03: Double Trouble
Chapter 3: Double Trouble
“I’m telling you that Angel has gone off his rocker,” Cordelia warned the rest of the Scooby Gang. Willow, Xander and Oz were all gathered at the library table conducting research for Giles on the newest threat to Sunnydale and waiting for Buffy to show up from her early sweep of the cemeteries.
“This surprises you?” Xander stared at her. “The vamp is a walking split personality.”
“Everyone has a little devil’s voice whispering naughty suggestions now and then,” she returned almost defensively before remembering that she was still ticked off at Angel. “I just happen to know that Angel’s little devil is a big bad demon who gets off on pushing people to the limits.”
Rupert Giles paced around the table listening in on the conversation. While he knew that he should be telling them to get back to the research, Cordelia’s concerns were actually quite legitimate. Lately, he too had noticed that tensions between Buffy and Angel were running high. The reason seemed obvious despite the fact that it made him cringe every time he thought of his young charge literally sleeping with the enemy.
“We’ll have to trust that Angel and Buffy can control themselves,” Giles cut in resulting in sardonic stares from Cordelia and Xander.
“Hello!” Cordelia threw her hands in the air as she reminded the Watcher. “One is a horny vampire and the other is a hormonal teenager. Excuse me if I don’t want my neck caught in the crossfire.”
Giles wasn’t certain that it was any of their business, but he explained, “Buffy and Angel have assured me that they are well aware of the ramifications of pursuing an intimate relationship.”
“Bet that was an interesting conversation.” Cordelia rolled her eyes only to receive a nudge from Xander who wanted to discourage any more talk on the subject.
“Slayers and vampires are natural enemies,” Giles looked a little frustrated with the idea himself. In fact, he seemed more than a little irritated and confused gauging by what he said next. “They aren’t supposed to be in love. Somehow, that factor is exponentially causing some rather delicate issues with how Buffy and Angel are responding to each other.”
Cordelia wanted to point out that Buffy wasn’t even present when Angel went wacky on her in the library. She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off.
“Can we not talk about this anymore?” Xander held a hand to his stomach. “The Buffy and Angel thing just makes me sick. Major ick factor. Watching them suck face is bad enough. I don’t need to hear about it.”
“I thought it was just jealousy,” Cordelia snapped back. Not that she didn’t get the whole vampire ick factor idea. Except that while she was pissed at Angel for being such a jerk, she could not deny the fact that his touch had left her tingling.
Willow glanced over at her boyfriend sharing a silent look that suggested it was better to stay out of the conversation when Xander and Cordelia started to get snippy. Stepping in between two firing cannons might be a safer option. While Oz turned his attention back to his research, an activity that he rarely participated in, Willow failed to take her own advice. She started to worry about what would happen if Cordelia’s fears were actualized.
What if Angel seduced Buffy again? Then Angelus would be back. Not a good thing. He had the nerve to kill her fish— and Miss Calendar for that matter. The vampire actually had the gall to come into her house and string up her cute little fishes. While Willow had been all too willing to cast the spell that restored Angel’s soul, she admitted to being a bit skittish around the vampire.
Xander’s attention was focused directly on Cordelia. They continued to argue until she told him, “You’ve been itching to stake Angel ever since he got back from hell.”
“Nah. I wanted to do it long before then,” Xander admitted. “Hey, does anyone else want a soda? All this research is making me thirsty.”
Staring at the boy, Giles wanted to point out that very little research was actually getting done. All of their time seemed to be taken up by discussing Buffy and Angel. Now they were going to load up on sugary caffeinated beverages. Trying to get them to concentrate after that would be like herding cats— completely impossible.
Several hands rose at the soda offer and Xander headed toward the doors. He paused as he heard Angel’s voice just outside. Was the vamp eavesdropping? No, it seemed like he was arguing with someone.
“I don’t give a damn if these are your only leather pants,” Angel’s voice clearly emanated through the doors. “Now they’re mine. It’s not like you wear them anyway.”
Then Angel seemed to answer his own complaint with, “Just have a little respect for my things.”
“Those are my things,” came an responding growl. “You’re the one who came along to contaminate my stuff with that pesky soul.”
Angel was tired of their petty argument. “Enough! We have to go in there. Just let me do the talking.”
Xander slowly backed away from the doors. Without turning away, he called out to the gang, “Guys— remember when Cor thought Angel was going crazy? Well, I think it’s finally happened. He’s out in the hallway talking to himself.”
The doors to the library swung open simultaneously and thanks to Xander, they were all staring in that direction. Angel and Angelus appeared side by side, striding in with the same walk and matching determined looks on their identical faces. Stopping mid way into the library both vampires found themselves subjected to wide-eyed stares.
Now backing up at a faster rate, Xander joined the group. All he could muster was a repetitive, “Buh-buh-buh.”
Willow and Oz jumped up out of their chairs, shocked at the sight before them. In a twittering voice, Willow managed to question what she was seeing, “It’s Angel— and Angelus?”
“That’s right, Willow,” Angel confirmed standing his ground and hoping that the other vampire would do the same. Let the group get used to the idea.
He noted instantly that Buffy was not among them. That meant she had not yet returned to the library after her patrol, which also meant none of the Scoobies knew about his plans.
“Oh look, it’s Dumb and Dumber.” Cordelia crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at Angel with a sudden understanding of what happened. Based on their words the other night, the vampire had found some way to do exactly as she had suggested by separating the good vamp from the bad. Only Angel had to be out of his mind to do that and bring Angelus here. “Is this the part where we all hold Angelus down and stake him?”
Angelus smirked at the angry expression on the cheerleader’s face. Her mouth tightened and her nose crinkled just a bit. No doubt she was thinking about the other day in the library. He certainly was. Even though Angel was in the driver’s seat, Angelus had been able to influence his behavior just enough to get a little something out of the encounter.
It helped when the Soul’s thoughts were heading in the same direction. Lately, his souled self had been fighting against his sexual urges. Angelus had found that the tighter Angel tried to control things, the easier it was to break through.
“Cordelia,” the evil vampire raked his eyes over her adding his trademark leer, “I haven’t thanked you properly for your advice. Looks like you’re responsible for my return.”
All eyes turned toward her, either curiously or accusingly, but Cordelia never noticed. She was far too focused on the soulless vampire giving her his full attention. Her angry bravado suddenly vanished. Deep down, she was shaking in fear. After Angel’s return, she’d put her fears behind her and tried to forget about Angelus’ threats.
The evil vampire had threatened all of Buffy’s friends, but this was personal. Some of the things he’d said and the way he said them made his plans for her extremely clear. Cordelia found that her heart was racing as she met Angelus’ smug expression that told her nothing had changed.
Recognizing that Angelus was letting out an almost imperceptible growl of pleasure at the scent of Cordelia’s fear in the air, Angel hoped this wasn’t an aftereffect of their encounter here in the library days ago. The last thing he wanted was Cordelia to be afraid of anything because of him. Then again, the vampire standing next to him was not really him anymore. Angelus was his own person and there were very legitimate reasons to be afraid of him.
“Don’t put this one on Cordelia,” he turned on Angelus with a swift glare. “This was our decision. Yours and mine.”
“Her idea,” countered the vamp who crossed his arms over his powerful chest. “Just being polite and trying to be grateful.”
“Pfft!” Cordelia uncrossed her arms realizing that he was mirroring her stance. “I can do without any gratitude from you.”
“What is going on, Angel?” Oz attempted to be the voice of reason figuring that this was a legitimate question. He could sense the fear coming off the other members of the Scooby Gang. Seeing Angelus again had them spooked.
Giles finally came out of his stupor. Calmly, he placed his book on the countertop and walked directly toward the open book cage where the weapons locker was kept. Both vampires eyed his actions warily, but did not move against him.
Before answering, Angel called out to the Watcher who never paused. “Hold off on the crossbow. Angelus can’t hurt anybody. Give me a chance to explain.”
The Brit’s response was to lift the weapon into a higher position taking careful aim. “I am listening, but I don’t plan to do it for long.”
“Did you enjoy the champagne and roses?” Angelus cut in with a cruel query. He had to ask. It was just too tempting to ignore.
The crossbow bolt shot out in instant response only to be caught by Angelus as he used his vampiric speed to grab it. The Watcher was just too predictable at times. Poor Giles. Still so sad over Jenny Calendar’s death. The gypsy bitch! Deserved what she got. Angelus relived the memory of the satisfying crunch of her neck in his hand. Leaving her nude body in a lover’s pose upon the Watcher’s bed covered in scattered rose petals had been the only thing more satisfying.
Letting out a cry of rage, Giles threw the useless crossbow to the floor. “This is not happening! I want to know what is going on here. Right now.”
“I’m back,” Angelus let out a dark laugh at witnessing the usually unflappable man’s temper. “This time for good. What more do you need to know?”
Perturbed, Angel reminded the other vampire, “Let me do the talking.”
“Buh-buh-but, this is impossible,” Xander finally got it out.
“Shut up, Xander,” Cordelia yanked him toward her not wanting any interruptions before she heard what Angel had to say.
Xander stared at her in shock and pointed as if sharing his discovery. “There are two of them.”
“We’ve already established that,” sighed Giles deeply. “Keep your mouth closed until further notice.”
“Hey!” Willow complained. “That was mean, Giles. He’s just as surprised as we are and there is no need to yell at him.”
“Oh, you shut up too, Willow.” That had the redhead’s mouth dropping open.
Oz put his arm around his girlfriend who looked quite put out that her mentor talked back to her. “Let’s just listen to what the vampires have to say.”
Angel was starting to get a little anxious. Any second now he was going to have to tie all five of them up and gag them in order to get this explanation out. Next to him, Angelus was openly amused at the situation. He flashed Angel a wide grin and chuckled. Stupid humans, Angelus thought. He could have killed them all twice over by now.
“Why don’t you all sit down,” Angel suggested hoping that would make the situation a little easier.
Willow and Oz were the only two to take him up on it. Giles remained near the weapons locker, his gaze never leaving Angelus despite the fact that Angel was talking. Leaning against the edge of the table, Cordelia and Xander were already situated.
Taking an unnecessary breath, Angel delved into his practiced explanation. He told them that he had found a way to ensure that his soul would be permanent. That he made a deal with the Moirae. Giles instantly recognized the term and turned his head to give Angel an amazed stare.
“The Fates?” The Watcher gasped in shock, wondering how such a thing was possible considering their mythic nature and legendary status. Though the news sparked tons of questions, Giles tried to keep to the point, “So you made a deal with the Moirae to secure your soul.”
Nodding, Angel told them, “I also wanted to be rid of Angelus. There was an asking price and I paid it.”
“That was actually a lot of fun,” Angelus pointed out only to have his double issue a deep growl. “Let me tell you—”
“I’m doing the talking,” Angel reminded him again that the plan included keeping certain details of their bargain to themselves. “The Moirae gave Angelus his own existence. Now he is bound by the rules of our agreement.”
Xander snorted. “You expect Killer Vamp Boy to follow rules?”
“Only if I have to,” sneered Angelus who suddenly moved away from Angel’s side to roam around the room. “Those fucking bitches shackled me to the Powers that Be. I have to fight the Good Fight. To behave or they’ll have warning bells going off in my head.”
Angel added with grim satisfaction, “He can’t kill humans anymore.”
Perking up at the idea, Xander stepped up to Angelus who had moved within a short radius of the group. “So if I do this—,” the teenager whacked the vampire upside his head, “you can’t kill me?”
Angelus released a roar of outrage. His eyes turned a deep ochre as he glared down at Xander, his hands balled into fists. “No,” the vampire revealed, “but I can make you regret it.”
Everyone moved at once. Angelus lunged at Xander who was unfortunately too slow to avoid the attack. He grabbed the boy by the shirt and raised him up off of the floor while flashing his fangs. Xander let out a scream followed by a whimper as he was tossed to the ground.
The witch and the werewolf leapt in side-by-side to pull Xander to a safer distance giving Angel the extra time to run across the rest of the distance separating them. Giles headed back into the weapons locker searching for a stake. Angelus was too close to the Scoobies for any more crossbow bolts. Not that that had worked the first time.
Before Angelus could move in closer, Cordelia leapt onto his back wrapping her arms around his neck and holding on tight in hopes of preventing him from moving. Angelus’ muscular strength allowed him to ignore the sudden action. The sensation of Cordelia’s body pressing against his back proved more of a distraction than the move itself. As he paused, Angel caught up with him grabbing his arm and swinging the other vampire around to face him.
Still hanging on, Cordelia let out a shout as she swung around with them. “Angel, stop!”
Angelus’ hands moved down to hold on to the pant-covered legs tucked into his sides, enjoying the heat pressed against his back. Meeting Angel’s gaze, he smirked a bit as he ran his hands down the supple thighs. He asked Cordelia, “Shouldn’t that be my name you’re calling?”
“He was going to hit you,” Cordelia pointed out with exasperation.
“Defending me?” The vampire chuckled, wondering about the real explanation.
“No, I just didn’t want him to miss you and hit me instead.”
Cordelia tried to extract herself from Angelus, but he still had a firm hold on her thighs. As she sent Angel a pleading look, he issued Angelus an order to release her. The other vampire only laughed. “I don’t answer to you, Soul. As long as I toe the line for the Fates I can do anything I damn well please.”
Now Cordelia whacked Angelus across the head hoping to rile the vampire up enough for him to drop her. She heard a soft growl of warning at the back of his throat. It rumbled in his chest and carried through to his back where her torso was squashed against him. The short vibration sent a shock wave through her body.
Angelus felt the surprised pant of hot breath against his ear, but it was followed by the increasing scent of fear. He loved that smell. “Do you see her screaming in pain? Do you see my fangs biting down on her throat?”
“Angelus,” warned the souled vampire through clenched teeth, “I won’t have you scaring Cordelia just because you enjoy tasting her fear.”
“You’re still a vampire,” Angelus countered. “Don’t you get off on the smell of fear? I know you do. I could wallow in her scent.”
She asked in a small voice, “Let me go?”
Uncurling his hands, Angelus released her and Cordelia slowly slipped down to the floor cognizant of her body’s reaction to sliding along his muscular back. Her legs were a little shaky and she was grateful when Angel pulled her around beside him effectively telling the evil version of himself to lay off.
“There are a few more rules you are going to have to deal with,” Angel stipulated firmly. “Angelus, don’t ever touch what’s mine— important to me again. That goes for Buffy, the Scoobies and my stuff.”
“Empty threats,” returned Angelus with a sneer. “You can’t harm me anymore than I can harm you. You’ll just have to get used to sharing and that goes for everything.”
Handing Cordelia over to Xander who walked her back to a chair so she could sit down, Angel hated the fact that she was visibly shaken by the incident. Looking back at Angelus with a harsh expression, he informed the vampire, “I am going to fill the Watcher in on the rest of the Fates’ agenda. Can I trust you to behave?”
Angelus shifted back to his human face and batted his eyelashes innocently. “Like an Angel.”
Ignoring the dig, Angel caught Rupert Giles’ gaze, “We’ll need to use your office.”
“Certainly,” Giles moved in that direction despite the fact that he had to cross Angelus’ path. Everything seemed a little hazy, which he attributed to shock. This experience was rather nightmarish. Nevertheless, he was intrigued to find out why Angel needed to talk to him in private.
“You’re leaving us?” Willow gleeped at the thought of being alone in the same room as the evil vampire.
Xander headed for the weapons locker. “I’m grabbing a few stakes.”
“Go ahead,” Angelus encouraged him. “Not that they would do you any good.”
The vampire circled the table pausing when Oz gave him a feral sneer. Angelus glared back, “There’s no full moon tonight, werewolf, so relax. I have no designs on your little bitch.”
“That’s pronounced witch,” Cordelia put forth with a glare forcing herself to meet his gaze. “Willow doesn’t deserve your insulting remarks.”
“Cor, Cor, Cor.” Angelus ran a finger along her shoulder as he came up to her position at the table. “Clamoring for my attention, already? Did you miss me?”
Xander returned with the wooden weapons dumping them on the table. Grabbing one of them, Cordelia pushed out of her chair so quickly that it tipped over behind her. “Keep away from me or I’ll stake your evil ass.”
The library door opened with a bang as Buffy Summers swept into the library, her blond hair bouncing against her shoulders. Catching sight of the Scoobies, the stakes and the vampire, she asked, “What’s up? Stake sharpening?”
Willow realized that Buffy still had no idea of the truth. “Buffy, this is—”
“I know! Research.” The Slayer shuddered. “I can see the books and the stale pizza.”
As Buffy walked up to them, Xander attempted to gain her attention by pointing in Angelus’ direction. “Vampire present.”
“Yeah,” she said flashing an intimate glance at said vamp. “We’ll take attendance later. I need to talk to Angel.”
“Then you might want to check out the office,” Oz suggested seriously.
Misunderstanding, Buffy shook her head. “Here is just as good.”
Grabbing his hand, Buffy pulled the vampire toward the stairs. Cordelia called out, “Get away from him.”
“Jealous much?” Buffy thought that was over ages ago. Joking, “Geez, Cor. Can’t the Boy Slayer get her own vampire?”
With a grunt of frustration, Xander was about to yell out the fact that the vampire she was holding hands with was Angelus. Just as he opened his mouth, Cordelia clamped a hand over it. Glaring at him, she ordered him to keep silent and then passed on the message to Willow and Oz who both looked at her with reluctant acceptance. The fact that Buffy had barged in unaware of the truth was one thing, but ignoring them all just so she could cozy up to her vampire boyfriend was not acceptable.
“I thought about what you said, Angel,” Buffy told Angelus. “That’s why I’m late. I have really given this a lot of thought and I decided that it is just too risky.”
“Too risky for whom?”
“You. Us.” Buffy toyed with his hand running her fingers across the palm and over his fingers. “I want you so much, Angel, but I can’t risk losing you.”
“Never worry about that,” he told her. “I’ll never be too far away from you, Buff. I’ll be there at the very end, I assure you.”
Giving him a puzzled look, Buffy figured that he was trying to be reassuring. “Angel, I’ll try to behave. I know it’s my fault. Giles says it has to do with my primal instincts coming into play. So no more post-slayage kissing.”
“Who the hell wants that?” Angelus certainly wasn’t after her kisses. As for behaving, well he had no plans for that, either.
Angelus closed his fingers around hers and leaned a little closer to ask, “What would you say if I told you that the decision was already a done deal?”
Did that mean he couldn’t get out of it? “You’ve signed a contract?”
“No, it’s done.”
Buffy licked at her suddenly dry lips. “Meaning Angelus is roaming around the streets of Sunnydale?”
The gleam in his eye and the smirk curling his lips accompanied words that shocked Buffy to the core. “Guess again, lover.”
A scream erupted from the Slayer’s throat as she realized this was not her boyfriend she was holding hands with, but the vampire that stalked and threatened her, the demon who murdered and tortured her friends, and the bastard who plotted to have the world sucked into hell.
Yanking her hand out of his, Buffy ran over to the spot where the Scoobies had gathered to watch. Eyeing the stakes on the table, she reached for one only to hear Angel’s voice cry out from the now-open office door. “Wait! Killing Angelus may kill us both.”
Xander listened to that with a gleam in his eye. “I say go for it.”
“Zip it, Xander,” Cordelia grabbed the stake out of his hand and put both his and hers on the table. Then she saw Giles emerging slowly from his office with a dazed look on his face. He was worse now than when he went in. Whatever Angel had told the Watcher in private only added to the layers of troubled concern already there.
She was about to walk over to him when Angelus crept up behind her. Pointing at Buffy and his double, he chuckled in her ear, “Watch this. Give them thirty seconds and you’ll see fireworks.”
Cordelia glanced over her shoulder at the vampire. Fireworks? Did he expect Buffy and Angel to go at it right here? Just because Angel’s soul was permanent didn’t mean he was going to jump on Buffy the second he saw her. Although Cordelia admitted that she wasn’t one hundred percent certain if the theory worked the other way around. Angel was definitely jumpable in almost any woman’s eyes— except hers of course considering that she knew he was a vampire.
Standing close to him, Buffy stared back and forth between Angel and Angelus amazed at the fact that they were exactly alike. She couldn’t tell them apart. Assuring herself that was only because Angelus was acting and pretending to be Angel, she wasn’t going to get too worried about that right now.
Looking back at the souled vampire, Buffy accused him of the obvious, “You actually did it. I thought you were going to wait until we talked.”
“We did talk,” Angel’s confusion started there and continued to escalate.
Buffy put her hands on her hips expressing her irritation. “Not after I had a chance to think about what you said. I told you I needed to think.”
Countering, Angel argued louder, “But not that you wanted to debate the issue.”
From Cordelia’s side, Angelus watched in amusement. Soto voce, “Looks like trouble for our lovebirds and it hasn’t even been five minutes. He’d have more luck getting through to her by throwing her down on the table and giving her what she really wants.”
Whipping around to face him, Cordelia wondered why she was so lucky to be the one the vampire was focusing on. Complaining to him, “Go away, Angelus. I don’t want to share your evil perverted thoughts.”
“C’mon,” the vampire nudged her with an elbow. “Can’t you see the fun in it? He’s so Slayer-whipped he can hardly see straight.”
“Stop sharing.” Just being near the evil vampire made her spine tingle. Fear, of course. She couldn’t help but react that way and Cordelia knew that he could sense it.
The rest of the research session went downhill from there. Giles finally declared that the remainder of their course of study would wait until tomorrow. This was for an upcoming event scheduled to take place within a couple of weeks. Nothing apocalyptic, but rather a demon that merited a mention in a prophesy.
“I think we should take Angelus out on a test drive,” suggested Xander. “I wanna see him do the Fight-the-Good-Fight thing.”
“Test drive? I’m a vampire, not a Volvo.”
Thinking about it, Buffy reluctantly admitted, “It’s not a bad idea.”
Now that Angel had explained to her that Angelus was bound by specific guidelines and expectations, she was grateful that these Powers that Be had effectively leashed the evil vampire. If he wanted to have his own existence separate from the souled vampire, then Angelus would have to fight at her side along with Angel and the Scoobies. Giving him a simple test now might hint at his reaction when a real threat came along.
“For once, I have to agree with Xander,” commented Angel feeling a little strange about that fact. “A test is exactly what Angelus needs and I have just the thing. There is a new cadre of vamps holed up in an old warehouse downtown. My— our— business with the Moirae hasn’t given me the time to tell Buffy or take them out myself.”
“A vamp nest?” Willow gulped. Taking out a vampire or two was one thing, but a whole nest might include up to twenty individuals including their master. Buffy normally kept the numbers of these pared down, but the presence of the Hellmouth kept drawing more and more to Sunnydale.
Angelus frowned at the idea of staking his fellow vampires. “We should start with the sewers. Clear out some of those demons down there.”
“This is your challenge, Angelus,” his double informed him. “We don’t always get to choose who we come up against. Sometimes that means fellow vampires. Now that you have agreed to this bargain, it’s time to start living up to it. The Powers that Be are not going to let you sit idly by when they have charged you to help in this fight.”
“Killing my own kind was not part of this agreement,” Angelus countered sharply. Not that he hadn’t done it before. He was just making a point.
“What do you think the Fates meant for you to do, Angelus? Fighting the Good Fight doesn’t mean you get to sit around every time a vampire pops up trying to kill us,” Buffy couldn’t believe that she was having this conversation.
Angelus didn’t see why not. “Maybe I’ll just borrow Cordelia’s pom poms and be the cheering section.”
An involuntary snort escaped as Cordelia pictured Angelus on the sidelines of the fight waving her burgundy and gold pom poms in the air. Shouting, “Go Vamps Go!”
Ignoring Angelus’ sardonic humor, Xander broke it down for him. “Vampires are evil. Fighting the Good Fight means doing away with evil which means killing vampires.”
As the entire group walked outside toward Angel’s classic Plymouth convertible and Cordelia’s Corvette, Angelus realized that by agreeing to the Fate’s terms he had set himself up for group torture sessions with the Scoobies. Glaring silently at the dark-haired teenager, he decided that the verbal and mental torture could probably go both ways. The Moirae had said nothing about prohibiting any verbal bashing of the irritating shmuck. Yeah, he’d keep that in mind.
“If you need an example of how it works, I’ll be happy to show you personally. Just stand still for about five seconds,” Xander gripped his stake in his hand.
Angelus encouraged Xander, “Keep up the snide comments, Harris and you’ll find that I have more tricks up my sleeve than you can possibly imagine. The physical limitations given me by the Fates are just a roadblock and sooner or later I’ll find a way around them to get what I want.”
“It’ll be painful,” Xander reminded him of the conditions the two vampires had told them about.
“For you, maybe.” Then Angelus reminded him, “Vampires enjoy pain. It might be worth a little to see you suffer.”
“Get in the car,” Angel ordered them.
“Shotgun!” Buffy grabbed the front seat of the convertible so she could sit next to Angel.
Willow and Oz had already climbed into Cordelia’s Corvette, so that left both Giles and Xander sitting in the back with Angelus who thoroughly enjoyed their discomfort at his close presence.
Passing through the main downtown area, Angel pulled over a couple of blocks away from their destination. There was no reason to give their prey a heads up that they were coming. “We’ll let Angelus take the lead,” Buffy announced to the group. “But I want us to stick together in pairs. There is no telling how many vamps we’ll be up against.”
“Excellent idea, Buffy” Giles nodded his consent for the Slayer’s plan. From a purely observational standpoint, this was actually an interesting prospect. A souled vampire and his evil alter ego existing as two separate beings. If it wasn’t for the fact that Giles found it difficult not to stake Angelus every time he looked in the vampire’s direction, this might actually be amusing to watch.
Angel suggested that they split up the group by pairing the weaker fighters with the stronger ones. “What do you think, Angelus? Set up the teams.”
He got to pick? That surprised the vampire who perked up a bit at the idea. “Buff, you can stick with Harris. He needs all the help he can get. The witch can team up with the Soul while the Watcher and the werewolf back each other up.”
Realizing that her name hadn’t been called, Cordelia asked with a growing sense of dread, “What about me?”
Angelus’ mouth curled into a leer as his eyes wandered down her taut frame. “Baby, you’re with me. You always did make great vamp bait. That hot little body and your big…,” he dragged his eye up from her breasts, “smile.”
Catching her angry glare, Angelus changed his comment at the last second. Cordelia was not happy with this assignment. Sure, she’d been bait before, but never had she strolled into a vampire lair with the master of evil at her side. Sending a pleading glance in Buffy and Angel’s direction, Cordelia waited for one of them to get the hint. Then she realized they were too busy staring into each other’s eyes.
Cordelia’s irritation overshadowed her fear and she grabbed the sleeve of Angelus’ black leather jacket in order to drag him down the sidewalk at a faster pace. He willingly allowed her to move him. “Let’s get one thing straight, vampire. Part of being a good guy means that you look out for your responsibilities. When we walk into that place together just keep in mind that I’m yours.”
Quirking an eyebrow, Angelus responded, “Mine. I could go for that.”
“Your responsibility, dumbass! I’m not, nor will I ever be, yours,” Cordelia let go of his sleeve in disgust.
“There was a time you might have been mine,” Angelus reminded her almost softly. “If the Slayer had been late in arriving, I might have had time to do those things we talked about that night I tackled you to the ground.”
“Don’t ever mention that to me again, Angelus, because I will make you regret it.” Cordelia trembled at the memory of it. When he had told her in vivid detail how he planned to take her and when and where he was going to bury his fangs in her tender flesh. Then he had considered turning her, but had taken too much time weighing his options. Buffy’s arrival brought an end to his plotting and she had saved Cordelia.
“Yes, I know,” Angelus sounded a little bored. “You already warned me about staking my evil ass. Surely you could be a little more imaginative than that. Maybe we can arrange a little mutual punishment session.”
Cordelia shuddered. “Pervert!”
“What the heck are you two talking about?” Buffy strolled up beside them. She had a few words to say to the vampire before they got any closer to their destination.
“He’s a perv,” Cordelia told the blonde trying not to picture what Angelus might have in mind.
Angelus noted the flush of Cordelia’s cheeks. “We were just discussing the fact that Cordelia would love to get her hands on my ass.”
“Oh, yeah. You were thinking about it,” the vampire retorted knowingly.
Buffy gritted her teeth. This was a nightmare. How in the world were they going to live with Angelus around? Maybe they would only have to see him during major battles. Then they could call him up, he could kill a few demons and that would fulfill his agreement with the Fates.
Unfortunately, that would also leave the evil vampire a lot of free time to wander around Sunnydale causing all kinds of havoc. Between Angel and the Scoobies, they were going to have their work cut out to keep an eye on him. “Angelus, if anyone is going to get their hands on your ass it will be me and that won’t be in any way, shape or form something you’ll enjoy. Try to hurt my friends and I’ll kick you into next week.”
The Slayer stared at him with those huge eyes that carried the seriousness of her words behind their unblinking gaze. Angelus squared off and stared back. He felt the pull of her supernatural being. It called to the demon half of his vampire nature that recognized its ancient enemy. Visions of breaking her neck danced in his head as he looked at her.
“Save the threats, Buff,” he suggested. “I’ll try to save mine. They’re just words.”
“Words can hurt. So I highly suggest you control your nasty tongue before I gag you and chain you to the wall in my basement.”
“Sounds like fun.” Angelus let out a laugh. He loved it. Even the Slayer was stirred up enough to threaten him, but no one could touch him. At least not to kill. Not if they were going to let their precious Angel stick around. He said as much causing Buffy to remind him, “I already sent Angel to hell because of you Angelus. Trust me, there’s one helluva payback coming and I’ll happily provide it.”
Angelus’ amusement died. The Slayer was not joking and the vampire knew that she was capable of following through with her threat. “Just stay out of my way, Slayer. I’ll try to leave your little Scooby Gang alone.”
Satisfied for the moment, Buffy cast a glance in Cordelia’s direction and noted that she actually appeared grateful for the support. Though they had never been the best of friends both teenagers respected that they had their own place in the world. According to Cordelia, the blonde Slayer was the super-chick freak of nature. Buffy still thought of her as the defending champion for the Bitch-of-the-Year Award. It just came so naturally that it was hard to think of Cordelia as anything else.
Moving on to the warehouse containing the vampire lair, Angelus assessed the situation with a sharp eye before issuing orders to the various teams. They moved into position as ordered and were to wait until Angelus returned. Facing Cordelia, the vampire told her, “When we go in there, I want you to be that saucy temptation that came into the library the other day. Distract them. I want you practically hanging on to me. Your job is to act like you can’t get enough of me. You’re my pet. Got it?”
“I’m nobody’s pet.” Scrunching up her nose, Cordelia complained, “I usually just bait the trap and run, Angelus. You’re asking for an Oscar-worthy performance.”
“That’s what this is gonna take,” Angelus gave her a low growl. None of the others had questioned his orders. Why was Cordelia mouthing off at him? “If you want to come out of that building alive, I suggest you do as I say. Just try not to scream when I touch you.”
“Touch me? No way!” Cordelia’s hazel eyes popped open wide at the idea of Angelus touching her even if she was acting as bait. God, she really hated that. Why did it always have to be her? “There’ll be no touching. Remember what I told you.”
Amused at her mewling threat, “Are we discussing my ass again?”
“My stake is ready,” she warned holding up her weapon to prove she was ready.
Grabbing it out of her hand, Angelus told her, “You can’t go in there with that.”
He tucked her stake into the pocket of his jacket and watched Cordelia start to look a little panicky. Angelus moved them behind the shadowed cover of a stack of old crates placing them out of view of the rest of the gang. Cordelia was looking far too nervous and wouldn’t fool a fledgling into thinking that she would die without his touch.
“This is the part where you don’t scream,” Angelus told her as his hand pressed her back against the brick wall of the warehouse.
Cordelia had only a second to react to the warning before the vampire’s mouth came down to cover hers in a hard, demanding kiss. She was grabbing onto his shoulders and beating her fists against him trying to get him to stop. There were no warning bells going off in his head despite the fact that he had sprung this on Cordelia, so Angelus continued on.
“Mmph!” Her muffled protest accompanied the stomping of her foot against his. Angelus just changed tactics.
His hands curved around her to hold her body up close to his, running them slowly up and down her back. Without lifting his mouth away, the vampire altered the tempo of the kiss making it softer feeling her lips swell beneath his. The struggling slowed and Cordelia opened her mouth to take in a breath of air finding that it only gave him the opportunity to move his tongue inside her mouth.
Cordelia’s head was spinning at the sensation of his kiss, of his skillful tongue massaging hers. Then remembering who he was, she bit down in complaint. Angelus only let out a low growl of combined pain and pleasure that made him carry on a little longer than he had planned. Cordelia tasted the coppery tint of blood, but the sensual kisses continued until she was nearly shaking with her response to them.
“That’s better,” Angelus pulled back.
Cordelia punched him in the gut, which only seemed to hurt her hand as it came into contact with his hard body. Whispering madly, she let out a soft complaint, “Ouch! What the hell was that for? Eew! I have vampire blood in my mouth. Gross! Eew!”
“You needed my scent on you before we go in there,” Angelus told her. “Otherwise they’ll figure out we’re lying. I can take out quite a few on my own, but I can’t handle all of them and protect you at the same time.”
“Couldn’t you let me wear your jacket for a couple of minutes? That would have done the same thing.” The vampire shrugged replying that this was just as effective and way more fun. She retorted, “For you.”
Cordelia still felt more than just a little nervous to be standing alone in the shadows with Angelus after he just had his tongue in her mouth. Then there was no more time to think or worry about it as Angelus led them into the building. Doing her part, Cordelia walked close to the vampire and added a sashay to her hips.
Almost immediately they were stopped by a vamp in jeans and a faded t-shirt. “Who the hell are you?”
His eyes left the male vampire to wander distractedly over Cordelia’s curves. Only when his question was answered did his head jerk back up.
“Angelus,” the vampire noted with satisfaction that his name was recognized. A look of awe came over the other vamp’s face. “I’m here to see your master.”
Within a couple of minutes, the entire cadre of vampires had gathered in the room. When their leader entered, it was apparent to Angelus that this would be easier than he thought. He formulated a new plan within seconds of watching his approach. “I am Angelus. Forgive the intrusion, but I’m thinking of moving into the neighborhood and happened upon your lair.”
“The name’s Trudzinski. This is my territory,” claimed the other vamp. Angelus noted that he continually stole glances at Cordelia who stood with her hands on her hips making her chest stick out even more prominently than usual. “You won’t be moving in on my turf.”
“We should negotiate.” Angelus suggested and reached out to pull Cordelia closer to his side. He heard her heartbeat increase, but outwardly she snuggled closer into his embrace.
“So is she your pet or your peace offering?” the master vampire let his gaze travel across her from head to toe. He even licked his lips in anticipation at the thought. Suddenly, Cordelia was feeling even more nervous and dropped the fake smile. She shifted to look up at Angelus. What the hell was he doing?
Angelus lifted his other hand to curl around Cordelia’s jaw keeping her there so she could not turn her gaze away. Those mercenary eyes were trimmed with gold and stared back at her with hidden depths. She had no clue what he was thinking except that he seemed to be considering the leader’s question.
“I think Cordelia is anything I want her to be,” Angelus commented adding an evil laugh that made her skin crawl.
Trudzinski suggested, “Well I think she’d make a tasty snack.”
Angelus eyed the vampires standing on either side of their master acting as bodyguards. The other fledglings were scattered around the room. “Would you like a taste?”
“What?” Cordelia gasped aloud. “Angelus, are you crazy?”
He yanked her hard against him. “Don’t disrespect your master. You do as I say, got it, babe? If I want you to bare your neck or go down on your knees for me or anyone I say, that is exactly what you will do.”
The master vampire of the warehouse cadre seemed amused by Angelus’ need to control his curvaceous pet. Trudzinski watched as the great vampire had to temper her with soft caresses. These humans were such malleable creatures. With Angelus’ reputation with the ladies, he figured the brunette was so into her master that she didn’t want to be shared. It was certain that she was a succulent specimen.
“No!” Denial screamed from Cordelia’s throat. Angelus seemed determined to throw his chance at a separate existence out the window. This wasn’t part of the plan. This wasn’t in any way, shape or form him being good. “I-I don’t want to.”
Angelus used his strength to pull her struggling form toward Trudzinski. There were tears on her face and fear in her eyes as they got closer. The other vampire scented her fear and his lips curled into a smile. He also scented Angelus on her clothes and smooth skin. Her lips were bruised and swollen, but he noted nothing to indicate recent sex. Maybe the Scourge of Europe wasn’t as much of a stud as his reputation suggested. If this was his pet, Trudzinski figured he wouldn’t even let her get out of bed.
“Please, Angelus,” she was gripping at the edge of his jacket. “Let’s go. Don’t do this.”
Fisting her hair in his hand, Angelus shushed her. “It will all be over soon, Cordelia. Just relax.”
As he vamped out in front of her, Cordelia refused to whimper. Tilting her head, Angelus pressed a trail of cool kisses along her heated neck pausing to lick at the thrumming pulse point. She could feel the pointed scrape of his fangs on her flesh. Cordelia gripped at his jacket and then moved her hand down into his pocket extracting the stake he had tucked away. A large hand covered hers as Angelus wrested it from her before suddenly turning to plunge the stake into Trudzinski’s heart.
Sputtering, Cordelia waved a hand in front of her face as the cloud of vampire dust settled around her. “Eew! Why didn’t you just tell me that was the plan?”
Angelus pulled Cordelia behind him as he took out two more of the vampires that had been standing close by as bodyguards. The other vampires were slowly surrounding them. “This is so not good,” he heard Cordelia whisper as she saw the encroaching vamps.
“Stay where you are,” ordered Angelus in a commanding tone that had the others taking notice. “If your master was worth his salt, then you’ll know who I am. Who was second in charge around here?”
“You dusted him too,” one vamp pointed out.
“That makes it easier on the rest of you,” Angelus commented. “If you’re interested in a chance of surviving the Hellmouth, then you’ll do as I say. This is my town and I know the Slayer’s little tricks all too well.”
After a couple more minutes, the remaining vampires agreed to join Angelus. “Since your leaders are dust, I’ll need an opportunity to evaluate the rest of you to see if you deserve to be in my crew. I don’t tolerate weakness. My fighters need to be strong.”
A female vampire sauntered up to Angelus and sent a glare in Cordelia’s direction. “Are there any other skills you’re interested in testing? I bet I could please you better than that human bitch.”
Angelus backhanded her causing the vamp to fall to the ground. Addressing the entire group, he told them, “As your new master, I will set down rules for you to follow. The most important of which is— do not interfere with my pet. Cordelia is mine. Your old master was fool enough to believe that I would share her. So don’t presume to want her or to take her place in my bed.”
His bed? Talk about presuming too much.
Listening to Angelus’ speech, Cordelia found herself swimming in confusion. She no longer knew whether this was still part of some plan to take out this vampire nest or if Angelus was setting himself up as the vampire kingpin of the warehouse district. If that was the case, Angel was gonna be pissed. His evil alter ego was not playing by the rules.
With the entire room focused on her, Cordelia figured that she wasn’t going to be seen cowering in the corner. She took a confident stance a little closer to the vampire. At least Angelus acted as though he didn’t want her hurt. Unless he was just saving her up as his own tasty dessert. If Angelus was really setting himself up as their new leader, he would be leaving the building with seventeen vampires to back him up.
Could the others handle that? Buffy and Angel could take out a lot on their own, but a whole cadre of vampires swarming around? With Angelus leading them? Cordelia was getting nervous again.
“Everyone outside,” Angelus clapped his hands loudly to usher them along. “Let’s find out who is worthy of being linked to the Order of Aurelius.”
Almost eagerly, the vampires filed out of the building with Angelus and Cordelia waiting until the last vamp had passed through the door. Before she could pass through, Angelus held her back. Noting her worried look, he winked and held out the stake he had taken. A relieved sigh left her lips as Cordelia realized he wasn’t going to betray Angel or the deal they had made with the Fates.
While Cordelia reached for the weapon, Angelus used the distraction to push her back into the room. Stumbling back, she landed on her bottom on the hard cement floor. The door shut soundly behind Angelus as he followed the vampires out of the building. “What are you doing?”
Jumping up, Cordelia ran to the door and tugged at the handle. It was jammed. Angelus had jammed the door shut preventing her from joining the fight. Already, she could hear the sounds of the battle outside. Not that she wanted to fight for her life against a large group of evil vampires, but Cordelia didn’t want her friends to be out there without her.
Cordelia had learned a lot about fighting vampires the summer that Buffy ran away. The Scooby Gang conducted their organized bait and trap missions. It was mostly one vamp at a time and usually by group dusting, but it was more than Cordelia had done before. Until then, her job had simply been cheerleading from the sidelines.
She supposed that was all Angelus remembered. Angel hadn’t really seen her involved in any big vampire dustings or demon battles since the Slayer had returned to pick up the slack. Truthfully, Cordelia was happy to hand over the mission to its rightful owner. She thought the Good Fight was important, but it still interfered with her social life.
“Stubborn vamp,” Cordelia muttered under her breath as she kicked futilely at the steel door. “Just see if I don’t stake you when I get out there.”
Tucking the stake into the belt loop of her pants, Cordelia trudged over to the nearby windows which had been painted black. She couldn’t see outside, but they had handles on them so she figured to try to squeeze outside. “Dammit! They’re painted shut.”
As Cordelia wandered around the warehouse looking for another way out, the group outside was in the thick of battle against the Trudzinski vampires. Angelus had actually thought about trying to convince Angel to let him keep the vamps under his leadership, but figured the Soul wouldn’t go for that one. Reasoning that he had gotten himself into this deal with the Fates by agreeing to be spilt away from Angel, the vampire saw that he had little choice but to comply. Besides, his little show had actually been rather fun.
Half of the vamps were already dust. The working pairs shifted around during the actual melee. Giles and Oz continued to fight together and were quite effective against a duo of the vampires considering that the Watcher was heavily armed with crossbow and stakes. Willow gravitated over toward Xander who found himself the target of a larger number because he was paired up with the Slayer. She used her levitation spell to dust one of the vamps while Xander accidentally fell on a second with his stake after Buffy had knocked him to the ground.
Buffy, Angel and Angelus were more effective as solitary fighters against the crowd. The Slayer tucked, twisted, flipped and quipped her way through four vampires in succession without more than a bruised cheek. The presence of Angel and Angelus cast confusion into the midst of their foes. Legends said a lot about Angelus. Recent rumors down at the demon bars had even suggested he had a soul. Neither legend nor rumor said anything about him having a twin.
The distraction proved deadly as they laid waste to the remaining vamps that dared to stay behind. Two or three of them had opted to escape. Angelus saw one running down the alley between the warehouse and the building next door. He considered going after him when the fleeing vampire suddenly tripped and fell flat on his face. Cordelia appeared from behind a stack of crates and staked the vamp.
Angel stepped up next to Angelus to watch the brunette jog up the alley to meet them. A perturbed look settled on her face as she realized that the battle was over. As the rest of her friends gathered in a haphazard circle, Cordelia heard Buffy ask, “Where have you been?”
“Having a manicure,” Cordelia responded sourly still glaring at Angelus.
Sensing an argument coming, Angel quickly commented, “Looks like the test worked, Angelus. You passed with flying colors.”
“Hah!” Cordelia countered as she glared at Angelus. “You don’t know how close he came to deciding differently.”
As she watched, the corners of Angelus’ mouth quirked up for a brief moment. Oh, yeah. Cordelia knew it. “You’re nothing but a wolf in Angel’s clothing. Don’t ever do that to me again. I’ll be bait if I have to, but don’t ever pretend to want to bite me again.”
“I do want to bite you,” Angelus told her truthfully. “I only pretended I was going to let Trudzinski have a taste.”
“What?” Outraged, Angel turned to his double with a fierce stare.
“I had to get close enough to the master vampire to stake him,” shrugged Angelus as if the fact was nothing to be concerned about.
Even Buffy sounded concerned asking, “Are you okay, Cor?” She knew what Angelus could be like. Although it was interesting that the evil vampire had locked Cordelia up rather than letting her join the fray.
“She’s fine,” Angelus barked at the Slayer. Then he stepped up to make certain of the fact for himself. “Aren’t you?”
Cordelia nodded, but flinched slightly as his hand came up to her face. It was smudged with dirt from the duct she had used to escape. Turning her head, Angelus saw a thin line of blood where his fangs had superficially scraped against her throat. It must have welled up afterward because he hadn’t even gotten a chance to taste her.
His tongue swept across his lips in a subconscious reaction. One that wasn’t lost on Cordelia.
“Get your vamp paws off me,” she slapped his hands away. “I’m going home now. I’m going to take a long hot shower and scrub every inch of skin that you touched.”
Pushing past the vampire, she headed off in the direction they had parked the cars. Since there were still a couple of unaccounted for vampires on the loose, the group followed behind her. Willow called out, “Cor, don’t forget us. You’re our ride.”
Oz and Willow ran to catch up since Cordelia was setting a fast pace down the sidewalk.
“You’ve got some nerve, vampire,” Xander frowned at Angelus. “You’re here because of a deal you set and have specific rules to follow, yet you push the edge.”
“That’s what existence is all about,” the vampire answered him before walking away. He called over his shoulder to Angel, “I’ll be back at the mansion before sunrise.”
Giles let out a long sigh as Angelus departed. “Thank goodness he’s gone. That was the most nerve-wracking experience.”
As Xander and Giles walked ahead, the Slayer and her souled vampire boyfriend lagged behind. Angel was quite pleased with Angelus performance with the exception of how he had used Cordelia as bait. No doubt this was going to be a challenge to manage, but he would rather deal with Angelus face to face knowing that he had behavioral restraints than going back to the way it was before.
“I still can’t believe that you did this,” Buffy ranted at Angel. “You’ve given Angelus his own life. Do you have any idea what babysitting him is going to be like? He’s out there right now doing who knows what.”
Angel took her hand. Reminding her, “I did this for us, Buffy. There are risks, but I hope it’s worth it. We can be together without the pressure of losing my soul.”
“There’s a difference?” Buffy huffed. “I suppose there is. I still get to have you around, but I get the torture of Angelus at the same time.”
“Angelus won’t be back home until the last minute,” guessed Angel. “He’ll want to check things out. Make contact down at Willy’s place.”
“So not a good idea to let him loose like this. We should lock him up and throw away the key.”
Angel almost laughed. “That was what Cordelia told me.”
“When was that?”
“In the library,” Angel admitted seeing nothing wrong with telling her the truth. “She was there while I was researching the curse.”
Noting the fact that Buffy had stopped cold and was facing him, Angel realized that she was looking a little jealous. “What’s that look for?”
“Nothing. It’s just… Angelus seems to have taken an unhealthy interest in Cordelia. He’s barely looked at me except to snarl at me,” Buffy pointed out.
“Angelus thinks of you as the enemy.”
“He paid a lot more attention to me the last time he got loose,” she frowned at the thought of it. “God, I sound jealous over Angelus. See how wrong that is? He’s not even you. Never was. Just looked like you.”
Angel watched her inner struggle as it showed in her face. “Angelus has my memories as I have his. He was obsessed with you, Buffy. All he thought about was revenge.”
“What’s to stop him from trying it again? The last time wasn’t pleasant.”
As they started walking again, Angel admitted, “I can’t predict his behavior. There are a few things I can guess at because I remember how he thinks, but as to what he’ll do now that he has a totally separate life from mine— I just don’t know.”
Buffy wondered, “Do you think we should follow him?”
“I have a better idea,” Angel suddenly realized. “We have the mansion to ourselves until dawn.”
Now that her anger over Angelus was subsiding a bit, Buffy realized that her body was still singing its post-Slayage song. “How fast can we dump Giles and Xander?”