Archive for July 14, 2015

Wavelengths. 10b   1 comment


Two days later, Cordelia figured she’d simply read too much into Angel’s statement. He might have wanted to talk about the weather or the latest Lakers win.

Okay, so the vampire wasn’t much for making small talk and as far as Cordelia knew he had no interest in basketball. Today, she was feeling much more like herself again and had no intention of out-brooding Angel.

Though she did have to admit to herself that sneaking up for Connor cuddles while the vampire was still asleep was not as much fun as it usually was considering that the bed looked crumpled, but otherwise empty.

Normally it was visibly filled by a certain gorgeous half-naked vampire. Not that she stared or anything. Eye-candy was just too good to waste.

Even the baby was being uncooperative by sleeping soundly in his crib. Cordelia was half way to sneaking out of the bedroom when she was stopped in her tracks by the sleep-weighted sound asking her, “Don’t go.”

“Connor’s asleep,” she whispered while turning around to face the bed.

“I think I can hold a conversation better than my son can.” Angel tossed back the sheet and swung his legs over the side of the bed leaving a visible indentation that she tracked with her eyes.

Hands on her hips, Cordelia grinned teasingly, “There are days that’s debatable.”

Predictably, Angel had no immediate reply which left her laughing softly. She walked back toward him, stopping a couple of feet from where he sat. “Today’s the day.”

Angel sounded confused, “What day? Did Wes discover something?”

“Nope,” Cordelia told him having made this decision completely on her own and figuring it would be good for him. “You’ve been all about work, work, work ever since we got back home from Sunnydale. Except for taking Connor and me out for that stroll in the sunshine yesterday afternoon, you’ve done nothing fun since you were turned invisible.”

“Fun?” Angel sounded doubtful. He shifted on the bed, standing and brushing past her.

“Okay, so maybe you’re not exactly the Fun Guru,” Cordelia admitted as she watched his clothes float out of the closet. Apparently Angel was too much of a gentleman to stand in front of her in his boxers.

Assuming you’re wearing any. A flash of heat bloomed in her chest spreading in all directions at that unbidden thought which rolled right into another.Of course you’re wearing boxers. You always wear boxers to bed. Even I know that.

“It’s not like you’d run around the hotel naked,” words followed thought.

“You’re right,” Angel agreed having never considered it. “Was that the fun you had in mind?”

The question came out of nowhere, startling Cordelia who had been focused on the initially amusing sight of Invisible Vamp getting dressed that she never realized she’d spoken. Her hazel gaze had been locked onto the way those dark Armani pants were taking shape causing a momentary loss of brain function.

What did she have in mind? There had been a list, a whole list of creative things to let Angel take advantage of his invisibility and resistance to sunlight while he had the chance. Drawing a blank, she shrugged, “Lots of stuff.”

In the space of a blink, the black pants disappeared from view and Cordelia let out a short sigh of relief. Funny what your mind focused on when there was only one thing to look at.

“Like what?” Angel sounded curious enough, but she couldn’t quite place his tone, the deep timbre sounding almost suggestive. “What would you do if you were me?”

Cordelia snorted daringly, “Things you’d never have the guts to do.”

“Think so?” Angel swung his shirt on, but Cordelia never saw him button it up as he crossed the room toward her. It too faded from view leaving her only with his words.

“Know so.” Who was picking on whom here, Cordelia wondered suddenly. It felt like she was the one on the defensive instead of taking charge of this little funscapade. Hah. She’d see about that.

Before Cordelia could open her mouth again, she heard close to her ear, “Back to what I should do. Tell me.”

A little flustered at his closeness, Cordelia whirled around and took a step back to give herself a little more space. Her calves bumped up against the corner of the bed. Coming up with something she figured he’d never go along with, Cordelia blurted, “Skinny-dipping.”

Angel was back in her personal space again a second later when he asked for a little clarification, “Alone? That’s too much like bathing. No witnesses. You’d have to tag along.”

Pfft! Did she have to point out the obvious? “But I’m not invisible.”

“Right.” The single word accompanied a low rumble that Cordelia couldn’t identify, but knew had to come from him. It ran right through her leaving her skin tingling in its wake. Suddenly, all she could think of was Angel slathering suntan lotion over every inch of her or doing the same to him.

That is so wrong, Chase. You don’t think things like that during the daytime. At all. I meant: at all.

“Scratch that idea,” Cordelia grumbled, moving forward with her palm outstretched. It gave her unintentional confirmation that his shirt was still undone as the warmth of her hand pressed up against the cool flesh beneath it.

The sensation gave her a sudden reminder of the season and a reasonable excuse. “It’s winter and even if I was invisible, hello, goosebumps.”

“So no skinny dipping,” Angel chuckled at the quick change of plans. He captured the hand pressing against his chest, pulling it down to her side refusing to step back to give her more breathing room. “Any other grand ideas?”

One by one Angel turned down the outrageous ideas that Cordelia came up with to ensure he had some fun with his invisibility. Finally, she huffed, frustrated, “I give up. You’re hopeless.”

“Then maybe I need a little rescuing.”

Cordelia stared up, focusing on his voice, and suddenly suspicious. Finally, she asked half-jokingly, “Are you flirting with me?”

“Obviously not very well,” the soft sound of irony filled the air between them.

Stunned at the realization that Angel was actually throwing her a line, Cordelia felt her head spinning. “Back in Sunnydale did you…I think you kissed me.”

The hand holding hers shifted, his thumb caressing her wrist in a slow circle. Her eyes darted down to look at the spot only to shoot up again when the fingers of his free hand tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I must be out of practice if you don’t remember.”

He was joking about it? Now was not the time for him to find his sense of humor. “It was a thank you, right, just gratitude?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh.” Cordelia couldn’t hide the disappointment that filled that one short syllable.

A weighty pause followed before Angel asked her, “It surprised you?”

What was she supposed to say to that? No, I normally let my chin hit the ground that way? I was just exercising my jaw by letting it hang open? “A little. I wasn’t expecting it.”

“Then I guess there is an advantage to being invisible,” Angel dared a soft chuckle. “That surprise factor might be worth it.”

Trying to follow along, Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Why, are you planning to work your way through L.A.’s female population by playing the Invisible Kissing Bandit instead of the Dark Avenger? Steals kisses by day, saves damsels by night.”

“Now that’s definitely an idea.” Lifting her hand, Angel pressed a soft kiss along the curves of her knuckles.

Cordelia laughed, “Trust you to think that would be fun. Stick with your night job.”

Her amused smirk faltered beneath the sudden pressure of his mouth on hers. Cool lips caressed hers one by one after stealing the gasp caught between them. Only a moment longer, mouth bowed in surprise beneath him and wanting more. Following only to taste the empty air, Cordelia’s eyes snapped open.

“Angel, what was that?” There was no doubting that kiss and it certainly wasn’t on her forehead.

“Practice? Wouldn’t want to let down all of those damsels,” he told her hurriedly. It was followed by grumbled apology.

Suddenly unsure whether it was the apology or the thought of Angel kissing anyone else that made her angry, Cordelia shoved her hands back on her hips. One little kiss and he had her head swimming, her body tingling and he was just warming up for a little damsel smooching. Worse, it was her idea.

“Forget the Kissing Bandit routine.” Cordelia told him it was a lousy plan.

“Sounds a lot better than sneaking into…whose bedroom was that, again?” Angel brought up one of her other not-so-brilliant suggestions. “Jude Lawyer’s.”

As if she hadn’t mentioned the name often enough for Angel to remember, Cordelia reminded him again, “Law. Jude Law. That was what I’d do if I was invisible, not you. With you it would be some silly starlet, i.e. Rebecca Lowell.”

“Silly seer is more like it,” Angel corrected as his fingers skimmed the curve of her face, “i.e. Cordelia Chase.”

“Angel,” she said his name as if invoking it would break the spell of invisibility and let her look into his eyes. Sincerity came with his touch and his words causing Cordelia to conclude that she had been right the first time.

Almost whimsically, she smiled at him, “You really are flirting with me.”

That confident predatory purr suddenly vanished as Angel nervously asked Cordelia, “Does…is…are you okay with that?”

“More than okay,” Cordelia admitted, now seemingly unable to stop smiling at the thought alone. “I suppose it depends.”

All too seriously, Angel queried, “On what?”

“What were you planning to do in my bedroom once you snuck in there, play with my lingerie?”

“Only if you’re in it,” he said against her lips.

Though he pulled Cordelia close into his embrace, Angel’s masterful kiss never got started. Before he could claim her mouth, Cordelia ducked her head as a wave of soft chuckles overcame her. Finally, she lifted her head up, eyes sparkling as she wound her arms around Angel’s neck.

Still giggling, “You’re pretty corny for a vampire.”

“Yeah, I am,” Angel released a short groan. “Wait! Did you said corny?”

Cordelia curled her fingers along his nape toying with the short strands of his hair. Hope filled her soft query, “Wanna prove me wrong?”

He needed no second invitation. With her name on his lips, Angel kissed her, gingerly at first for daring to act upon desires that welled so deep. The barest touch trailed an internal fire as Cordelia leaned in for more, his fingers gently grazing the curve of her hip, the swell of her breast, and the line of her throat to tangle in her hair.

From the first touch of his mouth, Cordelia’s eyelids had fluttered closed. Mapping out his broad shoulders, the firm muscles of his torso, the line of his back, she greedily explored with her hands what she could no longer see, spreading warmth across his skin. Each touch, each kiss, closer to him. Instantly addicted: to him, to his kiss, to his touch, wanting more.

Tiptoe kisses, arms wound around him, held tight against his frame. Fiery response the only answer to Angel’s ardent caress, his mouth was firm and then gentle yet demanding and then giving. Shifting, their limbs tangling, no longer standing, but surrounded by the soft shifting of cotton beneath them brought only momentary distraction.

Until the cool brush of air against her heated mouth brought Cordelia’s world back into sudden focus. She lay supine against the firm mattress, Angel above her, the heady weight of his aroused body half pressed against her. She wiggled and tried to pull him back down.

“Cordy,” his cheek brushed close to hers, want thickening his words, “I need you so much, but we have to stop.”

Why? No, no, no. Cordelia couldn’t think of a reason. She didn’t want to stop. If anything, that should be her line and she wasn’t gonna say it, assuring him, “No we don’t.”

Gently separating them, Angel rolled so they lay side by side facing each other. Cordelia’s hand curled into the material of his open shirt, holding on. He said, “It’s not fair to you.”

“Pfft! Says who?” Cordelia whined in frustration, her lips swollen from their kisses.

Angel cupped her hip, bringing them close again, letting out a moan as their bodies connected. “I shouldn’t start something I might not be able to finish.”

Thinking fast, Cordelia pointed out, “Super-glued soul, remember. Lorne said so.”

“For now, but what if it’s temporary? I’m talking about more than just this moment.”

He obviously thought they were rushing into things. Cordelia never suspected that Angel wanted her this way. They’d gone from flirtation to foreplay in one fast swoop. Taking advantage of this now might be their only chance, she knew, and not only because Angel’s soul might be safe temporarily. “I know the risks.”

Worriedly, he commented, “I hope you know I’m not trying to take advantage of the situation.”

Cordelia’s hand found its way up to his face. “Maybe I am.”

Capturing her hand, Angel pressed a kiss into the center of her palm. “Be sure about this, Cordy. We only get one first time and I’m still invisible.”

“Bet you’ve never done it that way before,” her eyebrows arched high as she teased him. Then seriously, “This could be our only opportunity.”

Unexpectedly, Angel chuckled in response. “Why is that funny?” Cordelia demanded with a slight pout.

“If it turns out that my soul goes back to the status quo, it doesn’t mean that I can’t touch you,” he promised suggestively. “I guess you haven’t met my creative side.”

“As long as it doesn’t call itself Angelus and consider me a Happy Meal, I’m all for the intro.” Then Cordelia nudged his shoulder until he rolled onto his back allowing her to follow.

“There could be nibbling involved.” Pulling her more fully on top of him, he pressed his mouth to her neck and let his hands wander down her frame.

Squealing in response to the caresses that moved purposely across her skin, Cordelia cried out, “Not there, not there!” Giggling, “That tickles!” Squirming against him, she laughed, “No fair! I can’t see you.”

Just when she was nearly out of breath, Angel rolled her beneath him again, claiming her mouth and picking up where their last kiss left off. Swamped by feelings he had buried and only recently discovered, he recognized their power. Lust pulled sharply tied to instincts he could not ignore. The urge to possess her, claim her as his own, tugged against emotions that he never knew in his soulless days and that he never truly understood until now.

When he lifted his mouth a hairsbreadth away from hers, Cordelia let out a gasp, thinking he was planning to go through with his plan to stop. Instead, Angel’s words made it clear that for him this was only the beginning, “I love you.”

Going still in his arms, holding her breath and desperately wanting to look into his eyes, Cordelia confessed softly, “I love you, too.”

Knock, knock, knock…. The jarring sound was followed by Lorne’s voice calling out to them from the other side of the bedroom door. “Yoo hoo in there. Angelcakes. Princess.”

Cordelia’s head hit the mattress, “Loooorne, please, not now.”

“Come back in a week,” muttered Angel even as he moved off of the bed and helped Cordelia to her feet. This interruption was more than just bad timing.

Upon opening the door, they saw Lorne’s mouth stretched into a guilty smile, “Sorry to interrupt, sweet things, really sorry considering the scorching hot vibes.”

“What is it?” Angel’s unintentional growl suggested he get on with whatever news brought him upstairs.

Cordelia tucked her hair behind her ears, trying to make it appear like Angel hadn’t been running his hands through it. She fixed Lorne with a grumpy frown, “The hotel better be on fire.”

“Only in here, Princess,” Lorne chuckled only to drop the smile after a quick look over his shoulder. “The rest of the place is icy cold. That’s why I’m here.”

Angel understood immediately, “The Kalderash.”

Cordelia realized that Angel must sense them, hearing their voices, their movements down in the lobby. “One more reason not to like that bunch: their timing sucks.”

“They’re here and putting off the scary intense vibes,” Lorne told them. “Madame B and her cronies have come with a purpose, and whatever it is, they’re determined to see it through.”

Angel sounded the same as he responded, “We’ll be down in a minute.”

“Just one word of fashion advice,” Lorne paused on his way out.

Pfft! Cordelia pointed out that it hardly mattered, “He’s invisible.”

“The advice is for you,” Lorne explained with a wave of his fingers in her direction. “You might want to try re-buttoning that blouse before heading downstairs.”


“This is a perplexing situation,” Madame Bosha told Angel as she sought him out. “I find this invisibility distracting.”

The gypsy woman sat upon the couch in the central part of the lobby flanked by six men and women only slightly younger than she. Standing silently, their faces were drawn into masks of resolve. Madame Bosha had introduced them as elders of the clan of the Kalderash Romany; she was their speaker.

“You’re not the only one,” Cordelia cut through the silence that followed the gypsy’s observation only to find that the woman’s dark eyes now focused upon her. “Why don’t you fix it.”

“Sit next to me,” Madame Bosha patted the cushion next to her. “We will talk while the vampire brings his son.”

Angel had no intention of letting her anywhere near Connor. “He’s asleep.”

“Oh?” No sooner had she spoken than the baby’s wail sounded over the electronic monitor perched on the countertop. “I intend no harm, Cursed One. The child is the reason we are here.”

That announcement caused a commotion as the Angel Investigations team suddenly burst into questions, none of which the gypsy answered. Holding up her hands, she signaled for silence. “All will be revealed. Impatience and impertinence will not be tolerated.”

“Neither will veiled threats,” returned Angel bristling at the delay and her demands.

As Cordelia’s hand slid along his arm, her fingers curling through his, Angel felt her silent support. The Kalderash carried no weapons, not even a sharpened stake or a bottle of holy water. Despite their unarmed state, Angel wasn’t about to leave them for the length of time it took to go upstairs to attend to his son.

“Fred,” he called out without moving his gaze from the frail woman whose eyes held the knowledge of ages, “bring Connor downstairs.”

Doubt sounded as she agreed with the request. “Okay, Angel, if you’re sure you want me too.”

“It’s okay, Fred,” he assured her, hoping such confidence was merited.

“Your minions are loyal,” the gypsy woman arched a dark grey brow.

Angel knew she was trying to push his buttons. “They’re my friends.”

“So they told me when they came to my ofisa.” Then her gaze shifted from his general direction back to Cordelia. Once again, she patted the couch cushion beside her. “Do not think I have forgotten you so quickly. Come, I wish to meet the woman who is the vampire’s lover.”

Surprised choking and gasping came from Wes and Gunn as they stood behind them. Cordelia glanced down at her blouse, just to check that she’s fixed it. “Whoa, lady, I think you’re making a lot of assumptions.”

Madame Bosha gave her a hard stare, correcting herself, “His beloved, then. Come child, do not keep me waiting.”

When Cordelia started to move forward, Angel held her back long enough to ask the gypsy, “This should be between us. What do Connor and Cordelia have to do with it?”

“Perhaps everything, perhaps nothing,” came the cryptic response. “We shall see.”

“I’m not afraid,” Cordelia said. Not for her own sake. “Creeped out a little, maybe.”

“Feisty and brave,” nodded the gypsy. Then with a frown, she added, “Perhaps too brave for your own good.”

Cordelia sank onto the couch next to Madame Bosha who immediately grasped her hand in a surprisingly strong grip and turned it palm upward.

“You are caught in an abyss of beginnings and endings,” the frown deepened. “Alone you may falter. Your natal day shall bring you to the brink. Choices offered lead you to false paths. Choose neither, daughter. Let hope and trust show you the road you must take.”

Snatching her hand away, Cordelia rubbed at her palm as if it had been burned. She had no idea what Madame Bozo was talking about. Jerking to her feet, Cordelia took a step closer to Angel, but it was Lorne’s eyes that captured her startled gaze. His own appeared dark, his normally jovial expression clouded.

Between the fortune teller and the empathy demon, Cordelia realized that her secret was no longer her own. Though she doubted Lorne could tell the nature of her health problems, he had to sense something. Wes appeared to be mentally dissecting the gypsy’s words, looking for answers, while Gunn simply looked worried.

“We’ve had enough prophesies around this place,” Cordelia told her, trying not to look in Angel’s direction at all.

“Heed my words. For it is truth I speak,” Madame Bosha assured her before moving her frank gaze toward Wesley. “Have you done so? Found the truth within the lie?”

Angel had no idea what the woman was talking about and asked Wesley for details. His response remained just as enigmatic as the gypsy’s message to Cordelia. “She spoke of a false prophesy that would lead to a time of darkness. I haven’t discovered it yet. My research on the Eye of Dakronn has been consuming most of my time.”

“Ah, there is the child,” Madame Bosha watched Fred descend the steps with Connor in her arms. “Excellent. Now the judgment may truly commence.”

The gentle pressure of invisible fingers along Cordelia’s back hinted at Angel’s wishes even as he kept his focus on the gypsies gathered in his lobby. Walking over to meet Fred at the bottom of the steps, Cordelia held out her arms for the baby. Rejoining the group, she instinctively made her way back to Angel’s side.

“Bring the child to me.”

“Not a chance,” Angel responded instantly. “Not until you explain what’s going on here.”

“Very well, vampire,” Madame Bosha agreed to the terms. “I am prepared to answer your questions. Be certain that you are ready for mine.”

Angel sucked in a single breath of air into his lungs and held it there until it hurt, a silent count going off in his head centering him and demanding patience. “A century ago, your people cursed me to bear the weight of my crimes by giving me a soul. I have existed with it for nearly all of that time, though I lost it once until it was given back to me. My friends have a theory that the soul is now permanent.”

With her gnarled hands folded on her lap, Madame Bosha sat silent for long seconds before speaking. “Your crimes against my people will never be forgotten, Angelus. It is the Kalderash way to possess a long memory where such things are concerned.”

“The name’s Angel now,” Cordelia stressed.

“What difference is there in a name? Is he not the same being?”

Cordelia held Connor in one arm as she pointed out, “I’m not saying you should just forgive and forget, but that was one girl and it was over a hundred years ago. Angel has suffered enough. Trust me when I tell you he is the King of Brood.”

“Was Enyos’ demise so long ago? I think not, Miss Chase. His death preceded that of his niece Janna by mere days,” Madame Bosha’s reminder left Cordelia floundering.

She’d forgotten for a moment of that recent link to this gypsy clan. “It was I who sent Jenny Calendar to Sunnydale. I who allowed Enyos to follow. For the first time in a century of souled existence, there was a chance that Angelus would find his way to freedom.”

“That’s a dangerous loophole,” Angel commented, drowning out the ghostly echo of Jenny’s neck snapping under his grip.

“Yes,” Wesley wholeheartedly agreed. “Precisely why would you create such a clause in the first place? Bliss might be a rarity, but considering the rather libidinous nature of vampires…”

Angel cleared his throat.

“And historically speaking, Angelus could certainly be counted in that category,” Wes continued despite the attempted interruption, “the chances of closing that loop are statistically significant.”

Gunn leaned in close, muttering, “Way to go. You’ve just convinced Madame B over there that Angel’s a horny vampire.”

“Certainly not,” Wes tugged at his tie. “I was simply pointing out the inconsistency with the formulation of the curse, not acting as a character witness.”

Madame Bosha picked up her cane from its resting place beside her and tapped it on the floor. “There was no happiness clause, no loophole created. Love is the only true cure for any curse tied to the soul, to the emotions. Thus, the curse was broken.”

“We know that part,” Angel felt a little uncomfortable talking about this when the woman he now loved stood at his side. He kept his hand on the small of her back, telling her he was there and hoping she could interpret that touch. “Is the soul permanent?”

“Did the Eye of Dakronn not reveal this to you?”

“Did it?” Angel asked the others for confirmation. “Lorne thinks so.”

“The demon possesses the gift to see what others cannot,” nodded Madame Bosha. “To read a mind, a heart, a soul is far different than understanding whether that soul may be here today or gone tomorrow.”

Lorne completely agreed with that statement. “I saw the difference after you became invisible.”

“Only after you were exposed to the mystic wavelengths emitted by the invisibility ray,” Fred stressed the timeframe. “Since the Eye of Dakronn is the power source of the ray gun, technically it did exactly what Madame Bosha said it would: reveal that which is hidden, your soul.”

“That’s kinda cool,” Gunn admitted. “Did I tell you I really hate this mystic mumbo jumbo?”

Madame Bosha answered with a sardonic twist of her wrinkled lips, “I believe that you have mentioned it before, Gadje.”

“So…,” Cordelia started off, but faltered as the gypsy’s words finally sunk in. “You’re saying that Lorne is right? That Angel’s soul is permanent?”

“We Kalderash cursed him, observed him, but we have nothing to do with securing the vampire’s soul,” admitted the old woman.

Wesley had to ask about the invisibility reversal process and his concerns about the Eye of Dakronn actually removing the soul. His theory garnered hearty laughter from all of the Kalderash present.

Finally, Madame Bosha explained, “The Eye is a bauble, an ancient toy imbued with Romany majicks. It can hide or reveal the truth. That which we see, that which is unseen, that which we know, that which is unknown. It certainly has no power to secure or remove a soul.”

All around him, Angel heard the excited responses of his friends. Cordelia held up Connor to eye level, her smile beaming as she said, “Did you hear that, sweetie pie? Daddy can be visible again.”

Angel wondered if he was the only one thinking that the gypsies hadn’t come here to tell him his soul was secure, to wish him well or to make him visible again. They had come with a purpose that was yet to be fully revealed. Still, he had to ask, “Would you mind if I spent the rest of this little inquisition in visible form?”

“Not at all. While you are taking care of that, perhaps now would be a good time for me to meet your son,” Madame Bosha suggested.

Angel hesitated then changed his mind, “It can wait. You’re a stranger, Madame Bosha. You’re here at your own invitation and you haven’t explained why you’ve come.”

“Fair enough. You are a unique creature, Angelus…Angel,” she corrected at Cordelia’s harrumph. “In a sense, we the Kalderash are your creators. Until recently, there was little else to show for our efforts except that which we intended: your suffering. You remained separated from your kind and though you lived amongst humans for part of that time, you remained a loner.”

She asked pointedly, “What changed that?”

“I was contacted,” Angel began and told her about his meeting with Whistler.

“So you began your service to the Powers that Be without truly understanding their plan for you.”

Frankly, he still didn’t understand all of the plan. “I came to L.A. after that. The PTB sent me a seer, Doyle, to receive the visions that lead me on my missions.”

Madame Bosha pulled out a small white calling card from her skirt pocket. “Angel Investigations.”

“We help the hopeless,” chimed in Cordelia with a charming smile. At least one she hoped was charming. “Angel’s a hero, a champion, one of the good guys.”

“Yes,” nodded the gypsy with a wry look toward Fred, her black eyes glittering. “I believe I was given that information, too.”

Cordelia added, “Well a good defense is… a good defense. All’s fair in love and war and curses so why don’t you folks call it a day. There is no need to throw any hasty judgments around here.”

A hint of a smile appeared on the old woman’s face, her thin lips curling slightly at the corners. “You are Angel’s seer now, his link to the Powers. You are his beloved, the link to his heart, but you are not the reason his soul is secure. That is actually…”

“What…you’re saying th—,” Cordelia couldn’t even bring herself to consider that the old gypsy might suggest that Buffy, or worse, even Darla might be his soulmate.

“She’s wrong,” Angel assured her, placing both hands on Cordelia’s shoulders and glaring ineffectively at the gypsy. Glaring techniques were useless when invisible.

The cane tapped on the floor again, a grumpy demand following, “Quiet. No more interruptions. Tell me vampire, when do you believe it happened? Was it the night your son was conceived?”

Angel hesitated because he knew Cordelia would immediately think about Darla and that was never a good thing. His sire was a forbidden topic, not that he wanted to talk about everything that had happened. Still, he had no choice, but to admit the truth. “Yes.”

He felt Cordelia’s shoulders stiffen beneath his hands, but she said nothing. Madame Bosha, on the other hand, was not so quiet. “Your colleague spoke of the prophetic birth of your son. A miracle in anyone’s eyes, a human conceived by two vampires.”

“I didn’t tell you that,” Wes hadn’t mentioned Darla at all.

“You are not the only one who can do research,” the gypsy shrugged. “I have a few contacts who have contacts. You are fond of theories, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce, and I have one that I will share with you all.”

Cordelia muttered, “Why stop now?”

“The Powers are responsible for the child’s conception,” to which Cordelia let out a soft snort. “Therefore it is they who are also responsible for securing the vampire’s soul. If it was not necessary for the conception itself, then it certainly must be for the child’s development.”

She added, “It is not the way of the Kalderash to deny a human child the love and happiness of his father. So too must it be with the Powers.”

Angel cupped Connor’s head, his thumb smoothing over the downy hair. He wished that it could be so simple, but he had to point out, “The prophesies aren’t exactly pleasant. There isn’t much room in them for happiness.”

Then Wes cut in with a reminder of Madame Bosha’s reading, quoting her, “‘False prophesies surround him.’ Angel, there is no way to tell if that is true. The prophesy itself could be tainted. I can’t be certain. Perhaps I should continue interpretation of the scroll.”

“Vampire, I require your cooperation if the child is to pass the judgment of the clan,”
Madame Bosha explained.

Discovering that it was Connor rather than Angel who was to be judged by whatever measure the Kalderash intended resulted in another round of loud complaints.

Finally, the old gypsy’s quiet voice silenced them all. “Vengeance is an old Romany tradition. It is a way of life, a belief that the only way to settle a debt is to take and eye for an eye, a life for a life, a soul for a soul.”

“But you gave a soul to Angel,” Gunn pointed out the flaw in her logic.

“Bah! It served its purpose,” she waved off the interruption. “The birth of the child is a sign that the debt owed to us may now be repaid. A Gadje he may be, but to the Rom, he shall be known as a son of the Kalderash.”

“What the hell does that mean?” demanded Angel forgetting to bother with feigned politeness. “My son isn’t going anywhere.”

Holding up her hand, Madame Bosha signaled for peace. “That is not our intent. My people have few written histories. Most are passed down through the generations in stories and legends. Each child of the clan learns of our past through these tales. It is our decision that your son will hear them. He will know the history of the people you destroyed in your soulless state.”

Angel suddenly realized that the Kalderash had no power here. His soul was secure. His invisibility was just a reversal away from being a bad memory. Nothing obligated him to letting this gypsy clan have access to his son; nothing except his own guilt and a sense that he owed them something.

“I have no objections to my son learning the Kalderash history,” Angel told her, “as long as it’s under my supervision.”

Madame Bosha eventually got her hands on Connor, after which the tough old gypsy transformed her countenance into that of a cuddly grandma. Her clansmen relaxed once she announced the boy to be a strong specimen.

After another hour of talking out the details of this future endeavor, the Kalderash left them on their own.


“Nana Bosha,” Cordelia rolled her eyes and let out a loud ‘pfft’ as she sounded out what the old gypsy wanted them to call her. “Why didn’t she say so in the letter? Applying for a role as a foster grandma is a lot less threatening than telling someone to prepare for judgment.”

“Cryptic imagery is very big with the Romany clans,” Wes commented. “As a matter of fact…”

Angel cut in, “I hate to interrupt…actually, I don’t mind at all. Now seems like a good time to get the Invisibility Ray and fix my little problem.”

“Already got it,” Fred held up the device.

She was about to point it in Angel’s direction when Gunn stopped her. “Can I do it? I mean, how often can a guy say he’s blasted his ex-boss with a real ray gun?”

“Just point and shoot,” Angel told him. “Keep the commentary to yourself.”

Lorne offered to take Connor out of the room. “Just in case,” he added on his way into Wesley’s office.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Angel just as Gunn pulled the trigger. A bright beam shot out hitting its target dead center.

Angel shut his eyes and waited for the pain that had come with the initial blast. The only thing he felt was the lush womanly form of Cordelia crashing into him a moment later as she threw herself against him, her joyous laughter ringing in his ears.

“Cordy?” his arms automatically wound around her waist.

“There’s my favorite hunk of salty goodness,” she murmured, hugging him tight. “I missed your face.”
Relief that everything seemed to have worked came out with a sigh, “So you can see me?”

“Mmm hmm,” she grinned. “I’m thinking we should celebrate.”

The triumphant faces of his friends suggested they had the same idea. Thought he felt certain Cordelia had something more private in mind. “I’m thinking we were interrupted earlier.”

Cordelia grinned, “I’m thinking you’re right.”

“Guess we’re on the same wavelength again,” Angel joked, earning him a patented eye-roll. His fingers skimmed the outline of her face, tilting her chin as his mouth descended onto hers.

Unstoppable laughter burst forth as Cordelia cheerfully said, “Dork.”

Angel growled back, “I can see that I’ll have to cure you of laughing every time I try to kiss you.”

Behind them, Fred was grinning at the sight while Gunn pointed the Invisibility Ray in their direction. He asked Wes, “Can I zap, ‘em? I got a feeling we’re gonna regret those two getting together. We can’t see it if they’re invisible.”

“Hmmm,” Wesley appeared to consider it, adjusting his glasses a bit at the sight of Cordelia kissing Angel with enthusiasm. “You may be right.”

Whirling on them, Fred glared at the two men. “Charles, you put the gun down and back away slowly.”

Gunn played along and Fred immediately picked up the device.

She smirked at both of them. “I’ve got an Invisibility Ray. That is so cool.”



Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 10a   1 comment


“Careful with the hugs, Princess,” cautioned Lorne jovially as Cordelia’s arms wound around him, “this jacket wrinkles.”

Lorne didn’t bother to hide the tears of happiness at seeing both Cordelia and Connor home safely. He hugged Cordelia back just as hard, marveling at the bright grin on her face despite the dark bruise her assailant left behind.

Her normally bright aura appeared somewhat confused today. In fact, the only one of the group not a little muddled was the baby who was snuggled in his daddy’s arms.

“My turn with the little nipper,” Lorne held out his hands. “What a surprise that a tiny bundle like this can make you wonky when it disappears. No more disappearing acts, kid.”

Seeing that the Pylean was already getting distracted by humming a tune to Connor whose bright eyes were fixed on Lorne with rapt attention, Angel cut in with a quick reminder, “The letter.”

“How could I forget?” Lorne chuckled in a way that suggested he had really been putting off potentially bad news. “It’s right here in the pocket over my heart, burning a hole like a hot potato. I figured you should open it, especially if there are any more gypsy curses attached to it.”

Since Lorne’s hands were full of baby, Cordelia reached behind Lorne and pulled out the velum envelope from his pants pocket. It was sealed tight with dark red wax and a marking she had only ever seen in Wesley’s file on Angelus. That name was written in an old style on the front of the envelope.

Cordelia held it out in the direction she knew Angel to be standing before following through with the temptation to rip it open herself. Almost as soon as he took the envelope from her, it vanished from sight. She let out a little grmph of frustration as that also meant she couldn’t read it over his shoulder.

“Well?” Cordelia prompted him after a few seconds, knowing the others were equally interested in discovering the truth. “What does it say?”

The only response was the appearance of the letter and its envelope on the desktop next to them. Whatever it read was keeping Angel in his silent broody mode and that had Cordelia snatching it up the instant she saw it. Wes, Gunn and Fred all crowded around her to read the message while Lorne kept his distance. He’d already gotten the gist of it from Angel’s reaction.

“Cryptic much,” mumbled Cordelia in complaint. Frowning, she asked the group, “So what’s it mean?”

Taking the letter and it’s envelope from her hand, Wes studied the seal on the cream colored envelope and the single line of script within the letter itself: Prepare for judgment. “It appears we are to expect visitors.”

“They’re coming here?” Cordelia looked around for Angel, but the invisibility thing made it hard to find him. He’d moved off somewhere. Turning back to Wes, she demanded clarification, “To do what? Judgment could mean anything.”

“I doubt it’s a pie-eating contest,” commented Wes drolly. “Obviously, this has to do with Angelus’ crimes against the Kalderash Romany and their subsequent curse.”

When Fred piped up to call out the vampire’s name, Cordelia figured she wasn’t alone in wondering whether Angel knew more about that single line of text than was obvious. Whether it was a warning or a threat, she needed to know because not knowing was already causing anxious butterflies to swarm inside.

Angel hadn’t gone far, just over to the couch where his voice sounded steadier than it should under the circumstances. She automatically followed the sound, standing there until his hand curled around her wrist and with a gentle tug brought her to sit beside him.

Linking her fingers with his, Cordelia listened as Angel reminded them all, “The Kalderash intended the soul to be the means to my punishment. It could be that they want to ensure the curse is still meeting its intent.”

“To see that you remain tormented by the emotional response to the memories of the people you’ve killed,” Wes nodded his own understanding.

“I get that part,” admitted Gunn as he rubbed his bald head with one large hand. “I don’t get this happiness clause. Vamp gets a little action and boom the gypsies have Soulless Joe back.”

That was a question Cordelia wouldn’t mind having an answer too. “So when can we expect this gypsy invasion?”

Glancing down at the letter again despite knowing it revealed nothing of the sort, Wes answered, “It doesn’t say. Reconsidering my original hypothesis, this mention of judgment could be an event rather than an actual visitation.”

Cordelia released Angel’s hand and stalked over to Wesley’s side grabbing the letter and holding it up to the light looking for clues that weren’t there. “So where do we find this Madame Bosha?”

“We don’t,” Angel stated with a tone of finality.

Not about to take that without further explanation, Cordelia turned back toward the couch. “We don’t? She’s the one with the answers, Angel. This sounds like a threat and I’m not gonna roll out the red carpet and wait for doomsday.”

Angel’s hands were suddenly on her arms and she jerked in surprise at the sudden sensation. The fingers gripped gently, but firmly enough to get his point across, “Let it happen as she plans it, Cor. Whatever the Kalderash have in mind, just let them come.”

With a growing sense of fury, Cordelia’s response was accompanied by a hard shove to his chest that wouldn’t normally budge Angel an inch. She felt his hands drop from her arms and though he was no longer touching her, she could tell he hadn’t moved more than an inch or two away.

Just to prove it to herself, Cordelia poked a finger at his chest as she complained, “Don’t you dare give me that broody I-deserved-to-be-cursed attitude. You’ve paid for that over and over. More than enough.”

“Can it ever be enough?” Cordelia flinched at the pain evident in his words. “I’m a vampire. It’s what I am. No matter the existence of the prophesy and the promise of finding redemption, what can I possibly do to make up for everything I’ve done in the past?”

“That’s the mission, Angel,” her hand slid up the contours of his chest to palm the invisible face. Almost imperceptibly, he leaned into her touch. “You live it every day helping the hopeless. The people you’ve saved…”

“A handful in comparison to those I’ve tortured, those I’ve killed,” Angel pointed out. Redemption had seemed so close when they’d first discovered the prophesy. Now it seemed eons away. “The innocents I’ve slaughtered far outweigh those I’ve saved, including the favorite daughter of the Kalderash.”

A frustrated growl sounded from Cordelia’s throat as she gritted her teeth together. “It’s a good thing you’re invisible. You need a swift kick in the rear,” she told Angel.

The slight motion under her hand as the curve of Angel’s mouth brushed against her thumb made Cordelia realize he was smiling. Relief at his reaction felt overwhelming to the point that she threw her arms around his neck hugging him close. “Don’t think I can’t do it, either,” she added as she moved out of his arms.

The cool tips of his fingers trailed across the line of her jaw, his thumb whispering across her mouth for an instant before Cordelia sensed him stepping away. That little touch left her wanting more, but this was hardly the time to think about the way her imagination had been twisting their interactions into something intimate.

Cordelia sucked in a sharp breath, releasing it before pointing out, “It’s today that counts, not the past. I…any of us here would take you over some comic book hero in tights any day.”

“Damn straight,” Gunn confirmed his agreement.

As did Fred, “Cordy’s right.”

“The Kalderash judged you when they invoked the curse,” Wesley pointed out as he decided they might be reading too much into the letter. “Returning now could mean anything.”

“Madame Busybody is the one planning all of this,” reminded Cordelia refusing to drop the idea of looking for the old woman.

Gunn was all for that. Sitting around and waiting for something to happen was not his idea of a good thing. “Wes & I should check out the gypsy’s shop. Maybe we can find a clue about what she’s planning.”

“It’s closed up tight,” Lorne explained that he’d found the shop empty. The only thing left was the envelope taped in an obvious location. “Not a crystal ball in sight, much less a clue.”

Apparently, Angel wasn’t surprised that Madame Bosha had cleared out of her shop even if Cordelia thought it strange that it was necessary. “If the Kalderash want to be found, we’ll find them easily enough. Otherwise forget it.”

“So we just wait?” Cordelia found that idea ridiculous.

“We wait.”

In an off-key sing-song, Cordelia reminded him, “Hello, you’re still invisible.”

Wes promised that he and Fred would continue to conduct research, but stressed that the safest thing to do would be to refrain from reversing the invisibility process until they were certain about the effects on Angel’s soul.

Having heard that, Lorne didn’t think it was necessary, “Your soul has been super-glued, Angelcakes. Don’t ask me when or how it happened, but it’s suddenly as clear as crystal.”

The confidence behind Lorne’s words made Cordelia’s heart beat a little faster. But Wes had to ruin her little rush of happiness by explaining his theory about the magic effects of the Invisibility Ray. “The danger of dispersing the soul entirely is too great to ignore. More research is required before any action can be taken.”

Afterward, Lorne sent Cordelia a sympathetic look, commenting, “Doesn’t that blow a cold wind up your skirt.” Then to Angel, he slyly suggested, “Seems to me someone ought to take advantage of this whole invisible thing while he has a chance.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes at that comment. Take advantage? Pfft! “Like Tall, Dark and Stuffy is really gonna head to the nearest women’s dressing room to sneak a peek. This is Angel we’re talking about, not Wes or Gunn.”

Simultaneous complaints sounded from the latter two. “Hey! I resent that remark.”

“Resemble that,” Cordelia snorted as she shared a look with Fred that caused the Texan to blush a rosy hue.

Lorne shook his head as he realized Cordelia let his advice to Angel fly right over her head. He leaned closer to the vampire whose aura was glowing with frustration. “You have work to do, sugar pie,” he suggested.

“The little nipper and I are gonna catch up on that bedtime story we missed out on last night about the Jolly Green Demon.”


The days that followed fell into a pattern of business as usual for the team at Angel Investigations. With one minor alteration: Angel’s invisibility.

Wes kept researching, but had come up with nothing remotely useful in regards to the Kalderash or the Eye of Dakronn. Despite that, the Englishman continued to burn the midnight oil to find information.

A remote link had been established to Willow’s computer database to allow for cross-referencing.

While Wes focused on discovering all there was to know about the mystic Eye, Fred continued to tinker with prototypes of Invisibility Rays using alternate power sources. Unfortunately, she was having no luck maintaining the stability of the wavelengths around the test objects.

That just made her all the more determined to solve the problem.

The PTB apparently had no compunction about sending their invisible champion off on a mission. If anything, they seemed keen to take advantage of the situation by sending Cordelia three visions in the same week.

Gunn tagged along for the fight and came back with stories of how the demons reacted to the invisible vampire. When he gave them a chance to react at all, Gunn pointed out.

Despite her concerns for Angel, Cordelia had problems of her own that no one else knew about. Staying at the hotel, she missed the distraction and care that Dennis offered, especially his ability to listen.

Tilting her head back, Cordelia swallowed down the pain killers, her hands shaking as she moved to hold on to the edge of the sink. Geez, it keeps getting worse.

“Headache?” Angel’s concerned voice sounded behind her.

Straightening up, Cordelia silently reminded herself not to leave the bathroom door open again. Just because the place looked empty, didn’t mean that it was. “Yeah, it’s just the usual after-vision thing.”

“Didn’t you take something before I left?” They both knew she’d popped a couple of Tylenol.

“I did,” Cordelia agreed swiftly as she rummaged through her purse for the bottle she’d opened just minutes before. How bad was it that she disguised her medication? “These are just vitamins. One A Day keeps the doctor away.”

Angel examined the label before returning it to her. “I thought that was an apple.”

“That was just back in the days before scientists fit everything you need into a pill,” Cordelia made an effort to grin and attempted to get out the door.

“Wait,” Angel caught her, pulling her back in front of the sink.

“Let me go,” she pleaded softly. God, she didn’t want to talk about this. “It’s just a harmless little vitamin. I’ll eat an apple later if it’ll make you feel better.”

“What? No, look at the mirror,” Angel turned her around to face it.

Cordelia hoped he wasn’t going to point out that she looked tired. It had been a rough week and while the bruise on her face was now hidden under a thin layer of makeup, the effects of back-to-back visions showed in her eyes.

“I look like I’ve just come back from Hag City.”

Angel chuckled, pulling her back against his chest. His cheek rested against the soft cascade of her hair as he bent his head to say, “You need some sleep, Cordelia, but you’re still beautiful.”

A smile played at the corners of her mouth as she gazed at her lonely reflection. “I wish I could see you.”

“I can,” he told her with a sense of wonderment. “I see my reflection.”

Cordelia figured it was another side-effect of the magic that kept him invisible and also protected him from the deadly rays of the sun. “You see both of us?”

A flash of envy consumed her for an instant. She wondered what they looked like together, standing front to back facing the mirror. With her bottle of vitamins still clutched in her hand, Cordelia knew there was far more than just invisibility separating them.

“Cordy, I think we need to talk.”

Cordelia lifted her bare wrist and pointed to where a watch might normally be worn, “Look at the time. My boss is a bear when I get behind on the filing. Gotta go.”

Little actual filing was done the remainder of the afternoon. Cordelia busily pushed paperwork around her desk as she tried to figure out what Angel had been going to say to her. She’d been so focused on avoiding the subject of why she was popping pain pills like they really were just vitamins, she wondered if he intended to say something else.

Whatever it was, Angel didn’t bother her with it the rest of the day retreating up to his suite the moment the baby monitor alerted him that Connor was awake.


Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 10   1 comment

Part 10

Unbidden it stirs
Unseen it flows from the heart
Rising from the soul

Now trapped by shadows
A flame flickering to life
Hope lighting the way

It burns through the cold
Leaving behind winter’s chill
Existing unnamed

Still unrecognized
Welling from the darkest depths
Unspoken but there

Called by many names
Soaring to heights unmeasured
Bolstered by dreams

Enlightened by pain
Out of the gloom of despair
Truth clouded no more

Destiny or chance
Bounding to its pinnacle
To be acknowledged

A heart reaching out
Offering tokens of trust
Seeking a return

Revelations lost and found
Speaking from the heart.

Love for the asking
Where desire burns brightly
Awaiting response

Entranced by the truth
As resounding echoes sound
Time for acceptance

To spurn or embrace
The heart’s most precious secret
Love everlasting.

Cordelia waved one final goodbye toward the crowd gathered on the Summers’ front porch. The actual farewells had been less mushy than she imagined.

Considering the shocking theory about Angel’s soul and the fact that Buffy happened to be in the same room at the time, she was a little surprised that there had been a goodbye from those two at all.

Buffy’s, “I’m happy for you Angel. Hope everything works out,” seemed understated and suspiciously final in Cordelia’s eyes. There had to be more to it than that. On the surface, it certainly didn’t sound like an invitation to a Slayer-Invisible Vampire boinkfest.

Nor did Angel’s response, “Thanks again for everything, Buffy. Just be careful.”

Where was the drama, the lovelorn angst at parting even for the short time it would take to get this straightened out? Maybe Angel was just focused on getting back to L.A. to find out what the old gypsy wrote in that letter, Cordelia figured.

Immediately after that cryptic little exchange, Angel practically shuffled them into the Plymouth, barely giving anyone time to scarf down dinner.

It amused Cordelia to see Gunn in the driver’s seat, a spot that Angel had given up without argument. Wes occupied the front passenger side and Fred sat in the middle. Cordelia was in the back on the opposite side of Connor’s car seat from Angel. Their hard-won spoils, the Trio’s invisibility ray with the Eye of Dakronn, remained tucked safely in the trunk.

It wasn’t until the car zipped past the Now Leaving Sunnydale signpost that Cordelia let out an audible sigh of relief. Naturally, Angel picked up on it. “Glad to be headed home?”

“God, yes,” Cordelia admitted without hesitation. “I’m gonna call ahead when we get closer and ask Dennis to run me a hot bubble bath.”

“You’re staying with me tonight,” Angel’s unyielding tone left no room for argument. The real impact came when Cordelia’s head started swimming with forbidden images of spooning up next to him, and Angel hastily made it clear, “With us. You’ve just gotten out of the hospital. It’s better to stick around where we can keep an eye on you.”

Then remembering she had her own room, Cordelia figured he was only trying to be sensible by suggesting that she stay at the Hyperion. Though, truthfully, Dennis watched over her just as well as any of her other friends could.

An exaggerated sigh escaped her lips, “I don’t know. Dennis’ special TLC is hard to beat.”

Glancing at the empty space where he sat, Cordelia pressed her lips together while waiting for Angel’s response. He had none. At least not one she could see or hear. Stoic silence tended to suggest she’d hit a nerve and that was just too irresistible to ignore.

“He always gets the water just the right temperature, adds in my favorite scented oil and bubbles,” Cordelia told him. “If Dennis wasn’t so corporeally challenged, I might have to keep him.”

Eavesdropping on the conversation, Fred turned to wink at Cordelia. “He’s kinda like your Beck and Call Guy,” she paraphrased a line from ‘Pretty Woman’.

“Besides, he’s great with a loofah,” Cordelia couldn’t resist that little admission, her smile beaming as she shared a feminine giggle with Fred.

Angel muttered just loud enough for her to hear, “Good thing for Dennis he’s already dead.”

If she didn’t know better, Cordelia would say Angel sounded jealous of the ghost. No doubt he was still in his overprotective mode. Cordelia reassured him that she’d be in good hands, albeit phantom ones,

“Dennis is a great roommate and takes good care of me and tucks me in nearly every night. He’s an experienced tucker-inner.”

“Cordelia,” the use of her full name was sign enough that he was determined to get his way, “you’re staying the night at the hotel. I’ll do the tucking in if you need it.”

“Well, I suppose it’s just the difference between having one invisible dead guy versus the other doing the tucking in,” she conceded with a shrug. Though being tucked into bed by Angel instead of her ghostly friend no longer seemed like an equally balanced proposition.

Angel’s dislike of that comparison was clear. A grumpy growl rumbled along with his words, “I think I can handle it.”

Having Angel back after believing that she’d lost him, Cordelia could not deny that the thought of spending a night away from him right now left her a little rattled. No matter her fun in teasing him about Dennis, she had no intention of going back to her apartment until all of this was cleared up.

“Good, because I’m staying until we find Madame Bozo and get you univiziblized.”

Wes corrected her from the front seat, “BO-sha. Madame Bosha, with an emphasis on the first syllable,” he sounded it out again for good measure.

Leaning forward, Cordelia ruffled his already messy hair. “Whatever, smarty-pants.”

“Aren’t you excited, Cordy?” asked Fred, grinning at her as she turned around to face her. “The gypsy’s letter, the soul theory, the whole invisible Angel thing?”

Fred’s bubbliness was cloyingly sweet as Cordelia realized that excitement was not a word she could associate with her feelings. Not that she could name them. “I’m still getting used to the fact that Angel’s not a pile of dust and Connor isn’t up for bid at a demon auction.”

“Really, you’re not excited about it?” Those big brown eyes slid toward Angel’s side of the car. Cordelia noted that Angel stayed silent as Fred went on about the reasons why Angel’s invisibility was such an interesting phenomenon, scientifically speaking. Lucky vampire; it was easy not to appear bored when you were invisible.

Cordelia later found herself laughing at Gunn’s description of Warren’s capture. “We swooped down on the van, Angel surfing on the hood of the car. Too bad I couldn’t see it. I bet he looked like Batman with that leather jacket flapping behind him like a cape.”

“Would that make you Robin driving the Batmobile?” sniggered Cordelia. “Bet you’d look good in tights.”

After a spasmodic coughing episode, Gunn hinted dangerously, “The Batmobile has an ejection seat,” sounding like he wished he had one.

“Tights aren’t so bad once you get used to them,” Angel piped up for the first time in ages. “They’re just snug.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Dork! Please tell me that’s you remembering the oh-so bad fashions of yesteryear and not you taking a scary interest in my lingerie drawer.”

Once again the peanut gallery chipped in. Wes lifted a closed hand to his mouth and cleared his throat while Fred giggled in the wake of Gunn’s, “She’s got you pegged, Bro.”

That led to five minutes of horrible jokes about demons getting into her underwear, which had Cordelia howling. Even Angel managed to get in a few good ones and the sound of his laughter made her yearn to see his face.

There was a possibility she would never see it again. Wes might be right about the magic rock. Exposing Angel to its power a second time might make him visible, but it might also strip his soul away. Better to have Invisible Angel around than Angelus… like way better.

Invisibility could be cool, Cordelia mused in attempt to convince herself of the fact. It would be easy to sneak up on the enemy in a fight. Easy to get into a movie theater, assuming he was alone and not dragging his visible pals along.

Not that Angel would stoop to sneaking in anyway. A: it was tacky; B: paying gave him the opportunity to grumble about going and about the ticket price.

The fun stuff would never occur to Angel. He was probably busy thinking about that little bonus revealed by the Eye, his permanent soul. Cordelia had kept Angel in a distinct ‘No Bone’ category in her mind for ages, probably as long as his return from Hell to Sunnydale and certainly as recently as their reunion in Los Angeles.

Not that her conscious thoughts and her bedtime fantasies always matched.

Cordelia had always categorized the dreams and stray thoughts as wanting what she could not have, just the temptation of forbidden fruit. After all, Angel was her best friend. They’d been through a lot together building back what they’d lost when he had ripped her feelings apart, deserted them for three months, and finally come back to them.

He wanted what they had before he got back in touch with his dark side, an easy-going friendship that had no strings attached.

Except that there were too many strings binding them, Cordelia admitted to herself. Despite her determination to shut Angel out, she couldn’t shut down her affections. The clothes he bought her should have infuriated her, but they didn’t.

She seized that moment to jumpstart their friendship again. It was the easy, selfish way, but she found that forgiving him was far more rewarding than maintaining her contempt.

Who could resist the way Angel hugged back, as if each hug was his first experience or the flash of those pearly teeth when one of those rare smiles appeared? Cordelia hoped she would have more than just the memory of those smiles. Not seeing Angel again would be more than strange, it would change everything.

For now, that invisibility and its side effects opened up a world of possibilities that Cordelia could no longer push out of her mind. Back at the house, what was that hot whisper in her ear all about? ‘Have some in mind?’ Duh! Cringing inwardly at how obvious that answer had to be, Cordelia remembered that she’d demonstrated that fact by practically feeling him up back at the hospital.

It had started out as an innocent exploration at the time, but the way his muscular thigh felt beneath her hand gave her other ideas. Cordelia still didn’t know what to make of that tiny kiss of gratitude back on Buffy’s front lawn. She could still feel it tingling like a ghostly sensation against her lips, almost like she had imagined it to begin with.

Was it bad to wonder what it would be like to feel those lips against hers for real? It was just a kiss for Connor’s sake, a quick thank you between friends.

Geez, Chase. He’s got a permanent soul for five minutes and you’re already planning to jump his bones. Pathetic, much?

Connor started to fuss and Cordelia gratefully let the baby distract her from her thoughts. She rummaged through the diaper bag until she found one of the bottles of formula Fred had fixed earlier in the day.

“Want to feed him?” she asked Angel who readily took the bottle from her hand.

The baby’s eyes tracked the bottle seeming to float in front of him. Cordelia let out a laugh as Connor latched onto the plastic nipple after Angel’s voice encouraged him to go for it. “He seems okay with the invisibility thing.”

Angel reminded her that his son also liked seeing his face in full vampire mode. “That is all that calms him down sometimes,” he added worriedly.

“Wes says we just need Madame Bubbalicious to confirm or dispute his theory. You might stay invisible and have a permanent soul, go back to the way you were, or…”

He filled in the pause, “Get lucky?”

“Optimistic, much? Two seconds with a permanent soul and you’re already thinking about sex?” That wasn’t exactly what he meant, but watching Cordelia’s irritation as she crossed her arms and glared in his direction made him wonder why she was so quick to bring up the subject. “You are such a guy, Angel.”

That only brought a grin to his face, one she couldn’t see. While lucky meant lucky in his mind, Cordelia obviously had latched on to some other meaning. For once, it was his chance to tease her a little. Angel pointed out, “Being simultaneously visible and having a permanent soul sounds lucky to me.”

Cordelia snorted, “Maybe I was giving you too much credit.”

“About being a guy? Or getting lucky?” It wasn’t often he got to see his seer squirm in her seat. Normally, the tactless brunette wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the subject of sex. Cordelia sat at an angle in the corner, trapped and staring as if he’d caught her at something.

“Pfft! Take your pick,” a careless shrug followed.

Angel’s predatory instincts tingled madly. He couldn’t let her little insult sit there. Proving that he wasn’t quite that clueless, Angel pounced back with a low whisper, “Luck has little to do with it, Cordy. It’s all about skill and timing.”

Heat bloomed in her cheeks, a sudden response that surprised him. He almost felt guilty about openly flirting with Cordelia with the others only a couple of feet away, but only almost. Wes, Fred and Gunn were too preoccupied discussing their meeting with Madame Bosha at the boardwalk and the possible contents of her letter to take notice.

Even Connor was innocently unaware of the tension his father just created, the baby continuing to chug down his formula at a healthy pace.

Getting an actual tongue-tied reaction out of Cordelia Chase was a noteworthy event. Speechlessness was only part of it. Cordelia’s pulse throbbed, beating a visible tune just under the flushed golden skin of her throat.

Her body shifted to rasp against her clothes, showing signs of arousal that his senses honed in on with unerring accuracy. Not that he’d purposefully tried to wind her up, but Angel felt the satisfaction just the same.

If it wasn’t for the crowded car, the baby between them and this blasted invisibility, Angel figured he’d like to show her exactly what he meant. Gently, of course, since she was still bruised. The thought made him study the deep yellowing discoloration marring her face, fury flaring inside him that resulted in an involuntary growl.

As if the sound acted like a bucket of ice water, Cordelia snapped out of it so quickly that Angel thought that he might have imagined her reaction. Her eyebrows arched over those hazel eyes, “Since when does doing it twice in the last hundred years make you the next Don Juan?”

Meaning Buffy and Darla, he assumed correctly. Obviously, Cordelia figured he had been celibate since his ensoulment back in 1898. Wrong. He’d never cared enough before Buffy to actually experience a moment of true bliss. The curse hadn’t been a factor, and certainly not with Darla.

The curse and it’s dangerous out-clause had nothing to do with sex, Angel had long since decided. It was about happiness, about forgetting who he was and why he had been cursed to begin with. He wondered, if that was the case, how he hadn’t lost his soul a hundred times by now.

There seemed enough opportunity. Moments alone with Cordelia, with the rest of the gang, with Connor. Little instances where he’d felt totally relaxed and happy. Was it just because even during those times a part of him was still consciously aware that he was a vampire? Unless his soul was already permanent.

When had it happened? Willow re-ensouled him during the Acathla incident. She might have tweaked the spell, but Angel doubted it. Angel’s memories of the hell dimension were sketchy, but he didn’t think it happened there. Events since that time suggested otherwise.

It all seemed to come back to that night with Darla when he could have cared less about the soul or his redemption. He just wanted to feel something other than the cold and thought she could give it to him. Strangely enough, she had and it came in the form of his epiphany.

Maybe, just maybe, there was more to it. Truthfully, Cordelia was his epiphany. The shock of it had knocked him off his feet; he felt the same emptiness when his soul had departed his body that first time, only it seemed to be happening in reverse. Angel was filled by it, warmed by it, and the haze of what he thought he wanted dropped away to reveal what he needed instead.

Angel had thought it was all of them: Cordelia, Wes and Gunn. Their friendship, the companionship that had developed and to some extent, that was true. The truth was that it was always about Cordelia; winning back her friendship, her loyalty, her trust.

She’d made it too damn easy for him, letting him back into her good graces. Angel realized that and his need to accept her forgiveness far outweighed his curiosity in finding out the reason for it.

“Earth to Angel, I can practically hear the cogs churning in that head of yours. What are you thinking?” Cordelia broke through his thoughts apparently realizing he had no intention of responding to her Don Juan comment. “Maybe Fred should’ve asked you about being excited.”

The possibilities of a permanent soul went beyond excitement, but it was a feeling that he couldn’t let himself acknowledge. Not now, not yet. “I’m reserving that for later,” he explained, “when I believe it’s true. When Lorne and Wes prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Angelus is no longer a threat to my friends.”

Cordelia’s hand fiddled with Connor’s tiny bootie-covered foot as she added, “To your family.”

“That’s right,” Angel stared at the two of them, his voice thick with emotion. Angelus was still a legitimate threat, especially to her. “Until then, I’m reserving any bursts of happiness.”


Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 9a   1 comment


As Gunn pulled the car to a stop in the driveway at 1630 Revello Drive, Cordelia felt anxious. For the first time since leaving the hospital, she realized this was going to mean a reunion with the Scooby Gang.

Knowing Buffy was alive was one thing, but actually seeing again was quite another.

“This place gives me the wiggins,” she grumbled and climbed out of the front seat.

A hand closed over hers, the touch cool, familiar and supportive. “C’mon, they don’t bite. Though I suggest you don’t turn your back on Dawn,” Angel joked.

“Ha! Dawn likes me,” Cordelia smirked as she remembered the way Buffy’s younger sister used to try to get her attention by asking for fashion advice and makeup tips. “Or she did until I started dating Xander, her hero by the way.”

“Not anymore,” Angel told her as they moved closer to the door. A little worry crept back into his tone, “Spike’s got that honor for the moment.”

“Eew! Well, there’s no accounting for taste,” Cordelia’s nose crinkled. “Then again, living dangerously runs in the family. Lucky thing you’re invisible; I can’t tell if you’re pouting over it.”

Angel apparently stopped in his tracks because he tugged her back toward him. “I don’t pout.”

“Pfft!” Cordelia reached up to pat his invisible shoulder. “You own the patent on it, Mister Broods-a-lot. If it’s any consolation, you’re my hero.”

His pleased, “Really?” was followed by Cordelia rolling her eyes.

Gunn stepped up beside them, a look of wry amusement on his face. “We goin’ in any time soon?”

Before she could answer, Cordelia saw the front door open. Dawn stepped onto the threshold. After staring at them in wide-eyed silence for three or four seconds, she yelled over her shoulder, “They’re here.”

Cordelia watched as Gunn walked past them into the house. She squeezed Angel’s hand, trying to bolster her courage to get this reunion over with. As soon as she dropped Angel’s hand, she felt his fingers slide up her arm until his palm cupped her cheek.

“Am I being a dork about this? Geez, I am.” Cordelia wished she could see his face. Those dark eyes often told her so much, when she could read them at all.

“Never,” he indulged her before saying what was on his mind. “Thank you again for doing what you did for Connor.” The depth of his sincerity sounded as he added, “As heroes go, you’re mine.”

“Ang—.” She started to protest that anyone would have done the same, but felt the brush of his lips across hers. Like a whisper across her mouth, the soft caress was there and gone.

A squeal sounded from the doorway, startling Cordelia whose heart was suddenly pounding in her chest. Fred ran out, arms open wide to engulf Cordelia in a tight hug.

“How are you? Obviously you’re okay since the doctors released you, but are you sore, achy, in pain? That bruise looks painful. I could make you a poultice I used in Pylea… except I don’t have the ingredients. You need jangaroot and bushelberries and I just don’t know what would substitute for that.”

When Cordelia finally got a word in, she promised, “I’m fine, Fred. Where’s Connor?”

“With Anya.”

Cordelia gaped, “You left him with Anya? Fred, she’s a former Vengeance Demon.”

“Oh, well, hmm,” Fred bit her lip. “I-I’ll be right back.”

She rushed past Dawn who assured them, “Anya won’t hurt the baby. She’s trying to talk Xander into giving her one for Christmas.”

Snorting, Cordelia tried to imagine Xander as a father. Realizing it wasn’t quite such a funny thing as she originally thought, she commented, “As long as Anya doesn’t think they come gift-wrapped and placed under the tree.”

“No, I’m pretty sure she knows where babies come from,” Dawn sighed deeply. “It’s not like we don’t hear about it every day.”

“Poor you!” Cordelia laughed as she hugged Dawn. “Hi, Dawny. Maybe it’s better that I don’t ask for the details.”

Dawn assured her, “It’s very…educational.”

“What’s that Dawnster?” asked Xander as he pulled her out of the way to get to Cordelia. Then he saw the dark bruise on her cheek and his smile faltered. “Oh, God! Your face. It’s—”

A low rumble of discontent sounded next to them.

“It’s not so bad,” corrected Xander quickly, “hardly noticeable. The good thing about bruises is that they go away. And you’re a girl…girls can use makeup.”

His backpedaling had Cordelia laughing, her smile so wide that her face did ache a little. “Nice try.”

They walked into the foyer where Wes greeted her with a smile and a long hug. “You look like a squirrel has been making a nest in your hair,” Cordelia told him. “Your Rogue Demon Hunter look is edging on scary Mountain Man. Did you sleep at all last night?”

“I think so, for a couple of hours,” Wesley didn’t look too sure about it. “Researching this problem has proven rather interesting.”

Buffy piped up behind them, “You’ll have to wait a minute for the rest of us to say hello.”

Turning around slowly, Cordelia stared for a second before saying, “Hello, Buffy.”


“Hey, I’m glad you’re alive,” Cordelia commented awkwardly. When she felt Angel’s fingers threading through hers again, she leaned slightly into him.

“Yeah, you, too,” Buffy looked just as pained by the conversation.

Cordelia saw the Slayer’s eyes drop down to where her hand seemed to curl up against the air. When Buffy looked up again, she was staring at the open space that Angel filled with his invisible form. It was obvious that she knew Angel was standing next to her. Cordelia waited for Angel to say something, but he remained silent.

“We were in the middle of making dinner so, I’m just gonna…,” Buffy pointed toward the kitchen.


Buffy moved so rapidly, Cordelia only saw a flash sweeping out of the room as Willow took the opportunity to say hello. She reached in to hug Cordelia only to knock into Angel first. “Oh, Angel, you’re here. Of course, you are. Here, I mean. Just hugging, honest.”

“Here’s Connor,” Fred called out behind them.

Anya stood next to her looking rather perturbed. “There was no harm done. I was just holding him. Can I help it if the baby seems to like troll stories? He seemed very alert and interested in hearing about the end of the battle.”

Chuckling, Xander pointed out, “He’s a little young for that, An.”

Cordelia figured her stories couldn’t be any worse than the ones Angel made up for Connor when he thought no one was listening. She held out her arms toward the baby, simply telling Fred, “Gimme.”

“Me first,” Angel complained and reached in to lift Connor from Fred’s arms. “There’s my brave little man.”

Gunn, Fred and Wes walked back into the living room, quite used to the spectacle of the vampire cooing over his child. The fact that he was invisible and Connor seemed to be suspended in midair gave them a moment’s pause, but there were other things on their minds now that Cordelia and Conner were back in the fold.

Cordelia nodded at Wes when he motioned toward the dining room where his research was set up. His haggard appearance and impatient body language suggested whatever he had to say was going to be a doozy.

The sound of baby talk coming from the former Scourge of Europe caused quite a different reaction from Willow, Xander and Dawn. Slack-jawed, they stood staring at the sight as Connor bounced in the air. A toothless smile brightened his face, little legs kicking happily at the sound of his father’s voice. Cordelia had to laugh at their stunned faces and was suddenly sorry that Buffy had left the room.

“It’s my turn, you greedy vampire,” Cordelia complained as she motioned with her hands. “Give me Connor and let’s go see what Wes has to say to you before he has a coronary.”

Cordelia snuggled the baby in her arms and closed her eyes for a moment. Relief at having him back safe washed over her like a rainfall. He’d come into their lives so suddenly. While Cordelia hated his mother for her influence on Angel, she never once resented Connor’s presence.

Maybe there was a slight twinge of jealousy or a little bit of hurt when Angel was so over-protective that he wouldn’t accept any help, even from her, but that hadn’t lasted long.

The nape of her neck prickled as Cordelia got the sensation of being watched closely. It didn’t take much imagination to figure out who it was. “What is it, Angel?”

A hasty, “Nothing,” returned.

“Pfft! Yeah, right,” Cordelia’s disbelief was apparent.

“I was just… thinking.”

Moving to take a seat at the dining room table, Xander cut in, “Don’t strain yourself, Dead Boy.”

A responding growl sounded so low that Cordelia was certain she was the only one to pick it up. Xander’s old nickname for Angel was a reminder of graveyard patrols and long nights of research in the library.

“So what’s on your mind? It’s obviously not the nothing you say it is.”

“No, it’s something,” he admitted. “Just something that should wait.”


“Because it should.”

Wes cleared his throat. “Perhaps this is a good time to move on to the important topics of the day?”

“I’m back,” announced Buffy as she arrived carrying a tray of sandwiches and a bag of potato chips. “What’d I miss?”

Xander and Willow chimed in, “Nothing.”

Cordelia suspected it was a lot more than nothing. She wasn’t alone in that thinking, either. Before Anya, Dawn or Fred could correct them, Wesley informed Buffy, “I was about to tell Angel and Cordelia the findings of my research.”

“Just in time, then. Dealing with the Trio, I missed most of that myself,” Buffy said as she put the tray down on the only clear spot on the table.

“What’s to know? Just uninvisiblize him, already,” Cordelia gestured toward the ray gun that lay upon the table.

Adjusting his glasses, Wes looked toward Fred who smiled encouragingly and then shrugged, switching to a nervous frown. Cordelia wasn’t sure what all the silent signals meant, but it had to be trouble. Nothing was ever as simple as pushing a button.

“I’m afraid I have to recommend we delay reversing the invisibility process,” Wesley said as he squared his shoulders.

Less than pleased, Angel demanded. “Why?”

“Whilst I have every reason to believe that another exposure to the light beam will restore you to a visible wavelength,” Wes informed him, “I am concerned that doing so will have further side-effects.”

“Further effects?”

Wes touched his hand to the metallic casing as he explained, “The power source for the Invisibility Ray is actually an ancient mystical stone.”

“Jonathan found it in a junk shop,” Cordelia offered up what little information she had gleaned.

“The magick from the stone overloaded the electro-mechanics of the ray gun.” Fred reached for one of the sandwiches. “A new circuit pathway was accidentally created during the overload, turning the destructive laser beam into diffused lightwaves.”

Xander, munching on a handful of potato chips, gave a dramatic shout, “Presto! Invisible vamp.”

“What other effects, Wes?” Cordelia had heard the concern in his voice just as Angel had and wasn’t about to let it drop.

Telling them of the trip to the carnival and their meeting with the old gypsy fortune teller, Madame Bosha, he further explained, “We were told to look for the Eye of Dakronn to reveal the truth.”

“Truth about what?” Cordelia had to ask.

Fred shrugged cluelessly in response. “She was kinda cryptic.”

“So the power source,” Angel concluded, “is the Eye.”

“Yes,” Wesley nodded, “though it took me ages to verify it. The Eye of Dakronn is an ancient relic of the Kalderash Romany.”

Cordelia’s eyes darted toward Angel. She could feel his tension despite not being able to see him. Across the table, Buffy squirmed in her chair as she remembered, “Jenny Calendar was Kalderash.”

“Wes has a theory,” Fred’s excitement showed in her eyes as she met Cordelia’s gaze across the table.

“Actually, you might say that it is Lorne’s theory,” corrected Wes. “Angel, do you remember Lorne’s reaction to you before we left for Sunnydale? He said—”

“There was something different about me.”

Cordelia gestured in Angel’s direction, “Hello, invisible!”

“No, he said it was something else.”

Wes and Fred exchanged glances again, which drove Cordelia to demand, “Just say it.”

“Lorne believes Angel’s soul is now permanent.”

“What?” Cordelia heard her own question echoed several times over. Nobody except Fred was in on this part of the discovery, apparently.

Angel sounded just as surprised, “How? Are you saying the Trio’s ray gun did this?”

“Not precisely,” corrected Wes rubbing a hand across his mouth and stubbled jaw. “I believe Lorne knows what he’s talking about. He wouldn’t say it if he hadn’t given it a lot of thought.”

“He’s got but-face,” Willow pointed out to Cordelia suggesting that was a bad thing.

“But,” Wesley added ignoring Willow’s interruption, “we remain uncertain as to the cause. Madame Bosha hinted that the Eye of Dakronn would reveal truth. She said nothing to indicate that it would have this kind of effect.”

Angel let out a harsh laugh, irony weighing heavily in his voice as he asked, “What is it that really has you worried?”

“If the Eye did nothing more than shed it’s proverbial light on the subject of your curse,” Wes shrugged, “then using the ray gun to reverse your invisible condition will mean nothing. We could reverse the process without any untoward effects.”

Cordelia realized what Wes was going to say next. The idea of it frightened her as much as the other news had given her hope. Wes held up a finger in point of case, “However, if the Eye’s power had something to do with cementing your soul in place, I fear exposing you to its power again might strip the soul away entirely.”

“So Angel has to stay invisible,” Cordelia took in a deep breath and let it out in one short huff. “There are worse things to be. Just think of the perks.”

Angel’s mouth was close to her ear, “Have some in mind?”

“Duh!” Cordelia slapped at his chest. “No more Angelus.”

Wesley’s quandary had kept him searching for other clues, but his resources here were limited. Combined with what he had back at the Hyperion, they might provide some extra data.

Unfortunately, he had to tell them, “The fact is that we know very little about the methods the Kalderash used to invoke the original curse. We have only a variation of it that Willow has used before.”

“What about this Madame Botox?” asked Cordelia as she switched Connor from one arm to the other. “She seems to be a know-it-all. Maybe she can tell you more.”

“Lorne called about an hour ago,” Fred told her ruefully.

Then Wesley revealed what he had to say, “Madame Bosha has closed up her shop on the boardwalk. There was an envelope taped to the window, addressed to Angelus.”

Part 10

Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 9   1 comment

Part 9

Revelations lost and found
Speaking from the heart.

Love for the asking
Desire burning brightly
Awaiting response.

Entranced by the truth
As resounding echoes sound
Time for acceptance.

Dim light flooded the hospital corridors now that the sun had set, a sign to visitors that it was time to let the patients sleep. Most complied with nursing staff directives to leave for the evening, though a few stragglers remained.

Buffy entered through the open emergency room door. She rounded the corner to the main hallway before anyone noticed her naturally stealthy stride. Heading up the stairwell, she arrived on the small 3-West Observation Unit. Gunn had told her she would find Angel there… and Cordelia, of course, now designated as an overnight stay in room 3102.

There were too many things to say to wait until morning. Gunn wasn’t so keen on the idea of Buffy Summers bothering either one of his friends after all that had happened, but he quickly discovered the Slayer wasn’t very good at listening when the ideas were contrary to her own decisions.

Others argued far better reasons to go to the hospital than her, Gunn had said. Wes and Fred wanted to see Cordelia. They were family, not just old high school buddies and he had heard enough Patrol Tales from Cordelia to know the Slayer didn’t really fall into the category of a close friend. Even Xander had a legitimate argument about going first, being the ex-boyfriend.

Buffy stalked directly up to the six-foot-five Gunn, looked him straight in the eye even though she had to tilt her head back to do it, and told him, “I’m not just being selfish. Everyone wants to go. We’re all concerned about Cordelia, but I’m worried about Angel too.”

She remembered Gunn not being especially impressed with her reasoning. Explaining to him still didn’t get her the ready agreement she expected, “We’ve made a decision about what to do with the Trio and I want Angel to know about it before I go through with the plan.”

“I ain’t stopping you Blondie,” Gunn pursed his lips and held up his hands in the air in mock surrender. “Just saying Angel’s not gonna be in the mood to catch up on old times.”

For some reason, Buffy had the distinct feeling he was the type of person that didn’t easily trust other people. Unless it was something Cordelia had said. “The Geek Trio’s chained up in the basement. I’m not going to keep them locked up downstairs forever and after what happened earlier, it’s probably not a good idea to let Angel have another shot at Warren.”

Gunn had to agree, “I’m with you on that one. What’s the plan?”

“The others can catch you up,” Buffy told him as she headed for the door. “Check in with Wesley. He’s got news on that gizmo Fred’s been tinkering with.”

Now at Room 3102, Buffy pressed the handle releasing the latch, pushed the door open and stared inside. Cordelia lay still in the bed, the covers tucked around her waist, arms resting at her sides. A blue pump flashed digital red numbers in the dim light of the room silently infusing clear fluids through the IV taped to her arm.

The only sound in the room was the barely detectible creak of wood and faux leather from the chair in the corner. Buffy’s eyes darted in that direction, but saw nothing. It had to be Angel moving around.

She wasn’t surprised when he said her name from only a few feet away, but his next words were unexpected: “Visiting hours are over.”

It took a moment to adjust to the idea of it again as Buffy let her other senses reach out and try to envision the face and form of her ex-boyfriend. “I know, but I had to come. How is she?”

Glancing over his shoulder, Angel instantly found himself lost in his thoughts again as he counted up the number of times Cordelia had been in danger because of him. This wasn’t the first time he’d stayed at her bedside wondering if she would regain consciousness or recover from whatever mystic event was traumatizing her.

There was no magick involved with Cordelia’s injuries this time, no demon to dispatch for necessitating her presence in the cold, sterile environment of the hospital.

The guilty party was all too human and it was his fist rather than magick that had resulted in Cordelia being rushed to the emergency room. Warren Meers was lucky to be alive. He wouldn’t be if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was in the protective custody of the Slayer at the time.

She’d stopped Angel from snapping that deserving neck, a fact that he was still disgruntled about.

Warren Meers and his two cronies deserved punishment. He’d left it to the others to decide what that might be as every scenario he came up with involved painful torture followed slowly by death.

Angel felt certain that if Cordelia revealed anything else to him, neither Buffy nor any of the others would stop him from exacting an extremely permanent form of revenge.

“Cordy’s sleeping now,” Angel explained quietly. “She regained consciousness for a short time down in the emergency room, but has been in and out of it since then.”

“So you’ve talked to her?”

Shaking his head, Angel answered, “She’s been confused. Just calling out and asking for me or Connor.”

Buffy moved toward the bed to take a closer look, her keen eyesight detecting the dark bruise across Cordelia’s cheek, even in the dimly lit room. She was stopped by Angel’s hand closing around her upper arm. This was more than just being protective: it seemed that he didn’t even want to take a chance she might disturb Cordelia.

Everything Angel said to her on the phone came flooding back. Making no further move toward the sleeping seer, Buffy simply told him, “Angel, you should come back to my house. Get some rest.”

“If I do that right now, Warren’s a dead man,” Angel growled and dropped his hand.

Knowing that Angel wasn’t kidding about Warren considering the fact that he had nearly killed the guy, Buffy decided she needed to lighten things up just a little. She didn’t like hearing Angel make comments that sounded like they were coming from Angelus.

“Connor seems like a happy little guy,” Buffy put a smile on her face. “Anya keeps asking Xander if they’ll ever have one.”

With a laugh, Buffy recalled Anya demanding, “Xander, I want a baby. Now. Let’s go make one.” No wonder Xander was eager to take his turn guarding the Trio.

Not to be sidetracked, Angel commented, “Warren’s lucky Connor is fine. We’ll see if he stays lucky as soon as I hear from Cordy what happened.”

Trying another tactic, Buffy explained, “Wesley says he has news. Something about the ray gun, a rock, a gypsy and a guy named Lorne.”

Unseen by Buffy, Angel’s mouth gaped in reaction to the mention of the Pylean’s name. “Wes called Lorne?” Inwardly, Angel kicked himself for not even considering the fact that Lorne was waiting at home for news on Connor and Cordy. He should have made that call or ensured somebody else did.

Buffy shrugged, “Yes, guess so.”

“Good,” Angel responded only to shift his attention to Cordelia again as her breathing pattern changed. She wasn’t sleeping as deeply as before. He focused on the steady sounds that reassured him Cordelia would eventually be okay.

It was quiet in the room, the only sounds distant voices from the nurses’ station. Buffy felt as if she was intruding, that she wasn’t part of this. Invisible or not, that bothered her. Buffy shifted positions as her thoughts turned to another vampire and the very confusing and somewhat disturbing nature of their non-relationship.

“Something you need to tell me, Buffy?” The question startled her and Buffy stared back as if she was a five-year old with her hand caught in the cookie jar.

Spike! No, he didn’t know about Spike, Buffy reasoned. Though there was something she needed to talk to him about that involved the blond vampire. “Yes, actually.”

Angel quirked an eyebrow as he silently reacted to her admission that there was something to be said. When Buffy had stopped him from killing Warren, he’d noticed that she was draped in a familiar scent. Combined with Dawn’s not-so-subtle hints earlier in the day, it proved that Buffy was somehow involved with Spike.

“It’s about the Trio,” Buffy announced having become used to calling the three geeks by their group identity over the past few hours. “They need to pay for what they’ve done, Angel, but it’s not going to be with their lives.”

He’d already come to the conclusion that would be the case. It was ensuring that the bastards were rightfully punished that concerned him. Dropping them off in front of the police station with claims of kidnapping would get them nowhere considering the circumstances.

Though Cordelia probably had a legal case with the physical evidence to back her up against Warren, the punishment he would receive would be minimal compared to what he deserved.

“Where are they now?”

“My basement,” Buffy answered. “I have an idea. It’s a little off-the-wall, but since we can’t get the local authorities involved it’s the only thing I can think of that would substitute for prison.”

Angel could think of one circumstance he’d agree too right off the bat, “Planning to send them on a one-way trip to a hell dimension?”

Coming from Angel, it was a little too much of a reminder of their shared past for comfort’s sake. She’d sent him to hell in order to stop Acathla.

“Actually, Wes ruled that option out,” Buffy admitted with a tinge of pink showing on her cheeks. Then pointing out that it wasn’t her idea, “Fred suggested sending the guys to a place called Pylea, but they decided it was better to keep the Trio around in case there are problems reversing your invisibility. So we settled on an alternate plan. My… contact is setting things up now.”

“Just do it, Buffy,” instructed Angel not even bothering for details, wanting this whole mess to be over so he could take his friends and family back home to resume their lives again. “Tell your contact to make damn certain the Trio know never to set foot in LA because if Warren Meers ever crosses my path again, he won’t have time to beg for mercy.”

Shuddering at the cold tone in Angel’s voice, Buffy stood in the half-open doorway looking a little shocked at his words. She wasn’t used to feeling uncomfortable or out of place in his presence. The invisibility had nothing to do with it.

This was all about Angel being in super-protective mode over Cordelia and Connor, something Buffy realized she wasn’t a part of in any way, shape or form.

Noting the little frown on Buffy’s delicate face and realizing he had managed to hurt her feelings, Angel curbed his emotions. Cordelia would no doubt gripe at him for giving himself one more thing to brood about, but he wasn’t about to take back what he’d said.

Softening his tone, Angel asked, “Was there something else?”

“I just wanted to be here for you…if you needed me,” the words came out as a soft whisper.

Angel saw a hint of hope lighting those eyes. For what, he wasn’t quite certain. He’d come to comfort her when occasion demanded it. Was that all this was, Buffy’s attempt at reciprocation? Somehow, despite whatever was going on between Spike and her, he knew there was more to it.

“Go home, Buffy,” he pulled the door open wider. “I’m not leaving here until I’m sure Cordy’s okay.”

Starting to leave, Buffy paused in the doorway, resolving to take this opportunity to tell him, “Angel…there is someth—”

Cutting her off, Angel honestly didn’t want to hear the details, “If it’s about Spike, don’t bother. I already know.”

A hitch sounded in her breath before Buffy swallowed down her surprise. “Then I’ll see you…or not…later.”

The door closed behind Buffy Summers as she left the hospital room. Turning, she moved toward the stairwell at a run, throwing open the fire door uncaring that it banged forcefully against the wall as she darted down the steps.


An hour passed by as Angel sat unmoving in the straight-backed chair in the corner, having resumed his vigil after Buffy’s departure. The nurse’s aide came in once to check Cordelia’s vital signs followed by the night shift nurse who performed her duties with quiet efficiency.

Making an effort to rouse Cordelia to verify her level of consciousness resulted in yet another mumbled plea, “Angel…Angel…Connor…”

But it was followed by Cordelia’s eyelids flickering open and the response had Angel darting out of the chair to stand on the opposite side of the bed as the nurse asked her some questions and confirmed that she knew she’d had an accident.

“Where’s Connor?” He almost answered, but somehow held back.

“There was a tall, good looking guy here earlier,” the nurse told her, “but he left when visiting hours were over. We have a contact cell phone number on your chart if you want to call him.”

“I know it,” Cordelia struggled to sit up and the nurse quickly pressed a button on the siderail raising the head of the bed up to a comfortable angle.

Asking, “You want the light on or off?” the nurse prepared to flip a switch on the console next to the bed.

“Off,” Cordelia held up a hand. Her head hurt and the thought of light glaring in her eyes was not a pleasant one.

After a few more minutes, ensuring that Cordelia didn’t need anything else, the nurse picked up the unopened water jug on the bedside table and left the room. Having closed the door behind her to block out the hallway noise, the room was again plunged into near darkness with only the moonlight peeping in along the edges of the room.

“Cordy,” Angel sounded out her name hoping he wouldn’t scare her. Cordelia looked around, but the lack of light prevented her from zeroing in on anything resembling the outline of the vampire.

Just the sound of his voice brought tears of relief to glisten in her eyes. “Angel? Oh, God, you’re really here.”

She fumbled for the light switch, but couldn’t easily reach it. Preferring the darkness, Angel sat down beside her and pulled her hand down threading his fingers through hers. Cordelia immediately threw her other arm around his shoulder, the dark not preventing her from instinctively knowing him.

After pulling Angel into a tight hug and pressing her unbruised cheek against him, she huffed and then slapped a hand against his shoulder, “Don’t ever do that to me again! I thought they vaporized you.”

“They didn’t,” Angel began trying to think of a way to tell her that he was invisible. “Actually…”

“Where’s Connor?”

Angel felt her pull back a couple of inches, the sound of her heartbeat quickening as she reacted with an instant sense of fear that something had happened to the baby. “He’s safe. Fred’s taking care of him while I’m here with you.”

“Andrew took him,” Cordelia grumbled at the thought of that annoyingly sweet bad guy snatching Connor out of her arms. “Where is he? Did you get the other two?”

“All three of them,” Angel confirmed as he cupped her uninjured cheek in his hand. “Don’t stress over it.”

A soft ‘pfft’ sounded followed by a grumbled, “Just wait until I get my hands on Warren.”

“He’s being dealt with,” promised Angel even if the method wasn’t his preference. Unless Cordelia told him something that would alter those plans.

Angel explained how they had found her in the garage, knocked out and bleeding from a head wound. “I couldn’t get to you, Cordy. The barrier prevented me from getting in the house.”

“Hey, it’s not everyday Willow Rosenberg comes to my rescue,” Cordelia grinned, her hand still entwined with his. Then she told him, “Warren was angry about his plans being screwed up. Guess he took it out on me.”

“Well, the bastard has a matching black eye to go along with the one he gave you.” Angel managed to get in a hard punch before Buffy stopped him from wrapping his arm around Warren’s neck. “Your face is bruised and the ER doctor used some fancy gluing technique on your scalp so he didn’t have to shave any of your hair.”

With her free hand, Cordelia reached back to feel the sore spot on her head. The hair on either side of the wound felt like it was braided together. “It’s not like I haven’t had bald spots before now. At least there are no demon spawn involved this time.”

Finally getting to the question he’d been torturing himself with for the past few hours Angel smoothed his hand down her back as he asked her, “Did he try anything else?”

Despite the dark, Cordelia sensed the tension there. Though she was certain given more time and opportunity, Warren would have lived up to his creepy innuendoes, Cordelia was happy to report,

“No. Warren was too focused on finding out what went wrong with his little invention. Angel, they were planning to create an online auction where you could sell anything… starting with Connor. They were going to sell him to the highest bidder and use the money to fund their scheme to take over Sunnydale.”

Angel knew part of it from what they’d said back at the Hyperion. “Did they have time to contact buyers?”

“No, they were too busy trying to keep me in line and look after the baby,” Cordelia let out a little satisfied sound.

“You’ve always been a handful,” Angel leaned in a little.

Releasing his hand, Cordelia crossed her arms in front of her as she sat back. “Don’t go there, buddy.”

“Just stating a fact,” he found himself grinning like an idiot at the thought of even trying to handle Cordelia. If anyone handled anybody around Angel Investigations, that shoe was definitely on the other foot.

“Remind me to take the PTB off my Christmas list,” Cordelia quickly redirected their conversation. “My visions aren’t always clear, but that one made me think you were a goner.”

Angel had his hand on her shoulder again, his thumb rubbing a little circle along her collarbone. Though aware of the fact, he just couldn’t seem to stop touching her as if he needed to reassure himself that she was okay. “Don’t worry about it. It’s over, for the most part. You’ve been through enough.”

Lifting her hand to cover his, Cordelia pulled it down to her lap holding it between her own. “You’d tell me if something had happened to Connor, right?”

“I caught Andrew as soon as he stepped out of the house,” Angel assured her with a squeeze of his hand. “Connor’s fine.”

A pause followed just before Cordelia asked, “What about you?” Letting go of Angel’s hand, she lifted both and started feeling for injuries despite the darkness.

Her hands slid along the sleeves of his leather jacket to grab onto the lapels and pull it from his shoulders. She was slowly moving her hands across his chest when Angel grabbed her wrists. “There’s just one minor thing.”

“Is that why you’ve been hiding out in the dark?” she asked him. “Let me see.”

Angel quickly told her, “There’s nothing to see.”

“Aaaaaaangel,” she complained knowing that he was hiding the truth.

He responded automatically, “Cor-de-li-aaaa,” somehow knowing he wasn’t going to win this one. There wasn’t really an easy way to tell someone you cared about that you were invisible.

“Turn on the lights,” Cordelia demanded.

“I need to explain first. This might be a shock,” he told her. “The weapon they used made me…”

Cordelia butted in before he could finish explaining, “Invisible? I wanna see.”

“You know?” Angel was the one reeling in shock. Finally, he reminded her, “There’s nothing to see.”

“Exactly,” Cordelia nodded her head. “I wanna feel what I’m not seeing.”

Angel released her wrists and then Cordelia felt the bed shift under his weight. A moment later a click sounded as he flipped the light switch causing her to squint for a second before slowly adjusting to the light. Cordelia saw Angel’s jacket draped next to her and the depression in the bed covers next to her where she could feel his thigh pressed against hers, but he was most definitely invisible.

“To quote my kidnappers…cool,” she grinned at him. Experimentally, Cordelia poked Angel’s chest with her finger. Her hands spread out to wander over the shape of his torso that she knew well enough from her stints as Florence Nightingale, but curiosity kept her going.

Tugging the edge of his shirt from his pants, Cordelia lifted it up only to frown a little as the skin underneath was invisible to her view. As her hand skimmed the cool skin of his taut abdominal muscles, she asked, “What’s it feel like?”

Those soft fingertips and rounded nails rasping across Angel’s flesh stirred up an automatic response that had him closing his eyes and imagining Cordelia was asking that question for an altogether different reason.

The answer he gave was just as involuntary, “Good.”

A soft snort followed as Cordelia’s hand dropped down to his thigh, “Dork. I meant what’s it like to be invisible?”

Angel cleared his throat when the realization hit that he had spoken aloud. Finally, he commented, “There’s one interesting side effect. Daylight doesn’t burn me to a crisp.” Then he noticed Cordelia’s eyes had dropped down to her hand as it moved along the invisible stretch of his thigh.

An octave lower than normal, he managed to sound out her name as her fingers moved a little higher than before, “Cordy.”

“Hmm?” Cordelia mumbled distractedly as her touch slid along the smooth threads of his trousers. Caught up somewhere between amusement at touching something that was invisible and the knowledge that it was Angel’s body beneath her fingertips, she couldn’t seem to stop.

“I think you’ve explored enough,” Angel’s voice sounded its husky complaint though he made no move to push her hand away.

Making no apology, Cordelia simply grinned and moved her hand to rest in her lap. More seriously, she asked Angel, “This isn’t permanent is it?”

“Fred and Wes will have it fixed in no time,” he certainly hoped that was the truth.

“Good, that’s good. It’s just…,” Cordelia trailed off, looking thoughtful.

Almost afraid to find out what she was thinking, Angel finally asked, “What?”

Cordelia’s mouth quirked into a smile of pure mischief, “This could be fun.”

A short rap sounded on the door followed immediately by the entry of Cordelia’s nurse into the room. Angel jumped off of the bed, displacing the blanket and making the metal siderails squeak.

“What was that?” the nurse blinked as she glanced around, her eyes sliding across Cordelia and the bed. At Cordelia’s shrug, she further commented, “I thought I heard voices.”

Letting out a little laugh, Cordelia told her, “That was me just talking to my invisible friend.”

“Mmm, hmm. People who have head injuries shouldn’t joke about invisible buddies coming to see them after visiting hours are over,” she set the jug of ice water down on Cordelia’s bedside table and moved toward the closed bathroom door where she obviously assumed the unseen visitor was hiding.

Knocking twice, the nurse called out, “Don’t forget your jacket on the way out.”


Spike and Buffy sat side by side atop a large granite bench serving as a cremation marker along the edge of Sunnydale Cemetery. It bordered the adjacent woods where they just had a meeting with the Gorana Beast that had taken the Trio into custody.

It was weird, Buffy decided, how strangely familiar being around Spike seemed to be compared to her awkward meeting with Angel at the hospital. That rattled her more than she cared to admit. It looked like there was too much water under that bridge, after all.

How did she define what was left behind, friendship? That thought alone was upsetting.

The Hellmouth remained her obligation and Angel’s was in Los Angeles. He didn’t just survive there without her. Apparently, he had a whole life going on that she didn’t even know existed. Buffy longed for a life that had nothing to do with slaying, a normal life, but she’d always imagined it with Angel no matter the distance still separating them.

Then again, what was normal? Sitting in a cemetery with Spike after demony on-goings felt almost— comforting. The idea was jarring enough to rattle her.

“So what’d they do?” Spike asked for the first time as he lit up a cigarette.

Buffy gave him an annoyed look. She’d told him not to ask too many questions. “I’d rather not say.”

Pointing out, “It’s not too late to catch up with them. I could ask the nerds myself.”

Seeing that he wasn’t about to let this go, Buffy kept the explanation as simple as possible, “They took something that belonged to Angel.”

Thinking about it for a second or two as he took a deep drag from his cigarette, he gave a short nod, concluding, “The cheerleader, huh? Angel always gets in a snit when that happens.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothin’.” Spike wasn’t about to remind her of the whole Gem of Amarra fiasco.

Buffy coughed at the smoke fumes until Spike rolled his eyes at her exaggerated attempt at waving it out of her face. He put the cigarette out on the corner of the bench, pocketing the butt for later consumption.

She asked him, “So, you think this will really work? They’re not gonna escape tomorrow are they?”

She wasn’t certain she could trust Spike or his beastly buddy despite the vampire’s assurances. A year of imprisonment away from all things technological would be akin to torture for the computer geeks. Just the mention of it had brought a look of dread to their faces, quickly followed by whining and begging for mercy.

“Not unless they want their entire mint condition Star Wars Action Figure collection destroyed,” an evil grin spread across Spike’s face. “I’ll be holding it as collateral.”

Seeing that Buffy was smiling at him for the first time in… ever, Spike took it as a good sign and continued, “‘Sides, if they can escape the clutches of a Gorana Beast, they deserve freedom.”

“It won’t kill them, will it?”

“Chauncey?” Spike was surprised Angel hadn’t handled that bit himself. “Nah! The old devil owes me a bundle in Kitten Poker. Figured I’d call in the favor. He’s the guardian of a Nestor demon lair somewhere off Route 66 and needs some help with a little manual labor. Amongst their other duties, the geeks will be shoveling demon goo on a daily basis.”


Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 8   1 comment

Part 8

A heart reaching out
Offering tokens of trust
Seeking a return

Revelations lost and found
Speaking from the heart.

Love for the asking
Desire burning brightly
Awaiting response.

Driving across town in the Plymouth drew gawkers standing on the sidewalks, but the speeding car didn’t pause long enough to give them confirmation of what they thought they had seen. Or not seen, in Angel’s case, as he remained invisible.

Willow grabbed onto the dashboard as they rounded a curb, cringing as they got a little close to the corner, g-forces tossing her from one side of the seat to the other. Who woulda guessed Angel could take on Mario Andretti?

“Maybe I should drive,” she called out with the wind in her face despite having told him the idea scared her so soon after the accident that left Dawn injured. “I’d like to get there in one piece.”

“You will,” Angel promised answering back, but he wasn’t about to stop now. Every second counted. He had no idea if the Trio had contacted the interested parties or who those people might be. Holtz topped his imagined list.

The convertible screeched to a halt three houses down from their destination, the Meers residence. No cars in the driveway, Angel observed silently as he made his way across the lawn, automatically sticking to the lengthening shadows despite his invisibility.

“Angel?” hissed Willow as she closed the car behind her knowing that the vampire was already on his way. With a sigh, she made her way directly down the sidewalk taking a second to smile at a woman power-walking on the other side of the street.

Then a strong hand clamped over her wrist and tugged her behind the large oak tree on the edge of Warren Meer’s front lawn. “What are you doing? You’ll be seen.”

“By who?” Willow shrugged looking around at the now-empty street. Other than a pair of squirrels frolicking in the neighbor’s yard, there was nothing going on. “Looks quiet enough to me.”

“They’re here. Connor, Cordy, all of them,” Angel’s senses flooded with scents and sounds confirming it.

Willow had gotten used to hearing about the advantages of being a superior vampire from Spike. “Guess those vampy senses are working.”

Missing the tinge of sarcasm in her chirpy voice, Angel was too busy contemplating the method by which he would pulverize the three young men inside that house. He felt his fury raging again now that their scent surrounded him.

One problem barred his way, preventing any personal attempt at a rescue or reaping revenge.

“Know any spells to get me inside the house?” he asked Willow having not thought about the fact that as a human, Warren Meers possessed the same protection from vampires as everyone else when inside their own home.

Looking paler than normal, Willow gulped down hard as she realized Angel couldn’t get in the house and there was no way she could help him do it. “Uh… no. Actually, um, I’m kinda not doing the magick thing for a while.”

Confused at Willow’s refusal, Angel didn’t know what to think, his anger at the three kidnappers unintentionally turning on her, “You’re a powerful wicca. I’ve seen you jump into a fight to help Buffy when you had nothing more than a desire to help. This is Cordy. This is my son. Willow, you can end this here and now.”

Wide-eyed and trembling from her own inner struggle, Willow admitted that it would be easy to let go and do what he asked. “I want too. Really. But I can’t do it.”

“The hell you can’t!” Willow jumped as the oak tree creaked; bark flying off of one spot as Angel’s invisible fist connected hard. She’d never known Angel to lose his temper; he was always subdued and in control.

“If you can bring Buffy back from the dead, you can damn well get me in that door.”

Even if she couldn’t see his face, Willow knew this went far beyond anger. “You don’t understand.” He’d dragged her along assuming that she had the power to get him inside knowing that she possessed the ability to invoke magick that could counter any scientific traps that might be in their way. To help him save…

“My son and the woman I—,” Angel broke off at the startled look in Willow’s eyes as she dragged her gaze away to stare at her shoes. His thoughts echoed hers, though neither one confirmed it. Just the direction his words were taking forced Angel to refocus and demand an explanation, “Just give me one good reason.”

Tearful, but determined, Willow looked up staring forward at the space she figured Angel occupied. “There’s a demon inside me, Angel. Not like yours, just my own addiction to magick. Once I start again, bad things will happen. It’s like… like giving Angelus free reign with the ones you love.”

A curse sounded followed by a harsh laugh that was in no way funny. Angel could hardly argue when effectively slapped in the face with his personal struggles. It was something that never went away, always there beneath the surface.

Swamped by a wave of self-derisiveness, Angel clamped down on his anger and within a few silent moments had himself back under the cool embrace of control.

Reaching out for Willow’s hand, “Take my cell phone,” he said placing it in her palm. “Make the call.”

Almost as soon as she felt his grip loosen, the small silver and black phone appeared visible. Flipping it open, she automatically began to punch in the numbers for Buffy’s house. Then realizing he could have made the call himself, “Where are you going? Angel…Angel?”

Planning to examine all of the exits and possibly block off any alternate escape routes, Angel moved across the lawn, but a movement amidst the thick growth of roses in one brick-ringed flower bed caught the vampire’s attention. Angel headed directly toward it. A flash of the waning sunlight caught on something glinting back into his eyes.

Close now, Angel saw a metallic cylinder sticking up from beneath the flowerbed pointing in the direction of the oak tree.

“They know we’re here.”


“It’s her,” dread sounded in Warren’s voice as he peered through the end of the makeshift periscope.

Groans sounded from his two cohorts, but Cordelia reacted with an instant smile of relief. “Buffy’s here?” She’d take a rescue from her any day, especially today.

Warren yanked the periscope down to its resting position. “You’d just love that. No, it’s not the Slayer.” Reluctantly admitting, “It’s Willow,” he knew that if the witch was here, her best friend wouldn’t be far behind.

The Trio stood in a close triangle talking over options. Jonathan pointed out, “That’s just as bad. Maybe worse considering Willow’s power,” he added now wishing they had conducted some testing on her like they had on the Slayer.

“She’s on a cell phone. You know what that means,” Warren told them grimly.

“The Slayer,” Andrew’s hushed words were full of awe and fear.

Pointing out again that they already had enough trouble; Jonathan wracked his brain for a way out. “Willow can stop us if we give her the chance. We need a distraction.”

Andrew agreed, “Yeah, a distraction,” then looked toward Cordelia who had inched toward the stairs while they were busy.

“Let us go,” Cordelia offered up a solution though doubting these three would take her up on it. Larry, Moe and Curly over there might be geniuses, but they were just dumb enough to be dangerous. “Nobody will follow you as long as Connor and I are safe.”

“Guys, that’s a good idea. We might get out in one piece,” Jonathan sounded hopeful and took Cordelia at her word.

Scoffing, Warren shook his head as he snapped back, “Forget it. The kid is still worth a lot of money.”

Strategizing, Andrew suggested, “We could take one and leave the other behind to draw Willow off.”

“Then take the damn kid and let’s get out of here,” Warren pushed hard at Andrew’s shoulder sending him stumbling toward Cordelia.

Cordelia reacted on instinct, racing for the stairs and clutching Connor close to her breast as she ran. Halfway up, Andrew lunged forward grabbing onto her ankle. A startled, “No!” sounded from her lips as she gripped onto the handrail to stop her inevitable fall.

“Get back down here,” Warren shouted angrily turning red in the process. Both Jonathan and Andrew turned their heads in his direction, puzzled looks on their faces at his seemingly contradictory order.

“Not you two. Get the brat,” he pointed directly at Connor and hobbled toward the stairs.

Shaking her foot until she wriggled out of Andrew’s grasp, Cordelia stomped hard on his hand causing him to screech in pain. Girly cry, much? The thought no more popped into her head than she saw Jonathan barreling up the stairs practically stepping all over Andrew to follow her.

Bracing herself for what might happen, Cordelia reached the top of the steps, turned the doorknob and darted out into the hallway. Now darkened by shadows as the sun sank behind the clouds on the other side of the house, the hallway light was just dim enough to momentarily confuse her as she looked for the front entrance.

Calling out to her friend, Cordelia shouted out her name hoping that she would hear, “Willow!”

Jonathan saw Cordelia close in on the front door. Taking a deep breath, he focused on what he needed to do. Part of him wanted her to make it out, but the other part was just as determined to go through with the plans the way they’d been set up.

He was supposed to be evil, dammit, and these twinges of sympathy didn’t go with his new image.

Words of magick came to him as he concentrated and before Cordelia could get to the door, a pine console scraped across the floor blocking her path. Even he was amazed at himself, exclaiming, “Wow! It worked,” then found himself face to face with Cordelia whose only path out of the house now seemed to be through the back door and she had to go through him to do it.

“Get out of my way, Jonathan,” her eyes pleaded even as she saw Andrew appear in the hallway behind him.

“Sorry, Cordy. I told you I’d stop you if I had too,” Jonathan stepped forward slowly and for every step he took, Cordelia backed into the living room.

Connor was awake and alert, his bright eyes open, but without a peep sounding; his little ear pressed up against Cordelia and hearing the rapid lub-dubbing of her heart. Soft hands clutched his tiny body, holding him close, holding him as safe as could be.

The familiar scents and sounds were all he needed at the moment being completely innocent of the danger.

Backed against the edge of a chair, with Jonathan standing before her holding out his arms for the baby, Cordelia looked disappointed for a second, “I’m sorry, too…NOT!” Jonathan’s eyes crossed as her knee connected with his groin. He squeaked in pain, grabbing his crotch and falling to the floor.

Unfortunately, Andrew was right there at her side, his wiry body snaking around and his hands latching on to Connor. Warren clamped down on Cordelia’s arm and in a moment, the baby was wretched from her protective hold. “Connor!”

Almost simultaneously, the front door flew off its hinges, the power behind the kick that opened it splintering the wood and pushing the console out of the way. It slid to a halt at an angle right in front of the entrance to the foyer door leading out to the garage.

The struggling and movement inside the living room paused as shocked eyes turned toward the door to see Willow Rosenberg stepping into the foyer.

Here goes nothin’, Willow thought. Looks like Cordelia’s not the only one with Oscar aspirations.

With a stage-whisper to Angel who had heard Cordelia’s alarmed cry and decided it was too late to wait for the others to show up, “Thanks for the ticket inside.” Louder, she threatened, “Make one move and you’re all rats… except for Cor and the baby, of course.”

Jonathan struggled to his feet, still grimacing in pain, “Go! I’ll do what I can to stop her.” Assuming that Willow had used magick to break down the door, he was quite certain that she would go through with her threat if she could, but the nature of that kind of spell would take more time and concentration than he figured possible.

Though it occurred to Andrew that it might be funny to see Warren as a big rat, the likelihood that he would be next wasn’t as amusing.

Panic set in as Andrew saw the blocked door to the garage. He wavered for a moment between attempting to shove aside the console and racing down the hallway that was now the only clear path out of the house.

Pulling Cordelia in front of him as a shield despite her struggles, Warren watched as Andrew darted toward the back door. “Not that way, moron,” he called out as their things were all in the van.

“Plan C,” Andrew yelled back over his shoulder as days of strategic planning finally kicked in.

“Idiot,” muttered Warren realizing that Andrew would have to run for nearly half a mile in the woods behind the house to reach the cave that served as their emergency hideout. As for Jonathan, if he wanted to be the martyr and stay behind… let him.

Watching Cordelia forcibly held by her stronger attacker, Angel pounded an invisible hand against the barrier, unable to get in. Calling out her name now might only give Warren an added advantage, so he forced himself to stay silent. No matter his own futile desire to save her, Angel knew there was nothing he could do.

Connor might be another story. The little punk who had his son was obviously trying to escape and the moment he set foot out of the house, Angel was determined to be there to stop him. With one last look at Cordelia, who was sounding off at Warren as she tried to pull free, Angel raced from the front entryway around the corner of the house.

“I told you not to move,” Willow put her hands on her hips in a stance she’d seen Buffy take a hundred times when facing off against an enemy. Looking tough was a little easier when you could actually use the powers you possessed.

The thought of turning these weasels… aww that could be cute… into rats was very tempting. “Now that Amy’s all human again, I have a cage sitting empty just for you. Free rent, too.”

Warren heard Amy Madison had turned up again after her sudden disappearance, but that didn’t mean Willow had anything to do with it. Adam’s apple bobbing as Warren swallowed reflexively, “She’s bluffing.”

“Nope, not bluffing. Hope you like cheese,” Willow smirked as she calculated the time remaining until reinforcements would arrive. “Let Cordy go.”

“Forget it, witch.” Warren wrapped one arm around Cordelia’s waist, holding her up against him as he also kept a tight grip on the Invisibility Ray. He wasn’t about to put it down. Shielding his body with hers, he pulled them toward the hallway while hearing Jonathan start to chant something. “Try anything and Queen C is gonna get it first.”

Twisting her body, Cordelia tried to escape Warren’s clutches, but was too intent on what had happened to Connor to focus on the defensive techniques Angel had taught her. “Willow, go after Connor!” She settled for a jab of her elbow.

A whoosh of breath followed as Warren released her, doubling over just long enough for Cordelia to grab the ray gun and send it sliding across the hardwood floor. It came to a halt halfway between Willow and Jonathan who both looked at each other for several seconds before lunging for the weapon.

Jonathan figured they could use the invisibility to escape. Assuming he could get his hands on it, which was difficult with Willow practically doing a belly flop on top of him. “No you don’t,” Willow shouted out as she wrestled with him for supremacy.

Hearing signs of the struggle from the living room, Andrew stared back down the hallway seeing silhouettes grappling in the distance. “No way are we going back there,” Andrew commented to Connor whose little face immediately scrunched up into frown at the sound of the stranger’s voice. “We are definitely going with Plan C.”

Flinging open the back door, Andrew was about to step outside and then realized the baby’s diaper bag, powdered formula and the extra bottles they had prepared were still sitting on the kitchen counter.

Andrew decided that if he was going to have to take care of a baby for whatever length of time it would take Warren and Jonathan to meet him at the rendezvous point, he was going to make sure he had what he needed.

Angel stood at the back door… waiting. He could see his son just a few feet away, but still couldn’t get to him. He’d never felt so frustrated over anything in his long existence and started to pace in front of the doorway until he realized that he was wearing a visible path into the lawn.

“C’mon, little vampire baby,” Andrew settled Connor into the infant carrier that Cordelia had earlier set in a safe spot, “be really, really quiet. We don’t want any nasty Slayers after us, do we?”

Down the hall, Warren grabbed Cordelia by the hair as she started to run toward the back of the house in the direction Andrew had taken Connor. “Bitch! That’s two you owe me,” he raged in her ear. Despite a few moves that nearly set her free, Cordelia couldn’t break loose of his hold, anger seeming to make him stronger.

Dragging her toward the door that led to the garage, he pushed her against the wall as he shoved aside the console blocking the entry, leaning his body against hers for a moment longer than he needed to.

“Hope you said goodbye to your little brat. If I don’t catch up with Andrew again, you’ll have to forget the reunion. It’ll be just you and me.”

Pushing her into the garage, Warren made the mistake of changing his hold on her so that she faced him. Cordelia immediately threw a punch in his direction and felt the hard contact of her knuckles against his nose. His head snapped back followed by a gush of blood and a grunt of pain.

“My friends will hunt you down,” Cordelia promised him. Thinking, Right after they rescue Connor, she hoped Willow wasn’t as alone as it seemed. “You’ll be sorry you ever set foot in Los Angeles.”

Holding onto his nose with one hand and Cordelia’s wrist with the other, Warren reassessed his situation. This whole project was a huge bust. Here he was with no Invisibility Ray, no baby to sell to the highest bidder and only one classy bitch to keep him company on the long road to wherever.

Cordelia Chase might be beautiful and everything he wanted and deserved to have in high school though never got, but she was too much trouble to manage on his own.

That didn’t mean Warren was going to let her get away with shooting him in the leg and breaking his nose. Both still hurt like hell. Curling his bloodied hand into a fist, he sent her flying back against a brick column, her head hitting hard just before her body crumpled to the floor.

“Oh, crap!” Warren hadn’t planned on that. He took one look at the blood seeping across the cement floor of the garage and nearly gagged at the sight of it. Why did this always happen to him? Turning sharply, he limped toward the van.

Andrew took one step out the back door and within the space of a second, the carrier was snatched from his hand. “Aaaaah!” A high-pitched scream followed as he felt a large hand grab the collar of his shirt an instant before he was yanked up onto the toes of his shoes.

“Guess who?” Angel snarled in his ear resulting in a whimper from the now quaking smaller man.

Answering the redundant question anyway, Andrew squeaked, “A-Angel. You really are invisible. Cool.”

Feeling the urge to shake him, Angel suppressed it in order to take a closer look at Connor. The baby appeared to be fine, which was fortunate for young Andrew. “You are going to get me into this house,” Angel shoved him back toward the door while maintaining his hold.

“It— it’s not my house,” Andrew pointed out. He knew the drill about vampires and invitations.

Angel knew there was a slim chance of it working. This might not be the place where Andrew lived full time, but he certainly had ownership of their basement lair. “Invite me in anyway.”

The gravelly demand had Andrew glancing over his shoulder. He could hear Willow and Jonathan squalling in the background, but not Warren or Cordelia. Inviting the vampire into the house would end any chance his friends had of making it to the van before the Slayer arrived. Assuming she wasn’t already here.

“No?” It came out like a question, Andrew looking back and forth at the blank space before him.

“Do it, now!” Angel’s raised voice only caused Connor to let out a startled cry and his father growled low in angry response.

Sniveling now, Andrew agreed to try. “Umm…okay…I invite you in, I guess.”

Discovering that the barrier remained intact, Angel decided he’d wasted enough time on Andrew. He needed to get back out front and see how Cordelia and Willow were doing handling the other two.

Dragging Andrew along behind him would have taken too long, so Angel simply grabbed him by the waist and carried him. Andrew was too whiny and caught up in self-pity to remember to struggle.

A car pulled up directly onto the sidewalk just as Angel rounded the corner. Xander emerged from the driver’s side, barely noticing the fact that Andrew and the carrier were seemingly suspended in midair. From the front lawn, he could see Willow and Jonathan standing just inside the front doorway, each with their hands on the large metallic ray gun pulling it one way and then the other.

Fred was also on the driver’s side of the car, back in the passenger seat. Letting out an excited whoop, she ran toward the baby carrier understanding immediately that it was Angel with his son and one of the kidnappers. “Connor!”

“Take the baby, Fred,” Angel handed off the carrier. Gunn was approaching at a rapid pace with Anya trailing behind.

“Where’s Cordy?” asked Gunn as soon as he reached Angel.

“Still inside,” Angel nodded toward the house forgetting for a moment that Gunn couldn’t see him. “I need you to—”

“On it!” Just as Gunn moved toward the front door, a loud crash sounded as a black van with the Death Star painted on one side burst through the garage door. The van bounced complainingly across the shards scattered across the driveway, rubber tires squealing as Warren maneuvered it onto the road at full speed.

Gunn took off at a sprint, darting after the van. Thinking only that Warren was trying to escape with Cordelia, Angel unceremoniously dropped Andrew to the ground at Anya’s feet just before he followed, his vampiric speed allowing him to quickly catch up.

“Hello, I am Anya,” the blonde smiled down at Andrew appearing quite cordial. “You are now my prisoner and will refrain from any attempt at escaping.”

On the ground, crawling up to his hands and knees, Andrew glanced toward the road and calculated his chances of outrunning a woman wearing sandals. He’d barely even conceived of the notion when Anya’s smile turned into a frown.

Stomping on his sore hand, she then dug her heel into his back, “Stay down, you little pipsqueak.”

With another screech of tires, the back of the van swayed as Warren momentarily lost control. But he had it back on course a moment later, moving at a pace neither Angel nor Gunn could match. Three houses down, Angel pulled up and stopped Gunn before he got any further down the road.

“You’re driving,” Angel tossed the keys to the Plymouth to Gunn just before hopping into the passenger seat. “Pull up right behind him.”

A glance in the rearview mirror told Warren he might have just escaped the arrival of the cavalry, but he now had a car on his tail. The black convertible was approaching fast. There was one man behind the wheel, someone Warren didn’t recognize.

With luck, Warren hoped to lose him now that the sun was barely more than a slit of light across the horizon.

Focusing on the road in front of him, Warren caught a glimpse of Buffy Summers appearing from a side-street. One moment of eye contact was enough to tell Warren he was in deep trouble. As she was already running at a fast pace, Buffy moved with an incredible burst of speed at an angle intended to intercept him.

Stepping on the gas pedal, Warren floored it. His heart beat a rapid thump in his chest and sweat beaded across his forehead.

What speed was it they’d clocked the Slayer at again? He couldn’t remember. The speedometer blurred a little. Surely he was going faster than that, he thought just as he zoomed past Buffy.

A clunk sounded at the back of the van, followed by another. Warren tried swerving in the middle of the road, but went too far managing to sideswipe a parked car. The sounds were getting closer now, on the roof of the van.

Something was up there. Warren let out a jerky laugh, almost an insane giggle, as he told himself he was just denying the truth. What was that again? Every hero needed an arch-nemesis, he thought. Every evil-doer needed a champion to make the odds more interesting.

Looked like the Slayer was going to win this one, after all.

The passenger door opened and Buffy slipped into the seat, shutting the door, and taking a moment to smooth her flaxen hair as she turned to look at Warren. He sat there, still speeding down the road as she gave him a perky little smile that told him he was toast.

As if seeing the Slayer sitting calmly in his passenger seat wasn’t enough, the back door of the van was suddenly ripped away. “What the hell is that?” Warren gaped and drove even faster as if he could simply drive away from whatever was coming his way.

Equally startled, Buffy wondered the same thing. Then her Slayer senses kicked in and she instinctively knew it was Angel.

“Don’t worry,” Buffy quipped as she grabbed Warren from his seat leaving the van momentarily driverless. “First, you’ll deal with me,” she pulled him into a headlock against the dashboard.

Not exactly what Angel had in mind when he jumped into the van, he made a grab for the spinning wheel as the van veered off the street and into a small park.

“Where is Cordy?” Angel demanded as he turned the van around heading back the way they came.

Warren was too busy yelping in pain to answer. “Oww! Not so hard.”

“Oh, sorry,” Buffy squeezed him a little tighter and knocked his forehead against the dashboard hard enough to leave a large bump. “Want me to kiss it better?”

Angel gripped the steering wheel tighter, suddenly thinking that it was probably a good thing that it was Buffy’s arm around Warren Meer’s neck and not his own. He wasn’t certain he would stop squeezing. “I asked you about Cordelia.”

“That’s your cue, dweeb,” Buffy prompted him while sending Angel a silent query with her eyes. She’d come here directly from the cemetery. It was closer than going back to the house and honestly, Buffy figured she could handle things on her own. If it looked like something bigger, then she had planned to find a phone and call for reinforcements.

Looked like the action had started a little ahead of schedule. Warren refused to say anything, clenching his jaw tight and pressing his mouth into a defiant line of hate. Buffy asked Angel, “What about Connor?”

“Safe,” he answered distractedly, his thoughts already moving ahead, back to the house and to Cordelia.

Angel turned the van into the driveway with Gunn pulling up along the sidewalk just behind them. As Buffy looked up, she saw everyone gathered together in the garage and quickly surveyed the group.

Willow stood beside Jonathan, both of them scruffy looking, though Jonathan’s hands were tied up behind his back with cords from a Venetian blind. Anya and Andrew stood side-by-side, the scrawny nerd appearing rather subdued and staring at his feet. A thin brunette held onto a baby, which Buffy assumed had to be Connor.

Then she saw that Xander was kneeling on the ground… next to Cordelia. Turning to look toward Angel, despite his invisibility, Buffy saw that the door was already open. He was already on his way. The tall black man she assumed to be Charles Gunn ran past the door at a fast pace.

“We’re getting out now, Warren,” Buffy told him just before tossing him through the door and onto the lawn. She hopped down, grabbed him by the arm and twisted it behind his back into a steady grip that kept him completely under control. The loud curses that sounded in the air caused her to groan in disgust, “Shut up.”

Angel scented blood in the air as soon as he had opened the van door; his head was spinning at the realization that it belonged to Cordelia. He could see her lying still as death amongst the crowd, and it was too difficult to filter out all of the pulsing hearts surrounding her to tell if hers still beat.

At a run, he smashed into the invisible barrier that had kept him apart from her from the moment of his arrival. “Cordy?” The crowd turned at the anguished sound. Just as he was about to ask them if she was alive, Gunn accidentally knocked into him as he headed into the garage.

Buffy’s arrival with Warren went unnoticed as everyone was focused on the form of the fallen seer and the tormented voice of the invisible vampire. They didn’t need to see Angel to understand his feelings because they resonated from him with every syllable he uttered.

Propelling Gunn that final step into the garage, Angel stayed as close as he could get. Rasping thickly, “Bring her to me.”

Part 9

Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 7   1 comment

Part 7

Destiny or chance
Bounding to its pinnacle
To be acknowledged

A heart reaching out
Offering tokens of trust
Seeking a return

Revelations lost and found
Speaking from the heart.

With a powerful kick, Buffy sent the crushed soda can flying across the asphalt. The alley behind Willy’s bar was darkened by shadows as the sun dipped low in the sky, but the Slayer found herself standing there despite the passing minutes. She had to psyche herself up before moving on to her next target.

Willy knew nothing. Apparently the Trio wasn’t enough of a problem to cause much gossip. Now Buffy was left with no other recourse, but to contact Spike. He obviously knew how to get in touch with Warren having arranged for creation of the Buffybot.

Considering everything that happened between them over the past few days, Buffy had hoped to avoid all contact with him. She’d even gone as far as hanging cloves of garlic across her bedroom windows. Not that Buffy was afraid of Spike; it was her own behavior that scared her.
With a decisive flip of her lush golden hair, Buffy squared her shoulders and marched off in the direction of Spike’s crypt. No knocking required. She booted open the door, calling out his name when he wasn’t immediately there to complain about her forced entry.

Stepping up from the lower cavern, Spike was surprised that she would come to him so soon, a fact that he immediately hid behind a confident leer. “Couldn’t stay away, luv? Told you I was in your blood.”

Like a startled deer caught in the headlights of a moving car, Buffy watched as Spike strode across the short distance separating them. His hard torso was on display as he was dressed only in a pair of scruffy black jeans and his boots. “I’m not here for you, Spike. I need information.”

He leaned in close, curling his fingers into her silky hair and drinking in the scent of vanilla. Spike expected her reaction when Buffy placed a hand against his chest and pushed him away.

Quirking an eyebrow up, he queried, “Red giving you problems so soon or is it lil sis again?”

“Back off,” Buffy warned him against getting too close when he deliberately moved into her space again. “Actually, it’s Angel’s problem and I’m making it mine.”

Emotion flared in Spike’s blue eyes at the sound of that name, his expression shifting to stone-hard anger as his jaw tightened and the lines of his cheekbones sharpened. “That so? The big poof has more problems than even you could take on in a lifetime. He back in town again?”

In a fight, Buffy used any and every weapon at her disposal. So she didn’t even think twice about telling Spike, “He will be. On his way right now, not that it’s any of your business.”

The inference that Angel was also coming to see her wasn’t lost on Spike. “Maybe I think it is.”

“Then you’re just dreaming,” Buffy snapped back. “I don’t have time to deal with you right now.”

Spike reached out and put his hand on her shoulder, running his thumb across her collar bone. “You can deal with me however you like. Just tell me what you want that I have.”

Slapping his hand away, Buffy reminded him, “Information.”

“Gonna cost you, luv.”

“Shut up with the pet names,” she demanded before adding, “I don’t have any cash.”

He loved to wind Buffy up. Spike shrugged, “A kiss will do.”

Fed up and suddenly subjected to the memory of the heated kisses they’d shared amongst other things, Buffy curled up her fist. “How’s this?” She laid a punch right across his mouth before Spike even had time to react.

Crashing into the wall, Spike let out a growl, “Not exactly what I had in mind.”

She’d stalked forward looking to do it again, only this time he caught her arms pulling her against him. One kiss of brutal fury fed from their mutual anger. Then somewhere in the middle anger turned to passion and it was only when Buffy came up gasping for air that they broke apart, Spike looking triumphant.

Buffy felt like punching that grin from his face. She wanted to throw him down to the hard floor of the crypt and… and there was really no time for any of that. Instead, demanding, “Where can I find Warren’s hangout?”

It took a moment for Spike to switch gears. “Warren? Oh, you mean the King of the Geeks and his little goon squad.”

“Angel needs to find him pronto.”

Snorting with laughter, Spike grabbed the opportunity to poke a little fun at his old grandsire. “So that’s his problem. Curse finally getting to him. Figures he can use a little love’bot of his own.”

“Shut. Up. Spike,” she gritted her teeth and barely restrained the urge to go after him again. Reminders of the Buffybot and its primary protocol were not exactly in his favor.

Then his voice softened, those blue eyes intent upon hers, “Doesn’t compare to the real thing, luv.”


Dawn opened the front door almost as soon as the doorbell rang. She’d heard the tires screeching to a halt outside and knew that it had to be Angel and the gang from LA. She took a quick glance at the tall black man and the petite brunette before focusing on Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.

“Wow! You’ve changed,” Dawn’s cupid-bowed mouth fell open as she stared at the stubble-jawed Englishman.

Wes blushed a little under her close stare, “Yes, haven’t we all? You’ve grown since I last saw you. Dawn, these two are Winifred Burkle and Charles Gunn, friends and associates at Angel Investigations.”

“Hi, I’m Fred,” the Texan smiled big as she moved past Dawn into the house. “You’re Buffy’s sister, right?”

Nodding, Dawn concluded that Fred seemed friendly enough, though it was a little weird the way she emphasized Buffy’s name that way. “The others are all in the living room.”

“Any word from Buffy?” Angel’s voice sounded from the doorway causing Dawn to look back in that direction.

Wide eyes staring, she decided she liked him a lot better this way. “Cool, you really are invisible.”

“Dawn,” the impatient undertone sounded.

So much for liking him, Dawn thought. “No, she’s not back yet.”

Wes moved into the foyer to greet Willow and Xander as they walked in from the adjacent living room. His eyes kept searching behind them, but he saw only one other person in the room, Anya. “Did Mister Giles accompany Buffy?”

It was Willow who finally answered him after she shared a surprised look with her friends. “Giles is in England. We thought you knew.”

“No,” Wes admitted. “I had hoped for his assistance in researching an artifact.”

“I can help,” Willow actually looked eager to do so. Using her computer skills again was just what she needed to keep her mind off of magick. “Before he left, Giles and I uploaded all of his books into PDF files on my laptop. We have a whole database.”

With a relieved nod, Wes thanked her. Then turning back toward the door told Angel, “I’ll get started while you discuss the situation with everyone.”

Wes followed Willow into the dining room where she had her laptop set up on one end of the table. Fred and Gunn were already in the living room and Dawn was about to follow when she heard Angel ask, “Dawn, could you invite me in?”

For a few seconds of gleeful pleasure, Dawn stood with her back to the door and a smirk tugging at the corners of her lips. It was probably a good thing that she could not see his reaction when she told him, “C’mon in, Angel. It’s not like you’ll be the only vampire with free access to the house.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, she regretted it. Though she could neither see nor hear him at the moment, Dawn felt Angel looming close. Spike wasn’t exactly his favorite person and though she hadn’t mentioned his name, she knew Angel would get it.

Dawn’s words only stirred concerns that Angel had long since pushed to the back of his mind. He was aware that Spike had helped them out during Glory’s defeat. On some level, he also knew Spike had stuck around during Buffy’s…absence.

The fact that he was still in town and still involved, with or without a behavioral chip, worried him, but this was hardly the time or place for that lecture.

“Since Buffy’s not back, here’s what we’re going to do,” Angel told them without further delay. “The kidn—”

Anya interrupted, “Could you put on a hat? Xander, go get him a hat. It’s very disconcerting to hear you, but not see you.”

“It would also turn invisible,” Angel calmly pointed out. Then he tried again, “The kidnappers live here in Sun—”

“Invisible Vamp,” Xander muttered thinking he was really glad it was Angel and not Spike. Even chipped, Spike could manage to get into trouble. Still, he had to admit, “It’s kinda cool.”

Angel was a little less calm about it when he said, “Not from my perspective. Can we just focus on the problem? This is about Cordelia and my son being in the hands of three madmen.”

“But Buffy said that it was just Warren, Jonathan and Andrew,” commented Willow as she made her way back from the dining room where Wes was now set up with her computer. “They’re a little weird, but I don’t think they’re crazy. And why would they turn you invisible?”

“The invisibility was an accident,” Angel explained. “Their energy weapon overloaded and this is the result. Whatever scheme they’ve cooked up doesn’t matter. We’re going to stop them.”

Xander knew he didn’t like the idea of Cordelia being anywhere near Warren knowing the way he treated women. The guy was a creep extraordinaire. As for the idea of Angel being a father, Xander wasn’t sure what to think.

He’d seen the look in Buffy’s eyes that told him not to ask too many questions and so he’d let her run out of the house on her own.

“So what’s the plan?” Xander asked quite seriously.

Wondering if he was going to get it out on this third attempt, Angel explained that while Buffy was searching for the Trio’s official hideout, it might be possible to find some clues in their homes. “They all live here in Sunnydale, right?”

“Right,” Willow and Xander answered.

“So we’ll split up and head to each location.” Angel verified that they could find the places where each of the guys lived.

Xander figured it was easy, “With their parents. I’ll grab the phonebook.”

“Dawn, you’ll stay here with Wes,” instructed Angel as he started to divide them all into teams. “Stick to the phone. We’ll call if we find something and you relay the message to everyone else. As soon as Buffy arrives, send her to that location.”

Realizing that Angel was actually trusting her with some responsibility, Dawn promised, “I can do that.”

“Wes?” Angel called out to him.

Glancing up from the computer, Wes commented, “I’ve found something. It’s very preliminary, though. This will take time to translate.”

“Keep at it.”

Xander and Anya were assigned to go to Andrew’s house. Considering the fact that Andrew’s brother Tucker had raised the Hellhounds that attacked the prom, there was no telling what they might find. They borrowed Wesley’s cell phone in order to call in a report.

Angel had Willow map out directions for Fred and Gunn to get to Jonathan’s house, which was apparently within walking distance. Xander would drop them off at the nearest crossroads before heading to the south side of town.

“Willow, you’re coming with me,” Angel told her. Warren’s parent’s house was the furthest away. “We’ll take the Plymouth.”

Gunn tossed the keys in the air in the direction of Angel’s voice. They were caught, appearing to be suspended in midair until they vanished after a few seconds. Angel asked Willow, “Do you drive?”

Nibbling on her lower lip, Willow mumbled her answer, “I’m not really comfortable driving right now. I wrecked a car a couple of days ago.”

“Then I hope you don’t mind the passenger seat,” Angel took hold of her arm and was already heading out the door. They’d delayed things long enough.

Buffy would get the information they needed or one of them would find it first. “Considering that this is Sunnydale, the locals shouldn’t be too shocked by an invisible driver.”


Connor’s crying settled down only as Cordelia picked him up. Holding him against her shoulder, she whispered to him, “Hang in there, little guy.”

She’d conned Andrew into learning how to make the baby’s formula. He was running back and forth around the kitchen completely distracted. Jonathan, however, was not quite so easy to maneuver away from his spot near the door.

Carefully putting Connor down again having moved his carrier to a safer location, Cordelia eyed a heavy frying pan lying in the sink. She edged toward it while making it appear that she was just there to check on Andrew’s progress with warming up the baby’s milk. By the time Jonathan got over here, she figured Andrew would be laid out cold on the floor.

Just as her hand moved along the edge of the sink, Warren appeared in the doorway behind Jonathan. “You won’t believe it.”

Cordelia snatched her hand away from the sink. Opportunity lost she waved Andrew out of the way and took over the task of getting Connor’s bottle ready. The baby was hungry and if they weren’t going to get out of here right now, he needed to eat.

The trio congregated in the middle of the kitchen as she watched them from the corner of her eye.

“I’ve checked out the fried conduits,” Warren explained. “They triggered a response from the power source.”

Jonathan nodded, “I thought that might be it. Feedback from the energy build-up caused a mystical purge from the stone.”

“The beam looked different than our test,” Andrew commented. “The light waves from the laser were dispersed into a wider spread than they should have been.”

Warren told them the worst of his findings, “The magick power source caused some kind of alteration in the weapon’s primary function. Watch this.”

He pointed the ray gun at Andrew who backed away, hands in the air. “Watch where you’re pointing that, dude. You’re not exactly Boba Fett.”

“Got the vampire, didn’t I?” Warren frowned at the insult to his shooting skills. “Move out of the way; I’m aiming at Mom’s begonias.”

Cordelia saw Warren turn the laser gun toward the small pot of flowers sitting in the middle of the kitchen table. After he charged the device, a beam of blue light flashed and an instant later there was nothing left behind.

“What’s so different about that?” Jonathan asked. “It’s the same as before: total obliteration.”

Smirking at his own discovery, Warren walked to the table, put down the gun and reached forward. It appeared that he was holding nothing, but a moment later, he let his hands drop to his sides and a loud crash sounded as something hit the floor.

Warren laughed at their confusion, explaining, “We’ve got an invisibility ray.”

“Cool,” Jonathan gasped as he bent down to touch the evidence of the broken clay pot and the soft flower petals now invisible to his eyes.

“Cool,” Andrew’s response came at the same time. “That’s way better than just a Destructo Ray.”

In total agreement, Warren had to add, “Just think of what we can do now.”



Listening in, Cordelia clutched the edge of the kitchen counter, holding on tight until her hands hurt from the effort. The gun made things invisible. Did that happen after they shot Angel or before? A thread of hope curled up inside her.

Please let it be true, the words repeated in her head.

She wasn’t the only one thinking about Angel. Jonathan glanced her way and then asked his buddies, “Warren, what if the overload fried those circuits before you hit the vampire?”

“I got him,” Warren sounded certain. “He felt that shot.”

Andrew thought back to the incident, remembering the pulse of the light and the way the vampire had hit the floor before he vanished. They’d assumed he was completely obliterated, but a laser would probably have a different affect on a vampire. “There should have been dust.”

Picking Connor up from his carrier, Cordelia gave him his bottle as she walked over to stand next to her three captors. She didn’t know why the PTB would send her a vision that made her think Angel was about to die, but right now she didn’t care. If he was still alive…undead…whatever…Cordelia knew one thing for certain.

“You three are so going to have your asses kicked,” she grinned saying it. “Not just by me.”

They stared at her for a few seconds before taking her threat to heart. In panic mode they jockeyed for position closer to the door, Warren grabbing the Invisibility Ray from the table.


“He knows we’re from Sunnydale.”

“He’ll bring the Slayer.”

Cordelia was almost enjoying their Keystone Cops maneuvers when Warren swung around and grabbed her arm. “Hey! Watch it. I’ve got the baby.”

“Back down to the lair,” Warren told them.

Jonathan figured they’d be headed out the door. “Now?”

“We’ve got to get our stuff. Who knows when it will be safe to come back,” Warren explained.

“I’ll grab the video games and you get the magazines,” suggested Andrew as he ran down the basement steps ahead of Jonathan.

Warren called down to them, “I meant the important stuff.”

“Oh, right. Got it. Autographed scripts and mint condition comic books only,” nodded Jonathan as he moved toward the safe holding their most precious possessions.

All of their plans and blueprints were already onboard the van up in the garage, so it was just a matter of securing these last remaining items and verifying that it was safe to make their escape. “Andrew, check the perimeter.”

“Checking,” Andrew left Jonathan to his task and moved over to their makeshift periscope that popped up in the middle of Warren’s mother’s rose garden. “We’re clear on the west lawn. We’re clear to the north. Wait…no! The perimeter has been breached. There’s someone behind the oak tree.”

Warren and Jonathan both ran to the periscope trying to push Andrew out of the way. Being larger than the other two, Warren won the shoving match. “Oh, no. It’s her.”

Part 8

Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 6   1 comment

Part 6

Enlightened by pain
Out of the gloom of despair
Truth clouded no more

Destiny or chance
Bounding to its pinnacle
To be acknowledged

A heart reaching out
Offering tokens of trust
Seeking a return

If the van had been a jumble of computers and gizmos, the Geek Trio’s basement lair was ten times worse.

Not only was it crowded by electronic devices and strange gadgets, but it was decorated in a hodgepodge theme of every science fiction movie from the past fifteen years. Action figurines held places of honor amongst the dust-collectors Cordelia classified as junk.

Setting Connor down in the carrier she’d insisted they bring along, Cordelia glanced around at the corner of the room she currently occupied. Andrew stood guard, his arms crossed over his thin torso. He looked like she could take him out with a swift kick in the right spot.

Unfortunately, they weren’t alone.

Warren and Jonathan were busy at the worktable across the room going over their ray gun and muttering about the fact that it had overloaded back at the Hyperion. There was no way to get past them and up the stairs with Connor.

Her eyes fell upon a large white board in the center of the room, set up in front of three recliners. Colorful ink outlined THE PLAN with a mix of diagrams and a partially ticked off list of things to do.

Already crossed off were: Conduct Slayer Testing, Design Weapon and Infiltrate Museum Security/Steal Diamond. There was an added note on the side: Hypnotize Buffy along with some scribbling in some other handwriting reading Buffy = Sex Bunny.

Cordelia snorted at the image in her head, but realized quickly enough that Warren, sleazoid that he was, seemed to have her in mind as a substitute. That was just… beyond eew!

No matter how moronic these genius nerds actually seemed, the fact was that they’d managed to pull off some of the things on their list.

The rest included: Steal Baby; Create Online Auction Website; Sell Baby/Get Rich; Kill Slayer (If We Can’t Hypnotize Her); Take Over Sunnydale; Girls, Girls, Girls.

“So that’s the weapon from your list. You needed something powerful enough to hurt Buffy,” Cordelia commented trying to draw Andrew into conversation. She managed to get Warren’s attention as well.

Warren glanced over his shoulder, pausing in his work as he and Jonathan examined the inner workings of the ray gun. The overload had caused some changes, fusing a few of the electronic pathways. Always willing to talk about his own expertise, he did not even give Andrew a chance to respond.

“Your boyfriend was a guinea pig,” he explained without a shred of real sympathy to the fact. “Target number one. We didn’t have time for testing on anything except a few empty soda cans, so powering up enough to target someone his size caused an unexpected overload. It didn’t hurt for very long.”

“Like that’s such a comfort,” Cordelia snapped, pain and anger welling up inside her until she could no longer hold it back.

Why was it only now that he was gone that she understood how much Angel meant to her? That it took death and disaster to clear her mind of the veils of denial hiding the truth. That the reason she’d reacted to Darla’s presence, to her pregnancy and to Angel’s lie had been about far more than feeling betrayed by a friend.

It was too late to think about the way her body tingled in response to his accidental touches during their training sessions or the way that lately she sometimes caught him staring.

Cordelia didn’t bother to hide her hatred of Warren at that moment. She only knew what she’d suddenly lost and that he was the cause. “Murdering Angel will only bring you trouble, starting with me.”

Scoffing at the idea, Warren’s dark gaze slid down the curves both accentuated and hidden by her casual clothing. He’d always preferred leggy brunettes. “We’ll talk later about what you can do to make up for shooting me in the leg.”

“Don’t even think about going there,” Cordelia wasn’t about to be intimidated by that leer or his words. Andrew and Jonathan just looked uncomfortable when faced with the reality of actually having a female present in their lair, especially her. “Go back to playing with your toys.”

“This toy will get us anything we want,” Warren told her before adding, “just as soon as I get it working again. The Slayer is the only one who can stop us and this…this… Destructo Ray has enough power to kill her.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes at his attempt at naming his invention. “Destructo Ray? Do you even have an imagination?”

The sudden sound of Connor crying distracted both Cordelia and Warren, covering up the simultaneous sound of sniggering coming from Jonathan. Andrew actually looked a little concerned, ignoring the irritation on Warren’s face which he normally would have enjoyed, and peeked into the infant’s carrier.

“What’s wrong with it?”

Connor, is hungry, dumbass,” Cordelia stressed the baby’s name. “I need to go up to the kitchen to make his formula.”

Warren didn’t want to let her out of his sight. “Andrew will do it.”

“I will?”

Jonathan found another source of amusement as Andrew’s face paled to an even pastier color. “How complicated can it be? It’s not like you’re titrating combustible liquids this time.”

The Chem Class experiment had literally blown up in his face, Andrew remembered. It took three months for his eyebrows to grow back.

“Read the label,” Jonathan prompted.

Seeing an opportunity to get out of the basement and closer to the front door, Cordelia suggested, “Why don’t I do it. Andrew can guard me up there just as well as down here.”

Not well enough, she added silently.

With the moves Angel had been showing her, Cordelia felt certain she could take Andrew out easily enough. She just had to make sure that Connor was safe while she trampled Nerd Number Three.

Warren wasn’t quite so trusting, apparently. “Leave the kid. Just shut him up first.”

“No way I’m leaving him down here with you,” she picked up Connor carrier and all. “He’s staying with me and I’m going to fix him something to eat.”

She started moving toward the basement stairs only to find Warren and Jonathan blocking her path. Andrew was behind her, holding the bulging diaper bag that held Connor’s things. He looked back and forth between Warren and Cordelia as they faced off in a staring contest.

After a full minute, Warren nudged Jonathan with an elbow. “You go with them. Just don’t let Cordelia out of your sight.”

“Dontcha trust me?” Cordelia smirked as she brushed past him following behind as Jonathan led the way up.

Warren grabbed her by the arm, jostling the baby carrier in the process and causing Connor to wail louder than before. “Just don’t try anything stupid. It’ll piss me off.”

Not liking the look Warren was giving her, Jonathan called down to her from the top of the stairs, “C’mon, Cordelia. He gets cranky when his toys don’t work.”

Glaring down at the hand grasping her arm, Cordelia forced herself to stay quiet. She wanted to tell him exactly what she thought of him, but there was still a chance to escape if she made it upstairs.

If she thought someone had a clue about where they were, Cordelia figured she’d relax and wait for the rescue party, but she was the only one here to save Connor.

When Warren’s hand opened up to release her, Cordelia took the stairs one by one, not once looking back despite the feeling that he was watching the sway of her hips. Waning daylight peeped through the door as it filtered in from the hallway above. Cordelia felt her heart pounding like a hammer in her chest as she got closer to the top of the steps.

Thoughts of fighting her way out of this might not be realistic when it involved two-thirds of the Geek Trio, Cordelia realized, but if the opportunity came to escape, they were going to take it.

Part 7

Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 5   1 comment

Part 5

Called by many names
Soaring to heights unmeasured
Bolstered by dreams

Enlightened by pain
Out of the gloom of despair
Truth clouded no more

Destiny or chance
Bounding to its pinnacle
To be acknowledged

Leaving Los Angeles and its heavy rush hour traffic behind, Gunn floored the Plymouth. The car zipped along the open highway, the California winds whipping around the convertible sending Fred’s hair flying around her shoulders.

Listening to her conversation with Wesley as they sat in the back seat, Angel figured the issue of his invisibility was in good hands, but it was time to focus on more pressing matters.

“We need to call ahead to Sunnydale,” Angel broke into their conversation.

Fred glanced toward the front passenger seat, focusing in on the spot where she knew Angel was sitting. A little guilt crept into her expression having been caught talking about the scientific and mystic causes of Angel’s condition.

It was just that it was something she knew she could help with and while the kidnapping was of great concern to them all, Fred figured Angel already had it covered.

“To that girl with the funny name?” Fred guessed wondering why she could never seem to recall it.

“Yes, that one,” confirmed Angel, the hint of a smile on his face going unseen. “Buffy went to school with Cordelia. So it’s my guess she knows the kidnappers. If they’ve been causing this kind of trouble in Sunnydale, chances are that she’ll know how to find them.”

Wes considered, “This is a kidnapping case, so perhaps we should notify the local authorities.”

“Riiiight,” Gunn’s sarcasm came through as he flashed a look at Wes via the rearview mirror. “An invisible vampire goes into a police station to report the kidnapping of his son and his… his seer.”

Cordelia. Her name and her face filled his thoughts as Angel noted the struggle Gunn made in finding the right descriptor. That was just one connection they shared. She was a friend, his best friend, and probably knew him better than any living soul.

The things he felt for her were nameless, but those feelings ran deep.

Just the thought of her at the mercy of young men who might have reason to want the beautiful former Queen C under their power made him a little crazy.

“No police,” Angel said firmly. If they dared to touch Cordelia, he’d take pleasure in ripping them apart limb by limb. “We’ll handle this my way.”

“Very well,” agreed Wesley without any argument knowing the effort would be futile. Anyone with the temerity to kidnap Angel’s son expecting to get away unscathed was either stupid or extremely desperate. He certainly wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of the vampire’s vengeance.

Having no idea exactly what kind of desperado villains they were dealing with, Wes added, “It’s a good thing that Cordelia is with Connor. We’ve got someone on the inside looking out for him.”

Angel’s mouth curled up at one corner. “Cordelia faced down Angelus with nothing but an attitude and a container of spring water. He’s in good hands as long as she’s with him.”

“They’ll be getting close to Sunnydale now,” Gunn commented as he read the green and white mileage marker that showed another eighty miles to go. “Better make that call.”

Pulling his cell phone out of his jacket pocket, Angel punched in a one and the area code for Sunnydale, but paused as he realized the enormity of the news he was about to spring on his former girlfriend.

She deserved to hear it face to face, but considering the importance of catching up with the kidnappers before they had a chance to contact potential buyers, he simply couldn’t afford to wait.

“Maybe I should contact Mister Giles first,” suggested Wesley when he noticed the lack of phone conversation coming from the front seat.

“No, Wes,” Angel silently added a thank you, understanding that his friend caught onto the reason for his hesitation, “this has to be done quickly. Buffy may know how to find to them before we even get to town.”

He punched in the rest of the numbers and after several rings, he heard a familiar, “Hello?”

“Dawn, it’s Angel,” he told the teenager. “Is Buffy around?”

“Oh, it’s you.” Dawn never really liked Angel and didn’t bother to hide that fact from him. It had nothing to do with him being a vampire. Lately, it had everything to do with not liking him showing up during times of crisis only to leave again.

Buffy was always pouting and moping for a few days afterward. “We’re fine. Nothing here for you to bother with. No apocalypses this week.”

“I need to talk to your sister,” Angel tried to suppress the growl rolling into his voice, but heard the gasp catch in her throat as she responded to it.

Then came her mumbled, “Spike was right,” just before she held the phone away from her mouth to holler at the top of her lungs, “BUFFY! Tall, dark and dudley is on the phone.”

Snatching the phone from her sister, Buffy whispered furiously, “He heard you say that.”

“So?” Dawn shrugged and automatically cradling her left arm defensively. She was still getting used to the cast having broken it during a recent car accident.

Buffy held the phone to her chest as she snapped back, “So you should just— aargh! Just go do your homework.”

With a defiant smirk, Dawn turned on her heel and stalked into the kitchen instead of heading up to her bedroom. For a moment, Buffy watched her go, completely caught up again in the frustration that was parenting an unruly younger sister.

Most days, Buffy felt she couldn’t even parent herself, much less Dawn. With Giles in England and Willow teetering on the edge of control due to her addiction to magick, Buffy’s usual support system was looking thin.

Glancing down at the phone in her hand, Buffy slowly pulled it up to her ear. Angel always had a knack for well-timed rescues, showing up when she needed him the most. She wanted to fall into his arms and never climb out again, but after all that had happened with Spike over the past few days, she wondered if she could even look him in the eye or if anything would ever be the same again.

“Hi,” her voice squeaked its tiny greeting. Quickly, she issued an apology for all that was rude and ungrateful in her world at the moment. “Sorry, Angel, you know Dawn. She’s still…”

“A teenager?” For some reason, Angel’s mind flashed to an image of Cordelia in her Sunnydale days; queen of all she surveyed, certain that the world revolved around her and allergic to anything that remotely resembled tact.

Not that the scant number of years since then had done anything to curb the bite of that tactless tongue. Cordelia had grown into one amazing woman. Maybe the whole world didn’t revolve around her, but his certainly did and that was something Angel was only now starting to realize.

“I was going to say pain in the neck,” Buffy sighed her confession.

The words snapped Angel out of his thoughts and back to the point of the phone call. “Buffy, I need your help.”

Instantly alert, Buffy heard the strain in his voice. “What is it?”

“This is urgent,” he stressed wishing again that this conversation wasn’t happening in such an impersonal manner. This wasn’t going to be easy in any form, but he’d have preferred to be there to help her through this shock.

“I need you to sit down and listen closely.”

Buffy’s eyes widened at the tone. “Oh, this is sit-down kind of news.” Bad, she knew and sank slowly onto the couch next to the living room phone. Her mind reeled with the possibilities as she waited the few seconds for Angel to reveal what he needed to say.

The silence on the other end of the line prompted her to quip, “Sitting.”

Feeling strangely nervous, Angel rubbed a hand along his tense neck muscles. Then he licked his dry lips and let out a breath he hadn’t even realized that he’d taken.

Deciding to start with the easy part, he asked, “Do you remember anyone from Sunnydale High named Warren, Jonathan or Andrew?”

Surprised, Buffy had been braced for news of a personal nature, not a query on old high school classmates who were more troublesome annoyances than anything else. “Unfortunately, yes.” She wasn’t about to go into the details about her opinions on Warren or his ability to create lifelike robots.

“Do they have a base of operations somewhere in Sunnydale?” A giggle sounded from Buffy’s end of the line causing Angel to wonder what he’d asked that was so funny.

“What— like a super secret clubhouse or something?” Buffy questioned as she gave it some thought. The idea of those three teaming up nearly gave her hives. “Sorry, but I have no idea if they have a Fortress of Solitude. I could ask around if it’s that important.”

Angel replied instantly, “It is. A lot has happened in LA while you’ve been…gone.” He had mourned her, but now that Buffy was again in the land of the living, Angel found it hard to think of the girl who’d given him his first experience with love as having been dead.

“There’s one thing I haven’t gotten around to telling you. More than one, I suppose, but mainly because I’ve been getting used to the fact myself.”

“Oh,” Buffy’s insides twisted into knots as the endless flow of her wild ideas suddenly narrowed into one distinct possibility. He’d found somebody else.

While her mind reeled in protest at the thought, one tiny voice reminded her she had made more than one effort to find a life and love of her own. Then again, Angel was supposed to pine for her forever if they couldn’t be together.

Except that she wanted him to be happy, too, sort of. Trying to sound supportive, she started off, “Well that is just—”

“I’m a father, Buffy,” Angel blurted the news as he cut her off, unable to make it come out any softer or less shocking. “I have a son. His name is Connor.”

Silence hung across the phone line as Buffy slowly digested the words. Not only had her suspicions been correct— he had found someone new— but they also had a child together. Angel had a family, one that didn’t include her.

Gripping the phone a little too tightly, she heard the plastic casing start to crack and forced herself to loosen her hold. “I didn’t know that was possible.”

Wasn’t that the whole gist of their breakup? That he was a vampire and she a Slayer. That he could never give her a normal life, presuming that someone like her even had real relationships or a family in their future.

“Neither did I,” Angel confessed, also conscious of the eavesdroppers listening in and making no pretense of the fact that they were doing so. “Connor’s birth was foretold by prophesy, though we figured that out afterward. There’s a lot more to it, but I don’t have time to go into details right now.”

Buffy was too caught up in the idea that Angel was making love to someone despite the curse binding his soul; that despite being a vampire he had given her a child of his. Though her heart hurt at the thought and her body ached with jealousy over the idea of it,

Buffy needed to know more. It didn’t matter if Angel thought he had no time for the details; Buffy was making time.

Because in her mind’s eye, Buffy found that the image of Connor’s mother wasn’t as faceless as she should have been. The conclusion she’d suddenly come to caused her vision to blur with tears, but she had to say it.

To find out if her suspicions were true after all, “Connor’s mother…she’s Cordelia, right?”

“C-Cordy? NO,” Angel’s denial came out a little too swiftly. Maybe Cordelia had once had a crush on him back in her Sunnydale days, but they were friends, just friends, just best friends. Surely that’s all she felt for him, anyway.

What was it with this new phenomenon where everyone seemed to be linking them together as a couple?

With her ear ringing from the loud shout, Buffy muttered, “Guess not.” Wrong thing to say, obviously. Defensive, much? Confused at the vehement response, she confessed, “I just thought it made sense.”

Coming from Buffy, that statement left Angel a little shaken. Part of him admitted that it made a hell of a lot of sense. But he didn’t have time for ‘What Ifs’, so he told her, “Connor’s mother is dead. Cordy’s my anchor; she keeps me grounded.”

Then Buffy was left to draw her own conclusions about Cordelia’s place in his life as emotion welled up so that the words were choked off, “If anything happens…”

Even as her unshed tears burned in her eyes, Buffy realized she’d never heard Angel speak about anything with that sound in his voice. Not when he told her he loved her, or when he gave her the Claddagh ring or even when they put an end to their relationship.

She didn’t like hearing the hurt, the fear or the helplessness sounding along with feelings of love that were supposed to be reserved for her.

Angel loved his son and he obviously cared for Cordelia. Something had happened to prompt this phone call. It wasn’t like Angel to call her out of the blue and he’d said that it was urgent. So Buffy wiped away the tears glistening in her eyes and asked,

“What’s the trouble?”

“There’s a price on Connor’s head,” Angel explained. “Ever since his birth we’ve been fighting off one group or another bound to capture or kill him, humans and demons.”

Shifting out of jealous ex-girlfriend mode, Buffy put her Slayer cap on. Nodding her understanding and concluding that something had happened to both Cordelia and Connor, she spoke into the phone, “So how can I help?”

Having expected fireworks, whining, or demands for more details than he wanted to get into over the telephone, Angel realized that Buffy had changed, too. Though he didn’t have the time to consider the reasons; he was just grateful for it.

“Cordy and Connor have been kidnapped,” Angel’s tone hardened to the point of cold steel.

Thinking back to the question he’d first asked her, Buffy made the leap, “Are you saying that you think Warren, Andrew and Jonathan are responsible?”

“I know they are. They showed up, made their demands and shot me with some electro-magick thingy they’d invented,” Angel revealed to her. “By now, they’re back in Sunnydale.”

Buffy admitted, “It doesn’t sound like Jonathan to get involved with a kidnapping, but Warren is definitely into the Crazy Professor mode with the inventions. Alone, those three have been troublemakers, so who knows what else they’ll get up too.”

“Right now it involves selling my son to the highest bidder.” Angel pointed out the reason he was contacting her in the first place, “So, I was hoping you’d get a head start on finding them.”

“No problemo,” Buffy promised to get right on it, jumping up off of the couch, her energy bounding at the thought of the action to come. “Willy usually has his ear to the ground. I can check him out first. When you get to town, head straight to my house. That’s our…uh, base of operations these days.”

Thanking her, Angel realized the whole telling Buffy thing had gone much easier than he’d imagined.

“Oh,” he remembered one other detail he needed to share, “just one other thing.”

Listening attentively, Buffy sank back down onto the couch cushions. “You’re WHAT?”

Part 6

Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete

Wavelengths. 4   2 comments

Part 4

Still unrecognized
Welling from the darkest depths
Unspoken but there

Called by many names
Soaring to heights unmeasured
Bolstered by dreams

Enlightened by pain
Out of the gloom of despair
Truth clouded no more

A rush of pounding footsteps sounded outside the Hyperion just before the lobby doors opened and Charles Gunn, axe in hand, burst through quickly followed by Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and Winifred Burkle.

Though unarmed, Wesley was prepared to use those hand-to-hand skills garnered under his Watcher’s Council training, or at least make a run for the weapons cabinet. Fred hadn’t thought beyond getting inside to see if her friends were all right; her arms still laden with the toy prizes from the carnival.

One by one they fell from her grip as Fred took in the sight of the empty lobby. Fear caused her words to tremble, “Do ya’ll think we’re too late?”

“ANGEL! CORDY!” Gunn let out a loud shout that received only an echo in return as he moved down the carpeted steps into middle of the lobby. Glancing back at Wes and Fred over his shoulder, he looked grim, but determined, “I’ll check out Angel’s room upstairs.”

Gunn had a bad feeling about this. He’d had it ever since that fortune-teller back at the boardwalk had warned them Connor was in danger. Taking the stairs one by one, he almost hoped he wouldn’t find Angel and Cordelia up there.

Things were different between those two lately, according to Fred, and even he had to admit there were a few vibes going back and forth that weren’t there in the past.

If Angel and Cordy were in that upstairs bedroom, there was a significant chance he would not like what he found whether or not that included an introduction with the vampire’s evil side. As he mentally readied himself for a first-time encounter with Angelus, Gunn sent out a silent warning to his friend, I’d better be wrong, Bro.

Watching him go, Fred’s mouth twisted worriedly. Suggesting to Wes, “Maybe they went out.”

Though he wanted that to be the case, Wesley thumbed in the direction of the doors. “Broad daylight and vampires don’t mix. If Madame Bosha was right, there’s still a chance they made an escape through the sewers. I’ll head down to the basement to see if there’s any sign they went that way.”

Nodding, Fred quickly realized that left her alone. “Okay,” she commented to Wes’ back as he disappeared around the corner. “Guess I’ll search for clues right here.”

Ignoring the scattered toy animals, Fred moved slowly into the main part of the lobby. A lump of fear rose into her throat and stayed there despite her efforts to swallow it down. After the gypsy’s warning, Charles had driven like a maniac to get across town in time.

Despite her hopes that the woman was wrong and that this was all some big mistake, that maybe, just maybe Angel had taken Cordy and Connor out for ice cream, Fred knew they wouldn’t want her hiding behind such wishes.

Squaring her thin shoulders, Fred decided that if there were clues to be found, she’d be the one to find them. Almost immediately, she came across the crossbow lodged halfway under the couch where it had fallen.

Bloody cloths lay in a pile on the floor next to the couch along with left over bandages, tape and a pair of scissors. It wasn’t like Cordelia to leave her first aid supplies in a mess, and so the sight was more than a little disturbing.


“Charles?” Glancing up at the slight sound, Fred looked toward the stairs to see him slowly descending the steps from the floor above. She thought the noise had come from behind her, but with Wesley also emerging from the basement door, it made sense that one of them had caused it.

“Nothing,” Gunn told her in response. “Angel’s bed is so neat I couldn’t even find a crease. Definitely no bliss-havin’ by the looks of it…not up there, anyway.”

Fred easily made the leap along his line of thinking and refuted it quickly. “I don’t think we’re dealing with Angelus.”

Even Wes had to agree, “Angelus wouldn’t be this subtle about being back. He would be eagerly waiting for us if that was the case, Gunn. That isn’t what happened here.”

“At least you ain’t doggin’ my theory like it couldn’t happen,” Gunn commented as he set the axe down across the front counter. “You’re the one who’s always on about it.”

“Yes, well it appears our concerns in that regard are unwarranted,” Wesley admitted. He’d been meaning to have a talk with Angel about those worries, but Darla’s arrival, Connor’s birth and the research he’d been conducting on the scroll of Aberjan had been enough to distract him.


Hearing something again, Fred turned in the direction of the sound, but saw nothing. “Did ya’ll hear a cat or something?” Before they could answer, she moved across the lobby, a soft sound on her lips as she called out, “Kitty?”

“No, no there are no kitties,” Wesley wanted to point out that this was hardly the time to be concerned about that. Frustratedly, he revealed, “I found nothing in the basement. No sign at all to indicate Angel used that as their escape route. Nor any sign of what the threat was to begin with.”

Fred stood with her arms crossed in front of her as she examined the empty space that held no sign of anything, much less a stray cat. She was starting to theorize on residual noise left by fractal apertures in the space-time continuum when she took a step backward.

Her heel caught on something solid despite the empty space causing Fred to take a hard tumble to the floor.

“You okay, Fred?” The question didn’t come from either Wes or Gunn who were both already halfway across the lobby to help her up from her fall, but the male voice was too familiar to deny its owner.

Staring at the empty spot where the sound emanated, Fred gaped as she asked for confirmation, “A-Angel?”

“Where are Connor and Cordy?” his thoughts immediately focused on them.

Gunn’s eyes were huge circles as he sounded out his answer, “Not here.”

Letting out a curse, Angel told them, “Those little bastards must have them.”

“Umm…Angel,” began Wesley who faltered at the thought that Cordelia and the baby had been abducted. Before he could allow that to sink in, he had to ask, “Angel, are you aware of your current condition?”

“I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck,” Angel told her then realized all three of his friends were staring in his direction with flabbergasted looks on their faces. “What the hell was that thing?”

Fred let out a little panicked screech mixed with a twinge of excitement, “Angel, we can hear you.”

After a little pause, Angel gave her an odd look. “Yeah, I thought I was talking, too.”

“No, I mean…where are you?” Fred reached out a hand feeling across the hardwood floor until it connected with something. A shoe, she realized.

Glancing down at the delicate hand covering the top of his shoe, Angel wondered if it was just his aching head that was making this seem strange or if Fred was having a Pylean flashback. “Right here, Fred,” he put his hand over hers.

The sudden sensation of cool fingers sliding around her wrist caused Fred to let out a yelp of surprise. Wesley rubbed a hand across his stubbled jaw and decided that it was best to simply tell Angel extent of the problem.

“We can’t see you. It seems that you’re… invisible.”


Cordelia sat on the floor of the van with her back against a custom-built cabinet. The baby remained in her arms, now sleeping again, peacefully unaware of the danger.

Though Jonathan sat beside her, supposedly on-guard, he seemed more interested in catching up on old times than holding a weapon on her. Being injured, Warren claimed the rights to the front seat while the third member of the trio sat in the driver’s seat.

Just great! Cordelia couldn’t prevent the eye-rolling response to the computers and various electronic equipment inside the van. Connor, we’ve been kidnapped by Nerds-R-Us in their Geekmobile. I promise, sweetie. One way or another, we’ll get out of this.

“I guess a lot has happened since graduation,” Jonathan commented as he watched her fingers move in a slow pattern up and down the cloth covering the sole of one tiny baby foot.

Silence felt awkward and he’d never known Cordelia not to answer his questions with the complete and utter truth…no matter how painful some of those answers might have been for him. It all depended on what he was asking.

Right now she looked like she wanted to burst into tears or strangle him with her own two hands. Suddenly, it occurred to him that it might be both.

Trying again, Jonathan went for the more direct route, “How’d you end up in LA with Buffy’s ex? That was him, right?”

“Right,” she sucked in a shaky breath trying not to remember the way Angel had just vanished before their eyes. Obliterated by their idiotic ray gun.

Only the fact that Connor’s safety was on the line forced Cordelia to control her anger. She wasn’t certain what she would do yet, or how she’d make it happen, but Cordelia wanted them to pay.

Warren swiveled his chair, “Bet the Slayer just loves that. You and her ex. She know about the kid?”

“Nope,” Cordelia answered truthfully. The idea obviously amused the bastard. “Why don’t you call her up. Give Buffy the good news.”

Buffy would no doubt call Warren ten kinds of a liar before she believed him. Then she’d spend about ten minutes being very ticked off before she came after this little Geek Trio and kicked their deserving asses all over Sunnydale.

Cordelia knew that Buffy would come to Connor’s rescue if she knew of his existence, but even these dorks weren’t stupid enough to call the Slayer just to give her some shocking news.

Would they?

“Considering the way you two used to talk to each other. I was always hoping for a cat fight or a little mud wrestling, but then you started dating Harris and made peace or something.” Warren laughed despite his pain.

Cordelia glared back, “We’re real pals.”

Snorting at the sarcastic tone, Warren added, “Bet you’d like to see the look on her face when she finds out about the little love child.”

Actually, yes, but from a very long distance. Besides, “That’s not the news that is going to hurt Buffy, dofus. Try the fact that you slaughtered Angel. Human or not, you three are going to be hunted down like any other demon and she won’t be the only one after you.”

“Nobody knows we have you and the kid,” came his smug rejoinder. “As for Buffy—”

From the driver’s seat, Andrew sounded a little nervous, “M-Maybe you should forget about telling the Slayer. Wait until the baby is gone and we have the funds to set up a better lair with more security.”

“You seem to know a lot about Buffy,” Cordelia looked straight at Jonathan to give her an explanation. They obviously knew about her status as the Chosen One, certainly that her role in Sunnydale went way beyond her informal title of Class Protector.

After the explosive events of their graduation, Cordelia figured these three had the interest and know-how to get detailed information on whomever interested them. That obviously included Buffy and Angel Investigations.

“Know thy enemy,” quoted Warren. “Or as the Klingons say—”

“Nobody cares what they say,” Cordelia huffed. “Since when is the Slayer an enemy of yours? Geeks aren’t exactly on her radar.”

Warren told her, “She’s the obvious choice. Every great hero needs a nemesis. Great villains need a worthy opponent to challenge them to great deeds. Well, we’re Buffy’s arch nemesises…ses.”

Then Andrew explained, “We’ve been doing a little stalking and surveillance. Planning preemptive strikes to avoid a big showdown.”

Arching her eyebrows, Cordelia turned toward Jonathan again. “Spying, huh? So how is Buffy these days?”

“Alive,” Jonathan reminded her, “but different, too. Y’know, since she came back.”

“Being dead does that to a person.”

Andrew piped up again, “Better than being a zombie, which Jonathan says could have happened.”

“Willow brought her back, didn’t she?” Jonathan asked, curious about his theory on the Slayer’s return.

“I’m a little out of the loop,” Cordelia admitted. Though it wouldn’t surprise her in the least to learn that Willow would do anything to keep her friend in the land of the living. “I just get the newsflashes, not the detailed documentary.”

That didn’t seem to surprise him since she’d already told them that Buffy didn’t know about Connor. The lines of communication between Sunnydale and Los Angeles apparently didn’t even cover the life and death situations.

It was fortunate that there was nothing left behind in LA to reveal who they were or the location of their lair.

No matter what Cordelia might hope, the Slayer would not be coming to her rescue.

Changing the subject, Jonathan told her, “I’m still into magick, too. Not like Willow, but I can work some major mojo.”

“That explains a lot,” Cordelia leaned her head back against the cabinet. “I once got a freaky card in the mail from Anya. She told me she was considering letting me have Xander back because he just couldn’t compete with you. Something about you being the one man every woman wants. A couple of days later she left a message on our voice mail telling me to forget it.”

Grinning at the memory of his super-stardom, Jonathan shrugged, “That was great, but it wasn’t real. There’s nothing that the three of us can’t do. We can do anything; make anything. Just look at our latest invention.”

He pointed toward the metallic weapon on Warren’s lap. Cordelia secretly hoped it would spontaneously explode taking the murdering psychopath with it. “Your electro-magick thingy.”

Proud excitement animated Jonathan’s face as he clearly forgot about the fact that the ray gun was the cause of Angel’s death. Forcing herself to listen, Cordelia wanted to find out as much as she could just in case she got a chance to turn it upon its creators. Killing them wasn’t necessarily on her list of things to do, but she’d bet they would get the hell out of her way with it pointed at them.

“It’s part science and part magick,” Jonathan explained proudly. “The laser effect is all science. That’s Warren’s department.”

“Nice diamond,” Cordelia noted the huge gemstone fitted into the top of the device.

Warren didn’t mind sharing their escapade just to let Cordelia Chase know that they were men of skill and daring. “We needed a diamond large enough to focus the energy beam. The only one accessible was at the Sunnydale Museum. So we broke in and took what we wanted.”

Giving him a look of disgust, Cordelia said, “Theft, kidnapping and murder; you guys really have moved down in the world.”

“You’re not exactly on top of it,” Warren jeered. “Guess Daddy’s pampered princess had a lifestyle change after the Feds took everything. No wonder you’re shacked up with a vampire.”

“You should be so lucky!” Even if that last part wasn’t true, it was none of Warren’s business. Cordelia would have given him an earful, but her angry shout caused the baby to stir in his sleep.

Jonathan decided to try to cut through the tension by continuing his story about their new invention. “My magick made it all possible. I found this really cool rock in an old junk shop. It was saturated in mystic energy and worked as a power source for our blaster.”

“So Warren’s the science guy and you’re the magick dude,” Cordelia’s voice was now deliberately softer. “What about him…Tucker’s brother.”

“I’m Andrew,” he reminded her. “Andrew.”

An eye-roll later, Cordelia let out a short huff, “Pfft! Okay, sheesh! Andrew. Let me guess…you’re the chauffeur.”

“No,” Andrew protested that even if he did drive the van more than the others. “I’m the strategic planning department. Mission control. Stealth guy.”

Cordelia figured, “So you’re supposed to be the brains of this operation?”

An immediate, “No!” sounded from both Warren and Jonathan.

Egos, much? She pulled another string, “So who’s in charge?”

“I am,” all three answered in unison.


“Invisible?” Angel glanced down at his hands and lower body. “I can see myself.”

“Fascinating,” murmured Wes just before asking the vampire what caused it.

Fred jumped in with a scientific theory on harnessing light waves to create the illusion of invisibility. “It’s kinda like a cloak of light covering the target object, but one refracting the light normally absorbed by it. Only in this case, the object is a moving target rather than a stationary, inanimate test subject. Basically, the actual invisibility isn’t as surprising as the fact that it’s happening around Angel.”

After listening to Fred’s drawn-out explanation of scientific theory, Gunn just wanted to know, “So how do we fix it?”

“This is all very disconcerting,” Wes commented as he walked back across the foyer.

“Yeah, but how do we fix it?” he asked the question again.

Wes told him they needed to start with finding out the details of what happened. He had no sooner made that statement than he bumped into what felt like a solid wall. A low growl of irritation sounded as Angel moved Wesley off of his foot. “Sorry.”

“Forget this problem for the moment,” Angel told them moving to a spot where they weren’t likely to step on him. “We can think about it on the way to Sunnydale.”

Angel quickly explained that their attackers were from Sunnydale and were known to Cordelia. “They came across internet sites offering money in exchange for Connor.”

“Who are these punks?” asked Gunn.

“Jonathan, Warren and Andrew,” Angel answered as he picked up his leather jacket from the counter and reached into the pocket to pull out his car keys and tossing them toward Gunn. “Pull the car around in the shade. Looks like I’ll be riding in the trunk.”

“You got it.” Catching the keys, which remained visible for the few seconds they were still in Angel’s hands, Gunn immediately headed out to move the car.

Moving up the stairs, Angel shrugged into the jacket, anxious to get going. Within a few seconds of putting it on, the jacket also became invisible. “We need to figure out exactly where they’re holding Cordy and Connor, but I’m pretty sure they’re headed back to Sunnydale.”

Fred suggested, “We could check out Cordy’s High School Yearboo—”

“Hello, hello my little crumbcakes,” Lorne strolled through the front doors, opening them wide and sending sunlight streaming across the front of the lobby.

“Lorne, no!” called out Fred drawing a startled look from the Pylean.

“Aarrgh!” Angel automatically cried out as the light flashed in his eyes. Then realizing instantly, “I’m not on fire.”

“Angelcakes?” Lorne’s jaw dropped as his head immediately turned in the vampire’s direction. “There’s something different about you.”

Still wound up, Angel snapped, “I’m invisible.”

Wes kept staring at the sunlight filtering through the frosted windows of the closed doors. “The sunlight didn’t affect him.”

Standing close, Fred was equally interested in the phenomenon, “Must be the light waves that created his current state.”

Lorne seemed preoccupied and the invisibility factor was the least of his concerns. “No, there’s something else. It’s your aura. I can’t see it, but I can still sense it and it’s shouting at me.”

“Well, if you’re sensing anything, it’s probably just me being extremely pissed off,” he told Lorne. “Cordelia and Connor have been kidnapped.”

Lorne appeared taken aback. “That would explain some of it. Who did this? Is there a ransom note? A plan to get the princess and the little nipper home again?”

Angel confirmed, “There’s a plan.”

Just the tone in his voice, much less the other waves coming from the vampire, gave Lorne the impression that the plan was all too simple. “Yeesh, good thing I’m one of the good guys. I’d hate to be them when you find them.”

Violent thoughts skimmed close to the surface as Angel imagined getting his hands on Cordelia and Connor’s kidnappers. “Lorne, I need you to stay here and man the phone in case they call. I doubt it because if they thought I had the kind of money they were looking for, they would have tried to get it from me instead of—”

“Turning you invisible?” asked Fred filling the void left by Angel as his voice trailed off.

“They were trying to kill me. Why turn me invisible in the first place?” Angel asked her. “What advantage does that give them?”

They all shrugged. Fred suggested, “Maybe they didn’t know that was a side effect. From their perspective, you just disappeared.”

Gunn suddenly appeared again, “Car’s ready. I’m grabbing some weapons and we’ll be good to go.”

“Good,” Angel paced in front of the door. Addressing Fred and Wes, he described the ray gun. “It was metallic and had a huge diamond built into the front. They made it themselves, I think, some super laser electro-magic thingy.”

Rolling her eyes Cordy-style, Fred told him, “Angel, it would be more helpful if you could remember the real name.”

“That was it…sort of,” he confessed thinking he’d got it right.

“Well any weapon powered by a laser could have powerful destructive capabilities if designed appropriately,” she told him as they moved toward the car. “Maybe they thought you were vaporized. There could be a flaw in their design.”

“If magick is involved, there are many things that could have affected the outcome,” Wes added as he pulled a gun from the cabinet before trailing behind the others.

“This magic mumbo-jumbo always gets to me,” Gunn still couldn’t shake the weird feeling left behind by the fortune teller’s predictions and seeing…or rather not seeing, Angel in his invisible state.

Fred felt more excited about it and it sounded in her voice, “Not just magic, Charles. If Angel is right about its description, the laser gun is like a hybrid of both magic and electro-mechanical invention. I’d love to get my hands on it to see how they made it work. Y’know. Take it apart. Put it back together.”

“I hope you’ll get that chance, Fred,” sounded the droll tones of the vampire as he closed the passenger side door.

As her thin features froze in reaction, Fred promised, “Oh, well only after we make you visible again.”

Angel didn’t really care at this point. His first priority was getting his son and his seer back safely. “Gunn, give me the keys. I’m driving.”

“The sun’s still shining,” Gunn commented having missed their discovery.

“I’m immune to its effects in this form,” Angel explained. “Keys, Gunn. Now. We’re wasting time.”

Wesley knew that Angel wanted to get to Sunnydale without any further delay and probably doubted any of them would drive fast enough to satisfy his urge to get there. Cautioning against it, “I think you should reconsider driving.”

“The hell I am. Let’s go.”

“But Angel, it’s nearly rush hour,” Wes reminded him. “Getting out of town with an invisible vampire driving our car will draw a lot of attention we don’t need.”

A frustrated growl sounded followed by a short pause. “Then I guess I get shotgun. Gunn, just keep your foot down… and try not to scratch my car.”

Part 5

Posted July 14, 2015 by califi in Complete