Angel gazed in awe at the young woman cradled in his arms. His fingers tenderly stroked and twirled at Cordelia’s dark hair.
His seer had not only been willing, but eager to accept his soul’s torturous burdens. She had been willingly to do anything to ease his inner pain. Angel was amazed at the vast capacity of love and caring of Cordelia’s heart.
Actually, it shouldn’t surprise him. Underneath Cordelia’s wonderful tactlessness and exterior self-centeredness was a devoted, wonderful and compassionate young woman. Angel felt pity for the idiots that hadn’t the patience or desire to get to know the real Cordelia, all of her, not just the superficial façade that she showed most of the world.
Because, if a soul was lucky enough to gain entry into her expansive heart, whether that soul was deserving or not they would be guaranteed immense loyalty and love. Cordelia had wanted, needed to heal him, he had felt it along with the cleansing energy flowing through her delicate hands.
Angel wasn’t at all sure how he came to be worthy of her loyalty and compassion, but he would be eternally grateful for her kindness. But, regardless of her need or his gratitude, he would never let her bear his burdens.
The guilt and distress of his soul was his cross to bear, his alone. Angel gingerly tucked the strain of Cordelia’s hair behind her ear and got up.
Cordelia stirred in the big bed, trying to stretch out her cramped body. She blinked her large brown eyes trying to clear the fog in her head.
She started at the sound of Angel’s voice. “Angel?” She stared blankly at the vampire. Her eye’s widened as the events of the last 24 hours came crashing down around her. “Angel?’ she whispered, her hands reaching towards the vampire. “I can….”
“No, Cordelia.” Angel stood up.
“But, Angel it works. I can ease your pain,” she cried, getting off the bed. “Please, let me. You’re in so much pain. I never knew…. please,” she pleaded, moving towards Angel. “My gift isn’t evil, you know it.”
“NO,” Angel said sharply, stepping back from Cordelia’s hands.
Cordelia winced at his tone.
Angel sighed. He didn’t want to scare or hurt Cordelia, but he couldn’t allow her to do what she wanted. And he knew that the power Cordelia had received wasn’t evil, it couldn’t be, the power was comprised of all the gentleness and care of Cordelia’s heart.
“Yes, Cordy, I don’t think it’s evil, but you can’t heal my soul…”
“Yes, I can,” she argued.
Angel took a deep unneeded breath. “Maybe….yes,” he acknowledged. “But you won’t. I won’t subject you to my pain.”
“Angel, it’s only temporary.”
“Temporary? Cordy, you have been unconscious and sleeping for the last twelve hours.”
“Twelve hours?” Cordelia had no idea that she had been out of it so long. No wonder she felt foggy and stiff, she hadn’t had that much sleep in ages, definitely not since the dreams started.
“Wow, I guess I needed the sleep, huh,” she grimacing and shrugging her shoulders, the crick in her neck becoming more uncomfortable. “But, Angel, that has nothing to do with my new glowy gift,” she tried to convince Angel.
“No, Cordelia.” He sighed. “I won’t stop you from using the power to heal those you see in your visions, if,” he emphasized. “If we can be assured that it won’t cause any irrevocable harm to you. Wesley and Gunn have already gone to the University to find out more information about the necklace. But until then you won’t use the power and never will you use it on me.” He said finally unequivocally.
Cordelia sighed again grimacing as her muscles tightened and twinged. Angel wasn’t going to back down, she knew it. “When will they get back?”
“Soon.” Or at least he hoped so. They needed answers. “Cordy, come here,” he motioned.
Cordelia scrunched up her face in hesitation, but moved closer. Angel reached out and held on to her shoulders, turning her away from him. His fingers gently but firmly molded and pressed at Cordelia’s shoulders. Cordelia leaned into Angel’s touch.
The tension and stiffness in her shoulders and upper back slowly melted. Cordelia closed her eyes as she began to loose herself in the sensations. Her eyes shot open as she realized it was Angel that was inciting the tingling and butterflies growing in her belly. In shock, she pulled away.
Angel’s hands remained extended as Cordelia jumped away from his touch. He suddenly felt a surprising sense of isolation and distress at her absence. The vampire stepped back and lowered his arms, trying to rid himself of the feeling.
“Um, shower…hot shower,” Cordelia stuttered. “A shower is what I need. Yep, loosen these stiff muscles, ease the tension, yep, shower…but, no clean clothes,” she narrowed her eyes at the vampire. “All my spare clothes somehow disappeared,” Cordelia glared. Cordelia had stopped bringing clothes to change in after she had found out about Angel’s ‘gift’ of her clothes to Anne’s shelter.
She had considered it a fitting punishment for him to have to drive her home each time she needed to change after a particularly messy ‘helpless’ mission. And over the last few months, she had ‘needed’ to change a lot.
Angel winced at the overt rebuke at his supposed donation of Cordelia’s clothes. “Cordy, I’m sorry…” he started.
“Oh,” she huffed. She wasn’t mad anymore about the clothes fiasco, but she couldn’t stay in her old clothes. Anyway, after seeing her ‘one of kind’ designer shirt on the girl at the shelter, Cordelia decided that it was a good thing that there was only one of that particular shirt and that she no longer had it.
The shirt really had looked great on the mannequin in the store, but on a ‘live’ person walking and talking, ewww. Maybe it was time to start bringing a spare set of clothes back to the hotel, Cordelia was pretty sure that Angel wouldn’t have the nerve to try something so stupid, not again.
“Angel, I have to go home and get more stuff.”
“No, you don’t. I told Wesley and Gunn to go by your apartment and have Dennis pack a bag for you. You can change in to these,” he said going to his dresser, grabbing a t-shirt and sweats.
“Fine, whatever,” Cordelia said, yanking at the clothes. The tingling in her belly had been quickly replaced by exasperation. The vampire was just being way to bossy.
Wesley and Gunn waited impatiently in the back of the auditorium for Dr. RedBear to finish his lecture.
“Man, I wish that Indian doctor would hurry, I hate waiting,” complained Gunn.
“Actually, Dr. Red Bear’s lecture is quite interesting and he seems to be very knowledgeable,” offered Wesley.
“Well, he better be. We need some answers about that new nifty healing ability of Cordy’s and quick. I don’t know how long our girl will put up with Angel’s dictator-like orders.”
Wesley nodded in agreement. Cordelia had already been getting more and more frustrated over Angel leaving her out of the fighting part of the missions, if he continued to disallow her to use her new gift there would be hell to pay.
And inevitability Cordelia’s anger at Angel and his stubborn response would affect them all. Maybe, if Angel would just admit that he cared more for his seer than just as a friend, then maybe, just maybe Cordelia would be more forgiving towards Angel’s autocratic behavior.
“Come on, I think the lecture is over,” Wesley commented out loud as the Professor left the podium. Wesley and Gunn dodged the flow of students as they headed towards the stage.
“Dr. Red Bear, please,” called Wesley once they entered the hallway after the Professor. The man stopped and turned. Both Gunn and Wesley paused as the Professor faced them.
“Yes?” The dark tall man asked. The professor’s light bronze colored skin, strong angular features and thick black hair tied in a long ponytail identified the man as undeniably Native American. Both Wesley and Gunn were tall men, but the Professor was taller with a broader muscular built and surprisingly the doctor wasn’t much older than Gunn
“Dr. Red Bear?”
“Yes,” the Professor repeated.
“Yes, well, I am Wesley Wyndham- Price and this is Charles Gunn. If you have a moment, we have some questions regarding Shamanism and certain totems and talisman of Shamanism. The head of your department indicated that your were the leading expert in such matters at the University.”
“Really, that’s gratifying,” the handsome man looked at his watch. “My next lecture is not for another two hours, so I guess I have at least a moment.” Dr. Red Bear smiled, showing an impressive set of white teeth.
“My office is this way,” he motioned for the two men to follow him.
“So, what is it you want to know?” Dr. Red Bear gathered the books and papers from the chairs in his small office and gestured for Wesley and Gunn to sit.
“Um, yes, well. I know that a Shaman is a mystical healer. But, my question is – to what extent do they have mystical healing capabilities- for example can they heal with a touch?”
“Heal with a touch,” Dr. Red Bear studied the former watcher. “Do I know you?” the professor asked Wesley.
“Oh, you seem familiar.” The doctor contemplated the lines of hardwood floors before he spoke again. “The Shamans have long been revered not only in Native American cultures, but others as well. Their unique abilities have enabled them to utilize their talents to help those that wish to believe – find inner peace, to find their own spiritually, their pathways through this world and to heal their illnesses. But, I’ve never heard of an actual Shaman having the ability to heal with a touch. That sounds like a myth or legend.”
“Well, have you heard of such myth or legend?” asked Wesley.
“Why do you ask? Has some charlatan been claiming to have been endowed with such skill?”
Wesley wavered a moment with the truth and decided against it. “Yes. Gunn and I are associates for a Private Investigator’s firm- Angel Investigations,” Wesley handed the doctor a card. “We have a young woman client, well actually the girl’s very wealthy father, anyway the young woman has been approached by a self-proclaimed Shaman.
He has offered her a necklace that he says will enable her to heal with a touch, he claims that she has the aptitude. The young girl, while being intelligent is susceptible to such talk. Her father was concerned as the old gentlemen has been asking for money, a very large amount, for the necklace.”
Gunn leaned back in awe at the story Wesley was weaving.
“He’s a fraud,” stated Dr. Red Bear.
“Yes, obviously. But, she won’t be convinced by her father’s logic. So, he has retained our firm to compile evidence that the old man is a fraud. We had thought some information or assurance from a leading expert, as yourself would help convince her of the fraudulent nature of this man’s claims. It seems that the necklace that he has presented is indeed comprised of certain stones and metals that have healing abilities attributed to them. The young girl knows this, so she believes.”
“What stones?” the man asked.
“Turquoise and rose quartz,” Wesley said after a moment of hesitation.
Dr. Red Bear nodded. “Those stones do have certain medicinal properties. And necklaces and bracelets are used to concentrate such properties for Shamans. But those stones have to be cleansed in individualistic spiritual ceremony. The beaded bracelets that you can buy at any store by the dozen, while very pretty are nothing more than costume jewelry for the swarms of buyers that are suckered in by the ‘new age’ trends. Just like your young client, I imagine.”
“Yes, most undoubtedly, but if you have possibly heard of or know of someone that has heard of a myth regarding ‘healing with a touch’ than maybe we could convince her that it’s all just a legend with no meaning.” Wesley said persistently.
“No, I’m sorry, I don’t know of such myth. But, I can say that Shamans while having amazing gifts, do not possess such ability. That would be a miracle or magic. Sorry, I couldn’t be more of an assistance.” His tone suddenly ending the interview.
“So?” Gunn asked once they were back in his truck.
“I think Dr. Red Bear has been less than candid,” commented Wesley. “The question is why?”
“Yeah,” Gunn agreed resignedly. “The vamp isn’t going to be happy.”
“No, I foresee a late night visitation, definitely threatening, possibly a violent one in the young doctor’s immediate future,” acknowledged Wesley.
Dr. Red Bear sat silent as the two men left the office. He remained still for several moments contemplating the wall. With sudden grace, he pulled open his lower desk drawer and pulled out a hidden file.
He gazed in solemn reverence at the photograph of the turquoise and rose quartz necklace. He slowly pushed the photo aside and picked up a grainy surveillance picture of the interior of the Museum that once housed the Necklace.
Dr. Red Bear studied the blurry frame and the tall, bespectacled man shown with in it. He glanced again at the business card that Wesley had given to him. He picked up the phone.
“I would’ve come to you, father.” Dr. RedBear motioned respectfully for the older Indian to sit.
The Head Shaman from the Hopi tribe leaned heavily on his walking stick and shook his head. His body creaked as he slowly sat. “You indicated on the phone that the Necklace may still be here in LA, so I came.” The vigor of his voice contrasted sharply with the fragility of his frame.
“That I’m not sure of, but the man who came here today was the same man in the museum the night the Necklace was stolen.” Dr. RedBear pushed the photograph of Wesley towards the older Indian. “He identified himself as a private investigator and asked about the necklace. He said that a fake Shaman was trying to sell it to his client.”
“A ‘fake’ Shaman. You don’t believe him?”
“I believe that Wyndham- Price knows where the necklace is and what it can do. Whether there is a ‘fake’ shaman or client, I don’t know.”
“The white man can not know,” the old shaman pushed aside Wesley’s picture. “The Necklace’s powers are only known to the descendants of the ‘Wise One’. Even our myths and legends are silent as to the ‘Wise One’ and his charm. How would he know, how would any other Shaman, fake or otherwise know?”
“Father, a secret is not a secret when it is shared and experienced. The stories of the ‘Wise One’ and his necklace may not have been transcribed. But his powers were known- the stories of his miraculous healing of our people were passed down from parent to child for countless generations. The necklace has been lost from us for centuries, and while its absence may have dimmed the memories of those stories, the memories do exist.
It was only a matter of time once the necklace was rediscovered that someone would remember the old tales that their father’s fathers had passed down of the healing light and the necklace that housed it’s power. I’d just hoped that we would’ve been able to retrieve the necklace before then. But that night in the museum,” the younger Indian shook his head.
“I still don’t understand all that happened. We didn’t even have a chance to enter the museum.” John and a few other trusted members of the tribe had been appointed to the honor and risk of breaking into the Museum to retrieve the necklace.
“Son, the power of the necklace can’t fall into the wrong hands, it can’t not be corrupted.”
“I know father.”
“Could you tell, was he,” the ancient man motioned back at the photograph. “Was he a disciple of,” the old man paused, “of Bathym?” he asked choking on the name.
“I don’t know, but I would guess no,” the young man shrugged. The bespectacled man just didn’t have the sense of one of the demon’s followers. And the man’s presence in the museum hadn’t seem concentrated on the Native American exhibit, but on other irrelevant areas of the museums. But John couldn’t be sure.
Bathym was an ancient powerful evil spirit with followers in both the human and demon dimension. It was possible that Wyndham-Price could be a follower but the Native Indian expert didn’t think so.
But, whatever happened that night was not a typical museum robbery and Wyndham-Price had been a part of it. The necklace had disappeared again that confusing night and even more perplexing there was little to no press on the break in.
Neither the museum nor the police ever acknowledged that the necklace or anything else had been stolen. It had taken a great deal of money passed to a greedy guard for John to get anyone to admit that the Necklace was missing and to get the surveillance photographs.
“But, you don’t know,” challenged his father.
“No,” John admitted. His father was right to be suspicious, the happenings of that night could not be explained and those things that could not be readily explained had a tendency to be of the spiritual world. And the possibility that Bathym or his followers were responsible for the loss of the necklace was a danger that couldn’t be ignored.
“Then you must find out. Go to this address.” The old man’s wrinkled finger pointed to the Angel Investigation’s card. “You must find out and you must find the necklace.” The old shaman commanded. “If the white man is truly an innocent, but somehow has become involved with the necklace then there is a risk that he will come to the attention of Bathym and the necklace as well as he may be in jeopardy.”
“I will father.”
“John, the necklace belongs to us, to our tribe.” The old man said, his voice trembling with passion. “Bathym’s power continues to grow, his evil touches our people, it effects my dreams. I’m a losing my clarity of vision; my spirit guides are weakening. We must have the necklace.”
John looked concernedly as his father. His father’s once powerful physique had shriveled, becoming nothing more than wrinkled flesh hanging on a gaunt frame. The Shaman’s mind and voice were the only thing of strength left in the old man.
Ever since the elder Shaman had found out about the reappearance of the necklace, the older man had thought of nothing else. The excitement of being so close to returning the charm and using it to combat the evil of Bathym had occupied his father’s every waking and dreaming hour.
When the old Shaman had learned that the necklace had disappeared once again, he had forgone food for weeks at a time, subjecting his increasingly frail body to near starvation and large doses of peyote in attempt to reach the ‘Wise One’ in the spiritual plane.
His failure to do so, the mental energy he expelled in trying to prevent Bathym from learning the knowledge of his dreams and the physical rigors to his old body as a result of those vision quests and taken a tremendous toll on the older man’s health.
John was fearful that another failure to return the necklace to the Hopi tribe would result in the death of his father, and Bathym’s final victory over his people. The young Indian knew that his father would willingly die for the Necklace, but if his father was to leave this plane, John wanted it to have meaning. John had to retrieve the Necklace both for the good of his tribe and for life of his father.
For his father was the head Shaman of their tribe The Necklace had belonged to the Hopi’s since the beginning of their history. The very first Shaman, known to his descendents as ‘The Wise One’ had created the piece of jewelry as a charm to repudiate the evil of Bathym.
The demon was as old as time and was intimate with the Hopi’s ways using their own knowledge and belief in the spirituality of herbs and precious stones against them to shroud their minds and souls in darkness. The necklace had been created with all the love and compassion the Wise One had felt for his people, he had effused each precocious metal and stone with his great mystical powers and healing gifts.
With the necklace, the Wise One had been able to eradicate the evil that been inflicted on his people’s souls and repair the damage that it had caused. Along with such power the Necklace also enabled the Wise One to cure the physical ailments of the tribe.
But as with all great gifts, the necklace carried a heavy price. To enact the cures of his people the Wise One had to endure and experience all of their pain and the torment of the souls he healed. And while, the ancient Shaman’s power was immense and his compassion seemingly endless, his body was not immune to the physical and emotional trauma he accepted willingly from and for his people.
It was not long before the burden of the tribe’s pains overcame the strength of his spirit.
It was told, that the Hopi had again become afraid that Bathym’s evil couldn’t be forestalled without the Wise One’s protection and gift. But when the ancient Shaman left the physical world, he passed his sacred duty along with the necklace to his son, the new Shaman of the tribe and Bathym was again prevented from regaining a permanent hold over the Hopi people.
And the Wise One’s son continued to use the necklace as his father had- to comfort and to protect his people. And when the strength and power left the Shaman’s body, the necklace and it’s purpose was passed on. The passage of the charm from Shaman to succeeding healer continued for generations, until one year the Necklace and its possessor mysteriously vanished.
However, the Shaman had left a son and his line continued through the years. The subsequent Shamans had tried to locate the necklace by means of spiritual journeys through the dream plane, but each of their attempts had been blocked by the interference of the demon Bathym, whose strength had been growing stronger in the absence of the necklace and its power.
John’s father was a Shaman from that line and when the old Indian died, the title of head Shaman would fall to John. And as with every head Shaman from the time of the disappearance the old Indian’s life’s purpose was not only to maintain his people’s spiritual and physical well being, but to find the necklace.
Angel met Gunn and Wesley has they entered the hotel. “Well?”
“Nothing of substance.” Wesley shook his head.
“Yeah, but the Indian Doc was hiding something,” added Gunn.
“Who was hiding what?” Cordelia came bounding down the stairs wearing Angel’s T-shirt and sweats. “Hey, where are my clothes?” She went up to Wesley and Gunn.
“Here,” Wesley gestured to the bag beside him.
She grabbed at the item, sitting down on the floor and opening the bag. Cordelia wasn’t at all sure she trusted the men to have packed the right stuff. She rummaged through the neatly folded clothes and nodded in satisfaction. Dennis must have done the packing; everything she liked and needed was there.
“Wesley?” Angel urged Wesley to continue.
“Yes, well, I believe Gunn is correct, Dr. Red Bear did seem to be concealing something.”
“Red Bear? Gees, more animals.”
“Cordelia, the doctor is Native American, ‘Red Bear’ is his name,” lectured Wesley. Cordelia sighed and rolled her eyes at Wesley’s patronizing tone.
“So, what did the ‘Native American Doctor’ say?” Cordelia emphasized, rolling her eyes again. Wesley was forever confusing her humor with ignorance.
“Only that there was no such healing ability in truth or legend.”
“Well, that is a lie, duh,” she exclaimed pointing to the necklace around her neck.
“Well, yes or he really doesn’t know,” Wesley said hesitantly.
“You don’t believe that,” commented Angel.
“No. Dr. Red Bear is an expert on Shamanism and the Native American culture. It seems incredulous that he wouldn’t have at least heard of the necklace,” indicated Wesley. “He knows something, I just don’t what,” admitted Wesley.
“Well, I’ll find out. I’ll pay a visit to the doctor this evening,” vowed Angel firmly. If the doctor had any information that could shed light on the necklace and it’s connection to his seer, the vampire would discover it.
He wouldn’t allow Cordelia to use its power until he knew that it wasn’t dangerous to her. And if that meant using some of his more persuasive traits to get the doctor to be more talkative than so be it.
Wesley eyes met Gunn’s. The young black man nodded at Wesley’s silent ‘I told you so’.
Cordelia glanced back and forth between the men, sensing their concern about the Necklace. “Angel, I’m sure that whatever the doctor is hiding is not bad stuff. I told you the Necklace is good, you know it,” Cordelia said in frustration. Why won’t Angel just accept it, she thought.
“Cordelia,” Angel sighed. He had hoped that Cordelia had understood and accepted why he wouldn’t allow her to use the power.
“Oh, Angel, I do understand,” she responded to his tone. “I just think you are being overly paranoid and way too bossy, that’s all,” she griped. “I’m going to change,” she shook her head and carried her suitcase up the stairs.