Sven was boring. Cute as he was, and Cordelia had to admit on a scale of one to ten in hot he simmered around a 9.3, it was way too annoying having to scream directions to him constantly. As much as she hated to admit, maybe there was something to that whole idea of a pretty face not being enough to make a person interesting. Usually, she chalked up that saying to ugly nerds trying to prop up their deservedly low self-esteem, but as she watched Sven wander off across the dance floor of the Bronze, his expression one of almost moose-like stupidity, she wondered if maybe a personality wasn’t more than an accessory. God, deep thoughts! She needed to find something, or preferably someone, to redirect her attention to before she started wearing Coke- bottle glasses and thinking polyester was a good idea.
She sauntered over to an empty table, enjoying freedom from the rest of the Cordettes for a while, and sat stirring her diet pop with the tropical umbrella swizzle stick she had picked to complement her Hawaiian outfit. As the band kicked into another song, this one slow with a sensual drumbeat, her eyes flicked across the crowd critically. One by one, each failed to live up to her expectations, and she was just about to sigh and exit in disgust when one lone figure at the edge of the room caught her attention. It might have been because he wasn’t moving at all, just looking at the dancers as sharply as she had been, weighing them and one by one finding them wanting. Kindred spirit, she thought.
As the flickering lights found his face, she took a small breath. The guy made Sven look like her dog. His white-blonde hair almost matched his skin, his face looked sculpted out of marble, and those cheekbones! He wasn’t wearing any stupid costume, either, just a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, and, yes, even from this distance she knew a 4-digit price tag piece of leather when she saw it. Hot, rich, and, unbelievably, alone. Maybe his date was off powdering her nose, Cordelia thought. Her loss; Miss Chase had just picked her new escort.
He’d been watching the bevy of hormonal teenagers for several minutes. The Slayer had been here again, but he’d caught sight of her leaving in a rush, doubtless to save some poor innocent slob from doom at the hands of something evil. Apparently this was one of her favorite haunts, and no wonder. The Bronze must be all but a smorgasbord for vampires. However, tonight the ridiculous costumes so many of them were wearing practically took his appetite away. He considered going after the Eskimo girl simply because he found the costume oddly adorable in the midst of all the berets and kilts and ponchos that looked like Liberace had exploded, but he couldn’t for the life of him figure out how he’d bite her through all that bloody fur.
Then he saw her, walking towards him, sashaying her hips in time to the low beat of the music. Well, now, he thought, there’s a bit of alright. He’d never been to Hawaii, for obvious reasons, and he’d seen far fewer bikinis than he would have liked since women tended to wear them far more by day. This lovely lass was enough to more than make up for it. Every inch of skin the tiny top and swinging skirt displayed was pure California gold, without a tanline in sight. Nice face, too, he thought, sparing a moment to glance upward: big, expressive, dark eyes; a wide smile of glinting white teeth; delicate little nose like a doll; long, dark hair. She was a treat, no mistake, and she was coming straight for him. Of course she was. Why wouldn’t she be?
He smiled at her, careful to keep it non-threatening but seductive, turning up the charm. He loved this part of the game, the charade of courtship that would inevitably end in something much darker than mere groping in the backseat of a sports car. Working up desire in her, getting her to drop any defenses, making her want him, all of it made the savor of his impending victory all the sweeter.
“Hello, there, pretty wahini,” he said, being sure his accent came forward. “What might your name be?”
Nice accent, she thought. He must be one of the exchange students.
“I’m Cordelia,” she said, extending her hand to him, “and you’re definitely not from around here.”
He laughed, low and almost musical, the tempo of it blending with the beat of the pulsing music in the background.
“No,” he said. “I’m from London, luv. Fancy a dance?”
“Sure,” she agreed a little too eagerly, then immediately reigned herself in. “I mean, we’re supposed to be hospitable and all that.”
So, in addition to hot and rich, add “fabulous accent” and “good dancer” to the ever-increasing list, Cordelia thought as he slowly started swaying with her in time to the song. She could feel the eyes of everybody in the room drifting towards the two of them enviously, and even if they weren’t actually looking right at them, she was sure if they were looking, they’d be jealous. I mean, really, could she blame them? Slowly, though, she became less and less aware of the other people in the darkened club, and more aware of the guy right in front of her. He was leading effortlessly, his hands barely skimming the skin on her arms, teasing a touch against the exposed skin of her lower back, twining his fingers through her hair and then slipping away. Damn, she thought. If this is how all the guys are in England, I am so moving there after I get out of this stupid town.
Eventually the song ended, and the Dingoes struck up a new one, this one much faster. Instinctively, she pulled back. There wasn’t a guy on the planet who could actually dance to a song with a beat that like without looking stupid, regardless of what MTV tried to make people believe, and she had no desire to watch—what was his name again?—hop around like a maniac and mess up the image he was creating. As it was, he was already leading her off the dance floor as the change-over happened, which was a relief.
“Want a drink?” she asked him, noticing her own had disappeared.
“Love one,” he said, smiling at her, and she could almost swear she saw his eyes do something weird in the light for a second, but the next they were just two yummy pools of blue.
This was almost too easy, he thought. Things hadn’t been exactly scintillating with Drusilla lately, not that he blamed her. Her illness, whatever it was, made him protective of her, and she often slept for days on end. She was his heart, though, unbeating as it was, and whatever it took to make her whole again, he’d do, even if it meant abstaining from some of the more pleasurable aspects of life. On the other hand, he was also a demon. Fidelity wasn’t exactly part of the guidebook. As he watched Cordelia bounce off to the bar to get him something with absolutely no kick in it whatsoever, he decided that he might as well work through a few of his other desires before giving in to the end of the evening. She seemed willing enough, which was always a plus.
“Thanks, sweetness,” he said, taking the glass of predictable sugary crap that somehow never seemed to affect Americans’ brilliantly white teeth and managing to down a couple swallows of the insipid stuff.
“So… what’s your name?” she asked, wrinkling her nose as though she honestly didn’t remember whether or not he’d even told her.
“The name’s William,” he said, deciding not to use his usual name in case word had leaked out that he was a vampire.
She nodded in approval as she sipped a glass of iced tea, diet, no doubt. Apparently, the name suited her. He couldn’t imagine this one condescending to date someone named, say, Herbert or Percy. So far, he was in like Flynn. Incidentally, sometimes he missed that old fellow. He’d been a load of fun.
He quickly reminded himself that he was supposed to be listening intently to the inane drivel she was spouting, or at least to be appearing to hear her. He’d gotten quite good at looking like he understood what someone was talking about even if he had no idea what they meant; Drusilla was extremely good practice for that. However, the volume of the music they were playing in here was an acceptable reason that a mortal might not catch every word, and he decided to use it to his advantage. Besides, he was getting hungry.
“It’s too loud in here,” he said, smiling at her innocently. “What say we go outside and chat?”
“Huh?” she yelled back over the bass chords. Strange, she thought. It almost seemed like they didn’t know more than three of them. “I can’t hear you! It’s too loud! Let’s go outside, okay?”
“Brilliant idea,” he said, though his expression was a little weird, almost exasperated or something. Still, he put an arm around her and ushered her smoothly to the door. She smiled over her shoulder at the rest of the Cordettes, who were looking at her in awe as they saw the piece of sweet goodness she was leaving with. Oh yeah. She was cool. Her picture was by it in the dictionary.
“So,” she said as they turned into the vacant alleyway, the pulsing beat of the music still thumping away. She gave him a coy look. “What did you want to talk about?”
“Let’s see,” he said, glancing upwards with a look of mock consideration. “Literature? Poetry, perhaps?”
“Ugh, I get enough of that in English class,” she said, then remembered he was English. “No offense to, like, your country or anything.”
“None taken,” he said with a low laugh, drawing her closer at the same time, “though maybe you’ve simply been exposed to the wrong sort of poetry.”
“Oh? Planning on teaching me?” she asked, and her smile was positively wicked now.
“Maybe, baby,” he said, then pulled her into a brief kiss before drawing back just far enough to whisper, “’She walks in beauty like the night,’” then pausing again for another kiss, this one a moment longer. “Of cloudless climes and starry skies,” he continued, then another pause, another kiss a fraction of a second longer than the last, and her head was starting to spin. “And all that’s best of dark,” he said, drawing his mouth across her jaw and nibbling her ear, “and bright,” he added as her knees began to go weak. “Meet in her aspect, and her eyes,” he finished, ending with a kiss against each of her closed eyelids.
“Damn,” she said breathlessly. “I need to pay attention more in English class.”
The next thing she knew, she was pushed up against a brick wall, and wow, just how long had it been since this guy’s last date? He was treating her like he was a castaway starving on a desert island and she was a delivery from Pizza Shack, not that she minded. This wasn’t exactly her usual way of doing things, though. There was normally a lot more time involved, and a lot more jewelry. Part of her was telling her in a voice that sounded annoyingly like her grandmother’s that this was not a smart thing to do.
“Shut up,” she mentally told the grandma voice. “Go watch Guiding Light or something.”
“Is there anywhere around here that’s a bit more private, Cordelia?” he asked, and the hand that was resting on her lower back was definitely heading for all points south.
“My car’s over that way,” she said, pointing towards the gravel that served for a parking lot at the Bronze.
As they started walking towards the lovely new Corvette, they came out of the shadows and into the pool of light cast by one of streetlights. Cordelia glanced up at him and gasped. Granny, she thought, I guess you had a point.
The stunned look in her eyes told him what the problem was. Bollocks. He knew he’d gotten more than a tad excited back there, but he hadn’t realized he’d lost control of his face. Running one hand over the bumps and ridges that currently decorated his forehead, he tried to think of a cover story.
“Um, I have a soul?” he said hopefully.
“I don’t think so,” she said, then turned and ran like hell was after her.
“Not the exercise I had planned,” he mumbled, “but a good chase is always a bit of fun.”
It took him less than three seconds to grab her by the elbow and swing her around. Triumph lighted up his eyes, and he began to lean in for the kill.
Then it happened. The change that came over her features was almost as extreme as the one that had happened to his. Her expression went from horror and despair to, well, massively pissed off. Her jaw clenched, and she socked him in the eye with a remarkably good left hook. It left him off-balance for a moment, just enough to increase the distance between them fractionally, and she used it to her advantage. What happened next was possibly the most humiliating thing Spike had ever encountered, worse even than the time Angelus had found him passed out drunk, painted him pink and orange, and locked him outside of their London townhouse fifteen minutes before dawn.
“Haa!” she yelled loudly, sounding for all the world like a drill sergeant and pulling her body into a tightly aligned formation. The next thing he knew, she had kicked him in the gut, whacked him in the solar plexus with a pair of clasped hands, slammed her knee into his now lowered face, and then stuck her stiletto heel into his exposed throat. He stared up at her from the ground, shocked, bleeding, and embarrassed.
“Slayer?” he gurgled, deeply confused.
“No,” she said, giving him one last kick for good measure. “Cheerleader. We won regionals last year with that routine. And let me tell you this, mister! You’re just lucky there’s no stakes handy and that I don’t want to mess up these shoes any more than they already are, or else you would so be a Hoover commercial waiting to happen!”
With that, she turned on her blood-soaked heel and marched back into the Bronze, whipping out her cell phone as she flounced away. As she departed, he barely caught the words, “I’m telling you, Harmony, this town is getting more lame every day!”
Spike told his minions that he’d run into a demon gang. If any of them didn’t believe him, they never had the gall to tell him to his face. Drusilla, though, gave him a knowing grin and rubbed one index finger against the other.
“Shame, shame,” she purred. “Next time, no pompoms.”
Six years later…
“I still don’t get the whole thing about Angel working for Wolfram & Hart now,” Cordelia said as she walked down the hallway. “Also, what the hell are you doing here?”
“Um, I have a soul?” Spike said.
She glanced at him.
“Where exactly have I heard that from you before? Oh, right, the night I made mincemeat out of you at the Bronze,” she said sarcastically.
“I’m not sure I’d call it mincemeat,” he said defensively.
“Please! It looked like someone had stuck you in a blender and hit puree,” she replied, grinning broadly.
“Well, it wasn’t as though you’d been behaving yourself all that well prior to that, as I recall,” he said with a leer.
“Yeah, well,” she said, looking anywhere but at him, “I was a hormonal teenager. What’s your excuse?”
“That you were the prettiest girl there,” he said immediately. “A vampire would have to be insane not to want to bite you.”
Cordelia cast a look at Angel’s office door, sighed, then rolled her eyes.
“Wait… you and Angel?” he asked in surprise. “How long has that been going on?”
“It hasn’t,” she said bluntly. “Stupid curse, stupid happiness clause, stupid ‘I must be morbidly depressed at all times to atone for my crimes’ attitude, stupid Buffy, stupid Darla, stupid fake Powers That Be, stupid coma, stupid everything!”
A slow smile was spreading over Spike’s face, one of almost unbelievable delight.
“Has he kissed you?” he asked.
“That’s none of your business!” she snapped, then snorted. “Sort of. We were kind of possessed by a ballet company at the time.”
“Angel was a ballerina?” he said, and he was smiling so wide she thought his head might split in half.
“No, I was the ballerina. Angel was just some guy from the 1800s,” she corrected him.
“But that was still after you left Sunnydale, right?” he said.
“Yeah,” she said. “What’s the big deal?”
“I don’t believe it!” he crowed. “It took me over a century, but I finally did it. I finally got the girl first!”
“Spike,” Cordelia said, giving him one of her patented looks, “you’re a nut.”
“Doesn’t matter, gorgeous,” he said, stealing one quick kiss before running off towards the lab. “I may be a nut, but for once I wasn’t sloppy seconds! I can die again a happy man!”
Cordelia watched him race off down the hallway like a giddy kindergartner and shook her head.
“No wonder all his women beat the crap out of him,” she said, then set off to find Angel and see if he could top Spike’s performance. Somehow, she rather doubted it.