Part V: A Gem of An Accessory
"Willow's wolfy boyfriend is onto me," Cordy flounced into the crypt, falling into her favorite chair with a huff. "I think he can smell me or something. I have to keep the sex juice turned up just to keep him from figuring it out. But that won't work forever. Pretty soon he'll realize that it's not that his inner wolf wants me. He'll know I'm doing it."
Spike looked up from his maps. He was so close to finding the Gem of Amara that Cordy had barely seen him for the last week. He spent every spare moment in the tunnels. She was starting to feel the tiniest bit neglected, even knowing that he wanted the gem to help him protect her.
"So we'll kill the pup," Spike shrugged, going back to his precious tunnel maps.
Cordy rolled her eyes. "And then Buffy and Willow will go on the warpath."
Spike smirked. "Let them come."
Cordy raised a brow, remembering well the many lectures Spike had given about laying low until they were ready to make their move.
"Fine," Spike muttered, cowed by her look. "But you can't expect me to let an opening like that pass by. Got a reputation to maintain. You say 'Slayer on the warpath,' the Slayer of Slayers says 'Let her come.' It's a bloody rule."
"You've been watching too many soaps." Cordy snickered, sending Spike a sly glance. "You probably read comics too, when I'm not looking. I swear, you and Xander have so much in common…"
"Oi! Don't you start! M'nothin' like the donut boy." He stopped and growled, his eyes flashing yellow. "And you've got me knowing their names! Bloody hell, woman."
Cordy laughed, then crossed her legs, noting smugly that Spike's eyes were immediately drawn to them, his intense blue gaze roaming over her skin. "Back to Oz. We need to do something about him. But nothing that looks like foul play. He doesn't need to die. He needs to leave."
Spike suggested forging a farewell note and dropping the body in a different city. Cordy didn't think that would work. If the Scoobies were at all suspicious, they'd use magic or a talisman or call a good fairy or something to try to find Oz. No. She needed to find a way to make him leave voluntarily. Or at least get him to stop spending so much time with the Scoobies, so that he wouldn't be around to sniff out her undead status.
"I've got it," Cordy announced after about an hour of contemplation.
Spike kissed her when she told him her plan. "Gorgeous when you're evil, pet."
"Oh and Spike?" Cordy purred when her lover got up to leave. He paused. "While you're out, why don't you pick up some donuts?"
He growled and bared his teeth, flipping her off with his weird British peace sign thing and muttered all the way out about not being a 'soddin' donut boy.'
Finding the female werewolf was just a stroke of good luck.
The original plan had been to stage a vampire kidnapping, with Oz and Cordy as the kidnapees, and then replay an old scene. Only this time Cordy and Oz would be the ones in a lip lock, courtesy of a little sex juice persuasion, and Willow and Xander would be the ones walking in.
But that would have made all the Scoobies pissed at Cordy and limited her ability to spy on them, so finding Veruca was serendipitous.
(Cordy'd been making an effort to expand her vocabulary. Spike had a box full of really thick books of poems and philosophy and stuff that he thought she didn't know about, and Cordy refused to be the dumb one in the relationship. Enough people assumed her good looks meant she was stupid, she wouldn't prove them right.)
In the end, it was really easy to set Oz up. Cordy kept her sexual mojo ramped up around him, put the whammy on Veruca to get her going too, then suggested that they would like hanging out together because of music and stuff. After that all she had to do was sit back and watch, and helpfully go get Willow once it was time to catch the puppies in the act.
She was just a concerned friend of course. They barely knew Veruca, what if she attacked Oz?
And man was she attacking him when Cordy and Willow got there.
The hardest part about the whole thing was keeping the smirk off her face as Willow was dealt back some of the pain she had caused Cordy, and Oz ran off into the night.
Mission very much accomplished.
Damn, she was good at being bad.
When they finally found the Gem of Amara, Cordy insisted they drive a few towns over to test it so that no one who would know it was weird for Spike to be walking around in daylight would see. Cordy let Spike have the gem first, because he'd been dead longer and probably couldn't remember what the sun looked like.
Spike wanted the gem first, because he'd been dead longer and was less likely to immediately burst into flames.
Once they were sure the legends were true (and after they celebrated in gloriously bloody demonic fashion), they returned to their crypt in Sunnydale and plotted the most dramatic way to let the Scoobies know they were all about to die. Since they both loved to be the center of attention, this led to some good natured bickering about who got to do the big reveal, and then some truly steamy sex as they continued to battle for dominance.
When they fell asleep, both were sure that they had won.
When Cordy awoke, Spike was gone.
She wasn't alarmed at first. It wasn't like she'd fall apart without him to take care of her, and she liked her space sometimes. Spike was sexy and powerful and weirdly tender and loyal, but he could get on her very last nerve. And occasionally he'd get it into his head that he had to prove he was independent and manly or whatever, so he'd disappear for a few days before crawling back, obviously hoping she had missed him.
Really, having a boyfriend was a lot like having a cat.
Three days passed before Cordy got concerned.
For about five excruciating minutes, she thought he'd left her. She considered summoning a vengeance demon. Then she decided that he didn't get to leave her, she'd hunt him down and dump him and then cut his head off for good measure.
It was the sound of her own growling that snapped her out of her funk. She stopped to take stock. All of Spike's stuff was still in the crypt, and when she looked under the loose stone where they'd stashed the Gem of Amara, she found it shining up at her.
Spike might have left his stuff if he was in a hurry, but if he went voluntarily he wouldn't have left the Gem of Amara. And he wasn't dust. He was her sire. She'd know. She was sure that she would know. She'd felt it when her first sire was dusted, and her bond with Spike was so much deeper. Stronger.
A sort of cold shocky calm going through her that she hadn't felt since she was human and fighting for her life, Cordy took out the Gem of Amara and slid it onto her left thumb, and then went about putting together an outfit, complete with accessories, that both matched the gem and projected an imperious air. It would be bad for the gem to stand out as not belonging. She didn't want to draw attention to it.
It would very likely be the only thing standing between her and final death by the end of the night.
After formulating a plan, Cordy summoned the minions to the upper level of the crypt. She stood next to one of the sarcophagi, a small crossbow sitting on the stone plinth within easy reach. She didn't know if the gem would be enough to give her an advantage in a hand to hand fight, so it would be best that if she had to do any killing, she did it at a distance.
"Master Spike is missing," Cordy told the assembled group, using every trick she had learned in high school to keep them from seeing her emotions. "I believe he has been taken. You will all go out and ask around, see if anyone has heard or seen anything. You will be quick and quiet. Any of this gets back to the Slayer, and you're dust."
One of the bigger guys stepped forward. Cordy recognized him. Spike had made him a sort of head minion.
"If Master Spike is gone, why should we listen to you anymore?"
There was a low muttering of agreement and a few growls, and Cordy found herself remembering some loud comments she had made about the minions dressing bad and smelling worse.
She narrowed her eyes.
"I'm Master Spike's childe."
"And you think that makes you our Mistress?" the big ugly continued to push.
Cordy snatched up the crossbow and shot him in the shoulder. "No. I think it makes me your Queen. And you'd better hurry up and bow down, or my next shot will be through the heart."
She wasn't about to let on that her first shot had gone wide and she'd been aiming to dust him in the first place.
Fortunately, the minions thought she was way more badass than she really was. They all bowed and left to do her bidding. With that angle covered, Cordy took in an unneeded breath, and then went to try to figure out a way to get the Scoobies to help.
In the end, she decided it was best to approach them during the day. They didn't know about the gem, and just seeing her in daylight would reinforce to them that she was human and not an enemy. If she went at night and tried to get them to help Spike, they might assume she'd been turned.
Which she had, just not recently, well unless four months was recent…
Cordy realized she was stalling and told herself very firmly that Queen C doesn't stall. Stiffening her spine, she rapped on Giles' apartment door and ordered him to call the others.
"Are you sure it was Spike?" Buffy asked for the gajillionth time.
Buffy was pacing (girl has issues), Willow was moping (girl misses her wolf), Xander was hovering (boy wants Queen C), Anya was glaring (girl resents Queen C), and Giles was plying Cordy with tea (actual caring human being).
Cordy took her tea and frowned at Buffy. "Hello, I think I know the Bleached Wonder when I see him. I mean, he's kind of hard to forget."
She shot Xander a look, just to see him get sheepish.
"And you say he was attacked by humans dressed like soldiers?"
Cordy nodded, repeating what her minions had told her. "I heard some girl scream, so I went in the cemetery with my holy water pistol, and there were all these soldier guys. They tazed Spike with like a cattle prod thing, and then this girl, I think she was a witch cause she was chanting and stuff, they tazed her too and carried them both off."
"Better question: Why do we care?" Xander interrupted.
Willow immediately looked like someone had stuck a knife in her back, and Cordy opened her arms to the mortal and cooed at her, letting a little sex magic up to play as she stroked Willow's hair. "Nice, Xander. Really nice. Of course, why should we care if people are kidnapping witches and vampires and dragging them off like that one time this exact thing happened before and Willow and Buffy were almost burned at the stake?"
Xander flinched and Cordy knew she'd scored a hit. They were seeing this as a problem now, something that they had to do something about.
Of course, the kidnapped witch was completely made up, but Cordy knew her audience. They'd never lift a finger to save a vampire unless that vampire was Angel.
"Someone could be looking for sacrifices to call up a higher demon, or to open the Hellmouth," Anya chipped in. "Vampire blood and witch blood both have many arcane uses."
"Oh good lord, she's right."
Giles started pulling out books, and Cordy knew she'd got what she wanted. Vamps and Scoobies were looking for Spike now. Cordy would get him back.
And when she did get him back, she was going to give him such a slap for making her go through all of this in the first place.
A week after Cordy started the search for Spike, she knew that groups of human soldiers were patrolling the Hellmouth with 'weapons that bite like lightning' and taking demons captive. Buffy heard at Willy's that Spike was on the Hellmouth and shacking up with a 'hot brunette.' Cordy wasn't sure if she was relieved or pissed when the Scoobies assumed the brunette must be Drusilla.
Two weeks after the start of the search, she was forced to officially declare herself Master of the Hellmouth, but she refused to answer to anything but 'Queen Cordelia' or 'Your Majesty.'
By week three she knew a lot more about how many demons were missing and just when and where they had been taken, thanks to her new status as demonic governor. She started using a map to keep track, hoping she'd recognize a pattern.
By week four, she'd faced her first challenger for her territory and won, but only because the Gem of Amara kept her from turning to dust when she was staked. She mocked her opponent for missing her heart just to make sure no one got suspicious, then shoved her fingernails through his eyes.
By week five, she was running out of outfits that went with the Gem of Amara and was considering turning it into a bellybutton ring or wearing it on a toe just to keep it from being constantly on display. She should probably experiment to see if she had to be wearing it on a finger for it to work, or if it just had to be fastened to her somehow.
On the first night of week six, Spike turned up at Giles' front door.
Willow was opening it to go back to her dorm when she let out a strangled shriek.
Cordy looked up as Giles and Xander pelted into the room. Anya carefully maneuvered so she'd still be able to see, but wasn't in a direct path of attack. Cordy had always liked Anya.
Thankfully, Buffy was out patrolling.
Spike was standing just outside the barrier that keeps vampires from entering homes. He locked eyes with Cordy, then gave a moan that she could tell wasn't entirely faked, and keeled over.
"Something's wrong with him," she gasped, shoving the heavy book she'd been reading off her lap and moving toward the doorway.
Xander's arm barred her way. "He's just trying to lure you out so he can hurt you!"
Cordy shoved him out of the way, forgetting to check her vampiric strength. Xander fell on his ass.
If they asked, she'd chalk it up to stress. Or say she was taking tae bo. One of the two.
"Well, duh Xander, it could be a trick. But look at him. He's been tortured." And indeed, Spike smelled of blood and dirt and chemicals, and his clothes were torn and soiled. The roots of his hair were showing, and it was clear that he hadn't been able to wash or gel it back in a while. "He could know something about whoever took him, and where the witch and other missing demons are being kept."
"Other missing demons?" Giles questioned as Cordy retrieved a stake, for appearance's sake, and approached the door again.
"Oh, uh, Buffy mentioned it. Heard it from something she slayed. Slew?" Cordy babbled, trying to draw attention away from her little slips. She couldn't blow her cover now, not when she'd just got Spike back. "Cover me with the crossbow, Giles."
Before anyone else could try to stop her, Cordy crossed the invisible barrier and knelt at Spike's side with her back to the Scoobies, leaning over him with the stake poised to strike.
"Why'd you come here?" she asked Spike, so softly that only someone with preternatural hearing would be able to make out her words.
"Smelled you. Wanted you. Wasn't sure if the crypt was safe," Spike answered just as softly.
"Idiot," she cursed him, hating the waver in her voice. Spike hadn't fed in days, maybe not since the day he'd been taken. Every inch of his body cried out for blood, and every inch of Cordy ached to give him hers, to nurse her sire back to health. She didn't understand why he hadn't fed before coming to find her. He was big on romantic gestures, but this was ridiculous.
Giles asked a question. Cordy ignored him.
"Can you fight?" she whispered to Spike.
A convulsion shook his body and… was that fear in his eyes?
The word "No" was practically wrenched from him, so soft she almost missed it, even with vampiric hearing. Cordy pressed her lips into a thin line. She'd seen Spike fight when he was more badly hurt than this, but she trusted him. If he said he couldn't fight, there was a reason.
"Pretend to be unconscious. We'll leave when all the humans have gone to bed."
Without giving Spike time to reply, Cordy turned to the humans standing grouped in the doorway. "He's hurt bad. He passed out. Help me drag him inside, and Giles get the chains you used to use on Oz? Let's tie him up somewhere, and when he wakes up we can play twenty questions."
They all stared as Cordy pretended to struggle with lifting Spike's torso, never mind that she could easily throw him over her shoulder and carry him. "Well are you going to stand there, or are you going to help me?" she demanded, as if her requests were all perfectly normal. That was the trick to being commanding: acting like the other person was an idiot for not seeing the obvious path.
Spike let his face flop into her cleavage. She could feel him smile against the swell of her breast.
"You know," Xander told her as he came forward and grabbed Spike's feet. "You're really scary."
Cordy huffed at him, though she was inwardly pleased by the compliment. "You can't stand the heat, get out of my kitchen."