29: Minion Duty
Chapter 29: Minion Duty
The doorbell rang Saturday afternoon at the Chase residence and since there was no housekeeper to respond Emelia Chase ended up staring through the peephole. Even though she had let the young redhead in through the front gate after deciding she didn’t look like an official, she remained cautious enough to check again before opening the door.
“Hello, dear,” Emelia put on her brightest smile. “Are you one of Cordelia’s friends? I’m afraid she’s still asleep. She was up all night long.”
Willow stared at the woman thinking that it had been years since she’d seen her. Not since Parent-Teacher Night in Elementary School. Mrs. Chase had been in charge of organizing all of those cute little cakes along with the cookies and punch. Other than rare pictures in the Society section of the paper, no one had seen her in years. There was a running joke about Emelia Chase being a hypochondriac, but the woman didn’t look sick. In fact, Willow thought she looked beautiful. A lot like an older version of Cordy herself except that her hair was lighter. No wonder Cordelia was so pretty.
“Umm. Cordelia does that.”
“Does what dear?”
“Stays up at night.” Willow clarified and then snapped her mouth shut. She supposed that Mrs. Chase might want to know why and then she’d have to make up some lame story that no one would believe anyway.
The question came almost on cue. “Why is that?” Emelia motioned for the girl to come in and led her into the formal living room.
Willow was busily looking around at the house when she remembered the question. “Umm. Stays up at night. Yeah. Astronomy Club. We’re all into checking out those stars.”
Strange. Emelia Chase was fairly certain that the only stars her daughter was interested in were prefaced by the words movie or television. “Is this visit about Cordelia’s boyfriend? He’s not an actor, is he?”
“No,” Willow assured her as she sunk down onto the cream-colored sofa. The room looked immaculate except for a little dust as if no one ever came in here. Like the house wasn’t really lived in. Kind of cold. “Definitely not an actor.”
Seemingly satisfied with that answer, the woman smiled and informed Willow that she would awaken Cordelia and send her downstairs. “I’m afraid there is nothing in the house to offer you. Not even ice water.”
Knowing that Cordelia had shut down everything except the security system when moving in with Angelus, it didn’t really surprise her. “Not thirsty. Thanks.”
Mrs. Chase disappeared much to Willow’s relief, but Cordelia didn’t come rushing down the stairs to demand an explanation of her presence. Twenty minutes passed with excruciating slowness before the brunette made an appearance during which time Willow visually examined everything within sight and counted the expensive knick-knacks in their specially-designed knick-knack cabinet.
Willow’s jaw dropped at the sight of Cordelia descending the staircase in almost regal fashion, looking more immaculate and designer-garbed than she had seen her in the last two months. Standing up and meeting her at the living room threshold, Willow figured that she knew Cordelia Chase well enough to recognize that her appearance represented her own personal armor.
Facing off with the witch, Cordelia knew that Willow was here on a mission. Nothing else would have brought her except for an express request. “Angelus called you.”
“At four o’clock this morning,” Willow moaned and then noted there was no look of sympathy in response.
“So you hopped on over here at….” Cordelia glanced at the gold-plated mantel clock, “half-past two. Not exactly a quick response, but a good delay tactic.”
“I fell asleep,” Willow grumbled. “Otherwise, I would have come over right away.”
“What are you— his minion?”
“Apparently,” Willow grumbled. “I already spent half the night talking to Buffy and then Angelus calls just after I get to sleep. He told me you left him and that you weren’t answering your cell phone.”
Cordelia smirked triumphantly. “I turned it off. He doesn’t have the private number to the house.”
“He tried to come over, but you have that heavy security gate.” Figuring that news would at least let Cordelia know Angelus was trying to get to her, Willow waited for some hopeful response. “It wouldn’t budge. Not even with vamp strength.”
“Daddy only buys the best,” Cordelia explained coolly. She’d been emotional all night long screaming her frustrations into her pillow and finally staring at the ceiling while trying to convince herself not to drive straight back to the mansion.
The sudden sound of voices from upstairs startled Willow. It seemed strange to see Cordelia here instead of the mansion and even more strange to actually know that Mr. and Mrs. Chase were here in town. “So your parents are home.”
“Two days early.” Cordelia nodded and then moved into the living room to sit down on the edge of the couch. She didn’t really want to talk about her parents and was not about to mention the fact that she was considering leaving the country for an unspecified period of time. Better to get Willow talking about something that would keep her off-target. “So what was Buffy’s problem?”
Willow leaned forward, blinking as if it might help her hear the question again. Was Cordelia saying that she had no idea why Buffy would need to talk to her best friend for most of the night? “I-I thought Angel would tell you.”
Sounding bored already, Cordelia asked, “Tell me what?”
“That he…,” Willow faltered. “That Buffy…”
“They broke up last night.”
The long silence after her announcement was shattered as Cordelia launched off of the couch and knocked into the coffee table in the process. Some expensive looking glass candle holders tipped shattering against the marble edge of the table top.
Willow watched Cordelia pace back and forth in front of her like a caged tigress. It seemed obvious, but the redhead asked it anyway. “So you didn’t know?”
Running a hand through her loose hair, Cordelia left it in a tangled state as she turned to Willow, her eyes wide with shock. Freaked out by this news, all she could say was, “No.”
Squirming on the end of the seat, Willow really didn’t want to be the one to talk to Cordelia about this. All she was here to do was to tell her that Angelus wanted her back at the mansion. That he loved her. The vampire had made certain to remind Willow to stress that when she spoke to Cordelia.
Except that Angelus wasn’t the only vampire at the mansion with those kinds of feelings. “Buffy said—”
Willow really couldn’t go on. Her vocal chords seemed to be paralyzed.
“Tell me!” Cordelia demanded with such haste that Willow nearly fell off the end of the couch.
“Eep! Okay. Buffy…well, you see— uh. Angel was there. Umm. Cor, I really don’t think…I mean I think he should do it, not me. I’m just the messenger.”
Despite Willow’s ramblings, Cordelia understood what she was trying to avoid saying. “Angel is in love with me.”
“He told me last night after he got back from the Bronze.”
Gauging the timing suggested that the breakup had occurred before the declaration to Cordelia, Willow let out a sigh of relief. Having only recently developed their friendship considering their childhood rivalry and Xander, she was reluctant to put her in the role of the Other Woman. Especially considering how Cordelia and Angelus felt about each other.
Until the fight.
“I’m an idiot when I’m sleep deprived,” Willow suddenly realized what the fight was all about. “Angelus never said why you left him. Just that he loved you and wanted you back. It was about Angel, wasn’t it?”
Now Willow had to stand up. She felt a wave of nausea hit and pacing opposite of Cordelia’s direction seemed to ease the feeling a bit. Except that moving also made her dizzy. Stopping, she turned around to face Cordelia who paused upon seeing her tortured expression. “Did something happen between you and Angel?”
“NO!” Cordelia shouted her response. “That’s just it, Willow. It didn’t happen.”
Sighing, Willow’s mouth crept up into a relieved smile. “So nothing happened. Then why did you two fight about Angel? Why did you leave?”
Cordelia sank down onto the couch again. “Something— almost happened.”
Willow followed her move, sitting next to her. “Cordelia, you love Angelus.”
“Then why would something almost happen with Angel?” Willow asked even before she realized that she was the last person who should be asking Cordelia Chase that question.
Cordelia let it slide, choosing to forget for a moment the fact that Willow knew all too well the temptations of being attracted to a friend. “Close your eyes, Will.”
“I’m not going to conk you over the head with a blunt object,” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “I’m making a point. Sheesh! Go with me on this one. Close your eyes.”
“Closed.” Willow shut them tight.
Angling herself so that she could speak softly into Willow’s ear, Cordelia decided a little guided imagery might explain the entire incident. “Think of Angel. Picture him in your head.”
“Just do it. Tall, dark, hot and broody.”
“Mmm. Uh. Yeah. Tall, dark and broody.”
“And hot. He’s a hottie. Don’t leave that part out.”
Willow frowned, but imagined it anyway. Angel was technically Angelus’ double, so it might be permissible for Cordelia to thinking of him as being hot. “Got it.”
“Now picture him naked.”
“What?” Willow had to scrunch her eyes closed just to stop from opening them to stare at Cordelia. “Are you saying he was naked when he said…you know.”
“No. That’s not the point.”
“There is one, right? A point?”
“I’m just saying that I know what he looks like naked. Not because I’ve seen him naked. I just know.”
“Oh! Because of Angelus.”
“Duh!” Cordelia rolled her eyes thinking that Willow was probably envisioning her sneaking into the bathroom while Angel was in the shower. Sheesh! As if she’d ever even think of that.
Willow pointed out, “You may know what he looks like, but I don’t.”
“Don’t pout about it. You can picture it anyway, can’t you?”
Concentrating for all of three seconds, Willow said, “Check. Got it. Naked Angel. Picturing that right now. Oh, my! Apparently, I have a very good imagination.”
“Thought so,” came Cordelia’s wry response.
“Why am I imagining naked Angel?”
“So you can imagine being in my shoes. To understand what happened.”
Willow thought it would be faster and more efficient just to tell her, but imagining naked Angel wasn’t a terrible thing either. “Okay. Still naked here. Are you? Naked, I mean?”
“No. That’s not the point.”
“Oh.” Willow sounded a little disappointed.
“Neither one of us is really naked.” Cordelia figured she didn’t need to point out that she was halfway there at the time.
“Naked Angel. Not really naked. Got it. Not really, though.”
“He’s naked in your brain. You know what he looks like without that shirt hiding his hard chest and his sculpted abs.”
Willow wondered if she was ever going to be able to look Angel in the face again. Or Angelus for that matter. Two of them. Oh, my. Her circuits were getting a little fried imagining stuff she shouldn’t be imagining. “Naked brain. Got it.”
“Angel. Naked Angel.” Cordelia corrected. “He’s your friend. He’s standing right there in front of you while you’re wearing…a silk robe. And he’s naked in your brain when he starts kissing you. Then he says he’s in love with you. What would you do?”
“Kiss him back?”
“Thought so,” she commented smugly. Now Cordelia felt vindicated.
Willow opened her eyes, realizing that a lot more than nothing had happened between Cordelia and Angel last night. “Was that it, Cordy?”
“Except for the whipped cream.”
“The—,” Willow couldn’t even repeat it.
Cordelia barely noticed. “Do I get credit for saying no? No!”
“You said no to naked Angel and whipped cream?”
“Angel wasn’t naked,” Cordelia reminded. “You’re supposed to understand why I said no, not try to convince me I should’ve said yes.”
“You really said no?” Willow had to ask again because Cordelia had filled her head with so many images of naked Angel and whipped cream kisses that it seemed crazy to think that had been her response.
“Of course I said no,” Cordelia snapped at her. “I can’t stop Angel from feeling what he does. I’m in love with Angelus.”
Looking as confused as she felt, Willow asked, “Then why are you here?”
So much for her guided imagery technique. Willow didn’t get it. “Because Angelus doesn’t trust me. He acts possessive and obsessive and enjoys fighting with Angel. Now he thinks he has an excuse.”
“But he’s a vampire,” Willow pointed out. “Those things are normal.”
Cordelia played her trump card. “He spanked me. In front of Angel.”
Willow sat in still silence trying to assimilate the information into her overtired brain. It was just too much. Naked Angel and kissing and whipped cream with fighting and possessive vampire behavior. Glancing over at Cordelia, she could imagine the other girl turned over Angelus’ knee with her bare bottom in the air and his large hand on her smooth skin. Her smooth reddened skin.
Having an imagination can be scary, Willow concluded.
Feeling fire flaming her cheeks at the thought, Willow jumped to her feet. She had to leave now before Cordelia said anything else because all this talk was just getting to her in frighteningly weird ways.
“Willow, go back to Angelus. Tell him I’m not coming to the mansion anytime soon. In fact, I’m not coming at all.” Cordelia watched as Willow gulped down her response obviously choosing not to protest. “While you’re playing minion, you can pick up my clothes.”
“Hey—,” Willow started to complain, but grumbled her agreement. It was obvious that Cordelia thought she had a good reason not to go back to the mansion. “Sure. Just ask Willow. She listens to everybody. Does everything people ask. Good ol’ Willow.”
Cordelia heard the redhead mumbling under her breath as she ushered her out the front door. “Thanks for doing this, Will. I’m going to Harmony’s this afternoon, so I might not be home when you come back. Just come alone, okay?”
Turning, Willow gave her a startled look. A thank you from Cordelia Chase? Hmm. I wonder if Oz likes whipped cream?