Scenes 201 – WiP
201: Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale
A Rodin statue in the making, Angel sat upon the stairs with his elbows bent on his knees, folded hands raised with his index fingers steepled against his lips. Outwardly, his calm appearance belied the storm of thought and emotion swirling beneath the surface. The minutes since Cordelia had descended into the basement ticked by in maddening slowness. Time enough to consider that allowing her to learn about the power of a claim from anyone else might be a mistake.
The Watchers Council possessed vast knowledge about the supernatural world after centuries worth of observation. Plenty of mysteries remained. Things that were simply unknowable. How could he expect Wesley Wyndham-Pryce to counsel Cordelia on a subject that had no real precedent? It wasn’t like there were any other soul-possessing vampires documented in their diaries for comparison.
There was no way of knowing if his soul would affect the kind of bond he hoped would develop with Cordelia. There were other levels of intimacy to explore that he had never considered possible. Some needs were all too obvious, basic to the part of himself he would prefer to deny, and yet it clawed for fulfillment. Feelings snuck up on him that could not be ignored. Was it just the selfish bastard in him that wanted this right now in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty? Reassurance that Cordelia was his in every possible way before fate tried to rain hell down upon them. Not that he’d ever let it. Somehow, he would fix this. Save her. He had to.
Angel’s gaze had not left the closed barrier of the basement door since Cordelia and Wesley stepped through it. Although it wasn’t locked he might not bother with taking the time to open it if he chose to go after her. One swift kick would be all it would take to burst it to splinters. He would be little more than a blur on the stairs. Traversing the corridors below would take only a minute. Finding her would be easy, he figured.
Getting rid of Wesley might take more effort. “Get out,” might not be enough. Cordelia might complain about his use of intimidation tactics, but he wouldn’t take the bait by letting her draw him into an argument. He’d simply do what needed to be done—claim her. Bind them together. Seal his fate to her own no matter that destiny had other plans. Dramatic much? Cordy would totally call him out on it.
The stairs creaked alerting Angel that his wait was over. Bolting to his feet, he stared at the door waiting for it to open once their footsteps reached the top. Pinpricks poked at his nerves. He had not budged from that spot on the stairs the entire time. They’d think he was worried about Wesley’s far from unbiased opinions about vampire claims. True enough, but only Cordelia’s opinion counted. She was great at cutting through the bull to get to the heart of a subject. Maybe that part worried him most.
Anxiously, Angel shifted around to lean against the wooden baluster striking a casual pose. The door handle started to turn. He glanced down at his all too obvious position deciding that he looked ridiculous. No need to give away the fact that he was nervous about the outcome of their discussion. He had promised to allow Cordelia to make this decision, and he had meant it. After one last glance at the door, Angel darted across the hall into the room serving as Wesley’s office.
Having waited a few seconds after Cordelia took notice of his absence, he ended up unintentionally eavesdropping. “So much for Angel sticking around to guard the door.” An indelicate little snort followed. “Think he’s given up on the idea of Kalesh making a sneak attack?”
Easy answer. Angel scowled at the thought of it. No, he hadn’t.
Wesley was quick to respond, “Doubtful. The odds are quite in favor of it.” See, even the watcher agreed.
“Guess that means you ought to get going. We don’t want Willow making a mess of this new spell, do we?” There was a little snip to her words dismissing him without actually acknowledging that he might be right.
A blabbering response followed as Wesley tried to defend Willow’s spell casting skills and his decision to remain at her side. “Angel would not want me to leave you alone.”
Right. Good decision, Angel thought as he quietly leaned against the open doorframe watching the two of them. Wesley might not be his first choice as Cordy’s bodyguard, but he was smart. Hopefully, that translated to the advice he had given her.
“Give me the crossbow,” Cordelia held out her hands. It took a waggle of her fingers to convince him she was not about to take no for an answer. Wes handed it over. “I’ve got this. Just point and shoot, right?”
Angel finally spoke up. “Like any weapon, using it requires training.”
Swinging around at the sound of his voice, “There you are!” Cordelia aimed directly at him for a second or two before promising, “I wasn’t going to pull the trigger.” Lowering the crossbow to a safe angle, she asked, “Where have you been hiding?”
“Wesley’s office,” he thumbed at the room behind him. Stressing, “I was just waiting.”
Walking past him to peruse the state of his desktop Wesley shot him a narrow squint, “What were you doing? Please tell me you did not move anything around.”
Angel shrugged and held up a leather-bound book he had randomly picked up, “Just this. It was in one of those stacks on your desk.”
Trying to keep a straight face, Angel handed the book over effectively giving him a few moments of privacy with Cordelia. Wesley was too busy examining his research to take notice as he closed his hand over hers to lead her away from the office door. Cordelia did not wait for him to speak first. “We can just go upstairs if you want to be alone.”
So much for being subtle about it, Angel mused. Cordy just had a way of knowing him without him having to say a word. Going up to the privacy of their bedroom would be the wrong move. He had promised her time to think about this. Told himself she would need it despite her assurances that her mind was made up before knowing any details.
“Not until you have an answer for me. Have you made your decision?”
Cordelia’s eyes went wide with shock. Yes, he was asking now. He couldn’t go to their bedroom if she was going to say no. He didn’t want rejection there of all places. Finally, she responded, “Not exactly.”
Oh? Damn. The watcher had done his duty giving her enough information to make her think about the consequences instead of blindly accepting an uncertain future together. He didn’t want her making a hasty decision— as long as was the right one. “You have questions for me?”
Again, she paused as if to measure out words instead of letting her feelings pour forth unfiltered as usual. “There’s a lot I wasn’t expecting. Can we talk about it later?”
“Later,” Angel echoed in agreement. That word had once signaled a beginning between them, but now he worried that it might take on a new meaning. One he wasn’t going to like.
Cordelia started up the stairs, but paused to hold out the crossbow. As he reached for it, she gave him one of those brilliant smiles that always caught him square in the chest as if he was on the verge of gasping for air. Teasingly, she said, “Maybe I should keep it since you don’t want to come upstairs and play bodyguard.”
She might be able to read him like a book, but Angel wasn’t as savvy. Cordelia either slapped you with the unvarnished truth or she dug down deep to hide it under a steel shell. Sounding uncertain rather than angry, she left him wondering if she was going to accept his claim. He swallowed hard, and tried to make light of her indecision. “You didn’t shoot me on sight, I suppose that’s a good sign.”
Night had finally come as the sun’s last rays faded to black. Sensing it, Spike took the stairs at a brisk pace feeling eager for some action. The thought of gadding about town with his mortal enemy, going on a little mission for the greater good, doing his part for the team— a whole world of wrong about that. Buffy wasn’t exactly thrilled about him tagging along tonight. This was an opportunity to torment her just a bit, twist her up in knots because something about her did the same to him.
No surprise that Buffy wasn’t eagerly awaiting his arrival downstairs. The only one in the foyer was Angel now pacing around like a caged tiger. He swung around silently noting his approach before turning back to continuse tracing an invisible path across the parquet floor. Spike glowered realizing that the situation between Angel and Cordelia remained unsettled.
“Thought you’d be fangs deep by now,” Spike said as he tugged on his leather jacket.
The radio wasn’t blaring from the basement anymore, and he could hear that prat of a watcher shuffling papers in the office across the hall. Angel shot him a glare. A silent warning against saying anything else that might set him off. Bugger that.
“No need to play by the book—unless you want Dru and me to witness the deal.”
Offering to watch was genuine, and not a tease even if Spike knew he would enjoy every moment with lecherous delight. Drusilla, too, even if she felt a twisted sort of jealousy as her sire claimed his mate. These days Angel was the de facto head of the House of Aurelius whether or not he accepted that responsibility. That came with some expectations like putting an end to rival vampire clans horning in on their territory.
Cordelia Chase divided Angel’s attention. Shagging her senseless night after night might be a worthwhile distraction for any vampire, but how could that be enough to sate his needs, even with a soul gumming up the works? Spike didn’t see why it was so complicated. Claiming bloodrights did not require a permanent bond, but it was obvious that was the direction this was going.
Strangely, Spike was okay with it, no matter that it would set the chit up for trouble. Angel needed his head on straight if they were going to take on the Solarians, not to mention the rest. He needed that killer instinct back and not to be focused on his namby-pamby feelings. Why the devil would anyone want a soul when it only made you soft?
Angel’s stare was anything but soft, shooting daggers from his blackened gaze. This wasn’t a joking matter, and Spike had been serious with his offer. Their kind traditionally witnessed events creating changes in status, not that Darla had ever instilled in them a desire to follow any kind of ritual practices. They went wherever they wanted, and enjoyed the havoc left in their wake.
No use reminiscing over days gone by. Spike didn’t really want Angelus back again even if it would be convenient to skip the soul-searching excuses for not claiming Cordelia. Poor pet wouldn’t get a choice in the matter, or a life, not a human life, anyway. Existence as a vampire would be one escape from her prophesied fate. One Angel would never let happen.
“Starting to think the problem isn’t Cordelia, mate.” Spike kept his distance. He wasn’t going to volunteer himself as Angel’s punching bag. “Maybe we’ll insist on watching. Make sure it’s done proper like.”
Again, Angel’s silent response would have wilted anyone else. Bordering on terrifying, his killer instincts weren’t buried as deep as Spike had feared. It was a good sign, he figured, feeling better about what would happen when it came time to put Nico and Isobel down. A bloodbath would do. Lightened by the imagery, he stopped hounding Angel long enough to realize something had gone wrong.
“That watcher hasn’t had her ear all this time.” Not if that was him in the office, which his senses confirmed. “Don’t think she’d put up with his gaff.”
Spike’s expectations had been simple. That’s why he had gone off and left Angel on his own. He figured the watcher would drone on about naught until Cordelia told him where to stuff his cautionary tales. She’d rush upstairs into Angel’s arms, and that would be that— claimed and tamed. Yet here he was pacing the floor like a caged tiger about to pounce.
“Where is she?”
Having asked him a direct question, Angel finally responded. “Upstairs. She’s getting ready for tonight.”
That sounded promising. All sorts of leather and lace scenarios popped into his head. Yeah, he might definitely have to insist on playing witness.
“Wants to head out to search for the Shards of Ahli-Tah right after sunset.”
Not exactly the fun and games Spike hoped they’d be up to. “That still on?” Claiming a mate wasn’t exactly a quickie scenario. He figured the outing was off for at least a night or two.
A weighty pause followed before the answer came. “I promised.”
Any sympathy Spike had for him vanished. “You gonna lick her boots, too?”
He had moved within punching distance, but Angel remained still. Couldn’t deny he was willing, could he? Truthfully, Cordelia might just be worth it. Spike doubted he would ever put up with letting a woman handle him that way by. Doing for her when he had wants of his own. Letting her desires take priority. Never happening, that. Had his Dru, he did. If he let her get away with aught it was only because she was his sire, and he needed to please her.
Angel ignored the dig. “This place is suffocating her. Tonight might be the last chance Cordy has to spend time outside these walls, and it’s our only opportunity to find those crystal shards.”
“Plenty time to get things done. Give her a good shag. Take what belongs to you.”
Spike wasn’t normally one for giving advise to Angelus, and was not certain why it mattered a whit to him in the first place. Only one thing made sense even if it wasn’t right. Staying here under this roof with Angel, Drusilla and Cordelia with her motley crew of supporters was the closest thing to a sense of family they had back in their glory days. Minus all o’ the blood and gore, but that might work itself out soon enough, preferably by introducing Isobel to her innards.
Angel’s gaze flicked toward the staircase before settling back on Spike. “I am giving her some space. Time to think about it.”
Not getting it, Spike scowled at the notion. “She’s yours. Make it official.”
“Cordelia needs time to process.”
Calling him out on it caused Angel to inch forward. Spike felt a knot rise up in his throat. “Don’t push it. Either Cordelia accepts everything the claim entails, or she doesn’t. I won’t have you influencing her decision—especially if you frighten her with more demonstrations.”
Spike wasn’t about to back off even when he had to lift his gaze higher to meet Angel’s now that he loomed closer. “Told you about that, did she? Dru’s idea o’ course.”
“Drusilla’s whims are enough of a concern without you giving in to them.”
“Do what I’m told within reason. Dru’s my sire. Never gonna turn down the chance to taste her even with your precious pet watching. Doesn’t shy away, does she? All that curiosity. Made me hard, that did, having her eyes on me when I bit into Dru’s tender flesh.”
That stony glare was back. Disapproval.
It was definitely a thrill to push Angel’s buttons, seeing him spinning like a top, unsure of himself, his girl, their future. Spike might actually enjoy it if he didn’t already see the dark path this could take should Cordelia spurn Angel’s desire to claim her. Hurt feelings would be the least of it. Never forget that Angelus was part of him. The soul might give him a conscience, but the demon still remained. Those instincts he tried to beat down every day would just rise to the surface. The chit would bear his mark whether she wanted it or not, and the bond between them would eventually become unbreakable, but Cordelia would resent it and him, and it wouldn’t be pretty for anyone.
Done with the conversation, Angel suggested he shove off. “Don’t you have something else to do beside give me unwanted advice?”
“Got a little adventure of my own,” Spike reminded him that he wasn’t the only one with plans for the night. “Slayer back from her mum’s?”
Angel’s face turned neutral now that the subject had steered away from his pet. He nodded toward the back hall where the Scoobies’ shared room was located. Spike gave him a cheeky grin and headed in that direction only to hear him call out, “Play nice.”
Playtime was exactly what tonight was all about. Angel seemed to know it. He didn’t have a hope in hell of controlling Spike’s actions when it came to toying with Buffy Summers. The slayer could hold her own, and if it amused him to push a few of her buttons, it seemed her ex wasn’t going to bother telling him to lay off. Not that he would.
Spike loped down the hallway and without bothering to knock opened the bedroom door. Having heard their voices, he knew that the usual trio was inside. Xander was stretched out on the bed fully dressed, hands propped behind his head, legs crossed as they chatted about whether apocalypses were legitimate excuses to get out of homework. “I’ve already done mine,” claimed the little red-headed Willow still dressed as tidily as a school girl.
Nothing suggested she was a font of mystical power capable of defending this mansion against demonic invasion. Her surprised face turned his way as he leaned against the doorframe, those limpid green eyes suddenly flashing with something dangerous. Not as innocent as they used to be. “Just me, little witch.”
Before he could ask about Buffy, the adjoining bathroom door opened up to emit a cloud of steam. She stepped out of it swathed in a towel and still wet from her shower. Her hasty appearance left water dripping everywhere. Her hair remained plastered to her head and shoulders while droplets ran down her arms and legs. One hand grasped the towel holding it in place, and the other held a stake raised up in obvious intent.
“You! What are you doing here?” Buffy demanded answers, but sounded flustered. Her cheeks looked flushed. Could be the hot shower. Normally slow and steady, her heart also ticked a little faster. Was she ready for a fight, or was that just for him? “Get out.”
What fun would that be? Spike didn’t bother to acknowledge the echoing sentiments of her friends. Softly, he refused. “Don’t think I will, luv.”
Buffy snapped back, “I can make you.”
“Go ahead. Odds of that towel coming off are in my favor.”
To Be Continued . . .
Season of Solace is my current Work-in-Progress.
Last Update: 20 March 2020
New scenes will be added soon. Watch this space.