by Victoria P.


It's growing.

She can feel It. Sometimes, she feels nothing but It. It consumes her awareness when she's awake and fills her nightmares when she sleeps.

All her energy focuses inward, on the Thing that lives inside. She vaguely remembers the last time this happened, and that same sense of fear and betrayal screams along her nerves in the rare moments It rests, leaving her to herself again. That happens less and less as the days pass; she lives in terror of the day it stops happening altogether.

She moves sluggishly, speaks softly, but her eyes see everything. When her mind isn't fixated on It, she is planning, strategizing, preparing for the next step.

Gunn and Fred are non-entities; when the time comes, she will swat them like gnats, absently and without malice.

She keeps Connor tied to her with lies and his own teenage lust, and his innocence in the ways of the world.

Angelus will serve her, though she knows better than to trust him. He is a tricky one, but she's been around since before the first vampire rose -- she knows they always fall prey to the same hunger in the end, and cannot follow through on long-term plans. She will enjoy destroying him when the time comes; he thinks he's a worthy adversary for her, but he knows nothing of who she is, and will pay for his temerity.

She underestimated Wesley; she thought he'd be out of commission after Lilah's death, too wrapped up in his own grief and shame to think. She didn't anticipate Faith, but what is a mere Slayer -- and one who could so easily be led off-track by rage and fear -- in the face of what's coming?

And what's coming demands her attention again, angry that her thoughts have strayed from It even for a few moments. Its anger fills her with bile and the hot metallic taste of blood. Her body hums with a power she's never felt before. Her skin is too tight; she feels like a plump, ripe grape ready to burst before it even leaves the vine.

Absently she strokes her burgeoning belly, crooning a wordless song to calm It, seeking the means to assuage Its ever-growing hunger.

And locked in a dark corner of her own mind, Cordelia screams in voiceless horror.


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