Part IV: All the Good Ones

While Spike and the minions screwed around in the tunnels under the cemetery looking for the Gem of Amara, Cordy got her own plan going.

She decked herself out, stopped in on Spike to ask him if there was anything about her outfit or makeup she needed to fix (having no reflection was a bitch), and went to the Bronze and mingled.

The Dingoes were playing, so it wasn't long before she ran into Xander and Willow. It looked like Willow's fashion sense had gotten a little better since graduation, and Xander was beefier, but for the most part they were the same. Xander was still tall, dark, and wearing clothes that fit his frame all wrong, and Willow was still all redheaded and… moppet-y.

"Cordy! Wow! You look… wow!" Xander babbled at her, looking her up and down quickly before flushing.

"Careful Xander, I might think you like me," Cordy purred in return, letting a little of her sex magic come to the surface like Spike had been teaching her. Well, Spike called it thrall, or emprise de l'amour, but whatever, it was Cordy's power and she'd call it what she wanted.

"We haven't seen you around, Cordy. What have you been doing all summer?" Willow broke into the conversation.

Cordy turned and smiled at her, putting the whammy on Willow too. Almost immediately Willow's eyes got big and she flushed a bright pink.

"Oh, I went to L.A. to pursue a career in acting. Wound up working for an escort service instead. Saved up a bunch of cash, and now I'm back in Sunnyhell crashing with my parents for a while. L.A. didn't work out, so I think I'll try New York next. More opportunities in theatre there. Oh and there was this whole thing where Angel tried to kill me, so I didn't really want to stay in the same city as him."

"Angel tried?!" Willow sputtered at the same time that Xander shrieked "Escort service?!"

Cordy rolled her eyes. "No Xander, I wasn't a hooker. Gutter, much? Basically old guys paid me to go to parties with them and red carpet openings and stuff. And that was all I did." Except eat them when the party was over…

"Cordy, why did Angel try to kill you? He didn't lose his soul again did he, because I put it back in and I'm sure I didn't mess up the spell, I mean it's held this long and I don't think he'd find perfect happiness again cause he'd always be worried about it and that should be enough to keep it from happening, right? So if he did lose his soul it's probably because I did something wrong and – "

Cordy held up a hand to halt the Willow babble.

"He still has his soul. There was this warlock and I got turned into a demon, and Angel thought I really was a demon, and the two times I saw him after that he tried to kill me before I could explain."

"Oh." Willow took an enormous breath.

Satisfied they'd bought her story and wouldn't immediately try to stake her if Angel called and her name came up, Cordy switched her attention back to Xander. "Anyway, while I'm in town, I thought it might be nice to catch up with whoever's still here. So I'll see you guys around?"

Xander nodded and told her there was a Scooby meeting at Giles' on Friday.

Cordy left the Bronze with a sway in her step, pleased with the encounter. She'd have invites to all their houses within a week.

-l-

"I can't believe she didn't notice I'm a vampire," Cordy told Spike after attending her first Scooby meeting. "I mean, Buffy's always been totally self-involved, I mean even more than me during sophomore year, but there was a vampire sitting in her Watcher's apartment all night, and she didn't even notice. Meanwhile, I feel like someone's been rubbing my skin with sandpaper."

Having hung her clothes up, Cordy flopped onto the massive bed in the lower level of the crypt she shared with Spike, stretching and writhing to luxuriate in the feel of silk sheets against her naked flesh.

Slowly, like the predator he was, Spike crawled up her body, touching every inch of her skin that he could. He was still wearing his new designer jeans, the ones Cordy had stolen for him. "Slayer's always been careless. Took her ages to twig that Peaches was a vamp, and she hardly ever notices when I'm watching her and her little friends. If all I wanted was to kill her, it'd be right easy to take her out from a distance with a well-placed knife."

"But that's not the point." Cordy picked up Spike's pack of cigarettes from the bedside table, sliding her hand into his back pocket to pull out his lighter. "You want your big showdown, not just a notch on the bedpost." She stuck a cigarette between his lips and lit it for him, then let the flame dance over the skin of his cheek – close enough for him to feel the heat, but not enough to burn.

"That's right, pet." Spike took the lighter from her, and then rolled them so that Cordy was on top. "If you're going to fight a Slayer, you should do it on her terms. Otherwise you might as well just hunt a normal human."

Knowing that this was going to turn into a retelling of how Spike killed his first two Slayers, Cordy settled in and watched him smoke. She'd heard the stories before, but they were fun stories and it made Spike hot to tell them to her.

And besides, if Queen C knew anything, it was how to manage her man. Spike was pretty much a kicked puppy. Cordy'd gathered from what he had and hadn't said that he'd spent his whole unlife doing whatever he could to get even a scrap of affection from Angelus and Drusilla. So Cordy gave Spike what they never had: Her complete and undivided attention.

Whenever he felt like telling her something or spinning one of his wild stories, Cordy listened and oohed and aahed in all the right places, and when he was done she asked him questions. Then he got this look in his eyes like she was the most precious thing in the world and he'd shower her with jewelry and clothes and sex, and would do pretty much whatever she asked him to.

He was so easy to keep happy. It was just a shame she'd had to die to find such an attentive boyfriend. But then all the good ones were either gay or vampires, so maybe it was a good thing she'd joined Team Undead.