hunger in it’s eyes as globs of sticky slime pooled at what passed for feet, a screech pierced the air and she winced at the shrill noise, then she went into action using every dirty trick in the book.

Her fist collided with the demon and it barely staggered. She grabbed the neck, dragging it close enough to land a solid head butt right between its eyes.

“Fuck!” Did it have rocks for brains? The vampiress blinked back tears caused by the sudden stinging shooting through her skull. Her knee went up and it doubled over. “Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about…”

There was a pressure in her stomach and a taste, strangely familiar to her own blood, began to fill her mouth. Okay, something wasn’t right here. Cordelia glanced down to see one of those nasty claws slicing into her. “Aw man. I was doing so well, too.”

The demon twisted it’s arm, lifting her off the ground, and causing her to scream out the agony now burning every nerve in her body.

She met the demon with her own. A deep growl escaped her throat and her face changed. “Now you’ve done it. I am so fucking pissed.” Her hand snapped out and fingers curled around its throat, she gripped and dug her nails right into it’s skin. A sickly green goo caked her skin, yet the scent of blood overpowered her disgust.

Cordelia’s eyes fluttered in twisted delight as she heard the sound of bone crunching and flesh tearing; a second later her feet hit the earth. Ignoring the pain now ripping through her body, the vampiress righted herself, and delivered a swift kick to its head. It went splat, but that wasn’t enough. Nowhere near enough to sate the need for violence.

She yanked the dying demon off the floor and threw it hard against a tree, where she happily listened to the spine cracking under the force. “Love that.” Power exuded in every step it took to reach the animal. She stood over it, gloating, and relishing in victory, completely numb to her own state.

“Not dead yet? Let’s see what we can do about that.” Once again, the demon was dragged up off the floor, but this time she didn’t throw it or hit it or kick it. Cordelia held it close enough so she could the life disappearing from its cataract white eyes and she could feel the stinky breath come in shorter, harsher pants.

She squeezed it’s shoulders until it’s parting puff of air came out on a squeal of sheer torment. She dropped it like it was yesterday’s news.

The vampiress turned round to see the stares of not only Angel and the slayer, but Willow and Xander. They were all looking at her as though she were a strange animal. “What?” Cordelia snapped, fucked off because they hadn’t done their job. “Never seen a vampire before?”

She didn’t wait to hear a reply, she merely walked away from the corpse and purposely past Angel, smearing blood and goo down his face as she went. “Good thing I’m already dead, isn’t it?” Whoa, now that the adrenalin was wearing off, she was really starting to feel some serious pain.

The watcher man better have something stronger than tea up his sleeve.

Angel was too shocked at seeing a hole through Cordelia’s stomach, and subsequently her back, that he couldn’t move to follow right away. He simply stood and stared, watching her pace get slower and slower.

Blood. He had blood on his face. Cordelia’s blood.

It wreaked of death and disgust and something he didn’t want to name. The demon’s scent was there, too, but it didn’t beat the coppery tang of failure which came from her.

“Angel…” Buffy’s quiet voice filtered through the haze surrounding the vampire’s senses.

“Shut up, Buffy. Just… Shut up.”

*********

Giles was immensely proud of himself. He’d found the spell needed to return the vampiress home and truly couldn’t wait to tell her. He also couldn’t wait to tell Angel, who he knew, would probably buy him a bottle of scotch as a thank you.

The watcher was about to start writing the list of ingredients needed when the disturbing sound of a hand sliding down the door caught his attention. He frowned and rose, speeding up when the noise came again, this time accompanied with a weak plea for help.

What Giles first saw was Cordelia laying flat on her back, seemingly staring at nothing, then he saw the dark stain of dried blood on her top, and then he noticed the sheen of sweat shining on her face.

“Good Lord.” He didn’t hesitate in picking her up off the floor, cringing at the wet feel of her clothes. What on Earth happened?

Gently placing the injured vampiress on his couch and moving dirty strands of hair out of her face, he looked down at the face of a demon and saw Cordelia Chase. What if it had been Cordelia laying on his sofa with large hole in her stomach?

The thought was almost enough to make him sick.

“Angelus?” Cordelia slurred like she was drunk on her own blood. God, she was so dizzy, she could hardly concentrate. “Didn’t mean to be so long.”

“No, no.” Giles murmured, too busy on seeing the injury to care much about what she was saying. He raised her top and his breath froze in a thick lump in his throat. Her sun kissed skin was bright red, the edges of the wound were inflamed and angry, with what appeared to be acid burns.

He touched the surrounding flesh and a small wave of nausea rose up as pus seeped out of the wound. The smell was rancid, reminding him of rotten fruit, and it wasn’t hard to guess it was poison. Luckily, she was a vampire and probably wouldn’t suffer more than a fever and a bit of delirium. Did he clean her up, or wait until she could do it herself?

Giles face scrunched up as he thought of having his hands on Cordelia’s body and knew for certain he couldn’t do it. It would be a different matter of it was Cordelia, but this seemed wrong somehow.

Angel practically broke down the door, causing Giles to glance up from his place by the vampiress. One look was all it took for the watcher to see the guilt spitting from brown eyes.

“Is she alright?”

“Aside from being slightly delirious, yes.” The Englishman stood, warm blue eyes darted back down to where Cordelia was now drifting off into a healing sleep.

Angel quietly closed the door, sure Buffy hadn’t followed. Why would she follow only to see disappointment directed at her? “I don’t know what to tell you.”

Giles felt like a drink would be needed for the coming conversation, and so the bottle of scotch he’d been saving for twenty some years would finally have it’s time in the light. He figured asking Angel was unnecessary if the expression on his face was anything to go by. A couple of glasses and decanter was taken from the cabinet, then he went to fetch the full bottle from its hiding place under the sink.

Under the sink might be a strange place to keep alcohol, but years of watcher’s academy training had taught him to be cautious and overprotective of his stuff. That place was worse than school cloakrooms for things going walkabout.

Angel pretty much fell into a chair and let his head fall back against the smooth wood, smelling the delicious scent of sanity saving alcohol permeate the air. Unfortunately it wasn’t strong enough to get rid of the sick smell of blood and goo still pasted over his face. He didn’t dare think about what could have happened if Cordelia wasn’t a vampire.

It was too much. “Got distracted.” It was partially the truth.

“Care to tell me how and more importantly, which one of you got distracted?” Giles wasn’t a stupid man by far and he certainly wasn’t blind to his slayer’s faults, contrary to popular belief.

Angel smiled his gratitude when the glass was put in front of him. He spun it around, watching the way the amber liquid moved in time. “Buffy,” he said as though he was afraid to lay blame where it belonged. “She wanted to talk.”

“Careless of her.” Giles took a deep swallow and relished in the burn only a decent scotch could give. “Perhaps you two patrolling together isn’t a good idea.” He knew what would come next.

“She says it’s the only time we get to spend together.” Angel couldn’t look at the watcher as he said this, knowing what the other man was thinking.

“Then why not tell her it’s over? It isn’t fair to allow her to believe in something that isn’t there.”

Wise words from a wise man. “You know what she’ll do.” The vampire didn’t need to add the rest.

Giles smirked as he downed the rest of his drink. “Ah yes. She does get a bee in her bonnet when something doesn’t go her way. It’s still no excuse. In any case, it’s none of my business. You’re both free to make your own mistakes, I just hope you’ll learn from them.” Anyway, there were more important things to discuss.

“How did Cordelia come to be in such a state?” It seemed a tad off for a one year old vampire, sired by the Master, to get so injured. Something didn’t sit right with him about that.

“As I said. Got distracted.”

Glasses were removed and a shirt hem used to clean dust off the lenses. “So I was right to assume duty was ignored in favour of a romance that can never work.” It wasn’t a question. “What if it had been our Cordelia?”

Again, Angel remained quiet. He honestly didn’t have an answer to that.

“I want you to tell me what would have happened if that had been our Cordelia.” Giles refused to let this go unanswered.

The vampire ground his teeth together. “She would be dead.” Cordelia, who put her trust and faith in him and Buffy would be the one laying dead on a sofa, surrounded by people who would be crying out of guilt instead of grief. His stomach turned as he looked over at the vampiress out cold.

He covered his face with both hands, forcing himself to picture it. Brain fluid leaking from her nose, blood from her mouth, heat slowly ebbing away, breath lasting long enough to let her hear the gurgling sound of her own death. Her eyes…

Glassy, lifeless, dull. Not focusing on anything, no longer able to cry.

“I think we’ve all learned something from this.” Giles sighed and glanced at Angel, who had finally removed his head from his hands. “Except, of course, why Buffy and you go in circles.”

“Because, Rupert, they can’t live without tragedy. Buffy is a certifiable drama queen and his balls haven’t dropped far enough to make him man enough to be a man.” A harsh, stinging cough signalled the end of Cordelia’s tirade, and both men looked at her.

Angel stood for some reason and refused himself the luxury of looking away from accusations shooting at him from golden eyes. He deserved everything she could throw at him.

Giles was the only to speak. “You seem to be perking up rapidly.” He wouldn’t admit to the relief flowing through him.

The vampiress tiredly smiled and scrubbed a shaking hand down her vamped face, grimacing at the dampness on her skin. “You shoulda heard them. Really. I almost lost the will to live.” She attempted to sit up, but an agonising ache from her gut put a stop to that. “Feeling better. Though a little blood wouldn’t hurt.”

Cordelia’s gaze immediately focused on the throbbing beat of Giles pulse, her tongue darting out to moisten hungry lips. “I won’t take much and you won’t feel a thing. Promise.” If she had the strength to cross her heart, she would.

“As flattered as I am by your offer, I’m afraid I have to decline. Perhaps you would like to clean up?”

She looked down at her bloody, gooey self, and groaned. “Cordy’s gonna kill me for ruining her top. I’d kill me for ruining my top.” She frowned. “Is it me or am I starting to refer to myself in the third person? I’m so getting help when I get home.”

Giles smiled in sheer pride. “Ah yes, I believe I have something of interest. I found a spell that opens a gate of sorts between worlds.”

Cordelia clammed right up and fangs nibbled her lower lip. “You’re not yanking my chain, right? You’ve found a way to send me home? I won’t end up in the ninth circle of hell or anything, will I?”

The watcher was silent as he chose his words carefully. He didn’t want to get her hopes up. “I don’t know if it will work, but there’s no harm in trying. First thing tomorrow, I will make arrangements to get what is needed.”

She squealed like a little girl, happiness pouring off her invisible waves. “You, my shiny human friend, are the best! When I can get up, you bet your lily white ass I’m gonna kiss you!” The vampiress looked to Angel and even the good news couldn’t stop her from feeling resentment towards him for being such a dickless moron.

A hazy pink hue stained Giles cheeks. “That won’t be necessary. It’s the thought that counts.”

The vampiress breathed out a huge sigh of relief. “I thought I was gonna be stuck in this supernatural version of the Waltons forever.” She caught the look the watcher was giving and smiled sheepishly. “Which is very nice.”

“I’ll take your word for it. I suggest a bath before bed.”

“Great, then I’ll smell like a man, not slimy demon.” Cordelia’s lips pursed in and out a few times expectantly. When Giles didn’t appear to understand, “A little help here cus walking? Not really my strong point at the moment.”

Oh, right. “Of course.” Giles glanced to a still silent Angel. “Would you do the honours while I fetch some towels and prepare some first aid?”

Cordelia cleared her throat and waited until she got full attention. “He touches me, I’ll kill him.” Her eyes darkened and took on a form of twisted humour that neither man liked in the least. “Ya know, just to return the favour.”

Angel met her smirking face dead on. “I’ll go get you some blood.” Give her time to cool off and to get out of the way while she bathed.

“Why?” An eyebrow rose and he really hated what it said. “You gonna get distracted while someone dumps a load of poison in it?”

Giles, quick to stop anything starting, jumped into the line of fire with no thought to his own safety. “Yes, perhaps it would be best if Angel left for a while and no doubt you need something to eat.” Before he looked too good for her to resist.

*************

Once the door closed behind him, Angel’s knees weakened to the point where he wasn’t sure if he could stand anymore. Tonight could have been so much worse. Sickness welled up inside and all he could see was the body of Cordelia Chase, laying on a cold hard ground, looking the same yet completely different.

It would have been his fault. His and Buffy’s.

He wasn’t sure what hurt the most, that the vampiress had been right, or the fact he hadn’t been firmer in what he said. He’d let Buffy’s need to unload overwhelm their job of protecting Cordelia.

They were lucky tonight, very lucky, but what about tomorrow night and the night after that? Would they make the same mistake with the human Cordelia? It was a chance that couldn’t be taken.

It wouldn’t be taken and frankly he didn’t care about what Buffy’s opinion on the subject of using bait. Besides, what the hell was a slayer and a vampire doing using bait anyway? Wasn’t like they needed someone to find the evil when it usually found them. All things considered, it was pretty stupid and incredibly dangerous.

Angel pushed all the what if’s away to a place where he kept his every sin. He had to get Cordelia some blood.

Maybe he’d stop by the house of his Cordelia after his errand, just to see how she was doing.
Part 10:
It was the mutual decision that Angel didn’t spend the night at Giles purely because of the vampiress extremely foul mood. She treated the watcher to smiles and little arm touches and the occasional winks done to purposely make Giles blush. He, on the other hand, had been treated to nothing but her particular brand of punishment.

She couldn’t go for more than five minutes without making a snide comment or two regarding his spineless state or his inability to be a man. Plus there were the comments focusing on him, his history, and generally making him out to be a joke. She’d basically torn him apart piece by piece until he hadn’t been able to look Giles in the eye. He was thankful watcher had the grace and decency to ignore it.

All of what Cordelia said had hurt in more ways than one. He could understand her being angry at him and the need to seek a little revenge wasn’t unexpected, but she had been deliberately cruel, striking out with a sharp tongue and caustic remarks that hit every single one of his weak points.

She made it no secret of taking great pleasure in making him feel like a sack of crap. It was the only time she smiled at him, and even then it was a wasn’t a real smile. More of a twisted smirk that flashed pink fangs. When she asked if he’d like a personal demonstration of her fight, was the time Angel stood up and at Giles suggestion, quietly left.

He knew the vampiress wouldn’t be feeling guilty over her brutality and he wasn’t sure if that hurt more than the comments and remarks. Or maybe it was the fact what she said and how she said it was exactly how he would have done it. She’d been hurt and had reacted in the only way she knew how.

His thoughts and her words accompanied him all the way to Cordelia’s place and he found himself staring up at her window before he knew it. Maybe 12 midnight was a little for a social visit, but he couldn’t bring himself to turn away. Not after tonight’s activities.

Still, her light was on, and he could see a silhouette moving here and there. Heaven help him if he didn’t find the prospect of going to see her inviting. A quick jump was all it took to get him to her balcony, which he almost fell off in shock when he felt something heavy came crashing down on him.

Angel tried to get up, but another whack to his head prevented that, and he landed heavily on his knees. He grunted with pain.

A door opened and closed fast, and he was left alone to suffer miserably. He waited a few minutes for the dull, throbbing headache to pass before staggering to his feet, which shakily took his weight. The scent of blood told him his head was nicely injured.

Maybe he should have announced his presence.

One hand rubbed his temple and the other knocked on the balcony door, his glazed eyes watched as a pair of frightened eyes peeked round the thick curtain. Angel tried a reassuring smile.

Cordelia frowned as she looked at the bottle of red wine which had miraculously survived the few good hits she got on the intruder. She saw a thin line of red trickle down his pale face and immediately yanked open both the curtain and door. “Oh my God! What happened to you?”

Had he scared off the intruder?

“You,” the vampire grunted out. “You happened to me.”

It didn’t take long for her to figure out Angel was the intruder. She glared hellfire and brimstone at him as she mentally persuaded her heart to resume beating. “Jesus Angel! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

“Me?” The vampire snatched the wine bottle out of her hand and shook it at her. “You’re the one drinking underage.” Not to mention being five seconds from beating him senseless.

“And drinking underage is evil in comparison to anything you’ve done in the not-so-distant past?” This time it was Angel who glared and he got a one handed shrug in return. “I’m just saying. Gimme that back.”

Taking the bottle back, Cordelia treated him to a final sneer before she sat at a small white table in the far right corner of the balcony. Once comfortable, she slipped out a corkscrew, and began to open it. “What is it now?”

“Huh?”

“You’re here because you want something, right?” She poured herself a glass and sat back, stretching her legs out in front of her. Ahh. This was the life. Just her, a full bodied red, and quiet time. All that was missing was background music, but uh, she’d just sat down.

“Angel, would you mind pressing the large, silver button on my hi-fi, please?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Thanks. If you’re staying, you can find a spare glass in the second drawer under the hi-fi.”

This is what he came for, wasn’t it? Angel nodded and went inside her bedroom. A soft mango scent hit, making his mouth water and there was warmth he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He found the large silver button, which was promptly pressed and he waited until a crystal clear voice came with the lovely sound of violins and cellos. Then he went hunting for the spare glass so he could help her quest for delinquency.

He smirked. The glass was hidden in her underwear drawer, no doubt put there to prevent parental eyes from spying it. The vampire snatched up from its home between a ruby red scrap of nothing and a deep blue silk pair of shorts. He meant to ignore them, really he did, but they just looked so touchable.

Angel glanced over his shoulder to make sure she wasn’t looking. He ran his fingers over the red panties, eyes involuntarily closing as the soft cotton seemed to float beneath his touch. He wondered what Cordelia would look like wearing it and nothing else. The vision was enough for his hand to pull away as though he’d been burned.

He wondered how many times Angelus had the vampiress swanning around in a similar pair.

Angel smirked. Angelus probably had her in a pair of red killer heels and red stockings, just for his viewing pleasure. That waist length chestnut hair of hers would kiss the band and tempt him into much more perverted things, like peeling the thong off and wrapping the silk tight around his cock.

His hand clenched around the glass as he forced away the images of his Cordelia stripping for him. He was here for some unknown reason, not to get his jollies like some middle-aged horny jackass who frequented topless bars.

“Everything okay in there?”

Her voice worked better than a bucket of cold water. “Yeah,” he swallowed, “Fine.”

“Good. For a minute there I thought you were pulling a Xander and mooning over my stuff.”

The name of Xander in context with Cordelia’s underwear grated on Angel’s nerves. The thought made him frown as he questioned why it grated on his nerves. Xander had every right to leer over his own girlfriend, but… He sighed.

Xander was a teenage boy, and therefore doomed to treating a lady as a sex object for the next few years. He couldn’t be expected to act mature around a young woman like Cordelia Chase.

Eventually replying, “I would never do that.”

“I was beginning to question my decision to be lazy. Of course the idea of you finding anything about me remotely attractive is laughable.”

Angel left the homey confines of her bedroom for the vacation spot she’d made for herself. Since there was only one chair, which said a lot, he lowered himself to the floor. He silently twirled the empty glass around thick digits as he patiently waited to be offered some wine.

Cordelia watched him with an arched eyebrow. He seriously wasn’t expecting her to pour it for him, right? She rolled her eyes and handed the bottle down to him. “What are you waiting for? Christmas?”

They sat in complete silence, with her looking at him like she was waiting for something. The intensity of her stare was frankly unnerving him and he fiddled with his now half full glass.

She broke the silence. “Care to explain why you’re here, or do I have guess?”

There was no sane answer for that, at least not one he could think of offhand.

Cordelia sighed. “How about an easy question. How did patrol go? Was Cordelia food enough for the demons of Sunnyhell?”

The wine got stuck in his throat as horrific visions from earlier became updated. Angel’s gaze immediately went to her abdomen and for a few seconds, he swore he saw a bloody hole where her stomach should be. He blinked and it was gone, replaced by a torso he knew to be flat and tanned a light gold.

“Lemme explain how conversations work. I ask a question or say hello, then you reply and ask a question in turn.” She waited for him to get it. However it appeared she wouldn’t have a long enough life. She put her glass down and offered some hearty encouragement. “Imagine that little train. I know I can. I think I can.”

Cordelia got nothing. “Tell you what. Since I’m so good at it, why don’t I talk and you can jump in any time you like.” And she thought there’d been progress in Angel’s social skills.

“The game went well,” she spoke. “Made it to the playoffs. Maybe the cheerleaders will get new uniforms, cus God knows we need them. It won’t do to wear the same ones we wore two years ago. Doesn’t spell success, ya know?”

The brunette offered a sympathetic wince when the end of it came out in a question. “Sorry. I forgot. Talking, no quizzing.”

More nothing, but she didn’t give up. Cordelia Chase was no quitter. “Tonight is the first time I’ve been in two places at once. Imagine the selling potential.”

Angel leaned back against the white iron railings and just listened to the sound of her voice as it drifted over the song on the radio. He really should say something. “I wanted to see how you were.”

“I didn’t pull a muscle, if that’s what you’re worried about, but something tells me it isn’t.” She studied him and it felt like she was trying to read his mind. It was very uncomfortable.

“Let me take a wild stab in the dark.” Cordelia offered him a refill before she gave him her perspective. “Big giant frown, uncharacteristic panic over my welfare, patrol with a newbie. It’s a toss up between my fangtastic twin or Buffy. Either of which I don’t care to know about.” One was none of her beeswax and the other simply gave her the creeps.

That vampiress had disturbed her equilibrium quite enough for one day. All Cordelia had been able to think about was Angelus and what she meant by the words you would have been his. His what? His wind-up toy? Personal slave? All of the above? She doubted Angel was the best person to ask, but it wasn’t like she had anyone else too go to about this.

“I talked to her today,” to clarify the subject, “The other me, I mean.”

Angel finally met her gaze. “Thought you didn’t want to know about her.”

Cordelia shrugged. “I’ve got nine lives. May as well use them.” Besides, “Whoever can make an honest man out of Angelus has to be interesting, right?”

Ah. So that was the reason for her change of mind.

He savoured a mouthful of wine, swishing it around his mouth until his taste buds tingled with the fruity flavour. The forefinger of his right hand tapped against the glass rim as he tried to figure out what was going to come out of her mouth. This was nice. Just sitting here, on her balcony floor, having a drink with company.

Angel watched her for a moment, hundred percent positive she expected him to ask what was said. Who was he to deny a lady? “What did she say?”

“Oh you know, the usual. How I was, where I got my shoes, the latest weight loss fad, and what would have happened if you hadn’t been dragged off me.” There was a shake to her hands that wasn’t there before and a spark of panic lit those hazel eyes right up.

For the life of him he couldn’t bring himself to feel guilty for being the cause. Didn’t stop him from saying it. “Sorry.”

She looked at him and he swore he heard a hiss. “For what?” Cordelia demanded as a year’s worth of nightmares and other dreams bubbled over the niceties she displayed. Her glass was slammed down so hard, the windows rattled. “Wanting to kill me? not apologising before now? Or for not getting what you wanted?”

His jaw flexed with tension as he purposely avoided her gaze. He hated her in that moment. Hated the perceptive stare that never faltered, hated the bitter smirk on her lips. Mostly he hated himself.

Angel answered with the honesty she wanted. “All of the above. You wouldn’t have been dead long.”

“That’s what she said. I would have been yours.” There was a pause. “At the risk of my own sanity, what exactly does that mean?”

He drained the rest of his drink and stood, fully intending on leaving, only he didn’t get to as she was immediately there with a hand on his arm. His eyebrows rose. Wow. That was pretty firm grip she had going for her.

Cordelia refused to let him escape. “No. You don’t get to walk out on me. Everyone else might be shying away and walking on eggshells, and acting like nothing happened, not me. You were going to kill me!”

Angel dodged the hands that went flying into the air. “You were to going to make your personal little love toy!”

If there was one thing he’d learned about women over the last couple of centuries, was that sometimes all they needed to do was vent and a few minutes later, they were fine. Unfortunately Cordelia wasn’t like every other woman he’d met and so wasn’t entirely sure how long or harsh she’d be at this for.

He patiently waited until she was done before speaking. Withheld rage flushed her cheeks and nose pink, eyes kept narrowing and widening, and hands made flourishing gestures which threatened to knock out an eye. Her hair, in a messy ponytail, bounced up and down, and her mouth moved a mile a minute.

God, she was gorgeous when she was angry.

A frustrated sigh snapped that thought cleanly in half. “I am not a love toy and certainly not yours. Are we clear?”

The vampire sagely nodded, the rest of what she said lost under the weight of a demanding stare. “Crystal.”

The scrutiny he was now under had a bead of sweat trickling down the nape of his neck. She stared at him long and hard, as though to make absolutely certain he understood what she was saying.

Angel knew he needed to respond and so he went with the first thing that popped into his spinning head. “Why would it be laughable?”

It only a second for total confusion to replace the annoyance on her face. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Me finding anything about you attractive. Why would it be laughable?”

Cordelia blinked, then laughed a pretty laugh that brought a smile to the vampire’s mouth. She pointed to her bouncy little ponytail. “Do I look blonde to you?”

He made a show of examining her hair. “No,” Angel drawled. “Not a blonde strand in sight. You’re right. Totally laughable.” It was anything but laughable.

His arm received a light pat or two. “Glad we straightened that out. Now I’m going to bed, feel free to sit around and finish the bottle, or take it with you. Whatever you want.”

The muscles in his left arm experienced a light squeeze and soft stroke, and then it was gone with a single word. “Goodnight.”

Angel listened to the sound of her dressing gown swishing against her legs. He only turned around to look at Cordelia when the balcony doors never closed. An expression he’d never seen before, on any woman, was on her face. “What?”

She frowned. “I…” Whatever she was going to say would forever remain a secret. She shook her head. “Nothing.” One teensy, tiny smile was the consolation prize for her not satisfying the curiosity that was going to be burning a hole through his head for the rest of the night.

He watched her go, his eyes involuntarily traveled down to the firm rear suggestively swaying under her robe. His lips flickered as his mind took away that robe. It was all too easy to picture his hand landing a hard slap on that dear little rump.

The amusement rapidly disappeared as he thought of how many times Angelus did that very thing. Of course, he wouldn’t stop at a few playful swats. He wouldn’t stop until her cheeks were wet with tears and her skin was apple red with thick finger marks cutting into her ass.

A tension Angel ignored built between his legs, something inside his stomach clenched and burst as Cordelia pulled the curtain across the windows. He followed her shadow as she went about getting ready for bed.

It was so very wrong of him to stay and watch as the robe dropped off her shoulders, but the sight of full breasts tipped with nipples was too much of a temptation. Next was the loosening of hair, and God, he groaned as she worked the kinks free with slender digits.

He really should go now, but he didn’t. He didn’t move a muscle until the light went out, and an even heart beat wiped all of the vampiress’ cruel taunts.

***********

The next day proved uncomfortable for more than just Buffy. The vampiress, though long healed, still found herself moving sluggishly as the rest of the demon’s poison slowly left her system. Giles fought against the sympathy welling up as he watched Cordelia shuffle here and there around his apartment.

He also fought against the urge to send packing back off to bed. She hadn’t gotten much sleep last night, and the squeaking of the mattress had filtered through the walls to keep him up. Not that he was as restless as she was, considering he wasn’t the one who got injured.

Still, despite his internal war, Giles placed a steaming hot cup of tea in front of her and received a grateful smile in return.

“Aw Rupert, I didn’t know you cared.” Cordelia batted her eyelashes at the watcher. “There’s something so satisfying about taking warm liquid from a human.”

Her smile melted into a grin that bordered on lecherous and he cleared his throat. “Yes, I imagine it would be.”

She took a long deep drink, sighing as the tea did its job. She held the cup to her lips for a moment, simply enjoying the hot steam as it rose to sweep over her lips and nose. “This is pretty damn good, watcher man. Can I take you home? I know a hot blonde who would love to get her claws into you.”

Oh yeah. Rupert Giles was definitely Darla’s type. He was classically handsome, behaved like a perfect gentleman, and had a very dry wit that only came with old world English charm.

Unfortunately, Cordelia already had her hands full with trying to get home and matching Cordy up with Angel, although that last one was still up for debate considering last night’s events. He had a hefty amount of uh-oh’s to make up for and as for Buffy?

The vampiress rolled her eyes in disgust. That girl needed more help than even she could give. Getting all bent out of shape cus Angelus wasn’t her playboy in every world going? It was sad. Sad and desperate to believe in fairytale romances and princes riding up on white steeds while wearing shiny armour, carrying a lance ready to defend her very honour.

In Buffy’s case, the fairytale and prince must have some weighty issues she could traumatize over.

“If you’ll excuse me, I must make a start on getting what’s needed. That is if you still want to go home?” And back to Angelus. Giles didn’t verbally add that as it would only lead to questions and answers Cordelia would undoubtedly find lovely.

The vampiress simply had to give him one look. “What’s the alternative? Staying where I’m doomed to live out of a human’s pockets, where I have no sire or siblings, no House, and more importantly, drinking pig’s blood forever?” Cordelia pointedly raised her eyebrows.

Giles gave her a pat on the head. “I thought as much. Although I have to say, you have been the perfect house guest.” All bar the incident with his wardrobe, and even he had to admit he didn’t look at the tweed slob he usually did when slumming it at home. In all honesty, he felt better about it.

As if to read his mind, “I hear ya. If you feel good, you look good. If you look good, you feel great.” The vampiress frowned. “Or something to that effect. Anyway, I learned that from Casey, my stylist. She swears by that motto.”

He wasn’t surprised to hear she had a personal stylist in the least. “Then I’d better get started. Enjoy your tea.”

Cordelia shot him a beautiful, beaming smile that lit up her entire face and he found it hard to turn away. Giles gave a small pat on her shoulder as though to reassure her he would get her home. He really didn’t want to let her down.

The vampiress watched him disappear into the library office and pick up the phone. She was quite happy to sit in silence, but the door opened to let her humanitarian of a twin inside. Cordelia caught the faint scent of Angel hanging around the girl and smirked.

That’s where Angel went after he left the watcher’s house. Couldn’t get attention from one, so he went to another. The thought was almost amusing as it didn’t seem as though the vampire knew he was attracted to Cordelia, both of them.

He was so much like Angelus it wasn’t funny. Except Angelus wouldn’t let a few comments, albeit mean ones, damage his chakras. Oh no.

Angelus would have bound, gagged, and done whatever was necessary to make her love him again, not that Angelus would have let her get hurt in the first place. This Angel still had demon blood, but dear God, where was it?

Probably drowned under the weight of the world resting on the tiny shoulders of the slayer.

Cordelia jostled her shoulder bag into a more comfortable position and shifted under her own gaze. Silence reigned as the cheerleader wondered what to say.

The vampiress broke it. “Good morning, Starshine.”

“If you say so.” The human one moved to a chair not too close to the vampiress and sat down, eyes closing in relief when the bag hit the floor. She slipped off a shoe to give her toes a relaxing wiggle. “Free periods suck. Sure there’s no class and no boring drone, but there is the studying.”

Cordelia nodded sympathetically. “I know all too well. My sire has me studying history, and not just the usual, but the history of Aurelius. Like I need to know the name of every vampire dusted since the dawn of time.”

“Yeah, the Master. Angel told me he was your sire.” The brunette paused and bit her lip, wondering if she had the guts to ask about Angelus with Giles being in close proximately. “He also told me Angelus is your companion.”

Angel huh? The vampiress mulled over her statement as she swirled tea with her tongue. “You two seem to be hitting the chummy big time lately.” When it appeared she was going to deny it, “I can smell him on you. Not enough to implicate naughtiness, but a lingering scent that signifies touching.”

“So I touched his arm. No big.”

“Then you certainly touched the wrong place.” Cordelia couldn’t stop the cheeky, suggestive grin and wink if she tried. She leaned forward as though to share a classified secret, but before she got the chance, the doors opened again to allow Buffy in.

The slayer paused on seeing the vampiress happily sitting there with Cordelia. It was disconcerting to see them together. “Giles around?” She didn’t particularly fancy making small talk with either one.

The one with the shorter hair nudged her head in the direction of the office. “Well?” She urged, sick of people using kid gloves around her.

Buffy pretended not to listen as she walked to where her watcher would be. She was definitely not looking forward to the lecture she knew she’d get. Giles mad was one thing, but Giles disappointed? She hated seeing that look on his face.

So she made a mistake last night. It was only human to make mistakes. It just happened that her mistake could have cost someone their life.

“Morning, Buff.” The vampiress lounged in her chair, using her feet to hook another to rest on. “I’m fandabbydosey, thanks for asking.”

Cordelia’s gaze went from one girl to the other. Looked like she was going down to eight lives. “What’s up?”

Buffy stiffened, but refused to let herself feel ashamed for what she didn’t do.

The vampiress smiled lazily. Now this was a good time. “You shoulda been there. I was on fire. Sent the demon to it’s knees.”

Cordelia’s attention went back to the other her. “You fought? I thought you were supposed to be bait?” That’s what they got for using a rookie.

“Got a little bruised and battered for my trouble, but what the hell. I had fun. When’s the next time I’m painting the town red?” She remembered Angel cleaning up pretty quick. No doubt to remove the stench of his own idiocy.

The sarcasm left stinging cuts all over Buffy, whose mouth became set in a tight line. The last thing she needed was for Cordelia to hear about it. More to the point, she didn’t need reminding of it.

Comprehension dawned on the vampiress when she saw the look on the slayer’s face. “Oooohhhh,” the word was deliberately drawn out. “I get it. You don’t want her to know, do you? Afraid she’ll resign and you’ll have to do the job yourself?”

Cordelia had long since known it was one of her talents to read people and situations, and this one was easier to read than Jack and Jill. “Lemme guess, you had caught a late showing of the Buffy and Angel show? What did they do? Get caught up in the look of longing burning in each other’s eyes?”

The vampiress’ eyes darted to her human counterpart and grinned widely. “They got, and I quote, distracted.” Angel had already suffered the majority of her anger, now it was the slayer’s turn, and boy did she have a few choice words for the mythical one.

“Here’s a thought,” Cordelia snapped her gaze back to Buffy, who was taken aback by the intense hatred flashing in golden orbs. “Why don’t you…”

She didn’t get a chance to start when Giles, hearing and seeing tempers flaring, left the safety of the office to put himself once more in the line of fire. “I believe Buffy learned her lesson.” He peered at the blonde over the rim of his glasses until she gave a weak nod. “I think you unburdened yourself quite enough last night.”

It was the first time his heart went out to Angel, who had simply sat there and took everything the vampiress dished out. Some of it had been so cruel, so uncalled for, that even he felt the hit to the gut. God only knows what the vampire felt like after he left. It had been nigh on a verbal crucifixion.

“I really don’t think so.” Rage was bubbling up and there was nothing anyone could do about it. “Cus ignorance really says sorry you got skewered and as for Angel…”

“Yes.” Giles raised voice shocked everyone but the vampiress. “I know very well what you think of him and his actions.”

“Do any of you get what could have happened to her?” Cordelia pointed at an open mouthed cheerleader. “Lemme spell it out for you. D E A D.”

Buffy, unable and unwilling to hear anymore, lashed right back. “You can spell? What’s next, learning to count?” It was the only way she could deal with the reality of the situation.

A chair squeaked against the floor as the vampiress shot up so fast, Giles and Cordelia flinched. The atmosphere was growing increasingly tense as the air thickened with something neither had experienced.

“I’m not afraid of you, slayer. I’ll gladly throw down.” She was ready, so fucking ready to smash the bitch’s skull in. She wouldn’t do it fast. No. That’d be too easy. She’d do it slow enough to make the slayer feel what it was like when eyeballs exploded out of bleeding eye sockets. Or maybe she’d twist the neck so slowly, Buffy would hear the crack right before it broke.

Either way, Cordelia wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of being drained.

“Any time, any where,” was the challenging response.

Cordelia vamped out and both humans truly felt the seriousness as it bore down in invisible waves of heavy tension. “Now’s good for me.”

The cheerleader rolled her eyes when she saw the expression of sheer fear on Giles’ face. A man, one who went after Angelus, was scared of a female pissing contest. “Oh for crying out loud. Will you two give it a rest?”

Annoyed hazel eyes pinned Buffy into place. “You. If it wasn’t for Angel, I’d be worried about her virtue, and you.” She looked to the vampiress. “So you got hurt. Big whoop. Get over it. You were bait and bait is meant to be on the front line, so to speak. You weren’t forced into it.”

Everyone fell silent and all for different reasons. To Giles, it sounded as though Cordelia had been expecting to get hurt, which didn’t sit with him at all. To Buffy, it sounded as though the cheerleader was having a dig at her relationship with Angel.

To the vampiress, “This is the slayer’s form of foreplay?” Off everyone’s look, “What? I was gonna add Cordy has a point.” She hated whiners and hated it even more when she got whiny, which happened occasionally. She usually put it down to the dead version of PMS.

The watcher leveled a look at the human brunette. “Yes, she certainly does, and you won’t be doing it again from this point on.”

Buffy agreed, if only to save face after the farce of last night’s patrol. “Fair enough.”

Cordelia stared long and hard at the vampiress. “I’m stuck with research,” she took a deep, calming breath, “Thanks so much.”

Cordelia beamed, happy she got her way. She slapped both hands on her hips and stood proudly tall. “You’re welcome.”

“Now that’s settled, can I get some work done?” The cheerleader never thought she’d be so happy to have revision to do. Then again, if an apocalypse stopped what was going on, then she’d be happy about that, too.

“Ooh, what subject?”

“History.” Cordelia, determined to keep her equilibrium by pretending she did not just tell herself off, spoke with a peace to make the Dali Llama jealous.

The vampiress grinned to herself. Perfectamundo. Didn’t matter if she thought Angel far from deserved Cordelia, it was preferable to what she witnessed between him and the slayer. “You should ask Angel. He goes way back.”

“That would be great if Mrs. Destroyallyouth didn’t have the pop quiz scheduled for this afternoon.”

Cordelia tapped her fingers against her waist. “Tell you what. You buy the munchies and I’ll help you ace the test.” Who’d have thought her sire’s education kick would come in handy? “I could really use a soda.”

The cheerleader shrugged. Whatever worked. “Lemme guess, Coke?” If the vampiress had her likes and dislikes, then Diet Coke would be well and truly off the menu.

“If you are what you eat, then I’m sweet all the way.” Sugar always worked when prying information out of someone and Cordelia wanted to know what the cheerleader’s conversation with Angel entailed.

The two shared identical smiles that Giles had to look away from. It was beginning to get incredibly disturbing.

**************

Lunch came and went, and soon it was the end of the school day, which found the three original Scoobies sitting outside on a bench simply enjoying the fact there were no more classes until Monday. Since it was Friday, that spelled one thing.

“So,” Buffy grinned at both her best friends. “Are we Bronzing it tonight?” She really could do with blowing off some steam.

Willow avoided Xander’s gaze for the millionth time today. “Oz and I are going bowling…” Seeing the disappointment on the slayer’s face, “But we could go to the Bronze after.” Eep. Talking about Oz to Xander was making cracks in her nothing-is-going-on shell.

“I’m taking Cordy to the Bronze, so I’ll be there.”

Buffy was totally oblivious to the exchanging of guilt ridden looks between Willow and Xander. “No doubt the spawn of satan will be there, too.”

The mentioning of the vampiress had everyone of them shutting up. The silence lasted for a few moments as they each recalled their own experiences with her, except Willow, who hadn’t talked to her yet.

“What’s she like?” The witch asked.

“Like Cordelia, only worse.” Xander sarcastically muttered.

“I second that,” Buffy agreed. “Centre of the universe.”

“Oh.” Willow sort of smiled. “Cordy as a vampire? I can’t think of anything more terrifying.”

Both the slayer and Xander gave her a pat on the back, only his lingered a little longer than was correct for a boy with a girlfriend. Willow stiffened as she caught sight of familiar spiky hair heading her way.

Xander’s hand immediately fell to his side.

“Hey.” Oz greeted with a straight face. “We still on?”

Willow subtly gave a sideways glance at Buffy. “Maybe we could go to the Bronze after?”

The werewolf gave a cool nod. “Sure. There’s a band on with a late set. Be good to check out.”

She smiled way too much, but Oz never noticed. “Great! There we’ll be. Checking out the late set. Like a couple.” Willow inwardly cringed. Did she sound too excited? Maybe he knew she was putting it on. Panic began to bubble up. Help.

Xander slapped his thigh and sported his own extremely enthusiastic grin. “That’s settled. We’re accepting the call of the wild.”

Oz looked to Willow, “You need a ride home?”

She resisted the urge to look at Xander to see what he thought. She couldn’t help it. Green eyes slid to the boy on her right, and to her disappointment, his face showed nothing.

“Okay.” Was it wrong of her that if she couldn’t have one, she would have the other? Probably. She was bad. So very, very bad. Oh God, she was going to hell. Cordelia would kill her if she found out.

Before Willow cracked under the intense pressure of secret keeping, she was off the bench and standing next to her boyfriend. The one called Oz. “Bye guys.”

Buffy rolled her eyes, smiling indulgently at the red head now walking away with the werewolf. “It’s good to see her happy.” Especially after watching her crush on Xander go up in flames.

Xander didn’t reply straight away. He was too busy focusing on the hand he’d been holding under the dining table earlier, which was now wrapped in another man’s touch. “Yeah.”

Yeah.
Part 11:
“Cordelia, this is a surprise.” How Giles managed to reign in the sarcasm, he didn’t know. It was certainly no shock to see the brunette on his doorstep, but what was a surprise was the fact it had taken her so long to do so.

The cheerleader’s smile was purely designed to hide her ulterior motives. Her shoulders slightly swayed and hazel irises peered up through darkened lashes. “Hi.”

Giles resisted the urge to arch an eyebrow. “Hello.” She said nothing. “Would you like to come in?”

“Well, I was hoping to stand out here all night, but sure. Why not?” Cordelia didn’t need a second invitation before breezing past the watcher, walking into his place like she owned it.

No, he rethought, like she owned the block.

He sighed and closed the door, then took a moment to get his wits together. Dealing with one Cordelia was a feat in itself, but dealing with two? This would certainly test his sanity.

“Oh look, it’s me with a heart beat. How quaint.”

Not to be outdone, Cordelia crossed her arms and pinned the vampiress with a haughty look. “Oh look, it’s me with fangs. How creepy.”

And so it begins. Giles resigned himself to whatever the night would hold for him. He massaged his temples and turned to face the music. “Would you like a drink?”

He received two expressions. One of wicked delight and one of blankness. “If you’re offering, who am I to say no?”

“It was not quite meant to be taken in that context. Tea?” He couldn’t expect anything less from a vampire, especially one who seemed to have a morbid fascination with his jugular.

Cordelia, the human one, smiled and declined in the polite way she’d been taught. It was bit more difficult to keep her composure since there was a girl with her face sat there, her smile, her clothes, her voice, and being, well, her. “No, actually I came here for a reason.”

The vampiress grinned and rose from the couch. Her motions had the cheerleader looking on in envy as unnatural grace accompanied every step.

“You have got to show me how you do that.” Cordelia’s nose crinkled up as she replayed that image in her head, just to make sure when she tried it, she got it right.

“Well?” The vampiress demanded with hands on her hips. “You came to see me, I take it. Unless…” She slyly glanced to Giles. “There’s something you’re not telling me…?”

The watcher shot her a deadpan glare and shook his head, while Cordelia barely raised an eyebrow. “You got me. Giles and I are having an illicit affair, and though you can’t tell, I’m expecting his secret love child.”

She said in such a blunt, dry manner with no emotion whatsoever that even Giles had to chuckle at the absurdity of it. The vampiress, however, was grinning from ear to ear and clapping in delight.

“A mini Rupert! How cute would that be?” She just may have to rethink her plan to get Angel and Cordelia together. If only to see what the little critter would look like. She thought of a teeny tiny baby in a tweed onesie. “Aw!”

Both Giles and Cordelia looked at her as though she were a strange animal. “What?” The vampiress defended. “Does being dead mean I can’t appreciate a itty bitty baby? I know Angelus likes them.”

Now Giles and Cordelia were staring at her with varying amounts of disgust on their faces. “Yes,” the watcher said at length. “I bet he does.”

Cordelia shuddered. “Ew.”

The vampiress wholeheartedly agreed. “I’m right there with ya, believe me. I may like babies, but I don’t like the extras. God. Fangs and baby spew?” She shook her head. “That’s just so very wrong. Anyhoo, why the visit?”

“Oh, I just wondered if you’d like to escape the boredom that is here for a while.” If she could get the vampire alone for a good few hours, then she would have the chance to properly grill her on everything Angelus. The curiosity was driving her insane.

The vampiress had to stop herself from rubbing her hands together in glee. Cordelia had single-handedly helped the matchmaking and she didn’t have a clue. That cheerleader was not just a pretty face.

“Sure,” the vampiress began to plan and dream up ways to bring Angel into the conversation. Perhaps there was a way to get Angel to tag along with her and Cordelia. Could be fun.

Giles shot the cheerleader a worried glance. He might trust the vampiress around her, but the general public was a different matter altogether.

“A bunch of us are hitting the Bronze later and I thought since I have next to nothing to wear, that maybe we could go shopping.” Before the vampiress could use the fact she had no money, “My treat.” Daddy wouldn’t miss a few dollars.

Shopping and a party? God. The vampiress almost died from the excitement. Ooh! If she played this just right, then this could work in her favour. No sooner had she thought of her clever plan than Giles found himself the target of the most pleading set of golden eyes he’d ever seen. She looked like an eager puppy desperate to go out.

Which she was in a way.

The watcher focused on who the pleading golden eyes belonged too. “I’m not sure.”

The vampiress happy smile faded into one that was neither warm or chilly. “Can I remind you that I am a vampire,” she said lightly. “There’d be nothing you could do about it if I chose to walk out of here right now. Because of the whole itch n scratch thing we have going on, I’ve asked. Trust goes both ways.”

Giles had to give her the point. “I can’t argue with that, but as you yourself pointed out, you are a vampire.” He didn’t need to say anything more.

“If it makes you feel better, you can get Angel to make sure I don’t get out of line. Or you could come along.” The smile now on her face was everything filthy. “I’m sure we could make it fun for you.” A pink tongue dipped out to slowly lick a line across her lower lip and she winked.

Giles blushed and Cordelia rolled her eyes. “I’m sure Angel would be more than happy to escort you two lovely ladies for the night.”

“Then it’s settled,” the vampiress beamed. “We’re going shopping.”

There was a tiny pause which made the Englishman quiver in fear. “We’ll stop by to pick you up after we’re done, so be sure to dress snazzy.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

He was slowly going insane.

They’d been in the same shop for over an hour and what remained of his sanity was being eaten up by the swarms of people bustling past him. Angel was ready to cannibalise his own brain when he saw the vampiress saunter out of the shop, followed by an irate Cordelia.

He grit his teeth together.

Neither of them had bags. Which meant the loss of his sanity was all in vain.

Damn women.

“Tell her, Angel.” Oh hell. They were going to drag him into this. Kill him now.

Cordelia, the human one, simply huffed and crossed her arms over her chest in a way that emphasized her cleavage. “I’m not your little Barbie doll. You’re not dressing me up.”

The vampiress didn’t back down. “I can’t actually believe you’re dissing my taste. Did you see what you were going to wear? Willingly?” She faced Angel, who gamely tried to be interested. A finger pointed somewhere him. “Would you let your woman wear that?”

Angel swallowed back mild panic as he glanced over his shoulder, fearing what he would see. A short skirt that, on Cordelia, would probably reach an inch or two above her knees, and a matching sweater top. If the cheerleader wore that top with that skirt, there’d be more than eyebrows raising.

He blatantly refused to say anything. It was a dangerous situation.

“Need I remind you two that I am on a date tonight. It’s expected to wear less than normal for your boyfriend.” Cordelia defended her choice in outfit. Honestly? She really did like it. The colours were a nice shade of blue and they were so pretty. Plus it was Valentino.

The vampiress groaned out loud. “Do you really wanna look like a fairy princess gone wrong?”

“What do you think I should wear, huh?” Cordelia asked. “Chain mail skirt and a leather thong?”

The answering grin was enough and both Angel and the cheerleader rolled their eyes. “Alright, alright,” the vampiress said through her increasing smile. “You veto’d the chain mail, I veto’d the princess outfit. Since Angel’s ready to sign up for death row, he doesn’t get to veto.” Which worked just fine in her world.

It meant she could squeeze Cordelia into some skimpy piece of nothing and he wouldn’t be able to say a thing about it. The vampiress resisted the urge to giggle evilly. She was so going to put the girl onto Angel’s radar, big style.

“Okay, who’s had enough of this hellhole?” Golden orbs went from the brunette to the vampire, a single eyebrow raised in question.

Thank you, God. Angel was ready to leave before they even got here.

“But we haven’t found anything for tonight,” Cordelia protested, and Angel really wanted to stuff cotton wool balls down her throat.

To his horror, the vampiress sighed. “Cordy, Cordy, Cordy.” The poor girl was so young. It was a good thing she was here. She flung one arm around the cheerleader and one around Angel, smiling happily as she slyly eased out from between them so they were holding each other.

“I know some great shops, and more importantly, I know some great shops where I can get credit.”

It took Angel all of two seconds to realise what shops the vampiress intended on going to and whose credit she planned on using. His brown eyes widened to a size never before seen on anything or anyone. The cheeky little minx. She was honest to goodness going to use the House funds to purchase clothes for herself and Cordelia.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t seem to make his mouth work in order to stop her, nor could he seem to move. All he was able to do was stand there, staring as the vampiress led Cordelia away, and probably astray.

“H-Hey! You can’t do that.” Too late. They were already swallowed by the crowd of late night shoppers.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Angel was going to kill Giles.

He was going to string him up by a chosen appendage and kill him. Not just kill, but kill kill. Really kill.

He’d caught up to them seconds before they’d gone into a little known shop and he had been made to stand in the main part of the shop while the vampiress dragged Cordelia down the stairs, and into the darker side of the playground.

The instant he heard the surprised shriek, he knew Cordelia saw the kind of clothes the vampiress wanted to put her in. Angel caught the eye of the sales assistant, who offered a sympathetic smile in reply to his grimace.

No more than a minute later Angel was being ushered down stairs by a woman with long black hair and wearing an outfit that left less than little to the imagination. Maybe it was just as well he was going down there.

Who knew what the vampiress was trying to get Cordelia to wear. He never got the chance to find out because when he finally pushed past the door, the cheerleader was already in a dressing room, and the vampiress was lounging in a chair, sipping tea.

“What took you so long?” She quizzed between dainty sips. “Want one, Angelus?”

The dark haired girl gasped and was suddenly a ball of helpful energy. He was half shoved into a comfortable chair with an order for blood on the way, and a male assistant called for.

Angel tried to be patient. Smiling politely, “I’m not shopping, thanks.”

“He is,” Cordelia bellowed from the changing room.

The polite smile faltered. “No, I’m not.”

His reply was waved off by a slender hand. “We’ll take a pair of leather pants, dark brown if you have them. A matching shirt. Silk, of course, and if you have any, Cuban heeled boots.”

Angel glared at the vampiress who took it upon herself to dress up as though he was her personal Ken doll. The glare, which could make a grown man piss his pants, had no effect whatsoever. If he was going down, then he was going down his way.

“Make it black.”

When the vampiress smiled like the cat who got the cream, he felt as though he’d just played into her hands. It was a very unsettling feeling.

Then her smiled dropped into something unrecognisable. “Black leather pants, a red silk shirt, black combats. Rubber heel. Not forgetting a plain black belt.” Golden eyes slid over to him. “You arewearing the Aurelius insignia, right?”

He wasn’t planning on it.

“What’s the Aurelius insignia? Is that the family emblem or something?” Cordelia’s words came accompanied with sounds which could only belong to that of clothes being removed or put on.

The vampiress leaned close to Angel, lowering her voice to a whisper. “The curiosity is just eating you up, isn’t it?”

Ignoring one Cordelia in favour of the other, “Yes. Each house has a symbol of sorts.”

“Like in Darcy days when they used wax stamps?”

“Similar, yes.” As long as the topic stayed off what the cheerleader was pouring herself into, then he was a’okay. He cleared his throat, thanked the dark haired girl for his blood, and continued answering the changing room door.

“Do you use wax still, or have you moved with the times?”

The vampiress saw an opportunity and seized it with both hands. “Aurelius has a range of accessories. Belt buckles, signet rings, and in my case, a hair clip. Hey! I have an idea. Since Cordy’s an honorary family member, she should have something. I would give her my ring, but I haven’t taken it off in over a year.”

Angel watched as deep thought crossed over her face, and she began to tap her fingernails off the chair arm. He saw the bulb light up before she opened her mouth. “I know. Why don’t you give her your ring?”

The sounds from the dressing room stopped and he guessed Cordelia was as uncomfortable with this conversation as he was. He shifted in his seat, carefully avoiding both the vampiress gaze and the glass of warm human blood on the small coffee table.

There was a pause. “I don’t think it’d go with my outfit.”

Now Angel felt like a first rate asshole. He heard the softened tone and could picture her head lowering. That was something she often did when she either wanted to hide or when she had her feelings hurt.

It was weird how he knew that.

“Besides,” Cordelia got in before he had a chance. “If I wore his, what would he wear?”

If the vampire only put two and two together, he’d click on to the fact she’d asked for a plain black belt. “You can wear it if you want.”

The vampiress smiled happily into her tea cup. Things were going swimmingly. “You know Angelus, he wouldn’t have hesitated. In fact, he’d have that ring glued on by now.”

The noises in the changing room stopped and it didn’t take a genius to figure out why. “I think he’d like you, Cordy…” A laugh bubbled up. “Of course he’d like you. You’re me, or I’m you. Anyway, do you like her, Angel?”

A snigger came from behind the door. “Laughable.”

Angel smiled. “What she said.”

Oh, the vampiress thought, inside jokes. Perfect.

“I’d hate to see what he would have done if he hated me.”

“That one’s easy,” the vampiress smirk was as evil as they come. “Kill you, and I don’t mean quickly. He loves nothing more than a good game of cat and mouse.” She sighed fondly. “He loves to know who’s better. Him or the enemy.”

Cordelia snapped in a deep breath. “And if he likes you?”

Angel’s silent warning for her to shut up went completely ignored. “He’ll turn on the charm. Wine, roses, the occasional body part. I got a rib once. Darla got it made into a necklace for my first birthday.”

“A rib?” Cordelia squeaked.

“Angel, be a dear and explain to our adorably naive Cordy the significance of the rib.”

He stared at the vampiress, feeling nothing short of amazement. “The ribcage protects the heart.”

The vampiress merely smiled and continued bragging about the charms of Angelus. “Surprise visits, midnight phone calls, and I cannot stress this enough, incredible sex.”

Cordelia was still stuck on the body part bit. “Yeah, cus nothing says I like you more than an arm in a box.” She guessed even Angelus was big into the Buffy love. Cordelia’s shudder went unseen as she wondered who to feel sorry for. The vampire or the slayer.

The vampiress immediately quashed the cheerleader’s thoughts. “It wouldn’t be an arm. It’d be a heart. All full and red, the scent of death still fresh… Are you drinking that?” Hungry eyes stared long and hard at the glass of blood, her tongue constantly licked her lips.

Angel slid the glass to the vampiress and watched her inhale it, complete with orgasmic noises. “Enjoy that?” He asked when she was done, which was two seconds, three at the most.

“After nigh on a week of drinking bovine juice on the rocks, a little human goes a long way. Hey Cor, this pop quiz on my fella leads me to believe he has your interest.” She shot Angel a wicked glance as he looked to the high heavens for help.

“Well, not only did he tackle me, but he also ruined my Donna Karen top.” Both vampires heard an angered grunt. “Thanks for that.”

Angel had the decency to look contrite. “Sorry.” The apology was closely followed by unintelligible mumbles. “Pardon?”

“I said don’t worry about it… Ahh, thank God. These three walls were starting to drive me insane.” Cordelia blew her hair of her slightly reddened face. She then smiled. “I’ll take two. The blue and the red.”

Angel didn’t particularly want to know of what she, or he rather, was buying two of. The vampiress on the other hand, outright beamed. “Excellent choice, Starshine. I’ve got mine, he’s got his, and you’ve got yours.”

“Now,” she clapped her hands once. “Let’s swing by, pick up Giles, and hit the town.”

Angel sent a telepathic warning to the watcher.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The dresses Cordelia bought weren’t as bad as what he thought, given the fact she was under the influence of the same vampire who was the life long companion of Angelus. She’d purchased two, and the one she’d changed into at Giles was a stunning shade of deep blue that emphasized her in every way.

The material wasn’t quite velvet, yet not quite silk, and it skimmed her figure in a way that brought attention to each and every curve she had. The neckline was a shapely V, with expert embroidery in a darker shade of blue went from the hem to the thigh. It wasn’t short, ending exactly at her knee, but there was a side split that exposed some gorgeously tanned skin that looked as silky as her hair.

Cordelia, the other one, had chosen something totally different. Her pants had to be sprayed on and the top? Well, the top had gotten her a stern lecture from Giles about proper attire for a young woman. The straps were peppered with tiny diamonds, the bodice cupped full breasts, and an inverted V left her stomach open for admiration.

For two people who were technically the same, they were so very different, but that could be down to the fact one was a vampire, and therefore doomed to be what she wanted without a care in the world. One was human and therefore doomed to be…

Angel frowned as he thought of what his Cordelia was doomed to be. He wouldn’t kid himself and lie by saying she was doomed to be respected for who she was. She was doomed to being torn apart by people who were supposed to be her friends behind her back. It made him remember the time he joined in with Buffy’s outburst, calling her Sporedelia.

He was brought out of his thoughts by the sight of the vampiress and cheerleader dance. His lips twitched. It was amusing to see just how many admirers a set of beautiful twins could attract.

It was also amusing to see how the vampiress gave glares of death to all males who got a little too close to the cheerleader. It was funnier still to watch the cheerleader slap the hand of Xander when he got too close.

Angel took a sip of his scotch, relishing in the warmth as it trickled down his throat. He smiled when Cordelia, the human one, glanced his way. His eyebrows rose high when she shot him a cheeky wink. He tipped his glass at her in reward for the large smile she gave.

Next to him, Giles sat massaging his temples with one hand, and using the other to hold his spectacles. “Good lord.”

Angel gave the man a sideways look full of understanding. “Tell me about it.”

“This…” Giles refused to call it music. “The noise is infernal.”

Again, “Tell me about it.”

“Whatever happened to the good old days?”

Angel sighed and took another drink. “Probably got scared.”

The watcher’s shoulders shook with silent laughter. “No doubt.” Changing the topic, “I take you’ve been forgiven.”

“Well, she hasn’t torn my throat out.”

“I’d take it as a good sign.”

The vampire toyed with the tumbler for a moment. “At least with anger I’d be getting something other than sarcasm and a cold shoulder.”

He made his point by looking at the vampiress, who made her point by flashing a sharp smile, sniffing, and flipping her hair with a huff.

Giles winced in sympathy. He’d been in the dog house before and it wasn’t pleasant. “Not a good sign, I see.”

Angel shrugged. “It’s Cordelia, so who knows.”

The Englishman smirked in understanding. “Quite right. Cheers.” They toasted the fact man would never know how a woman’s mind worked.

Cordelia had spent half the evening not only listening, but watching the vampiress treat Angel to remarks revolving around his inferiority against Angelus. She’d had enough of the petty behaviour. There was no hesitation as she grabbed the hand of the vampiress and dragged her over to the table.

“Look,” she said. “If you wanna get home, then you want him on your side. Besides, he could have dusted you, but he didn’t. He could have let you starve, but he didn’t. He didn’t have to come with us tonight, but he did. You at least owe him a little gratitude.”

Giles hid his smirk with his glass, while Angel closely resembled a trapped rabbit. The vampiress pouted and shifted on her feet, golden eyes peeked through dark lashes.

“Well?” The cheerleader demanded.

A small silence followed and remained until the Cordelia in question broke it with a sigh. “Alright!” She wilted under the pressure of expectant stares. “Angel, I’m sorry for being so mean. I appreciate you not dusting me and for helping get me home.”

Those expectant stares now turned to Angel.

He cleared his throat. “It’s fine. Really. No harm done.” He knew she wasn’t truly sorry, but it was nice to hear.

Identical smiles were his reward for the gracious acceptance. “Great,” his Cordelia kept smiling while the other seemed down. Figuring the vampiress had no wish to air her woes, he never asked.

“Any room at the inn?”

Both Angel and Giles stood to make room, a much which pleased one brunette and saddened the other. This time it wasn’t only Angel who noticed.

“Hey,” Cordelia nudged her dead twin.

The vampiress spoke in a way that would have melted the heart of Genghis Kahn. “I just miss my family.”

If she’d been in her Sunnydale and Angel was Angelus, then the apology would have been spanked out of her, and she would have been yanked onto his knee, not on the seat beside him.

Cordelia gave her a pat on the back. “You don’t have to wait much longer. This time tomorrow night you’ll be at your welcome back party…” She paused. “I want a welcome back party.”

The vampiress wasn’t smiling as much as she was grinning. There would be a party, but not how the cheerleader thought. It’d probably include a bed, Angelus, and lots of wild, crazy sex.

She smirked as she looked at Angel. He knew exactly what kind of party Angelus would have in mind.

So did Giles, it seemed. “I don’t suppose you’re ready to leave?” The music was no longer driving him to the brink of insanity, he was on the brink of insanity.

“I can’t leave. I’m on a date.” Cordelia reminded them all.

“Seems like Tony Manero over there is doing just fine without you.” The vampiress purposely directed her scheming gaze to the dance floor and away from Angel. It wouldn’t do to have him discover her plan before she had a chance to put it into action.

Cordelia, Angel, and Giles followed the line of sight, and all sighed. Xander appeared to be in the midst of a rain dance. Oz was inching away slowly and Willow just looked worried.

“Good point,” the cheerleader agreed with a grimace. Xander was too into whatever he was doing to bother about her. “Okay, let’s go.”

“Giles.” Rapidly blinking blue eyes went from the Englishman to Angel, and then to both brunettes. “What are you do you doing here?”

“Washing dishes to earn his keep.” The vampiress rolled her eyes. “What do you think he’s doing here.”

Buffy’s lips formed a thin tense line. “If I knew you were coming…”

“You’d what? Talk him out of it?”

Angel saw where this was going and was quick to stop anything before it started. “It’s time to go. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.”

The vampiress golden gaze went straight to Buffy. “So we do, but you’re right. We should go. Rupert?” She held out her hand as though she expected him to kiss it.

“You never told me you were coming.” Buffy stated accusingly as she looked from Angel to her watcher, and back again.

The vampiress smirked. “Your universe doesn’t let a lot of other people in, I take it. Never mind. It’s a good thing he doesn’t have to rely on you for a life.”

Before the slayer had a chance to say anything more, Angel and the cheerleader steered the vampiress and watcher away from violence. Only Cordelia looked back to see if her boyfriend noticed she was gone.

He hadn’t.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The next night saw an eager vampiress who was practically dancing on a stranger’s grave. She could barely keep still for more than five seconds.

“Can’t we move this along?” Buffy asked as she tightened her hold on her stake.

“This isn’t like booking a holiday package to the Bahamas.” Cordelia snapped with an eye roll.

“Let’s just… Get on with it and get her home.” The faster she was gone, the faster she’d have Angel all to herself again.

“And here I thought you loved me.” The vampiress wiped imaginary tears from her eyes. It would have looked genuine, but the grin on her face ruined it.

“If we can begin?” Giles interrupted the argument before it escalated.

“Go for it.” Buffy shot the vampiress a smirk.

Giles started reciting the Latin while Cordelia crossed her fingers on behalf of the dead brunette. She glanced towards her twin.

“My offer still stands.”

Angel frowned. What offer?

He didn’t get an answer as the watcher finished the spell and Willow threw the final stinky herbs up in the air. They all waited with baited breath for something, anything, to happen.

Nothing did.

She could barely see through the tears in her eyes. Her hands were so numb, she hardly felt the headstone under her fingers. All she knew was the spell hadn’t worked.

“I’m not going home, am I?”
Part 12:
Cordelia stood next to Angel, her wide eyes now focused on the space where the vampiress was only a moment ago. She’d only blinked the once and her twin had all but disappeared. That was pretty fast, if she did say so herself. “Where did she go?”

Good question.

Giles stared at the direction he assumed the vampiress had gone and sighed. A lead wave of failure weighed heavily on his shoulders. He hated to break a promise to anyone, including a vampire. He looked to Angel, but the slayer spoke up before he had a chance to speak.

“An angry vampire loose on the streets of Sunnydale,” Buffy muttered loud enough for everyone to hear. “I guess this is my cue to go do some damage control.”

“You thought she was angry?” Cordelia glared at the petite blonde, stunned the other girl was so focused on herself and what she thought she had to do that she missed the tears glazing the eyes of the vampiress.

“I’ll go look for her.” Angel stated in a calming tone of voice. “Probably be best if the rest of you went home.”

The cheerleader scoffed. “Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. I’m coming with you.”

Buffy’s lips formed a thin line as she tightened her grip on Mr. Pointy. “It’d be better if you went home. I’ll go with Angel.”

Cordelia shook her head, denying the slayer’s subtle order. “So you can stake-on-sight? One look at you and she’ll either make a break for it, or get pissed off. I’m going with the latter.”

“And she trusts you?”

“More than you. It’s pointless you telling me no, cus you know I’ll go anyway. What would you rather have?” The brunette pleaded her case to Giles, who was silent with his thoughts. “Vulnerable, human me traipsing around the Hellmouth, or Angel keeping an eye on me?”

Buffy threw up a hand when she saw signs her watcher was going to agree with the cheerleader. “Hello. Vampire. Don’t tell me you didn’t learn anything from patrol the other night.” It was a low blow, she knew that, but she really didn’t like the idea of Cordelia being alone with Angel.

A flare of anger rose up in Angel and faced the slayer with a black look. “She’s right.”

“With all due respect, Buffy. I’m inclined to agree with him.” Giles removed his glasses long enough to squeeze the bridge of his nose. He glanced at Cordelia. “Be careful. Angel…” He didn’t have to finish.

The vampire gave a brief nod. “I’ll take care of her.” Of them both, he mentally added.

Xander made a move towards Cordelia, but she just gave him a weak smile, and let the vampire guide her through the darkened cemetery.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The first stop for Angel and Cordelia was where every demon and vampire went for a pick-me-up. The neon sign above the door was broken, the garish pink light flickered on and off, while only a few of the letters worked, spelling out Wills.

He held the door open for the cheerleader and kept his hand on the base of her spine, signalling the human was under his protection. One glance at her face was all it took for a tiny smile to appear. Her eyes were almost saucer size as she looked around the smoky bar and saw all the demons, the awe was so adorably childlike that he struggled not to comment.

“Angel, that demon’s horns are oozing.” The awe was fast replaced with disgust.

“It’s a chaos demon,” he informed and fought to get rid of the increasing smile. It wouldn’t do to come in here, looking for information with a stupid grin on his face. He’d be laughed out of town.

“Oh.” Cordelia nodded and tried her hardest not to stare. She’d seen her share of demons and vampires, but never so many in one place. Huh. The evils of Sunnydale peacefully getting drunk. The thought amused her.

A gentle push on her spine had her following Angel towards the bar and a man who paled at the sight of them. “Hey Willie, how’s it going?”

Cordelia’s brows touched her hairline. She’d never heard him talk that way before. It reminded her of the good cop, bad cop thing on TV. Cool. She could work with this. Getting into it, she went to lean on the bar top, but stopped short. There was cigarette ash engraved into the wood, beer stains, and other marks which she didn’t care to know about. “Do you ever clean in here?”

Willie frowned. “She’s not from the Department of Health, is she?”

Angel poked the cheerleader in the back, hoping to get the shut up message across. “We’re here looking for someone. Vampire. A female vampire…”

“Looks like me.” Cordelia jumped in with a sly tone to her voice. “Tell us what you know, and I just might overlook your less than perfect hygiene.”

The vampire resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

Willie’s gaze went from her to him and back again, all the while staying silent.

She moved closer to the bartender, an evil gleam in her eye. “You know who this is, right?” Cordelia nudged her head to Angel and didn’t wait for an answer. “Then I don’t have to tell you what happens when things don’t go his way. Now. Tell me, have you seen a vampiress who looks exactly like me?”

She got nothing so she tried again. “Lemme see if I can get that cat off your tongue…”

Angel was about to shatter her game, but he just didn’t have the heart. She seemed so excited to be playing a female Kojack. “You’re not ignoring the lady, are you Will?” His tone was light, almost calm, but held a sliver of violence that made Cordelia shiver.

The bartender shook his head. For the life of him, he couldn’t find it in himself to speak. The only human female to grace his door was the slayer, but she didn’t have the assets this one did. He checked the faces of his patrons. Obviously, he wasn’t the only to notice the pretty brunette.

Cordelia made a point of impatiently sighing as she slowly unzipped her purse and took out her cellphone. “One word from me and this place will be shut down like that.” She snapped her fingers.

“Answer the question, Will.” Angel commanded, not admitting to the miniscule enjoyment he was getting out of this.

“No,” Willie finally got over the fact he had a tasty bit of totty in his bar. “Haven’t seen her.”

He was telling the truth. If the blank look on Willie’s face wasn’t testimony enough, then the increasing scent of fear was. Unfortunately, Angel wasn’t fast enough to stop Cordelia before she took it upon herself to go from being Kojack, to being a very bad cop.

“See, this is me not believing.” The cheerleader shook her head and feigned sympathy. Threatening, “Do you want him to lose it?”

Angel rubbed a hand over his face, shaking his head for a second. “Cordelia, he’s telling the truth. She hasn’t been in here.” Come to think of it, why would the vampiress go to the first place they’d look? Stupid, really. “Come on.”

“But…” The bad cop act fell as he dragged her away with a finger still pointed in Willie’s direction. “He was cracking. I just know it.” She could feel it in her bones.

Half the patrons watched the scene in amusement, then quickly forgot about them in favour of more drink. After all, seeing Angelus with a loony brunette was nothing new.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The two walked, almost arm in arm, down the street, each of them looking through different windows of the shops and buildings they passed in the hope of finding the run away vampiress. They’d checked out some of the other better known demon friendly bars in town and had so far found squat.

Cordelia divided her time between window shopping and vampire hunting, while Angel spent half his time scowling. Whether she knew it or not, the brunette had been subjected to lecherous stares, her breasts had been the focus of comments, and one guy had been inches away from stealing a grope of her ass.

Angel gave said guy a look and had probably gone to change his pants. Funny. He never thought looking like a vampire was all that scary. Oh well.

In all the time he’d spent with Buffy, she’d never been the object of this form of attention, but then Buffy was a slayer and was more than capable of dealing with a human male. Cordelia wasn’t and that just made him scowl all the more. Without warning, images of her being assaulted, in many ways, entered his head.

He heard her muffled screams, saw her being held down, being made to do things she didn’t want to do. He imagined her clothes torn, her bleeding from places that shouldn’t unnaturally bleed. It was all too easy to see her being made a victim. It wasn’t nice and he knew those images wouldn’t leave him for a long time to come.

As much as he’d like to, he couldn’t protect her 24/7. The vampiress taught him that. “What self defence do you know?” Angel suddenly asked, purposely keeping his eyes too the floor for fear she’d see what lay behind them.

Confused, “Huh?”

“Karate, judo. You know any?”

Cordelia looked at him. “If I did, I’d feel a lot better about going out at night. Why?”

Decision made. “After school tomorrow night, stop by the mansion.” He paused. “Bring sweats.”

She searched his face for some sign of what he was thinking, but found nothing. Replying, “Sure.” She would ask why, but her gut feeling told her not to ask. “Listen, I’ve been thinking.”

That could only mean trouble. “Oh?”

“The spell to get Cordy home. It doesn’t work from our world, right?” Angel nodded. “Well, what if it only goes one way?”

“What do you mean?”

She stopped, placing her hand on his arm to ensure she had his full attention. “What if it only works one way? Like a one way street.”

Angel thought about it and slowly nodded. “Makes sense, considering both attempts to get her home have failed.” If it was a case of it being a one way street, then the vampiress was here until someone from her world crossed over to get her.

“You think that could be it?” Cordelia asked with a worried look. She didn’t want to get the vampiress hopes up, only to destroy them again.

“It’s worth researching.” He smiled at her and covered her hands with his so she knew he was being sincere. “Good thinking.”

The cheerleader beamed and stood a little straighter, a move which made him want to smile. “Why thank you, Robin.” The moment was broken when she voiced his very thoughts. “Wouldn’t that mean somebody from her Sunnydale would need to come get her?”

“Yes.”

Silence followed and the brunette averted her gaze. “That somebody would be Angelus, right?” She didn’t fancy having Angelus running round Sunnydale again.

Angel avoided her gaze, not wanting to see the horror that would certainly be in her eyes. Eventually saying, “I don’t know.”

Cordelia frowned. “He would come for her, right? He wouldn’t just let her go without a fight?” It seemed to her that if something belonged to Angelus, then he’d go out of his way to protect it. If Angelus didn’t come for the vampiress, then her views on him were wrong. Very wrong indeed.

“He might. I’m not too comfortable…”

Like she cared. “Would you let her go without a fight? I mean, if I wanna know what Angelus would do, then who better to ask then the man… pire himself?”

When his gaze returned to the brunette’s face, his brown eyes were lit up with something she couldn’t name, and a smirk on his face she didn’t understand. It didn’t go a long way to making her feel cosy being with him. “Angel?” He wasn’t scaring her as much as he was putting her on edge.

The intensity had her hands coming up to warm her arms against the icy burn creeping over her skin and she was reminded of who, what, lay under the angelic facade. Angel backed the cheerleader up into the closest ally, kept moving until she felt the rough scrape of bricks against her shoulders.

A finger under her chin ensured she had no choice but to look up into his tiger’s eyes as he spoke. “Cordelia may not be his childe, but she’s his. If anyone is gonna hurt her, it’s him. He’ll either come for her or he’ll destroy the world.”

Lines wrinkled her forehead as she tried to see past the act. “Like you did with Buffy? You couldn’t have her, so you tried to suck the world into hell?” That thought made her sick. Was that really the kind of vampire he was? One who got so bent out of shape because of woman that he’d rather die than not have her?

Her reasoning floored Angel, even if she was wrong about his motives. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“I don’t understand.” Her frown deepened and he wanted to smooth the crinkles out of her skin, so he did. Cordelia froze as she felt calloused fingertips lightly brush over her forehead. She refused to let him distract her. “You love her, yet you tried to suck the world into hell because it seemed like a good idea?”

Strands of silky brown hair went from side to side as she shook her head. “I don’t believe you. You must have had a better reason than that.”

“Why is it so hard to believe I had no reason to open up Acathla?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. You don’t strike me as the kind of manpire who’d waste his time by doing something without cause, and I think it’s because you wanted her attention.”

Angel tapped the head that was working overtime. “And why do you think that?”

Hazel eyes rolled in exasperation. “Duh. You’d had a soul forever and suddenly the leash was gone, leaving you free to do whatever you wanted. You could be you again. Punishment over. Maybe it wasn’t just Buffy’s attention you wanted, maybe you wanted everybody to know you were back and ready to rock.”

“So what you’re saying is…” She broke in.

“That without a soul, you’re an attention seeking big bully who tore my Donna Karen. You still haven’t fully answered my question. Will Angelus come for her?”

“If she really means as much to him as she says, then yes. He’d move heaven and earth to get her back.”

“You walked through hell too get back to Buffy.” It was same thing. Sort of.

Angel chuckled. He couldn’t help it. “I was in hell for a hundred years.”

The confusion in her frown gave way to sympathy as a wave of feeling caused her heart to hurt for him. What he must have gone through. “A hundred years is a long time.”

“You, Giles, Buffy. All ghosts.”

“We were dead to you.” Cordelia reached up to stroke his cheek in an effort to soothe him. She followed the lines on his forehead down to his cheeks and jaw. Without thinking, she rose up on tiptoes to press a soft, warm smooch on the corner of his mouth.

He never got a chance to ask why she did that. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

She grinned at him and ducked under the arm holding her against the wall, sliding past him in a graceful move that reminded him of dancers. Angel had one question for the brunette. “You don’t separate me from Angelus. Why is that?”

“You’re still a vampire, Angel.”

He got the wrong idea. “A monster.”

Cordelia flinched at the description. “I wouldn’t call you a monster, not even sans soul. Sure, you maybe what nightmares are made of at times, but come on. You’re a vampire. It’s in your nature to be nightmarish.”

Angel sort of understood what she was saying and he was helpless to the flickering of his lips. “So what you’re saying is I’m a noble monster.” Her grin was answer enough. “Oh. Thanks.”

She whacked his shoulder. “Anytime,” and waltzed out of the ally, leaving him to touch the spot where she kissed.

“Nice,” he muttered with a forming smile.

*~*~*~*~*~*

It took them three solid hours to find the vampiress, and when they did, she was holed up in a dingy bar down town. She was also well on her merry way to being stinking drunk.

Though Cordelia didn’t have an enhanced sense of smell, she still recoiled from the overpowering scent of Tequila. “Urgh.”

Angel noticed the belligerent glimmer in the vampiress gaze and moved Cordelia to the side. He didn’t think the vampiress would really hurt her, but he wasn’t about to take the chance. The one in question stared at him and he couldn’t think of anything to say which would make this better for her.

The vampiress knocked back a shot, and immediately followed with another. Not once did she flinch.

Cordelia watched in awe. “Wow. Who taught you to drink?” Her eyes involuntarily travelled to Angel, fully expecting the vampiress to say Angelus.

In turn, Angel shot her a defensive look.

“Darla,” the vampiress replied. “She said since I died young, I had to live fast. Here.” She poured her twin a glass and shoved it into her hand.

Cordelia grinned, looking like an eager puppy as she wasted no time in going for it. It was a shock to feel her lips touch emptiness. “Hey! That’s mine.”

Angel didn’t care. He wasn’t about to let her drink Tequila. Keeping her attention, he gave a tiny sarcastic smile before downing it.

Cordelia’s glare never faltered. “You let me drink wine.”

“A couple of glasses of wine is a bit different to this. This,” he shook the empty glass at the cheerleader. “Is liquid evil.”

“The perfect substance for Mister Morality here.”

They stood there, in a down trodden hole, engaging in a game of stare out. It would have continued for a while longer if a snort of disgust broke the tension.

“Get a room.”

The cheerleader blushed and averted her gaze. He cleared his throat. “We should get you to a room.”

The vampiress smirked. “Angelus always did have a thing for twins.”

Angel’s blank expression did nothing to keep Cordelia out. She offered a smile and touched his arm, earning herself a nod of gratitude for the fact she let the remark go.

“That’s right,” the vampiress slurred. “Nuthin to see here.” Despite her heavily intoxicated state, she still managed to fill the line of shot glasses and drink them, all without spilling a drop.

Even Angel found it impressive, and when he saw the bartender glance towards two empty bottles, he definitely became impressed.

“You’re certainly not letting the side down.” Cordelia tugged on Angel’s sleeve. “Darla’s good.”

Yeah. So good she got herself dusted. Staking her had been the right thing to do, but it still stung. Darla was his sire. She taught him everything she knew.

He changed the subject and rephrased. “Let’s get you back to Giles. You can sleep it off and deal with tomorrow with a clear head.”

The vampiress rolled dilated eyes. Scoffing, “Like a clear head is needed to be a stray.”

Cordelia took her hand off his arm and placed it on a shoulder identical to her own. “You’re not a stray.”

“Oh no? Let’s look at the facts.” The vampiress bypassed the glasses altogether, choosing to drink straight from the bottle instead. A long, slow drink was had before she continued. “I have no home, no companion, no sire or family. What am I, if not a stray?”

There was so much more she wanted to say, but she was too passed out to say it. Shame really. She was making good headway in practicing to be a drunken bum.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“You found her, I see.” Giles commented with a smile as he looked at the snoring brunette in Angel’s arms. He was about to walk over and take the vampiress, but the stale stench of Tequila stopped him short. “Ah. Understandable, given the circumstances.”

Cordelia grinned at the watcher. “You should see her drink. She’s like a one woman 18-30’s.”

“I’ll put her to bed, then walk you home.” Angel adjusted his grip on the vampiress so he could look at the cheerleader while he talked to her. “Unless you have your car.”

She shook her head. “I left my car at the cemetery, so no transportation for Cordy.”

“I’ll take you there. Or if you want to go straight home, I can pick up your car on the way back to the mansion.”

“The cemetery is fine. I’ll need it for tomorrow night, remember?”

Angel smiled, feeling a tiny amount of pride that she was the one to bring it up. He nodded, but didn’t get a chance to say anything.

Giles watched the interaction between vampire and cheerleader. It wasn’t friendly, but nor was it enemies. It was something in the middle and it worried him. Especially with what Buffy was saying earlier. Quizzing, “Tomorrow night?”

“Yeah,” Cordelia replied with a smile. “Angel’s going to teach me self defence. I’m gonna kick ass, Giles. Hiya!” Her fists clumsily punched the air as she jumped on the spot. “How cool will that be?”

The watcher was cut off when she glanced at Angel. “Are you gonna show me how to use weapons and stuff? Cus daddy said I’ve got a great aim with a gun.”

Both Angel and Giles looked at each other with identical expressions of disbelief and shock. Only one of them had the power to speak. “Your father encourages you to use a gun?”

“Uh-huh. My parents are away a lot on business and daddy said I should know how to defend myself, you know? So he enrolled me in the Sunnydale gun club.” The smile on her face was brighter than the sun. “I’m the proud owner of a Colt Double Eagle.”

Yes, well. “We’ll stick to the basics for now.” Angel said slowly as he tried to process the latest bit of information. The thought of her packing a sweet piece like that would probably keep him up. Or have him sleeping with one eye open. He made a mental note not to piss her off.

“Oh, okay.” She was disappointed, but, “I’ll trust your judgement, Obi Wan.”

The sound of dry lips smacking together disrupted the calm atmosphere and all looked at the vampiress in time to see her thumb go into her mouth, her lips sucking gently. “Night night,” she mumbled around her digit.

Unconsciously, Angel and Giles glanced to Cordelia. One appeared quizzical and the other severely amused. She was quick to stop their thoughts. “I don’t do that.”

“Of course not.” The watcher gravely nodded in agreement.

“I never thought that.” Angel looked entirely too innocent for his own good.

“I don’t!” Cordelia defended. “Really. Giles, tell him I don’t suck my thumb.”

As much as it would be to stand there and tease her mercilessly, the vampiress was heavier than he thought. “I’ll just put her to bed and we’ll go.” Angel left the room to the rhythmic beat of the cheerleader’s loud protests that she did not suck her thumb.

He opened the guest room door with his back and turned so the door handle didn’t bounce off her head, which definitely wouldn’t need the extra pounding in the morning. A second later saw the vampiress laid down on the bed, with Angel standing over her, moving hair out of her face. The salty scent of tears had gone unnoticed for most of the night, but not now.

Not when there was nothing else to distract him.

The vampire sighed helplessly, knowing there was nothing he could do. If Cordelia’s theory was right, then her happiness fell on the shoulders of Angelus, or someone else from her world. Angel hoped to God her Angelus thought as much of her as she claimed. If not…

Well, he didn’t want to think about that scenario yet.

He took one last look at sleeping beauty, offered a smile, and left to walk the other one back to her car.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The atmosphere between Angel and Cordelia was comfortable. Though they weren’t talking, they shared the occasional smile and the odd brush of arms and hands. The silence lasted most of the way to her car, which was parked near the main gates to Restfield, and then the quiet time was over.

“You want a ride home?” Cordelia asked as she stifled a yawn.

“Nah. It’s not too far from here.”

“If not too far means being a solid fifteen minute walk.”

Angel shrugged. “I could do with the exercise.”

Hazel eyes rolled in amusement. “And weight loss is something you have to worry about. Look, you were nice enough to walk me here, so the least I can do is give you a ride.”

Again, he said no. “I was actually going to do a quick sweep.”

She frowned. Was that his way of saying he didn’t want her company anymore? “Okay, if you say so. I’ll see you tomorrow night, if it’s still on?”

He frowned. “Of course. That is, if you still want to learn.” The comfortable ambience appeared to be getting shot to hell and for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out why.

“Sure.”

They stood there, Angel had his eyes on the spot over her left shoulder, and Cordelia had hers on his shoes. He shoved his hands into his pockets and her shoulders began to twist back and forth. His lips pursed outwards while hers copied the motions of her shoulders, sliding to and fro, causing dimples to appear at the corners of her mouth.

“Guess I’ll go home, then. Good night.” Cordelia fished around in her bag for the car keys, all the while firmly and forcibly keeping her gaze off of Angel.

First lesson in self defence came sooner than she thought when he tilted her chin and made her look at him. “Never take your eyes off the vampire, Cordelia. We’re sly, opportunistic creatures.”

That brought a flickering smile to her face. “So, if I close my eyes, you’ll run off with my purse and credit cards?”

Angel was helpless to the responding flickering of his own lips. “You could try it. See what happens.”

She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him. “Go on. Close your eyes.” When she showed no signs of doing that, he sighed unnecessarily.

“Alright! Alright!” It was mainly out of defiance that Cordelia closed her eyes, and not curiousity. “Promise not to peek.”

Angel looked at her standing in front of his with her eyes closed and head tilted up. The moon highlighted her tan with silver and thread platinum through chestnut hair, while long lashes cast spidery shadows under almond shaped eyes. She had a little beauty mark on her right cheek that added to the soft features.

He leaned down, inhaling her fruity perfume, and gently placed his lips on her cheek, his hands cupping the nape of her neck. Her eyes flew open in shock just as he pulled back. “Seemed like a good idea at the time. Goodnight Cordelia. Sleep tight.”
The cheerleader barely managed a nod as he handed her both keys and purse. “All your credit cards and cash are in there. You can check.”

He didn’t wait around to either see her off or hear what she had to say, he simply shot her a quirky smirk and disappeared from sight.

Cordelia blinked once, twice, thrice, and brought a hand up to where his kiss lingered. “Nice.”

While she was getting into her car, Angel was hid behind a tree and toying with a delicate gold chain, wondering how long it’d be before she realised he’d pilfered her necklace. He held it up to look at the charm, a little gold star with a centre diamond, and smirked. Sly and opportunistic indeed.

The yelling he knew he’d get would be well worth it to see the look on her face when he gave it back to her. Tonight, he thought as he fixed it around his throat, he’d keep it for the good luck when he took down the clan of demons with the large claws.

The less of them there were, the less chance Cordelia, all two of them, had of being skewered. Sunnydale would be made a much safer place for them tonight.
Part 13:
She rolled to her side, eyes open and staring at the same curtains she’d been staring at for the last four days. They were a nice mulberry shade and if she looked close enough, the swirly pattern actually began to swirl. Of course, the swirling motion could be caused by one of two things.

Hunger and the fact she hadn’t moved in ninety six hours.

Putting on a brave face and happy smile for a bunch of stanking humans didn’t go a long way in feeding her sense of fun, and having them see her cry just wasn’t gonna happen. Last thing she wanted, or needed, was to see their faces full of pity.

Cordelia sniffed as her brow furrowed in an effort to hold back hot tears. God, she was pathetic, and if she was honest, a little on the whiffy side.

It was easy to ignore the salty drop of water on her lip, it was easier still to pretend she was in her own bed and staring at her thick velvet drapes. If she closed her eyes, she could feel her lover’s chest against her back and his hands in intimate places.

The second she heard a knock on the door was the same second the duvet went over her head. “Go away.”

“How about not?”

It was the other her. The one with the freaky deaky heart beat. The vampiress repeated herself. “Go away.”

“Again,” Giving up so soon was not on Cordelia’s agenda. “How about not? How about I stay and drag your lazy ass out of bed?”

“I’ll bite you.”

Cordelia may have taken the vampiress seriously, but talking duvets were just too damn amusing. The only signs of life were a moving heard and muffled voice. She walked further into the guest room, pausing long enough to shake her head at coffee staining the wall. So that’s what happened to Giles novelty mug. “For you to bite me, you’d have to get out of bed.”

“Not if you got in.”

“And give Xander a year’s supply of wet dreams? I’ll pass if it’s all the same.”

“Your loss.”

Hazel eyes rolled, as did hidden golden ones. A count of three past and the duvet spoke again. “I know you’re still there. I can smell you.”

“Yeah,” Cordelia scoffed. “And I can smell you. Ever heard of showers, and more importantly, deodorant?”

There was a pause. “You’re not going away, are you?” The vampiress didn’t have to look to know the stubborn girl was grinning. She damned herself to hell and shoved the duvet off her head.

It was the first time Cordelia really saw herself with bed hair. Only one word fit the bill. Terrifying, truly terrifying. “Your hair looks like a bird’s nest.”

The vampiress was not to be outdone. “Fingers and sockets, my freaky human self, don’t mix.”

“Excuse me?” The fanged one did not insult her hair.

The vampiress simply smiled. “What time is it?”

Cordelia couldn’t resist. “A little after get up time. I’ve got plans tonight and you’re coming along.”

Like hell. “I’m not.”

“You really are.”

“No, I’m really not.”

“You can say no all you want, it won’t make any difference. You are so coming.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

God, the cheerleader was so damn easy. The vampiress laughed. “Not.”

“Are.”

“Not.”

“Are.”

“Will you both give it a rest?” An irritated English accent rose above the escalating voices, and both girls met an equally irritated face.

The vampiress was quicker to place blame than Cordelia. “She started it by barging in here.”

“I did not.” Cordelia looked to Giles, desperate to be believed. “I didn’t barge. I knocked.”

“And I said for her to go away. She barged and now she’s trying to make me go out, which I’m not doing.”

A manicured finger pointed in the vampiress’ direction. “You are. Giles, tell her.”

The watcher rubbed his tired face before speaking. He glanced at the bedraggled brunette. “Apparently I have to tell you.”

“Giles!” Cordelia glared at him. “I’m not doing this for the good of my health. She’s been rotting away in here for the last four days, the least you can do is help me get her ass outta there.”

His eyes went from the cheerleader to the vampiress, sighing when he saw the despair carefully cloaked with annoyance. Poor thing. “Cordelia, would you be so kind as to put the kettle on please?”

A few seconds of silence gave way to a grunted yes and she stomped off to do as asked. He smiled at the muttered grumbles following the petulant footsteps. The vampiress was pouting when his attention returned to her. “She is right, you know. You can’t stay in here forever.”

Couldn’t she? A few dead bolts here and there, a barricade or two for the windows, a slot big enough for food. No problem. See. She could stay in here forever, or a very long time.

He watched as her knees shifted close to her chest and fingers plucked at the duvet. It was strange to see a vampire look so sad. “There’s no need for that. You’re too pretty for tears.”

She snorted, but agreed. “Puffy eyes are so not me.”

Giles moved to sit on the edge of the bed, holding back a smile when she swiped under her lashes and grimacing when they came away smudged. That mascara had been there since her little detour to the drunken side. How gross could a girl be? She could only guess what she looked like. “I have go to wash my face. Hm. Getting out of bed oughta make the prom queen happy.”

“She means well, but she doesn’t understand. She’s not like you…”

“She is like me, you just don’t wanna acknowledge it.”

He raised an eyebrow. “If you’d let me finish. She hasn’t lost two families, which you have.”

Cordelia finally raised her gaze to meet his. “You’ve lost family?”

“My father suffered a massive heart attack in his sleep. I miss him very much.”

“My parents died after he tried to pull a fast one with Jorgan. What kind of idiot tries to con a vampire?”

Giles didn’t have many words of comfort, but, “I lost someone I loved to a vampire.” He didn’t tell her which vampire.

“Is that why you hunt us?”

Having been listening, Cordelia chose that moment to walk in, thus saving both the watcher and vampiress from unease. “Kettle’s on, the cups are ready, the biscuits have been found, and you my dear fangy friend, are getting out of bed.”

The vampiress was simply to proud and stubborn. “No, I’m not.”

Okay, enough was enough. Cordelia squared her shoulders and her chin came up in the age old show of ground standing. “Giles, can you give us a moment alone please? I need to have a little talk with myself.”

If there was one thing he did not want, it was getting caught between two females. More to the point, he did not want to get caught between these two particular females. “I’ll go make the tea while you have your…” Argument? Row? War? “Chat.”

He received distant thanks when he left the room.

Cordelia purposely shut the door and waited until footsteps were no longer heard. It only took a second or two for her to reach the bed, and she stood over a pair of golden eyes blinking up at her. “I fully realise you can and probably will kill me for this, but it has to be done. Sorry.”

The slap stung the vampiress cheek and was hard enough to send her head snapping to the side with a tiny crack. She was too stunned to react right away and when she did, it was a laugh full of disbelief. “First off, that hurt, and second, I’ve killed for less.”

The cheerleader clenched her hand into a fist to stop herself from saying the word ow. Damn. That freaking hurt! “Go on then. I’m waiting.”

“Waiting for what?”

Duh. “You to bite me dead.” Or whatever. Hopefully Giles would hear her agonised screams and come to help before she went into the light.

“Oh.” A slow smile spread across the vampiress face as she eased out of bed. The way her cramped up muscles were complaining, she doubted she could kill herself let alone anyone else. She arched an eyebrow. “I won’t kill you. I’ll just give you nightmares.”

Cordelia snorted. “And how would you give me nightmares?”

That was easy. “Principal Snyder’s bare ass.”

There was a moment in the life of every person where they were treated to something so horrific, that the brain shuts down to block out the trauma. This was that time. Unfortunately for Cordelia, she was so busy preparing for physical pain, that she didn’t have time to register what was said until it was too late. The image was in there and it wasn’t leaving.

“That was just wrong.”

Yeah, well. “So was that bitch slap.”

“You deserved a bitch slapping. I rephrase. You needed a bitch slap. Admit it.”

“I plead the fifth. Now get out.”

“I told you. I’m not leaving you to wither away into a big pile of misery.”

Golden eyes rolled in exasperation. Fine. If that’s how the prom queen wanted to play it. The vampiress shrugged and began stripping off, talking casually all the while. Oh gross. She had to peel the top off and the stench that came with it was more than enough to send Cordelia running for the door.

“I’ll see you when you’ve rediscovered the joys of hygiene.”

Following the slamming door was the sound of the vampiress sniggering. Worked like a charm.

*~*~*~*~*

A couple of hours later saw the vampiress enjoying a third steaming hot mug of pig’s blood. She hadn’t realised she was so hungry. Who knew misery was a fantastic appetite suppressor? She oughta sell it to models.

Cordelia and Giles watched as the vampiress inhaled the first two cups, then slowly savoured the third. If this was how much a vampire could eat, then it was no wonder so many humans died of being bitten.

The last few of her absence had given him time enough to look over the cheerleader’s suggestion of the spell, and she turned out to be correct in thinking it would only work from the vampiress’ dimension. Something which gave both pause for thought.

Someone would have to come and take her home. It was no question who that someone would be, but there was the question of if and when he would come. Neither particularly wanted to be around if and when that happened as he wasn’t a person they wanted to be up close and personal with ever again, for entirely different reasons.

The sound of the vampiress finishing with a loud slurp followed by the word yummy and the empty being slammed down on the table. Golden eyes went from Giles to her twin, and back again. “Okay, what is it?”

Cordelia didn’t want to be the one to get the vampiress hopes up, so she looked to Giles who sighed in resignation. “I’ve gone over the spell…”

The vampiress face tensed. “And? Did you find out why it didn’t work?”

He had to give her credit. After the disappointment she’d had, she still wasn’t giving up. “I did as a matter of fact.”

There was a hesitancy in his voice she really didn’t like. A lead weight began crushing down on her chest as the very worst thoughts started to creep through her brain. Please don’t let him say it was hopeless. She wasn’t sure if she could take that bombshell right about now, even if she was half expecting it. “Spit it out.”

“It didn’t work because…”

God, it was too painful. It was gonna take a millenia for him to reach the second sentence and so Cordelia jumped in. “It only works from your world.” Off the confused look she got, “The spell was done from your place, therefore someone needs to open it from your world and come get you.”

The vampiress was simply confused. “Wouldn’t that mean there would be two of us stuck here?”

Giles shook his head. “Not at all. Someone from your world would be able to keep the gates open while you’re rescued, so to speak. There’s also an amulet that can be used to retain the magic needed to keep the gates open. I did try searching for that amulet in this world, but no such luck. Sorry.”

There was obviously more to it than that, but he correctly assumed she wouldn’t want or need to know the exact details. He wasn’t sure if she could handle the fact that it may not work at all, but he had already underestimated one Cordelia, he wasn’t going to do it again.

The vampiress fell silent as she soaked up what the man was saying. Her fingers tapped off the smooth wood, lips pursed and straightened a few times over, and face portrayed the fact she was mulling over her next question. “Are you saying all I can do is wait?” A very bad thing since waiting wasn’t her strongest point at the best of times.

Now for the bit he really didn’t want to bring up. He took a deep breath before he dove in. “Have you given any thought as what you will do if, for any reason, you can’t go home?”

She sat back with a smirk as she read between the lines. “What you’re trying to subtly ask is what am I gonna do when Angelus doesn’t come for me, right?” She didn’t wait for their reply. “He will come get me, I know he will. If he doesn’t, then my sire will.” And if her sire didn’t come, then there was something very, very wrong in her world.

Neither Cordelia or Giles had given her sire a second thought. Angelus crossing over was bad enough, but the Master? Giles remembered the events of the Harvest only too well. Buffy had died, if only for a few moments, but it had been long enough for another slayer to be called. He didn’t dare think on how she would react to seeing the vampire who killed her.

Never did he think he’d see the day he wanted to see Angelus again. Thankfully, the vampiress didn’t notice the worry on their faces.

“My sire would have a field day here,” she said with a shine in her eyes. “A sugar coated Angelus, a slayer and her watcher, a human me The Bronze going to waste. He could do great things here. Don’tcha think?”

Cordelia was the one to reply. “Yeah. Really great.” Desperate to get the subject away from the Master, “I’m going horse riding later before my date. Want to come?” The plan had been to train with Angel before going meeting Xander at the Bronze, but she was sure he wouldn’t mind postponing until tomorrow night. Besides, it seemed like a lifetime since Keanu had been put through his paces, and if the vampiress did come, then they would have a chance to talk about things they couldn’t talk about in front of Giles.

If the vampiress was gonna be here awhile, then surely it made sense to inform her of what happened last year after Angel lost his soul before she heard it from less objective sources. Like Buffy and Xander, for example. Xander was still smarting over the pants thing and Buffy would use it to get one over on the vampiress, and as far as Cordelia was concerned, the vampiress wasn’t deserving of the slayer’s petulance.

The vampiress went from cheerfully hopeful to giddy with excitement in the space of two seconds. Horses appeared to be yet another passion she shared with her twin. She could live with that. She wondered if Angel shared the same passion as Angelus. If so, then tonight could go a long, long way in getting Cordelia and him to sit up and take notice of each other.

Horse riding was one of Angelus favourite forms of foreplay and if Angel was a pansy ass version of her companion, then he was going to have a damn good time watching. Voyeurism and riding combined? The joys of life sprung to mind.

“Will Angel be escorting us again?” There was a date to ruin, Angel had better be coming.

“I think you can be trusted not to do anything untoward.” Giles commented dryly. Never did he think he’d live to see the day he trusted the life of one of his kids with a vampire, but there it was.

The vampiress gave a simple shrug. “I am a vampire. I can turn at any time. Angel should definitely come with us. You know, just to keep me in line.”

Didn’t that sound innocent? Giles never got a chance to voice his suspicions when Cordelia spoke. “I have to go see Angel anyway to postpone the defence class, we can ask him then.” The absence of the vampiress the last four days had given her time to get to know him a bit more and she was beginning to genuinely enjoy his company. It saddened her somewhat whenever she went into the mansion.

He had an old, warn couch that wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, there was a small selection of juice drinks in the tiny refridgerator, which she figured were for her benefit. No TV, VCR, stereo, or anything that resembled everyday life. She’d never been in his bedroom, so she wasn’t sure what he had there, but she doubted it was much. She didn’t like what it expressed.

It was almost like he wanted to exist as little as possible.

Giles smiled warmly at the cheerleader. “How is training?”

She beamed in response, pleased someone had asked how things were going. “I’ve only had a couple of lessons, but Angel says I’m doing well. We’re sticking with basic kick boxing and judo for now, then moving onto some light weights and weapon handling. I say crossbows and he says swords. Did you know he pinched my necklace?”

The watcher’s brows rose. “Really?”

Cordelia nodded. “Um-hm. First rule of self defence. Awareness. I took his wallet, so we’re squits.” Off the identical looks, “What can I say? Years of sneaking daddy’s credit card paid off. My allowance can only buy so much pizza.”

“I hear ya,” the vampiress voice was full of understanding. “My sire usually gives me what I want, but there are times when that simply doesn’t cut it, and I don’t just mean life’s little luxuries. Gas, utilities, the occasional portion of spicy chicken wings. It all builds up.”

Now it was her receiving the looks of incredulity. “Vampires are people too. We eat, sleep, bathe. All that takes money. Then there’s the utilities on my parents’ house. Angelus and I go there every other weekend or when there’s some serious screwing to be done. With my sire, Darla, and my other siblings, privacy can be pretty hard to come by.”

“Yes,” Giles stated louder than necessary. “I can very well imagine.” He glanced at the cheerleader in time to see wide, curious eyes blink once or twice. “As I was saying. I am indeed proud that you’re taking the initiative, Cordelia.”

“He’s better than the gym. Probably has more experience, too. Then there’s the fact he knows how to work muscles I didn’t know existed. He’s mean, but in a good way.”

The vampiress was now sporting a grin that went from ear to ear. “He certainly does.” The meaning behind the statement was crystal clear to all, including the plant in the corner.

“Okay,” Cordelia couldn’t keep her face from scrunching up. “TMI. Way TMI.”

It wasn’t enough information as far as the vampiress was concerned. “Oh come on, Cor…” Her head tilted to the side. “Using my name to describe myself is really weird. You’ve never called me Cor, Cordy, or Cordelia. Thinking on it, you’ve never said my name at all. Try it. It’s kind of fun.”

Uh? “Cordelia…” She paused. “Weird. It’s like I’m talking in the third person…”

“Only not? I’m right there with ya.”

Giles watched as the two shared identical smiles and shook his head, but he had no time to comment as the vampiress yet again interrupted. “You are right, watcher man. I do need to think about what I’m gonna do if, and that’s Texas sized, nobody comes for me.”

The unexpected and swift turn in conversation startled both humans, and they looked at the vampiress in anticipation. She took an unnecessary deep breath. “I’ll still be a vampire, an Aurelius to be exact. I have responsibilities, even if both my sire and Darla are dust. I’m guessing there’s a Spike and Drusilla in this land.”

Giles sudden tension was only noticed by Cordelia, whose eyes portrayed rising panic. There had been no thought given to this situation, to any of the situations starting to arise. Of course she’d want to find what family she had. He forced back the frown and tried to ignore the heavy weight pressing down on his chest as his thoughts grew thick and fast.

He’d done what he said he’d never do and let his guard down. She was a vampire, and being a direct descendant of the Master himself, there was every possibility of her becoming exceptionally powerful. Her smiles and good behaviour wore him down so slowly, he’d never realised. Still, he said nothing, giving her leave to continue.

“I doubt it’d be too hard to find them, not with the undead grapevine putting the Enquirer to shame.” The vampiress took the silence the wrong way. “I won’t be a charity case, Rupert. I won’t live off of you forever. I can’t.”

She didn’t just mean living under his roof, either, and he knew it.

*~*~*~*~*

Disgust was what she felt the moment she entered the mansion. There was nothing there. Nothing to symbolise his family and what he was, and knowing a part of Angelus allowed himself to live in a dank, dark squaller filled her with sheer disgust.

“This is where Angel lives?” She ran a finger down the mantle, grimacing when it came away grey. Obviously, there was no house keeper or servants either.

“Yep.” Cordelia sent an agreeing glance to her twin.

“I can see the potential.” Something had to be done about that man.

“Angel? You here? I knocked, but there was no answer. Angel?”

“Right behind you.”

The vampiress doubled over as the cheerleader pretty much jumped out of her skin and shrieked like a freaking banshee. Angel’s lips flickered when Cordelia’s heart rate started hammering out the Russian national anthem, complete with extra drum and bass. A solid ten seconds went past as her brain registered the fact she hadn’t retaliated.

Her hand whacked against his chest. “You big jerk. That wasn’t funny.”

The vampiress snorted and managed to cackle out a, “Yes, it really was.”

Angel glanced down at Cordelia’s clothes, seeing she wasn’t wearing what he now knew to be workout pants. “Not training tonight?”

“I have half a mind to drop kick you after that little stunt. However, I’m feeling merciful. Cordelia and I decided to go riding, and since I was heading over here to cancel, I thought to ask if you wanted to join us.” Hazel eyes narrowed. “Not that you deserve it, of course. Meanie.”

“Pardon?” He blinked once or twice, and wondered if she really had just asked him if he wanted to go out.

“Well? I’m meeting Xander at the Bronze in a few hours, so if you wanna come, we have to go now.”

Aside from her lessons and a quick patrol later, he really didn’t have anything else to do. Still, he hadn’t ridden in a long, long time, and the last he wanted was to make a complete ass of himself. “I don’t know.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes, an exasperated puff of air was released, and hands waved around. “Fine. Stay here and wallow in your lifeless existance. No skin off my nose. C’mon, Cor. Keanu awaits.”

“I met him once,” the vampiress commented to an envious cheerleader.

“Really?”

“Tried to bite him.”

Somehow, that really didn’t surprise. “You’re a lunatic. Shall we?”

Angel watched as one Cordelia followed the other back the way they came, then listened as the door closed on the identical voices chattering away. He stood there to listen until the voices were entirely gone and turned around to stare at what passed as a living room. Silence, thread bare couch, a cold grey floor with a small rug and an unlit fire.

His gaze involuntarily went back to the door and before he knew it, he was going after them. It was only being greeted by smug, victorious golden eyes that he knew he’d just been played.

The vampiress nudged Cordelia. “Told ya he’d come runnin.”

Thankfully, the other one appeared to be more content on patting her car than she was in saying anything. “Get in. You’ll be riding daddy’s horse, Ghengis. He’ll take good care of you.”

He didn’t get a chance to reply when Build Me Up, Buttercup filled the air and she fished out a shiny, tiny silver cellphone which she flipped open with all the elegance of a mobile veteran. Angel looked down to hide his smile, trying not to invade her privacy by accidentally overhearing.

“…What do you mean you can’t make it?” Irritation fueled by disappointment had her dulcet tone a mite frosty. “This is the third time this wee… Your life doesn’t revolve around me. God knows you’ve told me enough times. It’s just been ages since we’ve gone out…”

Angel spared a glance at the vampiress in time to see her head cocked to one side with an odd expression on her face.

“…Fine. Whatever.” Cordelia was saying in a manner that had him wondering what the kid was thinking in dropping his girlfriend at the last minute. “Yeah. See you tomor…” She glared at the phone like it had done something wrong. A second later, those eyes turned to them. “He hung up. Can you believe it? I don’t know what I see in him sometimes.”

Angel wanted to ask what she saw in him at all and judging by the vampiress face, she had the same thought. Unlike him, she said as much. “He pissed his pants, Cor. No man would ever piss his pants.” More to the point, “Angel wouldn’t piss his pants.”

Yes. Bringing out the masculine qualities in Angel was definitely the way to go.

“That’s because Angel is a vampire. I doubt another vampire could scare him.”

No? “Oh my God! It’s Darla!”

Neither her pointing finger or the OTT shock in her voice had Angel impressed. He simply stood and stared at the vampiress, thinking she was indeed a lunatic.

“You couldn’t even humour me, could you?”

He offered her a small smile. “Not particularly. But you get ten out of ten for effort.”

Her twin then bore witness to not only Cordelia handing the car keys to Angel, but also him opening and closing the passenger door. The thanks he got was so sweet, the vampiress used her tongue to check for fang cavities. “Please tell me Angelus and I aren’t like that. Urgh.”

Angel would certainly be taken care of and not by Ghengis.

*~*~*~*~*

Xander lay staring up at the ceiling, his hands clutching the sheets covering his naked body while his brain struggled to register the fact Willow, his best friend, lay naked next to him. He could feel her looking at him, could see out the corner of his eye the way she bit her lip. It was one tiny hour ago that he hadn’t been able to stop his hand going up her skirt or stop hers from undoing his pants.

Now here he was and he had no clue what to do or what to think. It hadn’t been what he thought it would be. The Earth hadn’t moved, she looked to be more pained than pleasured, it was fumbled and weird and the whole thing had simply felt wrong. Not that it mattered now of course, the damage was already done and he could only find one way out of the mess they’d put themselves into.

“This was between us, right?” There’d be more than hell to pay if Cordelia found out. He’d lose his girlfriend. Yeah, the same girlfriend he stood up to have awkward sex with another girl. Then there was Oz. Xander was no fool, he knew if Oz found out, the chances of being beaten to a bloody pulp was fairly high.

Willow was silent for a moment and he didn’t dare look at her. “I-it didn’t mean anything?”

He figured it was meant to come out as a statement. “You remember your boyfriend, Oz?” It maybe cruel to bring the werewolf up after having just had sex, but this whole thing between him and Willow had to end. It’d already gone too far. “It can’t mean anything.” It didn’t mean anything. Not really.

“A-and Cordelia?”

Xander ground his teeth together. The nervous stammering that seemed so adorably cute earlier was now grating on his nerves. Cordelia never stammered and she didn’t lie to anyone, least of all herself. She was too straight forward to use sugary lies to make things better.

There was a lot Willow did that Cordelia didn’t do. Nervous lip biting, being dressed by her mother, sleeping with other people’s boyfriends to name three. She didn’t flee when she got scared, didn’t freeze when things got uncomfortable.

“This is bad. So very, very bad. I’m bad. Bad Willow.”

And Cordelia didn’t talk about herself in the third person. “They don’t have to know,” he said quietly, but strongly enough to quash her rising panic. “They can’t ever know.”

“But I’m not good at secret keeping.”

At this, Xander finally looked at her. “And secret keeping isn’t what you’ve been doing the last few months?” Then he watched her face freeze like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a ten ton truck. God, he felt sick. “You do know what Cordelia will do to you, to us both, if she finds out.”

Silence yet again fell as Willow soaked up the truth of his words. The only thing to break the tense atmosphere was the ticking coming from his Spiderman clock and the sound of rapid breathing from her. He had to get out and fast.

“I should go.” He saw her nod and wasted no time in getting out of bed, getting his clothes on and going home, ready to face a sleepless night.

Part 14:
Giles eyebrows rose high at the sight of a pained Angel clutching his lower back with one hand and using the other to gently lower himself down onto the sofa. “Dare I ask?” Perhaps Cordelia was doing better in training than she thought.

“Horse riding wasn’t included with the vampire healing package.”

Oh. The Englishman didn’t bother to hide his smirk. Angel suffering in anyway just filled him with a certain type of joy. “Cordelia seems to quite alright.”

Of course Cordelia would be quite alright. When was she not quite alright? God, it sickened Angel to his stomach. Damn women. “Riding is like an extension of her life force.” The sentence was cut off by a wince when his back muscle twitched. “Where is she?”

“She is the cat’s mother and to answer your question, I’m in the kitchen.”

“Yes,” the watcher looked on in resignation. “She’s baking.”

“Blueberry muffins and a meat pie. Just a little something to say thank you for everything Rupert has done for me. Cool hands are great pastry makers.”

Angel’s expression was a far cry from the one on Giles’ face. Under the mild panic caused by a vampire baking, was a very slight shimmer of affection and it worried him. His aching body suddenly faded to nothing as he watched the man adjust his glasses and try not to glance in the direction of the kitchen. Suspicious circumstances indeed.

“There really is no need.” Giles said.

“Sure there is,” the vampiress appeared in the blink of an eye. “You bring me supper?”

Angel held out the requested blood packets which disappeared in the matter of seconds. He watched in awe as she vamped out, tore into a pouch, drank it, and then repeated with the next one. That was one hungry vampire.

A crisp white handkerchief was slipped out of her pocket and she daintily dabbed at the corners of her mouth. “Sorry about the table manners, but being around humans all day gives me the munchies. I’m sure you can understand.”

Oh yeah, he understood.

“I gotta say Angel, I don’t know how you do it. You’re a braver vampire than I, my friend. If Rupert hadn’t been so nice to me, I would’ve had a traditional English like that.” She snapped her fingers, then looked at the watcher with a cheeky grin which had Angel’s suspicions increasing. “It’s a compliment.”

Giles didn’t appear to believe her, but graciously didn’t say it aloud. “I’ll take it as it was meant.”

“No Cordelia tonight?” She asked. “I baked plenty and it seems such a shame she isn’t here.”

“That’s because she’s out with Xander tonight.” The arrival of Buffy came with the sound of an opening and closing door.

Cordelia rolled her eyes when the blonde turned to Angel and sniffed. “Hey.”

He nodded once, but said nothing.

“What a swell relationship you have. Honestly, it leaves one speechless.”

Buffy glared at the sarcastic brunette with a sneer. “You still here?”

“No. I’m a figment of your over active imagination.”

The slayer wasn’t to be outdone. “Oh, that’s right. You can’t go home unless someone comes to get you. Guess you’ll be here a while.”

“Buffy, that was uncalled for.” Giles chastised.

“No, no.” Cordelia raised a hand encased in an oven glove. “Let her speak.”

“You really think Angelus will come for you?” Blonde strands flew around her face as she shook her head in pity. The vampiress was obviously living in La La Land if she thought that was going to happen. Angelus didn’t care about anybody or anything but himself. He was a monster who turned something beautiful into something so ugly, the nightmares plagued her still.

“I know he will and I can’t wait for you to meet him.” So what if it sounded like my boyfriend will kick your ass, but what the hell. She was so gonna have front row seats for that little showdown.

There was a sickening smirk on Buffy’s face which told the men in the room what she planned on saying. “I already have.”

Golden orbs flashed with more than simple interest, but she didn’t get a chance to reply. “Yes, and we all remember how that turned out.” Giles spoke in a tone which left the air chilled. No-one in the room, bar the vampiress, wanted to relive last year.

Unfortunately for all concerned, it seemed there was one person in the room who wanted to tell the tale. “You think he loves you, will come to take you home so you can live happily ever after?”

“Happily ever after?” Cordelia nigh on choked on her own vomit. “I shudder to think.”

Buffy ground her teeth as frustration slowly gave way to anger. A human Cordelia was bad enough, but the vampiress? God, she just wanted to drive Mr. Pointy straight into the dead bitch’s heart and dance in the ashes. “You’ll be waiting a long, long time because he won’t come. He doesn’t care about you and he certainly doesn’t love you. Monsters can’t love.”

At this, the vampiress looked directly at a silent Angel, her gaze unreadable. What she saw didn’t sit well with her at all. He appeared placid, almost calm, as he sat and listened while the slayer belittled him in public. “Nothing to say, Angelus?”

“That’s Angel,” Buffy snapped. “Not Angelus.”

“And the difference is…?” Obviously, the difference was Angelus had balls enough to speak up for himself.

“Angel has a soul. He’s not a monster. A killer.”

Whoa. “A soul?” Cordelia’s eyes grew wide. “As in a human soul? You’ve gotta be shitting me! That’s why you smell funny.”

Angel suddenly found himself subjected to an intensive study by a curious cat. She looked him over, from hairline right down to his shoes, and back up again. Her face was so close to his, he could see the exact shape of the beauty mark on her cheek. A finger poked his shoulder once, then again, and again.

He then allowed himself to be dragged off the couch and stood stock still while she walked round him. She touched first the back of his neck and his shoulder blades, and finally walked round to face him where she stared intensely at his eyes. She saw emotion in them, but not the kind of emotion she was used to in a vampire. Hunger, anger, sadness, agony. They were all right there for her to see.

Despite the thick atmosphere, Giles couldn’t help but find the sight of a vampiric science project amusing. He watched as Angel sat there cooler than ice as the brunette peered into his ears, poked and prodded each shoulder, sniffed and finally pinched his skin, eliciting a shocked yelp.

Cordelia then turned to the Englishman with a single, complicated question that would lead to more of the same. “How?”

“Killed a Gypsy girl,” Angel’s voice was low, husky from a bloody memory that haunted. Though his words for her, his eyes were entirely focused on Buffy. “Got cursed for my trouble.”

“How could a soul be a curse? You get to experience everything…” The vampiress paused as it sank in. “Oh. Bummer. My Angelus killed a Gypsy girl and never got cursed. How come you did and he didn’t?”

“I don’t know.”

“You didn’t kill that girl. Angelus did.” The conversation wasn’t what Buffy wanted to hear, or Giles. “You’re not Angelus.”

Cordelia really didn’t agree. “You know what they say. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. A soul doesn’t make him different. It makes him… Unique. He’s still a vampire, he’s merely adapted to being a vampire with a soul stuffed in there.”

A ping from the kitchen thankfully interrupted her and it wasn’t just Angel who heard it with relief. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

“Take your time.” Buffy muttered, then cleared her throat. “I’m gonna go. You know, patrol. I’ll check when I’m done.”

“Want some help?” Angel asked, knowing full well what her answer would be. Every time his past came up, she ran or ignored it or pretended he’d had no existance until he met her.

“I got this one. Later Giles.” And she was gone before anything else could be said. She needed to think, something which could only be done if he wasn’t there.

A few moments went by when the only sounds in the room were a ticking clock and a beating heart. A few more moments passed and those noises were drowned out by a familiar voice spouting out a familiar form of sarcasm which came accompanied with the delicious scent of warm, fresh blueberry muffins.

“Guess she doesn’t want a muffin.” Cordelia sighed and shook her head mockingly. “And I slaved over a hot stove to make these. Shameful, really shameful.”

Never had Angel endured so surreal a moment as he did right then. Giles seemed to be frozen to the spot, a dead Cordelia held a tray of muffins looking way too much like a housewife from the fifties, while his ex girlfriend had just given herself all the space she wanted. He needed to kill something. Something big and nasty, and he had to kill it fast.

“I’m gonna…” He stood and received a brief nod from the watcher.

“You going out? Can I come? Great! Let me put these in the kitchen and I’ll be ready to go.” She disappeared, only to reappear in less than a second.

“Can you give us a minute?” Angel gestured for the vampiress to wait for him outside.

A single eyebrow rose. “You do know I’m gonna hear every word, right?” He stared at her. “Alright, fine. I’ll wait on the street. You make it look like I’m a professional eavesdropper. Sheesh.”

Neither man paid her leaving much mind, instead both met the other’s gaze without a bat of an eye. It was strange how things could get so tense so quickly.

“She baked.” Angel commented, careful to keep any accusations out of his tone.

The watcher didn’t flinch one bit. “I didn’t ask her to.”

“Maybe not. Be careful, Giles.” Don’t get too attached.

*~*~*~*~*

Was walking around, doing nothing, Angel’s way of working off some aggression? If yes, then damn it was boring. So unbelieveably boring she’d rather watch paint dry on a wet day. When Angelus was tense, he usually gave Spike a hiding or three. Or if Spike was nowhere in sight, he would go smack down on a few enemies.

“Okay, that is it.” Cordelia huffed, having walked around forever. She left Angel to carry on and jumped up onto a tombstone to give her aching feet a well earned rest. “You like hiking so much, join a club.”

He paused long enough to shoot an annoyed glare over his shoulder. “You didn’t have to come.”

Duh hur hur. “I know that. Geez. I only offered to keep you company as a favour. The usual thing after that is for you to say thank you, Cordelia. Not complain about my taking a break.”

“You didn’t have to keep me company.” In all honesty, he was in no mood to entertain someone who made Santa Claus seem miserable. She was far too chirpy for someone who was told she may not see her family and lover again.

“I repeat. I know, but I wasn’t gonna let you get sucked into the black pit of despair. What the slayer said was awful. If that’s how she treats her boyfriends, I’d hate to see how she treats her enemies. It’s not really my place to say or judge, but it doesn’t seem like an ideal start to a beautiful music.” She snorted out a laugh. “I don’t understand why you put up with it. My Angelus doesn’t take any of my crap and boy, can I dish it out sometimes.”

Angel looked skyward and shook his head, figuring she wouldn’t shut up about it until he told her.

“My soul,” he started. “I lost it last year…”

“You lost it? Did you put it in a safe place and forget where the safe place was?”

That brought a tiny smile to his face. “My soul comes with a curse. I get happy, I lose it and turn evil.”

Evil was such an ugly word. “Define evil.” And how did this evil lead to Buffy? Did Buffy take his soul? Cordelia didn’t like that too much as it meant things could get a tad problematic when it came her little plan.

“I killed a woman who tried to help me, nailed a dead puppy to Buffy’s door for Valentine’s Day, and tried to suck the world into hell.”

When the vampiress didn’t say anything, Angel turned to look at her and saw a horrified expression on her face. He never expected to see that on a vampire.

“You killed a helpless, defenseless puppy? You sick son of a bitch. Ooh,” she growled. “If you’d been my man, I’d have pulled your goolies out through your nose. That was just uncalled for. As for sucking the world into hell? You do realise what hell is, right? The place to be eternally tortured by a big red guy carrying a big red pitchfork. What kind of vampire are you?”

He had no chance to reply. “You know what? Don’t answer that. Already know. I mean, look at how you live. There’s nothing to say who you are, no family portraits, pictures, or anything to show the Aurelius legacy. Why? To make people feel all warm and fuzzy around you?”

Angel’s silence was the only answer she needed.

“And what about Spike and Dru? I’m guessing you sired them in this world. Do you even know where they are or how they’re doing?” Again there was silence. “They’re family for crying out loud. These humans you love so much aren’t gonna last forever, so what you gonna do then? Find more pets?”

She got nothing. “Fine. Play the way you feel, but you’re making a mistake disowning who you are in favour of a set of humans who judge you, who don’t accept you.”

“How’s the view from your pedastel?”

“Pretty cool. People look like ants.”

“What about you?”

Cordelia blinked at the sudden turn of conversation. “What about me?”

Angel shrugged casually. “You’re the golden childe, the one who’s so molly coddled and fawned over, she doesn’t know the meaning of independance.”

“Molly coddled?!” The vampiress fought hard to keep the grin off her face. How like Angelus to try and turn things around on her. “I’m as far from molly coddled as can be. I have to follow the rules just like everybody else.”

Yeah, sure she did. “You don’t though.”

“Maybe not, but gimme a break. I’m barely a year old. I just don’t understand how you think an empty home and being short two letters can make such a difference. It’s very confusing. So, you went evil and killed a puppy. That still doesn’t explain how happiness can take your soul.”

“That’s private.”

“There’s only a few things people need privacy for. Talking, bathing rituals, and sex. Since I’ve seen how your conversations with the slayermeister go, my guess is sex. You had sex and sex made you happy. God, you’re such a guy.”

Why did that sound like an insult? “You try living off rats for a century, see how happy you get when someone shows you a modicum of interest.”

Rats as in claws and teeth? Rats as in never more than ten feet away? He had to be kidding. No self respecting vampire would ever eat a rat. A closer look at his face told her that no, he wasn’t kidding at all. “You ate rats? Please,” the vampires fought the urge to gag. “Tell me these were special rats made for eating.”

What was it about grossing someone out that was so much fun? Angel managed to keep the grin off his face as he watched Cordelia go seven shades of green. “Nope, just your every day sewer rat. I branched out occasionally and ate a field mouse.”

“You’re disgusting. What about Cordelia?” A change of subject was needed before she tossed her cookies. The thought of eating vermin was almost enough make her drive a stake through her own heart.

“What about her?”

“You seem to be getting pretty chummy with her lately. Anything I should know about?”

“We’re friends,” Angel said firmly. “Good friends.”

“Uh-huh.” Like she believed that. “She won’t last forever either, you know.” She got no reply, only a darkening expression that simply said for her not to talk like that. Ignorance was bliss. “You should turn her. Not yet of course, but eventually.”

Still she got nothing.

“You should do what Angelus did with me.”

“Wait and let someone else have the pleasure of your eternal perspective?”

Cordelia arched an eyebrow. “Sarcasm doesn’t become you, and no. If you wait, you’ll lose out. She’s not me. I had no choice in the matter, but she does and I guarantee if you hang around hoping for a wink and a smile to come your way, she’ll be whisked off into the sunrise by a handsome young man with a bald head and a bank account to make Mr. Gates look poor.”

He wasn’t going to pretend to understand where the bald head came into it. Angel repeated himself, “We’re nothing more than good friends.”

“Come off it, Angel. You can’t tell me she doesn’t catch your eye. Don’t lie to me.”

He went back to silence.

“You offered to teach her defence because you couldn’t stand the thought of her getting hurt.”

“I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.” Or worse.

“Yeah, you’re a real boy scout. You really think you could stand back and watch while she succumbed to old age, then finally death?”

This time it was Angel arching an eyebrow. “Scare tactics won’t work with me.”

“Not scare tactics, merely the truth. You’ll watch as she grows young woman to a lady, see the success she makes for herself, watch her meet a good man and get married. She’ll be young because you won’t let yourself see the strands of grey, the wrinkles and aging hands until it’s too late. She’ll be gasping out her last breath at home with her children and grandchildren, possibly her husband by her side, and where will you be, huh? Standing outside, eyes closed and concentrating on the ever slowing heart beat coming from inside her.”

Cordelia continued as though she never noticed the emotions beginning to flash in his eyes. “Finally, you’ll slink off into the shadows and watch her family leave one by one, and you’ll think of what you wasted all those years ago. That family, that woman, could have been yours.”

“No, it couldn’t.” Angel nigh on growled. Why was she throwing things he couldn’t have in his face? “I can’t give her the good husband and a family.” He couldn’t even give her himself.

“What makes you so sure she wants ten children and a picket fence? Maybe she wants someone who could show her the world the way it’s meant to be seen.” There was that silence again and the vampiress hid her sly smile. “You’re more Angelus than you think. You won’t give her a choice.”
Part 15:
Xander was terrified to the point where sweat trickled down the nape of his neck. The flowers he’d splashed out on looked lovely in the store, now looked scrawny and withered in her hand, and the candy that sounded so delicious in the market now sounded sickly. They were a poor attempt at an apology for something she had no clue about, and as she stood on her porch with that expression, he knew he hadn’t done a good job at apologising at all.

Her lack of reaction had him fearing she knew what he’d done and was choosing on how to kill him. She wasn’t stupid by a long shot, and it wouldn’t surprise him if she’d taken one look at him and known instantly. God, how could he think he could get away with this? “I know this isn’t…”

She cut him off. “I’m not easy.”

“I know, I know.” Xander tried to placate her by holding up his hands in submission and talking in a tone used by hostage negotiators. “I can explain…”

“Explain?” Cordelia asked in a calm and cool voice.

“It just happened, okay, and I’m so, so sorry. It’ll never happen again. I swear.” If she’d just give him another chance, he’d be the best boyfriend in the business. He’d buy her enough flowers for her to set up shop and enough candy to turn her into thunder thighs.

“It just happened?”

Those words sounded a lot less dumb in his head. “Maybe not, but I didn’t ask for it to happen. It just… Did. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. Swear on Honey’s grave.”

“Honey died seven years ago.”

Xander mentally begged the forgiveness of his mother’s late toy poodle. “I loved that dog like my own.”

“You used to give that dog treats and take them away just so it’d whimper like a baby man.”

He had one defence. “I was thirteen!”

“When I was thirteen, I was helping Honey out of the closet you locked her in at your birthday party.”

“Bad thing to say, I know. That still doesn’t mean I wanted it to happen. I mean I did or else it wouldn’t have happened, but I didn’t want it to happen.”

Cordelia’s expression went from blank to confused in the space of two point five seconds. “You wanted it to happen and you didn’t want it to happen?” She could live to be a hundred and still never understand the mind of a male. She couldn’t be blamed of course, not when they came from Mars.

“Yes!” Xander yelled, not entirely pleased she saw where he was coming from. “I did and I didn’t. I made a mistake and I’m sorry. If you give me another chance, I’ll do anything you want.”

When he didn’t get a response, “She was just there. I couldn’t help it.”

Oooohhhhhh. Her. The Other Woman, as Cordelia oh so affectionately called her. “You blew me off for her?”

Oh God. He was supposed to take her out for a movie to celebrate their sixteenth month anniversary. He remembered asking why celebrate the sixteenth and not the big One Oh, she’d replied she wanted to be different. Like how her parents always threw a surprise birthday party months before her actual birthday. It wouldn’t be a surprise on her birthday.

His words from that phone call came back to haunt him. My life doesn’t revolve around you. You aren’t the centre of the universe. They seemed so cruel now, especially when he was the one to make the plans.

While she was entertaining her twin, he had been entertaining Willow. Only one word fit him and that was jerk.

“Cordelia, please. I won’t ever do it again.”

“How would you feel if I ditched you for Leon, huh?”

Leon? Who the hell was Leon? Unreasonable jealousy rose up in his stomach, making him wonder. “Leon?”

Her sudden and large smile knocked Xander for six. “Leon S. Kennedy. The buffed up, bullet proof cop from Resident Evil? The guy who can take out an eight hundred pound tyrant with a few well aimed grenades?”

She thought he blew her off for Lara Croft. He was so stunned by her train of thought that he couldn’t move a muscle. She didn’t seem to notice as she laughed. It was a nice laugh, he realised, one of good humour and sweet tone.

“At ease, soldier.” Cordelia grinned. “I know how much she means to you. Next time, make sure you don’t play with her on our anniversary okay?”

Xander couldn’t do anything but nod. It was so very wrong of him to take the easy way out, but if she knew the real reason why they never got to go out, he’d end up wearing his balls as earrings and Willow would get a good slapping, and that was the best case scenario.

“You coming in or are you just gonna stand there staring at me like you’ve never seen me before? I’ll show my gratitude with an ice cold can of your favourite Cream Soda.”

How could he say no?

Down by the main gate, Willow’s face fell as she watched Xander go into the Chase manor. Obviously he hadn’t said a single word about their affair.

*~*~*~*~*

Angel stood back a bit with his hand on the vampiress back to guide her into a chair, smiling lightly at her wide eyed gaze wandering around the stadium. He was also looking around, but only to find one particular person and there she was.

The burgundy and gold pom poms glistened in the artificial lights, her ponytail madly swishing from side to side as she bounced here and there. He grimaced when she kicked her height, his ears picking up on her Go Razorbacks chant and grinned when he heard her yell for the quarterback to basically tear someone’s head off. Maybe he should teach her anger management rather than self defence.

“Angel,” Buffy’s voice knocked him out of his study of Cordelia. “What are you doing here?” She didn’t think he was the football type.

Cordelia purred out a response. “He was kind enough to escort me so I can watch my twin perform. Rupert didn’t trust me around all these people. Can’t understand why.” It could have something to do with the never ending remarks about all-you-can-eat buffets and comments regarding young boys being lured to their untimely death by a hot brunette bearing fangs and dirty mind. His words, not hers.

The slayer blatantly ignored the vampiress. “It’s good to see you.”

“Thanks,” Angel gave a swift nod and sat down next to the brunette. “Cordelia know you call her your twin?”

“She’s still hung up on the fact she’s staring a dead her in the face. I don’t think she could handle it if she knew that. I’ll have to take a picture when I tell her.” Her face cracked with a huge grin. “Then I’m gonna run for my life before she kills me dead.”

“You’re not alive to have a life.”

Cordelia sighed, gracing Buffy with a look meant for petulant five year olds. “Semantics. I miss this,” she said and gestured at the dancing cheerleaders. “I would work on each routine every night after school, then go pamper myself in the hot tub. After I died…”

“Don’t,” Angel murmured. There was something he hated about her using that word to describe herself. She didn’t have choice in what happened to her. She didn’t die. She was murdered by her foolish parents and a vampire named Jorgan. What he wanted to know was what, if anything, Angelus had done in vengeance.

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t say died. It’s not nice.” It didn’t help that she looked exactly like his Cordelia. Since the vampiress forced the image of Cordelia aging and dying, he hadn’t been able to get it out of his head. Sleep eluded him for the entire night and most of the morning. The second his eyes closed was the second he pictured her in hospital, hooked up to monitors and listening as each beep got slower and slower, keeping rhythm with her dying heart.

He could stop that. A little bite and she’d be alive forever. She wouldn’t feel more than a pin prick. Quick and painless unlike the many incureable illnesses a human could get these days.

The vampiress did as requested. “Okay. After I was reborn, I continued dancing for a while until I had no time for it. You ever noticed that no matter how long you have, there’s never enough hours in the day?”

“Only too well,” Angel replied, his voice full of sympathy. “It comes with the territory of being the Master’s childe.”

“Not that you’d know about that, what with being Darla’s childe.” Cordelia sat up a little straighter at the mentioning of her sire. He disapproved of slouching, said since she was his direct descendant, she had to hold herself with pride. “I wonder who’ll come for me. If it’s my sire, he’ll probably bring Darla, and if it’s Angelus, he’ll come alone.”

“That’s if he comes at all.” Buffy couldn’t help the remark. “I honestly think you’re fooling yourself.”

“And I honestly think you should mind your own beeswax,” the vampiress snapped. “You wanna hope it’s Angelus and not my sire.” Her sire would systematically take the slayer apart piece by piece, and she’d be damned if she didn’t have ring side seats.

“I killed the Master once, I can do it again.” She was pleased that little confession shut Cordelia up. “And I’d only just been called.”

“She telling the truth, Angel? Did she kill my sire in this world?”

The vampiress didn’t get an answer as Angel was too busy glaring daggers at the blonde. He knew she had a petty side, but this was ridiculous. The quiet tone to Cordelia’s voice touched a part of him he thought long dead. It reminded him of all the times Dru got upset at the sight and smell of honey cakes and tea, the things she ate when she was alive.

It’d be more than wrong if he let that slide. “Not before he killed you, right Buffy?”

The slayer’s face showed nothing but betrayal and she turned away in disgust, her body rigid with growing anger. “I can see where your loyalties stand,” and they weren’t with her.

“It’s not about loyalties. What you said was uncalled for.”

“And what you said was perfectly okay?”

Cordelia sat back to watch the sparks fly. How cool would it be if they threw down in front of everybody? “Ten bucks says Buffy draws first blood.” Off their glares, “What? It’s true. Two seconds into a guy fight, you know who’s gonna win. Girls are different. We don’t give up.”

Buffy and Angel rarely saw eye-to-eye lately, but the vampiress words rang true, and they shared a look and an eye roll.

“Unless we’re talking Spike and Xan, then they really go at it sometimes. Although I don’t count their fights as actual fights. I’ve seen three year olds more vicious.”

“Xan?” The slayer quizzed, finding herself involuntarily intrigued. “As in Xander? Xander Harris?”

“The very one. He was turned a few months before me, not by the Master though. I can say it didn’t come as a surprise, really.” Cordelia grinned. “Not when it involved a hot blonde wearing next to nothing.”

Angel frowned. A hot blonde? The only hot blonde vampire he knew was… “Feel free to stop there.” A shudder of sheer revulsion ran through him as he wondered on the sanity of Darla.

“She wanted a toy boy,” the vampiress continued, her grin growing ever wider. “Oh come on. If you were over 500, wouldn’t you want to make a booty call on a fresh piece of ass? Anyway, Spike and Xan’s bickering got to the point where my sire had to intervene and lemme tell ya, Angelus and I had a ball watching em be caged for a week. Shoulda heard the insults.” She chuckled. “The language that came out their mouthes? Man.”

She paused to wave at Cordelia, who in turn shook a pom pom in hello. “Darla and Xan aren’t together anymore. I think she has a thing for my sire, but ssh on that. She’d kill me if she knew I said anything. Not like it isn’t obvious, of course. Not when she keeps yammering on about how great his old world charm is. A real gent, she calls him.”

Angel was inclined to heartily disagree. It was only out of respect that he kept his thoughts quiet. There was no time to change the subject as they were joined by a flushed, slightly sweaty cheerleader who pretty much bounced up the bleachers, her every step full of the joys of life.

“Hey all.”

He feared her smile would split her face. “Hi. Good game,” he gamely offered with a half smile of his own.

Cordelia gave him a blank look. “Apart from the miserable losing, yeah it is a great game.”

Angel froze. “Well, I… You know.” God, how much of a fool could one man be?

“Relax,” she said. “I was just teasing. We’re winning.”

He nodded. “I knew that.”

“Sure you did,” the large grin fell into an affectionate, quirky little smile. “Dork. Cordelia, you wanna come meet the girls? They won’t shut up until my long lost, stolen-at-birth twin sister from Milan goes to say hello.”

Angel glanced down to where the squad was standing impatiently, only looking away when the stares of teenage girls got a bit uncomfortable. “They fell for that?”

“Totally,” Cordelia sniggered. “The woman who stole her was locked up and she was adopted by Monique and Carmine Bracco, a notorious mafia boss and his wife. Her name is still Cordelia, which they found to be sooo cool, and we met last year when skiing in Aspen.”

“Isn’t that a little far fetched?” Angel asked with arched eyebrows. Mafia boss indeed.

“Are you kidding?” The vampiress face was lit up. “This is great! Oh my God, we can have so much fun with this! Can I be a cleaner?”

The cheerleader visibly blanched. “You’re the kid of a mafia boss, why would you want to be Mrs. Supermop?”

She rolled her eyes. “A cleaner is an assassin,” she informed in a tone sounding out all her worldly knowledge. “I could be the deadly, gorgeous assassin sent in to bring down the mayor. I can see it now…”

Yeah and so could everyone else. Thankfully Cordelia gave the vampiress a light shove to knock her out of whatever fantasy she was cooking up. “C’mon, Fangslot. The girls are waiting.”

Angel stared after the brunettes as they wandered down to the rest of the squad, his eyes going from one backside to the other and knew exactly what Angelus would be thinking if he saw that. He caught sight of a few men staring too and glared at them, wondering how much violence he could get away with. It seemed wrong somehow to let men do that, especially when the vampiress didn’t have her own man here to protect her.

Cordelia was a different kettle of fish altogether. She was exactly like the vampiress and yet not. It was extremely confusing, but it was kind of fun to seek out the differences and similiarities in them. He smiled softly, thinking about how many people often did that with twins.

“Not going down there with them?” Buffy asked, more than a little relieved the vampiress was gone. It’d give her a minute’s peace with Angel.

“I think she’ll play by the rules.” He kept an eye on her just in case.

“About yesterday. I didn’t mean to make it sound like you were a monster.”

Angel tensed and refused outright to look at the slayer. Her saying that had cut deep. “It’s fine.”

He could see her fiddling with her fingers. “It’s just with her saying how in love she is with Angelus and after last year. It got me thinking, you know?” There was a pause and he heard her next sentence before she said it. “If he is in love like she claims, what does that say about us? You loved me, but he didn’t.”

“Can we not do this here, Buffy?” Airing dirty laundry in public wasn’t on his list of things to do.

“Then where, huh? You’ve barely given me the time of day lately. It’s like whenever she walks into the room, I don’t exist.”

“She’s lost. She needs all the help we can give her.” He took a deep, unnecessary breath. “She doesn’t show it, but I know it’s hurting her to be so far from home, her family.”

“I wasn’t talking about the vampire, Angel.”

*~*~*~*~*

“Oh my God,” Harmony cooed as her hand wafted around her face to ward off the sentimental tears. “And you met just like that?”

The vampiress smirked and snapped her fingers. “Just like that.”

“How totally cool.” Aura joined in. “Can you imagine going all your life not knowing you had a twin? God. I don’t know what I’d do if mine turned up on the doorstep.” She looked to the Cordelia in the Razorbacks uniform. “What did you do?”

All eyes were suddenly on the instigator of the little white lies who found herself struck dumb. She could only smile sweetly and shuffle her feet, all the while mentally cursing her big dumb mouth. When would it ever stop? “Well,” Cordelia started. “Naturally I thought it was a coincidence…”

“What’s coincidence?” Harmony asked with a puzzled look on her face.

Aura scoffed, flipping her blonde hair in the hope one of them would notice it was newly layered. How could a $200 hair cut go unoticed? “It’s when you turn up in the same outfit as me without knowing I was wearing it.”

“That only happened once and I bought it first.”

“You so did not. The date on my receipt says Wednesday. What does yours say? Oh wait, you probably got a five finger discount cus your allowance has been cut.”

Harmony looked positively insulted. “It has not!”

“Then explain that skirt you wore Friday night. Seriously Cor, off the rack wasn’t in it.”

Both Cordelia’s simultaneously shook their heads. “Anyway,” the cheerleader stated loud enough to shut the other two up before they really started bickering. “I thought it was…” she chose the next word carefully. “Strange how this girl looked exactly like me…”

“You’re not totally identical,” Carrie, one of the other cheerleaders, spoke up. “She’s not as tanned as you are and her hair is longer. Plus the eye colour is all wrong. Yours are a hazelly shade and hers are… Lemme see.”

The vampiress found herself being stared at intently by a set of green eyes that narrowed and squinted and wrinkled at the corners. “They’re kind of a gold with flecks of hazel and brown.” Or that’s what Angelus told her.

“No,” Carrie peered some more. “They’re like a light bronze with gold highlights and a dark brown rim.”

Cordelia laughed nervously as the vampiress eyes flashed, probably with impatient annoyance. She quickly pulled the red head away before she got her neck snapped. “I took my sister to see daddy…”

“Your dad is just way hot.” Harmony stated to a bunch of agreeing nods. “Your mom is sooo lucky. Your mom hit the jackpot when she landed him. Old money, good looks, and he probably had a car. It’s like a fairytale, but in real life.”

“Can we not talk about my dad being a sex object, please? It gives me the creeps.”

They had the decency to blush. “Sorry Cor, but admit it. He is great looking for his age. I mean, he probably still has all his own teeth.”

Oh God. “How old do you think he is? Geez Harm, it’s not like he was born in the ice age.” Cordelia’s glare was more than enough to get them all to stop idolising her father. “Do you wanna hear the story or not?”

“Sorry Cor,” Aura nudged Harmony, who nudged Carrie, who nudged Jenny, who nudged Caitlin, who nudged Tina, and they all finally fell silent. “We’re listening.”

“Okay,” the brunette continued after a moment. “Daddy immediately called my mom, they told us Cordy was stolen from the hospital when she only two days old and they never saw her again until then. There was a meeting between our families and it was decided she’d stay with her family…”

“Cor told us about you being the daughter of Carmine Bracco,” Jenny said in a voice laced with awe. “Wow. I mean seriously, that’s like wow.”

“Yeah, tell us what it’s like.” The vampiress was yet again the recipient of studious stares.

“Well,” she purred, totally loving the attention. “I get away with murder.” She was hard pressed not to cackle in their faces when a few of the girls paled. Sometimes, she really adored being a vampire.

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “There’s morale to boost so get back to the field. I’ll be there in a second.”

The girls hurried out the locker room, their constant chatter heard until bickering once again kicked up by another dumb remark Harmony made.

Now alone, the two brunettes looked at each other and grinned widely. So what if they never got to tell the full story, the bits they did manage to say definitely brought some excitement to the night. It was only a matter of time before Chinese Whispers set in and the story became a headliner.

Cordelia watched the vampiress face fall a little, then made the decision to do something nice. “Alright, take off your clothes.”

*~*~*~*~*

The conversation, if one could call it that, between Buffy and Angel had deteriorated rapidly, now the slayer was sat perfectly still, her shoulders squared and mouth firmly set in a thin line, and it hit him full force why she was so against him spending time with the cheerleader. She was jealous, absolutely stone cold jealous. Angel couldn’t help the chuckle if he tried, and got him a stare full of hatred. He shook his head, feeling his heckles rise.

She had no reason to be jealous. After all, wasn’t it her who wanted space in the first place? Neither got a chance to continue as Cordelia returned carrying two cartons of what appeared to be juice.

Angel narrowed his eyes as he looked her over, a small smile began tilting his lips up at the corners. Hair twisted at the nape, black pants and sparkling top, dark red lips and tongue perched between her teeth. The swaying hips, graceful motion of slender arms, alert eyes darting here and there. Everything was in place, except for one teeny tiny difference, and that was the heart beating in her chest.

“Miss me?” She purred, hazel eyes shining with a mischief he’d never seen. “Since you were oh so nice to escort me here, I thought it polite to show my gratitude. This, my little soulled up friend, is all for you.”

She took the seat in the middle and sat in a way that drew his attention to each and every curve she owned. She handed him a carton, then sat back and stretched her free arm right across the back of his seat.

“I know what you’re doing,” he whispered in her ear. “I can hear your heart.”

Cordelia arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow. “Keep whispering like that and you’ll hear it sing.” Not the greatest of comebacks and certainly not what the vampiress would say, but trying to be someone else was flipping hard. Especially on such short notice. Still, she was an actress, and act she would.

Angel’s mouth twitched. “That was terrible.”

“It’s rude to whisper,” Buffy’s tone was clipped and strained as she interrupted the quaint moment between them.

The cheerleader simply took a sip of the blackcurrent juice and happily wiggled her fingers at the slayer. “And it’s also rude to intrude on private conversations,” she said as she slowly licked her lips and sent a wink to Angel, whose face expressed just how humorous he found this.

“You been to a game before, Angel or are you football virgin?” Cordelia’s lips were now stained a deep purple and to human eyes, appeared red. She smirked, wiping her mouth with two fingers and bringing them up for a soft licking. “Oops. How messy of me.”

“This is my first time.” He answered with a widening smile of his own. She really did have the vampiress persona down.

Buffy stared at who she thought to be the vampiress. “You brought blood?”

“I hope it’s not too painful for you,” Cordelia replied to Angel first, then turned to the blonde but didn’t get a chance to respond.

“Would you rather she eat a human?” The slayer shot him a look of betrayal. “She doesn’t have control over her appetite…”

“That’s right,” Cordelia added, purposely slurping loudly on her juice, and swallowing with an mmm of appreciation. “O neg, my favourite.”

“You’re disgusting,” the slayer snapped.

“What Angel said,” the brunette purred, thoroughly enjoying playing the vamp. Being bad was so much fun, she might take it up as a hobby. “My chowing down on one of the many young studs or bring take out?” She turned from the blonde to give the real vampire what she hoped was a piercing stare. “How’s your poison?”

Angel shot the carton a dubious look. It certainly didn’t smell like blood and the colour wasn’t red, so what the hell was it? He took a cautious sip and his eyebrows touched his hairline at the exotic taste of mango and passionfruit. Eyelids fluttered as the sweetness trickled down his throat, quenching a thirst he never he had. “Mmmm,” he heard himself hum and took another, much bigger drink. This was good stuff.

“Tickled pink?” Cordelia asked with a smile that was entirely hers. Not even an identical vampire could replicate it.

He nodded and showed no signs of letting the straw go, even as he involuntarily glanced at her drink, wondering if that was as nice, if not nicer, than his. The straw slipped from his lips and one was nibbled on before he offered it to her as exchange. He felt like an idiot and almost couldn’t bring himself to ask. “May I?”

Her smile got wider. “Sure.” He rarely spoke, let alone asked for things. If he wanted to try her blackcurrent, then try it he certainly could. “I like it cool,” she said to remind him of the role switching.

“I like cool just fine.” They swapped cartons and he wasted no time in trying the juice, only to find it wasn’t to his liking. “Bland,” Angel commented with a grimace. He wanted his back.

“Are you telling me,” she started slowly. “That you’ve never had anything bar blood?”

Angel grew uncomfortable with the fact Buffy was watching everything, her face unreadable. Tough. He wasn’t going to ignore Cordelia just to put someone else at ease. “Yes, but nothing like that.”

“You haven’t lived. Tell you what, to say thanks for all you’ve done for me lately, I’ll shout you to a few nummy treats. Just to help you catch up with the world.”

He was clearly embarrassed, but he graciously hid it. “I’d like that. Thank you.”

Cordelia’s grin now flashed two rows of straight, white teeth. “Great! I’ll bring some stuff with me tomorrow.” She paused, realising she was pretty much inviting herself to his place. “Unless you have plans, of course.”

He saw her eyes subtly drift across to Buffy and frowned. Didn’t Cordelia know she was welcome to call round anytime she wanted? “No plans,” he stated firmly. “I’ll look forward to it.”

She gave his thigh a little pat. “Great. It’s a date.”

“Excuse me.” Buffy stood so suddenly, she knocked Angel’s drink out of his hand and the juice went down his pants, instantly soaking straight through. She may have apologised, but she just had to get away.

“Way to say sorry,” Cordelia called after her and scoffed at the slayer’s behaviour. “Geez.” She turned back to see him wiping his pants of excess juice. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” he said with a half smile. “Had worse.” He noticed her lips twitching before she forced them into a tight line, and her eyes took on a gleam of amusement. “What?”

“Nothing, Angel. Absolutely nothing.” He really did look like he’d just peed himself and she’d be damned if it didn’t look kind of funny. “Come on. Let’s go dry you up.” Off his look, “You go to the little boy’s room, take your pants off, and hold em under the hand dryer.”

“I’ll just wait until I get home.”

He heard the muttered comment, “If you can call it that.”

“What?”

Cordelia hadn’t wanted him to hear her judge his house, but really. A mansion with nothing in it could scarcely be called a home, could it? “You have nothing, Angel!” She half yelled, drawing a modicum of interest from the surrounding people. “You have a sofa, a fire that’s never lit, and a ratty old fridge that stores nothing but blood and the odd soda. That is not a home.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Remind me to give you a tour.”

“A tour of what? More nothing?” She sighed when he glanced away and felt horrible for being honest. “Where are your pictures, your…” Hands waved around in search if a fitting word. “Anything?”

“You haven’t been upstairs or in the basement. Who’s to say there’s nothing there?” He looked so smug, so freaking arrogant at winning a point, she wanted to smack him. “Just so you know,” Angel continued. “I have a bed, stereo, and as you already know, a spacious training area.”

She graced him with a look of disbelief. “Your bed probably came from an abandoned prison cell, your stereo has to be one of them wind up things, and your spacious training area are four walls surrounding a punch bag, and a ton of medievil weaponry.”

A laugh escaped his throat at her portrayal of his home. It was so far from the truth, it was unreal. “Where do you get these ideas? You are right about one thing, though. My stereo does play vinyl.”

“I really need to introduce you to the twenty first century.”

“It’s a phonograph. Bought it years ago.”

“So it’s antiquated. You still need a CD player. They’re less likely to break or get scratched. I’ve got one spare if you want it.” Come to think of it, she had a few things spare he could have. “It’s only small, though.”

Angel went silent for a second, leaving her to wonder if she’d offended him. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

“No, no. It’s not that.” How could he put this? “I’m not a charity case, Cordelia.” He said after a time.

She frowned, but it went unseen as his gaze was totally focused on the floor. Trust him to be a man under all that black. “Okay, if we’re gonna be friends then we have to get one thing straight. Friends help each other, Angel. You’re helping me not be an easy target and I’m helping you get a life.”

He looked at her after that blunt statement, her expression so scrunched up, her cheeks resembled apples. “That came out wrong. What I meant was I’m helping you out of the century with phonographs and quills, and into the century with five-CD hi-fi’s and french fries.”

“So you’re helping me get a life?”

Cordelia treated him to a megawatt grin. “For instance. You want it or not?”

“How much you want for it?”

“Nothing.”

Angel shook his head. “Really, how much do you want for it?”

“Really, nothing.”

He grit his teeth together. “Please let me pay for it.” He would give her something for it, or else he wouldn’t take it. Simple as.

There was obviously only one way to sort this out. “I’ll make you a deal,” she said in a tone full of resolve. “As payment for the CD player, you let me loose in your place?”

“To do what exactly?”

She seemed a tad flustered as she searched for an answer. “Certain things.” Like see what can be dome to make it into a home.

Angel studied her for signs that she was thinking about tearing his place apart and redecorating it baby pink, or something equally atrocious. “What certain things?”

Cordelia’s mouth twisted back and forth as she tried to think of how she could spin things so she could get her own way and basically do stuff to the mansion. She thought of all the things she’d do if she had a place like that. Her own house may not be that big, but there were rooms with unknown purposes. “Oh, you know, a lick of paint here and there, shiny throw rugs. Maybe some lights…”

In other words, she wanted to turn his home into something from a Lifestyle magazine. He looked at some more and saw an uncertainty in her gaze he’d never seen before. “This really means a lot to you, doesn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Then it’s a deal. You give me your spare CD player and you can have free reign in my place. Just… No baby pink walls, okay?” He knew he’d done something right when she smiled at him.

The vampiress had kept an eye on them from her place with the squad and had to keep from squealing in sheer joy when Cordelia linked arms with Angel. Oh yes, things were coming on swimmingly. All that needed to be done now was getting rid of the boy. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Corner Xander and choke the life out of him if he didn’t leave her, then choke him a little more just to let him know she meant it. If that didn’t work, then she’d simply kill him and hide the body. Not hard at all.

She stopped her thoughts ticking for a moment and stood there with a small smile. It wasn’t just the cheerleader who needed a shove in the right direction, the vampiress knew she also needed a new lease of life. Maybe getting sent here was a good thing. She had no sire or companion to fall back on, she really only had herself. Sure Rupert had helped a hell of a lot, okay he’d done most of the work, but she felt she’d kind of grown, even a little.

She knew she was going to be different when she got home and she hoped Angelus would like the new her as much as he liked her now.

*~*~*~*~*

A muscled neck cracked and shoulders popped, midnight eyes roamed the cemetary and an eyebrow arched. Well now, wasn’t this interesting? Same place, same shit, yet completely different. If he had the time, he may just take a little tour around the hell hole.

He sniffed the air for any signs of his lost lamb, but all he got was the stench of death and decay, and shook his head. Only her would find coming to a place like this spiritually enlightening. Gloved hands dusted down a short leather jacket, then long legs directed his feet in the one direction he felt sure of. If this place was the same, then there’d be a mansion close by.

He managed a few steps when he came upon a small gang of vampires, who looked at him and laughed laughs that were full of arrogance. He again arched an eyebrow. “No rest for the wicked,” he said right before a few sweeps of a sword decapitated the lot.

Now that was done, he could get on with finding and taking her home where she belonged.

 


…THE END…


Challenge Criteria:
Challenge Issuer Listed as “V”

I don’t know if something similar was posted as a challenge before. I read a lot of challenges and fictions about vamp Cordy in another dimension or reality. What if Vamp Cordy ends in BTVS season 3 reality, co-existing with Buffy, Angel, Cordy, Xander, etc like Vamp Willow did at the show.?

-Angel is really attracted to Vamp Cordy (wich is really hot and sexy, BUT not sluty)

-B/A were dating at that time.

– Vamp Cordy and Angel have sex before Vamp Cordy leaves. (that could be optative, but smut is always good!!!!)

– Angel obssessive with human Cordelia and having desires of siring her. (Maybe he could hear Angelus thoughts on hi head)

It’s silly, I know…….

V.


 

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