Scenes 161 – 170


Season of Solace


161: Mercy Hospital, Central Sunnydale, 12:20AM

Giles_The Fire

This was truly a disaster—and perhaps the best bit of luck they had since this whole prophecy came to light.

That helicopter had to be carrying the convict. They had not considered the hospital as a viable entry point. It did have a helipad on the roof, but there were other ways to get into town.

The storm got the credit.

He had caught sight of the helicopter’s lights while he was keeping watch over the Hwy17-US101 interchange. Naturally, he thought it would head for the airport. Faith and Wesley would have been ready and waiting for them there.

The storm had taken a bad turn having swept in from the south making it almost impossible to see the road ahead much less keep up with the helicopter. He had already taken the turn north toward Sunnydale Municipal Airport when it became clear that the helicopter was not heading in that direction. Its lights were still visible in the gloom and rain on the south side of US101.

There was no other exit nearby. If he went back to the interchange or headed west to the exit at Ralph’s Stop-n-Go Gas Station it would have been too late. He would never have been able to keep up.

Swerving around, Giles directed his car onto a grassy embankment that took him off the highway. The tires skidded on the muddy ground, but he managed to make it to the paved road below. His research materials, once carefully organized on the dash and passenger seat flew off in all directions.

There was a private helipad at the country club, another potential entry point they had ruled out. The rain was too heavy there and the lights of the club were all out.

The pilot was searching for a safe place to put down. Sunnydale Park was half under water, flooded by the lake. Saunder’s Field was back in the other direction. That left only one likely location—the hospital.
Giles kept one hand on the steering wheel and fumbled for his car phone with the other. The heavy black phone was hooked into the lighter to maintain its charge. In weather like this he would be lucky to get a good signal.

Forced to stop in order to properly see the phone, Giles watched as the helicopter light dimmed in the distance. One after the other he sent out the Code 6 pages to Buffy, Angel, Wesley, and Willow hoping they would get the message to converge at Mercy General.

He had been too far behind to see it happen, but the whole sky brightened with a streak of lightning. Another burst of light followed and the sound of an explosion.

Now he was in the parking lot, standing in the rain, and watching with some sense of horror and relief. If the convict described by the prophecy was in that helicopter, his death might be a blessing. The prophecy might be as vague as any other, but on one thing it was clear. There were five sacrifices to be made via the Rites of Tavrok.

Surely this counted as a premature death. No rites would have been performed upon him. Giles presumed that to be the case considering the condition of Karla Brewer.

With Karla safe at the mansion and free of any further demonic influence, and the mysterious convict dead in this fiery crash, it would mean that the threat was over. His research tonight revealed more about the Bone Relic. It was used to identify and create the Pure Ones. With it also in their possession, he guessed that it might not be possible to select new victims in the convict’s place.

Cordelia would no longer be in danger if his assessment of the situation was right. If the convict was dead.
Giles didn’t see how anyone could survive that crash. He hoped that there were no patients in that section of the hospital.

The storm was quickly dissipating, but the rain had already put out the worst of the fire by the time the sirens sounded in the distance.

Catching sight of Oz’ van moving toward him, Giles had raised a hand to wave at him, assuming that Oz would pull up next to his car. The van took the turn onto the main road, its tires screeching as it peeled away. That wasn’t Oz at the wheel, he realized, even though the van looked similar. It was a burly, leather vested, tattooed sort of fellow. Just the wrong sort, at the right place, at a bad time.

If they were here for the convict, they must have gone away empty-handed. Surely there was no way anyone survived that crash.

“Giles! Giles!” Hearing his name called out he turned in that direction. The Plymouth. Cordelia and Angel. At least one of his pages had gotten through.

Perhaps theirs was one he shouldn’t have sent. Cordelia would have been safer back at the marina. No matter now. The threat was apparently over—at least for tonight. The authorities and additional emergency support were nearly here. Some sort of evacuation was already underway. The hospital’s patients and employees would be safe.

Still, there had to be something they could do to help. They also had to discover who died in the crash. Was it the pilot alone, or also his passenger?

The group gathered in the far corner of the parking lot. Angel and Cordelia arrived first, the tires of the Plymouth screeching to a halt close by. Neither particularly liked what he had to say.

After a quick explanation of events, he added, “You should go home. Cordelia shouldn’t be out in the open like this—in case the danger doesn’t end here.”

The earful she gave him was painful to the point of making him cringe. He had failed to consider they would assume one of the group was injured. The Code 6 page was intended to get them to the hospital, but it was usually utilized when one of them was admitted for treatment.

“C’mon, Angel, there has to be something we can do to help.” Cordelia had grabbed the vampire by the hand and led him toward the crowd forming outside the south emergency exit.

Giles couldn’t tell if Angel was just that keen to help the victims or if he just didn’t want to say no to Cordelia Chase.

Wesley and Faith showed up next, pulling up on the motorbike, both of them soaked by the rain. “Good Lord! Is that our convict?”asked his younger counterpart while removing his helmet.

“I hope so. Faith, I need you to—”

Just over the street Buffy called out, “Giles!”

Breaking off, he waited for Buffy and Spike to join them. “Good job you’re here.” He quickly brought them up to speed. “Cordelia and Angel are already helping out over there.”

Buffy’s attention immediately snapped in that direction, a mistake perhaps on his part to mention that.
“I need all of you to head inside the hospital. Help out if you can, but Buffy… Buffy, I need you to get to that helicopter. Verify the body count.”

“We better jam,” Faith tapped Buffy on the shoulder. “The cops are here. We don’t get inside now we won’t get in at all.”

Spike followed the two slayers across the parking lot, but Wesley lagged behind to ask, “You’re not coming?”

Giles shook his head as he stared down at the tire marks left behind by that blue van. “Our last team is still out there.”

“They were assigned to the train station,” Wesley frowned as he realized that he and Faith had come all the way from the airport. “They should be here by now.”

“There was a van…,” Giles started to explain only to trail off upon catching sight of a trio of figures jogging toward them from the direction of Radcliff Park just behind the hospital.

Wesley’s attention turned in that direction. “It’s them! Why are they on foot? That’s not the direction of the train station.” Having studied a map of Sunnydale, he felt certain he was correct.

A sinking feeling bottomed out in his stomach as Giles suddenly connected the clues. They were on foot because they no longer had possession of the van. The man who did have the van didn’t look like an ordinary car thief.

He calculated the time it had taken him to get to the hospital after sending out those pages. Enough time for the helicopter to land, unload its passenger, and take off again? The lightning strike could have hit after that causing the pilot to crash into the hospital.

So much for that bit of luck.

“My assessment of the situation was a bit premature.” Giles rubbed at his suddenly aching head. They would have to wait for Buffy’s confirmation. He hoped she would return soon. “I think our ex-convict just got away.”


162: The Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale, 2:23AM

Angel_Mansion Perimeter

The perimeter was as secure as it was going to get. Nothing and no one could access the grounds without setting off an alarm, mystic or electronic. Angel was satisfied no one could get in without his knowledge.
The way this night was going he wouldn’t be surprised if every demon in town came storming in. What had he been thinking by combining his date with Cordelia with a Prophecy night? He should have known to expect more than a simple capture and rescue operation.

Keeping Cordelia out of harm’s way tonight had not been as simple as he thought it would be. He had used evasive driving to lose any possible tails, and planned to keep Cordy hidden on the Kendal’s boat in the event that the convict or Nico’s minions showed up at the marina. One of the other groups was supposed to capture or follow their quarry.

By now they were supposed to have the convict safely in their custody, or at least have an idea where Nicolau was taking the victims to perform the rituals. Instead, they had nothing. No convict, alive or dead, and no idea of where to find Nicolau.

Nothing had gone right! Angel picked up a stone from the front driveway, rolled it around in his hand a few times while trying to sooth his frayed nerves. Giles had spoken too soon by giving them hope that things might be over, but they weren’t. Not by a long shot. Angel hurled the rock away from him. A dull thunk sounded as it lodged in a tree.

All of his plans for one perfect night alone with Cordelia had literally gone up in smoke. That was not entirely true. He could not say that it was a wasted effort. The date itself had gone well. Dinner was perfect, surprisingly relaxing. Romantic. Soft candlelight. Engaging conversation. Food he could actually eat.

Angel could hardly complain about Cordy’s plan to go for a walk on the beach, or her method of thanking him for taking her out. The memory of her warm hands and mouth made him want to shut his eyes and relive every second of sensation. He had wanted her so badly, giving her just as much pleasure as she had given him, but their night was interrupted.

It was an insane feeling to be so insatiable about Cordy, but he was starting to accept that was just the way it was between them. Even after tonight, the past two hours of moving people and equipment, of watching over her as she kept a group of children distracted. They seemed mesmerized by her voice.

Now that they were home again, Angel figured he should just tuck her into bed and let her sleep, but he did not know if it was possible to let that happen. The way he felt right now made him doubt his ability to lay down in the same bed without taking advantage of her warmth, providing himself with the comfort of knowing that she was safe for one more night.

Ripped away from his inner thoughts, the sound of a scream on the wind caught his attention coming from the direction of the mansion. Angel’s preternatural hearing recognized it instantly. “Cordy!”


163: The Crawford Street Mansion. . .Twenty Minutes Ago

Xander_The Kitchen_FryingPan

The noise at this time of night— early morning, rather— was too much for Wesley’s last nerve. “Xander, please do stop banging those pans about. We do not need a three course meal.”

“Speak for yourself. I’m starving.” As far as he was concerned, this was the perfect time for some grilled cheesey goodness, all warm and melty. After being chased down by a biker gang, robbed, forced to walk across town in the rain, and then deal with that fire, he needed some comfort food.

Giles suggested he make one for Karla Brewer, which reminded Xander that one of his classmates was still chained up in the basement. She had looked pretty bad. Scary crazy. Maybe she had just gone batty after discovering her hometown was full of demons and vampires who wanted to sacrifice her to their god. That would be enough for a lot of folks.

He shifted his eyes toward Cordelia whose once beautiful sparkly red dress hung limply on her smoke stained frame. Between the rain and the fire she looked like a smudged rag doll. Angel practically held her up as she gulped down a glass of ice water. Taking the glass out of her hand when she was done, Angel handed it over to Xander, who started to remind the vampire that he was in charge of cooking, not cleaning. Somehow, he held his tongue as he set the glass down on the nearest countertop.

Tenderly, Angel touched her shoulders, his thumbs moving in a kind of caress, soothingly providing comfort. “Do you want me to carry you upstairs?” He asked her softly as if they were the only two people in the room.

Xander made a face of disgust not caring if the others noticed. Ugh. No wonder Cor was in love with the bastard. He was definitely suave with the Rhett Butler moves. Let me sweep you into my arms. Carry you up the big staircase. Make you faint from my kisses. Xander remembered Cordelia’s kisses, and often dreamed about their make out sessions.

Watching her with Angel left him feeling queasy. Suddenly, he was no longer starving. Maybe just the one sandwich, he decided.

Cordelia shifted around to face Angel, a sleepy smile tilting the corners of her mouth. “I’m not that helpless,” she said, tilting her face up for a kiss he readily supplied. “All I want is a long, hot shower and then you can tuck me into bed.”

Sourly, Xander wanted to know when Cindy Crawford or Claudia Schiffer was going to come along to give him shoulder massages, goodnight kisses, and tuck him in for the night. Breaking up their kissy-faced routine, he asked, “Sure you don’t want a snack?”

It took a few seconds for Cordelia to emerge from the dreamy haze she had fallen into. “No, thanks. G’night, Xander. See you guys in the morning,” she told the others. “Well, later.”

Angel did not bother to say anything. He was completely focused on Cordelia, not that anyone could blame him for that one. He pressed a lingering kiss on her forehead, telling her, “Go on upstairs. With Buffy and Faith out I should make a check outside around the perimeter.”

“Oh, okay,” Cordelia sighed as if it was torture to be separated from DeadBoy for more than a few minutes.

The Buffster had gone straight from the smokey disaster zone at Mercy Hospital to her house after reminding them she had Saturday morning breakfast plans with her mom. Mrs Summers was cool about her staying at the mansion for the duration as long as she got to see her on a regular basis. Now that she knew about her Slayer responsibilities it was a lot easier to get stuff done.

Xander was almost certain his parents had not even missed him yet. It wasn’t that unusual to go a couple days without actually laying eyes on each other. Sneaking in one night, he had dumped off a pile of laundry and picked up the folded stuff on the dryer. In and out like a ninja.

Willow was not so lucky. Mr and Mrs Rosenberg were now used to their daughter’s strange hours, but still managed to keep a pretty strict eye on whether or not she had made it home to bed. There were only so many nights she could claim to be sleeping at Buffy’s house, and while sleeping at his house had never caused any fuss before, it was a little different now that they were in high school.

Plus, Wills had a boyfriend with a van, and he assumed that had to be worrisome for any girl’s parents. They wouldn’t know that the van was usually packed full of band equipment, or that it wasn’t Oz’ love shack on wheels. The front seat was kind of roomy, Xander had to admit to himself just before shuddering at the creepy image of Willow and Oz doing things.

Gross! That was so bizarre and not what he wanted in his head right now. Cheesy goodness was what he wanted. Hot and melty, cheesy goodness. He started making the sandwiches for himself and Karla, but it was difficult to focus.

Spike had already gone off to search for Drusilla, who was surprisingly not waiting at the front door when they returned. Xander had noticed that she always knew where to find Angel and Spike as if she had her own inner compass trained on them. It was a vampire thing, Xander realized, and added one more weird thing to his list of weird vampire things to know.

For some bizarre reason, he had felt a twinge of disappointment when Dru was not there to greet them. Part of him recognized that as being oh, so wrong, and knew it had to be left over emotions from Drusilla’s enthrallment.

It was a terrible thing that someone could do that, make you want to do anything for them. Cool for the enthraller, maybe, he admitted that it would be an awesome superpower, but not so cool when you were the poor, defenseless thrall.

Still, he was not angry about it. Probably should be. Instead, he felt soft and gooey inside whenever Dru glanced at him with her haunting blue eyes. He knew every little fleck of light within them that turned dark and mysterious as if they held back all the secrets of the world.

A charred scent suddenly overpowered the soot clinging to his clothes. Xander was startled to see black smoke rising from the frying pan. With a shout, Giles grabbed the spatula from his hand to flip the sandwich over. “Pay attention, Xander. Poor Karla has already been through enough. May we at least provide her with food that does not come with scorch marks?”

Oh, crap! He totally had not been paying attention. “I’ll eat that one,” he grimaced at the crusty black edges.

“Now Angel and Cordelia have gone,” Wesley began quite cryptically, managing to distract Xander again as the two watchers continued their conversation, “I have been thinking about Karla’s situation. Could this be more than just a psychotic break? Did the demons perform some sort of pre-ritual…ritual?”

Giles had his glasses off and eyes squeezed shut as he worked the bridge of his nose in a little circular massage, something he tended to do when he was tired or harassed by certain teenagers. Xander had seen that a lot. G-man was definitely stressed out.

“We need to do a more thorough exam. If Karla has been exposed to magick, we should be able to detect it.”

“Willow is staying at her house tonight,” Xander helpfully chimed in as he assembled the next sandwich. “Something about having to renew the spell that keeps her parents convinced she’s in bed by nine o’clock every night.” Kids everywhere would love it if she patented that one!

Giles opened his eyes to stare disapprovingly at the snigger Xander could not suppress, but obviously could not justify saying anything when the deception allowed Willlow to assist them with maintaining the defensive spells around the mansion.

“I’m just saying Will won’t be around for any witchy stuff until later.”

Wesley snippily reminded him, “I am quite adept at performing a basic spell if I have the right book and supplies.”

Don’t kill the messenger. “Right. I forgot.” Fat chance of that. The new guy kept giving them reminders about his training at the Watcher’s Academy.

“It’s all in the translation,” Wesley assured him.

“Uh huh. Don’t talk to me. I’m trying not to burn this one,” he used the sandwich as an excuse to end things there before Wesley could go into details.

Giles took off his tweed jacket and draped it on the counter, rolling up his shirtsleeves and loosening his tie, as if he was preparing for a fight.

“Did Faith say anything about her plans for the rest of the night?” he asked Wesley.

Xander had seen her take off in the direction of State Street as soon as Giles gave them the okay to head home. Back to the mansion, anyway. Creepy home away from home at the moment. He flipped the sandwich over experiencing a little thrill at the grilled golden goodness. Just a couple more minutes to perfection.

“Nothing to do with Mayor Wilkins,” answered Wesley reassuringly. Adding a little more ominously, “You have probably witnessed the effect of adrenalin when your Slayer becomes involved in a fight or life-threatening situation. It seems that Faith is feeling a bit. . . a bit. . .”

Since he seemed at a loss for words, Xander helped him out. “Amped up? Buffy gets that way, too. Like she’s ready to go another round.”

Wesley’s cheeks had turned red and blotchy. “Yes, yes, let’s put it that way,” his voice wobbled as if he actually meant something else instead. “In any case, Faith plans to make a final patrol about town as we have been focused on prophecy matters tonight. I cautioned her against doing anything foolish.”

Hah! Good luck with that. Xander was just a little bit afraid of Faith sometimes. She was a lot like Cordelia with the directness, only with the added Slayer strength, and a chip on her shoulder. Hot, in a scary way. That did not mean he could not think about her scary hotness. No one was keeping tabs on his brain, except Drusilla, maybe. Strangely, Xander had no problem with that either.

An exasperated shout jerked him out of his little fantasy, “Xander, sandwich!”


164: The Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale

Spike_Bedroom Door

Spike took the stairs two by two heading straight toward the third floor to the room he shared with Drusilla. Having expected to find her eagerly awaiting his return, he felt an acute sense of loss. True, he had not given her a second thought while out on patrol with the slayer, but now that he was back at the mansion, he was ready for some TLC. He deserved it what with all the hospital patients he helped rescue tonight considering he might normally grab the opportunity for a quick bite.

Drusilla’s kisses and cuddles were part of his daily routine, and he hoped to find her curled up in their bed ready to provide them. She could look so innocent, his Dru, soft eyed and smiling sweetly, untouched by the evils of the world. Such a contrast when the demon in her reveled in wicked games riding the edge of pleasure and pain.

He loved her soothing strokes and blunt little nips when she was playful, but knew a fine line existed between her gentle warmth and the icy demeanor that sometimes took its place. Spike rarely knew when it was coming, but he half expected it now because she had not met him at the door.

Ever since they had returned to Sunnydale, she had been a bit off. More off than usual. Hinting at a future without him. A decision that was somehow his fault as if he would ever let that happen. He had followed her all the way to Brazil for fucks sake. She had to be wrong about that one. Just her sensitive nature with all of the wonky goings on around this place.

Could be she was pissed off at him patrolling with the Slayer. Wasn’t his idea if the bloody Watchers or Angel thought they teamed up well. What was it the cheerleader called her patrols with Angel. . .Team Chase? Always on about them winning some prophecy hunt.

Bugger if he’d let Angel beat him at anything. He was good with calling it Team Spike. Slayer might have a problem with that, he figured. Team Bikey? No. Team Spikey? Rubbish. Team Spuffy? Argh.

What the blazes was he doing?

Spike tried to shake thoughts of the Slayer out of his head. Here he was hoping for some tender cuddles—or a good hard shag—from his sire, and he was thinking up poncey names for his patrol team. Probably a once-off anyway. So why the bleeding hell should he bother naming it?

Pushing thoughts of the slayer out of his head, he gave the wooden baseboard a hard kick just for the hell of it as he walked down the hall toward the old servants’ quarters. Small and sparsely furnished, their room was fine for now. Spike figured Dru wanted to stick close to Angel not that he deserved the attention. They had never been overly picky about where they slept as long as they had a roof of some sort over their heads. Still, once this crisis was over and the Watchers were gone, Dru might like more space in one of the fancier bedrooms.

The other Slayer’s room was across the hall. Supposedly close enough to keep tabs on them. Faith was the one who needed looking after. Always sneaking out. Spike had no idea what she was up to. Didn’t much care, either, as long as she stayed out of his business.

Spike stopped short of the bedroom door. Even before he turned the knob, he knew the room was empty. Where the deuce was Dru? Not up here. Trying to focus, he sensed she hadn’t been upstairs for hours. Her scent was faint. Could she be down in the basement with the girl? Angel trusted her to follow his order to leave her be, but that never stopped Dru from disobeying Daddy. Not if she thought it might earn her some attention.

He took his time heading back downstairs, already aware that whatever Drusilla was doing it was going to fall on him to defend her actions. That girl was chained up for a reason—keeping her out of Kalesh’s hands. It all boiled down to Cordelia’s safety. If Dru did something to screw with that, Angel would not hesitate to take it out of their hides, no matter the soul.

Reaching the second floor landing, Spike noticed muffled sounds coming from the direction of Angel and Cordelia’s bedroom. He cocked his head, listening intently for a hint of what was going on. Not the usual bedroom romp that went on in there for hours at a time, he quickly deduced. He knew that sound all too well. His mouth twisted into a raw smirk as he vividly pictured the chit being thoroughly shagged. Such a ripe little piece, it was a wonder Peaches ever managed to find time to do anything else.

Knowing that Angel was making a final round of the mansion’s extensive grounds, he realized the sounds coming from the bedroom could not be the vampire and his sexy pet making up for the interruption of their date night. Not unless Cordelia was getting a head start on the action. Spike could not blame himself for imagining that one. Pretty little brunette, spread out on the bed, all lonely for her lover, soft hands smoothing over that warm golden flesh, rubbing at the tender bits.

Even as he enjoyed the dirty direction of his thoughts, Spike realized with sudden clarity that Drusilla was also inside that bedroom. Detecting her soft, earthy scent concentrated in the same direction as Cordelia’s he knew something else was up. With an exasperated sigh, he loped that way, wondering whether Drusilla had spent the evening organizing another tea party.

Considering the location, he wondered if she was hoping for a little slumber party instead. Smirking again, he reached for the ornate handle, pressing his ear against the wooden door to catch a hint of things to come. If Cordelia was being subjected to sharing a bedtime story with Miss Edith, he might just head straight to Willy’s Place to catch the last round of kitten poker, assuming someone would spot him a tabby or two.

The dulcet tones of his sire scolded softly, “Don’t wiggle so much. It will only hurt more if you wiggle.”

Spike jerked his head away from the door. Bloody hell. What was going on now?

Thoughts racing for an explanation that wouldn’t result in Angel ripping out his spleen, a few wild ideas came into play. Maybe Cordelia had a splinter. Maybe Drusilla was helping her pluck her eyebrows. Women did that sort of thing, he supposed, hopefully. Or even better, it might just be that Dru was talking to Miss Edith, but the dead silence that usually followed the doll’s inability to respond was filled by a quickly muffled scream.

“Oy!”

To this point, Drusilla had been protective of Cordelia having saved her from that demon and treated her more like a younger sister than a rival for Angel’s affections. She wanted to ensure he was happy, which Spike had thought was a euphemism for helping him to lose the soul, until finding out it was permanent. That nixed his let’s-bring-back-Angelus theory and left him without a clue as to Drusilla’s intentions.

A jolt of excitement hit the moment he burst through the door, quickly followed by the realization that Angel was going to blow a fucking gasket when he saw this. “What the devil, Dru?” It certainly was not a tea party.

The four-poster iron-wrought bed was the room’s most prominent feature, or it would be if not for the sight of a very naked Cordelia Chase bound and gagged upon it. Kneeling on the cushioned bench at the foot of the bed, her upper body was bent over face down on the mattress. It gave him a perfect view of her gorgeous arse and sweet little snatch, a sight Spike was certain was not meant for him despite its obvious charms.

Drusilla looked a little flustered as she finished tightening Cordelia’s bindings to the headboard. It was more difficult to arrange your plaything when she was not being submissive, Spike knew from experience, but he had to give his sire kudos for ingenuity. Having no rope to bind her, it seemed that Dru had stolen all of the ties from the Watchers’ rooms. That’s what they got for leaving her alone in the first place, he reasoned, still wondering if he should be completely outraged on Angel’s behalf knowing that he wouldn’t want his pet trussed up—not by someone else at any rate—or if he wanted to lean back against the door and watch where this was going.

The multicolored collection of silk ties bound Cordelia’s wrists together, stretching her arms out in front of her with the makeshift rope attached to one post of the headboard. After thrashing around for a few moments, Cordelia stilled, her forehead resting on the bed, even as the scarf stuffed into her mouth muffled her angry little curses. The respite was brief because she craned her neck up the moment Spike spoke, her expressive eyes conveying all of her hope, fear, and anger.

“Mmph! Mmph! Mmph!”

Easy enough to guess what that meant. Something along the lines of, ‘Help, me Spike,’ or ‘Don’t you dare touch me,’ or maybe, ‘Stop staring or I’ll scratch out your eyeballs.’

Spike edged a bit closer, his gaze switching to his sire’s startled expression. Clearly, she had not expected him at all. “Looks like you’ve been caught with your hand in the cookie jar,” he chortled still trying to figure out the whys and hows of this little display. “A very sweet cookie it is.”

“My Angel needs some fun. He’s too tense and growly.”

Even though he knew this had to be for Angel’s benefit, it irritated the hell out of him. “You looking for some real punishment, Dru? Angel is gonna rip you a new one for this. Right after he blames me for letting it happen.”

Dru pouted, head tilted down, but looking at him with big doe eyes, as if he was spoiling her plans. She kept staring until he could feel himself wearing down, the need to please his sire overwhelming any other concerns. “We’re gonna catch hell for this,” he groaned.

A naughty grin spread across Drusilla’s red lips. “I know.” A delicious little shudder made her shoulders quake. Reaching down to smooth Cordelia’s wildly tossed hair away from her face, Drusilla ran the other hand lightly along her back until finding a convenient resting spot on her rounded little rump.

Those fingers had been wrapped around his cock earlier today, and Spike felt it stir as he watched Dru’s hand make a little circle over that cheek kneading it just enough to entice him forward. He stood on the opposite side, meeting Drusilla’s hot gaze across the divide created by Cordelia’s bare form. No matter that his hand itched with the urge to touch the warm human flesh on display, Spike wasn’t stupid. He had no desire to be parted from the family jewels, now aching for action.

“Fear keeps her on the edge, my Spike.” Roving her hand down the length of Cordelia’s taut thigh, Drusilla might have been teasing both of them, or maybe just testing the ties that held her knees open wide and kept her on display. “Do something to help,” she scolded him for just standing there. Urging him to use his talented tongue to, “Make her soft and creamy, a tasty treat for my Angel.”

Why the devil wasn’t she fixing him tasty treats? Spike found himself picturing someone else in those bindings and wondered if he would be able to resist playing out the fantasy.

“Mmph!” A little growl of complaint sounded from the young woman spread out between them. It only made his cock harden as temptations swirled in his head. He was going to feel the brunt of Angel’s anger over this, anyway. Might as well make it worth it, he toyed with the idea for a few delicious seconds.

Part of him wanted to take something from Angel the way Angelus had often taken Dru from him. The bastard had enjoyed proving his power over his childe, and consequently over Spike, by shagging her whenever the urge hit. Why shouldn’t he reap a little revenge now? His precious pet was splayed open just for him. She looked delicious. He could practically taste her already wanting to do exactly as he was told by burying his wet tongue inside that pretty pink slit until she was juicy with his scent and her come.

Spike was so busy enjoying his little fantasy that he almost missed the hint of arousal mixing with the scent of Cordelia’s fear. She was not quite as terrorized by Dru’s little plan as she might normally be. Maybe she believed Dru when she said this was all for Angel, or trusted her just enough to know she meant no real harm. Considering she was such a sexy young thing, could be she just liked what was happening.

“What’s this, pet? Getting turned on?”

Cordelia gave him an angry stare and shook her head, denying it vehemently. He knew better, smirking from his vantage point. His sire had given him a task and, bloody hell, he was going to handle it one way or another.

“Angel ever tie you up before?” There was a brief pause before Cordelia answered him honestly with another shake of her head, but there was a glint of curiosity in her gaze as if she was thinking about the possibilities.

Spike let out a low laugh. Lucky bastard, he growled inwardly, knowing there had never been a day in Angel’s life or undead existence when women had not fallen at his feet, but this one had somehow turned the tables. Angelus had always had some obsessive tendencies, but being an emotionless bastard, they had never involved his heart. This was different.

“Cordelia, Cordelia, Cordelia, you are in for a real treat tonight if you play along. He might try to resist temptation, but your favorite slice of beefcake has no restraint when it comes to you.” Not that Spike could blame him for it. Looking at her this way, he knew the bloody appeal all too well.

The sharp daggers shooting from her angry stare were enough to rev him up. Touching might be off limits, but he did like to tease, too. “Dru wants me to get you warmed up a bit. Gorgeous arse, pet. How ’bout a quick spank?”

Spike swallowed his laughter when a sea of white suddenly surrounded her irises, eyes about as wide as they could get. Behind the silk scarf gag, Cordelia defiantly replied, “Mmph Mmmmmph!”

Clasping a hand over his heart, Spike made a pained face. “Oh, that hurts. That really hurts. Don’t hold anything back.”

Drusilla giggled at his antics and left him to it, picking up her favorite wooden-handled brush. For a moment, Spike thought she had taken his joke to heart and was about to paddle the chit’s bare arse. A rush of…well, lust…followed quickly by panic caused his throat to tighten up until he saw her move up to sit on the edge of the bed near Cordelia’s head. She picked up a handful of her damp tresses and began to brush her hair dry, her touch gentle stroke after stroke.

“You like being touched,” Spike said what he was thinking when he saw Cordelia’s lashes flutter closed at the sensation.

She squirmed against her bindings, the ties stretching just enough to allow her to wiggle around. It might have been a protest, a denial, but it was all too clear that it was an unspoken response. Oh, she liked being touched. A lot. Spike pictured himself doing the touching, but knew it was Angel’s big hands she wanted, and his job was to turn her on.

Angel was strong enough to break bones, but not with her. He had seen enough to know just how gentle the big lug could be with his precious little pet. “Does he hold you tenderly, stroke his hands across your skin, make you melt from his caress?”

Annoyed at getting poetic when his cock throbbed for attention, Spike made sure she was watching when he waggled his tongue up and down in a crude way. “That mouth of his gets you even hotter. I’ve seen you kiss. Can’t get enough. He wants to eat you up, pet. Won’t be long before he does, I’m guessing.”

Spike knew the cheerleader was not branded with Angel’s mark. He could see that for himself, and despite their frequent lovemaking, she did not carry his scent permanently as she would if Angel had officially claimed her. Had to have something to do with that bleeding heart soul gumming up his vampire instincts, he figured, feeling a bit sorry for Cordelia that her lover didn’t have balls enough to take what belonged to him, especially with that royal prick Nicolau coming after her.

“Maybe we can hurry things along.” Even as Spike said the words, he realized exactly what Drusilla was doing by creating this luscious display of flesh. “You are brilliant, my beauty,” he gave credit where it was due, “even if we’re still going to pay for it.”

Cordelia only looked confused, her brows arced upward as Spike’s hand moved toward her face. He flicked his thumb across her lower lip enjoying the sensation of its fullness. With a nod, he ordered, “Open up.”

Pinching the silk scarf curled up in her mouth, he pulled it out inch by inch until Cordelia was free of it. The grateful light in her eyes hardened into a glint, as she took in a great big breath and screamed for Angel.

“Now you’ve done it, pet,” Spike tutted and took a step back from the bed having fully expected her to call for help.

“Hah! Better let me go. When Angel gets here you’re going to get your ass kicked.”

Spike was fully aware he would try. “We’ll see about that, pet. He might be a bit distracted. Kill me. Save you. Fuck you. Decisions, decisions.”

“Language!” Dru censured him as she rose to her feet. She had finished her task leaving Cordelia’s hair a shining mass of silk. “Naughty boy.” Cordelia sniggered at that one and he gave her a hard stare. “You’ve spoiled my surprise. Angel will be here before we can show Cordy how to use her new toys.”

Trying not to laugh at his sire’s plans, Spike glanced at the small laundry basket perched on the floor, taking note of its contents for the first time. “Pretty certain we’d better let him do that himself.”

“Toys? What are you talking about?” Cordelia demanded details even while sounding apprehensive.

Smirking again, Spike crouched down next to the basket where there were boxes of new items. “You been shopping tonight?” He asked Drusilla, already suspecting the answer.

“No, you told me to stay at home.”

“Right.”

Cordelia looked back and forth between them as they were on either side of the bed. “So you’re saying they were already here? That Angel—”

“Or Angelus,” Spike cut in just to give her options to think about.

“Angel likes that stuff?”

Spike might get irritated about Angel, but he knew that whatever he had going on with Cordelia Chase was special, and that circumstances might end their relationship far too prematurely if the prophecy came to pass. He wasn’t going to screw with them just to give himself a thrill. Softly, he assured her, “Pretty sure you will too, pet. You know how Angel worships you. If there’s something in that basket that scares you, just tell him.”

“Who says I’m scared?” Cordelia snapped unwilling to admit any uncertainty, something Spike had to admire.

Just one more warning. No doubt her scream had reached Angel’s ears. Even with him on the edge of the property, his supernatural hearing would have picked that up. “Don’t be shocked if you get a few more rescuers,” Spike told her that there were other ears much closer than that. “Dru and I are family. No need to blush because we’ve seen your tender bits. Can’t guarantee that Angel will react well if Xander or the Watchers get an eyeful.”

“And whose fault will that be?” Cordelia complained and tried futilely to free herself from the knotted ties binding her to the bed.

Drusilla leaned close and playfully answered, “Mine.”

“That sounds about right,” Angel’s growling voice sounded from the doorway. “One of you better start explaining this right now before I remove your fucking heads.”

“Oy, leave me out of this. Innocent bystander here.” Spike dropped the package back in the basket fairly certain that he did not want to be caught red-handed. “I found Dru and Cordy. . .playing.”

Angel stalked forward looking thunderous, stopping at the foot of the bed right behind Cordelia, visually examining every inch of her golden skin for evidence of wrongdoing. As if tying her naked to the bed was the least of their sins. His hands curled into fists at his side, and though he maintained his human mask, it was clear that the demon within clawed for control.

Through gritted teeth, he demanded Cordelia tell him the truth. “Did he touch you?”

Spike noticed he was the only one getting accused of touching. Bastard. There had been plenty of time to touch his pet. “No,” he said at the same moment Cordelia answered the same. Only he was not finished. “Could have done. Dru has her all trussed up for your own very special party. Would have liked to lick the cream off the cake, too, but I left that for you.”

Before the last syllable was uttered, Angel’s fist crashed into Spike’s jaw knocking him to the floor. He towered over him like a two hundred pound gorilla ready to pound him into dust. Blaming his runaway mouth, Spike mentally geared up for the fight ahead. Fuck if he had not brought it on himself.

Angel’s chest heaved a few times as if he was trying to vent his anger. The dolt was so pissed he forgot that he no longer needed to breathe. “Get out, Spike.”

Surprised that he was getting a pass instead of a pounding, Spike shuffled back a few inches and scrambled to his feet. “I never touched her,” he assured him again, this time meeting his angry stare with a silent promise. This was never going to happen again.

Spike was perfectly willing to go, with one condition. “Gonna take Dru with me.” He motioned her to his side.

Drusilla seemed a bit hesitant to move. Her blue eyes darted between them, and down to Cordelia whose attention was focused only on Angel. A smile curled her lips, and she skipped light-heartedly toward them, skimming her fingers across Angel’s jaw as she went by.

Just before she was out of reach, Angel grabbed her by the wrist jerking her back to him. “Not so fast.”

Spike called out, “Oy! Not so rough,” even though her ecstatic look suggested she liked it.

Angel’s free hand cupped Dru’s face holding her steady as he forced her to meet his gaze. Though his voice gentled when he spoke to her, it sounded out with steely resolve. “Cordelia is mine. Anything she needs to learn will come from directly from me, understand? Be her sister, her friend, or her savior if need be, but never lay a hand on her again without my permission.”

Spike saw Angel’s hand tighten around the back of Dru’s neck even as his thumb gently brushed the curve of her jaw. “Are we clear, Drusilla?”

Saying nothing, Dru merely nodded. Spike wanted to pull her away from the angry bastard’s hold, but knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on. Angel honestly had a right to be pissed off, and any vampire would agree he was within his rights to punish them both. Guessing it was for Cordelia’s sake, he was letting them off easy.

“Go to your room,” Angel ordered gruffly, releasing her and giving her ass a hard swat as she moved away. Obviously, he did not care if it sounded like he was punishing a five year old.

Drusilla seemed to like it. She rubbed at the sore spot and sent her sire a naughty smile over one shoulder. “Have fun, my Angel.”

Uncrossing his arms, Spike made a move to follow her, pausing one last time to look at Cordelia sprawled out and exposed. Behind Angel’s back, she met his gaze and silently sent him a cryptic glare. What was it this time? Still planning to scratch out his eyeballs? Maybe just her way of telling him to get off. Or, maybe warning him that he should get out before Angel changed his mind.

Before he turned away, Cordelia stuck her tongue out and then smirked. Spike couldn’t stop himself from grinning back. She was quite cheeky, that girl, and in more ways than one. Lucky bastard, he thought again. Giving Angel a nod as he departed, he gave him some unwanted advice. “Try not to be too noble, Peaches.”


165: Basement, Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale

Wesley_BasementStairs

Wesley paused a moment while traversing the basement steps having thought he heard something from above. “Did you hear something?” he asked Rupert Giles who walked ahead of him. Cocking his head he listened for anything further that might indicate a sign of trouble, but nothing followed. “Perhaps it was just my imagination. My head is eager to hit my pillow.”

They had all been maintaining late night hours that stretched well into the morning. Mr Giles also had to maintain his post as the Sunnydale High School Librarian, but this was fortunately a weekend. Once they saw to the immediate needs and comfort of their new guest, he hoped they would all get some well-deserved shut-eye. Of course, there were things to do. Debrief about tonight’s disaster. Determine whether or not Karla Brewer had been exposed to magick versus simply experiencing a psychotic break, and plan for her long-term care. Regroup. Focus on the next phase of the prophecy.

Stopping at the small landing halfway down the steps, Giles turned back to answer his query. “No, I hear nothing,” but he returned his focus to the basement itself, his tone turning ominous.

Wesley reached the landing, holding onto the railing with one hand and a small plate with a slightly singed grilled cheese sandwich in the other. Although Angel’s mansion had an extensive basement that stretched under the full length of the building, he had converted just one large room into his personal training center. It was quite a nice sort of setup considering the vampire was not exactly on the postal route for receiving large packages.

He felt quite certain that his soulless counterpart had used the room for something else. After all, one rarely found manacles and chains, and other binding mechanisms attached to one’s walls on a routine basis. Wesley was too weary to think about the room’s other purposes. For now, it was simply a convenient place to keep their young guest chained up for her own safety, as well as everyone else’s.

There was no powered lighting in the basement chambers. The mansion’s renovation did not reach this far before the fire burned through its west wing. Lantern light flickered on the stone masonry of the wall where the metal lantern hung from a spike, spreading its soft glow further into the room. The gym mats that served as a temporary bed had been pulled away from the reach of the light into the furthest corner of the basement leaving it in shadows.

The chains had been dragged to their full length. A twinge of guilt pierced his chest as he thought keeping Karla Brewer chained up. She was a victim, not a vampire or demon the Watcher’s Council might keep shackled for training purposes. She deserved to be helped, and to find a respite from the constant inner torment that kept her screaming and mumbling the name of Amolon as though she both feared and worshipped him.

Wait! Suddenly, he realized the point that Mr Giles was making. The silence was indeed thick. No screams resounded in the darkness. No whimpers for mercy. No rattling of the chains. No shifting of the still air.

“C-Could she be sleeping?” he asked as they crept forward down the remaining stairs. “I think we should allow her to rest, poor girl.”

Mr Giles kept moving forward, pausing only long enough to take the lantern. He held it before him, arm stretched out to its full extent, peering into the shadows beyond. His foot connected with something heavy, and looking down, they saw it was one end of the rusty chain, the edges of the manacle stained red with blood.

A clatter made them both jump. “Sorry,” Wesley cringed at his reaction, confessing, “I dropped the plate.”

More important revelations required his attention, he realized. Focus was necessary to stay alive in this business, and being far more studious than hands-on, Wesley knew to fall back on his training. Taking note of the steady hand of his counterpart as he held the lantern aloft, Wes shored himself up for the sight before them.

“We left Drusilla alone with the girl. How could we do that? Chaining an innocent up for a crazed vampire. We might as well have given her permission.”

The light dancing across the wall revealed nobody. There was no body, Wesley had fully expected to find Karla Brewer’s drained corpse slumped on the floor. “Where is she?” he gasped.

Moving the lantern in an arc, Giles focused its light toward the other far corner. An open door led into the darkened depths of the mansion basement, a place checked cursorily as they secured the building, full of rooms, closets, hiding places, all leading toward the burned husk of the west wing.

“Oh dear.” Wesley considered the dangers. Immediate ones for Karla who in her current state might fall victim to structural damage as she scrambled through utter darkness.

The longer-term issues affecting the Rites of Tavrok were most concerning. Without time to fully analyze it, Wesley realized that every advantage they thought they might hold over the enemy was fading fast. They had not captured the convict. He was not a victim of the helicopter crash having apparently escaped that fate for one predestined. Now it seemed Karla, whom they rescued, hoping to keep her out of the reach of those who would do her further harm, was now gone. Once again, she might be captured and made a sacrifice at the altar of Amolon.

“We must find her,” Giles echoed his thoughts.


166: The Downtowner Motel & Apartments, Eastside Sunnydale

downtownermotelandapartments

Jake Devries maintained his cool demeanor despite the rough company. Several bikers from Mike Mooney’s gang had packed into the small rented hole-in-the-wall that called itself a room at the Downtowner Motel. It was cheap and in many cases rented by the hour. The skinny rake of a man behind the desk looked more ghoul than human, but it was difficult to tell in this town.

“No questions. No police,” Jake ordered smoothly slipping him a couple of crisp hundred dollar bills.

Giving him a rotted toothy grin, he pocketed the bribe, even as he eyed the body bag being dragged from the back of the van. “You do what you gotta do, buddy. We all got kinks.”

The suggestion that he was into group necrophilia registered, but failed to draw Jake’s ire. This man’s opinion of him or his actions meant nothing. All he required was his silence for the next few hours.

Two of the four men hauled Harry Sims’ unconscious body in from the van dumping it onto the double bed. The drugs used to feign death might have killed him if not reversed in time. The storm had delayed their arrival. It had taken a shot of adrenalin and CPR to get his heart going again, but Sims still looked like death warmed over.

Mike Mooney stood at the end of the bed, his beefy bare arms folded across his chest. “This guy could use a hospital,” he joked instantly drawing raucous laughter from his three cronies.

“Too bad we just set it on FIRE!” exclaimed Goon#1 who flicked his lighter on and held up the flame as if they needed a reminder.

Goon#2 balled up a hammy fist and jovially punched Jake’s shoulder. “That coulda been you, dude. One big gust of wind, and— kablooey! Copter smashes right into the building.”

“Fuckin’-A! You’re like Bruce Willis, man, surviving explosions and shit.” Goon#3 joined in on the fun only to take a step back from Jake’s stone-faced response. Adding, “Only way less cool.”

“Something to add to my resume,” Jake’s upper lip curled into a sneer, the only outward sign of his irritation they would get. He had little patience for ill-mannered thugs, but in his business, they were a staple he could not avoid.

Addressing Mooney, he outlined a plan. “Get your men to dump the van. Once Sims is fully recovered, we won’t need it.”

“How long will that take? Sims looks like shit. Kalesh will have our balls if we show up with him looking half-dead. Don’t they got to be alive when we sacrifice ‘em?”

It was apparent that Mike Mooney had no clue about the methods used to invoke the Rites of Tavrok, which was fine with him. It made his job so much easier. Besides, if the demon priestess detected even a whiff of subterfuge on his part, he would have far more to worry about than the state of his currently non-existent sex life. The risk was actually part of the thrill, and precisely why Wolfram and Hart was paying him top dollar.

“Kalesh will get her sacrifice, Mooney. Trust me, Sims will be fine.”

Jake’s confidence had a way of affecting others. He could convince just about anyone to give away his last cent, make any argument stick. Mooney was no different despite the fact that Harry Sims’ pale body was still half-covered by an open body bag.

Mooney agreed, but added one caveat. “If this goes South, I’m laying the blame on you, dickwad.”


167: The Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale

Wesley_OverShoulderLook

“Who knows what might happen to that poor girl out there in the dark. If she makes it into the fire-damaged area. . .,” Wesley’s voice trailed off as his thoughts carried him in a worrisome direction.

Giles was of the same mind. “There is no time to waste. We have only the one lantern. I shall begin down here. You rouse some help above.” Reminding him where they stashed the extra flashlights, he suggested that he also bring a crowbar or the crossbow.

“Why on Earth would we need those? I can see that we might need to pry a door open if it became lodged during Miss Brewer’s escape. Surely she would not react well to armed men chasing her.”

The girl was confused, but whether it was strictly post-traumatic stress, and some form of brainwashing techniques, or the aftereffects of powerful magick were still unknown. “I believe it would be best to prepare for anything. We don’t know how Karla got out of the shackles.”

“I-I presumed that Drusilla let her go,” confessed Wesley now thinking that he might be forming conclusions without enough evidence. It seemed a sensible line of thinking, the vampire’s behavior being so unpredictable, and the girl’s mental state still so fragile.

Admitting that was a strong possibility, Giles did not want to spend time debating it. “We should get going. We must find Karla. Too much is at stake.”

Wes nodded, “Right. On it.” He rushed back to the stairs noting that Giles waited long enough for him to traverse them before heading through the far door. The training room was swallowed up in darkness the moment he left taking the lantern with him.

Taking a mental note, Wes realized the number of available helpers for the search party was quite low. There was Xander, of course. Still in the kitchen. He could hear running water from further down the hall. Likely making a futile attempt to save the charred frying pan.

With Faith, Buffy, and Willow either on town patrol or taking the night off, and Angel out on the mansion grounds, that left only Cordelia, Spike and Drusilla. It did not seem very reasonable to place Cordelia in danger in order to find Karla Brewer, however he knew she would want to get involved, or at least be made aware of the situation. Spike might be convinced to lend a hand, but Wesley was still wary of Drusilla’s involvement.

Perhaps his Watcher training was just too deeply ingrained, but he did not trust the vampires. He knew that Drusilla was mad, and that she followed her own inner voices. She also possessed a power he did not fully understand. Portents, psychics, prognostication all fell within his studies, but Drusilla seemed driven to act for the benefit of her sire, Angel, ensuring the safety of his pet.

Wesley scowled as the word pet crossed his thoughts, but in the scheme of things that was the appropriate designation. As far as he knew Angel had made no formal claim or marked her as his mate. He wondered if Cordelia had a clue about the ramifications of such a role, and where it was likely to lead.

He continued to ponder the notion as he rifled through the coat closet that served as the weapons and equipment storage area. They had stocked quite the arsenal. “Where are the torches?” he muttered.

“You mean the flashlights?” Xander’s voice immediately behind him caused Wesley to yelp in surprise.

“Good heavens! What are you doing creeping up on me that way? I might have harmed you.” Wesley loosened his grip on the crowbar, relaxing at the sight of the teenager.

The huge yawn Xander did not bother to cover showed he was hardly concerned that his actions might end up in injuries. “Well, whatever you’re doing, have fun with that. I am gonna get some shut-eye.”

Quickly stopping him, Wesley explained, “Karla is missing. The manacles are broken and bloody. She either squeezed out of them, broke free by some unknown means, or was let go.”

Xander glanced across the foyer toward the stairs. “Dru?

That had been his immediate conclusion, too. “Drusilla was alone with Miss Brewer for some time tonight.”

The boy went quiet for a moment, looking quite concerned about something. “Um, a few minutes ago, did you hear Cordelia scream Angel’s name?”

Wesley’s head jerked in the direction of the staircase, following Xander’s gaze. “Nothing so specific. I heard something, but dismissed it. We discovered Karla was missing.”

“Um, yeah, well, I guess I thought it was just Cordy and Angel, uh…y’know, again!”

Knowing precisely what his stuttering meant, Wesley held up a hand. “Oh, you need go no further. My room is not as soundproofed as I would hope being just down the hall from theirs.”

Shuddering, he realized Xander still had issues with the idea of his former girlfriend being bedded by a vampire whilst being forced to live under the same roof. Poor boy. At least with his own minor infatuation with Cordelia it was merely a matter of being concerned for her wellbeing. Despite the reports of Angel’s secure soul, there had been no formal study of it. Well, one might consider their frequent sexual antics some form of testing methodology, but it was certainly not a proper analysis.

“Wait a moment! Angel is patrolling the grounds,” Wesley reminded Xander of the plan. The vampire headed out while Cordelia went to their room to shower and prepare for bed. “He will not have had time to complete a sweep of the perimeter and return.”

“So that scream was. . .”

Gasping, “A cry for help!” Wesely ran for the stairs, bumping into Xander along the way, dropping the heavy crowbar on his foot.

“OWWW!” Hopping up and down, Xander’s face twisted in pain. “That was my big toe.”

Wes sent him an apologetic look, but there was no time for anything further. He reached for the crowbar only to be elbowed in the head as Xander hopped toward the stairs. He yelped painfully at the jolt, “AHHH!” Losing his balance, he tumbled to his knees landing awkwardly on the wooden floor.

That. . . hurt.

As quickly as he could manage, Wesley maneuvered himself to his feet and moved to join Xander on the stairs. They limped quickly, glaring at each other along the way.

“Do you think Karla is up there?” asked Xander with a grunt of pain as he put pressure on his injured foot.

Having not thought that Karla might consider Cordelia a target of some kind, Wesley’s eyes widened at the notion. “Good Lord! Hurry!”

“I am!”

Halfway up, they realized Spike was standing at the top of the landing staring down at them. Drusilla spared them a glance, but seemed to be rubbing a sore spot of her own as she walked by, continuing to move toward the third level stairs.

Spike demanded to know, “What the deuce are you two doing?”

“Saving Cordelia!”

“We heard Cordelia scream.”

Spike seemed to find that funny. “Maybe you did, but I don’t think she needs rescuing. The cheerleader is fine. Not the night to go snooping around bedroom doors, especially that one. Not unless you want an eyeful.”

Hint received, Wesley cringed. “I take it Angel has already returned. Perhaps I should tell him the news before they have an opportunity to…ah…”

As he made an attempt to move past the vampire, Spike put a hand to his chest making it impossible. “I said it’s best you leave them alone.”

“We need some assistance tracking Karla Brewer,” Wesley explained the situation. Refusing to back down, not wanting to appear vulnerable to a vampire he did not trust, he held his ground, his chin tilted a notch higher than usual. “If Angel is unavailable, we need you on the job.”

Spike glanced down the hallway toward Angel and Cordelia’s room, as if he considered letting Wesley disturb them anyway. “Bollocks!” he muttered. “What are you waiting for, Watcher?”

“Is Drusilla planning to accompany us?”

She was leaning against the wall watching them. “You coming, luv?” asked Spike holding out his hand.

Drusilla stayed put. “You waste your time. Though her body runs free, the girl cannot be reached. She is lost until he comes for her.”

“Amolon comes for her?” Wesley gulped. “Y-you saw this in a vision.”

“Inside her mind, her soul,” Drusilla’s whispers tickled creepily along his nerves. “A little peek. Only a hint of brightness of the girl she once was. The rest is shadows. There, in the darkness, he waits.”


168: The Master Bedroom, Crawford Street Mansion

Cordelia_Prone

As soon as Spike and Drusilla departed, Angel slammed the door shut with a loud bang taking out some of his anger at them on the inanimate object. Ripping off his leather jacket, he slung it down on a nearby chair, not even bothering to fold it, much less hang it up. Turning slowly, just enough to stare over his shoulder at Cordelia, whose bright eyes were fixed on him, he became outwardly calm despite the churning storm inside.

It was difficult enough to focus on Cordelia’s safety when the threat came from outside the mansion walls. Letting down his guard when it came to his progeny was a mistake. Although it appeared no harm was intended, they had definitely crossed a line. Touching Cordelia this way, well-intentioned scheme or not, went against every unspoken rule of their kind.

She was his. The sight of her bound body roused far more than just desire. It tugged at his possessive demonic nature, and his human need to protect the woman he loved from all possible harm.

They probably thought they were doing him a favor, or just playing the kinds of games they were used to back in the day. No doubt Angelus would have gotten a kick out of watching Cordelia squirm against her bindings, her beautiful body his for the taking. He would make her beg for release, using his skill to bring hers to the brink of climax until tears fell, and sobs of pleasure, and terror, filled his ears.

The things Angelus would have done disgusted him, but he was hard anyway, a heavy throb building in his groin at the thought of taking the gift that was offered.

Christ! She was temptation personified. The staccato beat of her heart called to him like a beacon pulling him forward. He stalked across the space between them, moving slow and steady, eyes darkening as his pupils dilated taking her in. Teasing his senses, Angel dragged his tongue across the seam of his lips, anticipating things to come, wanting far more than she could ever imagine.

He crossed behind her out of the line of her sight forcing Cordelia to twist around to try to catch a glimpse of him. Waiting in her blind spot, he shucked off his shoes and socks, puling the shirttail from his pants, plucking the buttons open one by one as he watched the candlelight shimmer across her skin.

A murmur of frustration escaped Cordelia’s throat when he stayed out of view too long. “Angel? A little tied up, here.”

Quite well, he noted, considering the impromptu use of silk ties. A trace of anger laced sounded as he forced out the words, “So I see.” The apology he should be offering went unspoken, his feelings tightening up in his throat like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of its prey.

Drusilla’s plans were all too apparent, laying the blame solely in her direction, and the reason why Spike was still standing. He had let Dru off far too easily with just a few harsh words and a swat on the ass, when her actions would normally earn her far worse. Thinking about it only pissed him off. Aggression tensed his shoulders, and he tried to shake it off with a slow roll flexing his muscles across the bone, craning his neck side-to-side feeling the tendons stretch.

Angel knew where this was supposed to lead. Every instinct demanded he follow along. Touch. Take. Claim. His hands were clenched at his sides as he fought against the urge to take what was essentially on display. He wanted to grasp those hips, thrust deep, and pound into her in the hard rhythm that made Cordelia convulse around him, and scream his name like he was the center of her universe. When he finally sank his fangs into her throat, it would be at the height of her release, adrenalin-rich blood bursting into his mouth at the same time her sweet honey poured over his cock.

Pressing against his trouser leg like a hungry monster looking to escape, his engorged shaft felt tight, huge, the sensitive foreskin rubbing against the swollen tip each time he moved. Exploding now was not an option requiring a pause to remove the rest of his clothes. Angel uncurled his fingers, grasped the open panels of his shirt and shucked it off, dropping it onto the carpet. The belt buckle jangled as he dealt with it, opening the button of his pants with the flick of his thumb.

Cordelia’s head lifted up a notch at the sounds, and twisted with the fruitless effort to see him as the zipper riffed on its way down. It was excitement rather than fear that tensed her body, fragrant arousal making him grip his thick shaft fisting it hard. A low growl rumbled across his chest as he pumped its length twice anticipating her tightness.

“Angel, honey, use your words. The growly thing is always a turn-on, but I can’t see you and I’m still tied up.”

Her toes curled when he touched her ankle, his fingers shifting over skin and bone and knotted Paisley silk, continuing a slow path up to her hip where he opened up his hand to take hold filling his palm with soft, warm skin, and firm flesh. He ran the other down her spine feeling her bend and arch under his touch seeking more.

Another soft moan emerged as she confessed, “I love it when you touch me. Your hands feel so good. Why do I get the idea…oh, that’s, mmm…you’re not gonna untie me, are you?”

Angel did not answer at first circling his thumbs along the base of her spine, long fingers spreading out to run the gauntlet of her tiny waist and ribs, edging forward to tease her breasts filling his palms with their weight. She writhed against him pressing into his cool touch, heating him up, and making it impossible to deny his needs.

He gave her an answer, “No.” It was one word more than he thought he could manage sending him back to his own possessive thoughts as he slid his hands across her skin.

She felt so familiar now. Angel anticipated his path, having memorized each millimeter of her beautiful body. Touching her was more than just a good feeling; it felt necessary, yet he held back the words afraid of how they might come out. Knowing the depths of his feelings shook him to the core, much less Cordelia, who had only the most superficial knowledge about the possessive nature of vampires.

Humans and their relationships were so different now than during Liam’s time. A woman of Cordelia’s age would be wedded, bedded, and gravid with child, and probably not for the first time. He pictured that scenario for a moment, surprised by the sharp hurt at the loss of it, but not so much to mistake an impossibility for a reason to let her go. Whether she knew it or not they were beyond that now.

Cordelia might believe this was an impromptu massage, his big hands running over her skin, kneading her flesh, but it was more than that. The rhythmic strokes soothed the raging beast within him, muting out the inner voice urging him to take what was offered. Finally, letting him put thoughts to voice. “Tell me you’re mine, Cordy.”

“Duh! Kinda obvious.”

That did not negate his need to hear her acknowledge the fact. “Say it.”

“Mmm, God, yes. All yours.” Her words washed over him like a calming balm despite the fact that he knew her feelings for him. That side of him had nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with possession, and even if it had only been his own progeny here in the room to see and touch what belonged to him, he wanted to hear it.

“Good.”

Smooth skin slid under his palm as she wiggled her ass teasingly. “So whatcha gonna do about it?” He could sense the grin on her face daring him to take her just like this.

Angel loved the way she was always eager for him, wanting him just as desperately. He had planned to let her sleep tonight, just enjoying her closeness skin to skin, surrounded by her warmth. Adrenalin had chased away any trace of sleepiness giving him an excuse to finish what they had started back on the beach.

“Make new plans,” he answered with a smirk tracing his fingers down to her sex. With a gentle thrust he plunged two fingers inside her wet center eliciting a moan of approval.

“Oh, yeah, new plans. What were, oh God, that’s so good, ah, ah, what were the old plans?”

Right now, Angel was so hard he could barely fathom the original idea. “Snuggling,” a deeper octave laced his voice with lust, making even that sweet confession sound sinful.

Unable to thrust back against his hand Cordelia moved in a tight little circle, letting his touch stimulate everything, her inner core tightening around his long, thrusting fingers. “Niiice! Angel snuggles are top notch. Ooh, yes! So is that.”

Cordelia’s legs strained against her bindings as his movements shifted. Plunging deep in a fast pounding rhythm made his hand slap against her sensitive skin. A wild thing, she grunted out sexy little sounds, tossed her hair as her upper body moved desperately seeking a counterpoint to his thrusts. Smooth as silk, and scorching his fingers, she was almost there, about to come undone at his touch.

He wanted more, needed it, and felt the bone and muscle shift, fangs emerging with a hard mix of pleasure and pain. Instantly, his senses sharpened, heightening everything, making the thump of her heartbeat louder, the rush of blood in her veins a siren song, the catch of her breath as he removed his fingers shooting sparks of anticipation along his nerves. The bench at the end of the bed cushioned his knees when Angel shifted up behind her, but a cold concrete floor would not have made a difference to his actions, needing her now.

Grasping her hips, Angel shifted until the hard length of him centered against her, broad tip poised for entry. He could not take it slowly, and did not want to, knowing she was ready for it. Pushing past her body’s natural resistance, he thrust home, spearing into her slick heat until he was buried to the hilt, a primal male satisfaction blooming in his chest at making her take it all.

Almost instantly, Cordelia keened sharply as she came spasming around the thick press of his sex inside her. Her name ripped from his throat, course with lust over the insanely good sensation of being fully sheathed inside her. All the way in, holding tight, his head thrown back and eyes clenched shut to ride out the sensation, Angel ground out, “You feel incredible,” salaciously rubbing a hand over her ass as he began to move.

A few slow, steady strokes to prime her exhausted the limits of Angel’s patience. Driving back into her like a piston, he wrapped his hands around her thighs for leverage, making the most of the angle. He fucked her deep and hard, rougher than he intended, as if he needed to thrust everything he was inside her.

Cordelia called out his name, a crack sounding between the syllables, begging for more even if it might be too much. He gave it to her because he had to, hips flying back and forth, her ass pressed against him, the added sounds of sex spurring him on. Suddenly, she was coming again, her orgasm bursting around him, slicking his cock, and making her wetter, hotter.

Like a furnace beneath his touch, he soaked up her heat, felt the blood pulsing as her body throbbed around him. Reaching forward, Angel grabbed a fist full of her long hair that continually teased him with glimpses of her throat, hiding and revealing. The vein in her neck distended to its own inner beat, the tune of her heart racing in her chest.

The hand fisting her hair kept her body taunt, raised off the bed, straining her bonds to their full extent as he brought her closer. Still keeping up his hard rhythm, Angel let go his hold on her hip. Blood rushed back into the blanched spots where his tight grip held her in place, making him wonder if there would be bruises there tomorrow. Opening up his hand he flattened it against her abdomen sliding it upward across the ladder of her ribs to clasp a breast jiggling with the force of his thrusts.

Angel stared down at the smooth skin of her throat craving connection, his fangs aching at the urgency of his need to claim her. Moving closer with the next thrust he banged a little too deep, tugged a little too hard. Cordelia cried out sharply, this time her pleasure laced with a trace of pain, the sound jabbing him out of his lustful haze, and reminding him of his thoughts about Angelus, and the dangers of letting himself get out of control.

Angel released Cordelia so quickly that she collapsed on the bed, both of them groaning as he pulled out, and backed away. He could not get the apology out fast enough feeling like he had betrayed her trust. “Sorry.”

Confused, she seemed uncertain about his reasons. “For stopping?”

“Being too rough.”

The pause that followed lasted only a heartbeat. “Hadn’t noticed. It was hot like that.”

The lusty confession made him moan with the need to pick up right where they left off. Angel did not need to hear that right now despite that he was still rock hard, his cock a rampant bar of flesh jutting sharply from his groin, still shiny with her wetness. Taut with desire, feeling far too needy, he knew he could not take her again that way. Not tonight, at least.

“Please, Angel, I was. . .can we?”

“You’re not usually so tongue-tied about asking for it, Cordy.” He grinned even though he probably should not be encouraging her.

Cordelia let out a little growl of frustration, “No, I’m just tied up. Otherwise, I would so pounce on you right now.”

The image of her pushing him back on the bed, straddling his hips, screwing herself onto his erection, and enthusiastically riding herself into an orgasm short-circuited his brain for a second. Aroused and amused by her words, he told her, “Next time,” promising to let her have her way with him. “You’re very sexy when you pounce.”

“C’mon, give it to me, Angel,” she begged so sweetly it would tempt a saint. “I need you inside me.”

Angel knew she would be sore, and probably bruised in the morning, but he needed her, too. They had both been close to coming when he stopped, and he was certainly feeling the ache in his balls. Although Cordelia had already had multiple orgasms, he knew from experience that she was capable of responding until exhaustion set in. She wanted him, and he was always ready, anticipating her needs, taking her to new heights, and in ways she had never contemplated.

“You’ll have me.” The words came out almost gruffly as he gritted his teeth determinedly reminding himself to change the pace. If this was going to happen tonight, he wanted it to be face to face, making love to her, not while taking her roughly from behind.

Releasing her legs by untying the knots at each bedpost, he slipped her forward onto the bed and gently rolled her onto her back. Cordelia stretched out her usually limber legs, testing the joints that had been forced into one position for some time. “Ooh, I’m kinda stiff.”

Angel climbed up on the bed next to her, stroking her face softly, as he joked, “So am I,” drawing a soft laugh in response as he reminded her of an awkward conversation in the library.

“Dork.”

Smirking, he leaned in to brush his lips teasingly against hers, the smile still on his face until he kissed her again, this time with tender reverence as if worshipping the shape of her mouth, the warmth of her lips. A little mewl sounded from Cordelia in anticipation of more, but he deliberately took it soft and slow making her melt into his kisses, building her arousal up again. He also hoped to keep his inner demon under control.

Teasing the soft inner curve of her lower lip with the tip of his tongue made her open up to him, their kisses getting hotter, wilder. Angel pinned her thighs with one of his as he held her steady trapping his rigid shaft against her hip, a spark flashing behind his eyes at the sensation. He lifted away from their kiss, waited long enough for Cordelia to open her eyes. “You’re so beautiful like this.”

Even though it should be no surprise, she gasped at the way he said it, and Angel knew he probably sounded like a desperate man barely in control. Cordelia kept her response light by reminding him that her wrists were still bound to the headboard. “Tied up, you mean?”

Angel had not forgotten. Nor could he deny that it was still a turn-on, but right now it seemed like a good idea. Having her hands on him always drove him wild. Cordelia was most definitely a tactile lover, and what she lacked in experience, she more than made up for in enthusiasm.

Golden skin was flushed with pink undertones, her full lips swollen from their kisses, and eyes bright with lust. Cupping one firm breast, he thumbed her sensitive nipple, already pulled into a tight little peak. She arched toward his touch, and moaned his name.

“Aroused, naked, in my arms,” Angel clarified his thoughts as he dropped a kiss on her lips before taking his kisses on tour. The tempting line of her throat was the only area he avoided feeling certain that pressing his lips to her pulse point might be too much to handle, much less running his tongue over the cord of her neck, catching it between his blunt teeth, or sucking just hard enough to leave a hickey.

Everything else was fair game starting with the line of her collarbone so close to the warm allure of her throat, as he pressed soft kisses and little nibbles along her flesh, with his hands scouting out new locations ahead. Skimming his palm across the breast already in his grasp, he fondled it gently, bending his head to suckle at its dusky peak. He gave equal attention to is twin before his path of nibbles and caresses continued down to her toned belly with its soft curves nuzzling the pink scar there and dipping his tongue into the concave slit of her navel.

Angel slid between her legs opening her wide to his heated gaze. She smelled so good, fragrant with arousal and juicy with come. Licking his lips in anticipation of tasting her, he craved it almost as much as her blood because it was intimate, solely hers, and she belonged to him.

As always, Cordelia openly enjoyed every lick, caress, and thrust of his tongue as he ate her out. Wild with lust, she begged to be set free of her bonds so used to touching any part of him she could reach, playing with her breasts, or stroking herself whenever they made love this way.

Cordelia’s ability to talk her way through anything never ceased to amaze him, and he always enjoyed the litany of praise mixed with her lusty little demands. “Oh, God, yes! Yesssss! Uhh, you’re killing me. Don’t stop. Yeah, Angel, do that again. Mmm! Ooh, right there.”

He stayed between her thighs until her body was tuned up to a fever pitch, hips writhing and practically riding his tongue as it lashed across her clit and into her wet center. After he made her come twice, and swallowed every drop of nectar her body released, Angel hoped it would be enough to appease the urge to take her blood. The rushing pulse from her femoral arteries, positioned so close to his ears, reminded him that the impetus to taste her was far more primal.

Rising up onto his spread knees, Angel eased her legs down to drape over his thighs giving Cordelia a moment’s respite as he watched a satisfied smirk spread across her lips. “Geez, that was fun.” Her eyes were a little glassy, tiredness starting to take hold again, but her gaze dropped down between them to note, “You’re still hard. Guess I’m all kinds of selfish tonight.”

Thinking back to their romantic dinner, stroll on the beach, and the spectacular blowjob she had given him before the night went to hell, Angel had no cause for complaint, but he would not lie about wanting more. “You must be tired, sore. I’ll try to be as gentle as I can, but need to be inside you.”

“You think I can’t keep up?”

“I’m a vampire, Cordy,” he reminded her unnecessarily as he reached up to loosen the silk ties biding her wrists. “You can’t out fuck me.”

“That sounds like a challenge. Cheerleader here. Okay, so recently ex-cheerleader, but still pretty good at bending into those pretzel-like positions you seem to enjoy.” Cordelia was still mouthing off at him when he shifted his hips and thrust inside her. “Oh! No fair! I wasn’t ready.”

Angel deliberately started to move, pumping his hips in a slow, almost cautious pace. He loved her enthusiasm, but needed to stay in control. Moving close, he positioned himself just above her, his weight balanced on his elbows leaving them skin to skin, with her breasts crushed against his chest and his body banging and rubbing deliciously against hers every time they moved.

The moment she touched him, he knew he was in trouble. Free of her bindings, Cordelia smoothed her hands over his face, leaning forward to initiate a kiss. There was nothing sweet or teasing about it. She was going straight for sexy and seductive taking her little challenge scenario quite seriously. Lost in the taste of her mouth, the pace of his thrusts quickened, he forgot all about his promise to be gentle when her fingernails curled into his shoulders, and her legs wrapped high around his back.

Christ! She felt incredible in all the right places, in all the right ways. Perfection. Fitting him like a glove, and not just now when her inner muscles squeezed him tight, but the way she tucked into his heart made him want a life more than just an existence. It was a heavy thought during a passionate moment, when Cordelia was moaning lustily in his ear. A wave of possessiveness swept through him at the notion that Nicolau Cibran and the other followers of Amolon might take her from him.

He reared back away from her throat the moment he lost his hold on his human features and felt his ridges and fangs emerge, but he could not stop like he did before. Cordelia’s expression contained only a triumphant glint in her eyes as if she was claiming points for her competition. Cheerleader 1 : Vampire 0.

“What big fangs you have,” she cooed playfully while cupping a hand around his nape, leveraging up to press her lips against his throat.

Trusting him a little too much, swayed by the fact that this wasn’t the first time he had vamped out during sex, Cordelia’s teasing words, lips, and wandering hands made it too hard to ignore the need building inside him. Angel pressed her into the mattress before she could protest, shifting her left leg so that her knee hooked over his shoulder, and rapidly pinned her wrists to the bed on either side of her head.

The new position lodged him deeper, drawing out a gasp from Cordelia, who suddenly realized it was Game Over. Angel could see the proverbial light bulb flash on. He was desperate to finish before he did something one or both of them would regret. Claiming her now before they had time to discuss it, before she had a clue what it would mean, was a mistake, but it was one he might have no choice in making.

Angel hammered into her, barely keeping it together enough to recognize the hint of uncertainty in her eyes as she stared up at him. He wanted to know her thoughts, if this scared her more than he imagined it might, but words took too much effort. All he could do was offer a kiss of reassurance.

Cordelia kissed him back until she arched hard against him as another orgasm crashed over her. The movement caused his fangs to collide with her bottom lip dotting it with a few drops of blood. He licked the blood away, his eyes shuttering closed at the taste of it lingering on his tongue. Like lightning streaking through him, he was instantly set off, rearing back like a lion with a silent roar, shooting jism with each short, deep stroke.

When the haze cleared, Angel’s mouth was pressed against Cordelia’s neck, her pulse racing as he primed it with his tongue, licking up the length of it. He was still inside her, unwilling to move, afraid that he lacked the control to leave her body without making his mark on her throat.

A catchy breath sounded in his ear as she stilled beneath him. Cordelia waited no more than a pause before cutting right to it. “You want to bite me, don’t you?”

Assessing her tone, Angel hoped it was more curiosity than fear, matter-of-factness not a precursor to one of her patented ear-spitting shrieks. Mostly, he did not want her to look at him like he was a monster for needing that uniquely vampiric bond. It took focus, a concentrated effort to shift his features back from vampire to human form.

He released his hold on her wrists, one hand sliding up to stroke the line of her jaw as he met her direct gaze, searching for a sign that his response might be too much for her to handle. She filled the silence when his introspection sparked impatience by answering her own question. “Duh! Of course you do. Kinda expected that.”

Relief bloomed hot in his chest as he realized Cordelia was not going to reject the idea completely. His lips swept across hers in a fervid kiss as he poured some of his need into it, channeling his passion, and love for her. She moaned into his mouth as she kissed him back, her arms wrapping around him the moment he shifted his hold so that her leg was draped around his waist rather than over his shoulder, but maintaining their intimate connection unwilling to break free of her warmth just yet.

He traced her face with his fingertips, tucking wild strands of hair away from her eyes and mouth, and more subconsciously than not, away from the slope of her neck. “Yes, I want it, Cordy. So much more than that. I want to claim you.”

Uncertain, but trusting, she pointed out her perspective on the matter, “I’m feeling kind of claimed already.” Shifting her hips beneath the weight of his caused his resting cock to stir again. He groaned, warning her not to start something she might be too tired to finish.

“Didn’t we just have that argument? Challenge me again, and I will so prove you wrong, even if you did win the last round.”

A little distracted as he dotted butterfly kisses across her throat, he asked, “How did I win?”

“I came first. Next time, you are so gonna lose it.”

That was precisely what he could not do, not until Cordelia fully understood what she was encouraging when she nibbled at his earlobe and arched her throat in his direction. “C’mon, Angel, do it. Make it fast. Do it now.”

He fought off the urge to change again, the vampire within blinking on and off his face even before he put a little distance between his mouth and her neck. Voice gruff with restrained urgency, Angel admitted, “I want this, Cordy. More than you can possibly know.”

“Then do it.” He felt a frisson of natural trepidation shiver along her skin even as she brazenly encouraged him to take what he wanted.

Angel shook his head, clenched his eyes closed for a moment when his body responded to both her fear and her permission. “No. Not until you understand what it means. You’ll be mine, Cordelia. Forever. There are consequences.”

“I like being yours.” A brilliant smile lit up her face as she gazed up at him with love in her eyes. Its sparkle dimmed a moment later as questions popped up one by one. “Wait, what do you mean by forever? As in for eternity, forever, or the end of my shorter than expected soon to be sacrificed life? What consequences? Are there some kind of creepy side effects? Angel, I—I don’t want to be a vampire.”

Angel growled, not wanting to get into it, finding it difficult enough to stave off the urge to claim first and pretend to be apologetic about it later. He could not. . .would not. . . do that to her, loving her too much to take away the one choice she might have in an already cloudy future. Anger laced his words, inwardly self-directed at his hesitancy in broaching the subject long before it felt like a necessity, but outwardly frustrated with the questions launched in his direction.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Cordy. I’m not planning to turn you into a vampire,” he snapped furiously only to regret his tone, especially when the impetus to take her again became too much to ignore. Moving with long, gentle strokes, he reminded roughly, “I love you.”

Cordelia caught her lower lip between her teeth, her hands sliding down his back to grab his ass as she arched into his slow thrusts. “Mmm, I love you, too. Don’t you dare try to avoid the subject, and don’t ever call me ridiculous because I don’t know your stupid vampire rules.”

She moaned into his mouth when he kissed her again, her hips shifting, her swollen sex grinding against him. “They’re not stupid. That’s just how it is. If you want to be mine, you need to know what you’re getting into.”

“I thought I did,” her soft words betrayed her confusion. The rasp of his thickness inside her became too much. “Oh, geez, Angel, please! You’re driving me crazy. C’mon, Angel, fuck me. Give it to me. You know how I want it.”

Angel banged into her hard, once, making her toes curl, and drawing out a lusty mewl of pleasure. Resuming his determinedly slow pace, he flexed his body against hers creating delicious friction everywhere they touched. Somewhere during the midst of their equally slow, wet kisses, he ordered, “Talk to one of the Watchers tomorrow.”

A little snort and ‘Pfft!’ followed telling him what she thought of the idea. “Just say what you mean. You tell me.” He gave her no answer, letting her sighs and grunts of pleasure fill his ears.

Lifting his head away from her breast, where his hand curled possessively, and its nipple stood up wet and rosy from the attention of his mouth, Angel knew he was too biased on the subject of claiming her to provide any reasoned explanation, certainly not at the moment, when he filled her up, and was too close emotionally to let her say no. All he could manage was the raw truth, “You’re mine, Cordy, and I am never going to let you go.”

The intensity of his words kept her silent for a time, except for the increasingly frequent ecstatic little sounds she made, her mouth hot against the cool shell of his ear. Pulling her even closer into his arms, he cupped the back of her head, tempted to wind her hair around his hand, but forcing himself to be gentle. He covered her pliant mouth in a fiery kiss, then slipped his tongue between her lips commanding entry that was easily given.

A desire to finish coiled through him, her acquiescence tightening his balls, and bringing a rapid end to his slow, even pace, sending him crashing into her in short, hard bursts. She was so tight, so hot clutching him, her inner muscles resisting his withdrawal again and again, making his sex swell, as he watched her quiver beneath him, arousal pulsing through her. Reaching between them, he drew his thumb across her distended clitoris rubbing it with just the right amount of pressure to make her spiraling need reach a sudden pinnacle.

Angel shouted out her name as he penetrated deep and maintained full contact with her body despite his crushing weight, and reckless rhythm. She spasmed around him at the same time he exploded into her. They moved frenetically together, each caught up by the intense pleasure spiraling between them until finally collapsing in a heap of tangled limbs.

“That was so awesome,” she muttered seemingly more to herself than to him, but Angel silently echoed her sentiments.

Bracing himself on his forearms, he raised up just enough to take his full weight off her body without breaking contact. He shuddered hard with another jolt of lust when she peppered his shoulder, neck and jaw with kisses, licking along his salty skin, and playing a game she knew had to be dangerous.

“Mmm, I guess that was a tie.” She brought her mouth to his lips again, and he let her control their kiss because he needed to find a way to let go.

“What tie?” Angel asked as he gently pulled out of her body stretching her sensitive flesh one last time and making them both moan in response to it.

Cordelia soothed her hands down his back making him scoot closer again. She gave him a saucy reminded, “Y’know, my little challenge. Me being able to keep up with you.”

There had been no specific plan to go all night, Angel inwardly defended his decision to give in to the urge to climax when the hot clench of her orgasm sparked his own, but that certainly did not mean he could not have gone longer if he wanted. “I’m pretty sure we came at the same time,” he growled lightly, refusing to allow the suggestion that he had lost that particular competition.

“Like I said, it’s a tie. We both won. Go team.”

The sparkle was back in her smile making him feel like tonight had not been a complete disaster. He could read her feelings in her eyes, as she openly gazed deep into his, all of the love and lust, satisfaction and need in his own heart brimming from her like a reflection. There were questions, too, a shred of uncertainty. Maybe he felt that, too. Wanting her, and needing to claim her did not feel like mutually exclusive things, but he needed to prepare himself for the possibility that Cordelia would not want to expose herself to the increasingly obsessive needs of a vampire. Especially because, he acknowledged the fact selfishly, that he might not be her top priority with everything else that was going on in her life.

Stroking the pad of his thumb across her bottom lip, noting it was still swollen from his accidental puncture marks, Angel growled at the sight. “Does it hurt?”

“Only when you’re not kissing me,” she teased.

Angel took care of that swiftly enough, keeping his caresses soft, worshipping her mouth with his, and stealing her breath away. Whispering, “I love you,” across her lips when he let her up for air.

Clasping his face, Cordelia returned his kisses, pausing only to remind him, “Pretty sure we covered the I love yous earlier.” Her soft, plush kisses felt tender rather than teasing despite the snark.

“Well, I like saying it.”

“I like hearing it, too.”

Shifting over to lie next to her on his side, Angel stroked a hand possessively down the length of her torso stretching his fingers out to span the space between her hips then trailing up past her breasts to tilt her chin in his direction. “Cordelia, I want you to talk to the Watchers. This is important. I’m not asking.”

Normally that would be a set up for getting his ass handed to him, at least verbally, but she readily agreed. “Sure, I’ll talk to them. Someone has to explain what happened to their ties.”


169: North Gate, Old Sunnydale Cemetery, Thousand Oaks Drive

Cemetery Clash3

Buffy headed home at a fast pace. Having spent the past couple of hours rescuing folks from the fire at Mercy General, she felt grimy. All she wanted to do was have a long, hot shower and fall into bed. She was expected to be up for Saturday morning pancakes and some mom-daughter bonding time.

What a crappy night. They had zilch to show for their efforts. Nada. Okay, so saving the patients at the hospital was important , but that did not help with the progress making on the prophecy. The Bad Guys definitely won this round making off with their soon-to-be-sacrificed prisoner. No catching any breaks around here. Nope.

Tonight pretty much sucked all around. First, she was subjected to all of the drama that went along with Angel and Cordelia’s official first date. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. That was just wrong. Evil. Kind of seemed like their first, second, third, and more-times-than-she-wanted-to-count dates had already been spent cozying up in their bedroom. Not that she was bitter. Much. Well, if she was, it was totally justified.

Deciding to take a shortcut through Old Sunnydale Cemetery, she pushed on the old iron gate just enough to squeeze inside. Its hinges squeaked in woeful complaint, much like her thoughts screeching in her head. Was it so wrong to feel just a smidge gleeful that the perfect night Angel organized for Cordelia had gone sideways? Too bad, so sad. Boo Bloody Hoo, as Spike would say, she smirked only to realize she was letting her nemesis creep into her thoughts.

That was another thing on her list of crappy things about tonight. Spike. He stuck to her like glue for hours. Patrolling. Constantly teasing. Never shutting up. God, he was worse than she ever thought Cordelia would be patrolling with Angel. Bad karma, that’s what it was, she decided. Her admittedly slightly selfish plan coming back to bite her on the ass. Yup!

Maybe she had set herself up for it all, but how could she ever have guessed that Angel would fall for Cordelia Chase? She was . . .she was . . .Cordelia Chase. That was enough of a deterrent. It was mind-boggling. Just wrong. Those two were now stuck together like superglue usually at the lips. As much as she hated to admit it to herself Angel was totally, deeply, madly suckered by whatever it was that seemed to give him a whole new personality transplant, kept Xander in his mooning, lovesick state, and even seemed to make the new Watcher all stuttery whenever within Cordelia’s sphere. Not to forget the fact that it was Giles who invited her to come back to Scoobiage in the first place.

Buffy tried to see past the obvious charm of her beauty, which she readily conceded had to make men susceptible to her feminine wiles. All she could see when she closed her eyes to think about it was Queen C making out with her boyfriend. There was no use whining about it now. Not only was there too much water over the bridge, it had pretty much washed away in the flood of her tears. She was done crying about it. Angel was definitely off the market, and had turned into some kind of obsessive control-freak when it came to protecting Cordelia.

Figuring that Angelus had always been kinda obsessive, too, Buffy guessed that it might just be a vampire thing. Or maybe it was just that Cordelia was in trouble and Angel was just being over-protective. Thinking about it gave her a headache, and she did not really want to think about the two of them because it never failed that her thoughts turned to the skillful touch of Angel’s hands, the soft, increasingly passionate kisses they used to share, and the way he made love to her on that other rain-soaked night.

With a heavy sigh, she wondered what things would be like if Angel had known about his soul when he got back to Sunnydale. Would she have still pushed him away? He was still a vampire, still obsessive, and obviously had more things on his mind than just following her lead. It felt confusing, even upsetting, and Buffy did not like the constant ache in her heart, because as unfair as it all was, she recognized that felt more like envy than love.

All of the deep thinking, and heart-achy vibes kept Buffy distracted. She was deep into the heart of Old Sunnydale Cemetery when she came to a sudden stop, hearing voices ahead, and the sounds of a struggle. Instantly alert, she zeroed in on them, her vision still keen in the dark. A group of six vampires surrounded a smaller male figure pushing him around like they were playing a game of keep away.

Despite his small stature, he was not a child. Pleading for mercy, he stuttered his way through a hasty story. “N-no, no, please, you got the wrong demon. I don’t even live around here. Just visiting the Hellmouth. I’m a tourist.”

A vampire with wavy sandy brown hair, wearing a leather jacket over casual clothes, had an East Coast accent. “Nice try, wiseass. You’re the thief who stole our stuff. Tell us where you hid the books.”

“D-do I look like a bookworm?”

Buffy watched the vampire nudge their victim toward one of his brethren. “You look like a thieving weasel. Talk some sense into him,” he growled, apparently too angry over his stolen books to trust himself.

“We might let you live,” promised the next vampire trying the good cop approach.

Somehow, Buffy doubted the little demon was dumb enough to believe that big fat lie. It was not really her business, she supposed, saving a demon from a bunch of vampires, but this was definitely her territory and those vampire were a threat. A rush of adrenalin hit as she imagined the satisfaction of staking them in their cold, unfeeling hearts. Yeah, and that had nothing to do with her feelings about Angel. Nope. No at all.

Taking a running start, she hopped up onto the top of an above ground stone coffin, one of the oldest of its kind in the cemetery, dark with blackened mold, and crumbling along its edges. “Six of you against one little guy? Doesn’t seem fair.” The shocked looks on their faces gave her a buzz.

One vampire, not bothering to hide his fangs, sauntered closer. “You lost, sweet thing? Maybe I should walk you home.”

Before Buffy could say something in return, the first vampire snapped, “Stop. That’s the Slayer, you idiot. She’s carrying a stake.”

“That’s her? Tiny little thing.”

Slightly annoyed, Buffy knew that her size worked to her advantage. She moved fast, and was far stronger than they would guess. While they were all distracted, Buffy took a moment to visualize her strategy. Six of them, one of her, and one little demon guy who might get in the way, whose neck she was not quite certain was worth saving.

He looked as confused as the other vampires. “I-I thought the Slayer was a brunette.”

“This is the other one. There are two,” explained Mister Know-it-All Vamp.

That was a fact Buffy doubted was widely known even among most vampire clans. Why was he on the up and up?

Executing a flip off the crypt, she landed in a crouched position low to the ground, stake in hand. She rose slowly to her full five-foot four inches. Even more annoyed now, she pointed out, “Well, I’m the original,” just as she whirled around executing a swift kick to Flirtatious Vamp’s midsection sending him flying into a headstone. A bone cracked in his arm as he landed hard causing a shout of pain.

The others tensed up instantly getting ready for a fight. They made calculated moves to get into fighting position, disciplined enough not to rush her, or to flee the instant she proved she was not just a pretty blonde out for a late-night stroll. Buffy guessed these vampires had been hunting together for a while and were not just a bunch of fledglings who had shown up at the Hellmouth looking for a good time. Despite having the superior numbers on their side, she was still confident that she could take them out.

“Guess you Slayers come in all kinds of tasty flavors,” their leader leered as she turned to face him. “Lehane and I got a score to settle. Been a while since she left the city.”

Her planned attack stalled when he mentioned the name. A little slack-jawed over the realization, Buffy asked, “You know Faith?” Yes, well, obviously, he did, but she wanted answers. Details. The 411 on the hows and whys. Faith rarely gave up any of the good stuff about her pre-Sunnydale days.

The fact that he called her Lehane might have clued her in on his feelings even if he did not scoff at the sound of her name. “Faithless bitch is more like it.”

Most of Faith’s past was a big ol’ mystery to Buffy. Giles was even closed-mouthed on the subject. She knew some general info about her Watcher’s death, and could see for herself that Faith was edgy and undisciplined, but she had no details really on who she was as a person or what her life was like back in Boston.

“Aw, did she break your heart?” Buffy asked while edging into position noting that four of the other five also shifted defensively. As much as she wanted to probe him for more information, she really wanted to get home to that hot shower, too.

“We screwed around,” he answered making certain she understood that things were not that emotional, “back before the fangs, and before she turned into one of you.”

Ooh! The guy she was about to dust was Faith’s ex. Sorta. This was why it was better to stake first and skip the questions. Now she had gone and made it all complicated. Buffy decided that she would try to dust him last giving herself time to decide if she should tell Faith about this or not.

Buffy threw a punch planning to knock him off balance, but he managed to dodge out of the way and grinned as if he liked the challenge of taking on a Slayer. A quick jab got him in the gut. He countered with a backslap that connected hard against her cheek, and then reached for her throat. She jumped back a step then whirled toward one of the other vampires who tried to circle behind her. Knocking him down to his knees, she bashed his face with a fist, breaking his nose, and sending him reeling into the ground. She took aim at his heart, but a third vampire rushed straight at them yanking Buffy off her feet.

Landing hard on her back, she was momentarily stunned as the air whooshed out of her lungs. She blinked and watched the heavier vampire bare his fangs and lunge straight for her neck. A moment before he could bite, she recovered enough to move the hand holding her stake into position. The vampire’s momentum carried him downward too fast to avoid it. Buffy caught the ‘oh shit’ look on his face just before he turned to ash.

The dust burst around her causing Buffy to blink reflexively avoiding an eyeful of ashes as she leapt to her feet again. Broken Arm Guy clutched his arm to his chest and tried a wheelhouse kick as she emerged from the cloud of dust, but missed by a mile. Leaping forward, she got him with one quick jab.

“Two down, four to go,” she quipped dashing forward and using a headstone to come at one from a higher vantage point. A second vampire crossed over to help out. Her foot connected with his chest. He flew back into the other vampire, both of them reeling off-balance onto the ground. Landing steadily on her feet, she quickly turned around to face them, and to reassess her options.

Faith’s ex started walking toward her, deliberately taking his time about it, anticipating her possible moves. “So, which one were you?” Buffy asked as if she had tons of info about Faith’s former boy toys. Hopefully, the suggestion that he was just one forgettable guy hardly worth mentioning stabbed at that vampire ego. If she could throw him off balance, the others would follow suit.

“The one that got away,” he joked just before throwing a punch in her direction. Raising her arm, she blocked it. Just as he blocked hers. Punches, kicks, and jabs followed, but they kept on countering each other’s moves.

Buffy had the added distraction of the other two jumping in now and then with attacks of their own, her body constantly in motion to fend off their strength. Barely avoiding being grabbed, she dodged the sweeping arms of one vampire to back into another, dislodging him as he tried to wrestle her to the ground. “I’m not that kinda girl,” she used a basic knee to the groin defense to shake him loose. He clutched his aching privates with both hands as he doubled over, and was instantly staked for it.

Their numbers were rapidly diminishing. Despite the immediate danger she presented, the little demon and his secret stash of books was still enough to distract them. “Get him out of here,” the leader ordered his underling. “Do what you need to do to make him talk. I’ll deal with the Slayer.”

“You got it, Bax.” Still holding onto the demon by the collar, he jerked him back to his feet and dragged him away from the fight. “Boss wants those books, knows you’ve got ‘em, You’re gonna tell me everything.”

The kicking and screaming demon was not exactly fond of the idea. “Hey, Slayer! A little help?” he called out to her. “Got something you might want. We can deal.”

Whatever he had, these vampires were unwilling to let him go in order to gain a better advantage against her. Buffy decided it might be worth the effort. “Demon or not, I do like a good deal.”

Apparently, Bax—whatever kind of name that was— did not like her butting into his business. “We’re here for him, not you, Slayer. Back off.”

“Too bad about that deal I just made,” she smirked.

“Make a new one. With me,” Bax pressed a hand to his chest and tried to look sexy. He had a long way to go to seduce anyone just with that smile, and she was afraid he was out of time to brush up on the vampire skills.

“Nah! I like the one where I get to. . .,” she trailed off long enough to swing her arm to the right plunging her stake into the chest of the vampire who tried and failed to sneak up on her, “do this!”

The sexy tone disappeared pretty quick replaced by something dark and dangerous. “I’m going to make you regret killing my crew.”

Buffy knew he would try. Cutting off her response, the shadows spoke, “Doubt that.”

Faith appeared from behind a tall monument to stake the brawny vampire holding the demon off the ground. He was too surprised to do anything about it. As he exploded into a cloud of ash, the demon fell from his crumbling grasp landing awkwardly and grabbing his leg. Instead of crying out in pain, he started laughing hysterically with a donkey-like eee-aww filling the gaps between his words. “I’m saved! Hah! You’re done for now, you fanged bastard. It’s the other one!”

Pointing toward the noisy guy, Faith sent Buffy a funny look before clarifying her feelings about being his savior. “The one who doesn’t give a shit about you, demon. Trouble, B?”

“Trouble that seems to know you. Who’s the creep?” Buffy nodded toward Bax. She had expected Faith would have some kind of emotional reaction, but her face was stoic, calm despite the surprise of seeing him.

“Doesn’t matter, really,” Faith shrugged as she approached. “He’s gonna be dust in a minute.”

The vampire gave Buffy his full name, “Baxter Winslow,” as if that might make her a bit more sympathetic. Sure, he mattered, but not to her. The question was whether or not he mattered to Faith. Bax sounded confident that she would not attack him, and would probably put a stop to any efforts on her part. “What makes you think you can take me out now when you couldn’t before?”

With the vampire’s attention riveted on Faith, it allowed Buffy to slowly slide to a more advantageous position. She held off attacking despite the urgency building up inside her. Her curiosity was killing her, too.

“Things change,” Faith answered simply. There was none of that hothead emotion in her voice, just distance, as she coldly told him, “You’re just another pair of fangs, Bax. You shoulda stayed in Boston. What are you doing in Sunnydale?”

“Job. Town’s mayor needed a few rare items. I knew where to find them.”

Buffy didn’t need Faith to interpret that remark. Unsurprisingly, she scoffed, “Where to steal them. Some things don’t change even with the pointy hardware.”

“Big coincidence finding you here, Lehane.”

“Coincidence, my ass. If Wilkins sent for you, then it means you’re a gift for me. Gotta burn all the bridges, he says. Wants me to make a fresh start.”

Buffy’s stomach churned at the reminder that the mayor seemed to think of himself as Faith’s sugar daddy. Looking out for her, giving her presents, ordering her around. She was still icked out about Faith’s undercover scenario at City Hall schmoozing the mayor and trying to get intel on whatever underhanded things he’s got going on that may or may not have some connection with the Prophecy. Based on what little she understood about Faith’s relationship with this Bax guy, and the mayor’s involvement, she doubted that these vampires were in Nicolau Cibran’s pocket.

Just to verify, she asked, “So you’re not here to worship demons at the Hellmouth?”

Bax jerked around, startled by the question. “What kind of vampire does that, crazy bitch?”

Annoyed again, Buffy narrowed her gaze and adjusted her grip on Mr Pointy. “So, I’m taking that as a no. Faith?”

“Yeah, B?”

“Gonna dust your friend now.”

“No friend of mine. Not anymore. Rather do it myself, though.”

Alone now, surrounded by two Slayers, Bax lost his confidence. His cocky grin vanished. “You screwing with me?” He hedged away from the two of them, but they had managed to crowd him against the back of a crypt. “Faith likes to screw around, don’t you baby?”

“I’m a Slayer. I don’t screw vampires.”

Bitterly, he reminded her, “That’s what you said the last time I laid eyes on you.”

Buffy cringed because she instantly put herself in Faith’s shoes, and wondered what she would do the next time Spike got handsy or mouthed off at her during one of their usual scraps. Disturbed, she decided to leave Faith to it. “I made a deal with that little demon. He owes us. Bye, Bax. I’d say it was nice knowing you. . .”

Pushing thoughts of Spike out of her head, Buffy went after the demon who she tracked down on the edge of the cemetery. He had been trying to get away. Almost as soon as she caught up with him, Faith appeared behind her, apparently finished with the task of dusting Baxter Winslow. Buffy flashed on the image of her fight with Angelus, and how it felt to plunge that sword through Angel’s chest sending him to Acathla’s hell dimension.

Keeping her voice steady, she asked, “Done and dusted?”

“Yeah. Bridge burned. Moving on.”

Buffy sensed it was not the time for ask for the details, not with demon dude staring at the two of them. Turning her attention to him, she ordered, “Tell me about these books. I’ll take ‘em.”

Rolling his eyes, he scoffed, “Hey, I said I would make a deal. I didn’t say it would be free.”

This guy was trying to welch out on her. She balled up her fist and whomped him hard on the shoulder. “Ow! Ooh! What are you, nuts? Going around punching people?”

Buffy pulled off its hat to reveal two horns growing out of its forehead and a shock of ratty hair. “People?” she said skeptically not really thinking the word applied.

“So what, I’m a demon. That makes it okay?” He waved his arms around trembling in fear when she threatened him with the pointy end of her stake. “Hold it, whoa! Stake me now, and you never find out what I got for ya, huh? Think about it. Demon seeks Slayers, highly unusual?”

“You were looking for us?”

“Well, her.” He nodded toward Faith. “Bax said the Slayer was a brunette. Thought you’d want to make me an offer. His crew found me first.”

Faith’s jaw tightened up at the mention of her ex’s name. “Talk fast.”

“How would you like to get your hands on the Books of Ascension?”

Glancing at Faith, who was equally unimpressed, Buffy admitted to being clueless about the books, “Never heard of ’em.”

“Books of Ascension. Very powerful works and I’m not talking about the prose,” he gave them a waggle of his eyebrows. “They deal with some, ah, dark stuff. The Mayor of this town would hate for somebody to get ahold before he, ah, well you know.”

Buffy realized he had some insight into Mayor Wilkins. “Don’t know. Before he what?”

Not quite ready to give up the news for free, the demon shook his head. “Hey, hey, read ’em and weep. That’s all I got to say. Tomorrow, I get the books. Meet me here and if the price is right, well, I give the books to you.”

“Not really looking to trade with a demon.”

“And if this were still a barter economy, that would be a problem.” Leaning in, he made it clear. “I want cash, princess, five large for the whole set.”

Faith sneered at him. “So you can buy, I’m guessing here, some skin care products.”

“Plane ticket. Sayonara Slayer Central. I am getting out of the Hellmouth, and the grand ol’ U. S. of A. before the crap hits the fan. It’s down to the wire, girls. So, five G’s, what do you say?”

Grabbing him by the collar, Faith lifted him onto his tiptoes forcing him to put pressure on his injured leg, whining and whimpering in response. “I think ‘Die Fiend’ sums it up, wouldn’t you say?”

Buffy wasn’t exactly sympathetic, but she knew they were not going to get these Books of Ascension out of him tonight. “Oh, let him go.” Tucking her stake away, she added, “I don’t think he falls into the deadly threat to humanity category.”

“A demon’s a demon.”

A little surprised that Faith was not pressing for details about the books’ whereabouts, considering that her side job was gathering the 411 on Wilkins, Buffy pointed out that it should be an obvious decision. “I’d like to know more about these Books of Ascension. Anything that would pin the Mayor down would be great.”

The demon fully agreed, “Yeah, great!”

Finally coming to an agreement, Buffy and Faith watched the demon limp away. “Money won’t be a problem. Giles can probably tap into the Council funds. They buy resources all of the time.”

“I just don’t trust that little dweeb,” Faith sneered at the now distant figure watching him until he disappeared around the end of a large crypt. “Who’s to say he’s even gonna show up tomorrow night?”

Buffy shrugged. “Too much other stuff to worry about. At least you know that you’re not the only one to suspect Mayor Wilkins is up to something.”

“The whole ‘become invulnerable’ plan on his schedule might have given that away,” she laughed softly shaking her head. “Ever think of giving this up and moving to Tahiti?”

“Sun, sea, and sand,” Buffy sighed deeply. “Nah! Sounds kinda boring.”

“Yeah.”

They walked to the edge of the cemetery following the rusty iron fence to its closest exit and paused before heading in opposite directions. Faith’s plans to head to the Bronze for the last hour were a bust. It would be closed by the time she made it across town. Buffy knew she would still have some distance to go to get back to the mansion, so she made an offer that felt a little awkward even as she said it. “You could stay over at my place. Mom’s making pancakes for breakfast.”

Faith made a face. Too much domestication for her. She laughed and declined the offer giving Buffy an odd feeling that mother-daughter breakfasts were something Faith did not have much experience with. Oh, the questions just kept piling up, and she was more curious than ever to know more. Knowing she was not going to get any answers, Buffy kept her burning curiosity to herself.

“Staking Bax has me all worked up,” Faith bounced on the balls of her feet as if she was about to take off running. “Gotta work off some of this energy before I hit the sack.”

Guessing that meant one last patrol on the way back to the mansion, Buffy nodded and suggested that they wait until morning to talk to Giles and Wesley about the demon and his offer to sell them the Books of Ascension.

“Sounds like a plan. Later, B.”

“G’night, Faith.”

Buffy watched as Faith dashed off seemingly unaffected by dusting her former friend, or lover, casual sex buddy, or whatever category Bax actually fit into. Had Mayor Wilkins really set it up? Brought him here under the false pretenses just to give Faith the chance to burn bridges? Experience told her that moving on was not that simple, but maybe it had a lot to do with your attitude.

The past was the past, and there was no bringing it back again, no matter how much you wanted to turn back the clock in the blink of an eye. Not happening. When it came to her relationship with Angel, well, it was kind of like that bridge, too, a pile of ashes. Maybe, just maybe, it was all for the best if she put unrealistic hopes behind her and just moved on.


170: Crawford Street Mansion, Central Sunnydale

Spike

The search for Karla Brewer was a bust. After nearly two hours of searching room to room in the basement level to the out buildings and the grounds there was no sign of the girl. They had split up for the search, but gathered together again along the charred crumbling wall of the fire-damaged west wing.

When the younger Watcher asked, “Spike are you certain that you haven’t picked up a hint of her trail?” it made him want to yank out his spleen. The bloke would not or could not trust him with anything, constantly checking to see if he was hiding something.

“Thought I had a lead a few times, caught it, lost it,” he shrugged away his own uncertainty. Tracking a girl through a house would normally be a cinch. Stalking was definitely his thing.

Reaching into his back pocket, he popped a cigarette from a half empty pack and caught it with the corner of his mouth as he raised it up. He stuffed the rest back in his pocket, and then dug in for the lighter. “Something strange about it.” Pausing, he flicked the lighter, letting the flame flicker in front of the cigarette as he made them wait. After lighting up, he took a long drag, and only after slowly exhaling a pungent cloud of smoke into their expectant faces did he say, “Smells like nature out here.”

“We’re outside,” Xander reminded even as he slapped at a leafy vine that kept brushing against his ear. He could hear Cordelia’s voice echoing in his head at the obvious reason. ‘Helloooo!’

“Nah! We’re in a town. Even with the extensive grounds and the old stables, there are different scents here compared to the open countryside or seaside.” Spike knew their pitiful human senses could not detect the differences. Still, he suggested they take in a deep whiff.

Giles, Wesley, and Xander all sniffed the air filling their nostrils, even as Spike tried not to laugh at the trio for looking like a bunch of gobs. He was trying to make them listen, and making fun of them was not going to help. “Anything?”

“Smells clean, earthy, like newly overturned soil.” Giles was the first to comment. Still, he did not appear to be overly impressed with his findings.

Spike quirked his eyebrows at the description. “That’s right. Sunnyhell doesn’t smell like that. This is the Hellmouth. Death is everywhere, especially in the ground. Centuries of it layered with bones, and dust. What else?”

He saw that Wesley simply crossed his arms staring thoughtfully as if trying to decide if Spike was making a point that was worthy of a conversation. It was the boy who spoke next, raising his hand for permission to speak as though he were back in his classroom providing teacher with the answer to a pop quiz. “Ooh! The rain. It smells like rain. Or, ah, actually like lightning, um, what’s the word?”

Wesley knew what he was getting at. “Ionization. Static in the air.”

Considering the recent lightning storm that had caused that helicopter to crash into the hospital, and the accompanying rain, which had thankfully aided the firefighters to douse the flames, this was another scent that seemed easily explained. Spike took a deep drag off his cigarette, and this time blew the smoke down toward the ground. Making a quick move toward Xander, he reached up and rubbed his open palm across the boy’s thick head of hair.

After their startled reactions and initial shouts of complaint that Spike would dare lay a hand on one of them, bloody idiots, they realized he was just making a point. “Wh-what are you staring at?” asked Xander when the two Watchers looked googly-eyed as the boy’s hair stood on end.

“Storm ended a while ago,” Spike pointed out. “Scents are all a bit exaggerated. Don’t know why. Don’t have a clue if it has aught to do with Karla Bloody Brewer, but we’re not gonna find the chit here.”

Even before Giles spoke, Spike heard his heart begin to race, beating faster, his pulse a rushing, fear infusing his veins. Looking grim, he shared the reason for it. “Kalesh was here.”

Spike recognized the name from the Watcher’s conversation about Nicolau’s bloodscript letter, a sense of shock hiting him square in the chest, but the boy needed a reminder. Busy smoothing down his unruly, static-charged hair, Xander asked, “Who?”

“The high priestess of Amolon,” Wesley explained even while managing to look annoyed that the name did not set off immediate red flags. “One should at least know the name of one’s enemies, Xander. Names are powerful things.”

Xander did not seem put off, which sparked Spike’s amusement. The boy was oblivious, but was not at all cowed by the company present. Buffy liked the kid for some reason, as did Drusilla, strangely enough. Even Angel’s pet had spent some time locking lips with the boy. Spike could not see anything that would appeal to them, presuming he possessed some sympathetic note that charmed the female heart, and whatever that was did not translate.

“I thought Willow’s spells could keep everyone out. How did Kalesh get through without setting them off?”

The Watchers shared another meaningful glance. “If our conclusions are correct, Kalesh is a demon goddess in her own right, which makes her a powerful enemy. Although an underling of Amolon, she reportedly possesses an ability to manipulate the elements.”

Wesley added, “The spells are designed to keep vampires and the lower demons at bay. Apparently, they cannot effect a goddess,” he ended with a bit of a strangled note.

Xander gulped. “Right. Just checking. So. . .why didn’t she take Cordelia, too?”

Listening to them speculate made Spike feel even more certain that Sunnydale was the wrong place to be. True, he did not want this Amolon bastard to destroy the Earth. He liked a bit of chaos now and then, especially if he was the one to bring it about, but out and out Armageddon meant something else entirely. His personal feelings about Angelus being a rutting bastard whom he would just as soon see rot in hell—again—he was still family, and that meant sticking around. Dru was never going to let him forget it, and deep down he might have to admit to a twinge of longing for the sense of belonging and camaraderie as their foursome cut a bloody swath through Europe back in the day.

With that soul on board, Angel wasn’t exactly Angelus, something that Spike was getting used to even if he did not entirely approve. Not that he would want Angelus to be in the here and now. Not at all. Getting ordered about by the Master of Aurelius would be one thing, but Angel reviled everything it meant. Accepting that role meant he acknowledged the vampires he had sired, that he owed them his protection, and claimed each one as family. Doing so meant it was his duty to ensure their survival, and prosperity.

Providing open hunting grounds and well-fed vampires were not Angel’s priority these days. Things were different here on the Hellmouth. Old standards hardly applied when the former Scourge of Europe was besotted with a cheerleader. Spike hoped that tonight would settle things between Angel and Cordelia. If only the big idiot would pay attention to his vampire instincts and just claim the chit, he would be able to focus on taking out the enemy.

Spike could not really blame him for his little obsession. Cordelia’s beauty was obvious to anyone with eyes, but it was more than that roping him in. There was a spirit inside, a fire that sparked something inside Angel, too, something Spike had never seen before. There might be no official mark on her throat, but Cordelia Chase was already deeply imbedded in Angel’s heart, his mate in all but name. Claiming her and his bloodrights would cement her station within their little clan, but while it would be meaningful to Nicolau and Isobel, such a status would mean little to a demon goddess like Kalesh.

The notion made him growl, a protective vibe strumming along his spine. Didn’t matter if Angel’s claim was official or not, Drusilla already treated her like family, saving her, delighting over Angel playing hide the sausage with Cordelia when she would normally be jealous, even tying her up for some fun. Acceptance was what it was with Dru. Maybe him, too. Didn’t matter why, Spike realized, but he wasn’t going to let anyone get to her if he could stop ‘em.


Scenes 151 – 160        HOME       Scenes 171 – 180


 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s