Merciful

 

Cordelia slips quietly down the corridor, shadowed close to the wall. The Hyperion is almost like a living, breathing entity and the creaks and groans of the floorboards swallow the soft shuffle of her shoes. She passes closed doors and identical hallways on her way to the west wing of the hotel and remembers how many times she got lost just trying to find the bathroom when Angel Investigations first set up shop here.

The bathroom - her current alibi. Part curiosity, part mercy made her take this slight detour.

The door, when she comes to it, is unlocked. Inside the drapes are drawn, of that she's sure, vampires having that whole aversion to daylight and all. But beyond that, she's not certain what lies behind that door.

Her hand rests on the handle for minutes on end, and she wonders if the occupant can sense her presence here. Then again, this is Darla we're talking about so anything is possible, demon pregnancies notwithstanding.

She stands there, debating whether to turn back or not, and the low whimper of pain from inside the room clinches it for her.

******


Darla sits bolt upright surprisingly quickly for a heavily pregnant woman, creature, whatever. Even in the semi-darkness her eyes glitter.

"How are you feeling?" Cordelia asks perfunctorily, still standing in the doorway, her hand resting on the brass handle. The twin scars on her neck prickle with tension as Darla's dark eyes track over her.

The vampire looks away, muttering. "Just peachy."

Something -- God knows what -- propels Cordelia across the threshold. Maybe the way that Darla rubs her swollen belly distantly. Such a human gesture.

"I know things seem pretty, well, bleak right now," Cordelia begins gently but falters when Darla's eyes pin her again, a condescending smirk on the blonde's face.

"Spare me the pep talk, sweetie." Tilts her head ever so slightly. "Does Angel know you're here? Thought I was off-limits to his little pets." Drops her voice to a silky whisper that somehow contains the ultimate disdain. "Better run along now, dear."

Cordelia crosses her arms, hugging herself just a little. Tries to tell herself that the chill she feels isn't fear. "Are you hungry?"

"I don't want any more of that disgusting pig's blood. You people are worse than maid service," Darla sighs, flopping back on the pillows, her delicate arm draped melodramatically across her forehead.

Approaching the bed slowly, Cordelia reaches up and peels off the bandage covering her throat. She watches Darla watching her, the vampire edging up onto one elbow with keen interest, lips parting in anticipation.

"It's just a little. Just to keep you going."

Darla stares at her for a long moment before breaking into a peal of silvery laughter. "Precious, you are even dumber than I thought."

Cordelia sits on the very edge of the bed and inches her head to the side, exposing the length of her neck. A shudder passes through her as Darla's cool fingers brush across the skin, caressing the lines of her throat. She waits for the crunching sound of bone shifting, for Darla's game face to morph into place but nothing happens.

She glances at the vampire. "What're you waiting for? A gilded invitation? Do your thing."

There's a flash of confusion in Darla's eyes, and profound pain. "Why?"

"It's his child too." As she speaks, Cordelia reaches out and smoothes Darla 's matted and lank hair away from her face.

"Whatever you give, it won't be enough."

When Darla grabs Cordelia's wrist and brings it to her mouth, the brunette doesn't struggle, not when Darla kisses the pulse point, not when Darla laps at the skin with a soft-rough tongue. She allows the vampire to mouth damp kisses up to her elbow, further still to the shoulder, where Darla bites lightly, teasingly, into the flesh.

"No visible marks, or he'll know," Cordelia warns through a hitched breath.

But Darla ignores her and delves forward, capturing Cordelia's mouth in a possessive kiss, pushing her tongue past the brunette's lips and plundering that warm, wet space. Her hand slips between them, sliding down a firm stomach to the concentrated heat between Cordelia's thighs.

A moan escapes their locked mouths as Darla slowly grinds the heel of her palm over Cordelia's pelvis. And Cordelia can't help but rock against the delicious motion because it's been so damn long since she's felt this aroused beneath someone else's hands.

If this is Darla's unique way of saying thank you, Cordelia doesn't really mind. One small mercy for another.

The vampire draws back, the demon ridges deforming her brow. Eyes still sparkling and distractingly pretty, somehow. Her hands are warm as they move over Cordelia's breasts. The heartbeat reverberates through Darla's cold body, communicated through the very tips of her fingers - an effect of the life growing inside, Cordelia knows, not kidding herself for one moment.

Even as the blonde's hands trail an electrified path over her skin, Cordelia grits her teeth. She needs this to be about martyrdom. Not least the major 'ew' factor of, a) undead personage, and, b) Angel's annoying ex. But she can't deny the fact that, given her previous career choice, Darla certainly knows her way around a body.

"I won't tell if you won't," Darla says in an intimate whisper, as if reading Cordelia's mind, as she presses the brunette down amongst the pillows.

Cordelia pushes back, dislodging Darla, matching that dark stare with one of her own. "Just so you know. This isn't about you. Or me."

"Don't tell me," the vampire interrupts, pausing momentarily to rub her back, a flash of pain crossing her demonic features. "The greater good. Which is bull. This baby'll be lucky to see its first day."

"Then why are you. . ."

Darla casts a disparaging look, the demon receding into human again. "Oh, I've tried to get rid of it, honey, believe me." Holds her belly a second. "Why does this damn kid insist on kicking so hard?

"Stubborn, like its father." Cordelia notes. She sits up. "Where does it hurt?"

"All over."

"Let me help."

Darla's stare is like being dragged over hot coals. "I understand why he's doing this. It's like his little mortal fantasy come true. But what do you get out of this?"

In the silence that follows, Cordelia purses her lips. "I'm angry at him. For lying. For knocking you up and leaving you like this. I can't believe he would risk his soul for a cheap thrill. No offence."

And what was Cordelia risking for a cheap thrill, exactly? Well, time would tell.

Darla laughs. Throws back her head and laughs for minutes, tears in her eyes. "Oh, that's priceless. I've never needed anyone to defend my virtue."

"But it's not the kid's fault," Cordelia continues, ignoring the blonde. Without hesitation, she places her hand over Darla's protruding stomach and that silences the laughter. The look Darla gives her is almost tender.

"So," Cordelia says, lying back on the pillows. "Are we gonna do this or what? Because I have an audition in an hour and I can't be late."


********


Fred waits until Cordelia's rounded the corner before emerging from her hiding place. Used to being a part of the shadows, she knows how to make herself disappear. In Pylea it was all about self-preservation but now, she thinks with a warm glow, she's all about being useful - inventing devices and researching and making herself indispensable. She's convinced somehow that she's still in the way, no matter how many times Wesley admires her intelligence or Angel buys her ice cream.

So as she creeps up to Darla's door and knocks timidly, she tells herself that she's just doing like the rest of them - helping the helpless.


The End