Cordelia looked at the scene playing out before her eyes. She didn’t understand what she was seeing at first. It was her walking up to her house, but why would she be shown this, let alone be shown it first.
“Angelus would always be waiting in the shadows watching the suffering he had caused. It was his own little private show, one he created and enjoyed with great fervor.”
Giles words once again floated on the wind around her, she didn’t even bother to look around for him this time knowing he wasn’t there. No, her focus was completely on the scenes playing or really replaying on the walls, they were what she remembered but they were so much more.
As she walked towards her front door the focus shifted from her to someone standing in the shade of the trees just beyond her view. It was Angel, if she’d glanced over she would have seen him, but why was he there? Why show her this night? It seemed like just any other night to her. Then her scream pierced the air, and he smiled, and she knew.
This was when it all started, when Angelus first came into her life in a big way. This, whatever it was, was showing her what she missed. It was showing her everything in a new light so she would know the truth she’d been trying to hide from for far too long.
What was it that skanky not her said? That’s what this is all about, seeing what’s really going on in the world around you, seeing the truth. The only problem was, she didn’t think she wanted to see the truth, because once she knew for sure what she already thought she knew, there would be no going back.
The flickering of the lights dragged her eyes back up from the floor towards the “screen”. Here we go again.
It was their first time together, only she was seeing it from a different angle, almost like she was looking at them from someone elses eyes. It wasn’t until the past her had fallen asleep that she saw whose.
What had she been doing in Angels closet? Why hadn’t she come out or made a noise or something when she heard them come in? Why did she watch them? Then another voice began to surround her, a conversation she’d all but forgotten about.
“I’m telling you Willow it’s true I saw the whole thing. She was all over him like the slut she is. The only thing I can think is that he’s trying to make me jealous and she was the first easy lay he came across.”
That little bitch! No wonder she was all woe is me and calling foul. She saw how good they were together and knew she couldn’t measure up.
Watching as the voyeur finally left the closet and stared at the two of them intertwined on the bed, she noticed something else she probably would have missed had this place not drawn attention to it. He was awake and he was deliberately playing on Buffy’s insecurities.
What an ass.
At the same time she couldn’t really feel all that sorry for her, pervs deserved a little payback. What kind of a little freak watches her ex fuck someone else? The lights flickered as the scene changed again. What now?
It was her and Angel, she refused to think of him as Angelus even though in her heart she knew without a doubt who he was now, together in bed. She remembered it well, like she remembered each and every moment she spent with him. Only now she was seeing it from the outside and what she was seeing wasn’t something that she remembered at all. He was feeding on her, biting into her thigh, before she’d first offered herself.
Why was he doing that? Was she just some sort of convenient snack to him?
“Do you really believe that? You know who he is, you had Giles tell you so much about him, does this seem like something he would do? He enjoys his mind games yes, but would he really feed on you without letting you know it had happened. Think Cordy, find the whole truth not just what’s easiest to see.”
She was right, she needed to see everything. She needed to come to her own decision, make up her own mind, because once this little mind fuck was over she would have to face the real world again, and she really needed a game plan before that happened.
“Bring it on.”
Giles could not wrap his head around what Oz was telling him. After about ten minutes of discussing it at the library they had both decided to relocate to his apartment, less likely to be overheard. Could Willow do something like this? Could she have sat there as they tried to puzzle out a way to save Cordelia and said nothing if she had? It didn’t seem like the quiet mild mannered girl he had come to know over the year of their acquaintance.
“Could she do this?” He didn’t know why he was asking Oz other than that the young man was probably the one most likely to know besides Xander.
“To Cordelia.” His answer was short and too the point, and accurate. It was most likely that had it been anyone else involved the answer would have been no, but Cordelia was a sore point for nearly all of the teens involved. It was more than likely that Cordelia’s continued involvement with Angel had been the metaphorical tipping point.
“So what do we look for now?” They had been looking for the spell used by looking at the things her stalker had done so far, and trying to guess at what his intent would be now. It was no wonder they had so far come up empty handed if their entire assumption was wrong.
“Something went wrong, we need to find what she meant to do.”
Oz was right of course, it had been clear in hindsight that Willow had been greatly distressed by Cordelia’s predicament for reasons all her own. This had been a mistake so if they could suss out what it was she had intended to do instead finding the right spell would be so much easier.
“What had she intended?” Could a teenage boy and a middle aged English-man ever understand the working of the female teenage mind well enough to gain an answer to that question.
“Call Xander.” Quite right, they might not be able to puzzle it out, but Xander would most likely be able to do so with ease. Now the only question remaining, was would he help?
Buffy walked beside Angel in silence, she didn’t want to ruin this by seeming too enthusiastic. This had to seem like a comfort move, a natural path back to the goodness they used to have now that Cordelia was no longer in their way. She had to say something though, had to justify her being there, it wasn’t like he needed her protection.
“I’m sorry about this whole thing, we’ll find the guy that did this.” Best not to use her name, no need to bring her any more into this than she had to be. Plus she was the last thing he needed to be thinking about when she made her move.
“I know.” That was it, two words, that was all she got. Come on, it wasn’t like he was in mourning or anything, Cordelia was basically just taking a nap. If she played this right, when his precious Cordy finally woke up, it would be to find that the world order had been restored.
Angelus could practically see every thought as it flashed across her face, subtlety was not her strong suit. After being taught by Darla in the fine art of seduction, and more importantly taking advantage of a perceived weakness, watching this was just painful. If he decided to go with this and let it work to his advantage, he would really have to do most of the work, while making it seem like it was her idea in the first place.
If he left it to her, she would just lunge at him when her limited patience finally ran out. Oh, young people these days, no sense of style. If he played this just right, everything should fall into place easily. Buffy would lose her support system, the Scoobies would fall apart, and he would be free to play. He could hardly wait.
Cordelia could barely process everything she was seeing. She was seeing everything from a new angle and that was putting all the things she thought she knew on its head. The time she got all of her courage up and joined Angel in the shower, now she saw the faint pink tint to the water as it washed down the drain just when she was stepping in. Giles words from that Monday surrounded her, subdued yet somehow accusing.
“Saturday morning Buffy’s mother came outside to fetch the morning post and found their newlywed neighbors killed and left on their front steps.”
Found Saturday morning, which meant they’d been killed Friday night. That night.
Angel taking her in the stacks of the school library, one of the most daring things she’d ever done, but now she saw the look in his eyes and she knew. She knew that he had known that little miss likes to fight had turned into little miss likes to watch.
Her sex life had become a spectator sport without her knowledge or consent, and he had gotten off on it. Hell Buffy had gotten off on it. So much for her being all holier-than-thou. What a perv.
As she watched the images changed, they moved from her time with Angelus, to his past. She recognized some of it from the things that Giles had told her during their sessions together. Why would she need to see this? As the years of blood, pain, and depravity filled the wall and her mind, she couldn’t seem to make herself understand.
Xander stood in Giles apartment, he didn’t know what he’d expected to find in the older mans living space but this must have been pretty close. No t.v., no movies, no mess really as far as he could tell. This place was Giles, if Giles were a place instead of a person. Which made sense cause this was where the G-man lived. He was stalling he knew, he didn’t want to think such bad thoughts about his bestest bestie since forever, but the more G-man and wolf-boy talked the more sense it all made.
Willow was as against Cordelia as anyone ever could be, but ever since Cordy started hooking up with dead boy it had all jumped to a new level of hate. As far as Willow was concerned Angel was meant to be with Buffy and no one else, so she probably tried to do a spell to make that happen, to knock some sense into Angel about Cordy. Or to knock some sense into everyone.
“Yeah, I can see how this could have gone down. Wills was probably just trying to help Buffy out, she would never hurt anyone on purpose.” He looked Giles in the eye as he spoke, he needed them to understand that to believe it.
“We know that Xander, her intentions may have been pure, but the execution was likely skewed by her emotions. Ninety percent of magic is intent after all. If Willow tried to do something in regards to Cordelia, even if the intent of the spell was relatively harmless, her dislike of Cordelia would have warped whatever spell she attempted in unexpected ways.”
Yeah, he could see that happening, now they just needed to figure out a way to fix it.
“Well, knowing Wills, she probably was trying to get everything back to normal. Back to how it was before Cordelia crashed the scoobies.” Back before everything got so complicated.
“Before Angel left Buffy for her.” As always wolf boy hit the nail on the head. Exactly.
As the two began grabbing books, he turned towards the door. They could look all they wanted but the options were limitless, he knew that much from all the researching he’d done in the past. If they wanted answers he had a feeling he would need to get them from the source. Willow.
Angelus tried not to roll his eyes, even as out of it as the slayer was she’d probably notice that. After weeks of violating his adventurous little vixen, sticking it to this uptight princess was more a chore than anything. At least her inexperience was working in his favor, she had no idea just how uninterested he was in the entire act. As long as he kept his face buried in her neck, and resisted the urge to bite, she was content.
He kept his pace slow and steady, missionary all the way, making sure to keep the rhythm and repetition in line with what Angel had done with her before. That was what she wanted after all, proof that her Angel still loved her all the same. This would just solidify it in her mind that the only thing standing between her and her forever and ever with her soulmate was Cordelia. So when the others eventually found out about this, and took Cordelia’s side, she would react with all the venom she had in her. Sealing her fate, and locking her out of most if not all of the lives of those she calls her friends. She would be alone and ready for him then, and when the fun and games began no one would know where to turn for help, because they would be all so twisted around already. It would be glorious, and so much fun.
Buffy was in heaven, she was sure of it. She knew that Cordelia was just a distraction, the first chance he got her Angel came back to her, and it was just like it should be. Just like it was before. He treated Cordelia like the whore she was, but her, he treated her like the queen he longed for. Things were finally falling back into place, and it was glorious.
Cordelia sat huddled in the middle of the “room” and tried to rub the images behind her eyes away. Why did they show her all of this. It was one thing to hear about what Angelus was capable of, but seeing it was something else altogether.
“Why?” She knew the other her would answer. She always did.
“Because seeing is believing. You would never have seen who he really was until you saw who he had been. Because you needed this.”
“Poor little kitten.” Looking up at the sound of the new voice she saw Drusilla standing behind the other her. “Still doesn’t see what’s coming. Doesn’t see the ending. Can’t see the path ahead or behind.”
As she spoke, her body swaying in time with something only she could hear, her hands came up around the body in front of her. Cordelia watched her mirror image lean back, nearly melting into the vampiresses lithe frame, as pale cold hands caressed her breasts. Her moans were nearly pornographic as she tilted her head to the side exposing her throat, offering it, begging to be bitten.
Her face morphed into her demon visage Drusilla leaned down to lick along the unbroken skin of her neck. Her smile winsome and distant, delight glowing in her eyes at the treat she was about to consume.
“Poor little kitten, spitting and clawing at the truth, blind no more. Life is choice, life is change, life is blood. So choose.” Never breaking eye contact she leaned down and bit down hard. She could tell just from the sounds coming from her double that the bite alone was enough to make her cum. Wow. Other her was a bit of a bite whore.
“Choose what?” As she asked the question both women faded into the mist like they had never been there at all. Looking around wildly, she found no sign of them, until she felt cold hands slide around her neck from behind. Glancing over she was caught in the pale vampires dark gaze.
“I didn’t do anything, and I don’t know why you’re accusing me. And even if I did want to do something, it wouldn’t have been this something, so there!” Willow was pacing back and forth, across her bedroom, trying to get her point across. Unfortunately, it was a lost cause with Xander, he already knew the truth, now all he needed was the specifics.
“I know this wasn’t the something Will, but I also know that you did it. Screwing something up doesn’t automatically give you a free pass, I saw you today when Giles told us what happened with Cordelia, I know my Willow faces I know what you were thinking. Now, if you tell me what happened, what spell you used maybe we can fix this before it gets any worse. Cordelia doesn’t deserve worse.” In fact, in his newly changed opinion Cordelia deserved much better.
“Who are you to tell me what Cordelia deserves? She deserves everything that’s happened to her and more!”
“Why?” He knew resolve face, he knew how to get around it, logic. He had to break it all down and build it back up again so that Willow could see the flaw in her logic.
“Why what?” He watched his best friends eyes cloud with confusion and knew he was off to a good start.
“Why does she deserve all of this? Tell me what she did to deserve this.” Come on Willow, break it down for me so I can break it down for you.
“Well, she’s mean and… and vicious. She doesn’t care about anyone or anything but herself. She makes everyone around her miserable, and she… she wrecks everything.”
“So what you’re saying is that because she is self absorbed like most teenagers are, and because she rules the school by popular demand she deserves what’s been happening to her. You’re saying that teenage girls who ignore people and make those around them feel inferior deserve to be stalked and tormented. That sixteen year old cheerleaders who hook up with a single guy who’s already broken up with their girlfriend should be tortured and terrified for the rest of their lives. Wow, Will and here I thought you were against violence.”
Turning to leave he hoped he was doing the right thing, that leaving Willow to think things through on her own, without his judgment and knowing stare would get her to do the right thing and call Giles. He really hoped he was right, about her, about everything.
Willow didn’t know what to say, Xander was defending Cordelia. Instead of putting things back to the way they were before, it just made Xander defect to the other side. To Cordelia’s side.
Why would he do that? He was the President of the We Hate Cordelia Club, hell he was the founder of it. Then she remembered his face during the Scooby meeting, while he’d been watching her she’d been watching everyone, and she remembered that he was a little off. He looked angry and miserable, like when he was mad at himself for not doing better or being better at something. At the time she thought he’d been angry about the whole thing with Cordelia like she had been, but now that he was defending her she thought maybe it was something else.
What about the meeting could have changed him so drastically? Besides the research all that happened was that Giles gave an overview of the entire Cordelia mess, sans some of the more scandalous Angel related business. Was that it?
Could Xander have felt sorry for Cordelia? But why? She brought it on herself.
Maybe Xander was right, maybe she should think about what Cordelia did to deserve all of this. The stalking, the torture, the spell all of it. That would help strengthen her resolve, she just knew it. But when she started thinking about it, thinking about what was done to Cordelia first, she couldn’t come up with anything.
Sure the things that Cordelia did in school, and mainly to Buffy, were cruel but at their core they were petty and small. Nothing that deserved the hell that she had been through for the last few weeks. She had always been focusing more on why she hated Cordelia than what was actually happening to her now. All she kept thinking over the last few weeks was that finally Cordelia was getting some payback for all of her venom, she never really noticed that the punishment never fit the crime.
Now she felt even worse for adding to the mix of it all. Did this make her just as bad as the thing stalking Cordelia? Was she worse? Either way she knew what her first step had to be, she had to call Giles and tell him the truth. She had to admit her mistake and accept the consequences whatever they may be.
Cordelia couldn’t speak, the hand on her throat too constricting, but she knew she needed to answer. This was the end of her time in the mist, her answer was the only thing that could set her free. Her choice. The only problem was that she didn’t have an answer to give. She didn’t know what to choose.
“Yes you do kitten. Your choice is simple. Wicked Daddy.” As she spoke over her shoulder flashed an image of Angelus feeding off of her other self. Her body writhing and twisting in ecstasy. Buffy just behind the pair looking forlorne and hurt. Her tears leaving tracks through the blood on her face.
“Or Wimpering Angel.” Once more the image changed, this time Buffy and Angel were embracing, so lost in each other that they did not see her standing there alone. Her clothes in tatters and her hair a mess.
The choice was clear. When she woke she could either share what she’d learned, sending Angelus back within the confines of Angels cursed soul or she could keep it to herself letting Angelus remain free.
Telling was the obvious right thing to do. This would spare the others, mainly Buffy, any more pain from his twisted games. He could be reunited with his love, and she with him. Of course if that happened it was more than likely that she would be forgotten, that Buffy would write her off as a mistake made by Angelus, and that would be the end of her in the Slayers mind.
Saving Angel, or bringing him back, wouldn’t undo the last few weeks. It wouldn’t give her back anything, it wouldn’t undo the trauma already done, all it would really do would be to take away the only person she had in her life to lean on. She would be alone.
While keeping silent, at least where the scoobies were concerned, would probably be the best thing for her. Knowing that Angelus was behind all the horrible things that had been done to her, that took a lot of the fear out of it. The main focus had been the unknown of it all, the idea that the monster stalking her could be anyone, that was what had nearly killed her. Now that she knew, and more importantly if she told him that she knew, that would be the end of it for her. It would be out of her hands, the choice would be his, he could kill her or keep her. Either way her peace of mind would be restored.
Plus, it was abundantly clear from the thing with her neighbors that Angelus would be gunning for Buffy, and THE SLAYER would be far more equipt to handle everything. As she had pointed out every single time, she was the chosen one and she beat everything that had come at her to date, she could beat this too.
Looking deep into Drusillas eyes she knew what she would choose, and it was clear that the vampire knew it too. Turning her head to the side she closed her eyes and waited for the fire of fangs in flesh. She might be making the wrong choice, but it was really the only choice she could make anymore. She was already too broken to be a selfless do gooder. She just couldn’t.
As the fire took hold of her, her eyes flew open and she bolted up gasping for air.