John struggled to find the key to unlock the door of his office. The keys clattered to the floor as his hands shook. John tried to concentrate on the simple act of opening his door, but it was difficult.
What he had seen that night had been miraculous and incomprehensible. No one other than a direct descendant of the Wise One should have been able to utilize the power of the necklace. But the young girl had.
Only slightly less amazing was the sight of Angel showing his true being to fight another larger evil demon. Finally, John was able to get the correct key into the lock. He grunted in relief as he heard the bolt click.
John strode into the inner office calling for his father in the darkness.
“I’m here,” his father answered, turning on the desk lamp.
John stood a moment staring at his father; the shadows from the light flickered over the old man’s worn face.
“Did you find it?” asked the old man.
John nodded and sat down.
“You have it,” the older Indian cried enthusiastically.
John shook his head.
“Father, I saw the necklace. It was on the neck of a young woman.” He paused.
“The client. You should have taken it.” The old man chastised.
Again, John shook his head. “Cordelia isn’t a client. I’m not sure what she is.”
“I saw her spirit, she is a true innocent and she has the necklace” John paused. “And she has the power of the Wise One. I saw her, father. She healed someone. A man with a 6-inch deep slice across his throat. The girl took on his injury and saved him.”
“Impossible,” the old man commented, leaning on his wooden stick to stand. “Impossible,” he repeated.
“Father, she told me that the wise one gave her the necklace in her dreams and that her spirit guides affirmed his gift. A humming bird and a wolf. But,” He shook his dark head in disbelief. “She doesn’t even know what they represent. Or the real origin or purpose of the necklace.”
“Cordelia is somehow connected to Angel’s Investigations, she was there at their offices, posing as a client. After, what I saw I believe that not to be true. And Angel’s Investigations isn’t just a ordinary detective agency.”
The old Indian waited expectantly.
“Cordelia and I went out, each trying to ferret out what the other knew about the necklace. Then all of a sudden she was over come with a migraine, a very debilitating one. Wesley and Gunn escorted her quickly out of the restaurant. They had followed us. I followed them. They went back to their office, then left just as quickly for the piers. Then Angel transformed into a vampire to combat and kill a large demon and Cordelia healed the demon’s victim. But before she had her attack, Cordelia told me that she had dreamed about the necklace and about her spirit guides.”
John shook his head. “Cordelia is definitely an innocent. The others are human and, I believe, good. Angel, well, he’s obviously a demon, but he has a soul.”
“What? His he one with Bathym?” The old man demanded again at his son’s pause.
“No, it’s not Bathym.” John struggled to put into words what he had sensed in Angel. “There is a darkness of evil within in his spirit, but not Bathym. And from what I saw, I believe he tries to fight evil. But even with that, the dichotomy of his true self makes him dangerous to the innocence of the young girl. The girl, father, she must be protected, she has the necklace and its power.”
“I must see the girl. The Wise One has chosen her for some reason. I must find out why and what it means. Bring her to me.”
John nodded. He had thought that was what his father would want. “Not here, though. The vampire seems to be quite effected by Cordelia. He will come looking from her.”
“Then he must not be able to find her.” The older Indian ordered.
Wesley stood in the doorway of Angel’s bedroom. His mind full of conflicting emotions as Angel gently caressed Cordelia’s brow.
“Angel?” he said quietly.
Angel stared up, his eyes unseeing. Dismay and fear clouded his vision. “She won’t wake up. Wesley, she won’t wake up,” Angel repeated, hysteria slowly encroaching over the usual deep timber of his voice.
“Angel,” Wesley said soothingly. “There’s no evidence that she is in any danger. Her body has just experienced a major trauma, but it’s healed now. I’m sure she is just exhausted. She will be fine.”
Angel gently lifted his hands from Cordelia’s forehead, his body moved quickly and smoothly away from Cordelia. He turned away from Wesley, his back to his friend and the young girl lying unconscious on the bed.
“You don’t know that, I don’t know that. Never again, Never again,” he vowed, the panic now replaced by an intense anger. “She doesn’t deserve this.”
“Deserve what? The pain? No, Cordelia doesn’t. But, the gift to heal the helpless, to heal you? That she does deserve.”
Angel swung around, his game face flashing at his friend.
Wesley stood his ground, not even flinching. “Angel, you’re missing the point.”
“Point,” Angel growled. “There’s no point in this young innocent girl,” his hand shot out pointing towards Cordelia, “enduring any pain, she has done nothing.”
“You’re correct, she has done nothing. Except be herself. And that, Angel is why she deserves the gift. And that is what it is- a gift- not a penance.” Wesley let out a sad chuckle.
“Angel, the Powers obviously feel that she is capable and deserving of this wondrous gift, just as they feel she is capable and deserving to be your seer.”
“You make it sound like an honor,” Angel growled.
Wesley nodded. “It is,” he said simply. “The Power’s feel she is worthy of the responsibility. They trust Cordelia, they believe in her goodness, her strength. And why shouldn’t they, you do, we all do.”
“Wesley, I won’t let her do this again,” Angel claimed, ignoring Wesley’s comment.
“Angel, it isn’t your choice or right. It’s Cordelia’s. And we know what she will choose.”
“You can’t be serious, this could kill her. You’re the one that said that we couldn’t trust the Powers to be straight forward with their meanings.”
“Yes and I meant it. But, Angel, preventing Cordelia from undergoing whatever destiny the Power’s have planned for her isn’t the answer. And if her destiny is to heal your soul, then,” Wesley shrugged.
Wesley took an involuntarily step back at the fury radiating out from the vampire’s being. Wesley took a deep breath. “Why not, Angel? She can do it. You believe it. You want it, she wants it.”
Angel shook his head, fighting the violence that was threatening to take over his body. His rage at the suffering Cordelia had endured was directing itself towards Wesley.
“NO.” His growl was deadly; the low sound came from deep with in his chest, vibrating up throughout the room. Angel no longer saw his friend, but an enemy. Someone that was encouraging and advocating further harm to Cordelia.
Wesley took another stumble backwards at the force of the sound. Wesley gulped. He had to get through to the vampire.
At first, Wesley had agreed with Angel that Cordelia shouldn’t use the power of the necklace, not until they discovered more, and for the most part he still believed that. But, Wesley had come to realize that if the Oracles had condoned Cordelia’s receiving the necklace and it’s power, then Angel, as well as he, may just have to accept it, without all the answers or without the assurances that Cordelia wouldn’t suffer anymore than she already had.
Wesley had seen Cordelia heal two men, in a most miraculous way. Her new power wasn’t insignificant by any means and if the Powers had given it to her, then they did so for a purpose. And whether, Wesley liked it or not, it was the Power’s purpose that they all fought for.
The fight against good and evil was larger than just one person’s life no matter how precious that person was. Angel needed to realize that. He needed to realize what Cordelia had already seemed to instinctively realize, that the fight was more important than her comfort or if necessary her life.
Wesley took a deep breath. “Angel, I am by no means suggesting that we stop looking for the answers….but, the Power’s Angel,” he sighed. “If they have a plan for Cordelia, than you can’t stop it. Just like you can’t stop their plan for you.”
Angel stood absolutely still, staring hard at Wesley. “Plan? I can’t stop it?” Angel suddenly smirked. “Try me,” Angel’s grin grew wider, not at all beautiful, but arrogant, almost evil.
Wesley blinked, forcing himself not to run. Angel’s twisted smile scared him even more than the earlier fury of the vampire.
“Watcher,” Angel chuckled. “I choose to walk the `Powers’ path,” he spit. “They don’t make me. For now, it’s what I want or …was.” Angel turned glaring possessively at the young woman sleeping on the bed.
Wesley started as he felt the hard wood of the wall hit his backside. He hadn’t even realized that he had been still moving backwards. He silently counted to ten, reminding himself that Angel was just upset.
That what he was seeing was just regular, normal vampire anger and possessiveness- whatever that meant, but it wasn’t Angelus.
Still, Wesley acknowledged that his hopeful attempt to ease Angel’s concern over Cordelia was deteriorating fast into something potentially very bad. Wesley counted to ten again.
“Angel, ….” He gulped “Umm, tomorrow I will go back and get Dr. Red Bear’s book.” Wesley decided that trying to convince Angel into accepting Cordelia’s new-founded power as a gift from the Oracles wasn’t such a great idea at that time.
“No,” Angel replied silkily. “You will stay here with Cordelia. I will go visit the good Doctor tonight.” Angel headed for the door.
Wesley eye’s widened. He really, really didn’t think that was a great idea. “Umm, Angel….”
“Angel,” Cordelia gasped weakly.
Angel changed directions immediately. He sat on the bed. “Cordy,” he whispered, gently caressing her face. “You had us worried,” Angel said smiling softly.
Wesley blinked again at the sudden change in the vampire’s demeanor and thanked the Power’s for Cordelia’s awakening.
“I’m okay, really. Just tired, that’s all,” she said holding Angel’s hand closer to her cheek. She leaned unconsciously into his touch. “Really.” She gave a weak smile. “The almost headless guy, he’s okay, right?”
“Yes,” answered Angel.
“Good.” Her smile got wider. Cordelia started to get up.
“Cordelia rest,” Angel ordered softly, his hands now on her shoulders tenderly pushing her back down. “Wesley will stay with you.”
Cordelia started to shove herself against Angel’s hands, then stopped. “Wesley? Where are you going?” Cordelia scrunched up her face. She didn’t want Angel to leave.
“I’ve an errand to do. I will only be gone for a little while.” He laid a sweet kiss on her puzzled brow. “Now, lie down.” Angel got off the bed and quickly moved towards the door.
He stopped as Wesley blocked the door.
“Umm, Angel, I don’t think…”
Angel glared, “Move.”
Wesley opened his mouth then hastily shut it as Angel gave him the same twisted smile as before.
“Intelligent Watcher,” the vampire smirked as Wesley let him pass out of the room.
“Wesley,” Cordelia called. “What’s going on?” Cordelia could sense the uneasiness in the room; it was like a heavy blanket coating the atmosphere. She didn’t like it. “Wesley,” she demanded, glaring at her nervous friend.
“Um, Angel is going to….to visit John Red Bear.”
“Why?” Cordelia looked towards the door that Angel had just exited.
“Umm.” Wesley wasn’t sure what to say. Somehow, he didn’t think that Cordelia wanted to hear that in all likelihood Angel had gone to viscously beat some answers out of the Indian. Damn, Wesley thought, he couldn’t let Angel go.
Cordelia stared at her friend. Wesley was nervous…and afraid. Why? Cordelia had vaguely heard Angel and Wesley’s voices as she regained awareness of her surroundings. She hadn’t understood their words, but in all honesty she hadn’t really cared.
All she had wanted was to feel Angel’s confronting presence. Now, she concentrated on the memory of her friend’s words. She still didn’t know what they had said, but their tones…
“Wesley, how mad was Angel?” she asked quietly.
Wesley looked sharply at Cordelia.
“Wesley, answer me,” she demanded. “Should he be going to see John?”
Wesley slowly shook his head.
“Then why did you let him?” she grunted angrily.
Wesley gaped. How was he supposed to have stopped Angel, stake him?
Cordelia shook her head and took a deep breath. “Angel,” she yelled.
Angel was back at the door before Cordelia had a chance to take a second breath. Angel glanced back and forth from a slack-jawed Wesley to an agitated Cordelia.
“What’s wrong? Cordelia, are you all right?” he glared at Wesley before he went over to the bed.
Wesley took another deep breath and counted- this time to twenty. He refused to react in anyway to the change in circumstances or Angel’s baseless scowl. Wesley knew he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Angel,” Cordelia started, then gulped. Tears slowly filled her eyes. “I don’t want to be alone,” she pleaded.
“Cordy,” Angel reached out to her cheek. “You won’t be, Wesley’s here.”
Cordelia shook her head; tear drops splattered on Angel’s hand. “No, Angel, please stay with me, please,” her wide moist eyes beckoned to him.
Angel gently brushed at her damp cheeks. “I’ll be back,” he promised. He had to go find out what the Indian knew. His anger and fear for Cordelia fueled the compulsion, making it a physical necessity. Angel had to go.
Cordelia clutched at his hand. “I’m scared,” she begged.
All of the anger that had been boiling inside of the vampire disappeared at her pleas. Angel couldn’t leave her. He nodded; he turned back to Wesley. “Close the door. Tomorrow, first thing, bring the Indian here. I want to talk to him again.”
Wesley nodded. He caught Cordelia’s eyes as he left the room. Wesley silently applauded her. Cordelia’s sad eyes betrayed nothing as she told him good night.
Angel settled Cordelia back in the bed, pulling the sheet close around her. “Rest,” he smiled tenderly moving towards the chair beside the bed.
Cordelia bit her lips as more tears fell. “Angel,” she said reaching for his hand. “Hold me, please.”
Angel stared at the beautiful young girl for one very long second. He did want to hold her, to prove to himself that she was alive and breathing. He wanted to feel her warmth and the gently throbbing of her heartbeat against his dead body.
Somehow, somewhen, his seer had become the center of his whole warped tortured universe. Cordelia and Wesley were probably right in that her new power could heal his soul and maybe, that was her destiny. But, he wouldn’t allow it. He would fight that supposed fate. Angel wouldn’t add any more pain or torment to Cordelia’s young life.
Angel meant what he had said to Wesley. He walked the path of the Power’s because he wanted to, because he wanted the future they had promised. But not at the expense of his beautiful seer. He would veer from that path, this time for always, if staying on the Power’s obscure path led to the harm or death of Cordelia.
He would willingly refuse the `good fight’ if that was the only way he could protect her. He hoped that course of action would never be necessary, but he would do it, because to be the cause of her suffering or death was more terrifying, than being damned again in hell.
Angel pulled Cordelia against his body as he lay on the bed. . Cordelia curled gratefully up against him, wiping her tearstained face along his shirt. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled into his broad chest.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” he whispered, kissing the dark crown of her head.
Cordelia’s tears threatened to flow again at his affectionate tone. She was sorry. Cordelia had used Angel’s guilt and concern to prevent him from leaving the hotel. She wasn’t sure what exactly he had planned for the Professor, but Wesley had been nervous, scared even. So, she acted and lied.
Cordelia wasn’t frightened, not of the necklace or of her experience. Sure, she had hurt, really badly and she definitely had been wiped out by the use of the healing energy, even more so than the first time. She may not have been unconscious as long, but the drain on her was worse.
But it had been worth it to save that man. And, she would do it again and again, until the power left her body. Just like she would find a way to fulfill her destiny and heal Angel’s soul, despite his resistance. But not now, she was too tired.
And while she lied about the reason for needing Angel to hold her, the need was real and the truth. Angel’s strength and concern healed her and made her stronger. She sighed and wiggled closer to the vampire. Angel automatically tightened his hold over her soft body. “Sleep,” he murmured.
“Okay,” she whispered, blocking out her guilt and drifting into a deep slumber.
Cordelia slowly opened her eyes. She moved her head slightly to get a better look at Angel. God, he was beautiful, she thought, gazing at his profile. In sleep, he seemed so at peace.
Angel had tucked her body into his chest and his firm embrace hadn’t allowed her move even an inch away from him during their sleep.
Cordelia smiled wistfully as she stared at her small hand on the vampire’s chest. It would be so easy, she reasoned. . Just press down; just think, just invoke the power of the necklace and Angel’s soul would be healed. Then her broody ‘grr’ guy would be at peace even during the waking hours, not just when he was asleep. She wanted to give him that.
God, she needed to so badly. Angel had saved her life countless of times in the past two years. When had she properly thanked him? When had she ever repaid him? When had she shown him how much he meant to her?
Cordelia had tried consistently over the last two years to bring some joy to his life and she had been able to make him smile every once in awhile. But it wasn’t enough, not now, not when she could also bring an end to his soul’s suffering. To really show him how much she cared.
Promising him that she would be with him always until he reached his Shanshu wasn’t enough. It was cold comfort to a vampire, which would in most likelihood live long past her death. Then what? He would be alone still fighting the good fight, still waiting for his redemption. Cordelia had no doubt that Angel would reach his redemption, but she did have some doubts has to when. The perpetual battle of good vs. evil was a constant in this world and she couldn’t see the Power’s releasing Angel from his role as warrior anytime soon.
The PTB maybe capital letters good, but they weren’t all that compassionate; at least that was her ‘lower being’ take on their arrogant, vague personalities. No, they would keep him as a ‘grr’ guy as long as possible, using Angel’s guilt as the stick and the promise of his redemption as the carrot. . To them Angel was a just means to an end. Stupid, PTB. Like there would ever be an end to the ‘fight’.
But this new gift of hers could ease the torment of Angel’s soul. Cordelia wasn’t really sure that was the Power’s intentions. She had told Angel and Wesley that it was, but actually the Oracles hadn’t said that in her dreams, not even in a round about vague hinting way.
What they had said was that Cordelia had a specific destiny, different from her general role as Angel’s seer, helping the helpless and helping Angel reach his redemption. Which was stupid and unfair, Cordelia didn’t want any destiny except that of helping Angel. And she could really help him, whether the idiot all-powerful golden twins wanted her to or not. She could make his existence better.
Angel could be able to enjoy life, find some happiness, if his soul was secure. He wouldn’t have to brood so much; he wouldn’t be burden with the pain of his guilt. Angel still would be a warrior, he would just be a happier warrior and that had to be a good thing.
After all, it was his capacity of brooding and his overbearing guilt feelings that lead him to get so nasty then despondent during the whole bitch Darla ‘incident’. Cordelia inwardly cringed. Yuck, she despised that blonde vampire and the mind games that she played on Angel. Of course, Angel fell right into them. Men, Cordelia snorted in disgust. Flash a little leg, throw in a tear or two and they were lost.
Cordelia brows scrunched up as she thought about her false tears earlier that evening. Nope, not the same thing, she rationalized. What she did was for Angel’s own good. Just like it was for his own good every time she whined or guilted him into at least pretending to enjoy life.
Cordelia shifted her body, carefully adjusting herself so that both of her hands were resting on Angel’s chest. She only did what she had to do then, just like she would do what she had to do now. Cordelia bit her lip, saying a silent quick prayer that Angel wouldn’t wake up until it was too late.
Cordelia closed her eyes and began to concentrate, picturing the gentle radiance reaching into Angel’s body, filling it with its light, embracing and soothing his soul, combating the darkness embedded there. She smiled has her hands began to tingle as the energy from her heart and mind flowed into her fingertips. It would happen, she thought.
Cordelia cried out as her hands were roughly jerked up. Her eyes flew open to meet the furious eyes of Angel.
“Angel,” she gulped trying to free her hands.
The vampire didn’t respond, his eyes still blazing with fury as he sat up never releasing his tight grip on Cordelia’s wrists.
“Angel,” Cordelia tried again, tears forming in her wide eyes. “You are hurting me.” Her bottom lip started to tremble.
Angel still said nothing, neither releasing her gaze or her hands. He ignored her whine and tears as he tightened his hold.
“Angel,” Cordelia gasped in pain. Her eyes widened in true shock. “Angel,” she cried in disbelief, “You’re hurting me.”
Angel pulled her closer, his eyes flashing gold. “ I said no.” Angel growled lowly, showing his demon.
Cordelia stared back in confusion and pain. “Angel,” she whispered. “Please…”she begged, trying to make him understand. Trying to convince him to let her touch him, to heal him.
Angel growled. He shoved her harshly away.
Cordelia scooted up to the head of the bed, rubbing and staring at the bright redness appearing on her wrist.
“Get out,” Angel growled.
“Angel, Please,” Cordelia whispered.
“I told you no. I can’t trust you,” he growled. “Now, get out,” he ordered.
Cordelia stared at him for a moment, not knowing what to do. She had never seen Angel that mad before or at least never that angry with her. The only time that was even close was that one time when he came to the new/old Angel Investigations to take one of their books, but he never touched her and anyway that was ‘weird’ Angel, not her Angel.
She started to speak, to try again to explain why she had to try. Why she had to heal him. It was no use, she thought. The golden yellow of his eyes and turned to a cold brown. The rage had turned to ice. Cordelia saw no compassion, no understanding, no forgiveness. Tears fell down her face as she jumped up from the bed and ran out of the room.
Angel stayed motionless on the bed as he heard the front door slam.
Several seconds later, he heard the footsteps running up the stairs.
“Angel, what happened? What’s wrong with Cordelia? Why did she leave?”
“Leave,” Gunn snorted. “She tore out of here like a bat out of hell. Crying all over the place. Man, what happened?”
“Angel?” Worriedly, Wesley stared at the still vampire.
“Go after her,” Angel ordered. “Now.”
“Go, make sure she gets home safely. She needs to be protected.” Angel growled.
Wesley pulled Gunn out of the room. “Let’s go.”
“Protected?” Gunn retorted. “I say, Cordy needs to be protected from the vamp in there, that’s what I say,” Gunn whispered, glancing back at the bedroom.
Wesley shook his head. “Come on.”
It wasn’t until Angel heard the front door of the hotel close, that he released the tension in his body. His head slumped down over his knees, his shoulder’s shaking with unshed tears.
What had he done? Angel had touched Cordelia in anger. Gunn was right, she did need to be protected from him, Angel thought in disgust.
It was just that he had been so content. The delicate rhythm of Cordelia’s heart, the warmth of her body nestled in his arms had lulled him into the most peaceful sleep. Her presence had kept away the dark terrors that invaded his dreams every time he tried to rest. There was no fear, no regrets, no guilt, just peace when he felt her soft breath on his chest.
And then, he had felt it. The radiance of the power entering into his soul, attempting to permanently wipe out all traces of the darkness that for so long had resided with in him.
And how, Angel had wanted it to happen. To allow Cordelia to replace the darkness with her light. To feel her love and compassion fill his soul, repair the chasms that existed deep within. For one brief moment, he was going to allow it.
But then just as quickly, Angel remembered why he couldn’t. The trauma, the suffering it would cause Cordelia was not worth his own peace of soul. He couldn’t cause Cordelia pain. Angel sobbed a laugh. He didn’t want to hurt her, so what did he do -he hurt her.
Angel’s head dropped further into his knees. He hadn’t been furious with Cordelia. He had been furious with himself for wanting her to continue. For ignoring the consequences. For almost submitting to the temptation.
And more than just angry he had been afraid. Cordelia believed that it was only his pain and guilt that she would be subjected to. But there was more dwelling in Angel’s soul than that- there was evil. There was Angelus.
Cordelia could never experience that evil, even if it was just momentarily and to rid the world of Angelus forever. Because once she experienced it, she would know to what extent Angel was still a monster, soul or not.
Angel grabbed at his head, his palms pressing into his eyes. Finally, Angel acknowledged his real fear. That Cordelia would know his real self.